This week marks 9 years since the horrendous car wreck that should have claimed my life.
I was high on life and Jesus. It had been six months since the Lord rescued me from the pit of darkness and despair, and I had rededicated my life to Him. I had found a new church just a few months prior, and was soaking in His goodness. June 22, the day after the first day of summer in 2004, was a scorcher. We had dressed up at work in summery clothes to commemorate the first day of the summer solstice (since we had missed it the day before!), so I was wearing my bright orange and yellow Hawaiian shirt, dark blue capris, and leather sandals. It was hot. So hot. The AC in my 1997 white Chevy Cavalier had went out about a week before, so the windows were down as I was driving home from work that evening. The heat, and my lack of sleep from the night before, was lulling me into a doze that brought a rude awakening. Not even a quarter-mile from my house I dozed off for about 30 seconds and veered off onto the opposite side of the road. When my eyes opened all I saw was green flying past me at a ridiculous rate. I panicked. I tried to pull my car back onto the road, but I was already driving in the grass covered ditch. When I jerked the wheel, my car started flying.
I closed my eyes, held on tight to the steering wheel, and just remember praying “Please God, don’t let me die,” over and over and over again, as my car flipped in the adjoining field. After what felt like an eternity, I finally landed with a great thud. I was upside down, and could only see dirt through my shattered windshield as I hung from my harness. Again. I panicked. I hastily saw that my only exit was my driver side window that had been rolled down, so I released the seat belt I had been wearing and dropped onto the ceiling of my car and scrambled out. I sat up and did not really know where I was initially, other than sitting in the middle of a large field, next to my upside down car. I knew I had to call someone, and realized that my cell phone was in my purse. I reached into my car again, freaking out thinking that it might collapse on me as I lay reaching for it, and pulled it out quickly. Hands shaking, I dialed my sister and told her I had been in an accident and was sitting in the field belonging to the Hendricks family. All I could remember thinking at that moment was that my parents were going to be so mad at me for wrecking my car (they weren’t, but I obviously wasn’t thinking rationally at the time).
Within seconds, the sweet neighbor lady and friend of our family across the street called 911 (we had recently just received that in our rural area), and the two ladies who had been behind me in their car were making sure I was all right. My parents and sister arrived in record time, as they were just down the street. I don’t know how much time had spanned since the wreck until the ambulance and highway patrol arrived. I have a vague recollection that I was in shock and rambling incessantly.
Did I hit anyone in my car? Had I hurt anyone? (No, I had not). Where were my friends? I needed them? Oh my gosh, I hurt so bad! Make it stop hurting!
As they strapped me to the board from the ambulance, I remember the medics raising my shirt and tapping on my tummy, making sure I had not ruptured anything. My friend JC was there, as was my cousin Loren. When nearly everyone in the area has a police scanner, everyone and your brother will show up to a scene of an accident. They loaded me into the ambulance, and I heard my mom say to take me to Cox South. I didn’t want to be alone. I know now that I was truly in shock, because I was thoroughly freaking out. My cousin, who was a firefighter at the time with West Republic, offered to ride along with me to keep me calm. He did a good job. While the medic was checking me over, my cousin talked to me to keep my mind off of my current situation. I was in an amazing amount of pain. My back hurt. My the pain in my head was unbearable. I really did not know at the time what my injuries entailed.
After what seemed like forever, we arrived at the ER. They carted me to the back, my cousin still with me, thankfully. At some point the rest of my family arrived, though I don’t remember when.
I was still strapped to the backboard, my head placed immobile by a strip, as well as the rest of my body. I was barefoot. I knew this, because suddenly the frigid AC of the ER reached me and my bare feet. My mom sat beside me as they waited for the doctor to come in and examine me. After trying, and failing, to get a blood sample (my veins are incredibly hard to get to), they pricked my finger and squeezed it until they had an ample amount of blood to use as a sample. That freaking hurt. Much of the next couple hours were a blur as they examined me. I remember crying a lot. I was in pain. It felt like my back and head were on fire. I am claustrophobic, so being strapped to a backboard for hours did nothing to ease my sanity. They gave me some kind of pain medication. My shirt was cut off. I begged them to spare my bra, since I had just purchased it (I know, strange request at the time). I was shimmied out of my capris by my mom and the nurse and converted into a hospital gown.
Despite the horrific thing I had just gone through a couple of hours earlier, it was generally determined that I had come out unscathed. I was lucky, they said. I merely sustained a whiplash, possible concussion, and immense bruising across my upper body from the seat belt. No internal injuries. No longterm effects.
I had a hard time going to sleep that night, as the moments leading up to the accident kept replaying in my head.
The next day, my parents went to the place where my car had been towed to, and took pics for the insurance company, as well as talked to one of the EMTs who had been on scene, JC’s dad. He said that I was lucky that I made it out alive. My car had flipped end over end quite a few times before landing. My steering wheel had been warped dramatically out of shape by the sheer supernatural strength by which I had held on. He said I was lucky that I was even able to crawl out of my window afterward, as he had retrieved some things (my keys probably) from the interior of my car while it was still in its upside down state. And he said he had been barely able to get in and out while crawling on his stomach. He is a super skinny and lanky guy.
I was not lucky.
I had just been given a miracle.
I was off work for a week recovering from the back and neck pain. I went back to work and I was still suffering from debilitating headaches. I remember thinking in moments as I tried to concentrate on what I was doing at work, if there would ever be a day when I wouldn’t have one of those headaches or would this be my forever. It didn’t last forever.
I had to go through 8 weeks of physical therapy to regain full mobility in my neck again. Those were long weeks of painful therapy. But it ended.
As I sit here, in another season, a season of discouragement and the unknown, I know that this too will end. Although, it is not nearly as severe or painful as some of the other seasons I have found myself in, it isn’t any less difficult. I believe that if God brings you to a season, He fully intends to bring you through it. As I reflect on the things He has brought me through, I know that He too will bring me through this one.
In the years since, and even just the last few days, I am reminded about something that I once heard a pastor say. The enemy will come up against and attacks frequently those who God plans to use in a big way. He must have something pretty big planned then, for all the ridiculous things He has rescued me from. And I hope – I pray – that He will use the places I have been to help others that may be going through similar circumstances.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)