Scary Car AccidentIt was 3am and I was sleeping in the back seat of the car without wearing a seatbelt. The car was doing about 140 km/h. It flipped over twice (single car accident) and I flew out and landed on the concrete.
When I was delivered to the ER I had a Glasgow coma scale score of 3 (deep coma/death), and after some deliberation, the surgeons decided to go ahead with brain surgery (rather than just attaching a monitor) because I was in a perfect physical shape and could have made it. There was also jaw surgery, because the impact broke it into a few pieces (not sure about the details; the jaw looks perfect now). I also knocked out three front teeth. Later on, there was spine surgery, to put together a shattered vertebra. Now three vertebrae are fused, and there is a titanium plate on each side.
When I woke up in the hospital (I have no memories of about 2 months following the accident), I was in diapers and couldn't walk. Re-learning to walk was not fun, to put it mildly. I would make a few steps (literally a few - two or three), with two doctors supporting me on both sides, and then my legs would just give out. I'd do that a few times a day, trying to make one extra step each time. After I could walk independently, the next challenge was climbing stairs. The process was the same as with walking. When I was strong enough for the gym, grueling workouts followed to get back into shape and strengthen the right leg, which was much weaker than the left. Luckily, I love working out, and going to the gym made me feel that I regained some measure of control.
The most serious of my injuries was the brain injury. I am still in university, studying to be a software engineer, so depending on its severity, the brain injury could have been deadly for my future career, rendering 3 years of hard work in school completely useless. I got lucky there, too - the only changes were the loss of my sense of smell, and disordered sleep. My neurosurgeon told me the sense of smell was gone for good, and I made my peace with that. One day I found myself smelling coffee. Now, almost 18 months after the accident, I can smell everything.
I kept a sleep diary for a week, and there was no pattern to when I felt sleepy. The times and durations of my sleep (naps?) seemed random. I started taking Alertec, which regulates my sleep cycle to match the rest of the world's. I will attempt to wean myself off of it after I graduate.
Like many people who have survived similar ordeals, I am now happier than I was before the accident. I don't get upset about small things, because everything else is minor in comparison, as I now have a new benchmark to measure problems against. I also strive not to take anything for granted.