Christmas Eve Horrors

Warning, this is graphic.

On Christmas Eve my husband of 6 months and I were heading out to my home town in the middle of the desert. We packed up the car with presents, tamales, and our two dogs. The town is only 2 hours from the city but I had stayed up late working on a crochet project. I was burned out and have a hard time driving that far fully rested and alert, let alone tired. I asked my husband to drive. He put on his comedy Pandora station on his phone. We've found that it keeps us both awake better than music. The road is long and lonely, but we giggle and make comments most of the way. About 15 minutes from my parents' house, he says he's starting to get road hypnosis. I say, "Don't worry we're almost there" as the dog in my lap and I start to drift off to sleep. It's 2:00 pm.

I am woken a couple minutes later to the car skidding. I think I hear honking. I'm screaming but in the back of my mind, I know it will be okay. We skid off the road and I think, "Ok, we'll just stop in the ditch and we'll be okay." Then the car starts to flip. The roof thuds against the ground. I hear and feel screaming. The dog that was in my lap thuds against the ceiling. I reach for her, my side of the car thuds. My right arm and leg are forced out of the window as the bottom of the car hits the ground. We are still tumbling. I force myself back inside the car thinking, "Arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times." I think I have the dog in my left arm, clutching. I managed to get my leg back in the car before the passenger side of the car thumps the ground again. I had most of my arm inside the car. There is glass flying and then we stop. I am hanging in my seat belt. The car is laying on the driver's side. I ask "[Husband's Name] are you ok?" Then I scream it. I then look over to see his head sticking out of the window and the roof of the car is pinning his head to the ground. He didn't respond to me. I start screaming his name, horrified. I unbuckle and climb out of my broken window. The dog is still in my arm and I drop her on the ground, she is still on the leash. The leash is in my left hand. I start running toward the highway, screaming for help. "My husband needs help!" There is a man running towards us, pulling out a cell phone. I then notice my second dog. I run toward her and she sprints off. This all happens within a minute.

I want to run after the dog but can't. I need to sit down. I plop on the ground and try to lie down. I need to sleep. The man tells me that he needs me to stay awake. I try hard to stay sitting up. A woman wraps a towel around me. I realize who this woman is. She taught me how to swim over 20 years ago. She was also driving with her family home. I then realize who the man is, her husband, he's in law enforcement. I realize that I am bleeding. There is blood coming from my hand. There is an ugly wound on my right hand.

There are EMTs coming in a pickup truck. I tell them that I am okay, to go to my husband. He is awake. His first words are asking if I'm okay. They tell him that I'm fine. His second thoughts are that he can't move. An ambulance pulls up. I see my high school friend jump out and head towards the car. The woman waves them past me, to go to my husband. She stands me up. She helps me walk to the back of the ambulance and sits me on the bumper. It's obvious that I won't calm down as long as I can see the car pinning my husband's head.

The next half hour is a blur. I get a quick check over to make sure that I am not the priority. The EMT that I went to high school with does the check. He is shocked when he recognizes me. He'd never met my husband before, so he didn't connect us. He goes back to the car. The fire department is there by then and they are prepping the jaws of life. They tell me that they have called in a helicopter. The road is too bumpy to drive back to the city with a spinal patient. My aunt drives up with my dad. My family has never been big on physical contact. We don't hug or shake hands. We wave from across the room. I'm surprised when both my aunt and dad hug me. I'm also surprised that I am suddenly in pain. My aunt unknowingly puts her hand on my hand wound. I tell them that my husband is under the car. They both loudly gasp. My aunt is a recently retired paramedic. Over 25 years of this stuff, she is not easily rattled. She is visibly distraught. She goes to my husband to check on him. She comes back with the message that my husband loves me and he can move his arms. I try not to think about what is happening. I ask mundane questions. "How old is your kid now?" "How are your grandkids?" "What are your plans for tonight?" Soon they tell me that they have gotten him out of the car and into the ambulance. My aunt tells me that my husband could feel them putting in the IV. I'm stood up and put into a neck brace. I hand my dog's leash off to my aunt. My aunts former ambulance partner readies a back board for me. This man is practically family to me. I don't know who his partner is but there are lots of crude jokes. I laugh.

I'm loaded up for the 2 hour ride back to the city to get to a hospital. Once I get there, I am brought into the ER. I ask about my husband. The nurse doesn't know what's up with him but knows who I'm talking about. Eventually, I'm told that he has broken his neck and I need to consent to his emergency surgery since they gave him a breathing tube. I yell at the doctor to go and do the surgery. I'm still in a neck brace and strapped to a back board. I'm left alone in the room. I get scanned and x-rayed. My family arrives after a few hours because they did what I asked and found my dog that ran off. After a few hours I'm given a few stitches and told I'm good to go. My parents help me find my husband's room in the ICU. He is still in surgery. We sit and wait. It took a while to get a hold of his family since both of our phones were somewhere in the car. My sister managed to contact his sister via Facebook. They live 2 states away. They get to the room at about 4:00am. He is finally brought out of surgery around 5:00am. A few minutes later he wakes and starts flailing his arms wildly. He doesn't understand why he can't get up. They have to strap him down. He tries to talk but he has a breathing tube in his mouth. Everyone is crying.

We were in the ICU for just over 2 weeks. He is progressing. He is paralyzed. He has movement in his arms but not in his hands. He has spotty feeling and a tiny bit of movement from the chest down. He's in rehab now, weaning off the ventilator. I'm hoping that soon he will be able to talk to me instead of signals and spelling. From here, he will move onto a neuro rehab, where he will relearn how to live life. He'll be in the hospital for months. I will be here with him. I'm happy I get to keep him. I'm happy that I didn't lose him. He may not be the able to run marathons anymore but I'm happy that he's mine.

I needed to tell my story. I want to forget the accident. The memory is way to clear, way too real.
nicothepotato nicothepotato
26-30, F
2 Responses Jan 10, 2013

wow what an amazing story and terrifying. Thank the good Lord you still have your husband. I had a bad accident and am still going through some major things. The depression is hard to deal with. Reading other peoples stories realizing how fortunate I am. I cannot walk still and have chronic pain. My accident was 19 months ago. I have been through many operations and have more to go through. I have not walked since I had my accident. Please pray for me also as I will pray for your family

I'll keep you in my prayers,laurie.

Wow, what an emotional read. Life can change on a dime, as you remind us all. Much love to you and your husband and family.