Friday, July 22, 2016

One Mother's Gratitude

Two days ago my daughter was in a car accident. Her little Honda Civic was T-boned on the driver’s side by a Ford F150 moving at about 45 mph.

She is my firstborn. I remember when I held her for the first time; within five minutes I was completely aware of an overwhelming fear of the responsibility I immediately felt for her. I’d spent the last two months of my pregnancy impatient to deliver her, and in those first five minutes I was ready to put her back for a little while longer.

I had so many nightmares that first year as a parent. Every new experience was preceded by at least five mental scenarios highlighting how many different ways the situation could go wrong.

Eventually, I calmed down somewhat. Somewhat. At least on the outside. I was able to pretend to be totally excited for her when she got her driver’s license, and would ignore mental scenarios every time she drove away on her own – the worst one being the one where she got hit on the driver’s side.

And it happened.

And all I feel right now is gratitude. She has multiple rib fractures, a partially collapsed lung, and her pelvis is fractured in two places, front and back. She has spent the last two days relatively immobile, hurting to breathe and unable to rest comfortably - the rib fractures are on her right side and the pelvic fractures on her left, so she has no ‘safe’ spot to lie on; even the smallest movement hurt. She’s probably only had 3 hours total of sleep. Just today she was helped to get up out of bed for the first time and use a walker to cross a foot of space to a chair where she ‘had’ to sit for 45 minutes, in pain the whole time.

She was knocked unconscious on impact. She remembers up to two seconds before the accident and then nothing until she woke up in the ambulance.

I had no information about any of the accident until last night when someone showed me the article in the local paper. I saw the picture of her car and found out that she was trapped inside the car and that “two sets of the Jaws of Life extrication tools were used to free the woman from the vehicle.”

(Isn’t it surreal to read a news item about someone you know? “The woman”? No, that’s my little girl!)

I’d imagined this happening many times before, especially in the last 6 years since she’s had her license.

And all I feel is gratitude. The worst-case scenario happened in the best possible way; she was unconscious while she was trapped in the car and didn’t wake up until she was secured, she will not need surgery, none of her injuries are permanent … and she is still here, with me.

I hate seeing her hurting. I’m afraid to touch her except for an occasional, hesitant caress on her forehead. I don’t want her hurting any more than she is and I’m afraid that I might touch the wrong spot and make her hurt more. I’m in awe of the competent abilities of the nursing staff and at the same time I hate them when they move her and it causes her pain. I want them to do what needs to be done, yet I want them to baby her.

Like that first time I held her, I’m also afraid to take her home because I don’t feel qualified to take care of her. She can’t walk by herself right now; it can take 10 to 15 minutes for her to get off the bed and onto a nearby chair, she can't reach an arm out 6 inches to grab the cup of water and she can’t drink without a straw. She’s getting so frustrated at times at how much she can’t do. She’s angry at the pain.

I had to leave the hospital for a little while this morning. The handful of people I spoke to all wanted to know how she was doing. I went to the bank and was talking to my teller-friend and saw the picture of my daughter’s car again … and it all hit me – the stress, the pain, the fear, the resentment, the lack of sleep, the uncomfortable pull-out bed, constantly having to put a face on for my daughter ... the late-night hospital Sanka, etc. All of a sudden I was crying – I mean, I think I was crying, blubbering like an idiot with tears pouring down my face … but I was happy, I was so very happy.

We will probably be here for another two days. After this, she may be spending a few days in a rehab facility.  She is still going to be hurting and I’m going to have to watch her hurting without being able to make anything better for her.

But she was in this car:

                                                 (Brockton Enterprise photo.

… and she is still here. No matter what else we have to go through, she is and will be okay.

Thank you … thank you … thank you