I lived to tell about it
Hello again! I’m just stopping in to let you know that I’m back after nearly 6-months of recovery. Thank you for your concern and get well soon wishes. I can’t tell you how much I missed you all!
You may already know that I was in an accident on December 29, 2020, in Winnipeg at the corner of Ferry and Portage Avenue. If you’re interested in some of the details, this is my story…
My dog Munchie and I were taking our afternoon walk later than normal that Tuesday. We arrived at the intersection around 2:45 pm and proceeded to cross with the walking light. She was at the end of the leash, pulling as she does, ahead of me. At the same time, a motorist in an SUV was making a left-hand turn and apparently didn’t see me? Have you ever experienced a feeling of total and utter dread prior to something bad happening? I did. I felt a sick feeling before I was knocked down onto my left side and then dragged for a few seconds. When the vehicle stopped, I was pinned underneath. The weight of the vehicle on my right shoulder squeezed my lungs shut and I couldn’t breathe. I vividly remember making eye contact with my dog and trying to call out to her. When the words wouldn’t come, I realized this was it – the end. I felt astonished. The voice in my head said, “I can’t believe this is your day.”
Munchie is awfully cute but not very loyal. In hindsight, we have a good laugh that when I lost consciousness, she must have thought “ok, she’s down and I’m out of here!”. Luckily, someone found her, walked her home, tied her to my front step, and contacted Animal Services to come and check on her. When my better half arrived at the house a couple of hours later, he found her there still wearing her coat and boots. She was a little shook up, but no worse for wear.
My 1st life lesson: Anything bad can happen at any time but anything good can happen too.
My reality was shaping up much differently. I was surprised to regain consciousness in the ambulance. I remember thinking “how am I still alive?”. It was a few days later that my Dad made a phone call – we think to emergency services (he made a lot of phone calls) that answered the question. A young man by the name of Drew Ramore happened to be driving by in his Pit Crew Mobile Tire Service van conveniently equipped with the exact tools needed to save my life. When he saw my legs peeking out from under the vehicle he turned around against traffic on Portage, jumped out, and proceeded to jack the vehicle up and off me. Four other helpers (Travis, Jim, Corey, and Bob) pulled me out and Karen, a retired nurse who also stopped to help, monitored my vitals until emergency services arrived. I had broken the left side of my body including my collarbone, several ribs, pelvis in 4 places, and the soft tissue in my calf had been crushed. It was bad but could have been so much worse. Miraculously there were no head or spinal injuries. I can’t remember who told me, a doctor or nurse (maybe I dreamed it) that I would be in hospital for a few days…
My 2nd life lesson: for every heartfelt thank you given without an agenda, 100 times effort will be received in return.
I spent 24 nights in the Health Sciences Centre during a pandemic. I won’t be forgetting that experience any time soon! I got to know 4 wards, 6 roommates, 5 doctors, a team of 3 physio and occupational therapists, countless nurses, and healthcare aids (unit assistants). I thanked every one of them for their service during such a difficult time. I was displaced on wards that I never would have been on had the orthopedic ward not been commandeered for Covid patients. That meant nurses and aids had to adjust to trauma and other types of patients they normally wouldn’t be treating. At that time, no one had been vaccinated, and although 2nd wave numbers were starting to subside, hospitals weren’t out of the woods (and clearly still aren’t). Extra cleaning, PPE, and self-distancing measures to keep Covid from spreading compounded workloads and stress levels. Many of the staff were working long hours of overtime in uncharted territory. They navigated all of this with grace, patience, and a good sense of humour. I couldn’t be more thankful for the world-class healthcare I received. At a time when I could not have visitors, the staff at HSC made life bearable.
My 3rd life lesson: “This too shall pass” applies to minutes, hours, days, years. There is no timer on when things will get better – it could even be in the blink of an eye.
I’ve been so fortunate to never have had a broken bone, surgery, or a hospital stay in my life. This, I learned, made me rather naive to the whole recovery process. I wasn’t given clearance to bear weight on my left leg until February 3rd. Being bedridden for 5 weeks plays a whole other role I had no frame of reference for. It was tough slogging, but I made it up on my feet to a walker.
I then graduated to 2 canes and learned how to tackle the stairs. I had a physiotherapist visiting the house 3 times a week to help me. He was pleased with my progress and referred me to a clinic on March 5th. I’ve been going to the clinic 3 times a week and doing my homework until recently when we pared it back to two sessions. I now know that recovery is a full-time job. The physical and emotional toll it takes is incredibly taxing. I made it through the worst of it, I have a lot less pain and I no longer need a cane at all! I am very fortunate to have had an amazing support network that made it possible for me to focus on getting better. This, I believe, is what pushed me ahead of the curve. I still have to deal with lingering issues – a frozen shoulder and a great big hematoma on my left calf. But that seems to be a small price to pay for being alive.
My 4th life lesson: A sure-fire way to change a bad moment into a good one has been to help someone else or review my blessings. This has worked every time without fail.
I can’t say that I can fully close this chapter. I likely never will. It opened me up to a whole new world of thinking and understanding that only an experience like this can. We’re all told not to take things for granted. I took this to heart before the accident and felt that I was grateful then. The difference is that now I truly understand what it means not to take things for granted and what the most important “things” really are…