Finally, Part 2 of Our Story.
It was September. Fall has always been my favourite season – the cooler temperatures, the misty mornings, the changing colours, and some quiet time in the park. Having worked in parks for 17 years, I always enjoyed this month the most after the hectic rush of July and August.
Jim and I were camping quite often – he would enjoy watching movies with the dog and sitting by the campfire – I would work. I remember one weekend, lying in our trailer, watching a movie. I don’t even remember what it was - but I do remember Jim and I being more entertained by the display of gymnastics taking place in my belly. Finally, at 5.5 months pregnant, I was beginning to believe that we might actually end up will a real live baby!
We discussed names that weekend too and had pretty much settled on Bennett. We liked the name Ben but didn’t like Benjamin. After reading a bit more about the origin and meaning we liked it even more. The Latin meaning of Bennett is “Little Blessed One”. We thought it quite appropriate considering everything we’d been through. The name is also a variant of Benjamin – which means “Right Hand Son”. Interesting how prophetic that would be!
Anyway, I was driving to work – it was Tuesday, September 19th, 2006. It was a nice morning and I was looking forward to getting to work and meeting with my boss who was returning from a well-deserved vacation. It was 7:30 am. I was listening to the news on the radio when suddenly an approaching car swerved in front of me – not a mere cross of the centre line, but a sharp turn. There was nothing I could do but slam on the brakes. I don’t remember anything from the moment the car swerved until the moment I woke up hanging upside down in the van. After that I remember everything. Like one of the police officers explained – this is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is I don’t have sudden unremembered flashbacks. The bad thing is I remember EVERYTHING.
Rather than describe everything that happened next, I’ll list a few of my “memories” from the accident.
Ø I remember not wanting to wake up.
Ø I remember it being dark and smokey in the van – mainly the result of a deployed air bag.
Ø I remember a young man named Adam who crawled inside and did his best to hold my hips up to take the pressure off my pregnant belly. I remember him holding my hand as we talked about his teaching career. I remember him being told to get out of the van when one of the many volunteer firefighters smelled gas. I remember him crawling back in a couple minutes later.
Ø I remember begging them to let me undo my seatbelt and get me out of the van.
Ø I remember people shouting about the fatalities in the other vehicle.
Ø I remember someone telling me that soon my adrenaline would wear off and then I would be in A LOT of pain. Boy was he right.
Ø I remember feeling a light mist on my face as they strapped me onto the stretcher before putting me in the ambulance.
Ø I remember the paramedic who held my hand for the drive to the hospital that seemed to take forever. I remember when we arrived and I finally let go of his hand and how he said he would have a fun time trying to explain the fingernail marks to his girlfriend. I remember telling him that it would be easier than explaining fingernail marks on his back. (Even through all this I remain a smart ass).
Ø I remember hearing screaming in the emergency room and then realizing that it was me as they tried to straighten my foot.
Ø I remember a nurse asking me if it was alright for her to call Jim and tell him that I had been in an accident and just had a broken ankle so he wouldn’t be too freaked out. (Remember what I told you before, in Part 1 of Our Story – whenever someone uses the word “just” – be very suspicious).
Ø I remember being so grateful to be alive but so scared that my baby wasn’t. I NEVER want to feel that kind of paralyzing fear again.
Ø I remember seeing our baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound and feeling such relief but still so much fear that it wouldn’t last.
So, those are some of my memories of what I thought until recently, was the worst day of my life. My injuries included a severe, open subtalar fracture/dislocation of my right ankle. My surgeon would only tell me six months later how close they were to amputating my foot. A distal femur fracture, a broken left wrist and a number of abrasions and bruises that would last for months, including the imprint of a seatbelt rounded out my most serious injuries.
After almost two weeks in the hospital, I returned home to a life that had changed forever. But at least I was still pregnant and hopeful that everything would be ok.