Skip to content

Despite the beautiful Spring Day…

April 26, 2011

This is the story of our life changing accident two years ago…

Despite the beautiful spring day in late April, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was still closed, we were told at the Jacob Lake Diner on Alternate Route 89.  After a big breakfast of over easy eggs, hash browns and toast, we loaded our 7 month old baby girl into her car seat and headed on the road again.  We were on Day 2 of our road trip from Idaho to Florida where my husband, David and I were moving for medical residency.

I carefully drove us out of the canyon’s winding roads and continued on our way, disappointed that we wouldn’t get to see the magnificent Grand Canyon but pleased to be making such good time on our trip.  That feeling of accomplishment was snatched away so quickly in the next few moments as our careful travel plans would be interrupted.  Alternate Route 89 was a narrow winding highway with no shoulder on either side of the highway, just endless red clay earth and sage brush.  I mistakenly veered to the right and attempted to straighten our Chevy Impala on the road again.  However, there was a stubborn lip where the asphalt met the red clay earth as I yanked the steering wheel; I realized there was oncoming traffic very near us.  In an effort to avoid hitting a car, I overcorrected in the opposite direction and before we knew what was happening, our car flipped several times and landed on its tires, right side up.

I can’t begin to recall the feelings we experienced in the moments following our car accident.  I remember feeling very confused about what happened mixed with a throbbing pain in my neck.  As the red dust in the air settled, my husband quickly sprung into action.  Realizing that he had some blood coming from his external ear and having confirmation that I was hurt because of my moans, David elbowed the right passenger window, shattering the glass and jumped out of the car’s window to pull our baby out of the car.  Her car window was broken and she was crying loudly but was quiet and happy as soon as she was held.  Relieved that no harm had come to our baby, the first of many miracles, David came around to the mangled drivers’ side and started asking me questions, ascertaining my orientation to person, place and time.  I knew who and where I was, but my neck hurt and I stubbornly kept trying to move while David insisted I keep still.

The feeling of solitude and exasperation came over Dave as he realized how isolated we were.  Two cars passed by on the highway and didn’t stop.  A minivan of Asian tourists stopped and my husband handed them the baby in exchange for a bottle of water and continued to demand I keep still.  The next car on the scene had a middle aged couple and a daughter who happened to be a Registered Nurse, the second miracle of the day.  She helped David pack some of our baby’s diapers around my head to keep it immobile.  The  first car that had passed initially, came back and told them they had called for help at a gas station ten miles away due to lack of cell phone service.  They helped to pick up our belongings that had scattered throughout the desert and we all waited for the medical help to arrive.

Two police cars came on the scene first, followed by the Life Flight that would take me to a hospital in Page, AZ.  Amazingly, the pilot was a friend of ours who happened to be training in Arizona that day, another miracle that our Heavenly Father had planned for us.  We knew Brian’s family from our time in Houma, Louisiana when we were doing our clinical rotations at the charity hospital and he was an oil rig pilot.  We lived in the same apartment complex and belonged to the same small ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They had since moved to northern Utah. Before the helicopter took off, Brian and David gave me a blessing.  Brian took the rest of the day off and stayed with us at the ER in Page.  He checked on me as I waited for my CT Scan results and wiped the red clay dirt away from my face and teeth and gave me a drink of water.  Dave had a small laceration on his ear lobe that was being sutured with three stitches. After a thorough examination, Anabelle let everyone know with her smiles and laughter that she was as healthy as could be.  We were told that I had two fractures in my second cervical vertebra for which I would need neurosurgery.  I would have to be transferred to Phoenix for the surgery.

Brian took Dave to get a rental car and to the junkyard where our totaled car had been towed. They retrieved all our suitcases and Brian bought us a new car seat for Anabelle while I was flown to Phoenix by a life flight airplane.  The kindness that was shown to us by Brian and to me by the medical crew was overwhelming. I closed my eyes in gratitude, along with some help from the pain relief medication as we took the one hour flight to Phoenix.  My husband and baby would drive 5 hours to Phoenix.

I arrived at the trauma ER at St. Joseph’s Hospital on a hard board and was seen by various medical staff and had a multitude of scans done as I waited to be reunited with my husband again.  We knew two other LDS families living in Phoenix, the Allphin’s and the Thomas’s from medical school.  Dave spoke to Kendrick  and asked him to visit me at the hospital until he arrived.  His wife, Stephanie offered to take care of Anabelle for two days while we were in the hospital.  Dave and the Allphin’s hadn’t spoken for two years because of a disagreement but the last miracle was of forgiveness and reuniting of their friendship as the Allphin’s took care of Anabelle for two days as well.

By the time I was reunited with my husband in Phoenix, I had undergone another series of tests and scans and had been seen by the neurosurgery specialists.   Kendrick had been a great substitute while David was on his way there, giving me water from a cup by a sponged spoon and asking the doctors questions. I found out that I also had a small fracture in my sternum as well and a small left vertebral artery tear, both of which would not need any drastic medical attention at the time.  I had a great nurse that cleaned the dirt out of the abrasions I had and prepped me for the surgery.  My surgery was scheduled for the next day and we would wait in the ICU. Dave spent a lot of time on the phone with family members updating them periodically.  However when the time came for surgery, he would experience loneliness he had never before felt.  As new physicians, we experienced what it was like to be the patient and family member.  During the surgery, Dave was only able to keep himself distracted for 1 hour before he started to worry about my outcome.  Two hours later, I emerged from a successful anterior cervical discectomy with fusion, still intubated and sedated because of the possibility of neck swelling.  My husband stayed at my bedside the whole time.

It wasn’t till the next day that I started to be myself again.  I was on very strong pain medicine and spent a lot of the time sleeping.  Dave spent a majority of the time calling family and friends to let them know that I was ok.  I was able to speak to them occasionally.  I spent the weekend in the ICU and was transferred to the floor on Monday.  I had many loving visitors during that time.  I continued to be in a lot of pain but was able to do some things by myself.  I was discharged on Tuesday with permission to fly to our final destination in a couple of days. Dave and Chris  drove to Page to return the rental car.  Stephanie  picked me up from the hospital, picked up my prescription and made sure I was comfortable.  We stayed with the Thomas’s until it was time to fly out.  Dave’s parents had purchased the tickets so that I would be more comfortable as we continued on our journey.

The kindness that was shown to our family during this time was immeasurable.  We will be forever grateful to our family and friends and to the many strangers for extending their help.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2011 6:01 am

    THanks for sharing. Good to have this for your prosperity to read, as well as for you so you can remember how much Heavenly Father really is looking out for you.

  2. May 1, 2011 2:06 am

    SO thankful that you, Dave and Annabelle are alright. Just the thought makes me shudder. Just so you know, you both were two of the most important people in my life on Saba and I always have fond and happy memories of being with you. Much love and take care you three. Hope to see you again soon. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: