It was a night to remember. Perhaps every high school girl’s dream. I was an attendant on the homecoming court. I had the dress. I had the car. I had the escort of my choice. It was all perfect. The only worry I had was whether or not my curls would fall in the southern humidity. I looked beautiful, I was told, and I would later be told everything about the night. It was a night to remember, but not for the reasons expected. I have no memory of that night. Now, I have a dress in shreds and a totaled mass of metal that once was an SUV.
On September 27, 2015, I woke up in a hospital bed attached and probed with wires. I was sore, I had a headache, a gash on my wrist and a friction burn on my neck. I knew where I was and why I was there; yet, at the same time, I did not. On my way home, I was in a terrible car accident. Witnesses said it was like I was merging lanes and never stopped until I hit the rock wall that surrounds the Tennessee interstates. I remember nothing of the night much less the accident; however, we assume I fell asleep behind the wheel. CAT scans showed the wreck resulted in a mild brain hemorrhage and concussion. The dress I was wearing had a full beaded back, and the force caused the beads to dig into my skin and leave scratches and imprints. Today, I have discoloration on my lower back that resembles zebra stripes, and I love the character that it brings. The small cut on my wrist is now my only physical scar. In relation to my brain, my focus and ability to memorize and remember things has changed. It is now quite common to have crippling headaches a few times a month, and if I spend too much time on an electronic or reading print that is too small, without a lot of spacing, I become dizzy — all little consequences compared to those that were possible.
The following week involved a lot of motion sickness and memory tests. As I attempted the read during my week of bed rest, it hit me. As I attempted to focus on the now swirling letters, how this could affect my life. Despite these few after effects, I am quite lucky to be alive. If anyone else had been in the car with me, they would not be here today. I even think it has been questioned as to why I am not in worse shape than I am. I was pretty bad the night of. Even throughout my weekend stay at the hospital, I oftentimes would ask where I was because my internal equilibrium was off, I couldn’t stomach anything I ate and OxyCodin only made me feel worse. I looked around and saw the now handicapped victims of accidents much less severe than mine. It was quite humbling to be one of the only ones in a trauma unit that will get to walk away without life changing effects.
It was very frustrating at first. As a junior in high school, I was too concerned with thinking ahead to college to worry about getting back on track than thinking about resting my body and mind. I was essentially dyslexic the first few weeks following and couldn’t read. School became very difficult for my high school is technology based, and I could only be on any electronic for an hour. The week I had missed following the wreck was the last week of the quarter and I had missed countless tests, a paper and already missed a few chapters in my AP class. I was only allowed to do work for so much time and was given a bedtime. I am grateful my teachers were so supportive and allowed me until Christmas break to get everything done, but it literally took three months, plus me dropping a class, to get caught back up. Nevertheless, it has been over a year now and I am still adjusting.
I recently was able to have a hands-on experience with the first responders who saved my life through a Youth Leadership program. Through this experience, I was able to gain a sense of all that was involved in saving my life. Similar to my rescue, I was able to break the door's glass window and use the jaws of life to take the door off. While I have no recollection of this actually being done for me the night of the wreck, the sounds of cutting metal were all too similar.
On the year anniversary of the wreck, I tried to have a little celebration and suck the helium out of one of my surviving hospital balloons, but to no avail. You can still slightly see my skid marks at mile marker twenty-eight in Robertson County over a year later. It is frustrating to still have no recollection of that night; however, probably good for my emotional state. I was scared to get behind the wheel for weeks; I can’t imagine how I would be if I were to remember my screams of fear and the feeling of losing control. Please don't text and drive, much less drink and drive, because I can promise you that the possible end results are excruciating. Appreciate life, because you never know when something will happen.
I would like to say special thanks to Vanderbilt Hospital, Pleasant View fire department, Robertson county first responders and to all remembered and not remembered who helped save my life.
Lead Image Credit: Jennifer Hurt