Waking Nightmare ~ Granted A Miracle

November 9, 2009 • Health & Well Being, Pondering Life • Views: 121

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Over time I’ve shared some of my health issues, and the journey to find answers, with you – the readers. I have received several e-mails asking if the doctors know what causes my chronic pain, TMJ, and the other symptoms I experience. Thought there is no defined cause of fibromyalgia, it is believed, in some cases, to be the result of physical trauma. In the early hours of August 26th, 2001 I was in a serious car accident. My Doctors and I believe this incident contributed to todays health issues.

I choose to see the glass half full because I’ve experienced a lot in my thus far short time on earth. Some of it terrible — much of it miraculous. I will share with you one experience that I draw on to remember the blessing it is to be alive.

WAKING NIGHTMARE

The day began with a dream. Music was playing note for note; all of the instruments laired perfectly as Tori Amos sang “Northern Lad”. The dampness of early morning seeped into my bones; I was waking up. Images faded into sound, music overtaking the dream. The cold was intense but my subconscious agreed to wakeup after the song ended. The final notes swam through my mind then I opened my eyes into a nightmare.

There were no sounds, so smells, just blackness. I had feeling in my limbs but I was immobilized. My head was cloudy and my eyes wouldn’t focus. There was no fear, just a strange dizziness, like waking from surgery. I realized I was still dreaming, a dream within a dream. My eyes started to focus slightly. I saw the outline of a dashboard. I was sitting in a car, seatbelt holding me firmly in place. Attempting to reach across and unbuckle the belt with my left hand I couldn’t move my shoulder. My hand scraped against a wall of dirt, which had replaced the driver’s side window. I could feel clammy earth embedding under my nails. My vision remained blurry; it was impossible to see my surroundings. “I have to wakeup,” I said aloud. Using my right hand I unbuckled the seatbelt. This was the moment where nightmare became reality.

PhotobucketMy body fell straight down. My head smashed against the roof while the weight of my legs fell forward, my bare knees grinding into the broken windshield; which had folded in on the roof. A pain shot through me like a dagger into my brain stem, I let out a loud gasp. I was definitely awake. This was not a dream nor had it been from the moment Tori stopped singing. A wave of disbelief washed over me, this was real but what happened? Where was I? Then the most horrifying question entered my mind: Who am I?

Rational thoughts kicked in. I took inventory of the situation: I’d been in an accident. I was alone. It was night. It was cold. I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and my shoes were gone. There was a lot of blood, but no major visible wounds. I had to figure out my name, where I was, and I had to get help. I crawled across glass pebbles into the back where there was more headroom. There was so much glass. Every window broken except the rear passenger. As I tried to brush the glass away to clear a place to sit small bits sliced my hands. A few slivers stabbed the palms of my hands and remained there until I clumsily pulled them out. At first my fingers stung as I tried to pull the slivers from my hands. Then all I could feel was the dizziness in my head.

“I have a name. I have to remember my name.” Reciting the letters of the alphabet aloud, for each letter I listed all the names I could think of, sure that when I got to my name my memory would return. After twenty minutes I reached the letter “P,” my name was Pamela. Yes. This was right. My name was Pamela. The next hurtle began with: “I’m from…” I listed places until I triumphed: I was from Toronto. I couldn’t see my surroundings from inside the overturned car but the absence of light, and deafening silence assured me this was not Toronto.

Remembering I had a cell phone, I felt around to find it. The green screen illuminated, there was power but no signal. I knew I had to get out of the car. The rear passenger door was the only one not blocked with dirt. I attempted to open it, pain shot through my left arm. I didn’t have the strength to push it open. Lying across the glass-carpeted roof I couldn’t feel the glass digging into me; shock was setting in. With all the strength I could muster I kicked the door with both feet, then crawled through the two-foot opening. I was in a ditch, twelve feet deep, still no signal on my phone; it was a slow climb up the embankment. Reaching the dirt road I saw miles of marshland in every direction.

PhotobucketI dialed 911. I told the operator my name, and that I was in a ditch. But I didn’t know where the ditch was. I told him I was from Toronto and I didn’t know how I got into the marsh, He told me I was somewhere in New Brunswick. Only calls from New Brunswick were routed to him. I had no idea why I would be alone in New Brunswick. I lived in Toronto. He asked me the last thing I remembered, a road sign – anything. I had a flash of memory: 12:01am, I went over the embankment. I heard crushing steel and shattering glass; the left front tire went in first, the roof caved in on the first rollover, I hit my head. Then I woke up. That’s all I remembered.

The operator was concerned, it was 4:18am; I had been unconscious for more than four hours. He continued to ask me questions: What’s your last name? Do you have family in New Brunswick? Are you on business? Do you know what direction you were headed? Among other things; all of which I couldn’t answer. My brain felt ten times larger than my skull, I was dizzy and nauseous. Then something else flashed: a sign. There was a sign. “Goose Lake,” my memory was returning. “I left the highway for gas, the sign said: Open 24 Hours, but the station was closed. The sign pointing back to the highway was wrong; it led into the marsh. A small animal ran in front of the car, I tried to avoid it, hitting gravel the shoulder I lost control, the car rolled.”

There were hundreds of miles of marshland; the operator said an ambulance had been dispatched but he wasn’t sure how long it would take to find me. I felt I was close to loosing consciousness. I told him there was a radio tower directly north of me, probably ten miles, and in the far distance to the east I saw the haze of city lights, maybe twenty-five miles away. Those were the only landmarks. I felt my knees buckling and told him I had to go back to the car, I was going to pass out and needed shelter. He pleaded with me to stay on the line. He said I shouldn’t go to sleep after a major head trauma. Covered in blood, I didn’t want to be on the side of the road for a bobcat to stumble upon. The car was safer and warmer; I was freezing. I said goodbye and slid down the embankment.

I dug through the glass, found my keys, and turned on the headlights; hoping they would be visible from the road. Leaning against the back of the drivers seat I was picking shards of glass form my legs and feet. I knew I had to stay awake but it was difficult. Pulling my denim jacket over my knees I sat tucked in a ball shivering, unable to get warm. At least a half-hour passed, finally the sound of an engine, relief, they’d found me, everything would be ok. Then to my horror the vehicle drove away. I hadn’t given up, but crossed over into a state of indifference, they will find me or they wont. I’ll start walking at sunrise. I knew I had done all I could.

PhotobucketAfter twenty minutes more the engine sound returned. A young man on his way home saw headlights and a demolished car. He drove to the nearest farmhouse for help. An old man’s voice was calling: hello. I answered. The man asked where the driver was. I explained I was alone. He asked again thinking this was impossible, the driver couldn’t have survived. I asked if they knew exactly where I was. The old man said he did, I tossed him the cell phone and told him to call 911 and give them directions. He looked at the phone like it was from outer space. He tossed it to the young man and said, “Do you know how it works?” He did not.
Are you kidding me? I thought.

“Just dial 911 and press send. They know I’m here. They’ve been looking for almost an hour.”

“They’re almost here,” he said. “The ambulance is only five minutes away.”

When the ambulance arrived the attendant asked where the driver was. I insisted I was alone. They loaded me onto a stretcher as the second ambulance attendant searched around the car for a second victim. By now I was shivering uncontrollably. I felt like I was having some sort of seizure. They covered me in warm blankets but I couldn’t stop shaking.

The attendant asked me lots of questions as he checked my vitals. I started to remember more. I was on my way to PEI to see my family. My mothers name was ________ (not for public consumption). They asked her phone number. I knew there was a 7 in it. That was all.

I was taken to Shediac Hospital in New Brunswick. I lay on a gurney in the hospital ER. Under the florescent lights my eyes burned. My head felt as if it would split in two. I had a massive concussion and level three whiplash: whatever that meant. I didn’t imagine a level one whiplash would feel any better. I was able to remember my mother’s last name. The RCMP found her number and called her. My family was on their way from PEI to retrieve me.

“Clinch your teeth and hold perfectly still.” The x-ray technician said as she lined up the blue laser-light cross hairs on my face. “Remember not to move.” She said as she left the room. The skull x-ray’s seemed to take forever. I had the sensation that my eyes might be launched out of their sockets each time I clenched my teeth. The white room, filled with stainless steel apparatus, glared into my retina under the blinding lights. The sterile medical smell was making me sick to my stomach. I was relieved to be wheeled back to my room in the ER.

I waited there, covered in a mixture of clay and dried blood. There was no one available to clean me up. Around 8:30am a doctor came in to read my x-rays. He was a tall confident man. “Rough night.” He stated. “Well, you’re lucky. Though there’s been significant head trauma there’s no skull fracture. It will probably take six months to a year for your brain to heal completely. Cuts and bruises are minor. You will be released into your families care when they arrive.”

“Thanks,” was all I could manage. I felt a combination of sick and stupid.

“Good thing you used to be local.” He said.

“Huh?” I said.

“They might not have found you for a long time if you hadn’t known you were
looking at a radio tower. Most big city people aren’t familiar with them.”

My sister arrived with her husband, my mom, and my three nephews. The boys were upset to see all of the blood. It was a bad scene. My mother looked like she might faint. I just wanted drugs for the pain and sleep. The doctor told my mother I had to be woken every hour for the next 24. After all the instructions were given I was released.

We drove to the wreckers to get what was left of my belongings from what was left of my car. With one look at the mangled car I knew why everyone was looking for a body. My worst day turned out to be my most blessed. I knew I had been granted a miracle.

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26 Responses to Waking Nightmare ~ Granted A Miracle

  1. linda woods says:

    Holy crap! I am so glad you survived! I count you as one of the blessings in my life. I’d have been so pissed if you died before I knew you.

  2. Yeah – I would have been pissed too! We have so much to do. I can’t imagine not having had the opportunity to live the past eight years. To have missed out on so many fine people and experiences. You are a blessing in my life too, seester!

  3. Patricia/Plookster says:

    Wow Pam, that’s one heck of a nightmare experience and you took me right there with your account of it; all I can say is I’m so glad you made it out of there and got to where you are today :)

  4. Jen says:

    Wow, What an account of what must have been a terrifying moment. Your strength got you through and continues to lead your way.
    Thank you for sharing your story Pam. Life is hard and so fragile.
    Your strength is inspiring.

  5. OMG, a horrible accident and blessed miracle all in one. So glad that they found you and that I found you meandering through this wonderful cyber-scape.

  6. CarrieJ says:

    Wow … and WOW! An absolute miracle!! I am so glad you had the strength to fight your way out of the car and up the bank and back! It shouldn’t surprise me. In the short time I have known you I have been impressed by that amazing strength of will that is Pam!

  7. Amanda says:

    Pam, that was absolutely amazing. I am so so so grateful you came out of it alive. What a great reminder that, even though we think things are at there worst, they could always be worse. Even with all the pains and other things left over, I now understand where the strength for you to pull through it comes from.

  8. Thank you all for your time – this one is sort of epic. Also, thank you for your kind comments. I was always a person who felt fortunate to be alive. Yet, after that day – I see every waking moment as a gift. No matter how much pain I’m in, I am here. I feel like the luckiest person on earth. Sincerely, I do.

    Pam

  9. Emily says:

    This made me cry. I lost a friend in an accident, and her car wasn’t nearly has….mangled, as yours.

    Everything about this is inspirational. The way you handled the situation, the way you can write about it, the attitude you have about it. Everything. Thank you for sharing, and I’m so glad you’re still here. Even if our ‘twitter-conversations’ are short, and not often, they make me smile. :)

  10. Hey Emily,
    I’m so sorry your friend didn’t make it. I was so blessed! I also enjoy our little chats. Sometimes a few words from a cyber pal can change the direction of a day for the better. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.
    xx

  11. Patience says:

    So cathartic for you to write the words on your blog…amazing story but of course even more amazing that you were able to be here to share it with us all…kudos lady…could have been a nightmare …guess it wasn’t your time…glad your here. xxx.

  12. We haven’t met but from your messages, I’m pretty certain you are the kind of person we NEED here. I’m glad this miracle happened…because I can tell you are a blessing to those whose lives you touch.

  13. Again, thanks to all of you for your time and support.
    Patience, it was a good exercise to write it out several years back. For a time I would dream about it. That stopped after I put the experience on paper.

    Vixter,
    Thank you for your lovely comment. I’ve enjoyed our twitter exchanges and get a great vibe about you as well.

  14. donnam13 says:

    i cant imagine going through this. you survived for a reason i’m sure of it.

  15. I agree, Donnam13 – I was meant for more. So I do my best to spend time wisely and appreciate the days :)

  16. Marian/LittleLeafsFan says:

    Pam, so glad you made it out of there alive! I felt like I was right there with you the way you wrote your experience. You’re a special person and the world is very lucky to have you in it!!!

  17. Christine says:

    Oh my dearest friend Pam…how I remember this terrible experience you went through. For it was only two days later you were recounting the events of that night to Rhonda and I at Twin Shores campground. All I remember is thinking how grateful and thankful I was that you were there with us able to tell the story! You are one of my dearest, closest and trusted friends…this world would be missing an angel if you weren’t a part of it…and my life would have an unthinkable void. Love you Pammy! xoxoxo

  18. Hey Marian,
    Thank you! I think we are all special in our own ways. I’m very glad to be here.

  19. Oh My Dear Chrissy Marcy!
    I miss you like mad! I remember that night too. I was so sore and weird in the head (more so than usual). Still – we managed to laugh before the night was out. Time flies, we’ve been through a lot together over the past 24 years! LORDY! How’d we get so old! you will always be my sister and I love you dearly!
    xoxox

  20. Karen Dinino says:

    You battled fear, loneliness, loss, pain and death–and WON–all in one night! You are amazing, and I am inspired by you every day. Now, don’t ever do that again.

  21. Heidi Groff says:

    what a terrifying experience…and to be all alone…wow. you are indeed so very blessed.

  22. Hey Karen,
    I promise I NEVER plan on doing that again! It would interfere with out future wedding plans.

    Hey Heidi,
    It was quite an experience. When I realized I was not dreaming I was horrified for about 10 seconds, then the survival instinct kicked in. “Pull yourself together- whoever you are,” is what my inner voice told me. As long as I live I will not forget how blessed my life has been.

  23. Lisa says:

    Holy Jesus Pam, what a horrific thing to go thru, but thank God you survived! I’m so glad you lived to tell the tale & that we got to meet at least once, hopefully again some time too :)

  24. Little Sun says:

    Sometimes being short is truly a blessing ;) So very glad it was not your time.

  25. [...] hate/like it. I hate that I’m not an athletic person and I never was (I was not bendy before the car accident and I’ve definitely become far less bendy in the 9 years following the wreck). I hate that I wish [...]

  26. [...] me that I had pain in my left upper arm and shoulder (where I suffered a separated shoulder in the accident.) He also pointed out other areas of my body where I had significant pain. All were correct. Then [...]

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