6 years ago, today, my life changed drastically. It was the summer between my junior and senior year of college. I was on the way to Steven’s Point with my then boyfriend, Marcus. I was reaching for my phone to call my mom and let her know we arrived safely when we went off the road. We were just about to cross over a bridge so we literally flew off the cliff, over four lanes of traffic and rolled the car into the opposite ditch. I was ejected.
this is the “cliff” we flew off of
I don’t think I really knew I was ejected until I read the police report. From then on, it was like a movie playing before me. Hearing my name being screamed from somewhere at my feet. Marcus stumbling towards me, with blood running down the side of his face. I held my hands up to say STOP when I realized my cell phone was in my hand. I dialed 911. What the heck was I going to tell them? I had no idea where we really were, somewhere outside of Wausau. I heard sirens coming so I hung up right away. I had to call my mom.
Just as I had dialed, Marcus wanted to tell my mom but he just started sobbing. A stranger came from somewhere behind me, took the phone and spoke with my mom. “Your daughter has been in a terrible car accident. She seems to be talking clearly but she has obviously broken her leg. The paramedics are here now and they are going to take her to a clinic in Waupaca.” My mom, dad, sister and grandma were at my little brother’s baseball game. They tell me that they just scooped up everything, threw it in the trunk and started driving. My mom whipped out a map while they were on the freeway and they figured out how to get to me as quickly as they could.
My dad tells me later that at a certain point, he felt a quick pain. Like his breath was taken away. He thought at that very moment, he might have lost me. We tracked the timing and we think it’s when the EMTs lifted me to the stretcher. It was that moment that the real pain of my 8 pelvic fractures, broken femur, broken tail bone, two broken ribs and torn urethra really set in.
I tried so hard to answer all of the questions. Tell and re-tell the story to doctors and police officers. No we weren’t drinking or on drugs. No there was no foul play. I don’t know why we went off of the road, I was digging through my purse.
Once my parents, sister and grandma met me at the clinic I don’t remember much except my nurse was really nice. Her name was Al. I left the answers to them.
I was flown by Flight for Life to Freodert hospital where I would receive the best care in Wisconsin. I spent 6 weeks on the orthopedic floor. 5 of which were flat on my back as I lay in traction. We didn’t use any plates to hold my pelvis together … it was longer recovery, but in the long run would be better. I did end up with a metal rod in my right leg. The scars from the surgery are something to brag about.
After my stay in the hospital, I spent another 10 weeks in a wheel chair, allowing my pelvis to really heal. I had to spend the first semester of my senior year of college at home, sleeping in a hospital bed in the living room and using a commode. I couldn’t go outside by myself … my house wasn’t handicap accessible. The showers were on the second floor so I could only take bird baths. I struggled with being bound to a wheel chair. When I would complain, my mom would get frustrated and remind me that it wasn’t permanent. I should be thankful that one day I’ll walk. I just needed to suck it up.
There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t think about this part of my life. I was changed completely. I was down a path of being a typical college student … lots of drinking, testing my boundaries, dating the wrong kinds of guys. This experience was my wake up call. I learned about myself in ways I never would have been able to. While I don’t wish to be ejected out of a car again, I treasure this experience. This pain is apart of me and it’s woven into who I am today. It was through this experience I learned how to really smile in the face of tragedy. To find something good in being on bed rest.
My mom and I remember that even on our worst day … we never felt like we were at the bottom of the monkey pile. There were so many things that could be worse. I was still thankful for being alive and for having so many people love me. I remember the same kinds of feelings with Owen. I only had 6 months with Owen. But what about the mother that had 32 years with her son … and now that person is gone? Yes I have a 6 month void … she has a 32 year void. Which would be worse? What if I didn’t have two other babies to come home to? Even now, I’m not at the bottom of the monkey pile.
While in the hospital after the accident, there were days I laughed so hard! Once my dad bought me power puff girl temporary tattoos; just for fun. My mom and I spent an evening putting them in random places. One was on my knee near my pin sites, where the nurses cleaned each morning and night. One went on my big toe so when the doctor did his rounds and checked my toes for circulation they would also find a surprise. Another went just above my belly button so when I got my blood thinner shots in the morning the nurse would also find a little ‘treat’.
We had “party hair” days. This included me putting my hair into two Thumbelina buns on the top of my head with puffy girly frilly barrettes my sister bought for me at the dollar store. I had my selection of body sprays that I got to select from each morning. And don’t forget the ping pong ball gun I used to shoot at my nurses as they walked by the door.
I learned what a mother’s love could do. My mother, not once, did she leave my side. She slept on a cot, under the darn sink, each and every night I was there. Ok, I think she had 3 or 4 nights off where she spent time with my brother or got something done with the house her and my dad were building at the time. She was there though. Through everything. My dad, sister and brother also came up every day. It’s not like the hospital is in our backyard … it’s a good 25 min drive. But they were there for me.
I had always doubted my family’s love. They couldn’t possibly love me. I grew up thinking I was the odd duck out. this is complete preposterous … and foolish. My family’s love is so deep, so pure. They have been my strength through the hardest times in my life. I wouldn’t be me without them.
Every ache in my hips, every lock of my leg, glimpses of my scare, I am reminded. I am a survivor. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You’re a warrior Mel. Owen learned from you. Wow that is a terrifying story the phone call every loved one dreads. God has some ginormous plans for you! Keep marching on, you’re an inspiration.
Oh my goodness. I have to agree with Patty on two counts. You are a SUPER warrior AND God definitely has some HUGE plans in store. What a trooper! Simply Amazing!
Wow…..and then you carried triplets!! You’re amazing!!
It seems to me being a warrior runs in your family!!
Mrs. Bissing I posted earlier about emailing you a picture of Owen along with his name, but i need to get your email. Where can I get this?
Now I see where Owen got his warrior-ness from! You, once again, prove to be truely amazing! And you look just like your mom! So pretty! 🙂
My wife was in a similar accident, with a rollover on a major freeway. She, too, spent some significant time in the hospital and she too now has plates in her right leg. I think you (and my wife) are both super strong women and I don’t know how you got through all that pain but all I can say is… keep on rockin’. You’re amazing. =)
You are such an amazing person! It is s gift to see all things with a positive light in them ~ even when it seems like there isn’t. I love your WARRIOR spirit – I think if I hang out with you enough it will rub off 😉
I have a story for you….I thought you would appreciate this since Jaden also Pplays t-ball. My 4 year old, Jackson, finished up his first season of t-ball last night. He was awarded the MVP title for the season. This goes to the player that showed the most improvement throughout the season. He was handed a brand new t-ball bat as the coach called his name. You will not even believe the name of the bat……WARRIOR!!!! Owen truly is everywhere and you are a family of warriors. May God continue to bless you!!!!!
Now we know where Owen learned to be a warrior! His warrior mommy! You are an inspiration to many Mel! Always thinking of your family! 🙂
Thanks for writing this. It’s a good gut-check for someone like myself, who has been one of the first EMTs on scene at a similar accident on a multi-lane interstate. I still think about that patient every day, knowing that even though they pulled through by a miracle of God, they have a long road ahead of them. I can only hope that they keep fighting like you did!
THANK U FOR SHARING YOUR STORY! I LOVE U AND I DONT EVEN KNOW U!! STILL PRAYING FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!
You’ve been through so much! You are definitely a warrior-Owen obviously got that trait from you! But what’s craziest to me is as soon as I seen the “cliff” I knew exactly where that was…and I have a friend Al who is a emergency room nurse in Waupaca…I hope it was her you had because she’s awesome. Just reading that brought me chills…I know that area so well and don’t live far from there-it’s like my back yard. You are an amazing person and have such a positive outlook through everything you’ve been through. You’re an inspiration for us!
You’re even tougher than I realized. Wow.
Hi, I came across your blog a week or so ago and read about you losing your precious baby, and now read about your accident. Al, the nurse your mentioned, is my neice, and yes she is a very sweet girl!!! A small world!!! hugs from Mesa, AZ!
you are still a survivor today ! God just keeps on testing you ! your parents and you are all so remarkable being able to look past the dark clouds and see the sun ! love n prayers , sher
You are one tough chickie, Melissa, don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I had no idea you had been through something like this, although why would I, I only know you through this blog and the two times we met when I dropped off dinner and came to the pizza fund raiser. I truly believe that God doesn’t hand out obsticles to those who cannot handle them or have the support to handle them, and clearly, you have both:) I hope you continue to find comfort in your strenght and the strength you bring to others:)
I too have just come across your blog and reading about your little Owen…then my niece, Al text me about your blog entry….that is amazing in it self as she is not one to bring notice to herself but she shared this, with us her family. So happy you remember her and her kindness as this is ‘Our AL’ or ‘Allie-Kat’ to me…..kind, level headed and sweet to a fault. Happy you have had good recovery and loving family then and now.
Hugs from Minnesota.
Owen defenitely gets his warrior side from you. Your such a strong amazing women. Always thinking of u and your family!!!!
I was in a terrible accident when I was 17 that is somewhat similar to yours. I was driving and fell asleep at the wheel. My car went off a 40 ft interstate overpass. I broke my back, factured my pevis, crushed my ankle and torn 3 out of 4 ligaments in my knee. I spent a year learning to walk again. Unlike you, I can remember crying in the hospital bed because I didn’t want to be alone. Like you, I know that time changed me and, although a bit weird to say, I’m almost glad to have gone through it 🙂
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