Car Crash – A Long Story

I don’t remember the crash.

I don’t even remember waking up from my coma.

I do however remember my mom saying to me, “Ok, Daphne, this is the guy you gotta show”.

I didn’t find out until later that my mother had said that to me when I was still in my coma.

When I think back, I can remember seeing faces.

I think the only reason I wasn’t confused was because I always had someone telling me what was happening.

I do remember feeling the love that everyone felt for me.

I have since been told all about what happened on October 27, 1992 and I will now tell you.

My mother and I were involved in a near fatal car accident. From what I have been told, and looking at the pictures, I understand that we were broadsided. I was told that I broke the passenger window with my head and was pulled from the car. But from looking at the pictures I’m glad I was pulled from the vehicle. I guess I was left lying in the middle of the intersection when the vehicles stopped spinning. Most car accidents can be easily prevented with a 5 hour online course about defensive driving, visit IMPROV NY for more information about.

The first person to stop at the accident site was a paramedic; the second person had a cell phone to call the ambulance. When the St. Albert ambulance got me to the Sturgeon General the doctors thought it would be best if I was transferred to the Royal Alexander Hospital because I had a brain injury.

I was told that the EMS drivers radioed to the Royal that I would be DOA. Luckily they were able to keep me alive until we arrived. I was hooked up to full life support for two weeks.

My Dad told me that I had about 18 different tubes coming out of me. I know I had a shunt in my head to drain the fluid off my brain, because of the swelling caused by my skull not cracking when it broke the window. I was told I was receiving 5 cc’s of Morphine and 5 cc’s of Demerol every half hour. The doctors were keeping me in my coma so my body could heal.

That’s where my mom saying, “Ok Daphne, this is the guy you gotta show” comes into play. When I asked her about this event, she started to cry. She has since told me that I would lift my index finger of my left hand when asked. My mom wanted me to show the doctor that I could respond and that my brain was still working. I think this is when the doctors stopped medicating me so heavily.

My Grandma Dietrich told the story many times. She felt that she was being drawn to Edmonton from Lloydminster on the Friday before I came out of my coma. She came into my room and got down beside my bed then clearly said, “Ok Daphne Grandma is here, it’s
time to wake up and open your eyes”. She would always be overjoyed when she would tell this story because after she said what she had said, I opened my right eye. As I said before, I don’t remember this event, but I have heard the story so many times that I feel like I do.

While I was in my coma the Canadian Finals Rodeo had begun and when I came out of it they had made an announcement to the arena that I had woken up. The next day all the Miss Rodeo Canada contestants came to visit me. I still have the picture.

My stay at the Royal Alex lasted two months. While at the hospital I was restrained in my bed as I was told I would pull out my nasal feeding tube. I was told that was a stereotypical trait of people that survive severe closed head injuries such as mine.

The first words I spoke while coming out of my coma were, “Ask Barb out”. In my matchmaking skills I decided that the nurse and my friend should date. It turns out my matchmaking skills were rusty because she was married.

I remember my volleyball team coming to the hospital to visit me and I can remember some of their faces and how some of them were uncomfortable with seeing me in that state.

I do remember the day I was transferred to the Pediatric ward of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. My parents told me after that I did not want the intern to push my wheelchair. I also remember going down this long hallway that, I was told, was under the road. I thought that was very cool.

When I got to Glenrose I remember being pushed onto this really old elevator that had an orange door and a funny smell inside it. When we got off on the second floor it opened onto this big room, which looked like a dining hall of sorts. I was introduced to all the staff and they took me to my new room. When we entered my room I was furious. I didn’t want to be in a horse bed. It was a bed on the floor that had walls all around it. I really did not want to be in a box stall. It was not explained to me until later the reason for the bed being on the floor was for my own safety as I would thrash in my sleep. They were attempting to prevent further injuries that could occur if I fell out of bed.

I remember the staff bringing me a menu of the meals for the next week and asking me to choose what I would like to eat four days later. This task was particularly difficult as I did not have a concept of time or decision making.

When I was tired I was tired, and when I was up and ready to go, watch out!

I found it very hard to be in the hospital. Before my accident I was an athletic teenager that played sports and rode my horse twice a day. Now I was bedridden and could only go somewhere if I had help getting out of bed and being pushed in my wheelchair. I had to have help to go to the bathroom and someone would even have to be in the room when I was having a bath. I had major issues with this.
It was at this time that I decided I was going to what ever it was that I had to do to get out of the hospital. Not even realizing that expectation was a powerful attractive force. I knew what I wanted. I expected my recovery to happen and it did.

I was very depressed about how I looked too. I had a piece of my head shaved from where they had the shunt. Because of the coma my left eyelid was barely open and my eye turned out. I felt that I looked awful and was constantly dealing with head and back aches.

In my first week at Glenrose I remember that I had all of the different therapist come to my room to access me but they would only stay for a half hour at a time. I remember the board in my room that would say what was going to happen for that day. Every half hour it would say rest and that was for a half hour time period. Then there would be another therapist come to test me for something.

Some of the tests I had to do were so hard. The psychologist would read me a list of words then I would have to say all the words I remembered back to her. The words that I forgot she would say again to me and I would have to try to say them all again. That test took forever.

School was so hard. My teachers name was Tami and her assistant was Wanda. I couldn’t’t even write my name. School wasn’t that difficult before the accident but with no memory skills what so ever, and a short temper, things were always interesting for my half hour session. Little did I know at the time, that all of the skills and strategies I was relearning would assist me when I went back to school.

My physiotherapist, Cam, had me sitting on a big bed doing leg lifts to get my strength back. I had been either lying down or sitting for 3 months, so I had no muscles left. It goes with the phrase, if you don’t use it you lose it. I wasn’t able to balance on the wobble board, even with his help. A wobble board is a circle shaped board with a half ball under it. Needless to say that didn’t go so swell and I never did master that one. I remember the difficulty I had while trying to walk along the rails. I felt like I was on a make shift bridge that was going to topple over at any second. I guess I felt this way because my legs were so unsteady and weak.

I can remember the first time I stood up, independently, from the floor like it was yesterday. My mom was there with me. Cam and I had gone over and over the steps beforehand so I was ready.

I started from a sitting position. I brought my left heel under my right thigh to my butt cheek on my right side. Then I got up on my left knee with my right leg bent and right foot on the floor. So I was kneeling on my left knee with my right foot on the floor, with my right knee bent. I then placed both hands, one on top the other, and pushed and lifted myself up. It was all done very slowly with a whole lot of shaking. Mom was standing there with both arms out, ready to catch me, but I never fell.

I feel that was one of the biggest accomplishments of my recovery. I also remember trying to walk on a trampoline. That was a task and a half; I had no balance so every step I took was very painstaking. I am so glad that I had Cam help me to regain my strength because I do not know what I would have done if I would not have been able to walk again.
My speech therapist would show me picture after picture, and when I thought I was seeing the picture for the second time I would have to tell her. She would then make a little tick on the page, I never knew if I was right or wrong.

As for the occupational therapy, well I felt like that was a joke. I didn’t have one consistent therapist. It always kept changing and I didn’t know who I was going to see from one day to the next. I still have the tape case that I built while I was there.

Kim was my recreation therapist and she always brought a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart. She always seemed to be in a good mood. There was even one time she took me and Sean to play mini golf at the mall. I feel that is was the help of all these individuals that made my recovery so amazing. I have always been grateful for their help. Then I began to see that the more grateful I was for what I already had, the more good things came my way. In my mind I was going to defeat all of the issues I was dealing with.

I’m not sure how long I had been at Glenrose when I met Sean. All I remember is a guy about my age coming into my room with 4 pins screwed into his head that was attached to a big brace. I later found out that it was a head brace to let his neck heal after being broken.

I don’t know why Sean stuck it out with me because I’m sure that I was not all that pleasant a person to be around. Maybe it was because neither of us had anywhere else to be or go. We did, over time, develop a very strong friendship though. We spent many of a morning, noon, and nights playing crib and pool, or him pushing me in my wheelchair so we could get off the Peds ward, when we weren’t in all our different therapies that is. I even developed a bit of a crush on him and I think he had a crush on me too. I could be wrong though, he never admitted it to me. As I proceeded through my recovery we would go down to the big cafeteria to have lunches and suppers together.

I really liked all the staff on the Pediatric ward. Elsie was my first main staff and she reminded me of my grandmother, so it was a little easier to let her help me do things. Shirley was another cool staff member. She would play pool with me when Sean wasn’t available.

John was the head of the Pediatric brain injury patients on the ward and he was very cool. He had long hair and always wore it in a pony tail. He also carried around this little wooden flute like instrument. When he played I was always smiling. He would play crib with me, but I have a feeling he would sometimes cheat just to see if I was paying attention.

I was only in my first room for a few months. When I didn’t need quite so much support I got transferred to a new room. I felt a bit secluded in my new room. Sean was gone from the hospital so I felt very alone. I didn’t really want to socialize with anyone else that was there. They were all younger than me, except for one guy that was about my age.

His name was Bryan and he had survived a brain injury too. I wasn’t able to connect with him. I was further in my recovery than he was at that point and he really got on my nerves, what little I had left. I’m sure that’s how I was, and that’s why I said I’m not sure why Sean stuck around.

I wanted to ride my horse and I really wanted to get out of the hospital. That was my driving force to get me out of there. My parents even brought my horse to the hospital so I could see her. It was amazing! I obviously had to go outside and I still had my walking belt on. I still have the video tape of that experience. I feel that the focus I put on riding my horse again was what helped me through my recovery.

As it turned out, when I did get to ride my horse the doctors insisted that I wear a helmet. The only helmet we had at our house was a motorcycle one and I looked like a complete goof ball with it on. It also seemed to throw my balance way off.

Before my car accident I was a creative kid and I loved making murals on my bedroom walls. So, being at the hospital I thought the walls were very bare. When I got transferred to my second room I decorated the walls with a whole bunch of pictures. That helped me to feel more at home.

I was only in that room a short time and I was transferred again, to the room that was right next door. This was a four-bed room so I was no longer by myself. I had two sisters rooming with me. I think that they were in a car accident too but I really can’t remember. I do remember that they weren’t in the hospital all that long, and that they didn’t want to socialize all that much. I don’t know if it was because I was hard to deal with or if they just felt more comfortable with each other.

I’m pretty sure it was around that time that the stirrings started happening for me to become an outpatient. When this happened I was asked if I wanted to go back to grade 10 or go to grade 9 for the last few months of school. I had decided that I wanted to go back to grade 9. The junior high I went to was very small and I knew I’d get the help I needed. I was only in grade 10 for 2 months prior to the accident.

My teachers all came to the hospital to meet with Tami so that she could go over some information with them on how to help me. I am extremely glad I went back to grade 9 rather than grade 10. I got the support I needed and was able to be successful in school again.

I will say it was rather strange going back to junior high when I already been in high school, but everyone was very helpful to me.

I was lucky when I went back to high school the next year because they placed me with the grade 11’s even though I had only been in grade 10 for two months.

I found some of the subjects in school really hard. I was having a hard time trying to memorize what I thought was useless information. But with the wonderful skills and strategies I learned at the hospital I made my way through.

I graduated high school with my best friends in 1995 and was even on the student grad committee. I was the Decorations and Theme chair person. We had a blast and everything looked great!

After High School I decided that I needed to move into the city to work and that was just a silly mistake on my part. I grew up on the farm and I wasn’t a city girl.
Things didn’t go so well in the city; I missed my parents country home and being able to see the horses everyday. So I moved home for a little while, then I got the opportunity to move to Barrhead and live with a friend of mine.

While there I worked as a waitress in a few different places and at a company that processed scratch and win tickets. Then my roommate had to be away for awhile and it threw me into the dominating role of take care of everything. Holy man, what a way to grow up fast!

It was at that time I decided that I needed to go back to school to further my education. I had no idea about the Law of Attraction, but I knew that I had to do something where I would be helping people. It was like it fell into my lap when I discovered the Rehabilitation Practitioner Program at Grant MacEwan in Edmonton. They had an outreach course that I could complete while still living in Barrhead, and I didn‘t want to be stuck in that town forever. It was there that I met Bonnie. She was the instructor of the course and she really helped me to get through it. I still talk to Bonnie off and on to this day.

While I was completing the course I enrolled to possibly be accepted into the program. I was accepted on my first try and completely overjoyed. I felt that I needed to do this program because of what I had went through in my life.

I was dating a guy for 9 months prior to starting the program; he was a strong motivator for me to complete it. That Christmas he proposed to me while my whole family was there to see. I said yes but I wanted to finish school first before we got married. He completely understood.

While working through the Rehab program I was faced with many challenges academically but with the support of the school, as well as my family and friends, I was able to make it through and graduate in 2000 with first class standing, which is just under the Deans list.

I did need to have some special accommodations that were made to assist me through the program. When I was writing a test I would need to go down to the student counselling department and be in an office all by myself because, due to the brain injury, all of my senses were heightened and every little noise would drive me to distraction.

In my second year I was able to have someone take notes for me so I would be able to listen to the lectures. We used special carbon paper so we would both have a copy. It wasn’t easy, what would take my classmates 2 hours would take me four, just to study! There was many a night that I was up until the wee hours of the morning getting an assignment done or studying for an exam, trying to get everything memorized. I must tell you, acronyms are a wonderful thing; I never would have made it through school without them.

While going through school I also help Tami (my teacher from the Glenrose) with some presentations on Acquired Brain Injury in students at some teacher’s conventions. She would talk about the medical aspect of Brain Injury and then I would get up and tell my story. I thought that it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but in talking with some of the teachers after I was done, I guess it was a big deal. They couldn’t believe what I had lived through.