Tammy R.

When I turned age 16 in September 1974, my parents gave me a car for Christmas. I was stupid and allowed someone else drive my car. The car was totaled in the accident in March 1975.

The details of the accident are:

We were on one of the many country roads outside of our town and my friend was driving too fast. He hit a graveled section of the road and the car flipped. I was thrown from the car because I wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was thrown 20 feet. The car flipped three times and landed nearly on top of me. The fender of my car caught on the fender of a large truck in the yard of a paramedic. This is what was keeping the car from crushing me. The car rocked back and forth each time it rocked, hitting me on the head. The paramedic started working on me while waiting for emergency vehicles to arrive. I had multiple injuries: fractured skull, damage to the right optic nerve, broken nose, all the bones in the left inner ear knocked loose, left ear drum punctured, collar bone knocked loose, vein in my throat ruptured, loss of blood – received 9 pints. I was transported to the local hospital and had nine doctors working on me. My nose was set. My nose and throat were cauterized in an effort to seal the area that was causing the blood loss. I was carried into surgery two times. I was placed in a Halo to prevent my head moving and was in a coma for 3 days. The doctors told my family that my injuries were so severe that they couldn’t assure my family that I would make it through the night. I made it through the night and then the doctors told my parents that should I survive, I most likely would never walk again and that I may not be functionary. I woke up from the coma and was terrified when I couldn’t move my head or body.

All I could see was white, which was the color of the room in the intensive care unit. The doctors explained to me what had happened; they removed the breathing tube since I was ‘awake’ and could breathe on my own. I had to learn to do many things over again like walking and using my hands. Prior to the accident, I was right-handed. After the wreck, I had to learn to write with my left hand because the right side of my body didn’t ‘work’ as well. I had ‘double’ vision for approximately 3 months and lost the hearing in my left ear. As I’m very stubborn and couldn’t tolerate just lying in bed, I was sent home from the hospital. I would listen to my mother going down to the basement to do laundry and would slide out of bed; crawl across the room to my rocking chair until I heard her coming back upstairs, then would crawl back to the bed. This went on for about a month before I was caught doing it. I gradually started walking again, which was a very slow process. I had home schoolteachers while recovering to keep me up with my class. I returned to school in the fall and went on to graduate in the top 10% of my class. I completed my college courses in half the time and was on the Dean’s list every term while at college. In 1979, my ENT doctor rebuilt my inner ear, grafted skin off the back of my ear and made me a new eardrum, giving me back 85% of my hearing in the left ear.

I had a 3-month void where I couldn’t remember anything that happened in the wreck. The neurosurgeon said that this was normal, as the brain wouldn’t allow me to feel the pain from the accident. He also said that if I didn’t remember what happened in 10 years, I probably would never know. At approximately the 10 year mark, I started having flash backs. Then one day, I was lying down and fell asleep.

That was when I had the ‘near death’ experience. I felt so calm, was surrounded by a bright light and was perched above the accident. I saw the accident happen. I saw my body lying on the ground. I saw the car rocking back and forth hitting me on the head. I saw people working on my body and ‘bring me back to life’ twice before I was transported to the hospital. Yet, I felt no pain. It’s hard to explain the calmness and peace that I felt while watching this. I talked to one of my husband’s professors at the seminary and she explained to me that I had experienced a near death experience. This feeling of peace and calmness lasted for a long time.

I still have problems with health since the accident such as headaches, seizures, hearing loss, the pupil in my right eye stays dilated, and scarring in the nose and throat give me problems.