My close friend told me a story of how her friend survived a car crash and came out alive telling people how it’s so very important to fasten your seatbelt every time you’re traveling in a car, no matter how short the distance is.
My friend’s friend (On her request, I will just call her Elaine to protect her privacy) was in her 20’s when the accident, that changed her life forever, happened a few years ago. She went through hell trying to pick herself up again (metaphorically and literally) in the first 6 months after the crash.
Elaine is kind enough to let me publish her story here.
What you are about to read might sound scary but that’s not my intention to scare you from traveling in cars but to let you know the danger of not buckling up. I hope Elaine’s first hand story will change the way you look at seatbelts and help to create and spread the awareness of the importance of fastening the seatbelts to your friends and family, especially the younger ones under your care.
Before we proceed, one thing you need to know is Elaine and her friend in the back seat did not fasten the seatbelts. Driver and the front passenger were buckled up and yet still they suffered injuries.
If you’re the kind of person who takes seatbelts lightly, I encourage you to read this article in its entirety. A few seconds of trouble can just save your life.
Here’s the story from Elaine:
I tried to open my eyes, but I couldn’t. At that time I didn’t know my eyes was swelling shut my eyes. I used my other senses, I heard Jason praying for me, ”Dear Lord…” and it went on. I did a mental body scan, I felt throbbing pain all over my right body: from the right side of my face, down to my right arm, and to my leg.
Jason continued to pray, and his hands holding my right palm. I tried to open my eyes again. Light. Bright light. Very bright light. Blinding. I tried to speak. The sound of my voice surprised me, I sounded nothing like me. “Turn of the lights” I croaked. Jason suddenly went quiet. Then I heard him say to the rest “Elaine is saying something, keep quiet”. But I heard dearest Chloe say “Please don’t die, please don’t die”. I went again….“Turn of the lights”. This time Jason heard me. But I thought he was thinking I was seeing “the light”.
I did not die that night. I just broke almost everything on my right. Bones from the hand to the leg. Some bruises. Some tear in the skin. And also I hurt my voice box. I’m relieved I still have my right eye. I am alive. But I am different now, physically and mentally.
You see, I did not wear my seat belt on that dark and rainy night, on the way down from my hiking trip from Gunung Yong Yap in Cameron Highlands. I didn’t think it was important even when the government has just enforced the rule. I was sitting behind anyway. I was wrong, and I learn a really hard lesson from it.
Getting through the first 6 months was the hardest. I was wheelchair-bound for 3 months, and another 3 on crutches. I had to depend on everyone. Even I had to hire a live-in helper to help me get through the few months. Saying “Thank You” was very difficult for me. I had to say “Thank You” for every single thing, even how minor because I cannot do it myself. It frustrates me, it makes me even angrier at myself.
Physiotherapy at the hospital continued for almost a year. And I had to follow up with other physiotherapist on my own later. I had to learn to walk again. I had to learn how to balance. To tell you the truth, I still can’t really balance on my right leg up till now. But that is just the simple stuff. What I really feared at physiotherapy session was bending my knee. My right patella was shattered to 16 pieces and I had a wire mesh tying it together. Every time I try to bend my right knee, the ridges of the bones and the wire will press against the soft joints.
%$#$%^%^%##&** Recalling it now makes me want to cuss at the pain. I could hardly bend my knees at the beginning, but I slowly progress from 50 degrees to 70, then to 90. Then I hit a plateau. I didn’t improve and that’s when my therapist had to use force to push. The pain was excruciating but what must be done must be done. I cried countless of times during therapy sessions because the pain was just unbearable.
I lost a lot of my muscle mass. My fit and almost muscular hiking and climbing legs turned into skinny and flabby chicken legs. My fitness and stamina went down the drain due to my limitations. I went into depression. I couldn’t accept the fact that I couldn’t do a lot of things when my right knee permanently damaged. I had to give up ALL the hobbies I love. No more hiking and climbing. No more running and jumping. No more extreme sports. I couldn’t even wear pants without holding on to something to help keep my balance and I have to use seating toilets because I cannot squat or kneel (and this is still true now). I was told I cannot carry heavy weights. I cannot do a lot of physical activities because I need to make my knee last. The doctor didn’t want to give the 27-year-old a knee replacement because there will be plenty of other complications in the future.
Family and friends are also put through inconvenience because of me. Nobody wants to take care of a lame person but they had to. Folks spent so much more extra energy caring for me physically and emotionally. I am so ever grateful for their actions.
I can go on and on but then I might lose your interest because this may seem trivial to you, but trust me, it’s not. Imagine you cannot run around with your kids or even your pet animal because it hurts to run. Imagine you can’t cross the busy road because you walk too slowly and risk being run over. Imagine always taking escalators and lifts because it hurts too much to walk down the steps. Imagine if someone tells you that your future pregnancy will probably be difficult not because you cannot conceive, but you cannot carry the weight.
The moral of all this, easy way to get out all of this is to die (I’m being blunt here but that’s the fact), but honestly dying is harder that it seems. Most of the time you will just end up injured and get a whole set of permanent injuries that will lower your quality of life forever. So…. WEAR YOUR SEATBELTS, buckle up in the front or the back, and don’t start driving before everyone is secured to their seats. Stay safe. We all think “It will NEVER happen to me”. But when it does, it’s too late.