Everybody hurts, sometimes.

I recently read a tumblr post from a DIYer confessing that she had problems with depression. That same day, I went to change my incoming voicemail message and BOOM. My old recorded message was still there. My pre-accident message.

Dad on quad

My dad, on the left, riding said quad

That may not seem like just cause to break into tears, but I did. You see, I had this accident a few years ago where I ran into a tree with a quad. It was just a normal day. I had gone with my parents to British Columbia to visit family there for the weekend. On the second day, early afternoon, my cousin had taken out the quads. One was small that the kids could ride and the other was a huge motherfucker. So the kids were wizzing around. My dad also took his turn on the quad. Someone asked if I wanted to go on, but I at first refused. But it looked so fun. So I changed out of my skirt and into blue jeans, I borrowed a pair of sneakers from my younger cousin, put on a helmet, and after a quick lesson on how to shift and accelerate, I was winding my way through the yard.

Dad on quad 2

Dad on said quad, right, and my parents dog, left

I looped around the side of the house, but there was a tree in the way. I tried to avoid it, but somehow the quad got away from me. Nobody saw it and I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I ended up pinned between the tree and the quad. Not being able to breathe from the force, I passed out. I came to with someone saying “somebody call an ambulance!” in the background. As it turns out, thankfully, my cousin heard the motor sound change, and when he came to check, thinking I’d stalled the engine, he proceeded to pull the quad off of me all by himself.

I was laying on my stomach, helmet still on my head, and my parents on either side of me.  I remember that the helmet seemed like it was choking me, so I took it off myself. Then I touched my neck and I looked at my hand and there was blood on it. I couldn’t swallow and I kept apologizing for having to spit. When the ambulance finally arrived, after what seemed like forever, they checked my spine and turned me over. They could see the injury on my neck, but they had to check for other injuries, so they cut off my clothing, which I remember totally pissing me off because if they’d asked me to, I would have taken them off myself. I was wearing new jeans and a new leather jacket that I had gotten on sale and knew at that silly moment that I’d never find another jacket like that at that price. I was perfectly coherent, answering all of the EMT’s questions, yet unable to give a good answer to the question of “what happened?”

air ambulance

The ambulance that came to get me

In the meantime, an air ambulance landed in the neighbour’s yard across the street. I was on a stretcher and I had my neck stabilized and an oxygen mask over my face and mouth. I was wheeled into the ambulance and we took a very short ride across the street to get to the helicopter. It was the only helicopter ride I’d been on in my life and I’m kind of sad it happened when I couldn’t enjoy it. They strapped me in and gave me one of those sucky things they have at the dentist to suck out the spit from your mouth because I couldn’t swallow.

I think they took me to Columbia hospital, a car ride that would normally take 45 minutes from my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Surrey, took only 10 minutes in the helicopter. That’s where I got to go in an MRI so they could rule out any spinal injuries I think. When it was clear, they took the neck brace off. I remember thinking that I really had to go pee, but all of the doctors were talking around me and not to me, so I waited. When I finally got the chance to tell them I had to go, they told me they were going to put me under and put a catheter in. It was quite scary because I still felt like I could get up and go by myself, even though my airway was slowly closing.

In the time I was out, I was intubated and transferred to another hospital, Burnaby I think, so I could have surgery done by a specialized ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor. As it turns out, my larynx had been broken, along with some soft tissue damage on the left side of neck. Also, both of my vocal chords had been detached, either in the accident or during the intubation. So the ENT doctor had to reattach the vocal chords and did a tracheotomy because my throat was much too swollen for me to breathe on my own.

Apparently I woke up shortly after the surgery, but I was so doped up that I lost at least a day. What I finally remember was waking up with a tube in my nose and a tube in my throat and I could not talk. My mom was there and she told me not to talk and that she had called my husband and he was trying to get there as soon as possible. However, at the time, there was still a bit of volcanic ash from the Iceland volcano erruption that had happened about a month before, and there were a lot of people who had to travel that had been delayed. The accident happened on a Saturday, and I think he arrived on the following Wednesday.

Now for the fun part.

To be continued…

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