A Sister’s Close Brushes with Death
Both of these events happened to the same person.
My sister was about 7. We were at a huge, crowded water park on one of those big water slides that you ride down in a tube. There was a pool at the top where all the people line up to get pushed down the slide.
My sister was floating in her tube in the pool at the top when the people started logjamming up at the mouth of the slide… kids and adults, piling up slowly on top of my sister and forcing her underwater. She would have drowned for sure.
Out of nowhere, my Dad (big guy, but usually a gentle giant) plows through the water like Hulk and starts tossing people in tubes through the air. No exaggeration. Adults on tubes.. flying through the air like frisbees.
People were at first like WTF?! Then he pulls out this limp drenched little girl from the bottom of the heap, and people were like OHH.. and when she coughed and hugged my Dad, everyone cheered! My Dad’s awesome and a badass. 🙂
[My sister] was driving in the center lane on the highway, going about 70mph, when a bus in the left lane suddenly cut her off. She says all she remembers is suddenly seeing a wall of gray metal filling up her entire windshield. Instinctively, she hit the brakes and cut the wheel sharply to the right. This sent her into a tailspin and eventually sent her car rolling over 4 times toward the grassy area on the right side.
She didn’t have her seatbelt on, and was selling health insurance at the time, so she had a briefcase full of paperwork in her car, along with a picture of her kids and her husband (she had just had a baby girl who was 3 months old at the time and her son was 1 1/2). She was only 27. Her husband was 25.
So the woman driving behind her said she sees this whole thing happen, and as my sister’s car flips over onto the grass on the right, she sees a pile of clothing flying literally over the tops of the moving traffic toward the left side of the highway, and landing in a heap onto the concrete barriers in the center. Then the papers from my sister’s briefcase that had blown out of the window as the car rolled over came floating down like a wall of snow onto the highway, causing the traffic to slow to a stop… it was then that this woman said she realized the pile of clothing was actually a person… my sister had literally flown threw the broken glass of the driver’s side window, up into the air, and straight over the tops of the moving cars, 40 feet, landing face first onto the concrete barrier on the left side.
This woman just happened to be a Registered Nurse, and once the cars stopped, she jumped out to rush to my sister’s aid. She said it was a horrific scene. Brain matter and blood everywhere. My sister laying lifeless face down. The cops rushing up and screaming about getting the body covered up before people in the cars could see the gore.
It was then that the Nurse said something super weird happened that she couldn’t explain. She said she noticed that out of all the papers that had flown out the window, the only ones lying next to my sister were the photos of her babies and her husband. The Nurse felt a surge of empathy for this young family, and said she suddenly saw my sister as a person, not a dead body, and she turned her over, pulled the blood clots out of her nose and throat, and started performing CPR. How? I have no idea, because the doctors later said my sister had broken every bone in her face and shattered her skull. But still this woman took it upon herself to revive my sister, just as the life flight arrived to helicopter her toward the nearest hospital.
That was when I got the phone call from my Mom. She was screaming hysterically at me to “Get there now!!” because I happened to live just down the road from the hospital where they were taking my sister, and my parents lived 2 hours away and were in the car trying to get there as fast as they could. All she told me was that the cops had told her that my sister had been pronounced dead at the scene, but this nurse had revived her, but her odds of survival were very low.
It was the weirdest sensation. I was at work, so I was trying to keep it together. My co-worker said I just put down the phone and walked away from it, down the hall, toward the parking lot. He chased me down and asked me what was up. I just said I needed a ride to the hospital. I don’t even remember talking to him or driving there. I just remember getting there and running up to doctors trying to find out what was going on. All they could tell me was they didn’t know, she wasn’t there yet, they just knew it was bad, and I should sit in the waiting room until she arrived.
I found out what happened as I sat in the waiting room and the story came on as “Breaking News” … and there was my sister’s shattered car plain as day and they news guy saying that a young woman had been ejected from her car and life-flighted to my city. I just stood up automatically and must have said something, because people were staring at me. But I don’t remember what I said. I just remember crying and running up to nurses, begging them to tell me where she was and if she was still alive.
Finally, this one nurse said, “I have sisters too. We’re really close. I can’t imagine what you must be going through right now. Let me bring you to her. She has to go into surgery right away, but just tell her she’s okay, even if she’s not. She needs to hear your voice.”
I told the nurse, “I can’t. She’ll know. She knows me too well. She’ll know I’m lying.” and she just said, “Then lie anyway. She needs you.”
So I did. I went in there, and my sister was covered in blood and gravel and swollen beyond recognition, and I just said “Hey you’re gonna be just fine, and I’m here, and we’re all here, and you just need a few minutes to rest and get better, but you’ll be okay, and we have your kids and don’t even stress.” And she just smiled, then went into a coma and didn’t come out for a week.
Fast forward to now. She’s totally fine. 100% healed. The only scar is a small line on her forehead and a few scars on her foot. Her foot had been shattered and she was told she’d never walk again. She has since run 5 road races. Turns out the shattered skull saved her brain from damage, because it allowed it to swell and heal, then shrink back down to normal. Somehow her face floated back together on its own and didn’t need any plastic surgery or anything. It just fused and she looks exactly the same. So bizarre.
It took her 4 months in the hospital, and 2 years of physical therapy to be able to walk normally again. But now she’s fine and works out all the time, and has even lost 50 pounds since the accident! She went from being really shy and self-conscious to being really outgoing and friendly and hilarious. She says she treats every day as if it’s her last, and she recently enrolled in grad school and has been getting all A’s. She used to be a C/D student. It’s really inspiring to see her embrace life in this way. I still remember holding her purse while the doctors operated on her, and pulling out her insurance card only to find all kinds of gore inside the purse (which I guess had landed next to her, which is what the photos of her kids and husband had fallen out of). Then I look at her now, and it still makes no sense to me how she’s even alive, but I’m so glad that she is.
Entry filed under: Sublime.