Friday, June 6, 2008

Accident Forgiveness

Today, June 6, 2008 marks ten years since I was in a horrible car accident. I was hit in the driver's side(where I was sitting) by a large pick up truck whose driver ran a red light. Both of my wrists were fractured, all of my ribs were cracked on the left side of my body which in turn punctured my left lung and it collapsed. I had numerous cuts and bruises all over me. I also sustained a head injury known as an acute subdural hematoma. I was in the hospital for 11 days and 3 of those days I spent in the ICU(intensive care unit). So, long after my bones and lung healed and my cuts turned to faint scars, I was still left with the damage that had been done to my brain as a result of the subdural hematoma. When I say a long time, I mean even to this very day I still struggle with the effects of that head injury. As most of you know, I am referring to the depression and anxiety that I have had ever since the accident.
In the days leading up to the ten year anniversary of the accident and in the days since, I have thought so much about the accident. Well, not necessarily the accident itself, as much as how the effects of that accident have changed, affected and influenced my life since. For a great deal of this time I have hated who and what the depression has made me. I have lost contact with friends sooner than I would have liked because I isolated myself. I lost(or felt like I lost) so much of my outgoing personality, my ability to think positive, and simply to be happy. I have made life very difficult for Brad and sometimes my children. I have many times been almost paralyzed with sadness. And though I know that there will still inevitably be many days, even weeks at a time, that I will feel those things, I have recently had a few personal "AHA moments" that have changed my somewhat persistent negative attitude. A few weekends ago I attended a women's conference called "Time Out For Women" which was organized by an affiliate of my church and one of the speakers said "it is only in the darkness that we truly see the light". And it hit me..there is actually some good that came from that accident that day...some of it was immediate and some of it has come over time.

I realized how much my friends and family loved me and would do anything for me. My sister,Amy, came immediately to the hospital (camera in tow-to capture every moment of my ordeal on film cause she knew I would want pictures of everything). She stayed with me for hours in and out of the hospital caring for me in every way. She even took over my job as a nanny while I couldn't work. My dad flew in that night to sit by my bed and my mom followed week later. She bathed me, changed my bandages, fed me, and did everything she could to make me comfortable. Brad was with me as much as he could. He would even brush my teeth for me when I couldn't because my wrists were broken. My brother, Bryan, who was serving a mission in Salt Lake at the time(where the accident occured) was able to come to hospital and see me and give me a blessing. Brad's parents drove down 9 hours from Montana to care for me. My other brother Robert drove 2 hours to visit me more than once. My roomate Jodi massaged my feet. Numerous friends vistited, sent flowers and made phonecalls. And the list goes on......
Just a few short weeks after the accident, Brad and I got engaged. He wasn't quite ready to "pop the question" before the accident, but I guess it was the boost he needed to realize that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. As Martha Stewart would say that was definately "a good thing".
So what good has come of this over the long term is that I have become a more compassionate person. All of the struggles have softened me and made me more in tune with other people's pain. I am more empathetic and less judgemental. Do I still have so far to go? Yes. But I want to do better...and so each day I am becoming better, or at least trying. For a long time I did not see things this way. This was, and is, my trial, but I am grateful for the first time for some of the ways this has changed me. I still miss the old me, but I do not mourne for that person the way I used to. I am sad it has taken me so long to see that some good actually came from such a horrible experience.
Thank you to every one who has listened to me cry and complain and stood by me over the last ten years. Especially Brad who has really been so amazing through it all. Very few men could have loved me, supported me, and put up with me the way he has. I love you all.

My totaled Honda Civic . My brother, Bryan, illegally jumped the junkyard fence to take these pics of the car for me.

Amy visiting me in the hospital

I am holding a container to throw up in. I would usually vomit every time I would sit up. And Brad stayed by me the whole time.
I was in and out of consciousness for the first few days. I don't think I was just sleeping in this picture.

I saved the best for last. Here I am in the ever so sexy hospital issued gown and mesh underwear. This photo is showing the tube that was inserted into the side of my chest to drain the fluid(which looked like kool-aid) from my lung.


Marianne, Clint, Andrew and Nicholas said...

Tiffany, that was such a sincere and wonderful post. I cried reading it because I know what it took for you to share that. I admire you so much. I know you've struggled with this injury since it happened but you've NEVER stopped doing and giving and being there for other people. You are the most giving person i've met. I'm so grateful to hear you say the things you've said and i hope you know how much it helped me to hear you say them. thank you for helping others through your pain. You've affected my life greatly. I'll always treasure our friendship.

Bryan and Amanda Russ said...

Tiffany, I too am teary eyes. I didn't come into the family until after the accident, but hearing your story helps me so much too. I know you often feel like you aren't as wonderful as we all know you are. You are one of my top three favorite Russ girls (hee, hee)!!! You are amazingly creative, and CLEAN (wow), so understanding of others, you are so willing to help out whenever you can, you make me laugh and you're generous, sure you cry sometimes, but hey we all do. (This is an incredibly long, run-on random sentence, sorry). I'm just trying to say I love you and if it took this horrible accident to make you the Tiffany you are today, then I hate that it happened, but I love the result!!! Thanks for sharing and for enduring this trial.
Okay, I'll quit...Love ya!!

Em Russ said...

whew. I wasn't "officially" part of the family yet, but I vividly remember your accident. Those pictures are so scary and bring back some really strong memories for me. I'm sure they do for you as well. I can't believe it's been 10 years! I actually met your dad and Bryan for the first time there by your sick bed. I remember being scared to death when you passed out/fell asleep mid sentence in the hospital... I also remember how much you struggled after and I can see the growth in you. You're one of the most compassionate and unselfishly loving people I know. I won't gush over you too much... But I do hope you know that you're one of my best friends.

p.s. Today Lila was randomly talking about how her aunt got in a bad car accident (neither of us had read her this post or talked about it either) She must be in tune with you!

Em Russ said...

p.s. do you still have glass in your arms?

Liz said...

Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany, my cute little Tiffany. I didn't realize the accident had affected you that much. I've always thought you handled your problems so well and known that behind that sarcastic mouth beats a heart of pure gold. The fact that you are alive today is a miracle. When I looked at the inside of that car, I wondered why you didn't have more broken bones and severe brain damage. You were protected, so that you could be the wonderful mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend that you are today.