A Drunk Driver’s Legacy: Final chapter

Orthopedic implants to repair fractures to the...

Orthopedic implants to repair fractures to the radius and ulna. Note the visible break in the ulna. (right forearm) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Using underarm crutches. Español: Cam...

English: Using underarm crutches. Español: Caminando con dos muletas de aluminio. Polski: Osoba z dwiema kulami pachowymi. Svenska: Kryckor av aluminium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The day finally came when the doctor had no choice but to tell me the truth. “Your ankle was operated on to remove shards of bone. You have a large metal screw holding the two halves of the major bone together. Your foot was snapped back on top of itself, pulling all of the ligaments and tendons apart. I’m sorry. You will never walk on your left foot again.” I sat in my wheelchair and sobbed.

When my mother-in-law dropped me off at my apartment, I had already made up my mind that I was going to walk again,unassisted. I tried using the crutches the doctor had prescribed, putting just a little bit of weight on my left foot. The pain was so great that it nauseated me. I had to lie down and wait for the worst of the pain to wear off.

Every day, after my husband left for work, I would practice walking with the crutches, not putting any weight on my left foot. Even this was difficult and painful due to the damage done to my right arm. Using the crutches hurt. After a few days, I went back to practicing without the crutches. I would stand next to a wall and put a little weight on my foot. It was good that I was home alone because I could scream as much as I needed to without disturbing anyone.

I had a little extra time before the baby was due. I had four hormone shots to prevent a miscarriage while I was in Intensive Care. Each shot delayed the birth by a week to ten days. I was able to walk with one crutch as a stabilizer the day before my check up with the orthopedic surgeon.

I remember sitting in the waiting room at the Hattiesburg  Clinic, giving myself a pep talk before they called my name. I used the crutch to talk every agonizing step down the hall to the doctor. He was seated on a stool, expecting me to be in the wheelchair. I left the crutch at the door and took ten of the most painful steps in my life. I collapsed into the doctor’s arms, exhausted. We both cried as he held me. “It isn’t possible,” the doctor repeated over and over.

It wasn’t possible, but God allowed it to happen in spite of the damage. It was three years before my gait resembled anything close to a normal walk. The pain is ever with me. Some days, my ankle won’t cooperate and I have to use a crutch, but I know it is only temporary.

I’ve had to have surgery on my neck because all seven discs were ruptured. The pain shoots down my shoulders, making sleeping difficult. I live with a ruptured disc in my lower back, as well. I have to be constantly aware of what I pick up, how I pick it up and how I carry it. Otherwise, I will be suffering when the internal swelling presses on my spinal cord.

There were three miracles allowed me by God after the accident. The first one: I lived. The doctors were amazed that I lived at all. Someone with my injuries usually doesn’t make it. The second miracle: I carried my unborn child and gave birth to her after 30 minutes of hard labor. The third miracle: I have been walking since nine months after the accident. The screw was removed from my ankle a few years ago. The metal sleeve is still in my right arm. I have two metal bars in my neck. I currently get steroid injections in my neck and lower back to help ease the pain. My legs never regained the lost muscle. I will always be the woman with the skinny legs.

The drunk driver lived a lonely life, in and out of jail for drunk driving over the years. Finally, one day, he took his own life. I don’t know what his demons were. I’ll never know what finally drove him over the edge. Maybe, he just couldn’t forgive himself for causing so many people so much pain. I forgave him, but no amount of forgiveness could take back the pain he caused. What did he leave behind? What was his legacy?

Larry left no immediate family, just sisters who had grown tired of his drinking and driving. He left behind a woman who has been in pain since the day of the accident.

Not all victims of a drunk driver die. There are those of us who live with constant pain. Those of us who wonder for the rest of our lives, “What if I had left fifteen minutes earlier or ten minutes later that day?” “What if?”

In spite of everything, I have much to be happy about. I have been blessed and I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself. I continue to push myself day by day, accomplishing as much each day as I possibly can. You don’t let the freak things, the bad, unlucky, and sour days define who you are. They are just days that need a do-over. So, get up and try again. Do it over again, if you need to. There is joy in every day, but you have to be looking for it.




15 thoughts on “A Drunk Driver’s Legacy: Final chapter

  1. Over the years, I made so many arrests of drunk drivers that I cannot give an accurate number. When there is a serious physical injury involved, all the cops have a concern, and is left with a loose end, because there is other work to do, other jobs to respond to. At times, all you can do is wonder about what happened to somebody and hope for the best. This is why I am telling you, go beyond tough. Determine yourself to succeed in gaining your life back. Listen to me, pain is good, it tells you that the wiring is correct and where there is pain, there is life. If you did not feel pain, it would mean there is no life. Use the pain to make yourself stronger. Instead of “pain”, convince yourself that it is “discomfort”. That pain, will enable you to work through it. Be tough, and make it happen. It will, happen. The more you feel pain, the tougher your mind must be. Not only, you can do it, think of this, you must, do it, and you will, do it. Use that pain as a tool. Never, give in to pain. Your body belongs to you, and not the pain. You master the pain, and never allow the pain to master you. Little at a time. You will gain strength. Mobility returns. Think like a survivor, and not like a victim. Wishing you, all of the best, and a full recovery.

    • Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read my story and to give me encouragement. Most days, I stay so busy that the pain just remains in the background. Other days, the pain won’t let me think rationally. But you are right, it is mind over matter. It is a struggle, but it is one I intend to win. I learned years ago to tell myself that it is just pain and that pain won’t kill me. One day at a time is how I have learned to live with the pain. I can’t think too much about tomorrow. I just pray that tomorrow will be better.

      Thanks again. It means a lot to me that you took your time to encourage me. I will take your words to heart.

      • Very good to hear that you are functional and recovering.
        I will not go into the laundry list of injuries and scars I have. It reaches a point where people start laughing as I keep on showing yet another scar/injury or others recall injuries I have completely forgotten.
        Thank you for visiting my blog.
        Wishing you all the very best.

  2. I have been very behind on the blogs for this reason and that… and I am sorry I have missed so much. What a dramatic writing of a most life changing event of your life… I need to work backwards to absorb the whole story… You are amazing.

    • I’m glad you found my story inspiring. Whenever I get down, I think about how my life would have been so different if I had given in to depression and just quit. There is much to be thankful for, even in tragedies. Thanks for visiting!

      • That’s a powerful statement that I take to heart, as I do all your posts and comments. Your faith is something I respect and love in you. I am not all that comfortable talking religion or politics because I never want to close doors or alienate, and what you wrote is what I feel, anything is possible… I don’t want to entertain otherwise. Your personal experience is a testament to that, a miracle. Thank you, friend. Paulette

      • That is the great thing about the life we live, Paulette, that we are more in control than we realize. I love my God, but I recognize that he will never give me something that I intend to do nothing with. It is my choice to push myself beyond what man says is possible because I know God can make something possible if I believe that it is. Whew! That sounds complicated even to me and I wrote it. LOL

      • Very well and clearly said, Barbara. Having gone to a Catholic nursing school and seeing so much from really challenging perspectives, I understand (or think I do, lol) what you’re saying. I admire your faith, strength and how you seem to be living your life. I say “seem” because I know so little of you but what I read and how I feel communicating with you, gives me that impression. And, I’m grateful for it.

  3. What an inspiration . . . you are! I too live with pain from an auto accident that took place on the freeway at 70 miles an hour. God was with me then and He is with me now. May He continue to strengthen and bless you~

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