Thursday, April 01, 2004

Two Years and Five Days...

I think I posted about this last year...and I may post it each year for a few years.

On March 27, 2002, one of my former youth and good friends was in a near fatal car accident. The fact that she is even alive is a true miracle...they told us that she shouldn't have made it to the trauma center, then she shouldn't have made to to surgery, etc. But, she did and while she came out of it no longer being able to walk (as a result of the surgery...not the accident oddly enough) and with an almost unnoticeable brain injury...I STILL struggle with the accident being my fault.

Was I driving? Nope
Was I in the car? Nope...I was living in Indiana and Gina was in So Cal.

BUT...I made a suggestion that she followed which out her where she was when she was broadsided.

I will never forget how I found out. A friend of mine from my former job emailed me the mass email that went out about it. It didn't dawn on him what family it was and my realtionship to that family. From the profuse apology I received a few minutes later...someone brought that to his attention! It took forever to find out info. Those in the know were all at the hospital. I called my mom (which is an odd thing for me to do in times of crisis) and she already knew. Gina's dad called her to try and get in touch with now I had a pager number.

He called me back at some point to tell me what happened and that she had a torn aorta. In order to fix it, there was a 60% chance she would not walk again because of the manner they had to get to injury. Live or...walk? Easy choice. They would keep me posted. I asked where she was thinking it may have happened on the freeway on the way to work on on Katella if she didn't take the freeway. Ken told me she was on her way to an appointment...the one I had urged her to change from he original date (he didn't/doesn't know that).

I was pretty deep into ED behaviors and hadn't eaten in a few days before I had no desire at all. My therapist was on vacation so I turned to my former therapist in CA. Gina had seen him for a few weeks when she frist moved back home after college and Mission Year and he knew we were close. So, he broke all the boundaries he had set and called me back...mainly because my T was totally unavailable. He also told me that if he were on vacation and this has happened while I was living there...he would want the office to find him and tell him. That has endeared him to me forever. He got me through the night.

The next day I was trying to figure out how to get from Indiana to Orange County. I was also thanking God that no matter what happened...she and I had talked on the phone for like 4 hours (2 hours???) the weekend before the accident and NOTHING was left unsaid. One of my volunteers wanted to help and she and her husband paid for part of my plane ticket to CA.

Good Friday I was in the air...ready to spend Easter the way I had been for the past several years...with her family. She was never conscious my whole stay...but at one point I stood by her bed watching all the tubes and monitors and told her, "I KNOW I spend Easter with your family...but you could have just ASKED me to didn't have to do this!" That night, one of the Pastors from out church came and brought us all Communion.

I think her dad and I are the ones who think it is our fault. He told me that the night before I flew home...that it was HIS fault because of the garbage that goes on at home. I assured him it wasn't his fault...that Gina was going to see a T for reasons beyond moving home.

The CCU waiting room became "Camp Inhelder" for days and days. Pastors, friends, family and co-workers stopped in. Her family wouldn't let me stay overnight in the waiting room as much as I wanted to...but they did. Her sister and brother-in-law took turns with Gina's parents sleeping in the waiting room. Easter Sunday two of Gina's friends and I went to Aunt Sandy's as I have done for years and brought back food for everyone. The whole time, people kept telling me how "natural" it was for me to be there, how it was "right," how much I am a part of their family and how "wonderful" it was that I flew out. Part of that was interesting because I didn't realize how many people knew how close were were...Pastors and others from our church that must have really paid attention.

People brought fruit baskets, hot meals, flowers, flowers and more flowers and signed the guest book we decided to start. Gina would be able to see who came while she was unconscious and she thought my name was a joke. She tols me later that it looked like my writing...but she couldn't believe I would fly out there. Where else could I go? Being a single youth worker, her family had very much made me a part of theirs.

Two years later she still can't walk and outside of another miracle...she won't and we are all really OK with that. Gina had adjusted to the chair better than having to live at home which is awesome and a total God thing. She is starting a program on Monday for those with brain injuries. She is in the highest functioning group and her mom told me that she wasn't sure if Gina would even be accepted.

Her brain injury is so minimal...that when she was at The Shepherd's Center...they moved her out of the brain injury section pretty quick. A lot of it is attention span stuff. As I have told is often hard to tell what could be brain injury and what is simply her that the MDs would have no clue about. Her mom told me that while we don't really notice it, she does and it bugs her (of course). I am excited for will be good. And she still may go into Urban Ministry at a later time.

Rob and I began to talk about this issue on Monday. That night I called trying to talk to Gina because it has been MONTHS. She wasn't home. She was at a friends watching a movie. This is cool because it seems that she is not "cooped up" at the house like she had been. Anyway, her mom told me about the program and how things are going. It was so hard to not break down on the phone. I got off the phone and went outside and called Rob and let him hear emotion in my voice for once! He sent me a sweet email back.

He was saying that I need to accept this whole thing. He doesn't think it is my fault...but he means accept that I made the suggestion and that Gina as an ADULT chose to follow-up on that suggestion. But..but..but...if I hadn't opened my big fat mouth...there wouldn't have been a suggestion made. I do get what he says and I am looking forward 1:00 PM and talking it out some more.

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