My husband Carson and I were in a serious car accident on Saturday, March 18th 2012 @ 3:30 PM.
Thursday night we left Ottawa and drove to Branson Missouri for an 11th wedding anniversary vacation. We went to the Titanic Museum, The Toy Museum, Hollywood Wax Palace. We went on a duck tour, and we stayed at a hotel called The Lodge of The Ozarks. It was just wonderful having a chance to reconnect. We intended to stay there until Monday but we had basically done everything we’d wanted to do in two days instead of four so we decided to leave Saturday and return home and visit some of the fun tourist attractions in Kansas City, where we only recently moved to from Dallas Texas in November of 2011. We have a special fondness for zoos and have heard great things about the one in KC, so we decided to do that on Monday since we slept late on Sunday morning after driving in late. So Sunday we planned to go shopping instead. We cleaned up our room and made it nice and then at about 2:30 PM set out to continue our special weekend. We headed to Lawrence. First we went to Hobby Lobby and realized it was closed because it was Sunday so we turned right on 25th St. to try to find Michael’s instead.
We were going through a green light at 25th and Iowa St. when our whole world changed. We were suddenly hit on the driver’s side by a person in a Gold 2001 Chevrolet Silverado. My husband, Carson, was driving and the last thing I remember was hearing him say “S###! They’re not going to stop! Hang on!” (He’s in radio so he talks fast.) As he was saying that I looked to my left and didn’t even have time to start screaming. I just saw this tan blur and suddenly felt pain and heard the thunder of car hitting car. I think I screamed while our car was pushed from the left lane all the way to the far parking lot across the street, while we were tossed around inside. We were both wearing our seatbelts but that didn’t protect my head and face from being bashed against the door post or the right side of my body from hitting the door. Suddenly everything stopped moving and the only sound was the car still on and still revving. I said “Carsonturn the car off!” He didn’t do it so I said it again. When he still didn’t respond I realized I could do it myself so I grabbed the key and twisted it. I started looking around and realized I was fairly safe, didn’t feel like anything was broken.
I became aware ofCarson groaning beside me. I started reassuring him that I was okay and trying to get him to talk to me but he wasn’t responding, the only thing I was getting from him was this continuous mewling. It reminded me of the seizure he had 6 months earlier and my mental prep I’d done, in case he ever had another one, kicked into action. I unbuckled my seatbelt and put my arm around him behind his shoulders and continued to try to get him to talk to me, come back to me. I was saying “Carson stay with me.Carson everything is going to be okay. Look at meCarson.” Just then a woman ran up to the window and started talking to me and I realized the window was broken. She said she was a nurse and asked if everyone was ok. She tried to get Carson to talk and he just continued his groaning sounds. She told him to sit still and not to move his neck and then asked me to try to hold his neck still. Then she looked at me and suddenly told me to sit back and hold my neck still too. In the background I could hear someone on a cell phone talking to 911. I didn’t understand why I needed to worry about my neck and then I looked down and saw that I was dripping blood all over Carson’s shirt. At that moment a man approached the car window and said he was an EMT or a cop (can’t remember) and she told him Carson was unresponsive and that I may have a fractured cheek, (she may have said occipital bone). I pulled down the mirror and all I saw was blood pouring out of my nose, my first bloody nose ever. The man started talking toCarson and asked what his name was. I told him it’s Carson Day and the man explained that he is trying to get Carson to talk. At the same time he reached in to make sure the car was turned off and I told him I’d already done it. The man repeated the question, asking Carson his name, and Carson finally said his first word “uuuuuuuuuuuhhhh Carson uuuuuhhhh” (continuing the groan after his name). The man asked “do you know where you are Carson?” and Carson said “Kansas”. “Where do you live Carson?” “uuuuuuuhhhhh Kansas, just moved here from Texasssssss” his speech was slurring and he was spitting as he talked.
Then suddenly he started talking really fast and moving his head wildly, rotating his neck the way you do when you have a stiff neck and you want to relax it. I remember him saying “What happened? Are you okay? No, you’re bleeding! Where are we? We just bought this car.” I tried to answer him and tried to keep him calm. I told him “listen, can you hear that? The ambulance is coming”. We could hear the siren getting closer. Even through all his suffering when anyone would tell him “You’re hurt, we need you to stay still, help is on the way” he would tell them, “No, my wife is the one who needs help. She has a condition! She can’t have this happen to her! She needs help, she’s hurt!” I continued to try to calm him down but the blood on my face only convinced him more that I was the one in danger.
During this, the man broke the passenger side window and crawled into the back seat through the glass to hold Carson’s head still. He kept asking questions to keep Carson with us.Carson’s barrage of questions centered onto one intense fear. He was foggy and didn’t realize he was asking this over and over. “Beca, I need to ask you one question. This is very important. Do we have insurance?” “Do we have insurance Beca?” “Did we get insurance?” “Are you just lying to me that to keep me calm?” “Beca, do we have insurance?” “You promise?? Are you sure? I don’t think we do.” I kept answering him “Yes Carson we have insurance. I took care of it. Yes honey, I promise you we have insurance. I know we didn’t for a while but we have it now. We just got it.” The ambulance arrived and people were surrounding us telling us we just needed to stay calm and they would get us out soon. The man in the backseat found my cell phone which had ended up back there with him and he handed me the phone right after they secured Carson’s neck with a neck brace. As soon as I had the phone I called Penny to tell her to hurry to Lawrence to meet me at the local hospital where they were taking me. I still had her on the phone while Carson continued to ask his favorite question at least 20 more times. Between talking to Penny on my cell phone and talking to the EMT’s, I kept also trying to reassure Carson that we do in fact have insurance each time he’d ask. Minutes earlier he had told the first man that we just bought the car so one of my answers was “Yes honey, I got insurance when we bought the new car. They wouldn’t let us buy it unless we had insurance”. His answer here scared me half to death. “We bought a car?” I remember telling Penny on the phone “Oh my gosh, he’s delusional now! He doesn’t remember buying the car.”
I got off the phone with her and the team working on freeing us covered us up with sheets to protect our bodies and faces while they bashed the windshield in so they could remove the roof. I could feel the glass hitting me through the sheet but none of it broke through and cut me. The first man was in the backseat and was covering Carson’s face with a thin blanket.Carson at this point started to remark on the pain he was suffering. He said things like “I think I have a broken rib, my side hurts so bad. Oh my god, my neck. Guys, I can’t feel my legs. You’ve gotta help me. My legs are numb.” This really scared me. The thought that one second of life could change someone’s life so drastically. I didn’t want him to be paralyzed for his sake, because I know how frustrated he would be with that, but most importantly I didn’t want him to die. I started worrying about internal injuries and spinal fractures. Situations I’d seen on Grey’s Anatomy started flashing through my mind. Lacerated internal organs bleeding, the fear that something may be damaged and the hospital would not catch it until it was too late.
As they continued bashing in the window I could hear them on top of the car banging loudly and the EMT in the backseat kept telling them to be careful and not to bang too much. I wasn’t sure I understood why, if they needed to bang to get us out then let them! I wondered if it was affecting Carson negatively and that’s why he was telling them to bash gently, certain sounds bother Carson so much. Occasionsally through his groans of pain Carson would compliment the guys who were getting us out saying “Man, you guys are really good at your job!” “Thank you guys for working so hard, yall are good at what you do.” I don’t think they knew how to respond! Eventually they cut through the door post and they peeled the ceiling back like a pop top can of soup and ripped the two doors off on the driver’s side. I remember how weird it felt to see the sky without looking through a window while sitting in the passenger’s seat and thought it is something not many people can say they’ve done. They brought a stretcher over toCarson’s door opening, the kind with no legs that they use to carry athletes off the field. He said “I think I can pivot my legs out if you want me to” and they told him absolutely not, just stay there and we’ll direct you. It’s a good think he didn’t try since his pelvis was broken. I honestly don’t think he would have been able to even if he had tried. They somehow got him laid down on his back on the stretcher and strapped him in and pulled him out. I think they slid part of it behind his back as he was still sitting inside the car, but I can’t be sure, my memory on that is cloudy. He screamed a lot “Oh God! It hurts so bad!” After that I didn’t see him again until we arrived at KU Medical Center about 4 long hours later. I’m told they loaded him into the air ambulance and flew him to KU but I didn’t see any of that. The local news journal LJWord.com wrote an article about the accident. And one reader commented about his viewpoint of the accident at this moment. “BrothersKeeper” wrote: “I drove by as they were pulling the people out of the car and the driver of the truck was sitting on the curb with head in hands. teachable moment for my daughter.” I don’t have a actual memory of what it all looked like but that comment really helped me form a mental perspective, I’m glad to know what the scene looked like and I’d like to thank BrothersKeeper for sharing that.
After Carson was out of the way one of the paramedics simply gave me a hand and pulled me out. The door on my side was blocked by a bush so I had to get on through the new hole in my car. I put my feet up on the seat and stepped out of what had been my luxury car that we got for a steal. I didn’t even look back. Someone else handed me my glasses that had also ended up in the backseat with my cell phone, and handed me my cane, and I walked over onto the grass near a stretcher they had apparently gotten ready for whoever needed it. I sat down on the grass for a moment and my paramedic looked at my face. He asked if I wanted medical attention and I said “Um, I think I should. Do you think I should?” He said yes so he gave me another hand and pulled me back up. I was really dazed at that moment and I’m glad the paramedic was able to help me make that decision.
He asked if I had any medical conditions and I started listing them off as I walked to the ambulance, stepped in, and sat down on a chair they had in there. When I said I have Spondylo-Arthropathy the paramedic was surprised and said he has that too and he understands. “It’s not easy being in pain all the time is it?” and I said “You’re right, it’s not.” The driver of the ambulance brought the stretcher back in and I got on it. He strapped me in and started to get everything secured and my paramedic asked him to get a rag with water so I could clean my face off from the bloody nose. They both asked how I was feeling and I told them I had a headache and I felt like I’d been knocked around. They both told me that I would feel worse in the days to come, and that’s of course not the last time I heard that.
I wiped my face and asked my paramedic “How’s the other guy?” he told me that Carson was being flown by helicopter to KU and this surprised me, I hadn’t known they were going to fly him, but I explained that I meant the guy to hit us, after all I had been sitting next to Carson for the past 10 minutes. “He and his passengers aren’t going to the hospital so it looks I think they’re ok.” Then going back to the subject of Carson I asked why KU Medical Center? He explained they have one of the best trauma units in the state and that it didn’t look like any of his injuries were life threatening. He said that Carson’s alert and joking and talking to everyone and seems to be in good spirits. The driver paramedic as he was getting things secured before we left said “Yeah, we asked him if he knows what happened to him and he said ‘Some asshole in a truck ran the red light’”. I said “Yup, that’s Carson!” And that definitely reassured me for the moment.
My two paramedics got in the cab and we took off to the local hospital. In those quiet moments I remember going through the “if only’s” in my mind. If only we had left earlier, if only I had washed my hair before we left the house instead of being lazy. If only I had insisted that we stay in Branson for one more night. If only we had dropped the bag of clothes off at the Hope Center before leaving Ottawa to drive to Lawrence. I was in disbelief that just the day before we had been in Branson on our anniversary vacation and decided to come home early to use the money that we were spending in hotels to instead buy new decorations for our bedroom so our little love nest could be decorated more like a fancy hotel room. If only we had just decided to stay there are go on a few more tours, see a few more shows… Just that morning Carson and I cleaned up our room and stripped the bed to get ready for new bedspread and pillows, and bed skirt, etc. Now who knows when we’ll be home again? I kept saying “I can’t believe this is happening.”
It was a short drive to the hospital and they lowered the stretcher onto the ground and wheeled me inside the emergency room. They took me to a big practically empty room and introduced me to a nurse there. I thanked the paramedics for taking care of me and they left. I told the nurse that we were in a car crash and I had hit my face and gotten a nosebleed. She got me set up with an icepack and wet another rag for me to wipe my face with again. I told her I had some medicine in my purse and asked her what they’d prefer; do they have medicine for me? Or did they want me to take my own? She went to ask and meanwhile I realized I needed to call Carson’s boss, Amber. I called and left a message for her and told her that we had been in a serious car accident and that they had flown Carson to KU in Kansas City, and that he definitely wasn’t going to be at work on Tuesday, probably out for a lot longer than that, and that I’d keep her updated.
The nurse came back and said that she would let the doctor know about me needing medicine and asked if I needed anything else in the meantime. I remember asking her “Can you find out how my husband is? They took him in the helicopter to KU hospital in Kansas City. Would it be possible for you to call them and ask if he’s arrived yet and how he’s doing?” She furrowed her brow and said “Mmm, no ma’am. They usually won’t tell us anything over the phone. They probably wont tell you either. I’m sorry.” And she left. She wasn’t even willing to try. All I could think was I’m not going to see Carson for at least 2 and a half more hours and I won’t even know if he’s dead or dying or in a coma or anything. I broke down in my big empty hospital room and just cried and cried, boo-hooing loudly. The tension of having to put on a strong face and take care of Carson while he sat there in pain; the fear of having been hit and feeling of our car flying through the intersection out of control; and the intense fear of Carson’s current state and not knowing if his condition changed while in the air all caught up with me and I sobbed. Occasionally a nurse would hear and glance in my direction but they just left me alone. At one point I put the wet rag over my face and I think they took the hint that I needed to cry it all out and the best thing they could do for a while was to let me.
After a few minutes and when I was just about finished with my sobfest, a policeman came walking down the hall facing me and came into the room. I said hi and he introduced himself as Officer Hiatt and asked how I was doing. I told him what the nurse had said and that I was afraid and upset because I wasn’t going to find out anything about Carson for hours and hours and he said “I tell you what, I’ll tell you what they told me and hopefully it’ll make you feel a little better. They said he was awake and alert, and his injuries are serious but none of them are life threatening, and they are taking him to one of the best trauma hospitals in the country (I think he said country) and they are going to take good care of him.” I know I had heard most of that before but officer Hiatt had just heard it minutes earlier and knowing that they were still saying that made me feel better. He also repeated some kind of amusing thing that Carson said, similar to what the paramedic told me, I can’t really remember what it was, but it made me laugh and I was able to calm down.
Officer Hiatt asked me a few questions about what happened and told me that the driver of the truck had been given a ticket for running the red light. In the middle of his questions Penny arrived and gave me a hug and then at my request she got to work calling KU Med Center to check onCarson. She left a message for someone and got off the phone around the same time that Officer Hiatt was finishing up his questions. He said he was going to go make a phone call and then come back in a few minutes. After he stepped out of the room she asked me how I was doing and I said I just keep thinking “if only we had woken up earlier, or stayed in Branson…” and I started to cry again and she patted my back and calmed me down by saying “No, don’t even think that. Then it just would’ve happened in Branson and that would have been a real pain, right?” I know the possibility is remote but it gave me a bright side to look at and I calmed down. A few minutes later her phone rang and it was the lady from KU med center. Penny talked to her for a few minutes and then got off the phone and told me “Carson’s ok. He has 5 broken ribs, a fractured pelvis, and a small puncture in his lung but he’s going to be ok, none of his injuries are life threatening. He’s going to be admitted to the hospital later tonight and he’s resting in the emergency room right now. His neck and spine are fine.” I can’t even tell you how relieved I was.
As soon as the officer came back I told him the good news. He asked me a few other questions and then left after giving me his card with the police report number written on it. Then a male nurse came in and introduced himself. He said he was my nurse and the other female nurse was just filling in for him while he was at lunch or something. He asked if I was in pain and I said yes and he said he was going to talk to the doctor about getting me some pain medicine. He also asked if there was anything else I needed and I told him I was really hungry and he gave me a list of possible snacks he could bring me and from it I chose pudding, orange juice, and graham crackers. After that the doctor came in and talked to me. He asked how I was feeling and I told him I had a headache and my neck was starting to hurt. He confirmed he was sending someone in with medicine. Penny told him we were worried about the bone near my eye since I hit it inside the car and he suggested the best thing to do was run a CT scan on my face to check for any fractures and that someone would take me back in a few minutes to do it.
A couple minutes later someone brought me a pill and a small glass of water and I took it. Then another male nurse or technician came in and wheeled my bed to a room where they did the scan. It only took about 5 minutes and then I was back in my room with Penny. My nurse came in and Penny reminded him that we needed to leave as soon as possible because we needed to get to KU to be with Carson and he assured her that they’d be as quick as possible getting me on my way. Meanwhile he gave me the snacks I’d requested but told me unfortunately I couldn’t eat them until the results of the CT were back. So I had snacks but I had to just sit and look at them! Torture! I’m not upset though, I know it was for my safety and as soon as the results were in the snacks were right there waiting for me. I downed the pudding pretty quick and had a relieved happy tummy.
The CT was good. No fractures, just a bad bruise. The nurse gave me some great advice that when you injure any other part of your body you can rest that body part but with a bump on the head the brain is involved and the only way to rest your brain is to sleep. So anytime in the next couple weeks if I feel like I need to sleep don’t put it off, go ahead and sleep as much as your body tells you to because that means you are letting yourself heal. I really appreciate the kindness and attention that I was given atLawrenceMemorialHospital. The doctors and nurses were very reassuring. I found it very comforting that they seem to make it a practice to give reassuring touches to their patients. Both the doctor and nurse squeezed my foot that was tucked under the blanket as I lay in the hospital bed and that kind touch was like a hug to my soul. It brought me peace. The one nurse who had sent me into a panic attack did at some point come in again to ask how I was and I told her that Penny had called and they told herCarson’s injuries and that he was going to be ok. She said “oh, really? Mmm. That’s good.” Now if I’d been in my right mind I would have said something to her like “That’s right, she took the time to call and ask and they gave her answers. I guess you were misinformed!” Of course, I didn’t actually say those things, I just gave her a “haha, you were wrong” look and she looked embarrassed, as well she should be.
I signed some papers and was free to go. We left and stopped at McDonald’s on the way for a meal. We didn’t arrive at KU until around 7:00 PM and found that by that time Carson had already been moved from Emergency to being admitted to the hospital, Unit 51, 5th floor, room 5112. We had already parked at emergency so we walked to the other part of the hospital, which wasn’t too far, found the elevators, and went up to Carson’s unit.
Now, I’ve been in a similar situation before. As I mentioned, about 8 months ago Carson had a seizure as a side effect of a medication combination he was on. In that situation when I walked into Carson’s hospital room he had been sitting up, bright eyed, talking, apologetic, and slightly embarrassed. He had been laughing and complaining about the sticky sensors they had to put on his chest and trying to figure out how he was going to get them off without losing chest hair. Through all the drama of the past 4 hours I had hoped that when I walked into Carson’s room I’d find him in much the same situation and that we’d talk about how upset we were about the damage to our car and that maybe he’d go home tomorrow. But when I walked into his room this time I didn’t find thatCarsonand suddenly the whole seriousness of the day’s events truly hit me upon seeing him.
He was laying flat on his back in a dark hospital room wearing a neck brace, hooked up to tubes and an IV. He could hardly speak above a whisper, and he couldn’t turn his head to look at us. The first thing he said was “Tan pickup. Ran the red light. I think it was a Chevy”. We told him he was right, we knew, and that the kid had gotten a ticket for it. He said “Good! Why? Why did he do this to me?” I just told him I didn’t know and that it would all work out. There were witnesses and a really good officer working on our case, and that all Carson needed to worry about was getting better.
He was in pain so I went and talked to the nurse and they said they were setting up a pain pump for him, one where he could punch the button to get medicine. From this point we struggled with almost everything regarding that hospital. We struggled with the doctors not giving him enough pain medicine and not listening to us about the pain medicine that works best for him and what doesn’t work at all. We struggled with the nurse taking out the catheter too soon and then trying to force him to pee when he didn’t think he needed to. We struggled with the doctor giving him laxatives when he didn’t need to go and didn’t want to go because he knew it would be very painful. We struggled with the occupational therapists and physical therapists trying to get him to get up and get into a wheelchair or use a walker when he knew he wasn’t strong enough to yet. We struggled and struggled. The pain medicine was the worst part. They were giving him medicine that he’d used before and knew did nothing for him. He’s been on 80 milligrams in the past and found it didn’t work, yet the hospital was only giving him 10 milligrams! From day one we told them exactly what worked. They even have a “pain team” that they sent to us twice and they agreed that there is no reason why he shouldn’t be on the one we requested but instead the doctor decided to try 3 other pain medications before finally giving in and switching him to the one we had originally asked for, under the condition that we leave. We got a patient advocate involved and she got the doctor to agree to let us stay one more night so we could work with the physical therapist one more time before we left. First thing in the morning they came to his room talking about getting him out. He was there from March 18th through March 24th, Sunday through Saturday. He needed at least 3 to 5 more days in there but by the time all this happened his recovery was being disrupted by the constant struggles we were having and it seemed the only way we were going to be able to get him healed was to take him home and do our best there and let him heal at his own pace. Since coming home he’s had some difficult days and some great successes so it seems we made the right choice bailing on them.
So Thats The Whole Story From My Side. I appreciate you reading the story and thank you for being so supportive while we are going through this.