Drunk driving can change a person’s life in seconds

In observance of Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 7-13, the Daily Press will be publishing a series of editorials authored by local agencies that support local crime victims.

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ESCANABA — In honor of National Crime Victim Rights Week, we bring you the following story. Life is precious and can change in a matter of seconds. My life was forever changed on Dec. 20, 2013, at 5 p.m. when an underage drunk driver, three times over the legal limit, hit my vehicle head on. My new life began after I was airlifted to a hospital in Green Bay and found that I had broken both of my feet, my legs, my hip, my ribs, both arms, clavicle and lacerated my liver. My surgeon said he had never worked on anyone who had broken so many bones that survived and that the crash aged my body by 20 years. I was 53 at the time.

After numerous surgeries, I was sent to a nursing home to begin the healing process. For three months, I was bedridden, as I could not put weight on any of my limbs. On March 20, exactly three months from the day of the crash, I was thrilled to hear that I could begin the process to relearn how to walk. It took two months before I could go home. Once home, I had to begin months of physical therapy. I graduated from a walker to a cane.

My husband and I were very overwhelmed with the entire situation. Not only were we looking at a long, uncertain future of my health, loss of my income but my husband had to change jobs twice in order to find one that allowed him the flexibility to care for me. After the crash, we felt so helpless and overwhelmed. In addition to coming to terms with emotional and physical issues, there is the added burden of dealing with the court system and the necessity of being heard.

Over the past five years, I have continued on my road to recovery. Living with injuries has been a challenge. I had been a very active person prior to the crash and enjoyed many outdoor activities. Sadly, I had to take a disability retirement, as I could no longer fulfill my position at work. While I try to focus on what I can do rather what I can no longer do, I now have to realize my limitations and be realistic, especially if I am physically unable to do something. When traveling I have to consider places that do not require lots of hiking or standing which saddens me; because my freedom and independence have been taken away from me. Post-traumatic stress is also frustrating as traveling in vehicles, especially in traffic, can be emotionally frightening. Having to deal with chronic pain is something that is new to me but I am trying a variety of options such as yoga, water therapy, Tai Chi and acupuncture to help alleviate the pain. Often the pain medications come with consequences that are worse in the long run than the pain itself.

My future requires more surgeries to improve the trauma surgery that was necessary at the time to repair my shattered body. Mentally preparing for these surgeries is emotional. The changes in my life affect my husband and family as well. Please remember my story. Make the decision to drive safe and sober.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving provides confidential support at no charge for victims/ survivors of a drunk or drugged driving crash. Our services are not time limited. For more information, please call 906-474-9346.