Saturday, 1 February 2014
Broken bones, not broken spirit
In Sept 1991, at the age of 29, I was hit and run by a car. They never found the driver. They just disappeared. The police had a description.
I was with a friend. Her car had broken down. We were on the way to Yeppoon to go to Heron Island. She was a marine artist and loved diving. I t was 1.30am in the morning. We had left Brisbane that afternoon.
At the time, my son was 3 years old and my parents were looking after him. I was involved in management at the time. Bands, musicians, artists. I was very good at resourcing. I also played guitar.
This was before mobile phones. When the car broke down, we weren't sure what to do so we waited for a car or truck to help us – hopefully. Eventually we saw some headlights approaching, so I started waving. I was standing at an intersection with streetlights so they could see me.
I heard the car slow down and then speed up. I turned around to see my friend and she yelled, "Watch out!" I turned around and didn't have time to move. I just put my arm in front of my chest and then…whack. The next thing I remember was waking up looking at my arm. I t was a mess. The bones had broken, they were pointing through my skin. I had broken my right elbow as a kid (yet another story) and I thought, "damn it's the other one - the left."
Then I tried to breathe. I couldn't. I found out later in the hospital that I had broken ribs and punctured lungs and spleen. I thought of my son. I thought – best play fish. Breathe thru your ears. The shock of thinking about my son losing his mother forced me to breathe. I couldn't. I prayed. Please no. Not my beautiful little boy no. I was in the middle of the road. The car had hit me at 160 km and I had landed 180 m away. My friend told me later that I had bounced off the car, hit the side mirror with my mouth and spun like a top from my knees to my bum down the road.
When she reached me she kicked me and said, "Don't die". God that hurt. I always have a go at her about that. I felt a vibration on the road - a truck was approaching. She flagged him down. He called the police on his CB. I blacked out.
I woke up. There were 12 men dressed in white standing around me taking turns giving me mouth to mouth. I thought I was in heaven! It was a cricket team. They were on their way home from Brisbane after a match. I still laugh about that. I remember counting them.
The car that hit me actually pulled up in front of where I landed and looked at me and took off. I thought you… you....
The ambulance and police arrived. It had been 45 minutes. I got pneumonia from the shock and had lost a lot of blood. We had a description of the car, including the damage. When I hit it with my mouth the side mirror had come off. It was on the news for a week but we heard nothing. A servo down the road had said a car had pulled up and the driver was wiping the front and acting strangely but they just assumed he had hit a roo. It was the same car but they didn't get the rego and there was no camera footage. All the truckies were on alert but he had just disappeared. The police thought it must have been a drug run or the driver was drunk and that's why he bolted.
The ambulance guys gave me morphine and put on an oxygen mask. The next thing I remember was waking up in the x-ray department at the hospital. There were 2 big blokes standing either side of me. The kind nurse said we have to bend you over to take x-rays of your chest. The men either side lifted me up. I screamed. It felt like my body was just broken in two. I blacked out.
I woke up a week later. They had placed me in an induced coma. When I woke up my arm was just a gaping hole with bones sticking out. I wriggled it. It was funny to see it move and squish. They couldn't operate because I had pneumonia and the risk of complications from surgery was high. When they did finally operate I was very lucky. One of the top surgeons in the world was at the hospital doing a lecture.
I was operated on in a theatre with an observatory so all could watch. It was a specialist case. He did a great job - very neat. I had two plates put in my arm to reunite the bones. I still have them. It is permanent. I lost 180 degree movement in my arm. So this means I can't turn my arm fully around to carry plates or play guitar. Besides that it's not too bad, only the rainy weather hurts it. About 6 weeks later they stood me up to see if I could walk. I only had a hospital gown on. I made it to the bathroom mirror.
I was black, blue, purple, red and yellow from head to toe. I cried. My knees were skinned raw and my bottom had a chunk missing.
People in the town were visiting me bringing me presents - home cooked meals, flowers, cards chocolates. It was very nice.
Eventually I healed and just wanted to get out and see the sky and ocean. I was released. When I first walked out I smelt the pollution, the car fumes, there were smells everywhere. I was very sensitive to sounds and smell. It took me 18 months to heal. A laugh or cough hurt.
I always thought if you hit a roo you should stop to help it. That driver must have been drunk or on drugs. Why else would you leave a person on the road to die? I was very lucky. I didn't sustain any head or back injuries thank God. I could have ended up in wheelchair or dead.