I just started my first year in high school and decided to spend a weekend at my friend’s lake house with seven other friends in August 2009. We were having a blast. I kept saying to myself, ‘This year will be amazing.’ We spent the first day out on the lake blaring music, tubing, knee boarding, wake boarding, and just having fun — just putting your life on hold, forgetting about everything, except what was going on that very moment.
Two of my friends and I were riding the Jet Ski, while the rest of the crew was about to go out on the lake in a canoe that would be pulled by a boat. We were having a blast, jumping waves, doing donuts, and flipping everyone off the Jet Ski. We all flipped the Jet Ski over and were in the water complaining about how badly the water cramming up our ears hurt, and how we had whiplash. Thinking that was bad, we couldn’t imagine what was yet to come.
It’s funny how we will stub a toe, or have a headache and complain about that. But someone is always worse off than you, no matter how bad something seems. As we were climbing back on the Jet Ski, it filled with water so we all jumped off. My other two friends were on the left side of it while I was on the right. As I turned my head, I saw the boat dragging the canoe coming right at me. The driver was looking behind him, so he never saw me. Before I could even try to swim away from it, I threw my head back. The propellers chopped up my left leg, and tore through my muscle, nerves, skin, and the major artery leading to my heart.
The metal pole attached to the propeller went through my right leg and broke my femur. I looked back as soon as I was hit, and my friends on the canoe ran me over, too. The guy driving the boat didn’t even know he hit me so he kept driving.
I looked down in the water and all I saw was the color red, just like in Jaws when the shark ripped someone’s legs off. I could see my muscles and skin floating on the water, and I told myself not to look at my leg but did anyway. I saw my leg basically off and chopped up. I saw my bone and every little detail. I looked up at my friends’ faces in the canoe. They heard the thud of hitting something, and turned around to see the red water. They started crying hysterically, screaming, and panicking. The whole time I just kept telling myself, ‘It’s all right. It’s just a dream. I’ll wake up any minute. And even if not, I can use one of those prosthetic legs, right?’
It was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt. Imagine someone sawing your leg off in slow motion. My best friend’s dad, who was driving the boat, came back and jumped in the water as soon as they realized they hit me. He picked me up and put me on the Jet Ski, which was a miracle in itself because he can’t lift one arm over his head due to a past injury.
He took me to the dock and laid me down. I couldn’t straighten my legs or even control them. I saw him panicking and whispering to his wife that it didn’t look good. I could tell they were trying not to scare me. I just stared at the clouds and wished the pain would go away. I could feel myself getting weaker and weaker, not being able to keep my eyes open. I felt light-headed, and everyone was so blurry and in slow motion. As much as I wanted to close my eyes, I couldn’t. They made me talk so I’d stay conscious because I was losing so much blood by the second. Not much longer and I wouldn’t have any blood left — I would be dead.
My best friend stood over me, holding me and brushing my hair out of my face. She was praying, telling me not to give up, and saying I had to stay with her. I looked over at my other friends’ faces — who were praying and crying in a circle — knowing there was a good chance that would be the last time I saw them. I thought I was about to die, but I had to keep going for them because I didn’t want them to see me die.
It felt like we were waiting for the ambulance for hours. My friend’s parents wrapped my legs with towels and put a ton of pressure on them to stop the bleeding. I heard the sirens getting closer and closer. I was scared — scared they would inflict even more pain on me. I guess I shouldn’t have watched all those E.R. and House episodes.
As the paramedics came running toward me, I grabbed their hands and begged, ‘Put me out! Knock me out! Please put me to sleep!’ They rushed me into the ambulance so we could drive to where a helicopter was waiting. The road was a bumpy dirt road filled with rocks, and it was pure torture bouncing around in the back.
They got me into the helicopter but it took a really long time to leave, because they couldn’t straighten my legs. They ended up running out of gas and had to take me to the nearest hospital instead, but the last thing I remember was entering the helicopter. That is because I flatlined, which means your heart stops and you die. They couldn’t bring me back, and actually gave up and announced the time and date of my death.
If it wasn’t for my “angel” — an emergency medical worker in the life flight helicopter with a child my age — I wouldn’t be here now telling my story. I flatlined in the helicopter because I bled to death after slicing my femoral artery during the accident. The man working on me almost stopped, but this mother got emotional and begged him not to give up. She risked her job to save me, and thankfully she was successful.
They took me to the University of Alabama Birmingham, a critical trauma and burn hospital. They immediately rushed me into surgery, and I woke up during the operation because I flatlined once again. They couldn’t give me any more anesthesia because there was a 99 percent chance that I wouldn’t wake up.
I was awake and alert for the whole surgery. I couldn’t move, couldn’t blink, couldn’t talk. I tried to scream, but I was given medicine to paralyze me. I could hear them saying, ‘We’re going to have to take her leg. Okay, we are going to amputate it.’ Imagine how badly I was freaking out at this point. They would amputate my leg and I was awake! Heck no! I was begging them not to take my leg, but it was no use because they couldn’t hear me. It was like having an outer body experience.
I could hear them say there was no possible way I would ever walk again, or live a normal life with or without a leg. My parents were waiting outside and freaking out because they didn’t know if I’d come out of surgery alive. The doctors told them that they were doing the best they could, but it didn’t look good. They drove two hours after getting a call that I was hurt. They had no clue how extreme my injuries were and now they faced never seeing their girl again.
I remember waking up a few days after surgery, and I was alone in a room with white walls. I couldn’t talk or move an inch. I had a breathing tube, and they cut open my ribs and inserted two chest tubes. I had a line in my chest pumping blood back into me. I had over 6,000 stitches in one leg and a rod in the other leg that goes from my hip to my knee. I had multiple blood transfusions and required over 20 units of blood.
Still, my surgeon was amazing and able to repair my nerves, muscle, and piece my leg back together. None of the nerves in my left leg are completely repaired, and when I walk too much it swells really big. It’s easy for me to get blood clots, as my lung, stomach, and liver had collapsed.
Days went by, which felt like months. I was scared. Scared of pain. Scared of what the future of my life would be. It felt like I barely saw my parents while I was in the Intensive Care Unit. When people came in my room, I usually kept my eyes closed. They thought I was asleep, but I was really listening to all of the bad news. I only remember a few people seeing me in the ICU, although a ton of people came. My best friend wouldn’t leave my side, and seeing her tears made my heart break, because I had never seen her cry before. My friend’s dad, who stopped the boat and dove into the water, also visited me. I couldn’t talk but I mouthed “hero” to him for saving my life.
It was so hard not being able to talk. They had a tube down my throat that was basically breathing for me. I couldn’t communicate at all. The person who I most remember visiting me was someone really special to me. Someone I was mad at, someone I hurt, someone who hurt me. Our last words were very hateful, and just seeing their face made me realize something — anyone can go away at any second.
I began writing simple words since I couldn’t talk. The pain felt like it was just getting worse. Weeks went by and they moved me to a different floor. People could visit me any time now, but I still couldn’t move so I spent all day in bed.
I cried most days because I wanted to get out of there. I wanted something for the pain. I was tired of being their human pin cushion. Every night they would draw blood, and every three days I had to get a new IV without being numbed. I was beginning to get bed sores.
I was going crazy, but day by day I started to become more like myself. A few of the girls from the lake came and saw me, so I decided to play a little joke on them since I’m such a prankster!
I was in bed, unable to move, and you could barely hear my voice. Everyone was just standing there looking at me with tears in their eyes. I hated everyone being so sad. My mom asked me, ‘Caitlin, do you know who these people are?’ Yes. ‘Do you know their names?’ she asked, and I stuttered, ‘Maarrgaret, Nancy, Katiee.’ Those weren’t my friends’ names, and after everyone looked at my mom like they were about to cry, I said, ‘I’m messing with ya’ll!’ I just wanted to see them smile!
Days went by, more surgeries happened, and I received a mix of good and bad news. I was able to transfer to the rehab floor of a hospital I spent time in before. I had a schedule, and each day I worked my bum off. I had to learn how to move my legs and walk all over again. They’d wake me up at 7 in the morning for weight lifting class. Although it got on my nerves how they’d barge in, turn the bright lights on, and pull the sheets off of me, I knew this was really important. I asked for five pound weights, but was told, ‘Sweetie, that’s too much for you. Let’s go with the one pound weight.’ I thought that was really funny.
I had to get a shot in my stomach twice a day. It hurt worse than getting your blood drawn. I asked the doctor when that would end, and he said when I started to walk. I was determined to stop those shots, so each day I’d take a few steps with the walker, slowly improving. Weeks went by, and I started taking more and more steps
Finally, I was able to go home after almost three months in the hospital. I’m still doing physical therapy three times a week, so I’ll be able to walk 100 percent again and gain my strength and muscles back. I have lymphedema in my left leg, which causes swelling, so I have to wear this ugly hose. I have no feeling in my left leg because all of my nerves were cut. I can’t walk for distances or my legs shut down. On top of all of that I have Crohn’s disease, bad acid reflux, arthritis, and a few other things. Still, I continue to push through.
This entire experience has made me a more spiritual person. A lot of you say, ‘There is no possible way anyone could be so close to God.’ Well when you have been through what I have, you become very close. I guarantee that if it wasn’t for God and so many people praying for me, I’d be dead right now. Yeah, I get frustrated, and sometimes I get mad and ask, ‘Why? Why is this happening?’ I am still on the road to recovery, and there are days when I break down and just want to give up, but anything is possible with God on your side.
My life completely changed from this accident. I don’t like people looking at me, and saying I’m different because I have ugly scars on my legs, or I use a wheelchair sometimes. I just want to feel good and not think about what I can’t do anymore. I’m not a cheerleader, tennis player, horseback rider, and I’m not a straight-A student. I can’t live out my old dreams, or enjoy things I used to love. Things don’t come easily to me anymore — I work hard just to get out of bed every morning.
But I believe I went through this for a reason, and God will use me one day because of it. I hope my accident encourages many other young girls to persevere through whatever challenges they’re facing. It makes me smile to think that my courage and strength will help so many others to be strong, too.
lol what the hell is he doing?
STRIP IT BABY.
Aren’t my walls sexy?
Bieber Alphabet || A -> Abs
he’s so cute, awh
Justin in Paris