I have been wanting to write this for over a month now but life kept getting in the way and I didn't know exactly how to say it. I have so much gratitude in my heart for these people who kept me sane the day of my accident and afterwards (in the order of appearance, not gratitude):
1. My sister: She was the first one I called. I was still strapped to my seat, lying on my side. I called to tell her I'd been in an accident and she immediately drove over. I have no idea what must have been going through her head when she saw the helicopters, the emergency vehicles, all the people milling around and the wreckage that was my car, but the whole time, including the ride to the hospital, she was cool as a cucumber. I am sure she'll make a wonderful doctor one day.
2. The stranger: don't know his name, can barely remember his face. Older African-American gentleman. While other people were walking around my car, peering through the windshield, he pro-actively climbed on top of the passenger side, got the door opened, got my seat belt unfastened and helped me stand up. He talked to me the whole time till the paramedics got there. He helped get my purse out of the car and when they loaded me into the ambulance, he placed it inside. I would have left it all in the car if it'd been up to him. And, once he saw the paramedics had me, he said goodbye and left. I really wish I knew where to find that wonderful, kind soul.
3. The policemen, the EMTs and the paramedics: They took care of me so quickly once they got there that I had no time to panic. I think they don't get enough recognition. They had to deal with onlookers, with me who wanted to know if I could fly 2 days later, my sister who wanted to ride with them, while they were trying to ensure I hadn't done major damage to my spine, head, internal organs etc. At no time did they seem impatient or rushed, yet they got me on the stretcher, immobilized and on the way to the hospital in no time.
4. Everybody at University of MD Medical Center shock Trauma Unit: you guys made me feel like no matter what had happened, I'd come out of there ok. Thank you!
5. Kathi: my previous boss and still good friend: I'd called her right after calling Suheir (my sister) to tell her that I probably wouldn't be at work the next day. She showed up at the hospital and managed to get inside to see me after telling them she was my sister-in-law. Seeing her and Suheir at my side while they did all the initial tests kept me very, very sane.
6. My parents: I don't have enough words to express how much closer I am to my parents than when I left their home in 1997. I cannot imagine the pain a parent feels when their child is hurt. I just know that they showed up to the hospital and held my hands and kept me smiling till it was time for me to go into surgery.
7. Jeff: poor Jeff, he got messages from me, Kathi and Suheir about the accident because he was underground in the Washington Metro system when the accident happened. He got home somehow, picked up my folks and brought them to the hospital. I have no idea if I'd have stayed as strong or collected if the situation has been reversed (and I never want to find out either).
8. Brenda, Anjuli and Mike: I cannot ask for better friends. They came over to see me after surgery and kept me feeling normal. It was better to have people come over than to sit around by myself and replay the incident over and over in my mind. They even brought me the best birthday cake ever! It was a cowboy hat and a lasso.
9. Dr. Roe: He was my bypass surgeon who also took my gall bladder out and did my hernia surgery. I wish he'd been at the hospital that night too. I'd called him after calling my sister and Kathi. He called the hospital and talked to the surgeons and explained my history. After I was discharged, he also took care of this surgery site and sutures.
10. Jeff's family: I have said this before and I'll say it again. I could not have asked for better in-laws. I got calls, cards, well wishes, tower of treats, flowers, you name it, in the days following the accident. And, that was after I messed up the very first summer reunion of the family in LA because my accident happened 2 days before we were supposed to fly out there.
I am not the most patient patient. I mean, I hurt my ribs trying to get a file drawer open 2 days after I came home. My family and friends have really kept me sane and taught e to slow down these past few weeks. I am ok getting somewhere late. Ok, I lie, I still hate being late. But, I'll leave earlier instead of trying to get there fast. Because, honestly, life is more important than any errand, any appointment, anything we might be rushing towards.
Thank you each and every one of you. Please know that I value your place in my life even if I don't say it a lot. And I apologize to anyone I might have forgotten. I'll blame it on the airbag that punched me in the face and made my memory slightly hazy.