The first version of my story, or should I say of my testimony, was written/typed on February 5th as I was still at the hospital. Just for accuracy sake, I will point out that my left hand did the job as my right hand was immobilized. I was far too tired of repeating what had happened over and over and wanted to put a stop to the questioning. I was asked why write it in english? I will answer: why not? The important thing for me was and still is to express myself and I did it as it came, not overthinking whether or not english, french or creole was an option. The important thing was to let all out.
So for those who truly care, for the barely curious ones, for those who like that “lady” only focus on what’s making a hit, here is a compiled version of my journey. Part III is yet to come, but I wonder if I will force it out.
Anyhow! Enjoy the ride!
I have gone through what many would call a life-shattering event… I call it resilience: an opportunity to grow, to face my deepest fear, to discover my inner strength.
Wednesday January 28th, 2015. I go to bed feeling sad and tormented for no apparent reason. Nothing seemed amiss, yet something was eating me up. I cry, pray, and meditate. Can’t put my finger on what is bothering me. So I let go and focus on what had brought me previous moments of joy…
Thursday January 29th, 2015. I absolutely do not want to go to work. Something since the night before is nagging me, pushing me to stay home. I walk all over the house, bug my mom some, and look around my room in search of the perfect excuse to stay home. But…. Have to drive mom to her Thursday benevolent activity and must hold my part in the office team. So I get my act together and get ready for the day.
I look in the mirror and smile to myself. Hey! Who said self-encouragement doesn’t work! On set, key on ignition, car ready, and there we go.
In the office, the usual drill… but I can’t eat… my heart is still heavy. I joke, discuss important office matters, prepare files for reports to be submitted… but I am still not “there”. I look at my list and can hardly find the usual drive to step into my game
Around 11-ish, I head for the church after notifying my manager. Mom is done so we head to the bank, which I hardly ever do on weekdays. The teller assisting me takes forever… I start getting annoyed, but I rein-down my temper and use all my reserve of patience and good manners
Noon-ish. Finally heading home to drop mom. Don’t know why but I make detours I usually don’t do before taking my usual route. Somewhere between 12:35 and 12:40, I live the most nerve wrecking 5 minutes of my life.
As we hit a small traffic, a man comes to my mother’s window trying to open the door, a gun pointed at my mother, asking we put down the window. My car windows been darken, he cannot see inside the car. He is on edge it seems, looking back and forth, seeming rather at odds with his red-and-green stripped shirt, sunglasses and black beret. I put the car on reverse, go back a notch and hit drive full force heading left. But a local transportation car trying to hit a double line blocks me. This time 2 of them come to my side. Second reverse, and trying to head to my right…. All of a sudden, I hear a weird noise, see my right hand shaking as if I was staring at someone other than myself, see my car hit the back of a car and here my mother scream “Jesus”.
The car stops. I cannot recall if I turned off the car or if it happened by itself. I see my window tumble down. I tell my mom to call my boyfriend then I open my door and step out. I see blood all over my car seat, on the floor, and on me. Then I take note of the hole in my right forearm… Weirdly (thank God) I do not feel any pain, but remain solely focused on taking my mother to safety. I look around and there is no sign of the bandits. I turn around and see this woman trying to take a pic of my bleeding arm!!! Unbelievable! Should have lashed at her, but my focus was elsewhere. I hear someone scream a man’s name and realize they were calling a man stuck between the wall and my car! Gosh! I hit someone…. No time! I lend a hand to mom telling her to come out quick. She takes her bag, slides over my seat and comes to my side. My brain is on overdrive: 10 more minutes and I will be fainting. How I know that without any particular medical knowledge? Only God knows!
We cross and I go straight to the Official car on the other side of the street. I bang on the window and tell him I am hurt. He opens the back door, gets my mom and myself in and tells the driver to speed to the hospital… I tell him which hospital to head to. I ask him to take off my ring as my fingers are getting inflated. Mom helps me take off my jacket… I ask the man to make a knot with a shirt found in his car because my blood is pouring all over the place. I feel myself fading. I ask my mom to call my manager. I spit out the number trying hard to focus on not fainting yet… I needed at least one person to know. She is unreachable. I then tell mom again to call my boyfriend. He answers. Mom doesn’t seem to find her words. I take the phone and talk to him… can barely recall what I said, but I know he was stunned. Once I give back the phone the pain hits. I still ask mom to call my mentor… my former manager… both unreachable! But I still breathe because I know that with that one person reached, the game is set. It all happened in a matter of seconds, but it felt like an eternity…
I start to lose my hold … the man gives his number to my mom and asks me questions to which I answer without fully understanding what I am saying…. I start to faint… I ask him to let me lean on him and he keeps on telling me to hang on. I put my injured hand on my mom’s cheek and tell her to calm down because I am fine and we were safe. I stare in her eyes and smile then lean on that Good Samaritan whom God placed there at this exact moment to come to my rescue. I am fading… I am in and out but still answer his questions. I hear him give final indications bringing the hope that the hospital is near. We make it but the driver is hesitating. Eyes closed, my breathing shallow, I guide him. The man jumps out and screams for a chair. He helps mom get off the car, then me. My legs give in. He carries me to the emergency room. As he is about to take the stairs, the security guard helps him after hearing him say it was a gun wound and seeing the amount of blood on our clothes.
We reach the emergency room on time and the doctor in service automatically wires me to a serum. I start getting back to myself. The man gets ready to leave. I hang on to his hand murmuring “thank you” with whatever strength I could manage. He tells us to call him if anything.
I find it hard to breathe, but the doctor tells me I am fine, it was just my body going on panic mode. The door opens: my manager, director, and chief of security walk in. I smile just enough for them to see I am ok. They ask questions, I manage to answer… but only barely. My heart is pounding. I am again restless. The door opens again and my boyfriend walks in, face completely ashen and torn by an indescribable expression. My breathing eases automatically. He stands near and I lean my head on him. I finally felt safe. May seem overly girly and romantic, but after nearly going on the other side, I didn’t care that others were there.
From there started the journey for the bone x-ray which would clear the way for the surgery…
There is so much I don’t remember, so much my brain simply didn’t, couldn’t register. Now at nearly 3 months away, the questions are flashing at me like many tiny light bulbs about to combust….
From the stairs to the emergency room… I know I lost it because I don’t remember the nurses we encountered on the way, that weird bell sound, entering the room, been seated in the wheelchair, the needles through my veins, the pressure of the bandage as it is set on my wound, the voices around me rushing to keep me alive, my mother’s explanation, the urgency of each movement as I sit motionless…. I didn’t know any of this…. To me it was just the stairs and letting go of my human guardian angel’s hand as I was leaving the room….
I know now what it means to be in and out of reality…. The doctor talks I answer, mom talks I answer, my director talks I answer… But I can barely recall anything said, except some seemingly insignificant details… I don’t remember what I did or said, just some flashing images as if I had been coming out of a deep deep dream… And maybe it was the case… Dying almost felt… Normal!
At a certain point of time, things sort of got clearer, my brain seemed to have gotten enough back up from the serum because I could actually talk and be heard… What I absolutely do remember though: the gentleness of the nurses, the motherly way the doctor watched over me, the anxious stares of those who came, the hidden worry in the voices around me, the anger and despair in the two persons I care for most, the strength my mother displayed although watching her only child fade right before her eyes… the safety, love, and recognition that washed through me as well as a deep rooted desire to sooth their worries… Managing to smile and remaining reasonable although all I wanted to do was crawl out of my skin… No easy task! But besides all that happened, I felt protected and cared for…. That was all I actually needed.
Back to reality…
… They ask to talk to my mother. I ask him to stay with her for me. I know how mom is: she definitely needed the support. As they all leave the emergency room, I look around. The doctor in charge was standing next to me, watching my every move… there is so much I don’t seem to recollect, or perhaps I should admit so much I didn’t know when they took place, like when I got put on the wheelchair, when my wound got bandaged, when they inserted the needle to hook me to the serum… it seems I had passed out pretty badly. The nurse asks me if I want to drink some water. I say yes and they bring me a cup of hot water. I make a face and they laugh. I know I am on chock but boiling water? Seriously? That’s a straight ticket to diarrhea. They add up some cold water to it and I try to drink once more. I look at myself… not so pretty! My skirt had blood filaments; my toenails look as if a paint pot had been thrown at me. Heeeeewwwww! I needed a serious cleanup. I so hate the smell of blood… and I had just that all over…. I am feeling like throwing up… I can’t breathe… put me closer to the bed I ask, I really need to rest my head. Doctor makes small talks while I try to catch my breath.
They all come back, ask me questions, take note of what’s important, smile at me, tell me not to worry while their eyes… I best be strong for all of them. That’s what I am good at… I have to!
We are asked to go elsewhere to get the x-ray done. Don’t know what is discussed with my mom, don’t know any of the planned details… Boyfriend leaves to handle whatever is related to my car and some of our belongings still in there… There is lots of talking around me about the hows and whys of leaving the hospital… I somehow zoom out although my eyes are wide opened… We leave the ER and head to the provided car… Now that’s another dilemma: getting out of the wheelchair to get in the car with both my arms occupied… We manage and as mom sits next to me I put my head on the window and close my eyes… My skirt was getting cold now caked with my blood. My once white shirt turned a dirty type of color like washed-off-red, my sandals feel like sand had been sprayed on them… Oh well…
As we leave the hospital, I see a blue local cab get in… My manager talks to someone on the phone, then tells me something… My brain was back on lockdown mode, didn’t grasp a word she said… As we reach the last turn before the clinic we were heading to, I see my two coworkers and dear friends walking… I don’t really understand what they are doing in that area at this time of the day… One of them waves at me while the other one makes a gesture pointing toward the clinic… Then I understood! They had been in that local cab and headed straight to the clinic as they missed us at the hospital! I was truly touched and happy to see them.
At the clinic’s door, again the getting out problem. Surrounded by the 3 ladies, my mother and the driver, I slowly glide (not walk) toward the entrance just as a lady comes out stating “if you are here for an x-ray, the machine doesn’t work”. She said it in such a peppy voice it seemed as if she was rejoicing. I get a slight panic as I lose my step and my breathing changes. They rush me back in the car and oh gosh! Relief!
The ladies get in with us. They were not about to leave without knowing what would happen and as we drive to the second known place, they try chatting with my mom while keeping their anxiety on check. But I know them. I can hear it without them talking and feel it as the closest one plays in my hair. In the Radio-Lab’s parking, again the fight not to lose my footing. As we reached the stairs, the man guarding the gate tells us that it is already closed. I don’t look at anyone but simply sit on the stairs, my back to the wall, eyes closed. Didn’t care about the dirt, the people passing by, the stares, the state of my clothes… Didn’t care! Someone talks to him and summarizes the situation. He goes in for a few seconds, then comes back to let us in. Getting up was another problem, but it happened, don’t know how. One by one I take the stairs as if it were the hardest thing ever. I dropped myself on the first chair that came to view and laid my head on someone while the others were handling the administrative paperwork.
After 10 to 15 minutes (or so it seemed to me), I was taken to the x-ray room… All this moving got the best of me and while the man was positioning my arm, I threw-up on the floor. The man said it was a good sign and that it meant my body was fighting back. I didn’t comprehend a thing in what he said though I heard the words. We are asked to wait for the results by the receptionist. I am again feeling restless and ask every few seconds if we can’t leave yet. At some point, not too sure how it happened or what led to that, mom squeezes my injured arm. I scream and everybody jumps. Could have actually laughed at their reaction if that dizziness was not trying to get the best of me.
After what seemed an eternity, we are given the x-ray copies. Now it was getting up, walking, take the stairs, getting in the car… Finally seated, I laid my head back… Was finding it hard to breathe again. I don’t recall much of the trip back to the hospital, though I think I spoke to someone on the way. Back in the ER, I finally get to lie on a bed. Oh heaven!!!
I answer questions, smile, but somehow I am so very detached. The first surgeon comes in and explains to me what will be happening during surgery and also the mandatory steps that will follow. I still manage to make him laugh when he talks about antibiotics… How is it I can joke in such a situation… Only God knows!
Boyfriend comes back with our belongings! Apparently my car had already been secured before his arrival so nothing got stolen. A State Rep is with him, asking if I can explain what happened. Mother doesn’t want me to talk. She starts telling the story but get some facts wrong as she was confused as to the how and when it all happened. I let them know I can make the report and take over where mom had gotten. I am shaking, suddenly feeling cold. Out of nowhere the State Rep said that the person my car hit before crashing in another car was in quite critical state… I really didn’t need to hear that… Tears are piling up… “No tears!” I turn my head to look at the one who said that and instantly gain control over my emotions… After the report is done, State Rep leaves with his assistant.
Someone brings office t-shirts so mom could change. Same someone stays with me in the ER while mom and the others disappear once more, heading for the administration office. She jokes with me while the nurse takes blood samples for the routine tests and then gives me my first injection…. Felt like fire was poured through my veins!!! But it was necessary… As I said to the doctor, who knows where that man’s hands had been before he touched the bullet that hit me in his gun… There goes my crazy imagination again! I definitely would take 10 shots if needed!
A few more minutes or hours passed, I get my arm prepared for the upcoming surgery and my clothes changed into hospital robes. I am taken to my room where 2 unexpected visitors show up. News does travel fast! My main surgeon drops by for a chat. Test results were ok, x-ray showed some bad damage, my overall state was good, no food or drink until further notice. Weirdly that day, I had only taken juice in the morning… Serendipity? Talk about that!
I am again in and out after the doctor’s visit. How much time passed? Who came by? Who was with mom?… A total blur! Two nurses show up to take me to surgery room. I smile at mom, crack a joke with a friend who ended up been there God-knows-how, and watch the walls as my bed is being rolled out…
And there we go! Step 2 to my healing process.
I am blessed. There is no way out of that. I am blessed and loved and cherished and if I ever doubted it, this traumatic experience actually proved it to me.
11 months and 2 weeks. That’s how long it took me to finally be able to get back to my public life. 11 months and 2 weeks, yet I am still not completely healed. Do I dare complain? Absolutely not! I do cry when reminiscing what I had to face, but I have never been happier or more alive…
(To be continued… Maybe…)