This is a story I originally posted on a thread on Amanda Palmer’s Facebook page. If you don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, I’d encourage you to have a look. She is one of my favourite artists, who does things like this:
Amanda Palmer was sharing a fundraising page for a woman who was in a terrible car accident. They needed money for her recovery process. This struck a chord with me because I have a similar experience and something to say about it.
Here we go:
My sister was in an awful accident about six years ago. The twelfth of October, 2008 to be precise. I was expecting her to come to Montana from Utah that day. The weather reports were unusually bad in Montana and I’d urged her to wait another day. She’d insisted the roads were clear. She left around 2pm.
At 10pm her partner (whom I refer to as my brother-in-law), who’d not travelled with her, was on her cell phone calling me. I picked up the phone expecting to hear her voice.
“Kirsten.” says Jim. She must not have made it out of Utah.
“Uh… what are you doing on Sarah’s phone?” A feeling of deep dread fills my soul before he utters another word.
“There’s been an accident.” Her two young children were in the car with her. Where are they? They were doing fine in the hospital the next town over. Sarah had been life-flighted to Ogden Hospital.
As the nurse listed her injuries I kept waiting for the part where they would say, “But she’s going to be okay.” It didn’t come. Six broken vertebrae in her neck. Skull fracture. Broken pelvis. Lacerated spleen. And the list kept going… Ten days on machines and the only family reunion in her life later and it was over.
She was gone.
There are no words for the dread you feel, learning of a human injured so badly. It is a hard thing to witness their loved ones fall to pieces. I remember seeing Jim standing against the wall outside her hospital room, slowly sliding down with his head in his hands and sobbing. Sobbing. If there had been a guarantee of money available for support, the machines probably would have stayed on. She was a half a point above brain-dead on the neurosurgeon’s scale. The surgeon refused to say there was no hope, indeed there might be. The determining factor was that each day on the machines was so expensive and for this family that was already struggling, (she was making the trip for a job opportunity) whose insurance was about to run out, they could likely become homeless very soon. If she did survive, but was paralysed forever, they would be unable to afford what she would need.
So many arguments. So much pain. She was only twenty-two. My big sister.
I hold onto the comfort that two blind people were given the gift of sight from her eyes, and her bone marrow helped someone recover from something. Her skin helped burn victims heal.
But her children are motherless. And there’s always the “What if ____?”
Is money really what stood between my niece and nephew knowing their mother and not?
People shouldn’t have to make these decisions. Money during a time like this is all the difference.
The unspoken part of people recovering from injuries is the extensive damage that trickles through to their family and friends. Fissures in familial relationships, wounds which never heal. I saw some true colours through this ordeal I’d prefer to have not seen. Almost every aspect of it was a tragedy.
Am I to believe it was a blessing my sister didn’t survive because the social security claim might not have been successful anyway? Is the system really counting on us dying so they won’t have to pay out?
One of the most hurtful parts was when we were all gathered around to say our goodbyes, a lawyer called who was representing the people in the car behind Sarah’s who had t-boned her on the black ice. They had escaped with a collarbone injury and a broken leg, collectively.
They were suing.
I had to take the phone off Jim who was clearly troubled by this injury claim lawyer.
“Excuse me, you do realise Sarah’s not going to make it, right?” was my first response to his aggravating remarks.
“Uh, um, uhhhh… I’m so sorry. Have a nice day.”
Hers was the twenty-sixth accident that day on a five-mile stretch of road along Willard Bay. Where was the responsibility of Utah Highway, shutting the road down after the fifth slide-off, perhaps? Third roll-over? No? A sign of warning on their multi-million dollar digital display installations to SLOW DOWN, BLACK ICE?
They waited until there was a helicopter rescue necessary to act.
Twenty-six accidents, involving ten slide-offs, eight roll-overs, and several collisions.
By the way, her birthday would have been on the twelfth of this month. She would have been turning twenty-nine.
Now I know why injury-claim law practices are so lucrative; they’d rather we harass one another in times like this than take care of us in our hour of need, despite the taxes we pay.
Without helping one another, there is no hope.
By sharing this story I hope that it gives perspective on a subject that many don’t, or won’t, discuss.
Post to follow expanding on that.
Take care, everyone, and if there’s bad snow or crazy weather around you and someone says to stay home, please think about staying home.