Hope for Veterans and Civilians struggling with TBI and PTSD

•November 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

You have all read about my struggles with my Traumatic Brain Injury and followed me in my path of recovery. Some of you know that this year has been incredible for me. I received 80 Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments that changed my life. It has been the icing on the cake of my recovery by relieving my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and greatly improving my life by relieving many of the symptoms I suffered with from my TBI. My friends and family are shocked with the changes they have seen. I’m not the person I was before the accident, I’m better. Much better. Recently my Neuropsychologist approved me to begin to search for gainful employment up to 6 hours per week! I have scheduled further testing with her and I can’t wait to see the changes I have made since I was first tested 5 years ago. Life is good and so very different from even less than a year ago!

It’s all over in the news. You don’t have to search very hard to see that HBOT needs to be available to those who need it. Today on Fox news Bill O’Riely announced his support with The Independence Fund. Oklahoma passed SB1604, an act requiring the state to pay for Veterans to receive HBOT to relieve their symptoms resulting from their TBI and or PTSD at no cost!  And this past  June, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 1098, the Traumatic Brain Injury Re-authorization Act (TBIRA), legislation to reauthorize programs that will provide resources for those with traumatic brain injury while also affording an investment in education and research around traumatic brain injury prevention. These are the winds of change.

After spending 11 months around others undergoing hyperbaric treatment I personally discovered the desperate need of those around me who are also suffering with TBI and PTSD to be able to get relief. I watched as myself and others were healed and lives were changed. HBOT works. It is only a matter of time before others will be able to receive this treatment. And you can help it happen.

Currently, I am part of an incredible team that is hoping to get legislation started for HBOT in the state of Idaho in time for the January legislative session. I’m asking you to write a letter of support to your local representatives. You can find their info here. We are trying to get their attention and currently looking for a legislator to sponsor a bill. You can read my letter of support also. Help me spread the word.

Today, on Veteran’s Day as you thank a Veteran for their service, lets also give them and others with TBI and PTSD  hope for a better  future.


•June 25, 2014 • 3 Comments

I had the worst day ever.

The study through the NBIRR I’ve been participating in for relief of my TBI and PTSD symptoms has been shut down. I was driving back home from the local coffee hut when I found out. I had called the center to make some more appointments for hyperbaric oxygen treatments and was told the study was shut down and they weren’t seeing patients right now. I would receive a call if and when the study started up again.

NBIRR is a Clinical Trial with Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBOT) to treat 1,000 patients with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. An estimated 600,000 veterans are suffering from TBI and PTSD, the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military medicine has spent billions on therapies with drugs and other interventions that have little or no effect on healing the brains injured by modern combat, IEDs, and repeated exposure to war. NBIRR is a Clinical Trial under the strictest medical guidelines meant to prove the safety and efficacy of HBOT while treating 1,000 patients. HBOT currently is not covered by insurance. The fact is that HBOT has already healed hundreds of patients with a variety of injuries, including TBI and PTSD. The next step is to run a rigorous scientific study to prove that HBOT, in fact, improves the quality of life of brain-injured patients during and after treatment with hyperbaric oxygen. The hope is that, with this evidence and scientific validation, the VA, Congress and the public will insist that the VA, DOD and the military medical system recognize the need and the moral imperative to insure treatments with HBOT. Without the trial, the military medical community will continue to refuse to recognize that HBOT is medically sound, safe, effective and vastly less expensive and more humane than treating veterans with drugs for life. -http://www.razoo.com/story/Nbirr

I was in shock. I could barely say goodbye. Numb with disbelief I hung up the phone and began to cry.  I was devastated.  Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments have changed my life in a really big way. My PTSD is practically gone. I can understand conversations better than I have for 12 years. My mental fatigue is so much better and I have fewer headaches. My quality of life is so much better now compared to even just 6 months ago. You can see my test results and benefits here. And now its over. All gone. I’m incredibly thankful for the healing I’ve received but I really wanted to see just how much better I would get, how much different I could feel. This was just not my favorite day.

Center for Disease Control

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths.1  Every day, 138 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.  Those who survive a TBI can face effects lasting a few days to disabilities which may last the rest of their lives.  Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).  These issues not only affect individuals but can have lasting effects on families and communities. -http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html

I am not sure how or why the NBIRR decided to stop the study.  I’m incredibly thankful that I was one of the lucky ones able to get into the study. But what frustrates me the most is the staggering amount of veterans and civilians that receive a TBI every year. The treatment they are getting now with common medications is not working and most likely their symptoms are getting worse.  If Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments are working to relieve and possibly eliminate symptoms caused by TBI and PTSD then why isn’t it prescribed more for treatment and made more readily available to survivors? And my favorite question is why can’t it be billed and paid through our insurance companies? I have experienced relief first hand and I have seen the positive changes in the other people I received treatments with.  I hear stories of how it changed someone’s life every time I go for treatment. I can see it in their faces and I hear it in their voices when they share their stories with me. As I think of the other study participants receiving the news of the study being shut down my heart is sick.  The relief we have been getting is gone, taken away by the powers that be at the NBIRR or beyond. Just out of reach.

I finally quit crying and turned my car around to head home. Trying to tell myself to be thankful for the treatments I did get and trying not to focus on what the rest of them might have brought me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through this day.  I pulled into my garage, parked my car and grabbed my coffee cup to head inside. But stuck to my coffee cup was my punch card. You know the kind, buy 10 get one coffee free. I reached to grab it and it fell to the floor upside down. When I bent down to pick it up this is what I saw.

0520140813-1I knew then that everything was going to be ok. I wasn’t sure how or when. But I knew I could rest assured that soon things will be better and HBOT will be available for those of us that need it so desperately. It will all work out eventually. I took a deep breath and considered all the work it will take.  It seemed to me a huge endeavor to change laws and make it possible to bill insurance for treatment and to educate people about the healing benefits of HBOT. But I know that there are others out there with voices for those of us that need help. Voices to stand up for us and our needs and make things right.  Faith is a verb. You can’t have faith without action. HBOT will eventually be a common treatment for TBI and PTSD. But I’m not going to sit back and wait for it to happen. I’m going to get up and help get it done.

I have recently been called back for treatments. The study is still closed but Idaho Hyperbarics will still treat those of us that want it. Out of their own pocket. Because that is the integrity of the amazing people who work there. It kind of restores your faith in humanity doesn’t it?  So I’m headed back to get the rest of my treatments. I won’t stay home, you couldn’t make me. I want to see just how much better I can be. Can you blame me?



For more info on how Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments can help with TBI  click on http://www.hbot.com/faq

Drum roll please………………

•June 12, 2014 • 4 Comments

“I don’t think people understand how stressful it  is to explain whats going on in your head when you don’t even understand it yourself.”  Not sure who said it, but it was passed on to me by a good friend. It’s exactly how I’m feeling. I’ve tried to write this post over a million times. Only to bag it and try again.  It’s so hard to explain to you everything that is happening in my head right now. But I’m going to try.

Even though I just can’t find the words for how amazing and different I feel, I know the hyperbaric oxygen treatments are working. I’m enjoying every single day of the new me. The PTSD is almost gone completely. I’m not afraid any more. And I’m thinking so much clearer. I don’t need to “clock out” and take as many breaks either. I get to enjoy more of my days.  And I have the results on paper to prove it all. I can’t stop looking at my test results. I even slipped them into those nice little plastic sheet protectors  to keep them safe as I carry them everywhere to show anybody who will look and listen.  I showed all the staff at the HBOT clinic. I showed my physician. I showed the girls at the office where I get my allergy shots. I sent pictures to my kids. I’m showing all my friends and even some strangers. And then I look at them again. Everything I thought I was feeling is there on paper. Proof. Solid proof that I’m getting so much better. I’m still in shock a little bit over all the changes taking place.

Below are the test results that were taken in December before I began HBOT. And right next to Decembers test results I have my most recent results from May. You can see for yourself why I keep showing them off. So, hopefully this will help you understand what I’m feeling right now. It’s wonderful.


HBOT 001 HBOT 005











HBOT 003HBOT 008











HBOT 004

HBOT 009











A fish named Bari. The Betta beta.

•May 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve fought and won an extensive battle with my injuries from a car accident 12 years ago. My traumatic brain injury was one of the most difficult impairments that I’ve ever dealt with. It took years to accept the new me and find my “happy place.” It took a lot of hard work, tears and understanding.  I am very happy maintaining my new quality of life. You have only to read a few of my previous posts to see the hell that I went through to get to where I am now. I thought I had rehabilitated myself as far as I could and so I’ve been coasting through life very happy to have what was left.  Occasionally, I wished for the old me, for things to be different. But I had accepted my lot in life and was making it the best life I could. Enjoying my new normal. Appreciating every second of my second chance. Maintaining feature complete.

Feature complete:  a version of a software in an advance version, which contains all intended functionality of the final version, but is not yet final due to bugs, performance or stability issues.

I am blessed to have this amazing friend. Her name is Heidi. We met in high school and have been inseparable since. But the strange thing about us is, we keep showing up in each other’s lives, right when the other needs it the most. It  is uncanny the way it all happens. Sometimes we go a year with no connection at all. Life gets busy, other things need our attention. Then BAM! Cosmic forces, karma or the good Lord above crashes us together right when we need it. And it is never an ordinary experience. Just ask Heidi. She will smile and wink at you and giggle. I just love her with all my heart.

So here she came again. We were meeting another good high school friend for lunch. We always have fun no matter what we do but as we ate I could not help but wonder what was going to be compelling about this particular meeting.  She told me about this study she had been accepted into that was happening at the Idaho Doctors Hospital. She was accepted into a study of the effects of HBOT onTBI and PTSD and would receive 80 hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments. It all sounded very cool to me.  I had tried every treatment out there but had only read about HBOT for possible treatment for my TBI. Along with all the other therapy I was doing and not being able to work, hyperbaric oxygen treatments were just out of reach for me. Depending on the treatment center and size of the chamber, treatments run anywhere around $150 to $1500 each.  And my insurance would not cover it.

We finished our lunch, hugged goodbye till next time and I climbed in the car and sat that brochure in the seat next to me on the drive home. I thought about it all the way.  I began to hope for some relief and wondered if I could get into the study. The very next day I filled out a questionnaire online. Now, I  am hoping again. A week later I opened an email that told me I was not a candidate. In the reply was something about my lung and diaphragm injuries.  But, a few months later two things happened almost simultaneously.  First, I received a letter in the mail from a good friend. She has no idea how much I love this little sticky note. Especially the part that says “I have no idea if this would help your situation or not.”
Hyperbarics 003

Underneath the sticky note was a newspaper article with a picture of Heidi’s beautiful face. I was instantly drawn to her face and amazed at how wonderful she looked. Something about her was different, very different. Second, I received a phone call from Heidi and all I can remember about it is “Diane!!! You have to call this Jeff guy and get into this study, today. It has been amazing for me!”  So, I called this Jeff guy. After talking for an hour about HBOT, veterans, and all the disparities of health care, I had an appointment to go for testing. I also had this big huge helping of hope show up. What if this works? How would I change? How would I feel?  Would I look and feel as good as Heidi? If I only acquired half of the relief she did I would be overjoyed. But, I know my limits now, or so I thought. And I tend to be very realistic with myself so I folded up that feeling and tucked it away and tried my hardest to ignore it.

After my appointment, permission from my Pulmonologist, some testing and peek inside the chamber I was accepted. There came that hope thing again. Numb, I left to drive home. But then on a whim (I  am a little spontaneous at times) I turned my car around and stopped at Petco. Not  knowing what I was looking for I wandered the isles. But as soon as I saw him I knew he needed to come home with me. Oh, my poor husband. I have at one time or another brought home almost any animal my heart desired.  I purchased my new little guy and headed home with a fish. A beautiful blue fighter. We had a lot in common him and me.  He was a Beta. I named him Bari after Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy. He was a symbol of my hope.  A symbol of desperation. A symbol of this chance to erase some of my bugs. Dan did not roll his eyes this time.

Software in the beta phase will generally have many more bugs in it than completed software, as well as speed/performance issues and may still cause crashes or data loss.

Hyperbarics 001Hyperbarics 002

While I was waiting for my treatments to start I could not help but wonder how HBOT would help me and my injured brain. A few of my “performance” issues were pain, fatigue, lack of organization and communication skills and a significant dose of PTSD. Just a few years ago I was having panic attacks every 5 minutes. That was the hell I was talking about earlier. One of my biggest battles was fighting those panic attacks and putting time and calmness between them. It left me totally exhausted and afraid to leave the house. I began hyperbaric oxygen therapy in January of this year. I was so terrified I could barely move. With Heidi practically holding my hand and encouraging me the whole hour, I survived my first treatment. You would think that sitting in a small chamber in comfy chair breathing oxygen would be comfortable. Well, not for me and my PTSD in tow. It goes wherever I do and rears its ugly head right when I  am trying to hide it the most. I  am not so sure I would have gone if Jeff had not promised me that Heidi could go in with me. Who the heck was this guy with a huge heart that acted like he  cared anyway? I would soon find out his staff was just as excellent. And I never feel like I  am just another name on the schedule. I  do not remember much about the first treatment other than I was so nervous I felt like I peed my pants.

So, thankful for my husband’s urgings I started a journal so I would not forget what happened in the chamber, and to record the effects I hoped I would feel.  This little journal was all about me. Soon I was enchanted by the lives around me. It became about them, not me. I was with heroes of all kinds every day at the chamber. All the heroes, strangers at first, became friends. Friends similar to me. You know the kind with brain injuries and PTSD. We are comfortable around each other.  We kind of understand each other. We have a lot in common. I hear so many stories of horrible things happening to humans and how they survived them. They were maintaining their new normal. Just like me. Every day at the chamber I heard their stories. As they talked I could sense their hope, their desperation. I was not the only one hoping for relief. We all were a little desperate for anything to help us get through our days. So I un-tucked and unfolded my hope. Brought it out just to see what would happen. And soon I began to feel different. It was subtle differences at first. But treatments exhausted me. I was tired, very tired and hungry all the time.  After treatments, I would drive home, shove some food in my face and sleep. Get up, eat some more and sleep again. Then get up and head to another treatment. Once I even left the stove on high with dinner boiling in the pot and fell fast asleep. The next thing I remembered was my son telling me something was burning. Well, we went out to eat that night. Jeff reassured my being tired was normal. It means it  is working. I remember staring at him in disbelief.  But I continued. January to April consisted of driving, treatments, eating and sleeping.   At the end of March, that little whisper of change began to get louder.  I was having a conversation with a few people and I realized quite suddenly that I understood everything they said. That was  not normal for me. This was HUGE. Years earlier I had spent hours in cognitive therapy trying to gain skills to make it through conversations and respond. It was something about me that  bothers me. So, I paid very close attention the very next time I had a chance to have a conversation and sure enough, I was handling conversations better and remembering what we talked about from the beginning of the conversation to the end. And surprisingly the next time I saw them I remembered what we had talked about previously. This was new and oh so incredible. I usually avoided people and conversations like the plague. But now, I looked for a chance to talk to a friend. I started calling people I had not talked to for a while. I have a lot to make up for. For years, I was busy taking care of me. Self-care and fatigue left me too exhausted for a conversation that would only end in confusion and a big headache. So I saved my conversation time for my husband and kids mostly. So many friendships were pushed to the side. But now, I just keep calling and texting. And they do not mind. And I love it. Connecting with friends is something I have missed.

I also noticed that I was calm. Very calm.  It took me a while to recognize it. First I noticed that my shoulders were no longer hitched to my ears. They were right where they should be, relaxed with my hands by my side. I had not had many calm moments since the accident in 2002. My PTSD would not allow me many calm moments.  This calmness came to me without me putting on a fake smile, without struggling to push aside my PTSD. It just happened without me doing anything. It just showed up as a gift wrapped in ribbon.  Just for me. No more holding myself stiff as a board trying to keep it away. No more barely holding myself together.  No struggle to achieve put togetherness, just the gift of pure calm. Every morning it was there. And at night it was there too. I was in shock. It took me a couple of days to get used to it. I became desperate for the feeling not to leave, thinking it might until I talked myself into a big deep breath and to just enjoy this moment. And I  am still enjoying it. Every damn second I  am enjoying it. The calmness is still here. It just shows up every day, just like it used to, as it should. Relief from my greatest enemy and my biggest battle is in the form of a hyperbaric chamber.  I am trying to find the words to explain to you how much this means to me. Hope fulfilled. Broken pieces stitched back together. A big dose of relief. Desperation quieted. Dreams coming true.

Friday April 11th I completed 40 treatments. I tested again. Jeff showed me my results and the testing confirmed what I was feeling. I was in shock. It  is real. It  is working, really working.  That day began my thirty-day break.  I gave Jeff a big hug and drove home in a daze.  Not wanting to leave my happy place, my new friends or my chance at healing what I hate the most about me. But my hope was huge now. My hope was bigger than the fear. A balance that I tried to achieve for 12 years happened in just a few months. During my break, I began to notice other things that were different. After the accident, my brain decided that it just wasn’t going to wake up each day. Thank God there is a pill for that. Some days I just wake up on my own now, wide awake. And I stay that way all day.  Just the other day I had a huge list of errands that I just knew I would not get all the way through. I set out to do them until my usual raging headache sends me home for a much-needed nap. But before I knew it I was done, completely done with all of my errands. Usually just a trip to the grocery store is way more than this injured brain of mine can handle. But I completed all the errands and had energy for more. I was in the parking lot at the bank about to head home. Instead, I grabbed my phone to text my family the good news. Then I just sat there in the parking lot of the bank and enjoyed the moment. I did not have the usual headache that screamed at me to go home and take a nap. My head was not fuzzy with confusion. It was clear, so very clear. I could finally do errands again like a normal person. Weird, but wonderful.

Others began to notice. My son in California mentioned that he could tell from our recent phone calls that mom is more with it. This is HUGE. Jon had the worst time of all my kids when dealing with the new mom after the accident. So this is very huge. He deserves a mom that’s with it. After his phone call, I stopped everything I was doing and just enjoyed the moment with a few, maybe a lot, of happy tears and counted my blessings. Katie just clings to me recently enjoying the new mom. A teenager that likes being around her mom. Hmmmm? Maybe because she does not need to be her own mom anymore. We traded places once. Now she gets to enjoy being a kid and I get to enjoy being able to be her happier, healthier ‘with it’ mom. Shellie, my oldest daughter, has noticed changes too. She can instantly tell when I  am just too tired to listen to her on the phone. I hate being too tired to be a mom when they need me. But now, she noticed that I  am not as tired and even when I am tired I can still hear her and really listen. I get hear my children now. Hear and understand. I  am not too tired for conversations or listening to my kids. This is significant. Very huge. I never miss a chance to stop and enjoy the small things, because they are the big things. So, recently, every day I have been stopping everything and just enjoying the new me. And exploring the new me. And I like it. I  am thankful to be whom my kids need me to be when they need me. When I  am done talking to them I pick up the phone and call an old friend. You know. The one I’ve been too tired to call. Then I pick up the phone again and call another friend that I have not talked to in a while.  Dan just rolls his eyes just like when I bring home all my animal friends because nothing is getting done at home. Then the next day I wake up and start it all again. And I remember what I did the day before and where I left off with friends and family. It  has been a long 12 years. And I have a lot to make up for. So, I call my friends again. I call my kids again. I cannot get enough of this after years of avoiding conversations. I  am having a ball, a headbangers ball to be exact.

A release candidate is a beta version with potential to be a final product, which is ready to release unless significant bugs emerge. In this stage of product stabilization, all product features have been designed, coded and tested through one or more beta cycles with no known showstopper-class bug.

On May 12th I begin my last 40 treatments. I hope it goes by very slow. I want to get all the healing I can out of this. Because, it works. But for now, I  am enjoying every single day waking up and being  awake. I  am testing out my new features and finding out who I am now. I cannot say thank you enough. The staff at the healing center are heroes in my eyes. I will never forget them or what they have done for me. Nothing can stop me now. Soon, I’ll be golden. Even though my youngest daughter told me that people over 40 are not allowed to use that word. But I did. Do me a favor and just don’t tell her. But I think she will notice that her mom shines a little brighter.

The term ” release to manufacturing”, also known as “going gold”, is a term used when a software product is ready to be delivered or provided to the public for distribution.  This build may be digitally signed, allowing the end user to verify the integrity and authenticity of the software. The term does not define the delivery mechanism or volume; it only states that the quality is sufficient.

Sometimes, as I sit and watch Bari swimming around in his bowl, I swear I see him wink at me.

Software Cycle

Feeling a little broken today

•April 17, 2014 • 3 Comments

Some days are just easier than others when it comes to putting the pieces together in a new way.

Blessing for a Broken Vessel

Do not despair,

you hold the memory

of what it was

to be whole.

It lives deep

in your bones.

It abides in your heart

that has been torn and mended

a hundred times.

It persists in your lungs 

that know the mystery 

of what it means 

to be full,

to be empty,

to be full again. 

I am not asking you

to give up your grip

on the shards you clasp

so close to you,

but to wonder

what it would be like

for those jagged edges

to meet each other

in some new pattern

that you have never imagined,

that you have never dared to dream.


Taken from The Painted Prayer Book. http://paintedprayerbook.com


March=Brain Injury Awareness Month

•April 4, 2014 • 3 Comments

March 1st brings many bittersweet feelings and memories for me. It is the anniversary of my car accident. It is also Brain Injury awareness month.

That day I posted to Facebook a blurb about the accident and how far I’ve come, how far my family has come since that day. I have had an overwhelming response to that post. In addition I had many people walk up to me and share with me their story. This all got me thinking. What I was hearing opened my eyes. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I knew I had to change my post. Each story was unique. Yet there was one common thing that I kept hearing as they talked.  I heard their fear. A disabling fear of what they went through that has left a lasting impression with each of them. It’s PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whether it controls us or just gently reminds us in various degrees, we are each trying to mentally deal with the fear of our tragedy that has been left ingrained deep in our hearts and minds. We are terrified that it will happen again. Most of us are afraid of dying, but us survivors almost did. We experienced what none of us want too. Our deepest fears came true. A curtain was lifted and we are now on the other side. We know what can happen when our deepest fears come true. And they did. When catastrophe struck we see and hear it all. The screams, the crying, the sirens. We feel the pain. We see the blood. No matter how hard we try to close that curtain and block those memories, for some of us, the chains of PTSD stay wrapped tightly around our feet. Years later when we are healed and only pain and scars remain, the fear and anxiety never leaves us. Some days it controls us and follows us like a big black cloud. On the good days it is like a little pebble that we can hide in our pocket and maybe even forget its there. I call it the crazies. Even though it does not mean we are crazy. It does mean we are afraid. It does mean we are human. We just don’t want our worst fears to come true. Again. It means we are scared to go through life sometimes. Because we know how bad it can hurt. We all experience the crazies. No one is exempt. It affects us all to one degree or another. But we hesitate to talk about it. Why? I realized that survivors crave to be heard and understood. We connect in some deeper way. Maybe it’s the crazies that keep us linked. That secret fear we keep inside. So I’m changing my post to say what it really should. The whole story. I left out my daily struggle with PTSD. But i’m not hiding it anymore. I want you to know I struggle. Every day. But more importantly I want you to know that I succeed. Most days I win the struggle. And I want to tell you that you can win too. I embrace the crazies and love who I am now regardless of the things about me that aren’t perfect and pretty. I hope those of you that struggle can do the same, because you should. I hope there will come a day when we aren’t afraid to talk about it. PTSD is real. For me it has gotten better, but not without fighting it every single day. And not without help and not without talking about it. Now I fight it with out medicine. I am strong enough to fight it with my words and thoughts. It’s a wonderful feeling. If you are suffering, get help. And don’t give up until you do. You are worth it. Keep fighting. Besides, aren’t we all a little crazy? And that’s okay. So, let’s try this again……….

12 years ago, March 1st, 2002,my family survived a horrible car accident. It changed our lives forever. It got better!!!! I was looking through pictures trying to find the photos of the car and what I saw made me realize how much fun we have had since that day. We have lived our lives on purpose. And I thank God everyday for all the “extra’s” I’ve been given. Like watching my children grow into adults, graduations, weddings, a wonderful son-in-law, kisses from my grandson, new friends, old friends, snuggling, staying up and watching the stars all night with my man, hearing “good morning beautiful!” every single morning, travelling to Boston, Maine, Texas, California, camping in the car, hiking ALL the trails in the Sawtooth mountains from Stanley to Sun Valley (on just 1 and a 1/3 of a lung and crying and yelling when I make it to the top)…..just a few of my favorites. The list is endless. Each day is a blessing. No matter how much pain I’m in, or how much confusion or fatigue my TI causes me. It does not matter how tightly the chains of PTSD are wrapped around my mind and leave me terrified to walk out the door and live. We don’t let the crazies win. We choose to be happy and succeed. We enjoy every single day. I’m so proud of my amazing kids and how they have succeeded regardless of our struggles and for being the incredible blessings I live for. I thank God for my amazing husband who has never left my side and has been with me loving and encouraging me every single day. I wouldn’t be where I am today with out you Dan. You are my cheerleader disguised as a tough guy. Remember, No matter where you thought you would be in life today, except where you are and make it the life you want. You might not have ended up where you thought you would, but life has a way of putting you right where you should be if you let it.

Car Accident 001 (2) Car Accident 001 (4) Car Accident 001Car Accident 001 (3)


…….and they lived happily ever after.

•March 9, 2013 • 18 Comments

Today. 3.1.02. Was the day of the car accident eight years ago.  I am so grateful to have had eight more years with my family and friends. I received a second chance. Not many people get that. Here is the story of that day and a few days that follow. Just so you can’t say I didn’t warn you. . . . .WARNING:You may not want to read this post. (that was for Dan, mom, and my sister)

The kids had been working so hard to stop arguing. If they could try to get along for just 30  horrible days of tolerating their sibling, Dan and I had promised them a movie and dinner out.  They did it. I knew they would. Friday afternoon we all piled into the car. Shellie was 12, Jon 9, and Katie 2. We drove to the movie. Monsters Inc. We were standing in line to purchase tickets and laughing and having fun. Wow, this goal setting really works. I was so proud of my kids for treating each other better. Then, Katie farted. If you know her at all you know that it was not quiet. It was long and loud and very surprising coming from a 2-year-old. (she is her father’s daughter) then she giggled and we all started giggling. I tried to apologize to the other people in line while laughing. A lady in line smiled and said ” its fine. Its funny and she is so cute.” Soon the whole crowd was laughing. That set the mood for the whole evening. We had so much fun. After the movie we headed for pizza. Afterward we climbed into the car and Katie said “Daddy do you have your seat belt on?” he answered “yes” then it was my turn. “Mommy do you have your seat belt on?” then Shellie’s turn and then Jon’s. We all had our seat belts on and were ready to go home. Thanks Katie.

The next thing I remember was feeling like I was waking up from a very deep sleep. Confused. I didn’t want to wake up but somehow knew I needed to. I struggled to consciousness and heard myself telling Dan that I couldn’t breathe. I heard the kids start screaming. Dan tried to calm them by telling them that if I was talking then I could breathe. I slipped back into unconsciousness. The moon light was shining so bright. The kids and Dan could see the blood all over my face. A man, the one who lived on the corner with the bushes that hid oncoming cars, came and told Dan that an ambulance was on the way. He was practiced at calling the ambulance for this intersection. My sweet little kids started praying for their mommy. A lady came to Shellie’s window and told her everything will be OK. No one else ever saw or heard this woman. An Angel I think. The ambulance came and took me away. Dan and the kids rode in a another ambulance later.   My mom told me that Shellie and Jon wouldn’t even unfold their praying hands at the hospital. The doctor summoned Dan out of Shellie’s hospital room and was told to come tell me goodbye. They didn’t think I would make it through surgery. I had a closed head injury, bleeding and swelling in the brain, my right lung was collapsed, Internal bleeding, broken ribs, broken pelvis, liver and spleen lacerations, my liver went through my diaphragm and pushed my stomach and heart out of place, and the right side of my face was fractured badly.

I seized and quit living. They placed a pick line straight to my heart and brought me back to life.

I never actually saw God that night. I didn’t see a bright light either. We didn’t speak to each other, God and I. We didn’t have too. But I knew He was there because He was holding me. A thought came to me “I’m dead! I’m dead and with God.” But I want dead.

You will never convince me that there is not a God. Because I know there is. Without a doubt. If I had any doubts before in my life, they were now gone. I could feel his arms softly, yet very strongly cradling me and I also felt an incredible warmth on my right side. I found out later that is where my injuries were. All I felt was love, warmth, and healing flowing from Him.  I suddenly knew then what had happened. My whole family was in a car accident. I also knew I was going to be OK. God told me, without words. Just knowing. It was the most incredible and beautiful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I will never, ever forget it. He let go and sent me back.

I wanted to wake up but I couldn’t. I just had to ask of my family was ok. If Shellie was OK. She was sitting right behind me in the car. Where is Dan? My son Jon? My baby Katie? Where were they? Are they alive? Come on! Wake up! I have to know if they are OK! What about Where are they? I need to know if they made it. If something has happened to them then I don’t want to wake up. I’m so frustrated but can do nothing about it. I can’t talk, or anything else. I can’t even feel my body. Damn! Sleeping again. Just darkness.

Later, I struggle again to wake up. This sleep is so deep. I want to ask somebody, anybody, if my family is OK. I can’t. I can’t wake up enough to ask. I can’t see and I can’t talk. Just trying to think  when I wake up is too much. Enough. Time is up. Exhausted. Consumed by darkness again.

My lip hurts. I struggle to wake up. All I see is black.  I am trying to tell somebody about the pain. I can’t talk. I can’t move.  I realize slowly, that the loud wheezing noise I hear is the ventilator that is breathing for me. A large tube is stuck in my mouth and down my throat. The reason I can’t talk. It’s pushing air into my lungs, raising my chest, then lowering it.  Strange mechanical motion. Gross. Where the tube goes into my mouth it is pinching my lip. I can feel with my tongue that my lip is folded over with tape. It really hurts. With all my other injuries that hurt, this one sticks out the most right now. Maybe because its unnecessary. It makes me very mad. I sense somebody, my sister, is in the room with me. The room I can’t see. I can’t see her either. Somehow I get her attention. She knows I need something. I don’t know how but she understands and puts a pencil and paper in my hand. Bless her! I scribble, as good as I can in the dark.  “Fix my lip damn it!”Guess what? The nurse quickly fixed my lip. Then I am sucked into deepness again.

The only thing I hang onto is God. Because he held me. And I know it will be OK. Because he told me.

I am hearing a voice ask me if I know what day it is. I don’t know. I have no idea. I tell the voice, “no”. The voice asks me what time it is. I don’t know that either. The voice asks me the year. That one I know. It’s a nurse I decide, even though I am still in the dark. Why can’t I see?  The nurse asks me if I know what happened. I do. I have had a lot of time to think about it. I know what happened. I just don’t know how bad I am hurt or even if I can walk or not, or if there are pieces missing or not working I am only in and out of this darkness. I try to fight it but it comes anyway. Pulling me again into the deepest sleep. I sink into the darkness again.

Somehow I figure out that my dad is holding my hand. He is crying. I wake up enough to tell him that I am going to be OK. I know I’m going to be OK, because God told me. So I want to tell him. So he won’t worry and will stop crying. Then that damn dark consuming sleep comes again.

I wake up and I’m upright. Someone is holding onto me and encouraging me to take one more step. I had no idea I had already taken one. My feet feel so heavy. I tell them to move but they won’t listen. Finally I take one more step. Then they help me to bed. OK, I can walk. Thank God. I can also see a little bit. It’s fuzzy, kind of dream-like, but I saw the floor when I was walking. Because I couldn’t hold up my head.

I am awake! I open my eyes. So awake! I can see! It’s Wednesday. The accident was on Friday. I look around and I see I’m in a hospital room, then I see Dan. Oh Dan! He’s alive! I’m so happy. I call him. He comes to me. He is afraid to touch me. I am so relieved he is OK. I though he was dead. He’s not. I was wondering where he was. He was with me. He never left me. He was beside me the whole time. He wouldn’t leave even when the nurses told him too. He slept on the floor by my hospital bed. We talk a little about what happened. I don’t really want to know. Not ready yet. The kids are OK. That’s enough. Darkness swallows me again.

Awake again. I begin checking my self out. Am I all here? Does everything work? I am swollen every where. I can’t move. Pain consumes me. I have tubes sticking out of me and some are full of blood. I have huge black bruises everywhere. My face feels swollen. My head throbbes. I reach up to touch it. Blood and glass fall from my hair. I am afraid to look in the mirror. But I do. Is that me?

Visitors come and go and so do I. In and out of that damn darkness. My room is so full of flowers that the nurse tells me she can smell them clear down the hall. She has never seen so many flowers for one person before. That makes me feel better.

I find out that everybody is OK. At least we will be. We have a long road ahead of us. But we will make it. All the pieces are still here.

At the end of Monsters Inc., the movie we saw the night of the accident, Sulley is very sad because he misses his little friend “Boo” and wants to see her. The door to get to her and see her has been shredded. Sulley’s best friend Mike gathered all the pieces and tried to glue it back together again. But it was missing one single piece. So the door wouldn’t work. Mike gave the door to Sulley and sadly told him he tried but “It won’t work with out all the pieces” But Sulley had found and saved a piece of the door to remember Boo with. He pulled it out of his pocket and placed it where it belonged and the door worked! He got to visit Boo whenever he wanted. He was able to be with her as she grew to an adult.

And so……. we lived…….. happily ever after.


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