Eight years ago, I nearly died.
I was driving home to my parent’s home in Malone, New York. It was a typical Tuesday afternoon. Other than a rain storm earlier, it was an unremarkable day. Suddenly, my world was spinning in front of me. My car was hydroplaning out of control. I was flying…until my car hit a power pole and everything went black.
I woke up in the car and was rushed to Alice Hyde, where my injuries were assessed. The next thing I knew, I was being transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center. Due to the extent of my injuries, I needed to be at a Level 1 Trauma Center.
It might be better to ask what I didn’t break. My neck was broken in two places, my back in six places. I broke several ribs, cracked my sternum, my pelvis, and I had scalped myself. In the ambulance, I wasn’t in pain, but I was scared. I was so scared.
Dr. Elizabeth Ames is the woman who saved my life – alongside her incredible team. I was in surgery for thirteen hours. That doesn’t seem like all too lucky a number, but I was lucky, extremely fortunate. I lived.
I should be paralyzed with the level of injuries I sustained. But, I learned to walk again – and that is a credit to the team of providers who took care of me every step of the way at the UVM Medical Center, everyone from Dr. Ames, who led the team through my surgery, to the nurse who cared for me so tenderly, even bringing me Mac n’ Cheese when I so desperately wanted a taste of home. These same nurses helped me write a letter to the man who discovered my mangled car and lifeless body on the side of the road and kept me safe.
After three weeks, I was out of the hospital and on the long road to recovery and rehabilitation. Learning to walk again isn’t easy. It takes a lot of physical and mental strength to put one foot in front of the other. But again, my team of providers saw me through the pain and frustration.
Ultimately, it is the care I received that inspired me to give back by pursuing a career at the UVM Medical Center. This hospital gave me a second chance at life; I wanted to help others get that second chance. Today, I’m a Clinical Care Associate at Colchester Family Practice.
After these past eight years, all that remains is the scar on my forehead. And I don’t want to get rid of it. I came across a quote recently: “Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” I believe that – and when I meet patients they understand that, too. If they ask, I share the story of my scar, and they share their story with me. We help each other heal.
Thanksgiving may be happening this week, but I’m grateful every single day for the people who saved my life – and for now being among that team of helpers and healers.
Kayleigh Brand is a clinical care associate at Colchester Family Practice.