“Stop! Stop! Stop!” She held out her hand towards the oncoming car, as if she alone had the power to stop the one and a half ton gold beast headed her way.
Snap! Thud! Crash! The car hit her in the leg, throwing her up into the air, bouncing her onto the hood of the car and then sliding off the side of the car. The sound like a dying swan filled the air at impact; and now, silence. She fell to the black pavement below.
A crowd gathered around her. She laid on the pavement, her arm flung up and backwards, somehow stopping her head from hitting the pavement directly. A friendly face from work held her hand as she came to. Her boyfriend ran up realizing what had happened. He knelt down beside her.
Sirens wailed in the distance. She tried to sit up, but her co-worker told her to lie still until the paramedics arrived. She reached for her left leg. Pain radiated up, so much she couldn’t feel her lower leg or foot.
The officer and paramedics arrived on scene. The EMT cut open the left leg of her khaki pants to check for any protruding bones or cuts. Gratefully, there were none.
The officer worked through the witnesses and the driver while the paramedics continued to tend to the victim. Her management team came down to check on her. She told her Director that she wouldn’t make her 1:00. She was always focused on her work.
The paramedics helped her up and asked her to put weight on her injured leg. She collapsed and winced in pain. Her leg buckled like a noodle of cooked spaghetti.
As streams of tears soaked her face, her boyfriend paced nearby. She was coming to meet him for a farewell lunch. He planned on leaving, moving to another state, the next day.
The paramedics helped her onto the gurney and into the ambulance. Her boyfriend followed behind.
The emergency room was crowded when they arrived. The nurse looked her over in triage and directed her to another area. The officer took her statement while she waited.
The nurse cleaned gravels from the road out of her right forearm then bandaged it loosely. The medical staff observed her for two hours and told her boyfriend to not let her drift to sleep due to her concussion. X-rays didn’t reveal any major breaks in her leg, but likely she had soft tissue damage. A brace from her hip to her ankle was applied.
Over the following few weeks, her mind blurred details as it healed through the trauma; she struggled with words and figures for months. So much so, she couldn’t tell how bad it really was during this time. Perhaps her mind was protecting her.
She was referred to a orthopedic doctor to further check her leg. The wait was horrendous; 4 weeks later, she finally sat in the doctors office. One MRI later, and the true damage was revealed. 100% torn ACL. The long section of the ACL was stuck under her patella, causing her leg to slip and give way. Her MCL was 80% torn. To top it off, her femur and tibia showed significant bone bruising. Those would need to heal more and she needed to gain strength in her leg before surgery could be attempted.
The doctor explained the mechanics of how the damage was done. Essentially, when the car struck her leg, one section separated from the other and then smacked back into each other. The pull apart was likely the snap she heard, and the pain had caused her to lose consciousness as the rest of the accident happened.
Just under three months later, surgery included three screws along with the center strip of her own patellar tendon to replace the ACL. Two days after, her father died from cardiac arrest. Thank goodness for pain killers to get her through that next week. Her greatest champion was gone and she had much healing to do. Her boyfriend was hundreds of miles away. Her mother helped where she could, but she was dealing with the passing of her greatest love.
She summoned the strength to push through the months of physical therapy and eventually regained function in her leg. She knew her Dad was there, pushing her through those toughest moments, in spirit, in her heart and in her mind.