Fighting Pain Finding joy: what chronic pain and 130+ children have taught me about joy by David Alan Gray

Fighting Pain Finding joy: what chronic pain and 130+ children have taught me about joy

byDavid Alan Gray

Kobo ebook | April 15, 2016

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Come with me to a day that probably has no meaning for you. It is 3:04pm on Sunday March24 2002 and we are driving along I25, in Colorado, about 7 miles from the border with New Mexico. We are in my 1997 Suburban along with my wife Ann. In the middle row are 10-year-old Elizabeth, 1-year-old Matthew and19-year-old Andrew. In the rear row are 15-year-old Amy and 2-month-old Emily.

Amy is lying in the far back with her legs around Emily's car seat. Andrew is behind Ann, reading me a book. Elizabeth is behind me. Ann is asleep in the front seat, with the seat reclined and Matthew and Emily are both asleep in their car seats. Elizabeth and Matthew had just swapped spots to fix the perennial fight over leg space.  What happens will change everyone's life permanently and in completely different ways.

At 3:05pm,the car will do something it had done many times during our trip from Dallas, Texas to Rexburg, Idaho and back. I intended to talk with the dealership about it, after we were home. The front left brake would bind on, pulling the car to the left. This time it would be catastrophic.

At 3:04pm,it is sunny, the traffic is light and we are still about 700 miles from home. Sitting quietly, minding its own business on the left shoulder, .25 miles from mile marker 6, is a snow pole. It is failing to fulfill its purpose in life. It should be standing proudly, showing where the road is, when there is several feet of snow. For some reason, it is lying on the ground on the left side of the road line. No one really knows why; if it could speak, it might tell how a car wandered off the road and attacked it, leaving it where it now lay. Even had it been sentient, it could not have known that, in a few seconds, it would play the starring role in turning the lives of my family completely upside down and set us off on a different path.

On the car roof are our suitcases. Everything was fastened down with a tarpaulin type of sheet, with clasps holding it to the roof rack. I was unaware the extra height had shifted the center of balance dangerously close to failure. We have just settled down from the seat-moving maneuver. Elizabeth has her knees in the back of my seat and is watching for the border. She keeps kneeing me in the back and I ask her to stop. We are on cruise control, doing 70mph in what I learned later is a 65mph zone. The silver pickup truck in front of me is doing 65mph, so I pull out into the left lane to overtake.

I am also listening to Andrew read to me, to make sure I stay awake through some of the most boring terrain on the journey. I am also trying to work out whether we can make it back home today, so I can go to work tomorrow.

Everything is coming together, second by second, foot by foot. In one second, the brake will bind on and the snow pole will cause untold problems for my family.

Traveling behind us is a doctor and his wife and 200 yards ahead, going the other way are two ambulances full of most of the paramedics for a hundred miles. They had been scuba diving in the mountains of New Mexico. With them is the Medical Examiner for the county.

Up until now, we have had a wonderful vacation, culminating in having our two recently adopted children sealed to us in a ceremony at the Salt Lake City, Utah LDS temple.

We are just behind the truck when the brake binds and the front left tire hits the snow pole and it bounces under the car, banging on the bottom. At the same time as I am pulling the car back onto the road, the pole somehow exits the right side of the car and stops long enough to rip a two-foot long hole in the outer side of the front right tire.

We are four seconds from disaster, as the tire explosively deflates and the front right side of the car rears up like a frightened animal. I bring the car back down to the ground and the luggage now play their part in the tragedy. At -2 seconds, the car veers to the right with the front right side low to the ground. The straps holding the luggage on the roof snap, causing the car to continue sinking to the right, as the suitcases come off the roof.

Up until now, everyone is sharing the same experience, each in a different way. Ann is still asleep. Andrew is reading. Matthew is dozing. Elizabeth is poking me in the back with her knees and watching the mile-marker numbers. Amy is in the back seat, reading a romance novel set in Hawaii and Emily is asleep next to her, in her car seat. I am the only one aware that a catastrophe may be about to occur. I fight to regain control of the car as we swerve across the road. Had I succeeded, we would have pulled to the edge, changed the tire and been on away again within 30 or 40 minutes laughing about the disaster we had just avoided.

Unfortunately, it only takes a second for the car to be pulled over onto its right side and disaster occurs. The forward motion forces it back onto its wheels and then over a further four times, before coming to rest, back on its wheels. in the right hand lane of I25.

Life slows down as the world spins round in front of me. I black out and when I became aware of my surroundings again, we are stationery and the alarm indicating the engine is off, but the keys are in the ignition is sounding. I turn the engine off and drop the keys.

For a few seconds, I cannot work out what has happened and then... Matthew is screaming. Ann is sitting up and bleeding badly from her head. The front roof console is broken and hanging down, above her head. The door window and the windscreen are both cracked.
I look at Ann and ask, "What happened?"
"Burst tire." She replies.

My left arm is hurting and I turn to my left to see what is wrong. At the same time, the ME appears at my window and asks if I am O.K. The door window is broken and my arm is hanging out. It is broken and the arm is hanging the wrong way. When I look out the window, my left hand is pointing at a body lying on the ground, next to the rear door. Even though someone had covered the body, I know it is Elizabeth and I tell Ann I think she is dead. Andrew and Amy were also missing from the back of the car, having been thrown out and are lying 150 yards away, surrounded by people. Ann begins crying for her children.

Different points of view
There are many different points of view about the effect of those 5 seconds. The paramedics had to chase Andrew and Amy as they bounced, at high speed, along the highway. Once they caught up, the medics began to do their jobs. Without them, I cannot see how my children could have survived. The doctor runs up to Amy and begins dealing with the fact that her lungs have collapsed. His wife gets Matthew out and calms him down. The driver of the truck we were overtaking saw I had lost control and accelerated out of the way and then reversed back to help. Each has had to deal with what happened that day.

Those in the car suffered in different ways. The injury list is long and horrible including broken necks, backs, arms, hands, pelvis', hips, feet, jaws, skulls, elbows, lungs, spleens, etc. I was left disabled and in chronic, constant pain. The pain the snow pole caused, still bothers us today.

Since 3/24/2002, I have learned how to fight the pain and find joy. My book Fighting Pain Finding Joy shows how I have dealt with the accident and its after effects. Reading and hearing how others have survived similar experiences has helped us, now it is our turn to help others.

Title:Fighting Pain Finding joy: what chronic pain and 130+ children have taught me about joyFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:April 15, 2016Publisher:David GrayLanguage:English

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