The Accident

Note: Names in this story have been change to protect the guilty.

When I was a young teenager, my parents warned me that Mexico is a dangerous place. In high school, I was forbidden from visiting there. Going to Rocky Point, Mexico for Spring break with my friends was ALWAYS out of the question…Until I turned 19 years old.

His name was Craig and I was dying to be with him. When he asked me to go to Rocky Point with him, and I was overjoyed.  He was a client at the salon I worked at and all the girls drooled over him. Every time we saw his name in the appointment book we all jumped for joy, he was DREAMY! He was tall, handsome, had the most gorgeous green eyes you could ever imagine, a nice build and we all thought he was a great catch.

Out of all the wonderful women that worked in the salon, Craig invited me to go to Rocky Point as his date for a vacation he had won through his sales company. I was in a state of euphoria and my mind floated up into the clouds of heaven….Until the clouds evaporated into thin air and I fell back onto earth into my parents’ living room.

I was a legal adult at the time, but regardless of my age, I still respected my parents’ opinions, advice and decisions, so I still felt the need to ask them if I could go on this trip.

Just a few days before departure I was in my parents’ living room asking if I could go to Rocky Point. My mom and dad both sat there with puzzled looks on their faces probably wishing I never asked that question because I already knew how they felt about Rocky Point. They simply did not want me to go there, but, since I was 19 years old they said, “You are capable of making your own decisions and if you truly want to go on this trip then we respect your choice… even though we don’t feel 100% comfortable with it.” Automatically I popped out of the recliner with excitement and called Craig with an official yes.

On April 4th, 2008 Craig and I (along with several of his co-workers) packed our belongings into a couple vehicles and departed from Phoenix, Arizona. As we got closer to Mexico all I could think about were my parents warning me about the dangers down there, the drug wars, fights, giant guns and kidnappings. As we drove further into Mexico I witnessed some scary things — the Mexican police walking around with big guns, the religious candles on the side of the roads from accidents (or murders) that took place… and not to mention the trash all over the place, it was scary because I had never seen an abundance of anything like that before. My heart started to sink, I began to blab to Craig about all these negative thoughts that were running through my mind. He told me that I was over thinking the place and to calm down because we were about to have the time of our lives…

The moment we arrived at our gorgeous beach front condo we were stoked and ready to go explore the nightlife.We headed into town after the sun went down. As soon as we arrived at a bar/ restaurant called Mannys I didn’t like it one bit. We bar-hopped to a couple of other places but I never felt comfortable anywhere. I felt like piece of meat surrounded by strangers acting like hungry wolves that were ready to eat their prey. I felt dirty, so I nagged Craig to take me back to the condo.

We were dropped off by a local taxi at our gorgeous high rise condo.

For the rest of the night we relaxed on the balcony, the weather was warm, and the ocean breeze was blowing through my hair as we drank champagne and chatted the night away…

That night I slept like a baby, until the awfully chilly ocean breeze swept through the curtains and woke me up at 6:30A.M. We left the sliding patio door open and it was very cold. I shivered in the morning light. It was clearly very early and we were the first couple to wake up. I rolled out of bed and stepped into the kitchen. To my surprise butterflies SWARMED and FLOODED the kitchen and living room! Vivid shades of purple and orange fluttering wings EVERYWHERE — there had to be hundreds. I could not believe my eyes. We were on the 14th floor of an ocean side condo, so where did these butterflies come from and how did they get up so high? I attempted to run and grab my camera so I could capture this marvelous moment, but by the time I tiptoed back to snap a picture, the  whole army of butterflies scattered out into the cool ocean breeze with a blink of an eye.

The vivid images of beautiful butterflies left me dazed until Craig and I walked down to the lobby and grabbed a delicious and nutritious breakfast. Next we went into town to do some shopping and then came back to the condo so we could make plans with the rest of the crew that was just waking up.

As a group, we decided to go out for lunch to this bar called The Reef. Instead of driving our Lexus’s and Cadillac’s through the Mexican beach town, we decided to ride our ATVs. We didn’t want to get robbed and look like we had oodles of money. I hopped into a Dunebuggy and sat on Craig’s lap as he squeezed me tight while his boss Harvey drove us.

We arrived at The Reef safely, and we had a great time for a couple of hours. Then once again it was time to go back to the hotel to prepare for the evening festivities.We walked outside to the sandy parking lot. Craig wanted me to ride my own ATV back to the condo, but I said no because I had no idea how to ride one. And so once again I got in the passenger seat of the Dunebuggy.

I made the choice to take the Dunebuggy because it had a seat belt, and the ATV did not have any form of safety harness. We were all ordered to strictly go back to the condo, so we could plan for our evening festivities together, but on the way back Harvey asked me if it was okay if he could take a detour and go for a joy ride in the sand dunes for a little bit.

I was terrified. I have never been the type of person to do extreme sports, but I was such a push over. Even thought I felt very uneasy about the situation, faintly I told him “umm surrrrre…”

Deep down I know Harvey knew I wasn’t comfortable, so to make me feel better he promised me that Dunebuggys were made not to flip, and I trusted him because I didn’t know any better.

He took off like a bullet into the dunes. I couldn’t help but scream in silence…and then my inner screaming could not be contained any longer…I started to scream my head off…it got louder and louder and all of a sudden my seatbelt popped off! I slapped Harvey in the knee and screamed “MY SEATBELT CAME OFF STOPPP”…clearly I made it apparent that this circumstance was NO longer okay.

Thankfully, Harvey stopped in an instant. He jumped out of the vehicle and re-clicked my five point harness. I felt a sense of relief for a brief moment until I started to wonder if it would happen again. It was such an uneasy feeling I just knew something bad was going to happen.

Harvey kicked up the speed. Pedal to the metal, he went faster and faster…and at this point a mysterious intuitive feeling crept through my bones and I knew something dreadful was about to happen.

I turned to God and I said a prayer. These were my exact words “Dear God this man has my life in his hands please don’t let anything bad happen to us”…literally no more than five seconds later… he took a turn too fast and to this day I am not sure what went wrong but we flipped head first 5 times.

My eyes remained open as the vehicle flipped over and over. The sand was hitting my face at rapid speeds to the point that it no longer felt like sand…I felt like I was getting bombarded with shotgun pellets. We were tossing and turning I thought it was never going to end. My mouth was open but my body was in such shock I believe my vocal cords were   to traumatized to even make a peep.

While the vehicle was flipping, my body hopped up from the seat a couple of inches and then slammed back down compressing my vertebra. My right foot got caught under a steal rod foot rest and smacked against it.

The dunebuggy landed up right on all four wheels — missing one wheel. It had flown off in the midst of the chaos.

I was frail. There I was slouched and stuck in my seat. Winded, I was gasping for air, crying, begging someone to help me out. I could barely move. Then I looked over to Harvey to see if he was okay — BUT to my surprise he was already out of the Dunebuggy. I thought he was coming to help me, but no, he got out to jump onto someone else’s ATV and he sped off, far away from the scene, without even asking me if I was OK. He left me for dead.

At this point I truly thought I was going to die. The excruciating pain was unbearable…

I have no idea how I made it through the next couple of hours…

Just when I thought I was out of luck, out of nowhere, Craig comes back to look for Harvey and I. From far away he saw the crash site. My knight in shining armor came to the rescue, and behind him were people in our group and some strangers that also came to help.

Still winded I was begging him to “please *gasps for air* get me *gasps for air* out of my seat *keeps gasping for air*”…Craig’s co-worker unbuckled my seat belt, grabbed my hand and I swung both my scraped up legs over to get out.

I had no idea that those were the last few steps I would take for a very long time…

Out of nowhere, a Rocky Point Ambulance arrived at the scene.

I was so far out in the dunes that the ambulance could not reach me. The Rocky Point EMT carried a stretcher through the sand. The EMT put me in a neck brace and slowly got me onto the stretcher. After a bumpy walk across the sand dunes I was placed into the ambulance and transported to the Rocky Point hospital.

The ride to the hospital was horrifying.  Craig was holding my head while I whaled and cried like I have never cried before. The pain was excruciating, my chest felt like it was on fire. To make things worse, I looked over and begged the EMT to help me but he sat at the other end of the ambulance listening to his mariachi music not making one move to help the situation. I was screwed.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse…

I finally arrived at the Rocky Point hospital. In a nutshell this is what happened:

1.My clothes were stripped off/ cut off.

2.I was threatened to be cut open with a knife because the doctor said I was internally bleeding.

3.My baby toe was hanging by a string and the doctor decided to sew it back on—the sewing job looked like a 1st grader did it.

4.Craig was freaking out so bad when the doctor came at me with a knife that he got kicked out and locked out of the hospital.

5.I had no idea how to communicate with the doctors because I don’t speak Spanish.

6.After 45 minutes of being stuck in ER all alone I could no longer feel my chest down.

7.I was carelessly swung from a blanket and dropped onto an X-ray machine.

8.The doctor told me there was nothing wrong with the X-rays. (Clearly he was wrong because I was paralyzed.)

9.The doctor told me if I didn’t move my legs then I couldn’t leave the hospital.

10. Nurses put drugs in my IV so I would pass out over night.

11. I was basically held hostage in the hospital until the next day.

24 hours later I woke up to commotion in the hospital. The drugs made me dazed and confused. An American Hispanic lady rushed into my room in a panic. She was apologizing and saying “I am so sorry the doctors were supposed to call me if there were any Americans injured, your injury is very serious and I am going to help you get out of here.”

Finally, someone who knew what they were doing came to the rescue. The woman helped me get transported to the boarder via ambulance. When I reached the Arizona border I was met by an American EMT. He was covered in tattoos (very intimidating)…he gently transferred me onto an American stretcher. He looked at me and in a very stern voice he said “This is a very serious injury we are going to get you some help.”

The ambulance dropped me off at helicopter pad in southern Arizona. I was then air-vacced to St. Joseph’s hospital.

Doctors at St. Joe’s contacted my parents for the first time since the accident. They arrived at the hospital within minutes. I was in a neck brace helplessly looking up at them. I will never forget the look on my daddy’s face and the hurt in his eyes as he grabbed my hand and quietly said “Baby, everything is going to be okay.”

Immediately I went into a CAT scan machine and I found out my t7 and t8 vertebra shattered into my spinal cord…and I had broken my foot in 4 places.

I was in shock. The doctors in Rocky Point took X-rays and lied to me. They let me suffer with a broken back for 24 hours…only one word can describe those doctors that were supposed to be taking care of me down there: CRUEL.

That day the number one neurological surgeon was not working, but my injury was so serious he was called in for my emergency surgery. His name is Dr. Nicholas Theodore. And thank God he was able to come in.Dr. Theodore along with his medical crew at St. Joe’s had to move fast. My spinal cord was swelling…I could not go on with life without surgery…all the shattered pieces of bone that smashed into my spinal cord had to be removed.

I signed a waiver and said my “love you’s and see you laters” to my family and I was wheeled off into surgery.

After a 6 hour emergency surgery I was told I would never walk again. My spinal cord was severely damaged and now I had new pieces of hardware holding my back together (rods and screws to be exact). I was in ICU for 7 days and I experienced unbearable pain that week. I must have had some amazing angels watching over me because I have no idea how I got through those days.

After ICU I was transferred into a couple different wings of the hospital. I was stuck in a wheelchair and in hospital rehab for 3 months I never once believed that I was never going to walk again, I told everyone that I was going to be fine, I prayed more than I ever have, and I was on a mission to walk out of the hospital. I would NOT accept the wheelchair…I hated it!

I was positive, optimistic and I told everyone I would walk again. Some believed in me, others didn’t. Many were in disbelief saying I would never walk again because it was “impossible.” I guess no one ever told them that with God all things are possible…

About 4 weeks after being paralyzed I was beyond frustrated. It felt like my legs were dipped in concrete–stiff, and unresponsive. I couldn’t take it anymore so I started to stare at my big toe and yell and repeat, “BIG TOE MOVE BIG TOE MOVE” and it MOVED the TINIEST BIT. But because I used so much brain power and focus to move that toe, a couple seconds later I fell asleep.

When I woke up, some doctors did not believe that I moved my toe…they said it was just a twitch! I was angry! I saw it move, I knew it moved, I made it move, it wasn’t a dream or a twitch!

There I was again, like ground hog day, in my white walled hospital room frustrated that people didn’t believe in me. I told myself, I will prove them wrong. I continued to focus on my toes…telling them to move. Miraculously my left set of toes all started to wiggle! And then a couple days later my left ankle moved…then a few days after that my left knee started to move…then my whole left leg was moving!

A few weeks later my right foot (the broken one) was taken out of its boot cast… my baby right toe started to move….a few days later all my right toes were moving…and slowly the rest of my right leg was moving…IT WAS A MIRACLE!

3 months later I walked out of the hospital with a walker, looking back at the staff and those who doubted me. Saying in my head “I told you so”.To this day I have been rehabbing for over 4 years… I walk with a limp…and I have terrible balance and that’s why I cannot wear heels yet.There is not one day that I step out of my house that someone doesn’t ask me what happened. I ‘ve been teased and called names because I walk slowly or I use crutches and I’ve been yelled at for parking in handicap spots by people who judge a book by its cover. I have told my story literally over 1000 times. I used to get depressed because I was reminded of the worst day of my life on a daily basis – over and over again. When people asked what happened I would smile and tell them but they didn’t know that it was so hurtful to talk about it and at times I would come home crying because I hated being asked what happened, I hated being reminded of THAT DAY and, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and not leave my house.

It was painful…But one day I changed my way of thinking, I thought to myself, I am beyond blessed to be walking and I have an incredible and rare story that nobody else can have. I started to react differently to people who asked what happened to my leg. I am grateful and I light up because I am so happy and blessed that I am indeed walking.

Today I love seeing the reaction on people’s faces when I tell them I was paralyzed and now I’m walking, I believe it gives people a lot of hope that anything is possible, you just have to believe in yourself.

I am grateful to be alive and walking, regardless of my imperfections.

Believe it or not…this story is the cut and dry version of what happened to me. I didn’t want to spoil the book I am writing…I would love for you all to read it when it’s finished…there are many more jaw dropping moments…it’s like a horror/mystery/action/suspense/heartfelt movie in the making!

If you’re interested in seeing my progress you can check out my recovery video here!

The secret recipe to my miraculous healing:

Infinity cups: Support from family and friends

Huge part: Dr. Theodore and his phenomenal surgery skills, great nurses, extraordinary physical therapists and Tony Robbins DVD’s.

Infinity cups: Faith

Infinity cups: God

Infinity cups: Guardian angels

Infinity cups: Determination

Infinity cups: Motivation

Infinity cups: Positivity

Over 1000 cups: Vitamins

Over 1000 cups: Muscle Milk

0 cups: prescription drugs

0 cups: Negativity

ALL MIXED IN TOGETHER WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF LOVE!

Post Accident & 4 Years later update:

Harvey the guy who caused the accident, paralyzed me, put me in the hospital for 3 months, put me through tons of pain and physical therapy over the past 4 years has not tried to contact or check in with me to see how my recovery is going. I’ve been told by some sources that he is well-off, yet he has not offered to help me with continuous therapy or rehab bills. Instead he continues to vacation his life away like it never happened. It used to break my heart, but I know one day karma will come knocking on his door and that’s more powerful than anything I could do.

And as for Craig, we have not communicated since Feb 14, 2010 after he stood me up on Valentine’s Day. He is probably one of the biggest losers I ever laid my eyes on. Mr. Dreamy turned into Mr. Nightmare. But the lesson I take from him is that you will never know someone’s true character until you see the way they react when you are hurt- physically or mentally and that’s a valuable lesson I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Many people say they want to go hurt these guys because of what happened. But why? I am a strong believer in God and I don’t think he gives us anything we can’t handle. I took a terrible experience and turned it into something positive. I am blessed that I learned thousands of important life lessons that it could take a regular person a whole life time to learn.

I won’t lie, the situation I’m in has sucked, I have gone through some really frightening moments and excruciating mental and physical pain (not only me but my family and friends). I never thought the day would come that I would say this but, this accident was a blessing in disguise. I have learned more about myself, my family, my friends and my body than I have ever known before.

On the road to recovery I met some of the most amazing, talented, smart, compassionate, sympathetic and magnificent people, that I probably would have never met if I wasn’t paralyzed.

I used to cry all the time because I thought I didn’t deserve to go through this horrible experience. I used to ask myself, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” And after months and months of wondering and revisiting this question I came up with a conclusion:

Every now and then there are events that happen in our lives that we don’t deserve and can’t control, but we can control how we respond to them. You can either take a bad situation and make it worse by dwelling on the fact that it is bad OR you can turn it around and make the best of it, using it to help you become a stronger and wiser person. We all will face adversity at some point in our lives and this is what makes us who we are today.

When something bad happens to you think of it as a blessing because there is always a gift in it for you, and you can always do something amazing with it. We all have the ability to interpret all the events that take place in our lives. In fact, it’s our job to determine what we are going to do with them. You are blessed if you face adversity because the way you respond and learn from it will bring you closer and closer to the secret to life.

I have officially learned the secret to life.