14 years ago marked a new life for me. The little 18-year-old version of myself was forever changed on that day. Friends and family were shattered, and I don’t think anyone was prepared for who that little girl would be 14 years later.
Here is my version of the events that forever changed my life and help transform me to be the person I am today.
I was on my way home and the first thing I recall was my car slamming into the guardrail of the bridge. I yanked on the wheel to correct myself. The only way I really know I yanked it, is because I remember slamming into the guardrail on the other side. That is when my car started to flip but that’s a part I don’t remember happening. It seems all the chaotic parts have been blocked out by my handy dandy brain. Luckily for me, all my memories are very calm and collective, even though I doubt that’s how I always felt during all of this.
When I woke up I really didn’t know what had happened or what was going on but I knew I needed my phone, so I started reaching around on the ground searching for it. I faintly recall yelling for help, but if Adam told his version he might have heard me yelling for my life, that’s a question we would have to ask him. Adam, who was one of my friends, lived in the house around that curve. They had heard my crash and immediately ran to help whoever it was. When he got to my side, I asked him to take me home and put me in my bed, because I was worried I was going to be in trouble. All I remember him saying to me was, “Carrie, you’re going to be alright”. I didn’t even realize in that moment I was hurt, much less that my life was actually on the line, so I had no idea how right he actually was until now. I’m a little changed, but I am most definitely alright!
Now, I grew up in a very small town. One of the those towns where everyone knows everyone and they even sometimes know what happens before it even happens. If you’ve ever experienced one of those towns you know exactly what I’m talking about. And you are probably familiar with the police scanners that some of them tune in to in order to get their news. Someone who knew my dad was tuned in that night. That’s how my parents got the news and the reason they were able to make it to the scene before I was even taken from there.
By the time they had gotten there, I was already in the ambulance. Although, my last memory was of Adam. I don’t recall anyone else talking to me, no one moving me, carrying me, anything. But I do remember seeing my daddy out the back of where I was. He touched one of my legs and asked me if I could feel it. I couldn’t, so I said no. He then touched my other leg and asked me the same thing. I knew I couldn’t feel that one either. It was in that moment I understood that he was holding on to any little bit of hope that his baby girl wasn’t as hurt as they had told him I might be. I knew how much it scared me that I couldn’t feel either of my legs and I really didn’t want him to be scared, so I told him, “I think so,” although I knew I couldn’t. I don’t even really know if I have ever told my parents about that fib I told. It was indeed a bit naughty of me to lie, but I was doing it with good intentions.
The ambulance took me less than a mile down the street to the life flight helicopter that transported me to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. I don’t recall seeing the helicopter, hearing it, riding in it, or even getting off of it. Nothing. That probably has something to do with the fact that both of my lungs had collapsed. I wasn’t in a very good spot health-wise while I was on that flight. Mom said she was scared they were going to die on the way there because dad was flying. I guess she was right because he beat me. They were already there when my helicopter landed.
Once I landed at TMH they performed emergency surgery to put my spine together again. They took a piece of my hip bone to help replace the two vertebrae that I had broken and then they encased my whole spinal column with metal. My backbone was jarred an inch or so sideways and my spinal cord was completely cut in two.
I woke up with a tube down my throat and my hands tied down. I don’t remember being mad or sad. Quite honestly, I don’t recall having many emotions or thoughts at all. I guess I had been rocked so hard my brain literally put itself in slow-mo so I didn’t panic. I remember them putting a notepad up to my hand and I was able to communicate through writing. I remember being hot so I wrote the word hot and luckily they understood. So again, not much going on in the brain yet! That may have been when my aunt told me they gave my daddy my belly button ring, that he didn’t know I had. I guess if there was a time for him to find out and not kill me, the time was then! 🙂
After my surgery, I was placed in ICU. I was flooded with visitors. Anytime I was awake I had someone in my room. On another note, the doctors had me on a cocktail of feel-good medicine. I had gotten a pic line put in and that’s how I received my dose of morphine every 3 hours. Everyone rest assure, I reminded the nurse every 2 hours and 50 minutes it was almost time for my morphine, so I was never really in any pain at all! Every 4 hours I was also able to take a dose of Vicodin as well. I was on cloud nine, to say the least, not a worry in the world. Much less thinking about my future or wondering why I hadn’t gotten out of bed or even had the urge to go potty.
When you feel that good, who needs to walk? So I really don’t think I ever put much thought into why I was staying in bed, or why I didn’t move. But I did know something was wrong, and I was afraid to ask. I didn’t want to hear the answer, just as if I was back in the ambulance unwilling to accept the truth there.
Then, if my memory is correct my mom said, “Carrie, you’re paralyzed”. I would never walk again. Not ever. I remember being mad because there were multiple people in there telling me something they thought I didn’t already know. But I have no recollection of what I said, what I did or how I reacted. I think I possibly told them I wanted to go to sleep. I really have no idea. I have been told before that my blood pressure went up. Which, I’m sure it did. It still does when I get mad. Ask my students in the classroom, they’ve seen it! 🙂
Sometimes I think I did block out all the bad parts of my accident because I honestly don’t remember having very many. That’s perfectly fine by me. Personal favor, if you remember these events any different, can you just keep it to yourself and let me continue thinking I’m a rockstar and I handled it like a champion?
And I realize there are some of you that did not know me then so here is a list of my injuries. A few minor gashes, glass in my arm, bruised spleen, three broken ribs, collapsed lungs, broken back at T-10 and T-11, and the kicker, my spinal cord was cut in half. Oh, and I had dirt, leaves and other junk in my hair for quite a while. The nurses took good care of me and washed my hair after a few days when I got more stable and that leads me to the next most significant part of my story.
My support system.
I remember absolutely loving my nurses, my family was there every single day and some of my best friends were too. I’m also pretty sure I saw everyone I knew the name of in Liberty County. Everyone that knew my parents came too. You know that awkward moment when you should know someone but you don’t?!? That was me a few times!
No one in my life gave me even a second of time to get depressed. So I didn’t.
I spent about a week in ICU and then another week on the orthopedic floor, the same one that one my nearest and dearest friends would work on years later as a nurse. That’s where I stopped asking for morphine because my dad told me I needed to be off so much pain medicine before they would send me to rehab. I was ready to go home so my first thought was, “Okay, that’s easy, I’ll just stop asking for it then”. Real. Solid. Plan. Withdraws are no joke. Drugs are not worth it kids! Thankfully, I got past that within about 24 hours and a few days later off to Atlanta Georgia’s Shepherd Center I went. One of the top brain and spinal cord hospitals in the country. I can write a whole blog on those experiences later, but I shall give the short version now.
They told me I probably wouldn’t make it home to my graduation so we asked what I needed to do in order for me to make it. I had worked 18 years of my life to get to that one event, so I was willing to do whatever I needed to do in order to get back home for it. With the hard work and some AMAZING therapists, three weeks later they allowed me to go home to graduate high-school, then back to rehab for three more weeks I went. Conquered those three weeks one by one. I was so happy to get out of there and get back to life!
I learned to drive with hand controls in June or July and I started college that fall semester. After my second year I moved out to an apartment in Tallahassee and real life truly began. Thank goodness, I didn’t crash and burn! It took me about 7 years to graduate from Florida State University, with the leisurely pace I went, but I finally did with a degree in Environmental Studies.
I decided sometime at the very end of my last semester I would get certified to teach science. Mainly because I really liked the idea of having all that time off! I never knew how much I would really love getting kids excited over science though! Got a job back in my hometown not long after I graduated. I taught there for 4 years and was able to get my feet back into sports as the basketball coach for 2 years. Then, with a little bit of an influence, I decided I should follow my old dream of moving to Texas. That was a dream my accident had put on hold.
So three years ago I moved to Texas. I still teach science and I still coach basketball and I landed a volleyball job without even knowing it. The school that I work at is a very small school in a small town like my hometown. I was really nervous before I started because I know how hard it can be for a newcomer in my hometown to feel as if they fit in. However, even as completely different as I am to some of them they have accepted me better than I had ever hoped for, even if they do ALWAYS pick on me, especially the way I talk! They’ve all looked beyond the not walking thing and it’s simply something we can laugh about.
Last summer, a very emotional 3-year relationship of mine ended. There was a short moment in there that I felt very alone and scared. Then I reminded myself of who I was and what I had been through. I’m okay with losing. I’ve lost something I hope most people never have to. And it didn’t kill me. Nothing this life throws at me will, mentally anyway. I was determined to overcome this stupid heartache. With my determined mind switched to ON, I decided to go on my first solo camping trip. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared when I started off on my 7-hour journey. I was on my way to Arkansas to stay in the middle of a national park with bears all by myself. Thankfully, it went better than I had ever imagined! It was AMAZING and FLAWLESS all at the same time even though there were a few hurdles I had to jump. And for the first time in my life since April 11, 2005, I felt like I could do anything I wanted to.
I had been playing around with the idea of starting a blog for months. Little did I know, that trip was just the trip I needed to build my confidence back again. The 7 hour journey home I was coming up with new plans! I knew I needed a name. I had talked with some friends in the past but was never satisfied. When Carmaflow Trails popped in my head, I thought, it’s perfect. Carmaflow is an old nickname that never stuck, but I always liked it. It’s my name, Carrie Marie Flowers, all turned into one. And trails, well, I tend to leave trails in a lot of places I go, and I hope to discover many more in my future.
And I’m still quite nervous about this thing because those of you that know me know I am not organized, I lose everything, I procrastinate, spelling is not my strong suit, I’m not very good with words and commas are my nemesis! But this is my story and all I plan on doing is telling it. I’m not here to win a writing award, I’m here to share my adventure. My past, my present, and all of my future. That’s what you’re gonna find here. Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to help and inspire people with one of my stories or experiences. Who knows? It’s worth a try though.
So that’s how you have the birth of this blog. It all started 14 years ago when God changed the path of who I was on the road to becoming before. God’s blessings always happen in disguise so when you find yourself asking him why, you have to just put your faith in Him, and pull up your big girl panties, the best way you can, even if it takes 10 minutes, because one day…One day, you will be able to pull them on just as fast as anybody else! I know, because I’ve been there, literally.
Come along with me please, because I surely didn’t become the woman I am today all by myself. You guys helped shape and encourage me and I hope that I continue to grow, so your support is needed just like it was before!
Please leave some comments below and let me know what you guys thought! Who are you, where are you from, what do you do? The best part about this adventure is you guys! Let me know some about you too!
Also, you can find me on Instagram and Facebook as Carrie Flowers. 🙂
Until next time. Be the light that drowns out the darkness!