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Flying is Only Painless when you're Airborne

Seatbelts. A personal story.

By Chelsea HeePublished about a year ago 5 min read
Flying is Only Painless when you're Airborne
Photo by Inspirationfeed on Unsplash

This story is hard to write. It's mine, and to be honest, it's only the first chapter. Who knows though, maybe this story will reach someone and impact them the way others' have told their stories and impacted me. I don't write this because I think I'm special, or unique. In fact, rather the opposite - I write this because I think my story is a far too common one and perhaps, just perhaps, if someone heard it before they went through it, they never would.

It should be noted that I'm writing *my* story - for in this instance, there is potential for me to tell stories that don't belong to me, and I have no intention of doing so. Where our stories cross, and they belong to both of us, mention may be made, but this is my story and mine alone.

Let's begin where we need to. My family and I were driving home from an event in Regina, SK. We were involved in a single car accident, just a little outside of Hannah, SK (I still don't know where this is, but I'm told it was about an hour before EMS could show up, so I imagine someone in the middle of nowhere.) Our van flipped and rolled four times before coming to a rest.

Please understand, I'm neither callous nor cold, it's simply been sixteen, coming up on seventeen, years since this accident and these are events that have been regurgitated for so many people, so many times, that I've disassociated myself from them. It's the events following the initial flip, that I can't - and would not - disassociate from.

Herein lies the essential detail of this story; if I could, I would highlight it so you could take it to any teenager, or young adult prone to making similar mistakes, and show them the consequences. I took off my seatbelt to pick up my MP3 player a moment before we flipped. I still remember it, it wasn't Apple, it had just the right amount of bulk to it and was a beautiful blue. It was not worth flying out the window.

I'm fortunate - I truly am. I flew the opposite way that the car was rolling. I still, realistically, should have died. Whether you believe in God, science, sheer cosmic planetary alignments, whatever it was, it was with me that day.

Here it is: your trigger warning, I'm about to go into detail about why I should have died, if you have a squeamish stomach, I recommend skipping a couple paragraphs. The one that you'll want to start reading at, will have ** at the beginning.

Right, let's talk about flying - it's only painless while you're in the air. First you have to get launched through glass, then you're airborne during which no injuries occur, and then the landing - at which point, a LOT of injuries occur. I've noticed that doctors and the medical field in general, really like to sugarcoat unpleasantries. It's as if they know exactly how stomach churning their work is, so they shine it up all nicely for their patients in order to not disgust us as much. Spoiler: it's still disgusting. For example, my scalp was degloved - I assume on impact. In non medical terms, my scalp was ripped off about thirty three percent of my skull. This is method one in which I should have died - head impact, and blood loss through this injury.

Method two is more mundane but more lethal. I sliced open an artery in my arm. I ended up getting a vein transplant in the hospital. Oh and to close the previous method properly, I ended up with a brain injury, massive blood loss, but I was able to retain my own skin. Small victories.

These are in conjunction with the fact that it took EMS so long to arrive. When I say I had some divine/cosmic/call it what you will intervention that day, I did. Her name was Sharon. She was an RN who stopped at the scene and did field triaging as much as possible - to the extent that it saved my life. With no regard to my health history, the risks she was taking... She saw a young girl who was dying and she saved her. She is the reason I made it to the hospital to be put in a coma in the ICU, to have the panic surrounding me slowly fade as the risk of death slowly lessened over the days or weeks to come. I honestly don't know how long I was comatose, and there are some things you just don't need to ask traumatized family members.

** I tell you this, not to disgust you, though I realize I probably did, but to bring awareness of what taking off your seatbelt, even for a second, can do. It changed my life. It took opportunities from me, it still takes from me. A decision I made when I was fifteen, a nonsensical decision to pick up my MP3 player - which I obviously never got back anyways, irrevocably changed the course of my life.

Please don't mistake me, I am grateful for the life I have. I have an amazing husband and the most adorable (a biased mother's opinion) son. I achieved an Undergraduate degree from a well known university, and I am writing this from the comfort of my favourite reading chair in my personal library. My life is not a sob story.

That said, I'm one of the lucky few. The ten plus years of physio, the ongoing counseling, the invisible disabilities, the impacts of my brain injury, the chronic pain, the mental health issues resultant of both the accident and the chronic pain - these all put me in the "lucky" category. Too many youth are lost to the same mistake I made, and too many suffer significantly more catastrophic injuries than I did. No, I did not list them all.

So, if you've read this far, please don't make my mistake. Nothing is worth it. Please share this story with your teenagers and young adults - I don't want to have written this for a bunch of level headed adults.


About the Creator

Chelsea Hee

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