do you ever find yourself thinking, streaming thoughts about your life and the things that have shaped it so far? i do. all the time. i am certain that there are so many layers, so many factors that have played such huge directional roles in my life, that if i were to ever write a book about them, it would indeed be about thirty volumes of five hundred pages each. today here is a rambling of what is on my mind...
july 12, 1998
it was a hot and humid sunday night in july. i was seventeen, intimidating and selfish. i had been living it up with my "christian friends" at youth group at our youth pastor's house. i remember, and i care not two sticks for soccer, that france played brazil in the the world cup that day. i also remember that some wrestling event was going to be on pay per view later, and i wanted to stay and hang out with everyone and watch it(nope, not a wrestling fan either). rather than staying without asking, i thought i would do something abnormal and call my parents for permission. they not only told me to come home, but to bring my little brother, jack, who was there playing with a younger brother of my friend. well, jack wouldn't come, i didn't care, i drove home angrily, my body temperature was like fire and my teeth were grinding wildly. why did i care about hanging out for a stupid wrestling thing? i didn't. i was only angry that i was seventeen and that my parents were idiots and they told me no. the five minute drive was over. i was home. i slammed my car door(i had gotten a car almost two weeks earlier) and stomped inside. when i saw my dad, i shouted at him to let me go back over there, he said no again. i shouted something like "go to hell, i hate you, i hope i never see you again" and i really felt like i wanted to kill him.(sadly, this was commonplace behavior for me) i turned around, walked back out to my car, got in and headed down woodgate drive, no idea where i was headed, just had to go somewhere!!!! although i was speeding down our street, when a misty rain started as i turned onto the highway, i slowed down, hated driving in rain, even if i was mad. i was coasting at about 45mph, coming up to an intersection with green lights...a six wheeled pickup turned in front of me so quickly, i didn't even slow down.
imagine the loudest screeching-crash-explosion type noise you can.
i felt warm and cold at the same time. i couldn't see. i heard lots of voices and commotion. about the same time i realized the warmth was from blood all over my head, i heard a voice say, "is she dead?!?!"...this didn't even make me flinch, shockingly, i determined they were indeed talking about me, and i thought, "oh, i am dead. huh, this is it?"...then i realized that it was not the case, i was alive, just blind. "was i in a car wreck?", i thought, "why can't i see anything? i must be blind." lots of crunching sounds. while being lifted from the car, men were asking me my name, they began telling me i was in a car accident and they were there to help me. i started to feel more alert, now the thought of blindness was a bit more scary.
"my name is hannah rose shelton. i live on 145 woodgate drive. do i have my eyes?" i said this phrase about ten times in a row, like a broken record. no one answered me. i didn't really feel much physically, yet, but emotionally, i thought about my words to my dad a few minutes ago..."my dad's name is jason shelton, his number is 825-8888, please tell him i didn't mean it. please tell him i am sorry and please forgive me?"
the emt crew kept asking me my name and my age and where did i hurt and to be still. all i could say was to find my dad and tell him i am sorry.
finally inside the ambulance, the crew asked what hospital i would like to go to. i said, "mississippi baptist medical center. NOT rankin medical, they might stitch my elbow to my neck there..."(my dad always said to only go to baptist hospital, a good one, not rankin medical.) i felt so sleepy and asked if i was going to die, "no, but you are losing a lot of blood, so try to relax." i asked if i had my eyes. the guy said, "i honestly don't know-your head and face are very traumatized and swollen to tell what's what" we kept talking, they were trying to keep me awake, i was being really sarcastic and silly. what else was i supposed to do?
we arrived at the hospital, they wheeled me into the emergency room. i couldn't see anything, but i could feel people looking at me, and hear very well. crazy.more questions, they were trying to locate my parents...meanwhile, my parents were out driving around looking for me because they knew i was in a crazy mood. they got back to the house and jared gave them a message that "baptist CR called". of course it was baptist ER. not sure what they told my parents but i don't think my parents expected to see me as injured as i was.
"extensive, avulsive, complex, jagged laceration across the entire forehead and glabella region and the left upper eyelid with soft tissue loss in the left upper eyelid, high density foreign bodies, an abrasion of the nose and laceration of the scalp..."
that is a little snippet from my admittance report. i have a copy because i often need it for reference for other doctors.
several lady nurses were prepping me for testing...cutting off my clothes(which were ALL new, including brand new nikes-blood spattered now!)...also removing my million earrings. one nurse held my hand, i felt a huge ring. "that diamond is huge! do you love him?" she giggled nervously and said, "i think so!" i told her she better if she is gonna marry the guy. i also told all the ladies that i was super upset about my clothes, just bought with tip money!
by this time, i was really hurting, couldn't really feel my head, i was told that once i was cleaned up they'd know more, but now with the swelling and blood, couldn't tell me anything. after some sort of scan, i remember recognizing my parents. i still couldn't see...i felt my parents in the room. i also felt their facial expressions. that is when i became sad and afraid. i could tell by their response to seeing me that i was in horrible shape.
dr. blevins arrived, he was the plastic surgeon called in to do my emergency surgery. (he was an excellent one, thankfully, the best one in town "just happened" to be called in for me. later doctors told me that i wouldn't have looked as "good" as i do today if i hadn't had that first surgery so well done.) he explained to me that my eyes appeared fine, although my left lid and forehead were pulled away from my skull. i don't recall much else, just that i was gonna be a freak show for the rest of my life. i remember apologizing to dad, he told me he loved me. i felt horrible. i was such a loser. and now, a loser with no forehead and one eyelid.
more notes from that first hospital stay and surgery stated "mother at bedside", "mother always near for emotional support", "very good, her mom is always here for support"..each day each nurse had made the same sort of notes. i have noticed those notes before. but re-reading them the other day struck me down. i wept thinking of how my mother loved me, then and now. not because i was so easy to love, but because she loves me no matter what. what a godly example of unconditional love she shows even still. wow.
after getting home again, my at home nurse, and my mom both cared wonderfully for me. i remember one day when my mom was changing my bandage...i asked for a mirror to see myself. my mom said something like she wasn't sure i needed to do that yet. after taking the mirror anyway, i saw that she was right. i wasn't ready to see myself. i didn't even know what i was looking at. i can't really describe the feeling you have when you look into a mirror, you know it is yourself, but you see nothing familiar, only gross wounds and stitches...i hated myself. funny thing, the only features i ever really liked of mine were my eyelashes, and eyes. pfft.
after recovering, more surgeries, more recoveries, pain killers, anti-depressants...i was well enough to be hateful again. i wanted to move out for good. i took a huge chunk of insurance settlement money and moved out and went on a long trip down crazy street.
july 12, 2010
all that rambling to say that i am thankful for that terrible accident. when i thought i was running hard away from god, he was actually drawing me to himself. there were no men who could love me enough, no drug that could get me high enough, no car to buy that was awesome enough to keep me from feeling jesus close to me. all the people, things and places that have filled these last twelve years, i am starting to see the beauty of god's plan. how he chose me. i now know that even when my life has seemed ruined or a loss, he has been there all the time. watching over me. protecting me, preserving me. to be here now. today. with my family. with Himself. for Himself.
lord, make me ever thankful, never taking anything for granted, family, food, shelter and eyelashes.