Simple as a Seatbelt
Guest post from Sabrina Fay Vinson
Two years and eleven months after daughter was born:
Most people walk, run, shower, and play sports without difficulty; however, millions are confined to wheelchairs. My dad is one of the millions of people who are physically disabled and face challenging problems every day. When someone is born with a normal life and capable of doing things in a moment notice, they never stop to think of going through life maimed or injured. Although, a car crash could happen and instantly change their life forever. Nobody ever imagines speeding without wearing a seatbelt, getting robbed, having a surgery procedure, and going through rehab would lead up to paralysis.
Well, my father made one small decision that changed his entire life. Surely, he never thought that driving without a seatbelt could cause so much chaos. Before his horrific accident occurred he lived a normal life without any complications. By the age of twenty-seven on March 5th, 1995, dad experienced a car wreck that no one can prepare for.
Envision him driving down a dark road on a foggy, rainy night encountering a sharp curve. The vehicle sliding across nasty, wet roads. Before thinking twice about what is happening, the steering wheel smashes in, truck turns over on its right side and forces his body to fall backwards out of the passenger window. Then the top of the frame snaps the spinal cord in his neck, causing paralysis.
Later, dad was found lying face down in a disgusting ditch full of cold, dirty water, by an older man in a beat-up truck. Apparently, discovering an accident made it seem okay for the stranger to award himself with my dad’s belongings. The guy stole his tools, a bag of clothes, and twenty dollars off of the dashboard. Although, my dad feels like he owes him an endless amount of thanks and rewards since the shady man decided he better call “911.” Most likely he felt guilty and freaked-out.
At five A.M. the next day, grandma awakened with a phone call from the Little Rock Hospital, telling her of the accident. She immediately rushed to the ER in tears. She was a nervous breakdown. The doctor mentioned they did not know what was wrong with dad. Well, after being carried to two different hospitals to have a MRI, loads of tears and pain, and several hours of waiting; the doctors could read he had a totally destroyed T7 on his spinal cord; a type T1 injury. Type T1 injury is like someone squeezing a tube of toothpaste. He also had only one muscle holding his head on. Luckily, there were no punctures.
Considering my dad had a major spinal injury, he had to have a surgical procedure. Before he could have any work done, he spent three days in ICU. There he slept on a special bed that was flat and motorized so it would rotate to help the circulation. Also,the nurse asked grandma to sign papers stating the doctors could use illegal parts in his neck so it would be capable of turning. The parts are now only used outside of the United States. Relieved to know it was possible for them to do the procedure, grandma signed the documentation. Dad then rushed into surgery at six-thirty A.M. and was not released until eleven-thirty P.M. The surgery lasted several hours. The surgeons practically rebuilt his entire neck.
Even though the surgery went well and as planned, dad needed time to heal and adjust to his new life. He spent a few months in rehab. While there dad went on a set schedule such as: getting up at eight A.M., doing several types of exercises, and many interruptions from nurses. One exercise mastered was riding his wheelchair up and down a giant hill. Most of the exercises were physically hard to do, but they were beneficial for his healing process. Also just as hard was adjusting to the everyday lifestyle of a paraplegic. Paraplegics are not able to move from the chest-down. He will always be capable of taking showers, going to the bathroom, and many other tasks without the aid of someone else; however, he will continue to face struggles that he did not have before the accident. For instance, most people who wake up late for work can still manage to get ready in a small amount of time, but for him takes up to an hour to get out of bed and get dressed. After spending this hour,it takes another hour to bathe, and fifteen minutes to get in and out the car.
How many people get in their car and make one simple decision to wear a seatbelt or not? It is a decision made every single day. If everybody getting in a vehicle stopped to think about what might happen if they choose not to wear their seat-belt, better decisions would most likely be made. My dad certainly never thought that speeding without a seatbelt, getting robbed, having a surgery procedure, and going through rehab would lead up to being a paraplegic.