By Kimberley Langford
It was March 26, 2007, just 6 days after my 41st birthday. The weather was nice for a spring day, and not too cold although a thin layer of snow covered the ground.
Like every other weekday, I took the bus into the downtown core of the city where I lived, Calgary Alberta.
Just as I had done for many mornings during the commute, I wrote in my journal. It was when I was writing that I had the feeling that I needed to pray for protection. I didn’t know why but I felt better when I did. A few moments later, the bus pulled up to my stop and I got off.
I stopped at the cross walk and when the walk sign went on, I started to make my way across the intersection. As I took my first step, a bus turned in and stopped. Since I had the walk light in my favour, I assumed the driver had seen me and was waiting for the crowd to make their way across the intersection before resuming their journey. I was wrong and the next thing, I remember, is that I was under the bus as it moved down the street. I screamed in terror several times for help as the bus drove on, the bus driver oblivious to what had just happened.
A group of people ran after and banged repeatedly on the bus, which finally came to a stop. I lay underneath it and prayed, wondering if I would live through this scary ordeal even though I had a strong feeling that I would.
The bus driver, stayed in the bus and three people approached it. I refer to them as my angels. The lady, introduced herself as a nurse and asked me if I could reach out far enough so that she could take my pulse. She warned me not to move. One of the men gave me his coat to put under my head and the second man asked me if there was anyone I wanted him to call on his cell phone after 911. I had him call my employer, a friend, my sister-in-law and my former father-in-law who was taking care of my six year old son.
The ambulance finally arrived and I was taken to the hospital. Funny thing was …. there were people mulling around the scene, who obviously were not part of the local media, taking pictures of the accident and of me while I was being lifted into the ambulance. I heard someone say, “I can’t believe people are actually doing that!” It’s interesting how people feel the need to stop and take pictures while something horrific is happening! Perhaps they can’t believe what they’ve seen and they need proof for later that it actually did happen – while feeling relief that it didn’t happen to them. I can recall feeling violated as if I were on show for their entertainment.
I don’t know how long I was in the ER for. I remember my clothes being ruined and wondering when I’d be able to get another leather jacket just like the one that had been destroyed and if the store would still have the same pink sweater, which was one of my favourites, when I got out of the hospital. My thoughts, though they seemed trite under such awful circumstances, kept me from thinking about what just had occurred and worrying about what was going to happen to me next. The whole thing seemed so surreal. What surprises me now is that I remained conscious through the whole accident and I wonder if that was something that God had intended.
I was finally moved from the ER to the Intensive Care Unit. A friend had arrived, as had my sister-in-law and my mother had flown in from British Columbia. My supervisor and manager from work, and former father-in-law also came to visit.
I had an uneasy first night, the first of many, when I was being pumped full of pain medication. I learned quickly that morphine makes me sick to my stomach. I awoke several times during the night feeling disoriented and nauseous. When I first opened my eyes, the room appeared to be upside down!
The doctor arrived that first morning and told me that my humerus on my left arm had been fractured and that it would be operated on tomorrow. I also had cracked ribs, a perforated bladder and a fractured pelvis. Due to my injuries I would have to lay on my right side. He also told me to expect a possible six month hospital stay! He did get the number six right, as I was at home within six weeks and back to work within six months!
The operation on my arm was successful and the scar I was left with isn’t too ugly or even noticeable. But it remains a physical reminder of what I have come through.
Over the next six weeks, I managed to get through physio and learned how to walk again. I spent three weeks in the hospital, and was then sent to a recovery facility for another three weeks before finally being sent home.
At home, I started out walking down the street assisted by my cane. The walks increased to include the local mall that was located a block away from my home. Just being around other people in the mall kept me from isolating myself at home and I made it my goal to go there every day. My cane was discarded and I managed to take an hour long walk through a nature park that was close by. I began going to physiotherapy several times a week which helped me to get stronger and give up on any inklings of a “poor me” mentality that I may have harbored.
I started back to work on a part time basis and worked up to full-time. Sadly, due to the recession in 2009 I lost my position with the company I was with at the time of the accident, and went on to work in a few other companies, but I’m now working full time doing what I love – writing. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and an anxiety disorder. However, it hasn’t prevented me from getting back on the bus and moving forward in my life!
What I Learned…
Through-out this time I learned several important things:
- Faith is what gets me through life, day by day, week by week and so on. I had many people praying for me and it gave me the motivation to keep working on my recovery and NOT to give up! The easy way out for me would have been to stay inside, feeling sorry for myself and my circumstances. Faith in God and the fact that he has a plan for me kept me going! And since my accident, I have survived unemployment, ending dysfunctional relationships, facing addictions and recovery, and selling my home and moving from a large city to a small town. Through it all, my faith has been a constant companion!
- When I need help –ask for it! I can’t be too proud to ask for help or worry that others may think I’m weak for doing so! Quite the opposite – when my friends caught me struggling they chided me for NOT coming to them for help! They knew that I was trying and were therefore, glad to give me a hand up during my recovery. One friend even came over and mowed my lawn! There’s nothing wrong with asking for a hand up during times of trouble as long as it doesn’t turn into depending on and expecting handoutsespecially when the troubles end!
- My friends and family became my mainstay during this time and after. I was so appreciative of the phone calls asking me how I was doing, as well as the visits from well-wishers, and the gift cards for the local M&M Meats store. My son also kept me going as he was six at the time and very active. I had to recover in order to keep up with him!
- Yes, being thankful. The end result of this accident could have been so much worse. Yes, I still have some pain due to my injuries. However, by sharing my story with others I can prove to them that there is a better life ahead after overcoming adversity. And for that, I am grateful! And I need to remind myself that even though I may be faced with hard times that someone else may be undergoing something much worse!
- Give Something Back. It may include listening to someone else telling their story of misfortune when I feel that I have it bad, or volunteering at a homeless shelter. This also feeds into my feeling grateful for what I have.
Kimberley Langford is the author of “The Evolving Woman Series…Daily Reflections” © 2004. She is currently working on her next book, “Lessons Learned from Being Run Over by a Bus!” If you would like to have your own story of facing adversity and recovery (divorce, unemployment, natural disasters, illness for example) included in the book, please contact her on her Facebook page, “Fans of Kimberley Langford Author” or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. She currently resides in High River, Alberta, Canada.