Hello Reader! I hope you had a wonderful weekend- and a Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!!!
Normally, I focus on being thankful, talking about something that has to do with dwarfism and something random. This week I want to just share what I am thankful for and explain a bit more.
I am thankful for life.
There are a lot of things that bring me to this, most of all, just being a mom. I never thought I would be graced with a child. I lived a teenage existence that left me wanting little from life, except to end. I was sad, lonely and mean. Mean to myself, mean to people around me. I was scared, which made me more mean. It was hard- almost as hard to live as to admit. But then, it all began to change until, finally, Dave found me. Fast-forward a few years and I am slowly making bonds with my in-laws and procuring friendships from all walks of life. And best of all, I am Mom to one beautiful, talented, brilliant, HAPPY little girl! She doesn’t just light up our lives, she brings a smile to everyone she sees.
So the look on her face that I saw Friday afternoon was not one I will soon forget.
We were headed to the Omni Hotel in Providence to pick up my race packet for the Cox 5k on Saturday. This was going to be my PR 5k. My first race since August 2011, when I was just pregnant with Addie (following a heart breaking miscarriage). This race was going to define me. My mother-in-law had been spending almost every evening with Addie to allow me to train the course- mapping out the hills with my legs, retraining my muscles to take long strides, lead with my toes, control my breathing and water intake. I was ready. I was under 11-minute miles and was sure I could pull 10 minute miles on race day.
It all came to a screeching halt about 250 yards from exit 18 on I-95 North. As traffic gently slowed, I applied pressure to my brakes. When he hit, I had no idea it was coming. I jammed my foot into the brake to avoid being tossed further forward in our lane. I straightened myself from the hunched position as quickly as I could, hearing Addie’s shrill scream from the back. I searched all the mirrors in my car. I leapt from my vehicle, screaming at the young man who hit me to, “Call 9-1-1. There’s a baby in my car!” Not just any baby. My baby. My whole world was strapped into her car seat with the most wild-eyed look I’d ever seen come across her face. The multiple attempts at a lumbar puncture when she was an infant- doctors jabbing her time and time again in her spine- could not rival the fear in her eyes. I grabbed my cell phone from the diaper bag in the backseat and dialed emergency. I cried into the phone, pleading for them to hurry. All I could think was Addie’s spine. It wracked my brain. I was seeing white. It was hot, traffic was flying by. No one stopped- in fact, people honked for us to move. “THERE’S A BABY IN THE CAR!” I screamed as they whizzed by. I felt the driver who was planted in the hatch of my SUV back-off. “STOP!” I boomed at him as I quickly went about snapping pictures of our vehicles. He slammed on his brakes before his car broke free from mine. He was scared and apologizing. “I just looked down for a minute…,” he stammered, phone in hand. The damn thing looked like it was attached to his palm. He was scared. He saw Addie in the backseat. Every apology that came through my window from his lips scraped at my soul. I called Dave, “We were hit. An accident. I’m getting her to Hasbro.” “I’m on my way.” We hung up- the hot air of the day buzzed around me.
It only takes a second to kill someone.
We pulled off to the side. He came to my passenger window again- he was sorry, so sorry. The only thing I could do was ask if he had his insurance information with him. He ran back to his car and handed it to me through the window. I wrote everything down on the paper I keep in my glove compartment. I spoke no other words except, “She has a spinal issue. Pray.” I didn’t mean it as a threat. I meant it as a request. Please pray this does not bring upset to her body- but I’d said it through swallowed tears and clenched teeth. “Is this all your info?” I asked as I handed it back. “Yes.”
My father-in-law showed up. Dave was en route from Weymouth, running out of his office with a “my wife’s been in an accident,” and nothing more. Behind us on the highway I could see where the trooper was that was supposed to be here. I could see the rescue that was meant for Addie. There was another accident. It was hot. Addie was bright red from the heat and scared. Trying to see what was happening, every car that went by causing her eyes to flash open wide. A fire engine pulled over to wait with us. Multiple cars drove by. People on cell phones- talking, texting.
It only takes a second to kill someone.
“I only looked down for a second. Just to see…,” he said again and again. Then his mother showed up yelling in Spanish. I watched his head bow down as she pointed at the crushed pile of green and yelled. He was sorry, and I was sorry I was not able to offer him forgiveness. But, it only takes a second to kill someone. When you look down at your phone at that text message that couldn’t wait, you could change someone’s life forever. You could kill someone’s mother, child, father, brother, son, cousin, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, friend. You could kill a teacher, doctor, student, the woman that makes your coffee everyday, your local bartender, a man you’d never met and never would. Because, it only takes a second to kill someone.
My head was pounding, I tried to get Addie to drink some water. Where were the cops? Where was the rescue? Finally. We spoke to the officer separately. I filled out my witness statement. “I can’t offer you an escort because we only have 3 cars out today. I’m sorry,” said the trooper. “Thank you for coming. Stay safe- I’ll take her myself.” I looked up at him. “Thank you- you both take care,” he replied. I was in my car and pulling out onto the jammed highway before I could say goodbye to my father-in-law. I drove the speed limit, which only made my head hurt more. My teeth clenching in their respective roots- each one pressing into my jaw so hard I was beginning to feel dizzy.
Instead of picking up my race packet and heading to Pinkberry for some treats, I was bringing my baby to Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “Don’t fall asleep, Addie!” I yelled into the backseat.
We pulled in to the valet parking area in front of the ER where Dave was waiting. “DO NOT take her out of the car seat!” I barked. Be gentle. Bring her in slowly. I was breaking on the inside. She passed the initial exam and we were told it was OK to remove her from the seat. Vitals, normal. Initial physical exam, normal.
Then we were in a room. We waited. The happiest baby passed her neuro exam and flirted with every doctor that walked by (of course). She was checked again. Calls were placed to Dr. Bober, her geneticist. Again, she was checked. She crawled and stood. She was happy… as usual.
She was alive.
She continues to be monitored at night and we watch for signs of pain. For signs that compression is becoming an issue.
But what about the race? Dave drove us to the hotel after Addie was discharged to get my packet. I limped into the Health Expo with my hospital bracelet on, wondering if I was even capable of running the next day. Weeks of training- feeling like a million bucks, complete with healthy knees and a strong stride had all come to a halt as I felt each muscle twinge from my knee to my ankle like knives stabbing at the limb. My right leg felt useless.
“Do you know your number,” a woman asked from behind the 6 foot table. “203,” I responded. “Michelle Martin… Mar… Martinnnn…” “Martinka. Yes.” I grabbed my pins and moved to the left where I was given a shirt and my bag. I wanted to check it all out. Was there a onesie for Addie or an armband for my phone (which I need!)? I have no idea. I limped back to the waiting car full of my family.
I pinned my bib to my shirt Friday night, pumped full of Tylenol and water. “I don’t know if I can do this,” I said, looking at Dave. “Then don’t,” he replied. He was right. Everything hurt. My head was blurring my vision and my legs weren’t working- he had to get my contact case from the bathroom for me. I was broken.
But so are thousands of leukemia patients everyday. The people I signed up to help. The people I raised money for. Those people hurt everyday. I run for Team in Training and I would not let them down.
I woke up Saturday morning and took 3 Tylenol. I laced my shoes up and put on my shirt. I was running to honor Belle Bradley. I was running to remember my Dad and my cousin. I was going to finish.
I didn’t fail, but I didn’t succeed. Unless you’re a runner, you won’t get it. Running it wasn’t enough. My teammates were SO supportive and all the love at the mile 2 water stop urged me to keep going, but there were lots of tears as I pushed myself up the hill. People die from this, I repeated to myself. Dad help me, I begged. Everything hurt, and it was only a 5k.
I was angry all my training had been stripped from me for a godforsaken text message.
I should have been thankful for my life- I smiled at the thought- but reeled inside.
I jogged a bit (I had the most amazing coach by my side)… but I walked a lot and limped a bit, too. My 30 minutes slipped away. They became something closer to 35. The soreness throughout my body raked up my spine, splitting my body down the the right ankle bone. I was doing this to save lives, but I didn’t feel much like I was living well on my own. My race I’d worked so hard for was taken away… it only takes a second to kill someone.
I grabbed ice from the med trailer at the race, shared a banana with Addie and was driven home by Dave. I showered and packed myself into the car and headed to the ER (the only place that will take “3rd party insurance”). X-rays showed no break, but the doctor gave me a referral to an orthopedist and an air cast and advised me to stay off it. I guess he’s never been a stay-at-home mom. I plan on seeing a chiropractor to try and alleviate the headache that’s going on day three.
I spent Saturday night getting my tattoo for Addie (a blog in itself), my first in 5 years, and eating dinner in Newport with my loves. Mother’s Day was beautiful and I got to spend it with two very important women: my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.
I am thankful for life.
This was supposed to be a race-recap. A thrilling ride for you to take with me about making it back from a near-bedrest pregnancy to a PR. But in place of an age-group first, I’ve amassed a collection of hospital bracelets.
There’s no making this OK. Instead, it’s a PSA: Put down your phone. Save a life.
As we pulled into the driveway from Hasbro, I had to snap this photo. She was finally sleeping. Safe. Home.