It was worrisome that Mark had been in a coma for so long, yet I was grateful he appeared to be resting peacefully through the emergency health crisis. His world seemed serene compared to mine. If only I could feel the same tranquility he looked like he had. Maybe being in a coma was a blessing in disguise, yet I wanted him to wake up more than anything and did all I could to make it happen.
Six weeks had passed and time to have an x-ray on my collarbone. It had healed well, but I had a floating piece of bone from the break, which felt like a stone in my shoulder area. It was bothersome at times, especially when it was touched, but the doctor reassured me it would disintegrate within five years. He said I was free to go without my sling and brace. As much as I looked forward to that day and suffered wearing the brace because it caused sores on my armpits, I felt like I would fall apart without it. Strangely, it took a few days to feel comfortable with no brace and sling for my arm.
With freedom to move my arm I was capable to drive a vehicle again. However, I needed a car to do that and my confidence in driving was ruined in the car crash. Although I hated to depend on others to get me to the hospital, I had no desire and even stated many times that I would never drive again. This must have worried my folks. They had always taught me, when you get bucked off of a horse, you get right back on and ride again, but this was different, or was it? I wasn’t only bucked off—I felt trampled on.
Mom and Dad’s car was a gray 1979 Caprice Chevrolet. They bought it new and took great care of it and had recently put a new engine in the twelve year old car. I didn’t know they were thinking of getting a new car so I was surprise one day when Dad showed up at the hospital excited for us to see the new car he’d just bought. It was at the end of the day and time to go home so we said our good-byes to Mark and walked outside to see the new car.
“We want you to have the Caprice”, Dad said as we walked outside.
“Thanks, but I really don’t want to drive.”
“I understand, but you have to in order to get where you and the kids will need to go,” Mom said.
As we approached the cars I could see they had been busy spiffing up the old car and getting all their personal belongings transferred into their new one. It was freshly washed and vacuumed.
“I think you should drive home from the hospital today,” Mom said as she handed me the keys.
“Okay,” I said apprehensively, wanting to please them and show my appreciation for their thoughtfulness. Dad took the passenger side of their gray car, while Mom said she’d follow us in the new one. I took the seat behind the wheel for the first time since the accident. Terror ran through my blood at every stop sign and signal, but I tried to stay calm, cool and collected just as my dad was. By the time we reached the freeway, the fear lessened some. I felt awkward—like the first day of drivers ed. It was a long sixty minute drive, but being behind the wheel made it seem like forever. I didn’t say a single word, just concentrated on driving and staying composed. Dad probably gave some instructions and encouraging words, but all I remember is driving in silence. Not even the radio was played to distract me.
Having a car for me to drive made it possible for Mom to be with the kids during the day since they were now out of school. The next morning before pulling out of the driveway I prayed for my safety. It was my first trip to McKay-Dee Hospital alone. By the time I reached the freeway, I was overcome with grief, fear and loneliness. Can I really do this? I had to pull off the freeway and park because I was afraid my tears would cause an accident. Ashamed of myself, I thought, what must the people be thinking as they drive past this car with a lady sobbing in it? You must pull yourself together and get yourself to the hospital now. Mark needs you.
I dried my tears, took a deep breath and accepted that driving was an unwanted necessity. Before getting back on the freeway I asked God to help me overcome my fear of driving and when I arrived at the hospital safely, I thanked Him for His comfort.
The only thing I was sure about in our uncertain circumstances was that I needed to get Mark closer to our home in Sandy, Utah. The hour drive to and from the hospital daily was hard on me and my family. My days turned into looking for the best hospital closer to home. The social worker at McKay-Dee Hospital put me in contact with several representatives from different hospitals which specialized in rehabilitating people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). After gaining information on what each facility offered, I chose three of the best options. Mom and I went to the facilities to personally meet the staff, see the rooms and the equipment. I chose Western Rehab not only because it was located in Sandy, Utah, but it was clean and had a great reputation for rehabilitation which specialized in TBI and spinal cord injuries. I was excited to get Mark moved and hoping that a rehab center would be more encouraging about Mark’s recovery.