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for the love of friends...

How casually and unobservedly we make all our most valuable acquaintances.
-- Emerson

This is our story.
I can't consider it MY story because I don't think I would
be here to tell it without my friends and family.

I believe that my friends and family
were responsible for me sitting here today writing this.

How can I thank you all enough but to say how much

I went to Australia to meet some friends I had there
and to try and acquire new employment in my field of expertise,

I had a conversation over the phone earlier in my visit
with a supervisor from
Compaq Computer Australia and scheduled an interview at the airport in Sydney
as I was flying home.
After a 5 minute interview
he asked when I would be available to come to Sydney,
I said "how long before I know I got the position?"
He said, ok you have it, I said "I'll be right back!"

I was so excited when I flew home!!

When I got home I told my family about it and they were
less than enthusiastic
as they didn't want to be so far from me.
I found an apartment in Sydney by using the internet
and as soon as I called about it,
it was promised to me.
As if fate were shining on me the whole time!

I got ready to relocate,
borrowed the money to fly back to Sydney,
and said my goodbyes here at home.

When I got to Sydney I started working at Compaq,
LOVED the job,
liked my apartment,
was meeting wonderful people,
everything was working out so good.

One night after work I made arrangements to meet a friend
at a bar to play some pool.
As I walked everywhere in Sydney so did I that night.
Two blocks from the bar, I was crossing the street at the corner,
when a person hit me with their car
at a rate of speed close to 60KmPH (approx. 40MPH).
The ambulance driver told my mother he had never seen injuries
as extensive as mine in a pedestrian/car accident.

I was rushed to the hospital with multiple serious injuries.
The hospital report states:

"She sustained several serious injuries;
Fracture of her right tibia and fibula,
a closed head injury resulting in right sided weakness,
right rib fractures producing a flail segment
and pulmonary contusions and right haemopneumothorax,
laceration of her liver producing central liver haematoma,
lacerations to her right arm and right flank.
On arrival at hospital her Glascow coma Scale was 3.
She was resuscitated
(including insertion of bilateral chest drains and intubation)
and transferred to the intesive care unit.
Initial CT of the head showed 2mm petechial haemorrhages
in the right occipital, superior right frontal and anterior
right frontal lobes at the grey/white matter junction
consistent with diffuse external injury."

I had sustained collapsed lungs,
smashed and lacerated liver,
smashed spleen, bruised heart,
severely broken fibia and tibula,
cut open on the back half the way across my body,
8 broken ribs, right forearm lacerations from glass,
right side paralysis, and extensive closed head injuries.
Injuries that have been discovered after hospitalization and therapy were broken right collarbone and broken humerus just below shoulder.

They drilled a hole in my head
to releave the pressure from bleeding because my head was beginning to swell.
My comatose state was reinforced with drugs by the doctors
so as not to awake and move any part of my body.

The prognosis was that I would die.

"Police were informed that the pedestrian
had not yet regained consciousness
and was not expected to live during the night.
Currently under observation in Intensive Care Unit
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital."

My mother was contacted by telephone
and was told to come immediately,
that if I lived 12 hours
it would be a miracle.

I survived the 12 hours,
then more.

My girlfriend was concerned that I would be alone
there in a coma and might die that way.
She didn't want me to be alone,
so she contacted my friends in Melbourne,
who promptly drove the 1,000 miles
to Sydney to be with me until family arrived.

It became a concern as to what degree of awareness
I would have when coming out of the coma.
They left the drugs on me
for 3 weeks then removed them.

I didn't come out of the coma.

I remained in a comatose state for a few more days
then began to regain consciousness slowly.

How much of a brain did I have left it was questioned.
I recognized my mother when I regained consciousness
and mouthed that it was 'my mom'
as I had a tracheotomy and could not talk.
They then knew that I had retained speech skills.

What made my recovery from the coma so unusual
was the fact that my girlfriend
had contacted a friend of mine in Sydney
that shared my love of the internet.
My girlfriend gave my friend a copy of my e-mail addresses,
to which they both began sending updates on my condition.

From these updates
they began receiving hundreds of e-mails
from my friends all over the world,
who would write as if they were writing to me directly.
They encouraged me to wake from my coma,
and to be the same Susie they loved.
They spoke of praying for me,
of getting church members all over to pray for me.
(These being the "friends" my brother had told me
months before that were merely 'internet' people
whom I didn't really know.)

My friend would come to my hospital bed and read me these e-mails,
and she said she could see me responding to them.
My finger would move as if I were clicking a computer mouse
while I lay there in a coma.
She told them all of this reaction
and said to them I was replying to their e-mails.
That if anyone could
"jack into the system" from beyond
it was Susie.

(I have since been sent copies of the hundreds of e-mails
she received and I could only sit and cry as
they downloaded onto my computer for over a half hour.
Tears of joy to see so many who love me.)

I must commend the expertise of the Doctors and Nurses at
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney
for an absolutely superb job of putting me back together.
The doctors would pass my room much later
and just shake their heads in disbelief saying,
"There is no medical reason whatsoever
that you should be sitting there talking to me,
but you are!"
They began calling me "The Miracle Girl".

My mother was told
that I would not be released from that hospital
for at least 7 months
then would face extensive therapy at another facility
for at least a year.

I sit here telling this story
6 months after the accident occured.
I have been released from the hospital,
everything but a neurologist.
This doctor at my own request.

I have become a totally different person
as a result of this accident.
I have long term memory gaps which I may never regain,
no short term memory capability,
one leg 3cm. shorter than the other,
double vision eyesight,
and constant headaches.
And to mention pain would be redundant.

But the most significant change has been
the way I view the world.
There is more beauty,
more sensation,
than I have ever experienced.
Not to mention the fact that my brother
has changed his entire perspective
on my internet contacts! :o )

I used to be a wild girl you might say.
I still have spunk for sure,
but I have given up all the vices I once had.
I know I will never be able to continue the job
I once was so enthused about getting in Sydney,
nor the same job anywhere,
but I'm ALIVE!

When I look back on what I have experienced
in the last 6 months, it truly was
a miracle.
I believe to this day that the support of my friends,
hearing those e-mails,
those outpourings of love for me,
was what helped me
to regain consciousness with all my faculties.

I was given my life back,
by the love of my friends...

I wrote a letter to the editor of the local papers
at the first anniversary of the accident,
so as to thank those that were from my immediate area
for their love and support.
Read my letter to the editor submission here

The editor from the largest publication in Western Kansas
wanted to do a feature article upon reading the submission
Here is the featured story.

Brain Injury AssociationBrain Injury Center