Fifth Anniversary of the Accident

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imageFive years ago was our last day with Alex before the accident. It was also a Sunday, which was a quiet lazy day. Alex played on the computer, while I took a nap, which is one of many regrets I carry with me. She came upstairs and laid her head in my lap, and asked me to pluck her eyebrows. I will always remember how she would make me stop after each hair,  and rub her eye as she said “ouch!” That day she was supposed to go to her Dads’ for school, but decided to stay the night and drive to school in the morning. We did not check the weather report that night or the next morning. We didn’t know how icy it was. If only they would taken my car; if only I would have driven; if only the school district would delayed school; if only her dad would have called to warn us about the ice; if only she would gone to her Dads’ when she originally planned; if only Landria would have driven slower; if only the lady in front of them would have put her flashers on so they would have seen her; if only I would have made different choices that led to her going to school in a different town. The list could gone on forever.
None of the what if’s and blame assignments I have given out will bring her back or change anything. The person I blame the most is myself, next would be her Dad. We were her parents, and we failed her in so many ways. He should have called her that morning, as he was up and out of the house before she ever left for school. This bit of blame is new for me. I came up this one a few months ago. He and I are not on good terms. We came together during her 8 weeks in the hospital, but it has been a struggle the last 4 years.

My daughter who was driving the car and I are estranged. She and I struggle with so many issues. I have my own limitations from before this happened. I have tried very hard to do better and be better since I became a mother. I have made many mistakes, but have never given up, even when I wanted to, which came only too often. I never thought I would survive the death of one of my children. I have often felt like I lost two children since the accident.

Forgiveness is so important, yet I am not sure I am ready. I really have this desire, as I know unforgiveness impairs the ability to heal. Perhaps, I feel it would be a betrayal to Alex, which I am sure is the case. I believe this is a thinking error that I cannot change at this point. Whether it is a choice or incapability, I’m not ready, not now.

This has been the most painful five years of my life, including the death of my mother at the age of 12.
Five years without Alexandra Makenzie, my Grace child, my binky girl, my love child, who loved and forgave, who tried to make peace, who took the backseat, even when should have been upfront and center, I will continue to trudge forward and be better and do better. I will do my best to carry her legacy forward, which is to love and do my best.

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Third Anniversary of ‘The Accident’

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Landria and Alex

Landria and Alex

Tomorrow will be three years since my two daughters and grandson were in a horrible car accident. This accident left my two daughters severely injured and my grandson with minor injuries. My youngest daughter died two months later and my older daughter had a total of 8 surgeries, with life long injuries, both physical and psychological. Denial has been our friend at times. If it weren’t for that, we never would have survived this long. At times, I have wanted to penetrate those around me who have appeared to not be as affected. Then I have to realize, usually with the help of a friend, that what appears to be not caring is really just people coping the best way they can. As Alex’s mother, of course I am going to grieve and mourn more intensely than most, except her father. I know he suffers as I do. We are not able to walk through this together at this point. I have felt angry and upset that her friends have just moved on without remembering her. They don’t see us, read or post on  her Facebook or her page I made to remember her. I forget that this doesn’t mean they don’t remember or grieve for her. What I fail to recognize at times, is that I am just so very mad, sad at sickened that my beautiful Alex is gone, no babies, no marriage, no college..the list goes on and on. I can really fall into being an angry, bitter person. I do not want to stay there though, and it usually don’t. I want to get better, I want to heal enough to pass on her legacy, which is love and forgiveness. She was much better at this, so I will try to remember to ask for direction. My Spiritual health has still not recovered from losing Alex. I have committed to going to Compassionate Friends on a regular basis. My journey isn’t over yet, and there are days when this is very difficult to say the least.

Morose Reflection

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Thank you to Necole Stevens for this beautiful image/poem

This poems describes how I feel and think.  Life is unpredictable for sure. How do we handle success and or tragedy? Do we let it cause defeat or boast about much better we are than those not succeeding by our standards? Maybe we just do the best we can to deal with however life unfolds. I have always been a survivor. I have overcome many hardships from the time I was a little girl. Not eliciting pity, just part of of my story. I have been called tenacious, which I take as a compliment. God made me the way he knew I needed to be in order to walk through what he knew would come. I have struggled with anger and self pity because of these things, especially losing Alex. I thought for sure I would be spared from a tragedy like this as an adult. After all, I experienced enough with my mother before and after her death.

Do I trust I am done experiencing tragedy and pain? No, I really don’t. I think that is why this post from one my fave pages on FB spoke to me. I struggle with believing I will rise above my circumstances so I can live the life I’ve always dreamed of. I want to use my education, travel, not live in survival mode.

My grief, depression and self loathing gets in my way with living the life I have always hoped for. I have been told by someone who tried to help me after Alex died, that I have believed most of life that I am inherently flawed. This has been a vicious cycle. My subconscious has been there hindering my every move. The solution to all of this? Healing Spiritually is a big piece of the solution I know that much. I will continue writing, being tenacious, and yes, struggling to find my connection with God again. It is happening very slowly. I talk to Alex like I used to talk to God. So that tells me I am still seeking a spiritual connection, a connection to my Angel daughter, who I miss and love so very much.

More Research and Clarification

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imageToday, I spent a couple hours doing some research about the areas of Alex’s brain that were damaged or gone. I believe I gained a different, more clear perspective than what I had before. The explanations that we were given were vague and simplistic. This was all I could handle at that time. I have spent these last 21 months ruminating over all the details of Alex’s’ injuries and all her hospital journey entailed.

I was able to understand why the doctors told us she would never walk, talk or feed herself. She had a thirty percent chance of gaining minimal consciousness. This means that she may show some sign that she is in there, but not communicate. Even then, it would be vicarious. I remember the specific trauma team meeting when we got the results of the first MRI. Her trauma surgeon drew a diagram of the brain to help us understand what he was about to show us on the MRI. He explained that the dark spots were actually parts of the brain that were gone. He showed us her Reticular Activating System (RAS), which was severely damaged. It had little holes scattered throughout the RAS, which is so small,yet so crucial. The RAS is responsible for communicating with the frontal cortex to wake up, so any damage decreases  a coma patients’ chances of regaining normal consciousness. With the amount of damage her RAS had, it was probable that she would never wake up.

The next section affected that he drew out was the midbrain. He said the section down the entire length of the middle was gone. I remember asking him what he meant by “gone”. He then said he meant it was dead, not coming back. That was when I finally understood that brain cells do not regenerate or heal. He explained that without those two very important parts of her brain, we were facing the reality that this may be as good as it was going to get.

That wasn’t all of the bad news though. Her Basal Ganglia was severely damaged as well. The simplest way for me to remember what that could mean is that people with Parkinson’s, Tourette’s and Huntingtons Disease have damage in the Basal Ganglia. Alex’s hands already had the appearance of damage. This was from the spasticity of the posturing, which is involuntary flexing, wringing and clenching of extremities. I was able to find a medication through my research that they had not tried for this. It had optimal results by administering the medication, Baclofen through a intrathecral pump. That was not possible, so they gave it to her in her Picc line. She didn’t do well with it, so she didn’t stay on it very long.

When we had a meeting with the first of three Neurologists, he told us she would never wake up, talk, walk, feed herself. I flipped..I asked him how sure he was. He said he was 99.9% sure he was right. I asked him about his credentials. The trauma nurse interrupted and told me I could go online and find that information. I got very upset with her. I stated that I felt it was completely reasonable for me to want to know where he went to medical school, did his residency and how many years he had been practicing medicine. After all, I said I wasn’t asking how many divorces he had been through. I was being asked to trust some doctor who was telling us that our daughter would never wake up. Alex’s trauma surgeon chuckled. I surprised myself, but I was advocating for Alex’s care, her life and her fate. Needless to say, we got two more Neurologists to meet with us to be sure.

The next two Neurologists were more humble and would not give us a percentage. In fact one of them had been my grandma’s doctor. They then joined the team of tweaking her meds to help with storming. They reintroduced Baclofen to her regimen. I say that because it made me wonder about them not being involved sooner. After all, I am the one who suggested adding Baclofen after reading about it. Her mother, not even in the health care industry. I believe her trauma doctor did not feel we would do well with knowing the truth any sooner than we got into Alex’s prognosis.

When my dad came the day after the accident, Alex’s trauma doctor, who was in charge of her case, showed us the second CT scan. He had tears in his eyes as he told us how sorry he was. I do not doubt he did everything in her best interest and tried to give her time to show us how much she was capable of improving before giving an MRI. When I asked him to get second and third opinions from other larger hospitals, he did. That is actually why we had a second MRI, as Doernbechers Children’s hospital requested it. So I know we were in good hands. All the other doctors he consulted with confirmed he was doing everything they would have done. I do believe Alex would have an MRI after about a month. I do not second guess his decision to wait.

I am finding a huge need to write about this. There is so much more I want to write about. So many experiences and details. I hope someday my writing will find itself to another mom like me, desperate for answers on how to save her child or loved one.

More Reflection and Comparison

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The young man in a coma may not be doing as well as they were thinking. So much hope, so much that is unknown and misinterpreted. In the early stages, I know I wouldn’t have been able to handle the full implication of what her fate was. I needed to have Hope and denial. The hospital staff had to tread lightly, as they knew how probable it was that she was already gone.
I remember when Alex started storming. Her arms and legs started moving, so we thought she was coming back to us. Very quickly, it was obvious that it was the autonomic brain dysfunction. This is when all of her vitals spiked along with her limbs wringing and contorting uncontrollably. We didn’t even know what that meant. The nurses and doctors would try to explain what was happening, but I needed to research what was happening. I wasn’t sure if I trusted them or their skill level. After all, we weren’t in a large city. So I would go to the computers in the ER waiting room every chance I got. I remember thinking, as her mom, I could help her relax and stop posturing..boy was I wrong. It was all involuntary, she had no control over what her body was doing. The more we touched her, the worse it was.
Her dad and I became pros at icing her body to keep her temp below 101. Her temp had gone up to 106, and the nurses on that particular day were in way over their heads. When her Neurosurgeon told us he needed her temp. To stay below 101, we were like the ice fiends. We had a system down to an art. One day, a nurse wouldn’t let us do it. She poured alcohol all over her instead, but she failed to realize that wouldn’t work for this, as it was her brain dysfunction, not infection. I sat out in the hall bawling and raging. I had to have the trauma nurse paged to make this stop. If I could have punched out that nurse, I would have. If  it were me now, I would  have requested her to not be Alex’s nurse again. There were a couple who we asked to not be assigned to her a second time. I have to say, there were at least six nurses who were fantastic. Alex’s case was very complicated that required constant tweaking.

I am just reflecting as I can only imagine what this other m
I have all this information from our journey with her, but I am strugging with knowing how to use it to help this other mom. I know she has to discover what works for her. I want to tell her how I did it, but I cannot use someone else’s’ tragic process to help myself. At the same time, I could be very helpful. This gives me an idea of how hard it must be for the trauma teams. They have a better idea of how things may turn out, but have to not say too much. It is a fine line to walk.
I also have to realize that this young mans’ brain injuries are unique to his circumstances, and it may end up completely different from our situation with Alex. I would never not want him or anyone else to die or not get better. I have to allow my feelings of anger and regret that invariably come when someone is granted a miracle that Alex deserved and didn’t get. She was such an awesome human being. I miss her terribly.

Approaching Second Year Anniversary of Accident

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It has been almost a year since I have written on my blog, Mother Of an Angel. It has been a very difficult year. Life isn’t any easier as more time has passed. I have become resigned to the fact that my pain is part of my existence, and it may not ever be any different. I have a glimmer of Hope that I may also be able to also allow more in my life to coincide with this pain.
Two days ago I found out that an acquaintance of mine has a son in the same intensive care unit as the one Alex died in. He was also in a car accident. He has severe brain injuries as well, but am not sure of the similarities other than that. Brain injuries are unique to each individual trauma. I learned that the hard way when Alex was in a coma. Friends with good intentions told us story after story of the people they heard about who woke up. What we didn’t know until almost the end was what each part of her brain was not only damaged, but gone, not coming back. I always thought the brain was miraculous and could heal itself. Yes, but not literally..brain cells do not rejuvenate or heal, but the brain tries to make new pathways to take over the job the dead brain cells cannot do any longer. What I didn’t understand was that Alex’s midbrain was completely disconnected due to the tearing and shearing of her brain during the accident. That was only one problem, but enough to make it impossible for her to ever live more than in a persistent vegetative state. I have had a lot of denial about this. I have wanted to believe and fantasize about the millions of possibilities that could have saved her. I have held myself completely responsible, and beat myself almost to death emotionally, on a daily basis for almost two years. This has been the natural course of action and my process. I wish it wasn’t, I wish people; therapists, friends, my other kids, my sponsor, my dad, strangers…telling me what a good mom I am, how strong I am, how hard I fought for and how she knows how much I love her..I wish all of that could have made these last almost two years different. Not even my other kids’ pain has been able to penetrate my shield of pain and self-hatred. This other mom facing this very real, very horrible unknown fate of her son has somehow been able to penetrate my shield enough to get me back here to write this. I pray her son has a different ending than Alex. I hope her fight is to help him rehabilitate and end at home someday.

Sudden or Prolonged Death of Loved One

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A question was presented to me a few months ago…would it have been better for Alex and her family/friends to have lost her at the time of the accident or the way we did. I personally feel that I am glad we got two more months with her. I know that is probably selfish on my part. There many things that are more difficult about this. I still have flash backs of all she went through and how it felt to watch and feel so utterly helpless and powerless. I also remember the Hope we felt and the research I did and the writing, trying to find anything we could to save our girl. I was and am still so angry and disappointed that no amount of money or amount of prayer could fix her. And we had to make the decision to keep her alive in a vegetative state or let her go be with God. I Think either way it was spun, we were effed. This young girl who was killed in a car accident last night, almost a year after Alex and Landria’s accident, brought a lot of these questions back up for me..not that they ever been answered. I lost my mom suddenly, with no time to say good-bye and felt a huge shock that I still struggle with. I think about this girls’ parents, and how they did not have any warning or time to say good-bye. It makes me so mad! Why do so many people go through this. All I can say is make sure you hug your kids and tell them you love them. When times are hard, think of the parents who would take that hardship in a minute versus never having anything, good or bad, with their child again. Yes I realize there have been a lot of depressing posts from me about death and accidents, etc. since this all happened. I just hope if they bother anyone they will just delete me as a friend. Totally better than me wondering why you don’t talk to me anymore or give me a look of pity. This may make people feel more removed from this happening to them,, like it is contagious, but it won’t. I am just a mom with a broken heart trying to find a way to survive. FB is an unconventional place to do this, but it has worked to a certain point for me. I don’t know the answers, I just know I am sick and tired of the pain, my kids’ pain, and to know I can’t really help anyone who has lost a child. The only thing that will make it okay is to give their child back…