Monday, March 31, 2008
Valentine’s Day Tragedy
Current mood: shocked
Hey friends. Thank you SO much-all of you who called, texted, drove, prayed, etc. I wish I could speak to each of you personally, but since I can’t, please read:
I’m having a hard time remembering who I’ve told what and so heres a blog you can read and get the latest info. I’ve broken it up into headings, so if you’re not interested in the whole story you can skip down.
My First Valentine’s Day
I don’t want want to go into why I’m 29 and this was the first Valentine’s Day of my life when I have had a “significant other”, I just mention that so you will know that the night had a lot of meaning for me. I have been dating Albina Gadeliya for just over a month now and had a plan for Valentine’s Day- I was going to take her to River’s, a fancy restaurant in Glenwood Springs.
I had a very short time after work to rush home and get dressed and pick up the gifts I had for her. Outside the snow trickled down sparsely as Adagio for Strings (In 2004, Barber’s masterpiece was voted the “saddest classical” work ever by listeners of the BBC’s Today programme) played on the classical radio station (this was sort of the eerie soundtrack of the night for me-
click play at the bottom of this blog). I got to her condo at about 6:30 and gave her the card I made her with a dozen roses and teddy bear wearing earrings (That would give us 2 hours to get to Rivers where I had an 8:30 reservation) She was rushing to get ready as well and gave me the card she made with a teddy bear and chocolates. She reached into her laundry closet to get something and leaned up against the water heater giving her a pretty bad burn on her right shoulder (2nd degree burn). She grabbed a bag of ice and we rushed out the door.
As we left town in my 95 Honda Passport, I didn’t tell her where we were going. We got on I 70 and she watched the exits for Horizon Drive, Clifton and Palisade pass and her curiosity rose. I noticed the thick clouds hanging among the Bookcliffs creating a surrealistic atmosphere and defining some of the closer spires like some gigantic otherworldy castle.We listened to Yo Yo Ma and then Miles Davis as we winded through DeBeque Canyon.
Something’s Not Right
She mentioned her ice was melting as we neared Rifle. We came upon a slow moving minivan covered in mud I and got into the left lane to pass it. I saw the van start veer into my lane several times and I just wanted to get by it. We passed it & had just passed the first Rifle exit when Albina said she really needed to do something about her ice. She asked if I could just pull over and she could scoop some snow into her bag.
I pulled over on the shoulder and remember vividly thinking that I should pull over as far as possible since we were on the interstate. She unbuckled, turned around in her seat and put on her jacket and BAM! We were rear-ended by a vehicle moving between 65 and 75 miles per hour.
I think I saw Albina collapse into the floor board facing the seat. She passed out onto the seat amid chunks of broken bloody glass. My blood went cold and she breathed heavily-a kind of snore that meant her airway way in someway constricted. Thoughts ran through my head about what to do and not to in an accident/when people lose consciousness/ etc. I froze-I didn’t know what to do. I reached into my pocket, grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. I don’t know why, but I set the phone down on the back seat-I think it was because I was more concerned with her.
I whispered to her, not knowing if I supposed to wake her up or not. After what seemed like eons, she woke up and that’s when I noticed her arm bent in the wrong place. She looked bewildered and looked at me for answers crying. She looked down at her arm as if to wonder why it wouldn’t moved and then back at me. A million thoughts went through my head-should I push her up off that arm? Should I just talk to her? What can I do? I reached over gently stroked her hair and told her everything would be OK.
I saw people start to surround my vehicle and that’s when I realized I had 911 on the line. I picked the phone up and tried to talk to them but firemen started to force open the doors. They were asking her questions, asking me questions and one guy I think was an off duty fireman who was the first to my car and I think that’s when 911 realized their people were there and I said bye. (Sometime about then I pulled my keys out of the ignition…I don’t know why…I think I thought if the engine was running still that might be dangerous)
They had a hard time trying to get my door open so they opened the back door. When I looked back, I think that is when I fully realized the back seat was at a 45 degree angle. They finally got my door open and saw the gash in the back of my head. It was the only pain I felt. One of the firemen put a rag on my head and helped me out of my Honda.
I saw the van that hit us about 40 yards in front of us and facing us. The front just a mess of crushed metal. As they walked me to the ambulance I saw the other guy being laid on a stretcher and heard Albina’s screams from my car. I saw my Honda in the ditch, headlights still on.
A fireman put a bandage around my head and I sat on the bench in the back of the ambulance praying that God would ease her pain. The back doors were wide open letting in the cold air with her screams and allowing me to see the traffic diverted around us. It seemed like I waited there for a week before they finally came in and put a neck brace on me and had me sit in the upright seat. I was hoping for them to put Albina in my ambulance, but instead they wheeled in the guy that hit me.
Quite frankly I was pissed off at the guy and didn’t want him near me. They had to cut his clothes off and he protested them cutting his coat up which pissed off the firemen. They scolded him and they asked him questions. I think I heard one of them say that he was not drinking and was not on any drugs.
They wheeled the guy out and that was the last I saw of him. They decided to put me on a stretcher and stabilize my neck to get me out. They wheeled Albina and I into adjacent rooms and I heard her still screaming. They cut my pants, shirt and tie off. They checked me out but then it seems like I laid there in that bed in that stiff neck brace staring at the ceiling for hours. I could see a clock and watched the hours go by. I wondered what they were doing to her and if there was anything wrong beside her arm.
It’s hard to remember when all this happened, but they got info from me and called my mom & dad & Canyon Vineyard Church (Where I work). Periodically a Police officer came in and told me some stuff.
At one point they rolled me on my side and I got nauseous and just about threw up-but it passed quickly. I heard them take Albina in for a CAT Scan and when they were done they ran one on me. Right before they took Albina out, they wheeled her next to me and let her say bye.
They wheeled me back into my room and after a while they came in stitched up my wound and put in 10 staples (I didn’t feel it at all). Finally I was done and by that time Nate & Maegan came to pick me up.
The Drive Home
On the way home my mind kept playing through everything. Periodically I would have flashes of memories that seemed so real but just when I tried to concentrate on them they would vanish & make way for another one. At one point they flashed through my head in such a fast dream-like manner that I got nauseous and almost had to have Nate pull over. The drive seemed to take forever, especially with these weird thoughts rolling through my head. It made everything seem almost dreamlike. I remember we looked up to the clouds rolling off the foothills of Mt. Garfield and they seemed to take on a sinister-otherworldly look.
Finally we arrived at my house where SteveO & Daniel were waiting. I changed my clothes quickly (and found glass in my underwear!) and then then they took me to St. Mary’s.
At St. Mary’s
As we came in, Wes, Rebecca, Jared & Katie were there to greet us. (I think sometime around there was when I felt something in my mouth and realized it was a piece of glass) I was able to go immediately to where Albina was. I held her hand as they put 6 staples in the back right side of her head. After that, Anna Mazon came in and wheeled her to her room.
In her room, Wes, Rebecca, Jared, Katie, Nate, Maegan, Daniel & SteveO showed up and we all joined hands and prayed for her. After that everyone filed out of her room and I knelt down to say good night to her.
Just as I began to speak, the power of the entire city went out. The lights clicked off and all the hallway doors shut themselves. I was slightly scared at what this could do, not only to Albina, but all the patients. Then I remembered they ALWAYS have back up generators at hospitals. About 4 or 5 minutes later the power came back on. I said good night to Albina.
SteveO & Daniel gave me a ride home. There was a strange fog thick around town as we went home at about 2:30am. I was dead tired but could not sleep until around 4 or 5am.
The Next Day
Albina’s arm was badly fractured around her elbow. They began surgery sometime around 2 and she wasn’t out until after 6. I was finally able to see her then. Beside periodic bursts of pain between morphine doses she seemed a thousand times better. Finally her eyes were open and she was talking to all of us. (Her mom drove up from Colorado Springs and her twin sister Agnessa drove from Salt Lake)
Saturday Wes drove me to the hospital around 1 and I just spent the rest of the day with Albina in her room. That night after I left (around 2am) her block from surgery wore off. This was the most excruciating pain she had felt yet.
When I woke up I picked the last piece of glass out of my hair.
She felt much better today but due to the drugs and her anemia she has been drowsy almost to the point of falling asleep all day.
Wes drove me to Rifle where I we finally saw the wreckage and I got all of my stuff out of it.
What’s Left of My Honda
Tuesday & Wednesday
Albina is very drowsy, nauseous and gets dizzy very easily from all the meds and her anemia.
Finally! She’s out of the hospital! She is still feeling drowsy and has intermitent pain but she’s actually got a little appetite. She had her staples removed earlier and at lunch today she took my staples out!
I got a fax of the accident report today and apparently the guy that hit us had fallen asleep at the wheel.
I have had a flood of calls, texts and emails from friends and family. Maegan & Lucee offered to make me dinners. Pastor Wade has hooked me up with a car I can borrow until I get a new one. Wes & Rebecca have been there at every moment. Jared & Katie were there at the hospital despite barely even knowing Albina. I really feel bad that haven’t been able to get back to everyone who dropped by or left a message. Also, my initial text message failed to get to half of my phone book-so please don’t feel less important to me if you didn’t get the text. Albina has really enjoyed all the flowers-she has 12 bouquets last I counted.
Most of all, of course, I want to thank the Lord. We were parked and hit by a vehicle going Interstate speed and we are alive to tell the story. Thank you God.
Currently listening :
Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11/Orchestral Music; Leonard Slatkin
By Samuel Barber
Release date: 25 October, 1990