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EP 5: The Long Road to Recovery After A Serious Car Accident (Part 1)

The recovery process following a serious car accident can be overwhelming and slow. Depending on the injuries you suffer, it could be years before you see improvement.

Today’s guests, Daniel and Sarah, are living that experience right now. The married couple were only a block from their home when a distracted driver ran a red light and practically hit them head-on. As you can imagine, the injuries were very serious.

We spent some time discussing those injuries and the exhausting recovery process they’ve endured, but we want to flip the conversation to one of a positive nature. As you’ll hear in part two, Daniel and Sarah remain incredibly positive despite everything they’ve been through and continue to find reasons to be grateful each day.

If you ever lack motivation or feel depressed about your situation, we hope this conversation will help give you inspiration to find strength and joy in your life.

Here is some of what we’ll cover in this episode:
0:00 – Intro
2:25 – Recognizing people love you
3:35 – Finding gratitude in a difficult situation
7:04 – Sources of strength
12:35 – Songs they find motivation from
17:00 – Giving yourself time to start the comeback
20:23 – Setbacks they’ve struggled with

You can call 833-SPEAKS-4U to contact the show.

Welcome to the catastrophic comeback podcast with American Injury Lawyer Clark speaks, helping you find hope, purpose and joy after a catastrophic injury.

Hi, and welcome to another episode of catastrophic comeback. Today, I'm very happy to have Daniel and Sarah Willis to tell about their experiences. Good morning, guys. Thank you for joining us.

Thanks for having us.

Thank you.

So, can you tell me? You guys, Sarah, you are in an accident? Is that right?

Yes. Both of us were in an accident. I was driving that day. Okay,

well, so. So let me ask you this. What was going on your life before?

You know, before the accident, what was going on? What What were you doing? What was your life? Like? What was your day to day? What was your routine?

Well, I'm, at the time, I was actually already on disability at the time for some medical issues at the time already. And Dan was working at Target we were, we were moving, we actually moved to the beach where I'd always wanted to live. I had been working at a company up here that allowed me to work from home down there, which was what I wanted. And Dan was gonna go to school for plumbing. We were doing well, you know, financially, you know, we're doing okay, now. And we lived in nicest place that we've ever lived. I loved it there. We were at a really nice apartment, close to the coast, and we were able to visit frequently. I had, you know, a lot of independence. And I had, you know, I still had my position. And, you know, the pets were all doing well, they're still good today. But it was you know, it was a it was really nice environment. I had always wanted to live at the beach with my best friend and my pets. And we had had everything that I ever I ever wanted, that I was like getting treatment at the time and was gonna go back to work. Since the accident they have let me go. So I no longer have that.

What you said your position, what was your position? I

was doing a medical billing and collections. So um, you know, I was on the phones all day, and I took a risk and you know, said, Hey, I'm moving, can I stay with us and work from home. And they they allowed me to do that. And, you know, I was on FMLA and the disability. And they continued the FMLA after I got out of the hospital, but eventually, you know, ran out. So they had had to let me go. And I had scheduled that I wanted there. I really liked what I was doing. I loved being from home, you know working from home, I had a great schedule and friends there. And when we moved to North Carolina, Dan actually gave up a position a really good job he had fortunately, they took him back with us on arms when we moved back up because he's a great worker. He was at a company up here and he was doing really well and they really liked him. And he had given that up for us to move and we were still plugging along. You know, comfortably we were really happy and that I don't I don't remember the accident. Daniel does a little bit. But the car, you know was totally destroyed.

Can you tell me a little bit about the accident. So let's, let's so it sounds like everything was going great. Your lives were in a good place. You were enjoying being together. You were enjoying your pets. You had good positions. You had plans. You had dreams? And then what happened on the day of the accident? And can you tell us about that?

Yeah, it was in the afternoon, like two or three I believe. We decided to go to the beach because Sarah loves the beach more than almost anything else. Most of the time I drive but I know how much he likes driving. I was like, Okay, you can drive now. I know you do. And we had just left our apartment parking lot and got to the first streetlight so we're maybe a block away from our, our actual house. We're stopped at a red light. It's red. Everything's fine. It goes to green. Sarah looks both directions. proceeds to make a left hand turn. And I hear her make it like an audible yell and then I stop and I look and I see a Jeep coming at us and then I don't really remember a whole lot. Remember fleeting bits of information from that point on until I wake up in the hospital.

And I, yeah, I don't I don't remember anything about it. We were in our little Nissan Sentra, and it was a, it was a big Jeep driving a big jeep. And where he ran the red light, like several seconds after it, you know, other people were were stopped already. I did not see him he was on the second like there was a two lane road and he was on the other side of the cars that had stopped. So he wasn't paying any attention. I don't remember it. But I was I was he was in the hospital overnight. I was in the hospital for 22 days, I had a I was in a medically induced coma for three days. I had a traumatic brain injury, which is still affecting us today, which I can tell you about in a little bit. clavicle broken, which I have, you know, a scar from punctured my lung. I have some, you know, some scars there. And a punctured lung. And at the time, you know, I was already dealing with the recovery from my eating eating disorder issues that I had had. So all of this was together at a fractured vertebra. And my all my facial bones are smashed in, I had just had a corrective nasal surgery to correct to correct my very deviated septum just about a month before and, and then that was destroyed. I had broken jaw pieces, like facial pieces and my nose was smashed in. I just recently got it fixed again. But um, you know, there's only so much they can do when you only have so much left, that's there. Because there's a lot you missing. And the traumatic brain injury caused seizures, severe seizures. In a kid, he was going almost 50 miles an hour. So it was pretty bad. And it was basically a TiVo. So I so I still and I still have the seizures today. We had had me on Madison, you know, after I was there for the 22 days, and I continued to have seizures very traumatic, we've had take the intake videos, just because to send to insurance, you know, so they'll, they'll pay us and you know, I'm screaming, begging for help in the in the videos because my head, you know, hurts so bad. And I've continued to have seizures since then after adding different medicines. I basically among the top of all the medicines, they've done an external EEG, they can't find, you know, where the seizures are coming from. And now it's about you know, two and a half years later, going in for brain surgery in September, which may or may not solve the issue, they're going to go and do an internal E, G, and try to pinpoint where the seizures are coming from. And they may put a like a stimulator I refer to it kind of as like a defibrillator for the brain if I was to go seizure, or they would cut or burn a little chunk out if they can find that. But, you know, that's, it's a risky thing, of course, and that's coming up, they're gonna have to, you know, shave little chunks of my hair hair. And it's, it's a it's a lot. And so it's still you know, two and a half years later, we're still dealing with all of this and I'm scared about that. And we both still have pains, traumas, I see multiple therapists. And, you know, we had to, and we had to move back up here. It's been up here, PA Pittsburgh, PA. I always wanted to get out of here. Can't stand it can't stand the weather here. Can't stand the busyness loved it down there. I loved it. Like I said, since I've lost my job, he got his back, fortunately. And we had to we had to move back for care for me, basically, I have to have somebody around all the time, in case I have a seizure. Because they come out, you know, very randomly. And I've so so we moved back up here and a because we just couldn't you know, there wasn't help down there. And that was heartbreaking. And we moved up here and we moved to a place that we've since moved away from us very too expensive. And a friend of ours from North Carolina needed a place to stay she was getting kicked out of her apartment. So we you know, we were friends. We thought hey, let's do something where you come up, you know, we'll help you out. Stay with us for a little while and all you have to do You know is, is keep an eye make sure that I don't, you know, I don't have a seizure, they moved to a second house to save money so we can eventually buy a house because we're saving about $600 a month on rent right now. The house, that was an extreme ly traumatic situation because it's a friend of ours, parents house that they're renting out, and somebody had lived in it for like 40 years. They bought it and said, you know, they had renovated and cleaned it up. But basically, I think they had set themselves up for more than they could handle because of the this house was filthy. I I bawled and cried when we got here. And we spent about a month buying carpet cleaners, sweepers, cleaning, scrubbing all of this, right? You know, while we're both dealing with health situations, and our friend moved up that was going to stay with us, she didn't like her room and left and then we had to scramble to find care. And since then, it's kind of been a balance of like, our one friend, mayor who's one of our very best friends and she asked to drive across the city. We live in Apollo now. And then you got you know, my mom here and there, it's able to help. In the meantime, she lost her job and had to find another one. And then you've got, you know, my sister having to deal with all of this. And, and just all these people, you know, trying to balance all of this, along with all these other health situations. He had a shoulder surgery, I had a facial surgery, and then the brand surgery is coming up. So it's just a lot of different things. So

Dan, can you tell us about your injuries.

So I had a brain bleed. That's why they kept me overnight. I more or less had like cut scrapes, bruises. I had a concussion for like 10 or 15 days. The real thing that lingered on was it tore something in my shoulder, like the labrum is what I ended up figuring it out after I had my surgery. And nothing quite was done with that until over a year later. So I had to go back to work and made it significantly worse as it as I'm using it. And then I had the surgery in October thankfully and now my arms in a better position. But it took a little bit longer than I really wanted it to be. Other than that, I think I added the two of us were walked out of it pretty okay. I didn't suffer so much.

So and So what strikes me is that if you if Sarah, you are driving, and you turn left, then the car would hit on Dan side, is that right? No,

he blew past the stoplight and hit the driver side while we were turning left. That's how Oh, like a head on. Just about we were really far into the light. This is where my lack of remembering it happened. But He almost hit the driver side door he hit where the quarter panel and the door frame start to meet. Wow.

That's, that's terrible. So is there any chance that you guys, if you can get these health things under control? And you can and you can get the seizures stabilized or eliminated through this surgery? Is there an opportunity that you may be able to come back to this area?

The way I kind of look at it, I've been saying is like I get it. I'm not meant to go after the stream, I get it, it's kind of always comes back. Come came back to slap me in the face. So that's

what she says, I keep saying I'm gonna I'm gonna bring it back one of these days, maybe not soon. Yeah,

I'm just gonna be back. I'm just gonna accept that we're here. And we're trying to continue to move forward with just getting my health under control, I'd love to drive again, miss that. I would I would love to be able to stay by myself sometimes and go back to work. And another thing you know, I just related to the fact that you are in you know, legal situations, they they didn't have proper coverage on their kid who was driving to begin with. And so they you know, none of that was able to help us at all we had to fight all that on our end. And you know, obviously with your with your help. I can't I there's not a whole I can't I can't go even go to the grocery store by myself. I've definitely been struggling severely with depression. It's been it's been a lot of things were destroyed. Well, so

this is this is some of the things these are some of the things that I wanted to talk to you about. It's so the purpose of this whole But this podcast is, you know, every day somebody wakes up after something terrible, you know. And in the first, initially there are health care professionals and doctors and nurses and, and they're in and out, in and out, in and out. And at some point a person is alone with their thoughts and they're in there. And they have to recognize that this has happened to me and I have to deal with it. In your case, you have these dreams, you have these aspirations, you have this great life that you have built for yourselves. And then in the blink of an eye, something not your fault at all, somebody's just not paying attention, it changes. And so and so the purpose of this is to is to is to go into those hospital rooms with people who are in that situation, and try to give them some kind of, first of all, we want to give them a realistic picture of what they can expect, which is I think, what you've done so far, which is, it's hard. No, there's no way to sugarcoat, there's no way to put a bow on it. It's these are real problems that are difficult to overcome. And they may last, they may last a long time. So So let me ask you this. You mentioned depression, how do how does somebody in that situation? Okay, let me ask if you could go to somebody who was in that hospital room right now, after something tragic like, this has happened, their life has changed, their dream is interrupted, and they have these serious injuries. And this, you know, what do you say to somebody like

I would probably say that you have to, to lean on the people that will be there no matter what. Now, when you are in this situation, you find out that a lot of people say that they're willing to help, they may not actually come through, but there are the ones that will and those are the ones that you have to, I wouldn't say rely on but the ones that you definitely need in your corner at all times. And you'll never forget when they were there, and for all those times. And then obviously it helps a lot. When you have a Sarah, like, my Sarah, you know, probably, even though I didn't have as bad of the time with the car accident as she did still was not pleasant for myself, I probably would have had 1,000% worse time, if it was just me and I didn't have Sarah, if I was just by myself, relying on the support from your supporting cast is what's most important. I know that several probably feels the same way like without each other, like this whole scenario would be significantly worse, even though it is still pretty bad to this day. But I think together we managed it exceedingly well with all the randomness to everything that's happened since then.

I would agree we don't like like dancin, you know, the people closest to you. And that will really prove you know, who truly does care about you. And as, as well as like, you know, if you're married or in a relationship, you have to deal with, you know, some, you're not getting along, sometimes trying to deal with things that don't make any sense. You're in pain, all of that. And you're, you know, either destroyed like physically, or you're dealing with your spouse being that way, or, God forbid, we could have lost one another, but like dancing, the family, the family support, and the pets, you know, the pets support? I, I've been I've been having, you know, a pretty rough time with depression. For somebody if I was to walk into the room and you know, they're in a similar situation. I mean, I would definitely try, I would try to, like give kind of the, the black and white of what's going on very, very softly. But then kind of try to talk about, okay, what can we do to move forward? Like, we're both we're both destroyed in a lot of ways. But, you know, the moment I got home from the hospital, I was getting stuck at like, don't, don't stop and you have to get this stuff done as soon as you get it because, like with when it comes to bills, legal stuff, any of that stuff. Don't set it aside. You know, get yourself in a kind of an order of what needs done, have like a good calendar, have your support, because you cannot let anything get out of control. In regards to your life. Once you get back home. I know it's hard, but if you put through that hard work to make sure everything's stable, you'll be better off in the end. Yeah,

I think another way to say it would be not dwelling on it or not saying oh, how could this happen to me but it's accepting that it has happened like Yeah, it's happened, what do we do about it now, like, we can't just sit there and just allow it to compound and get, like, exponentially worse by doing nothing. You have to take control of the situation anyway you possibly can and put yourself in the driver's seat of all of it and try to navigate through it. And the other people that are were there with you are there to help you navigate through this situation, I think accepting the situation for what it is helped me a lot. I mean, just 24 hours after the horrendous accident, Sara's in the hospital in a coma and stuff like that. I had to do research. Immediately when I got home, even while I was concussed. I was calling people back home and Pittsburgh. Like, what, what should I do, and they're giving me all the advice I need. That's how I got in contact with speaks as well. I also had to go see the car because they had left things like my wallet, my ID, my shoes, I don't know why my shoes were off my glasses, I couldn't see it all. But instead of not wanting to see the car itself, in letting that bother me, as I'm sure it could do for some people. I just had to accept that that's what it was, this is where it was. And I'm sifting through the car, there's a glass, blood, I had to get those things I couldn't, I couldn't let it defeat me in that situation, I had to get those things that are very important because it allows me to do more things later on. So I had to, that's what I personally think is very important. It's just accepting the bad and pushing through it, no matter what.

And I think one other thing that I just wanted to say real quick, I think one other thing too is like, you know, you got to be careful about what you're putting your your values in, like, it's, it's hard when you're on either either side of it, you know, like, I would rather be in his position, my position than his, you know, and B could just because of, you have to try to handle, you know, have a handle on your emotions, I definitely recommend seeing therapy and stuff like that too, because that will help you Yes, that will help you get get everything together, you know, and move forward and try to help you with guidance as to what else you can do what help there is the Lord like medicines, natural health care, all that stuff. So

Well, so, so well, that brings me to another question. And, and that is, you know, sometimes adversity and sometimes stress can negatively impact the relationship that you have with the people that you care about the most. And what I'm what I mean is, I'm married 21 years. So you know, I have my wife is fantastic. You know, we have a great relationship. But like if, you know, we have kids and like if, you know, this morning, for example, we had a kid that was at a camp or whatever, it wasn't answering her phone, it was frustrated. And, you know, she was frustrated about that. And we kind of like we're short with each other and all this and, and then no extraneous things sometimes negatively impact that emotion that that relationship. One thing that I've always been impressed with about particularly, you know, from right from the very beginning, when Dan first contacted us that your relationship was always a very important component of this process. It was always a important you know, focal point, it was always a priority. It was always a source of strength. And I don't remember it ever being, you know, and that's something that you guys have have. So how do you protect your relationship with the people that you care about? How do you prioritize your relationship with the person you love? Even in the midst of really challenging circumstances?

I would say that that's probably been the easiest thing I mean, it's sir is my soulmate. There's there is no difficult I mean, yeah, the situation the stress the depression, we get on each other's nerves. We have our bad days, just like any married couple have will. But it never changes anything. It's always such a truly just a blessing to wake up another day and deal with the garbage situation that we're in, but we're in it together. That's probably the thing that for me, pushed me through all of it and continues to push me through it is there is no I'd rather deal with all this nonsense within my Sarah and that's, that's how I've always looked at it from day one. And I know she would do the same with me if the roles were reversed if I was the one who was in the hospital forever, like 22 days. I'm dealing with all the seizures and all the extra stuff since then I knew she would do the same thing for me. And I'm doing it for her now. So there is no toughness for me at all. The easiest part of it, honestly,

yeah, I would, I would agree when it comes to, when it comes to that I always say, you know, when when you get when you get married, that you have to decide, you know, they say, for rich, for better, for worse, whatever, you're signing a legal document. So, you know, you better be sure that you're ready to get through the rest of your life. And you got to understand that it's going to be, there's going to be rough times, like Dan said, you know, we, we get irritated with each other here and there. Like you kind of saying, like, that's your wife is, you know, like, short with each other that day. But yeah, that's been, that's been the easiest part. Because, you know, we've set ourselves up well, we know each other, there's been times where I have to pick up the pace in certain regard, not since the accident, really. But in our lives, where I've had to kind of pick up the pace a little bit more, because of what he's dealing with. And vice versa. And it's a way of, you know, it's gonna go back and forth. But you've made that commitment. And you got to know you know, you have to it helps when you have full trust and the other person, no question, you know, whatsoever, you can have that. And then with the rest of you know, the people that you love and care about, you have to recognize, you know, it's going to be tough for them as well for the situation. And you want them to be involved, and you have to prioritize, you know what you need from them and let them know, and also be able to kind of understand what they're dealing with as well seeing you in such a horrible situation, and, and then to just as a thought, when you're dealing with these things, too, it's also important to remember, you know, I am on a bunch of medications, it takes a little bit of time to find the right balance sometimes, like makes you more tired or irritable sometimes. So you have to keep that in your mind as well, when someone who you're very close with is having those issues.

Well, it sounds like that. Part of it is knowing when you know, and being cognizant of the fact that sometimes you're the person caring for the other person, and then sometimes you're the person receiving care, you know, and sometimes and you can't, you gotta it's a it's a give and take, can you tell me a little bit about, you know, how you guys met in the history of your relationship? Now, me too, so

go for a big talk or you got

to be good. So we were both working at Target. He was working in the back rooms, and I was, and I was working at the fitting room. And I had noticed he gradually was bringing over more clothes that I knew where he know, knew there where they went. And so I said, you know, hey, I'm trying to get my number and we share numbers, you know, and then we went, we went, you know, we went out, we dated for like, two years, we met when I think I was 19. And you were 21. And then and we lived, like one place with a friend of ours for about two years before we got married. You know, I was already sure. But Dan was like, you know, they always say to live with the person for a year or two, you know, to make sure and I was like, okay, then that's what we got to do then. So so we did that. And then we got married. We We got married in Pittsburgh yet a bowling alley. It's it's a bowling alley along the beach of the, of the river. So, so that's where that's where we were. And we have lived a couple of places since then. We've collected several animals from under dumpsters and other places. And both had, you know, some various jobs and dealing with my health issues over time. We've traveled some places. Um, what do you what do you think basically

summed up pretty well, I would say I would say that our wedding was also beach themed. It was

was yes, it was I made. I made all of our what's it called the time date all the bouquets and everything else out of seashells. So that'll tell you something that we've had and we've had good friends since then. Some some, you know, some family issues here and there. But we both Okay, well, this is a good exam. We both love music, specifically grunge music from the 90s Our favorite. We also love old western music. We both love like horror movies and animals. And you know going out here and there but it's It's important to, I think, to recognize the someone that you're meeting to have a relationship with, you definitely have to know like, Okay, are you more of the type of person that wants to go out? Or the type of person that wants to be in? Or are you like, a nice Are you a balanced because that can definitely like, for example, something I've learned from like living with different people, right now, you know, there's some people that like to go out all the time. And that's just not something that hair I would ever want. And then, but we and we both kind of like to be around the house go out, you know, here and there. And that's something important that you want to kind of have an idea of with your partner, you know, that you both, like kind of the similar similar household situation, whether you have animals or not, what types of foods you eat, all that type of stuff. And then just your lifestyles. That's very, very important. And before you get married or anything like that, where you're signing legal documents, you have to make sure that you know, no matter what you're 100% trusting one another, the trust is such a big thing, because we've lived with you know, some different people. There are different friends of ours who are men, you know, who come over and sleep with me, not with me about the house with me. I'll dance at work overnight. And there's and there's of course, you know, there's just no, you know, some relationships there would maybe be that like discomfort you have to make sure that there's none of that you know, 100% when you're with somebody especially if you're signing legal documents,

and then it's turned into the relationship our was there, sorry.

Well, just I think I think what we're gonna take a quick break and we're gonna come right back

Transcript

Welcome to the catastrophic comeback podcast with American Injury Lawyer Clark speaks, helping you find hope, purpose and joy after a catastrophic injury.

Hi, and welcome to another episode of catastrophic comeback. Today, I'm very happy to have Daniel and Sarah Willis to tell about their experiences. Good morning, guys. Thank you for joining us.

Thanks for having us.

Thank you.

So, can you tell me? You guys, Sarah, you are in an accident? Is that right?

Yes. Both of us were in an accident. I was driving that day. Okay,

well, so. So let me ask you this. What was going on your life before?

You know, before the accident, what was going on? What What were you doing? What was your life? Like? What was your day to day? What was your routine?

Well, I'm, at the time, I was actually already on disability at the time for some medical issues at the time already. And Dan was working at Target we were, we were moving, we actually moved to the beach where I'd always wanted to live. I had been working at a company up here that allowed me to work from home down there, which was what I wanted. And Dan was gonna go to school for plumbing. We were doing well, you know, financially, you know, we're doing okay, now. And we lived in nicest place that we've ever lived. I loved it there. We were at a really nice apartment, close to the coast, and we were able to visit frequently. I had, you know, a lot of independence. And I had, you know, I still had my position. And, you know, the pets were all doing well, they're still good today. But it was you know, it was a it was really nice environment. I had always wanted to live at the beach with my best friend and my pets. And we had had everything that I ever I ever wanted, that I was like getting treatment at the time and was gonna go back to work. Since the accident they have let me go. So I no longer have that.

What you said your position, what was your position? I

was doing a medical billing and collections. So um, you know, I was on the phones all day, and I took a risk and you know, said, Hey, I'm moving, can I stay with us and work from home. And they they allowed me to do that. And, you know, I was on FMLA and the disability. And they continued the FMLA after I got out of the hospital, but eventually, you know, ran out. So they had had to let me go. And I had scheduled that I wanted there. I really liked what I was doing. I loved being from home, you know working from home, I had a great schedule and friends there. And when we moved to North Carolina, Dan actually gave up a position a really good job he had fortunately, they took him back with us on arms when we moved back up because he's a great worker. He was at a company up here and he was doing really well and they really liked him. And he had given that up for us to move and we were still plugging along. You know, comfortably we were really happy and that I don't I don't remember the accident. Daniel does a little bit. But the car, you know was totally destroyed.

Can you tell me a little bit about the accident. So let's, let's so it sounds like everything was going great. Your lives were in a good place. You were enjoying being together. You were enjoying your pets. You had good positions. You had plans. You had dreams? And then what happened on the day of the accident? And can you tell us about that?

Yeah, it was in the afternoon, like two or three I believe. We decided to go to the beach because Sarah loves the beach more than almost anything else. Most of the time I drive but I know how much he likes driving. I was like, Okay, you can drive now. I know you do. And we had just left our apartment parking lot and got to the first streetlight so we're maybe a block away from our, our actual house. We're stopped at a red light. It's red. Everything's fine. It goes to green. Sarah looks both directions. proceeds to make a left hand turn. And I hear her make it like an audible yell and then I stop and I look and I see a Jeep coming at us and then I don't really remember a whole lot. Remember fleeting bits of information from that point on until I wake up in the hospital.

And I, yeah, I don't I don't remember anything about it. We were in our little Nissan Sentra, and it was a, it was a big Jeep driving a big jeep. And where he ran the red light, like several seconds after it, you know, other people were were stopped already. I did not see him he was on the second like there was a two lane road and he was on the other side of the cars that had stopped. So he wasn't paying any attention. I don't remember it. But I was I was he was in the hospital overnight. I was in the hospital for 22 days, I had a I was in a medically induced coma for three days. I had a traumatic brain injury, which is still affecting us today, which I can tell you about in a little bit. clavicle broken, which I have, you know, a scar from punctured my lung. I have some, you know, some scars there. And a punctured lung. And at the time, you know, I was already dealing with the recovery from my eating eating disorder issues that I had had. So all of this was together at a fractured vertebra. And my all my facial bones are smashed in, I had just had a corrective nasal surgery to correct to correct my very deviated septum just about a month before and, and then that was destroyed. I had broken jaw pieces, like facial pieces and my nose was smashed in. I just recently got it fixed again. But um, you know, there's only so much they can do when you only have so much left, that's there. Because there's a lot you missing. And the traumatic brain injury caused seizures, severe seizures. In a kid, he was going almost 50 miles an hour. So it was pretty bad. And it was basically a TiVo. So I so I still and I still have the seizures today. We had had me on Madison, you know, after I was there for the 22 days, and I continued to have seizures very traumatic, we've had take the intake videos, just because to send to insurance, you know, so they'll, they'll pay us and you know, I'm screaming, begging for help in the in the videos because my head, you know, hurts so bad. And I've continued to have seizures since then after adding different medicines. I basically among the top of all the medicines, they've done an external EEG, they can't find, you know, where the seizures are coming from. And now it's about you know, two and a half years later, going in for brain surgery in September, which may or may not solve the issue, they're going to go and do an internal E, G, and try to pinpoint where the seizures are coming from. And they may put a like a stimulator I refer to it kind of as like a defibrillator for the brain if I was to go seizure, or they would cut or burn a little chunk out if they can find that. But, you know, that's, it's a risky thing, of course, and that's coming up, they're gonna have to, you know, shave little chunks of my hair hair. And it's, it's a it's a lot. And so it's still you know, two and a half years later, we're still dealing with all of this and I'm scared about that. And we both still have pains, traumas, I see multiple therapists. And, you know, we had to, and we had to move back up here. It's been up here, PA Pittsburgh, PA. I always wanted to get out of here. Can't stand it can't stand the weather here. Can't stand the busyness loved it down there. I loved it. Like I said, since I've lost my job, he got his back, fortunately. And we had to we had to move back for care for me, basically, I have to have somebody around all the time, in case I have a seizure. Because they come out, you know, very randomly. And I've so so we moved back up here and a because we just couldn't you know, there wasn't help down there. And that was heartbreaking. And we moved up here and we moved to a place that we've since moved away from us very too expensive. And a friend of ours from North Carolina needed a place to stay she was getting kicked out of her apartment. So we you know, we were friends. We thought hey, let's do something where you come up, you know, we'll help you out. Stay with us for a little while and all you have to do You know is, is keep an eye make sure that I don't, you know, I don't have a seizure, they moved to a second house to save money so we can eventually buy a house because we're saving about $600 a month on rent right now. The house, that was an extreme ly traumatic situation because it's a friend of ours, parents house that they're renting out, and somebody had lived in it for like 40 years. They bought it and said, you know, they had renovated and cleaned it up. But basically, I think they had set themselves up for more than they could handle because of the this house was filthy. I I bawled and cried when we got here. And we spent about a month buying carpet cleaners, sweepers, cleaning, scrubbing all of this, right? You know, while we're both dealing with health situations, and our friend moved up that was going to stay with us, she didn't like her room and left and then we had to scramble to find care. And since then, it's kind of been a balance of like, our one friend, mayor who's one of our very best friends and she asked to drive across the city. We live in Apollo now. And then you got you know, my mom here and there, it's able to help. In the meantime, she lost her job and had to find another one. And then you've got, you know, my sister having to deal with all of this. And, and just all these people, you know, trying to balance all of this, along with all these other health situations. He had a shoulder surgery, I had a facial surgery, and then the brand surgery is coming up. So it's just a lot of different things. So

Dan, can you tell us about your injuries.

So I had a brain bleed. That's why they kept me overnight. I more or less had like cut scrapes, bruises. I had a concussion for like 10 or 15 days. The real thing that lingered on was it tore something in my shoulder, like the labrum is what I ended up figuring it out after I had my surgery. And nothing quite was done with that until over a year later. So I had to go back to work and made it significantly worse as it as I'm using it. And then I had the surgery in October thankfully and now my arms in a better position. But it took a little bit longer than I really wanted it to be. Other than that, I think I added the two of us were walked out of it pretty okay. I didn't suffer so much.

So and So what strikes me is that if you if Sarah, you are driving, and you turn left, then the car would hit on Dan side, is that right? No,

he blew past the stoplight and hit the driver side while we were turning left. That's how Oh, like a head on. Just about we were really far into the light. This is where my lack of remembering it happened. But He almost hit the driver side door he hit where the quarter panel and the door frame start to meet. Wow.

That's, that's terrible. So is there any chance that you guys, if you can get these health things under control? And you can and you can get the seizures stabilized or eliminated through this surgery? Is there an opportunity that you may be able to come back to this area?

The way I kind of look at it, I've been saying is like I get it. I'm not meant to go after the stream, I get it, it's kind of always comes back. Come came back to slap me in the face. So that's

what she says, I keep saying I'm gonna I'm gonna bring it back one of these days, maybe not soon. Yeah,

I'm just gonna be back. I'm just gonna accept that we're here. And we're trying to continue to move forward with just getting my health under control, I'd love to drive again, miss that. I would I would love to be able to stay by myself sometimes and go back to work. And another thing you know, I just related to the fact that you are in you know, legal situations, they they didn't have proper coverage on their kid who was driving to begin with. And so they you know, none of that was able to help us at all we had to fight all that on our end. And you know, obviously with your with your help. I can't I there's not a whole I can't I can't go even go to the grocery store by myself. I've definitely been struggling severely with depression. It's been it's been a lot of things were destroyed. Well, so

this is this is some of the things these are some of the things that I wanted to talk to you about. It's so the purpose of this whole But this podcast is, you know, every day somebody wakes up after something terrible, you know. And in the first, initially there are health care professionals and doctors and nurses and, and they're in and out, in and out, in and out. And at some point a person is alone with their thoughts and they're in there. And they have to recognize that this has happened to me and I have to deal with it. In your case, you have these dreams, you have these aspirations, you have this great life that you have built for yourselves. And then in the blink of an eye, something not your fault at all, somebody's just not paying attention, it changes. And so and so the purpose of this is to is to is to go into those hospital rooms with people who are in that situation, and try to give them some kind of, first of all, we want to give them a realistic picture of what they can expect, which is I think, what you've done so far, which is, it's hard. No, there's no way to sugarcoat, there's no way to put a bow on it. It's these are real problems that are difficult to overcome. And they may last, they may last a long time. So So let me ask you this. You mentioned depression, how do how does somebody in that situation? Okay, let me ask if you could go to somebody who was in that hospital room right now, after something tragic like, this has happened, their life has changed, their dream is interrupted, and they have these serious injuries. And this, you know, what do you say to somebody like

I would probably say that you have to, to lean on the people that will be there no matter what. Now, when you are in this situation, you find out that a lot of people say that they're willing to help, they may not actually come through, but there are the ones that will and those are the ones that you have to, I wouldn't say rely on but the ones that you definitely need in your corner at all times. And you'll never forget when they were there, and for all those times. And then obviously it helps a lot. When you have a Sarah, like, my Sarah, you know, probably, even though I didn't have as bad of the time with the car accident as she did still was not pleasant for myself, I probably would have had 1,000% worse time, if it was just me and I didn't have Sarah, if I was just by myself, relying on the support from your supporting cast is what's most important. I know that several probably feels the same way like without each other, like this whole scenario would be significantly worse, even though it is still pretty bad to this day. But I think together we managed it exceedingly well with all the randomness to everything that's happened since then.

I would agree we don't like like dancin, you know, the people closest to you. And that will really prove you know, who truly does care about you. And as, as well as like, you know, if you're married or in a relationship, you have to deal with, you know, some, you're not getting along, sometimes trying to deal with things that don't make any sense. You're in pain, all of that. And you're, you know, either destroyed like physically, or you're dealing with your spouse being that way, or, God forbid, we could have lost one another, but like dancing, the family, the family support, and the pets, you know, the pets support? I, I've been I've been having, you know, a pretty rough time with depression. For somebody if I was to walk into the room and you know, they're in a similar situation. I mean, I would definitely try, I would try to, like give kind of the, the black and white of what's going on very, very softly. But then kind of try to talk about, okay, what can we do to move forward? Like, we're both we're both destroyed in a lot of ways. But, you know, the moment I got home from the hospital, I was getting stuck at like, don't, don't stop and you have to get this stuff done as soon as you get it because, like with when it comes to bills, legal stuff, any of that stuff. Don't set it aside. You know, get yourself in a kind of an order of what needs done, have like a good calendar, have your support, because you cannot let anything get out of control. In regards to your life. Once you get back home. I know it's hard, but if you put through that hard work to make sure everything's stable, you'll be better off in the end. Yeah,

I think another way to say it would be not dwelling on it or not saying oh, how could this happen to me but it's accepting that it has happened like Yeah, it's happened, what do we do about it now, like, we can't just sit there and just allow it to compound and get, like, exponentially worse by doing nothing. You have to take control of the situation anyway you possibly can and put yourself in the driver's seat of all of it and try to navigate through it. And the other people that are were there with you are there to help you navigate through this situation, I think accepting the situation for what it is helped me a lot. I mean, just 24 hours after the horrendous accident, Sara's in the hospital in a coma and stuff like that. I had to do research. Immediately when I got home, even while I was concussed. I was calling people back home and Pittsburgh. Like, what, what should I do, and they're giving me all the advice I need. That's how I got in contact with speaks as well. I also had to go see the car because they had left things like my wallet, my ID, my shoes, I don't know why my shoes were off my glasses, I couldn't see it all. But instead of not wanting to see the car itself, in letting that bother me, as I'm sure it could do for some people. I just had to accept that that's what it was, this is where it was. And I'm sifting through the car, there's a glass, blood, I had to get those things I couldn't, I couldn't let it defeat me in that situation, I had to get those things that are very important because it allows me to do more things later on. So I had to, that's what I personally think is very important. It's just accepting the bad and pushing through it, no matter what.

And I think one other thing that I just wanted to say real quick, I think one other thing too is like, you know, you got to be careful about what you're putting your your values in, like, it's, it's hard when you're on either either side of it, you know, like, I would rather be in his position, my position than his, you know, and B could just because of, you have to try to handle, you know, have a handle on your emotions, I definitely recommend seeing therapy and stuff like that too, because that will help you Yes, that will help you get get everything together, you know, and move forward and try to help you with guidance as to what else you can do what help there is the Lord like medicines, natural health care, all that stuff. So

Well, so, so well, that brings me to another question. And, and that is, you know, sometimes adversity and sometimes stress can negatively impact the relationship that you have with the people that you care about the most. And what I'm what I mean is, I'm married 21 years. So you know, I have my wife is fantastic. You know, we have a great relationship. But like if, you know, we have kids and like if, you know, this morning, for example, we had a kid that was at a camp or whatever, it wasn't answering her phone, it was frustrated. And, you know, she was frustrated about that. And we kind of like we're short with each other and all this and, and then no extraneous things sometimes negatively impact that emotion that that relationship. One thing that I've always been impressed with about particularly, you know, from right from the very beginning, when Dan first contacted us that your relationship was always a very important component of this process. It was always a important you know, focal point, it was always a priority. It was always a source of strength. And I don't remember it ever being, you know, and that's something that you guys have have. So how do you protect your relationship with the people that you care about? How do you prioritize your relationship with the person you love? Even in the midst of really challenging circumstances?

I would say that that's probably been the easiest thing I mean, it's sir is my soulmate. There's there is no difficult I mean, yeah, the situation the stress the depression, we get on each other's nerves. We have our bad days, just like any married couple have will. But it never changes anything. It's always such a truly just a blessing to wake up another day and deal with the garbage situation that we're in, but we're in it together. That's probably the thing that for me, pushed me through all of it and continues to push me through it is there is no I'd rather deal with all this nonsense within my Sarah and that's, that's how I've always looked at it from day one. And I know she would do the same with me if the roles were reversed if I was the one who was in the hospital forever, like 22 days. I'm dealing with all the seizures and all the extra stuff since then I knew she would do the same thing for me. And I'm doing it for her now. So there is no toughness for me at all. The easiest part of it, honestly,

yeah, I would, I would agree when it comes to, when it comes to that I always say, you know, when when you get when you get married, that you have to decide, you know, they say, for rich, for better, for worse, whatever, you're signing a legal document. So, you know, you better be sure that you're ready to get through the rest of your life. And you got to understand that it's going to be, there's going to be rough times, like Dan said, you know, we, we get irritated with each other here and there. Like you kind of saying, like, that's your wife is, you know, like, short with each other that day. But yeah, that's been, that's been the easiest part. Because, you know, we've set ourselves up well, we know each other, there's been times where I have to pick up the pace in certain regard, not since the accident, really. But in our lives, where I've had to kind of pick up the pace a little bit more, because of what he's dealing with. And vice versa. And it's a way of, you know, it's gonna go back and forth. But you've made that commitment. And you got to know you know, you have to it helps when you have full trust and the other person, no question, you know, whatsoever, you can have that. And then with the rest of you know, the people that you love and care about, you have to recognize, you know, it's going to be tough for them as well for the situation. And you want them to be involved, and you have to prioritize, you know what you need from them and let them know, and also be able to kind of understand what they're dealing with as well seeing you in such a horrible situation, and, and then to just as a thought, when you're dealing with these things, too, it's also important to remember, you know, I am on a bunch of medications, it takes a little bit of time to find the right balance sometimes, like makes you more tired or irritable sometimes. So you have to keep that in your mind as well, when someone who you're very close with is having those issues.

Well, it sounds like that. Part of it is knowing when you know, and being cognizant of the fact that sometimes you're the person caring for the other person, and then sometimes you're the person receiving care, you know, and sometimes and you can't, you gotta it's a it's a give and take, can you tell me a little bit about, you know, how you guys met in the history of your relationship? Now, me too, so

go for a big talk or you got

to be good. So we were both working at Target. He was working in the back rooms, and I was, and I was working at the fitting room. And I had noticed he gradually was bringing over more clothes that I knew where he know, knew there where they went. And so I said, you know, hey, I'm trying to get my number and we share numbers, you know, and then we went, we went, you know, we went out, we dated for like, two years, we met when I think I was 19. And you were 21. And then and we lived, like one place with a friend of ours for about two years before we got married. You know, I was already sure. But Dan was like, you know, they always say to live with the person for a year or two, you know, to make sure and I was like, okay, then that's what we got to do then. So so we did that. And then we got married. We We got married in Pittsburgh yet a bowling alley. It's it's a bowling alley along the beach of the, of the river. So, so that's where that's where we were. And we have lived a couple of places since then. We've collected several animals from under dumpsters and other places. And both had, you know, some various jobs and dealing with my health issues over time. We've traveled some places. Um, what do you what do you think basically

summed up pretty well, I would say I would say that our wedding was also beach themed. It was

was yes, it was I made. I made all of our what's it called the time date all the bouquets and everything else out of seashells. So that'll tell you something that we've had and we've had good friends since then. Some some, you know, some family issues here and there. But we both Okay, well, this is a good exam. We both love music, specifically grunge music from the 90s Our favorite. We also love old western music. We both love like horror movies and animals. And you know going out here and there but it's It's important to, I think, to recognize the someone that you're meeting to have a relationship with, you definitely have to know like, Okay, are you more of the type of person that wants to go out? Or the type of person that wants to be in? Or are you like, a nice Are you a balanced because that can definitely like, for example, something I've learned from like living with different people, right now, you know, there's some people that like to go out all the time. And that's just not something that hair I would ever want. And then, but we and we both kind of like to be around the house go out, you know, here and there. And that's something important that you want to kind of have an idea of with your partner, you know, that you both, like kind of the similar similar household situation, whether you have animals or not, what types of foods you eat, all that type of stuff. And then just your lifestyles. That's very, very important. And before you get married or anything like that, where you're signing legal documents, you have to make sure that you know, no matter what you're 100% trusting one another, the trust is such a big thing, because we've lived with you know, some different people. There are different friends of ours who are men, you know, who come over and sleep with me, not with me about the house with me. I'll dance at work overnight. And there's and there's of course, you know, there's just no, you know, some relationships there would maybe be that like discomfort you have to make sure that there's none of that you know, 100% when you're with somebody especially if you're signing legal documents,

and then it's turned into the relationship our was there, sorry.

Well, just I think I think what we're gonna take a quick break and we're gonna come right back

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