Ready or Not

By Teresa Taylor
I was ready.  As a teenager, I was ready for the future, for some freedom and for fun with my friends, the only people who really understood me. It was the beginning of Spring Break, and also Saint Patrick’s Day.  We were ready to celebrate with plenty of alcohol and a Volvo station wagon big enough for the group of us. 
I was not ready when my boyfriend lost control of that station wagon at highway speed, and it rolled down an embankment, ejecting all of us. When I finally regained consciousness, the severe pain from my injuries was overwhelming.  I felt so confused…I was alone in a large hospital room, I had tubes coming from all over my body and my hands were tied down. Where were my family and friends?  Terrified, miserable, and alone, I was not ready for this. Silently, I cried until I fell into another drug induced sleep.
Later, I learned that my arms had been restrained so that I wouldn’t pull at the breathing or feeding tubes coming from my mouth, the tube draining my chest cavity, or the many intravenous lines in my arms and neck, or the urethral catheter draining my bladder.  Since I was in the Intensive Care Unit, my family was only allowed to visit during specified times. 
The following days and weeks are a blur as the medical team fought to keep me alive. Pain marked the only memories that I have of that time. The physical pain was much more than I could have ever imagined, but the pain and concern I saw on the faces of my family and friends is haunting as well.  I felt so guilty; my poor choices had caused all of this pain. 
Fortunately, thanks to excellent care, I began to recover. I couldn’t even roll or scoot in bed without assistance and severe pain. I had been so eager for freedom and fun; but here I was living in complete dependence. I can tell you that several weeks of using a bedpan is no teenager’s idea of fun. 
After surgeries and weeks on bedrest, I required months of physical therapy to regain the ability to walk independently.  I yearned for my previous life.  I was isolated from my friends as I was too weak and in too much pain to spend much time with them.  The next year, I was finally able to return to school and to a more normal life, though I still had years of pain and surgeries ahead of me.
I still think often about how fortunate we are that none of us died as a result of that completely preventable crash; so many similar situations end tragically. My plea to you is this: never get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking, and never ride with someone who has been drinking.  It is simply too risky. Always be ready for the unexpected and buckle up!

Teresa Taylor is the Trauma Prevention Coordinator/Outreach Educator at Stormont-Vail HealthCare



  1. No one ever expects the bad stuff will happen to them, but your story illustrates the fallacy of that thinking. Thanks for sharing and I'm so glad everyone in your group survived.

  2. This major event sounds like a terrible nightmare but I'm glad all survived and that you can tell the story now -- with much wiser insight. I'm guessing that your job title at Stormont-Vale has something to do with this bad day and the recovery that was necessary. I hope you efforts are keeping others from putting themselves in similar situations. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Wow, Teresa, I've learned something new about you - it's no wonder you are now so passionate about keeping others safe on the roadways! Thanks for sharing your story - and for making the decision to turn your life around to be able to prevent others from experiencing what you did!

  4. My beautiful sister. I love you, appreciate you, and I'm proud of you!

  5. Andrea Bruns1/30/2016

    I know I was greatly affected by your accident when it happened. It's so awesome how you have chosen to use your horrible experience to help others make better choices. Looks like you are a perfect fit for your job. Thanks so much for sharing Teresa!