How one motor vehicle crash survivor decided to help others
Join us in welcoming Dawne McKay as she shares her inspiring story from a traumatic car accident to helping others. Learn all about her support group and how she copes day to day. Thanks for contributing to Enjuris, Dawne! Take it away...
One week prior to my crash, I was on vacation in Florida with my boyfriend and I was suddenly jolted awake in the middle of the night with a terrible feeling that something awful had happened to someone close to me.
It was a feeling that I had never experienced before, and I thought I was going to get a call that someone had passed unexpectedly. I carried this feeling with me for days, and I just couldn't seem to shake this unsettling, anxious feeling, no matter how hard I tried.
One week – to the day – I was involved in a horrific car crash.
I was on my way to work, stopped to make a left-hand turn when I was rear-ended by an SUV that clocked in at 80 km/h and pushed me into the path of a transport truck.
My life as I knew it suddenly changed in a matter of seconds.
And then reality hit me
I was taken to a local hospital, but my injuries were so severe that they had to transport me to a trauma center. When I arrived in the trauma unit I remember being greeted by the chaplain, as I was truly lucky to be alive. I suffered multiple injuries, including a head injury and a horrendous seatbelt wound on my thigh.
I only spent three days in the trauma unit, as they decided to discharge me even though I couldn't walk. I think back to that morning – about how I was actually excited to be leaving the hospital, how I couldn't wait to have a shower, wash my hair and put my pajamas on.
I didn't realize that I would be absolutely terrified to get into another vehicle, how bad the pain would be once the morphine had worn off.
I realized that I could not walk and I was in excruciating pain.
After the accident – looking for support
Daily nursing, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, personal support workers and numerous medical follow-up appointments had now become my new way of life – not to mention financial strain, flashbacks, sleepless nights, constant pain, the “what if’s” and anxiety.
I had a job that I loved, and my social life and friendships as I once knew them came to a screeching halt.
Friends who I thought would be there weren’t there, and I suddenly found myself realizing who my real friends were.
As I had never been in a motor vehicle collision like this, it was a huge learning curve and recovery for me. My crash happened in 2012, and I still continue to attend outpatient rehabilitation.
I am still trying my best to cope with the chronic pain, sleepless nights and flashbacks.
Today and every day I try my best to be as positive as I can.
Creating the support group I couldn’t find
In 2016, I decided to create a Facebook support group for Motor Vehicle Crash Survivors.
I took it upon myself to not only build the support I was seeking, but to spread it out to others who were in similar situations.
There are over 1,000 members; a lot of them are either recovering from their motor vehicle crash or just starting to go through the process.
Knowing you are not alone is the main thing, and bringing people together and finding support in one another is very therapeutic.
I find that once survivors are discharged from the hospital, they really don’t have anywhere to reach out to other victims.
The group is strictly to provide members with emotional support while they recover physically, financially and legally. No medical or legal advice is allowed in the group.
As membership grew within our online support group, I noticed a further need for continuous support and founded a quarterly newsletter entitled “Sharing our Recovery,” which quickly evolved into a Crash Survivor Blog. I also self-published a book—“Talk Crash to Me - What to Expect After Surviving a Collision and How to Manage Your Recovery”—which is available for purchase on Amazon.
Feeling grateful – a look in the rearview mirror
As I look in my rearview mirror to that awful morning, I see fear that has turned into courage, I see helplessness that has turned into independence, and I see weakness that has turned into strength.
I see medical and legal professionals, once strangers, who have turned into new friendships that will be in my life for many years to come.
I see a kind and patient man that has been my rock and has been by my side every step of the way.
I see how an overwhelmed, struggling person seeking a support group where none existed was able to create an online medium that made support available to other survivors.
I will continue to advocate and bring awareness to my group, as no one should ever have to feel alone after such a life-changing event.
For more information on the Crash Support Network, please visit www.crashsupportnetwork.com.