Dear Dr. Archer,
My husband, "R" and I had been married for 25 years, with a son who was training to be a police officer. R and I had been self employed since we were 18. We had a pizza shop in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. Life was great and we had it all. On March 31, 2001 we renewed our wedding vows.
On September 14, 2001, we were closing the Pennsylvania store and then headed out to the Ohio shop to bring supplies. It was raining badly, foggy and we were 30 minutes from the shop when out of nowhere this heavy force hits us. It sounded like a bomb.
We looked out the window and saw nothing at first. It was only three days after 911, and the next thing I remember was pulling my legs from under the dash and putting them on R's lap. He said every time I took a breath my leg would bleed very badly, so he applied pressure.
I remembered the E-Squad arriving, but by that time R had already gone to the hospital. They had to wait to get the jaws to cut me out of the SUV. They took both of us to the nearest hospital, but I had to go to the Pennsylvania trauma unit, and I was given The Last Rites.
My family came to where I was, since I had the most severe injuries. Doctors were running around crazy, asking questions, saying I have a collapsed lung and ordering so many tests. They sewed up open wounds and casted both legs and mercifully I ended up in my room.
At 8:00 a.m. the phone rings, and since my parents and sisters are in the room someone else answered the phone. It was the newspaper, and they wanted to know if I wanted to release any information on Mr. G'S death? I began crying and screaming that I killed someone! Oh, my God, that is one of God's commandments!
Finally, my son came in, and after talking to the highway patrolmen, and I found out MR. G was drunk. Two 911 calls had been placed prior to the accident, regarding him driving east in a west bound lane. The highway patrolmen were on the way to pull him over when he hit me.
They estimated the speed at 140 mph combined; we were also hit from behind, as it turned out to be a four car pileup. This happened at midnight, and Mr. G did not have his lights on. After 15 painful days, I was transferred to rehab.
The pain was out of this world but I was excited as I thought they were going to cut the casts off and this nightmare would be over. WRONG! My doctor came in and blurted that my injuries would heal in time, but that I'd never walk again.
All I could do was look up at him from my wheelchair and cry. The doctor was so cold. He told me I had a crushed calcaneus, and it's a never walk again injury. He took the cast off both legs, re-bandaged and sent me home, non-weight bearing.
I was home one week and the pain was so intense! The next week I called again, and he told me to come in and see the resident on duty. I went, and he said I was paranoid. But I was running a fever and had chills, with incredible pain so bad I banged my head off the walls.
The resident had made a mistake, he admitted. I had staph aureus, and required 15 surgeries to treat it; I was ordered to two nursing homes with hyperbaric chambers, but I had to stop because of seizures.
I had developed RSDS and had a stimulator implanted for pain control. I developed pneumonia and my family was told I'd be lucky to last 14 hours, as they placed me in a drug induced coma for 21 days, then rehab.
I had already made up my mind to amputate the leg, otherwise it would kill me. I had the operation on January 17, 2010 and I thought things would get better, but that was just with the health issues. The drunk driver had no insurance. We had full coverage, but I did not have uninsured motorist, and our savings have been wiped out.
We may possibly have good news. In 2003 our attorney filed under Bureau of Workers’ Compensation of Ohio, since we were transferring supplies from one store to the other, so we were still working. We went to the first meeting, and unbelievably R was approved, while I was denied. R only had bruises!
The verdict eventually went in my favor, and I thought finally I could get some closure, but WC was not done with me, yet. Another hearing, and they drilled me over and over, hoping to trip me up. I tried suicide three times because of WC. They have outright lied about me, but each time I've proved them wrong and why.
If I had lied like they did, I would be committing FRAUD. That's wrong! What more can they do to me? Now they say there is a two year period that they will pay for back wages because we didn't file for back wages until 2010. That's true, but that's because we couldn't file until I was approved. It took 9 years of pure hell, and it's still haunting me.
What's wrong with me? Why can't I let this go and be happy? I stay away from people and get out only to go to church. Everyone says I'm an inspiration, but I'm not. Inside I'm dying, and I can't tell anyone.
I smile, and I have four grandchildren and my son and my ex (we divorced), and we all still love each other very much. However, no one knows the burden I carry, and the pain I live with every day. Please help.
Your story is an amazing one. You are an inspiration, a survivor and an example of never giving. You could have died, and so now you must shift your attitude from "how can they do that to me and get away with it" to making each and every day count.
No more looking back and saying why me Benita, it’s time to move on.
First see a psychiatrist and get evaluated for depression. After all you’ve described I’d be surprised if you are not depressed. Treatment is crucial and will help tremendously.
Next, understand that there is a reason you survived! Do not dwell on the negative, because there are so many positives that want your attention.
Enjoy your family -- you have beautiful grandchildren that love their grandma. So many times when one finds out they have only a short time left to live, they think if only they could live their life over, how many things they would do differently.
Oh, the things they would change! You, dear Benita, have been given a second chance at life. You had it wonderful before; you can have it wonderful again, just in a different way!
I know you have pain and life is a burden, but we all have it difficult in our own way. Be an example to others. Embrace that you are an inspiration to others, and no matter what you will survive. You represent the will to persevere to all that know you.
Be thankful for the beauty of each and every day. You are not a sign of weakness, but rather a source of strength. As Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears said, "I don't care to be remembered as the man who scored six touchdowns in a game. I want to be remembered as a winner in life."
You are a winner, Benita. A shining example of the power of the human spirit. Take care of yourself and enjoy life to the fullest. The rest will take care of itself. I wish you nothing but the best along with peace and love.