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A Scooter Crash Story

Summary: A scooter crash story from a mother who is thankful that her daughter survived.

The accident happened on Sunday, August 31st, 2003, a normal day by any measure other than the fact that it just happened to be my 35th birthday. One moment Taylor was riding her electric scooter around the circle in front of our home awaiting the arrival of a friend to go swimming and hang out with. Twenty minutes later, she and I are in the emergency room where she is lying on a hospital bed having completely lost her sight, her hearing in one ear, her ability to speak coherently or even put two understandable words together and her ability to keep even the slightest amount of food down; she had no idea who she was, no idea who I was, nor any comprehension of what had happened and was happening to her, and she was combative, almost violent as a result. The initial diagnosis: Massive head trauma with visible bleeding behind the eardrum with the distinct possibility of permanent brain damage, or worse. My heart went through the floor as I sat beside her awaiting the arrival of the CT scan technician and I came to the realization that I might lose my daughter Taylor, my only child and the most precious person in my entire world, and that even if she did survive, she might never be "Taylor" again. She just this past summer had begun thinking about her future and setting her sights on what she would like to be when she grows up. Now in a matter of an instant, all thoughts of a long away, distant future were gone; now I was praying for her to just live.

By nothing short of a true miracle and God's complete Grace, Taylor not only did survive, but in merely a week, she has returned to nearly her pre-accident state of health and is once again "Taylor". My worst fears and the fears of all the healthcare providers who so vigilantly attended to her have not been realized, and with each passing day, the chance of any permanent damage becomes even more remote.

So you may be asking yourselves now: Why is she writing this letter to me? I write this letter for two reasons. First of all, I would like to thank each and every one of you and your children from the bottom of my heart for the endless prayers, concern and support you have shown both Taylor and me throughout this past week. The immediateness and depth of response to her injury were overwhelming and a blessing beyond words, and it is something we will never forget all the days of our lives. It is only with your vigilant prayers and displays of love and caring that she has made it through this terrible ordeal and has returned to nearly full health, and I firmly believe your continued prayers and support will bring her health back full circle to before the accident, if not even better.

The second reason I am writing this letter is that while you have been so generous with your time, love and prayers, I ask yet one more thing of each one of you as parents. I am writing this in the hopes that out of Taylor's frightening experience will come good, that through her pain and suffering we will be able to spare others the same fate or, perhaps, an even worse one. When I purchased the scooter and gave it to Taylor, she was given the keys along with a brand new helmet. Initially she wore the helmet, but the hot sun quickly made her uncomfortable and overheated, and the helmet soon came off. And while I fussed and threatened as most parents do, I did not insist. After all, she appeared to be riding it skillfully with safety very much on her mind, stop at all stop signs, slow down if not stop at all intersections even when she had the right-of-way, watch out for cars, both parked and moving, always yield to anyone else, be it a vehicle, bicyclist or pedestrian. She was meticulous about following the rules, all except one, which proved to be the most important one of all. And, yes, I fully acknowledged that skinned knees and elbows were most likely inevitable at some point, but a fractured skull with the possibility of permanent brain damage or death never, ever, ever even crossed my mind.

Nearly every day as part of my job, I type up stories of accidents, accidents that happen to innocent, well-meaning adults and children. I am well aware of how devastating the results can be by not heeding the warnings given on nearly every type of equipment, vehicle and toy out there, yet even I failed to follow them. PLEASE do not make the same mistake I made! I concede that you as parents have a much tougher road to travel in getting your children to wear their helmets than I have at this point because I can assure you that the thought of getting back on her scooter or riding her bike or skating on her roller blades without a helmet from this point on will never even cross Taylor's mind. But I ask that, please, no matter how much your child may resist, do not allow him or her to ride for even one short moment, one quick trip without a helmet for it may be that one ride, those brief few seconds that can change his or her life, and yours, forever. Please use Taylor's example to explain to them why it is so important. Please tell them how we never, ever believed it could happen to her any more than they believe it can happen to them. When they tell you it pinches them, when they tell you it makes them hot, when they tell you it's not "cool", please tell them Taylor's story. Please tell them how the discomfort of wearing a helmet and getting hot in the sun can never compare to the complete agony of total blindness, deafness, pain worse than a thousand headaches that even the strongest medicine can't take away, the room spinning uncontrollably every time you close your eyes, and being unable to keep anything in your stomach for nearly four days. And please tell them that while a helmet may not seem cool to them, a hospital gown and needles and IVs and throwing up for four days straight are about as "uncool" as it gets, and Taylor will be the first person to tell you that now. The words "stupid helmet" will never come out of her mouth again.

And I also encourage you as adults, anyone who will be participating in scooter riding, bike riding, roller blading, skating or the like, to purchase a helmet for yourself as well. Our bones become more fragile as we grow older, and our children need us to be around for them as much as we want them to be around with us. I have never owned a helmet in my life, but I can tell you that I have already purchased one and will never step foot on my bike or roller blades or her scooter again without wearing it. And for those I have heard complain about the expense of buying a helmet, I can assure you, the $20 or so it costs to purchase a helmet does not scratch the surface of the medical bills I am facing even with insurance as a result of her accident. And as far as the emotional cost to us, well, there is no comparison.

I can assure you that for as long as I live and beyond, I will never forget those first terrifying moments finding my daughter unable to speak, blind and deaf, and not knowing who she or I was. I will never forget having to help pin her down along with four other medical personnel in the emergency room just to get the shunt placed in her so she could be sedated and kept from hurting others or herself even further. I will never forget the moments that seemed like hours waiting for the CT scan to be performed to give me the initial diagnosis. I will never forget whispering over and over in my daughter's ear as she lay there on the hospital bed, "Please don't leave me, Mommy loves you, Mommy needs you, please come back to me." And I will never forget the agonizing guilt I felt and my endless prayers, asking God to please not let Taylor suffer permanently as a result of my ignorance.

So for all you have done and all that I have to be grateful to you for, I ask of you one last thing: I ask that you take what has happened to Taylor and learn from it as we have. Let it strengthen your faith in God as Taylor's recovery truly is an example of a miracle on earth, and I ask that you, please, do not ever let yourself or your child believe or act as if it can't happen to them, because that's how we acted, and it did...