Expecting the Unexpected
On July 15, 2016, Trisha Pierce was involved in a car crash that would leave her with 4 spinal fractures, a fractured sternum, 2 fractured ribs, and a lacerated spleen. Like many patients who sustain these types of traumatic injuries, Trisha doesn’t remember much from the night of the accident or the days spent in the hospital afterward.
“I woke up on the stretcher at Forrest General Hospital in the ER. I don’t remember anything in the ER. I remember waking up, I guess, in ICU, and I didn’t know I was there so long, but I was there for three nights. The total time in the hospital was a week. My mom has told me more about the experience and fills in what I don’t remember,” Trisha explained.
A paramedic called Trisha’s mother, Terri Pierce, from the scene around 9 p.m.
“The paramedic put Trisha on the phone because she was panicking. She was having trouble breathing because she had a fractured sternum; we found that out later. I was trying to calm her down. I said, ‘They’re taking you to Forrest General. You’re going to be ok’,” said Terri.
Because of the fractures in Trisha’s spine, physicians and medical personnel were concerned about paralysis. According to Terri, Trisha was immediately taken to get x-rays, and once her doctors had a better idea of her injuries, Trisha was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU).
“They determined that she was not going to need surgery immediately. He stressed that the seatbelt saved her life. Had she not been wearing one, she would have gone through the window. She would have definitely been paralyzed, if not killed. She went to ICU where she spent three nights, and then transferred to the unit,” said Terri.
Trisha would spend a total of seven days in the hospital. Her fractures were stable, and doctors fitted her with a back brace to wear for the next 4 months. However, Trisha still had a lot of heavy lifting left to do in terms of conquering her fear.
“I just remember being scared to move from the bed. I was afraid to get in the car. I was scared we would hit a bump. Whenever I got home, I just stayed on a chair for a while. I was just scared to do anything even with my back brace on. I think it helped me in the hospital that all the trauma doctors were amazing. I had so many questions for them. I was scared to get out of bed wrong or get up wrong or do anything. They just helped me through it,” Trisha said.
Trisha says her life is different today than before the accident, but in spite of a few new aches and pains, she’s been able to continue with many of the same activities.
“So life now is different. I used to work out a lot, and I can’t really do that now. I have back and ankle problems, but I’m very blessed. I’m not paralyzed. My doctor told me I was a centimeter away from being paralyzed. Now, I’m just happy to be here. I hang out with my friends like I always did, and I’m glad I get to see them, again. Being around family and friends really helped me. I just hang out like normal now thanks to everybody at Forrest General who took care of me. Especially my mom,” Trisha said.