Friday, June 26, 2009


The doctor, who delivered me, said I had the worst temper of any child he had ever brought into this world. All I can say is thank God for that. My name is Susan. I was born in Miami on June 6th, 1964.

I am the middle child of three sisters. I enjoy having a good time and have always had a good sense of humor. I am a supreme optimist.

I lived in Miami until I was nine years old. We then moved to Chicago where we remained until I was eighteen. There I made many dear life long friends. I got into the normal amount of trouble that every average American teenager gets into: staying out past curfew, grades not good enough for the parents, ditching classes, etc.. I was never a bad kid except when I got caught. Like the time I egged our pastor’s house.

When I was eighteen I graduated from high school. My parents moved back to Miami and I was more than ready to begin a new chapter of my life. I decided that I would accomplish this by attending a University. My aunt told me that I should come to Oklahoma and look at the college where she taught classes. I did and found the people to be very nice. Fortunately or unfortunately they accepted me at St. Valentine's Day University.

I became very involved in school and was in student government, Freshman Follies (a talent show) and a lip sync contest. I have always loved being around people and always will.

I asked my college roommate, Samantha, to describe me. She said, “Everyone knew Sue. She was a friend with everybody from bible beaters to rebellious troublemakers. She had no enemies. She was a dorm counselor for anyone and everyone who needed an ear but she never poured out her own problems. Most of the time she was in an up mood and usually cracked jokes and laughed. She loved music. The radio was almost always turned up. She didn’t really like to go to class and would rather be out having fun talking to friends. She was not serious very often.”

None of these things mattered on September 18, 1983. On this day, without my consent without my knowledge and with an impact so sudden that I had no time to make any preparation, Frank N. Stein drastically and forever changed my life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chapter 1

I don’t have any recollection as to what happened September eighteenth but Samantha was there and remembers the incident so I will let her describe what happened on that horrible night.

“Ryan and Keith picked us up at our dorm room and took us to a nightclub. We waited there for Jim, a friend of mine to arrive. We stayed there for approximately two hours. Afterwards we went back to Jim’s dorm to listen to records and sit outside on the swings. This took about half an hour. We were supposed to be taken home by Ryan and Keith, Jim’s friends. But Ryan’s car was out of gas. We then had to ask Jim if he would drive us home. Jim drove and Ryan decided to come along for the ride. Going down the highway Sue fell asleep and the rest of were just talking and listening to the radio. Then I saw headlights in front of us and screamed out, “OH MY…” and we were hit. I felt the car seat crash into my legs.”

We were in the eastbound lane and Frank N. Stein after having one too many drinks was in the eastbound lane going in the wrong direction. We were hit head on with each car traveling at speeds over 60 MPH. Samantha later told me, “I remember screaming for help. I saw no one else in the car. I told the paramedics. You have to get my friend out. They found Sue crumpled underneath the dashboard and thought she was dead. Then they heard her moan so they put her and me into the first ambulance.”

When I awoke I was told that Samantha broke one leg crushed her other one and fractured her right arm. Ryan broke his back but fortunately did not sever his spine. Jim was killed instantly.

Samantha went on to say, “In the emergency room I remember being wheeled in on a stretcher and looking around. At first I saw Sue on the bed next to me with an oxygen mask over her face. That’s all that I saw. Later, I remember seeing Sue again she had nothing covering her chest and I thought, ‘Sue would be really embarrassed’. Then they put shock things on her chest and I remember thinking, 'Sue is in really bad shape'. I never thought she was dead or would die although everyone else did. Later on the stretcher to my left was a guy with a blue shirt on. He was really big and would not cooperate. He was cursing and fighting. I learned that it was Frank N. Stein, the guy who hit us.”

The tiny hospital did not have the necessary equipment to treat a patient such as myself. At 4:30 AM the Chaplin called my family in Florida. He told my dad what had happened and that I would probably not make it to the bigger hospital. My father calmly handed the telephone to my mother and proceeded to faint. My mother asked the Chaplin if there were others in the car with me. After he responded affirmatively my mother was told how they were. Some were better and some were worse than my present state. My mother then told him to call my aunt because her son-n-law, Jeff was an orthopedic surgeon at the bigger hospital and would be able to get the best neurosurgeon for me. My parents frantically packed told my sister’s about the accident and caught the earliest available flight. They did all of this with robot-like actions making it to the airport on time to catch an early morning flight.

Meanwhile, Jeff and his wife Dawn were in the hospital waiting for me. When I arrived they wheeled me into the emergency room right in front of cousin, Dawn. She didn’t recognize me. I was bleeding everywhere and my head was ripped open and swollen to at least three times its normal size. Jeff went into the emergency room when he realized it was me they had wheeled in. When he came out later all he could do was shake his head no.

My parent’s plane was scheduled to stop in Dallas, Texas at about 10:30 AM for a short layover. My mom had to make the hardest phone call of her life. She called the hospital to see if I was still alive. She got the good news that I was still hanging on to life. At 12:30 PM my parents arrived at the hospital and found my grandfather crying and my grandmother silently shaking her head. They were then permitted to go see me. What they found wiped out any hope they were holding onto. They learned that I suffered five cracked ribs, a broken left wrist, two pelvic fractures, a crushed jaw, three skull fractures, cuts everywhere and most significantly a brain stem injury.

My head was shaved so the doctor’s could get out all of the glass. My neurosurgeon, took my parents aside and told them on a scale from 0-10, 0 being perfectly healthy and 10 being D.O.A, she’s a good 8.5.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chapter 2

By early afternoon the doctor’s didn’t think I would be alive much longer. They told my parents to have my sister’s come to Oklahoma as soon as possible. Kathy, my older sister, and Carrie the youngest, caught the next plane out. Carrie walked in, saw me and threw up. Kathy walked in and said “Sue, you’ll do anything to get out of school”.

I was on a respirator, which had an orange light on it that would turn on every time I took a breath. My mother walked in and saw no light on. She walked over to me and screamed, “SUSAN THIS IS MOM! YOU BREATHE RIGHT NOW”! At that instant I gasped and took a breath. No one can ever tell me that a person in a coma can't hear because I'm living proof they can.

The intensive care unit nurses told my mom that they had never extracted as much glass out of any other accident victim as they did with me. The good Lord was still with me because I was still alive after two days. The doctor’s decided that it was time to take me off of the respirator so they cut a hole in my throat and stuck a tube down it. This tube was hooked up to a respirator for breath support. The doctor’s informed my parents that we had to take it one day at a time and with each day came new problems.

A few nights later, the nurses from ICU ran into the lobby and told my mother that they were coding me. Coding simply meant that I was dying. I had no heart beat and my blood pressure had plunged into the basement. My doctor was never in the hospital this late at night but he happened to walk in that night. He placed the paddles on my heart and got my heart beating again. My heart failed at least four other times. After this scare I contracted a deadly bacteria invasion of the body, which nearly killed me. He did not have time to find out what was causing this crisis. So he gave me a certain number of shots in an attempt to keep me alive. He then told my mom, “ we loaded all of the guns but we won’t know for 72 hours if we got it. “ Thank goodness one of those shots was the right one. They later found out that the infection was “sepsis” or toxic shock syndrome.

I finally got out of ICU after 3.5 weeks and was given a private nurse . One day she walked in and saw that I was having a great deal of trouble breathing. Many doctor’s and interns tried to find out what was wrong with me. But everyone was extremely puzzled. At the last minute my doctor happened to walk in and he took one look at me and screamed out “IT’S A BLOOD CLOT! ICU STAT!” He ran with me in my own bed to ICU while some of the nurses carrying the IV bags. When they got to the elevator he yelled out, “IS SHE BREATHING? NURSE, TELL ME I SHE STILL BREATHING?” My mother was standing down the hall thinking, “Oh God nurses answer him. Is she breathing?” Because of the doctors quick response to yet another crisis my life was saved once again. The doctor’s evaluated my brainwaves with an EEG, which indicated it’s functioning normally. The big question was, “why is this girl still in a coma”?

The doctor decided that fluid must have built up in my brain so he took care of this by shaving my head and making two incisions to let the fluid drain. There was more fluid then he had expected but he was able to drain it all. Because this pressure was relieved he told my parents I should be waking up soon.

By this time Samantha was discharged from the hospital and was allowed to come see me. I asked her to tell me about the visit and she said, “It was November before I got a chance to see Sue after the wreck. She did not look like the Sue I had known. Her head was shaved and her mouth was wired and misshapen. She could not hold her head up and could only make noises. She got excited when she saw me but I don’t know if she really knew who I was. When talking to her I didn’t know if she understood what I said but she did hear me. She kept looking away. At one point she was crying.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chapter 3

It was extremely difficult for my family to be confronted with such a severe crisis when their home was in Florida. My father and Kathy had to work so they were only able to come to Oklahoma on weekends. My younger sister, Carrie, had to attend school in Oklahoma and live with my grandparents as mom chose to remain with Jeff and Dawn so she could be near the hospital. My father, who is a pilot, had the solution to the problem; fly up and bring me back home. My dad brought a doctor from Miami and to Oklahoma and rented a sky bed so that he could fly me home.

The plane was ready and all that was left to do was to prepare me for the trip. Dawn thought it was just terrible that I would be wheeled through the airport bald. She decided to take care of this by putting a hat on my head. Normally, I would have been very embarrassed at my appearance as the hat was red and it was tied onto my 83-pound body but Dawn was so proud of herself for thinking of this that she just had to show me. She sat me up and put a mirror in front of me and made me look at myself. I did and laughed out loud. All of the doctor’s and nurses had to come to hear me chuckle. This incident happened December 6th and was the first positive sign that I had given since the accident.

Then it came time to get onto the plane. I stared at my mom the whole flight to Miami. She kept repeating, “Susie, we’re going home”. Kathy met the plane and I cracked a big smile when I saw her. I must have known I was home although I have no memory of my arrival. I was then taken by ambulance to the hospital. My room wasn’t ready so I camped out for a while in the adjoining room. I wouldn’t let any of the nurses touch me but they held me down and finally put a catheter in me. It was late and everyone left me alone. I showed my hatred for this hospital by pulling out my nose tube. The nose tube is a feeding device that goes through the nose down into the stomach. They had to x-ray me before another one could be put in. I was now given the title “semi-comatose” because of this little incident.

The nose tube was reinserted and I pulled it out again. The doctor’s x-rayed me for the second time that evening and put the third tube down my nose. I was put back into my room and the nurses thought I was through causing havoc for the evening. I decided that I was uncomfortable being hooked up everywhere so I took care of that; I yanked out the nose tube and I didn’t like the feeling of the thing in my throat either so I pulled it out. My bladder was still emptying into a bag so I was going for that when a nurse walked in and foiled my plans. They left my throat tube out, x-rayed me, put my nose tube back in and reinserted the catheter. This time they tied my hands my hands down to the side of the bed and got Kathy to come in and watch me. I was determined to get that nose tube out so I bent over and put my face down to my hands. Kathy had to slap my hands to make me stop. Yes, I was home and I didn’t like it one bit.