• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Susie Burton

Hello, my name is Susie.

I went to Australia to meet some friends I had there and to try and acquire new employment in my field of expertise, Computers! I had a conversation over the phone earlier in my visit

with a supervisor from Compaq Computer Australia and scheduled an interview at the airport in Sydney as I was flying home. After a 5-minute interview he asked when I would be available to come to Sydney, I said "how long before I know I got the position?"

He said, ok you have it, I said "I'll be right back!"

I was so excited when I flew home!!When I got home I told my family about it and they were less than enthusiastic as they didn't want to be so far from me. I found an apartment in Sydney by using the internet and as soon as I called about it, it was promised to me. As if fate were shining on me the whole time! I got ready to relocate, borrowed the money to fly back to Sydney, and said my goodbyes here at home. When I got to Sydney I started working at Compaq, LOVED the job, liked my apartment, was meeting wonderful people, everything was working out so good.

One night after work I made arrangements to meet a friend at a bar to play some pool. As I walked everywhere in Sydney so did I that night. Two blocks from the bar, I was crossing the street at the corner, when a person hit me with their car at a rate of speed close to 60KmPH (approx. 40MPH). The ambulance driver told my mother he had never seen injuries

as extensive as mine in a pedestrian/car accident. I was rushed to the hospital with multiple serious injuries.

The hospital report states: "She sustained several serious injuries; Fracture of her right tibia and fibula, a closed head injury resulting in right sided weakness,

right rib fractures producing a flail segment and pulmonary contusions and right haem pneumothorax, laceration of her liver producing central liver hematoma,

lacerations to her right arm and right flank. On arrival at hospital her Glascow coma Scale was 3. She was resuscitated (including insertion of bilateral chest drains and intubation)

and transferred to the intensive care unit. Initial CT of the head showed 2mm petechial hemorrhage’s in the right occipital, superior right frontal and anterior right frontal lobes at the grey/white matter junction consistent with diffuse external injury."

I had sustained collapsed lungs, smashed and lacerated liver, smashed spleen, bruised heart, severely broken fibia and tibula, cut open on the back half the way across my body, 8 broken ribs, right forearm lacerations from glass, right side paralysis, and extensive closed head injuries. Injuries that have been discovered after hospitalization and therapy were broken right collarbone and broken humerus just below shoulder. They drilled a hole in my head to release the pressure from bleeding because my head was beginning to swell. My comatose state was reinforced with drugs by the doctors so as not to awake and move any part of my body. The prognosis was that I would die.

"Police were informed that the pedestrian had not yet regained consciousness and was not expected to live during the night. Currently under observation in Intensive Care Unit Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. “My mother was contacted by telephone and was told to come immediately, that if I lived 12 hours it would be a miracle. I survived the 12 hours, then more.

My girlfriend was concerned that I would be alone there in a coma and might die that way.

She didn't want me to be alone, so she contacted my friends in Melbourne, who promptly drove the 1,000 miles to Sydney to be with me until family arrived.

It became a concern as to what degree of awareness I would have when coming out of the coma. They left the drugs on me for 3 weeks then removed them. I didn't come out of the coma. I remained in a comatose state for a few more days

then began to regain consciousness slowly.

How much of a brain did I have left it was questioned? I recognized my mother when I regained consciousness and mouthed that it was 'my mom' as I had a tracheotomy and could not talk. They then knew that I had retained speech skills. What made my recovery from the coma so unusual was the fact that my girlfriend had contacted a friend of mine in Sydney that shared my love of the internet. My girlfriend gave my friend a copy of my e-mail addresses, to which they both began sending updates on my condition.

From these updates they began receiving hundreds of e-mails from my friends all over the world, who would write as if they were writing to me directly. They encouraged me to wake from my coma, and to be the same Susie they loved. They spoke of praying for me, of getting church members all over to pray for me. (These being the "friends" my brother had told me months before that were merely 'internet' people whom I didn't really know.)

My friend would come to my hospital bed and read me these e-mails, and she said she could see me responding to them. My finger would move as if I were clicking a computer mouse

while I lay there in a coma. She told them all of this reaction and said to them I was replying to their e-mails. That if anyone could "jack into the system" from beyond it was Susie.

(I have since been sent copies of the hundreds of e-mails she received and I could only sit and cry as they downloaded onto my computer for over a half hour. Tears of joy to see so many who love me.)

I must commend the expertise of the Doctors and Nurses at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney for an absolutely superb job of putting me back together. The doctors would pass my room much later and just shake their heads in disbelief saying, "There is no medical reason whatsoever that you should be sitting there talking to me, but you are!"

They began calling me "The Miracle Girl".

My mother was told that I would not be released from that hospital for at least 7 months then would face extensive therapy at another facility for at least a year.

I sit here telling this story 6 month after the accident occurred. I have been released from the hospital, therapy, everything but a neurologist. This doctor at my own request. I have become a totally different person as a result of this accident. I have long term memory gaps which I may never regain, no short term memory capability, one leg 3cm. shorter than the other, double vision eyesight, and constant headaches. And to mention pain would be redundant. But the most significant change has been the way I view the world.

There is more beauty, more sensation, than I have ever experienced. Not to mention the fact that my brother has changed his entire perspective on my internet contacts! :o )

I used to be a wild girl you might say. I still have spunk for sure, but I have given up all the vice I once had. I know I will never be able to continue the job I once was so enthused about getting in Sydney, nor the same job anywhere, but I'm ALIVE! When I look back on what I have experienced in the last 6 months, it truly was a miracle. I believe to this day that the support of my friends, hearing those e-mails, those outpourings of love for me, was what helped me

to regain consciousness with all my faculties.

I was given my life back,

by the love of my friends..

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