• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Kelly Ribeiro

Hello, my name is Kelly.

I had an at-fault car accident June 29, 1996, Amazing facts put me here today, and by facts I refer first to the Powers that be, putting the right  people in the right places.  Now cutting to the present which for me, is not the same for you.  To me, by heart, I am a recent Survivor, not a 20 Year Veteran this June, 29, 2016.  To me, I relive each horrific detail more nightly than daily. 

Starting a new full-time job, i got a brand new car because I could.  Newly single, I went out with a girl from the same Department where I now worked, and a guy she was dating from the same Company and his roommate, also an employee. At the end of a boring, i am told, night we ended up at the guys apartment after going out to eat.  I left and headed home(?), the girl i went with stayed. 

Driving home on Route 95 South in another State than i lived, Massachusetts, it was approximately 4:30 in the morning. Over by Exit 5, where new homes were recently built with the backyards seeming to be on the highway.  I believe it was a dog that ran across the highway, and i instinctively swerved. I rolled down the median, where there were no barriers and onto the Northbound side.  My brand new car landed in the back yard of one home and i was thrown out of the car thru the sun roof, which was closed they believe.  I did have my seat belt on they believe because it was extended but ripped from the floor/seat.  Driving at approximately 4:30 in the morning, that Saturday were two men, Firefighters, headed to Cape Cod, Massachusetts for a bike race.  They witnessed my accident, pulled over and saved my life. I later found out one of the two men, lived in my town and the other, just a town over.  A few minuets later, a Nurse headed into work at Sturdy Hospital in North Attleboro, Masschusetts also stopped to help.  I was taken by ambulance to Sturdy Hospital, then Life Flighted to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.  

In that accident i broke nearly every bone, except my left arm & shoulder.  I had major internal injuries as my left leg went into my hip and pelvis, shattering them. I also broke all of my ribs, which naturally "popped" my lungs. My "c" neck was broken along with my lower back in the "t"s.  My ankles were broken, left leg in the femur only, right leg was broken in two spots, my right arm in one with a broken shoulder, both hips, both sides of pelvis, lower back, upper spine and lower back of skull. I also had a closed head injury which they had to remove part of my right frontal lobe for healing during swelling.  I am certain i am missing something, but that is enough lol.  

Because i wanted my life to be normal so badly and nothing change, i returned to my new job as soon as possible.  For the next six years, i had one surgery each year continuing to heal my physical body.  I would return to work, in more than one case, sooner than approved by doctors, to be out again with either infection or doctors orders. Back to work, i earned a promotion and yearly increases. 

While back at work in those years, my Department was moved to another floor of our Building. Now instead of the stairs, i took the elevator.  Shortly after our move to the top floor, a very good looking guy was in our building and started work and ended at the same time as me.  One day going into work i noticed him also coming in.  I hurried to the elevator and prayed the door would close before he could get on, why, I have no idea.  Just as the door was closing, a hand stopped the door and there he was, as i refer to him, "hot guy on the second floor", smiling with an iced coffee.  He said something, i have no idea what as he entered.  Because laughter has been my best medicine, i asked where my iced coffee was.  His response was something like: how do you take it, i will get you one tomorrow.  What!  Well the ice broke, we rode the same elevator in and out of work almost daily for at least four years.  

Fast forward to 2013.  Working late one day a coworker asked if i knew the guys name who worked on the second floor with dark hair, a little grey and goes to the gym in our building.  She asked me because i knew everyone, in a good way, i feel.  Plus being a new employee when my accident occurred, i was "known".  After quite a few minuets and incorrect guessing, it hit me, "Hot guy on the second floor"?  Yes, that was him.  His name, i had no idea, both he and i happily married with children, were simply elevator friends. I could tell you so much about him and his family, just not his name. I agreed to asked him in the morning when we were in the elevator.  Now i believe this was Divine intervention, I always park along the back fence of the parking lot so i know where my car would be, i lose it a lot.  This day, another car parked too close to my drivers side. I could get it but i had to back out and drive around the lot in a "c" to exit.  Pulling out- there he was, "hot guy on the second floor" walking to his car.  Not having a bit of shame, which i am told comes with TBI, i stopped, put my window down and said hi.  I told this guy, my Manager was talking about him and they didn't know your name, with humor i admitted, i didn't know either.  His response was something like "come on Kelly, you don't know my name?", nope, sorry.  giggle.  He then said his first name followed by his last.  

Never in my life have i been overcome with such freight, care, wonder, embarrassment or hope, in my life.  My response bothered him as he grabbed my car door where the window was down, asking "i knew it, we dated in college didn't we".  Thinking to myself, not that lucky, I asked him if he knew my last name.  He butchered by married name, like most do.  I then asked if he knew my maiden name, he did not.  When i shared my maiden name, he took a second and his face was in awe.  

Hot guy on the second floor was the roommate, he was the guy we were out with the night of my accident!  I had to get out of my car, not sure why, run 50 miles maybe, free, alive and now i had questions!  I may get answers!  Hot guy and i spoke for a while, not too long though he had to pick up his daughter from school.  

Learning about the boring night and events that led up to my accident and after until my Life Flight were life changing.  I thanked the powers that be for having that girl park too close to my drivers side so i had to go around the "c" to see hot guy and get the answers i have waited my whole new-life for.  If you are wondering what happened to the girl we were out with, she isn't worth the mention and no longer works for the Company.  I thanked hot guy in a Company e-mail the next day, i don't think he will ever understand the impact he had on me.   

Shortly after when work stress was more than i could handle, along with the stress of two children, husband and life, i needed to take time from working. I took stress leave.

Of all this, the worst part is the mental anguish in still not being able to let go.  My parents do not understand how i can't just put it in the past. My husband, who i met after my accident, does his best to understand but even he agrees, he can't understand fully. I am blessed with two children, which i was told i would not be able to carry due to injury. 

I worked close to 18 plus years after my accident at the same Company, until i mentally could not do any more. So here i am, unable to return to work because I finally had enough. So much for being strong for everyone but me... 

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