Survivor. I like that word. It sounds strong and brave. When coupled with the word miracle, though, it gives survivor more meaning and purpose. Surviving is something I think people can do on their own, in their own flesh. But to survive by the miraculous power of the Lord brings a intimate and real response from God Himself. God performed a real life miracle in me on June 21, 1996.
I was 13 years old and enjoying a beautiful summer day with friends. I remember the sun being so bright that day. I had noticed the brightness a few times while out riding my four wheeler with two neighborhood boys. My parents had given me an ATV for Christmas. It was "the gift" I had asked and begged for that year. I wanted a red Honda four wheeler. It was beautiful! I grew up in East Texas and this was not something unusual for a kid to have.
Across the street from my house were riding trails others had created over the years with their four wheelers. I had adventured into those woods many, many times before. On this certain day, I made a bad judgement call and approached to climb a hill. Now, I had gone up that hill numerous times before and knew what to do. I geared down and started the slow climb, not taking into account I had two other people sitting behind me. The weight of the boys was too much and it flipped my ATV straight up in the air and back over the top of me. My face came in contact with the handle bars on its decent backwards. All 400 pounds of the four wheeler slapped my face as it rolled over me and down the hill. Thankfully, the boys were able to jump to the side and out of its way.
I do not know how long I laid in the dirt unconscious. When I awoke, my head was lying in a pool of blood. I remember trying to lift my head, but I could not. I could not see well through my red stained eye lashes. I remember a lot of light and extreme brightness from the sun. There was so much blood covering my face and arms. It was warm and sticky. I reached to touch my head but could not feel a thing. I was not in any pain. None! I felt absolutely nothing. I tried to talk but words did not come. I was in shock.
The boys rushed over to help me, and one had already managed to bring my mom into the woods where I was lying. My mom is a runner and was out running while I was riding. She said she immediately knew what had happened when she saw one of my friends flagging her down and screaming for help. She had heard the crash but did not put together what had taken place until she saw me lying helpless in my own blood.
I do not remember the ride from the woods to the hospital. It all happened so fast, yet so slow. The moments all ran together as I was in and out of consciousness. I do, however, remember the team of doctors and nurses waiting for me at the entrance to the emergency room. I remember a nurse getting sick from the look of my injuries. I remember being rushed into a trauma room and getting hooked up to all kinds of machines. I remember them asking me how I felt and saying, "fine." I think back on those words and that must have seemed so peculiar to those caring for me. The only pain I started to feel was in my knee. A small stick had stuck right in the center of my knee cap. I can only explain it like a paper cut. You know how bad the tiniest little paper cut hurts, but if you gash your finger it's not near as bad? That's how my knee was.
I was immediately taken for a CT scan to give the trauma team a clear picture of what was going on internally. They rolled me into the giant scanner and I began to throw up blood. I was scared. It was in that moment I finally realized the severity of my situation. This created new concerns on top of the already intense moment. I was a 13-year-old female in critical condition with major head trauma who might have internal bleeding. I could hear the voices and the franticness of the nurses and doctors in the room. It was like a scene from a movie. It was all so surreal.
After the scan, my parents were allowed to come in the room to see me. The doctors had wrapped white bandages around my injuries to try and control the bleeding. I had three large lacerations on my face and forehead, a concussion, fractured right orbital, fractured skull, and a cerebral edema causing swelling on my brain from the blunt force trauma. I remember asking my dad if I was going to look the same. In the moment, that was all I cared about. My thoughts began to overwhelm me and fear set in. The fear was paralyzing, even more so than the injuries themselves.
My parents had a million questions for the doctors. They were frightened and concerned for my life. The doctors did not have many answers except to say I had suffered a traumatic brain injury. I was still in critical condition and they were not sure if I would live, and if I did survive I might not be the same child my parents knew. I can only imagine the fear and sadness my parents felt in those seconds. As a parent now myself, I can only imagine it as a parent’s worst nightmare coming to fruition.
The only thing the doctors could do in my current situation was wait. I had swelling on my brain and an operation would have to wait. The lacerations on my face needed to be sewn. I was in too critical of a condition to be put under anesthesia. One of the doctors in the ER that day was a plastic surgeon. A plastic surgeon! I still remember Dr. Scott. I cannot tell you anyone else's name but I do remember him and his sweet bedside manner. That was God. God is into the details of every circumstance and situation. I know with everything deep inside me Dr. Scott was sent to the ER that very afternoon for me, and God prepared it ahead of time. Dr. Scott bandaged my wounds to the best of his ability until he was able to pull my muscles and skin back together surgically.
I was ushered to a room to begin the wait. We were told the wait could be weeks. During the transition from the ER to my room, so many had gathered at the hospital to pray for me. Friends, family, church members, and strangers were pleading to God on my behalf. God calls us to join in prayer. "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20) And that is exactly where God was. Just like His word says, He came to my bedside and put His healing touch on my body. The swelling had subsided and I was able to have surgery only two days later to repair my wounds. What a mighty, awesome God we serve! What should have taken weeks, if ever, took only two days. One week after my accident, I walked out of that hospital...as the Brandi I was before.
The enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy me, my family, and my God given purpose that bright summer day. But God! Oh, but God had other plans for me. I should have died that day, but God said, "No, I'm not done with you yet." I believe God allows situations and circumstances to happen and then uses those trials for His glory. "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6 God puts the finishing touches on everything He creates; I was nowhere near Him saying, "It is good." (Genesis 1:31)
The brightness of the day stands out to me. The light shining down and covering me in those horrific moments was nothing short of miraculous. He still performs miracles, and I am a living testament of one. No one can argue with me about it. I lived it and came out on the other side of it with a light shining so bright within me. There was purpose in my pain and healing that left physical scars of remembrance. The light from the sun is so symbolic to me. Just as the sun casts its light on this world, so does the light from the Son God sent to save His people.