"We are alive, and have a life together because of all of you."
On July 13, 2008, Michael and Leslie Veal were hit by a bus while riding on a motorcycle in Annapolis. They were taken to Shock Trauma and treated for their multiple injuries, Now, 17 months later, Michael says, "I get to wake up to the love of my life, and I know I owe a level of gratitude I will never be able to express to everyone, from the people who dialed 911 to the months of physical therapy. Shock Trauma is a blessing of enormous proportions." Read their stories below.
Leslie and Michael Veal
The last thing I remember from my normal life was my wife crying "Bus!" I watched the fender of the bus crush our bike and both of us.
I can still remember slamming into the bus and feeling my head change shapes as the bus's grill came into contact with us at 60 mph. Our bodies hit the bus, and I sensed a cushion between the bus and us. As impact ended, I remained down on the asphalt. I was told by the couple who called 911 that I was 10 feet from the bus. I ended up with two scratches on my left shoulder and Leslie did not receive any road rash.
Since the weather was so nice, we had decided to wear light clothes: shorts, sleeveless shirts and tennis shoes. This was not our regular dress. Our normal riding clothes would have been made from tougher material, such as leather. But as lightly dressed as we were, when we should have been bruised and beaten by the grill and the asphalt, we were not. With our strong faith, we have no doubt that there was a supernatural being there at impact that minimized the damage. Don't misunderstand me; however, we were gravely injured.
When we went to the fire house to thank the first responders, they stared at us in disbelief because we were alive. My wife's left leg almost had to be amputated and she required eight units of blood. I suffered a degloving of the left leg which required several surgeries during my two weeks at the hospital, a closed head injury, ruptured and torn disks, and my body still felt like I got hit by a bus! My medications kept the pain tolerable.
Now, 17 months later, I get to wake up to the love of my life, and I know I owe a level of gratitude I will never be able to express to everyone -- from the people who dialed 911 to the physical therapists who helped me through my rehabilitation.
Shock Trauma is a blessing of enormous proportions. The first responders made a lot of quick, professional decisions and executed them flawlessly. We were flown to the heliport, where we were transferred to your medical staff. Wow, what can we say: fast, knowledgeable, skilled, friendly and caring. We are alive, have our legs and a life together because of all of you.
We continued to see doctors for follow up care over a year after the accident and always felt as if we were the most important people they had to care for that day. Every time I was cared for, the operating room, physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing staff always made sure my physical and mental needs were met.
The outpatient staff (Damien and others) were also exceptional. Every time we called, they handled our concerns in a prompt, professional and caring manner. On December 15, we celebrated our 14th anniversary.
Please know the hospital as a whole remains in our prayers. To say thank you seems so little; however, thank you Shock Trauma.
We thank God for the Shock Trauma staff who cared for us after our motorcycle accident on July 13, 2008. My husband and I were both patients who, by the grace of God and skilled staff, would not be here otherwise.
On the morning of July 13, we were on my husband's motorcycle on West Street in Annapolis, coming home from church. In the opposite lane, coming towards us was a yellow school bus. The bus crossed two lanes of traffic and took a left turn right into us.
There were some people at a gas station filling up who heard the collision. They came over, threw towels over our legs, got the bus driver to put the bus in park and turn it off, directed traffic and called 911. A woman held my husband's head down, and kept reassuring him that I was okay.
Another woman, who was also at the gas station, came over and said she was a nurse. She put a tourniquet on my leg because an artery had been severed and I was losing a lot of blood. I don't remember anything, not even seeing the bus. My husband remembers almost the entire incident. The nurse was gone as quickly as she came.
My initial injuries were a tibia-plateau fracture near amputation, and my fibula, heel and ankle were broken. I was in shock for three days and then transferred to the regular hospital. I don't remember anything about those three days.
I remember waking up a couple days later and looking at the external fixator on my leg, but it was not a surprise to me. My guess is that people who had been working on my leg had been talking to me and although I was unconscious, nothing was a shock to me when I woke up.
I do remember doing physical therapy, and the physical therapists were great. Everyone who works there was most gracious.
My husband and I were sent home two weeks later. I now have two out of four ligaments working in my knee. I sleep with a brace on, swim with another brace, and occasionally walk with a big brace.
I used to be a fitness instructor before the incident. I also had a residential cleaning company and worked at BWI as a transportation security officer. I did not sit around much! Now, I am limited in my walking to "activities of daily living," so I go to the local YMCA and swim about three miles a week, plus an occasional warm water-type class. I sit a lot more and life has definitely changed. We are still recuperating in warm Arizona.
But the bottom line? God is so good to us. Thank you all for your dedication!
By Michael and Leslie Veal