Ava finished her four mile run and she felt good. Really good! It had been months since my wife enjoyed a run as much as this one. The Myrtle Beach weather was sunny, mild, with a slight breeze. Perfect running weather. And, a foot injury that had been plaguing Ava for most of 2020 was finally clearing up, so this run was mostly pain free.
After a quick shower, Ava got in the car and headed off to Walmart to pick up a couple things. She drove out of our neighborhood and less than a half-mile away turned right on to Coventry Drive. As she drove, Ava says she felt a deep sense of calm for the first time in a while.
After three months of real estate turbulence getting our house in Maryland sold and settled, we finally were in our new home in the Market Common District of Myrtle Beach. Sunday, December 27 was the first full day of our new life.
Ava was enjoying this feeling as she approached a red light at the intersection of Coventry and Bypass 17. She was the first car at the light in the far left lane. Another driver pulled up next to her. Both would be turning left when the light turned green.
After a few minutes, the light changed and Ava remembers the driver to her right moving first. A moment later Ava tapped the accelerator and pulled into the intersection. Another driver approaching from the south blew through the red light. Ava had no time to react as she saw a white car about to slam into her at 55 mph.
The impact was violent and threw Ava’s car into the one next to her. Air bags exploded in all three vehicles. The white car hit so hard that it bounced away and was now facing the direction from whence it came.
Ava was in tremendous pain and trapped, but she was alive.
She never lost consciousness and remembers someone asking if she was OK. “How do you answer that?” Ava said to me later. She also heard someone say, “She’s alive.”
Immediately after the accident, 911 got several calls reporting what happened. It would take 19 minutes for rescue workers to free Ava and get her in the ambulance. Even though the accident happened at an intersection right in front of a hospital, Ava was taken to bigger hospital, that had a trauma center, eight miles north on Bypass 17.
In the ambulance, the EMT’s who had grabbed Ava’s phone, asked if she wanted them to call someone. In one of the most epic Ava moments ever she said no. Later she told me why. Ava knew I was enjoying the Ravens game. She also knew our brand new life in Myrtle Beach had been changed with the accident. Ava said NO because she wanted me to enjoy the end of the game. She told me, “There was nothing you could do for me and I knew you would find me when the game was over.”
Almost two hours after Ava arrived at the hospital I pulled into the ER parking lot. I told the woman at the admissions desk, “I think my wife is here. Her last name is Paul…P-A-U-L.” My heart sank when the woman, looking at her computer, said, “Is the first name Ava?” I responded with an anxious yes and she directed me to Trauma Bay 11.
Ava was lying on a gurney wearing a neck brace. I leaned down and kissed her. She whispered that another driver t-boned her car going 55mph and said, “I’m OK.” Remarkably, she actually looked OK. There were no visible signs of injury and I thought, “Maybe she can go home tonight.”
That thought didn’t last long as Ava started telling me what hurt. It quickly became apparent that while the top half of her looked OK, the bottom half was anything but. The orthopedic trauma surgeon soon confirmed that.
They had done a complete CT scan as well as a bunch of x-rays. Thankfully, there was no organ damage or head trauma. But, there were close to a dozen broken bones. Most of those were in her pelvis. She also had two fractures just below the right knee and two more in her left foot. We also learned later there was a broken rib.
The doctor explained that Ava needed surgery to install metal rods in her pelvis and more metal in her right leg. That would happen the next morning. She would not be able to put full weight on both legs for at least eight weeks.
One of the first questions Ava asked was about running. Would she be able to run again? The doctor said, “I don’t see why not.” But, he quickly added that it would be many months before she could even begin.
Ava started to wrap her brain and emotions about what that meant. I started to wrap my brain and emotions around how much assistance Ava would need in the coming weeks. While, neither of us was happy about the road ahead we were both extremely grateful it was not worse.
The next day while Ava was having surgery I went to where the car had been towed. Ava’s purse was still in it so I needed to retrieve that. Seeing the damage on the driver’s side and where the other car hit Ava only reinforced how much worse it could have been.
As I wrote last week, I’m not telling you this story simply to share the drama of what happened. Ava and I are both experiencing the positive impact of our commitment to fitness as we move through these challenging days. Ava as an athlete who is working to return to running and I as a full-time caregiver.
This isn’t a blog about walking. This is a blog about fitness motivation. Over the next few weeks I hope to add another layer to your motivation to move more and sit less.
In the meantime, if you are able to go for a walk today, consider it a blessing and be grateful.
Walking with a step tracker can turn a simple walk into exercise. If you don’t have one I recommend the brand new Fitbit Inspire 2! The Inspire 2 has double the battery life, and also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
(By the way…if you use the link above to buy a Fitbit Inspire 2 this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)
I’ve created a 30 Day Fitness Challenge that will help you transform your everyday walking into a fitness activity. This guide is free to download so you can get started TODAY.