As you may have read in the blog, Tracy has been suffering from nightmares and flashbacks are a result of the accident in Slovakia. This is common following a traumatic incident, and is known as "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder". As part of her treatment for this, the psychologist suggested she wrote about her experience, something that was extremely difficult for her to do. To make it easier, she wrote it in the form of a letter to the truck driver (a Mr. Babic, but she didn't know how to spell his name). The letter, exactly as she wrote it, appears below. I think it gives an excellent insight into how the accident impacted her. Since writing it, she has been a lot more positive and the occurrence of nightmares and flashbacks has dropped dramatically.
I hope you find the letter as moving as I did.
Dear Mr Biggide, Baggage, or Baggige whatever your name is,
You wonít know me by sight but you have heard my name a few times but youíll forget it and Iíll be a nobody to you.
Do you remember the 23rd of August last year?
It was a beautiful hot and sunny day. Iíd only just got married to Paul, a wonderful person, who made me feel each day was fantastic and worth living. We had a brilliant morning and a great lunch. What was going through your mind at just after 3pm when you decided to make a last minute decision to turn left? Your one second of thought cost me, at present, 6 months in hospital.
I can remember hearing Paul shout something and then bang our bike crashed into the side of your truck. Have you ever felt you were about to die? I did at that point.
Fuelled by the will to survive I stuck my arm out in the hope I could push the truck away, silly? This dragged me off the bike. I canít recall how many times I bounced of hit something. At one point my visor flipped up and my vision was only metal. The fear I felt at that point is beyond description. I felt almost elated when my visor flipped back down and my vision darkened. A few seconds felt like hours, was I about to be crushed, was my head about to be crushed under a wheel? Iíve never ever been that scared in my life, and I never want to again.
So many thoughts raced through my head. Was Paul dead? How would he cope when he came over to me and found my head crushed? Such awful thoughts that haunt me every night. A smashed face, bloodied and gross.
I imagined Paul having to ring my parents and my children to tell them a truck had pulled in front of us and Iíd been crushed beneath its wheels. It still scares me now, makes my heart race and wakes me in the night to disturb my sleep. When I eventually came to a stop, it felt as though all of the air had been sucked from my lungs, first the left and then the second. Was it at that point you realised weíd hit you, did you care? Were you sad?
I desperately wanted Paul, more than I ever needed anyone before. I couldnít move, the pain was shooting through my body and I think I knew I had broken my back. Even then I didnít know if I was dead or alive, bright lights then darkness, no noise, such a still silence, even breathing I couldnít hear it. Paul flipping up my visor and asking ďwas I OK, it was going to be alrightĒ dragged me back to reality. How scared were you at this point? Not as scared as Paul.
Looking into his eyes, I could see the pain he felt physically and mentally. This was the person I loved more than anything and he was hurting. You did this to him? Do you know what its like to see someone you love in so much pain?
Police and Ambulance arrived, I couldnít breathe. I wanted Paul. I wanted to get up, shake my head, rub my back and walk. You and your truck did this to me. No one spoke English. Paul and I had to travel in separate ambulances. Did you see how frightened I was, how difficult it was to talk?
My right arm was a mess. I had to have surgery within an hour of arriving at hospital. I hadnít a clue what was going on. Would I die this time? Would I lose my arm? I remember looking up and seeing Paul just as they wheeled me off to theatre. He looked so scared. I wanted to shout ďHelp me pleaseĒ but I just couldnít get the words out. Where were you now? Finishing your trip? Drinking a coffee?
I hated you at that point.
Before my surgery, I remember looking down and seeing a large puddle of blood and the nurse next to me had blood on her gloves. This was mine. You and your actions really hurt me that day. I broke 3 bones in my back, 8 ribs, 2 hairline fractures to my pelvis and thigh and broken ulna and radius, fractured sternum, a dislocated shoulder and a degloving injury to my right arm. What did you have? Any conscience?
After surgery I was taken to a high dependency unit. No one spoke English. It was dark and I was scared and in pain. I should have been enjoying my holiday, sipping a chilled glass of wine and watching the sun go down. I had no clue where Paul was. Was he OK? Was he injured? Did he know where I was? Do you know what it is like to need someone so much that it hurts?
I imagine you slept OK.
Your actions that day was amounted to me being in hospital for the best part of 6 months. I should have been at home being a wife and a mother. I should have been going back to work each morning caring for others.I missed my daughterís 18th birthday, we canít do that again. How must she feel?
All of these days I was in hospital, sad and alone. I wanted to treat my husband on Valentineís Day, but all I could do was write a card and see him briefly during visiting times. Did you miss anything? Are you still unable to drive because of the ban, or are you going to contest it?
I should be standing with my husband now, looking at my brand new bike and getting ready for our trip around the world. We had saved so hard for that, we were so excited, freedom, camping, being together. You were the one that took that away from us. You have made me feel guilty for that. I have wanted to end my life, because of pain and anger. Iím only just walking now, my arm is still recovering, possibly never to gain full use. I have to had to endure endless tests, needles and pain. Do you feel guilty?
One thing you didnít ruin is my love for Paul. Without his love, encouragement and patience these last 6 months would have been so hard. Your actions brought us closer together. Iím a much stronger person now, and I hope more open. I used to think that every time I looked at my arm it would remind me of that awful day and how much I suffered, but now I think its proof that I fought a battle and I won. Iím proud of myself and there are many people around me that are proud too.
Iíve spent almost every night for the past 6 months terrified of going to sleep, being haunted by nightmares that leave me unable to breathe. As darkness fell the terror rose. I hope they go now, you canít hurt me anymore.
But I do hope that every now and again you wake in the night having dreamt of that bang and seeing my lifeless body lying on the road, maybe then you will really know how I felt and how just one second of madness can change lives forever.
Written by Tracy Beattie, in Hope Hospital, 24th February 2008