Celebration of Life: 18 Year Anniversary of my Car Accident

By
Car Accident Tamara in hospital bed

Eighteen years ago this month my husband and I were involved in what should have been a deadly car accident. Every February 11th since then we celebrate life, because we realize what a gift it is to be alive!

Car Accident Story

Feb 11, 2001: My husband and I were traveling along a busy California Freeway toward the airport. We were heading out on a house-hunting trip because his company was transferring us from busy Southern California to Bentonville, Arkansas.

We had two little boys at the time and being a full-time mother was my joy day in and day out. Jordan was 3-years-old and Nathan had just turned two.

The Crash

After coming around a bend in the freeway, I remember seeing the car stopped in front of us (with no brake lights on). In the instant it took us to process, “That car isn’t mov..” we hit it.

Most people who have been in a car accident will comment how quickly it happened. That is how it was for us. All it took was the blink of an eye and BAM!

Car Accident 2/2001 Car Totaled

I remember closing my eyes and feeling the jarring impact. I recall having such a hard time breathing afterwards (because I had broken my collarbone and punctured my lung). Our car slid into the next lane and Justin, my husband, pleaded with the cars behind us “Don’t hit us. Don’t hit us.”

They didn’t. They were able to stop.

Due to my punctured lung I remember my vision starting to fade to black around the edges, but being stubborn, I prayed to God, “Please don’t let me pass out.” I didn’t. But my pulse was so weak by the time the paramedics arrived that they couldn’t even feel my pulse–we had a good laugh about that, because I was obviously very much alive.

Injuries

One thing I can say for sure is that those little backboards and head/neck stabilizers they put on you to transport you after an accident are the MOST uncomfortable things! And they won’t take them off until they are incredibly sure that you don’t have some neck injury.

My husband and I were both in the ER together–and even though they had the curtain pulled between us we were laughing and joking between us and the doctors. I remember the doctors rolling their eyes. I’m telling you–morphine is a crazy drug.

Over the course of the next couple of hours here are the injuries I was diagnosed with:

  • broken clavicle (collar bone)
  • collapsed and punctured lung
  • bruised heart
  • fluid around my liver
  • broken rib
  • achy left knee (which I think hit the dash)
  • whiplash (I had a pretty achy neck and back.)

The injury they had to act on quickly was the punctured lung. I can still picture the doctor explaining to me that my lung had collapsed and that they needed to make an incision between my ribs and stick this chest tube into my lung.

I asked him, “Do I have to have that done?”

“Well,” he responded, “You either have it done or you die.”

I opted to have the chest tube put in.

That was not a pleasant experience. Especially since they made me lift my arm–even though I had a broken collar bone and moving my arm was excruciating.

Yeah. It hurt–even with the morphine.

Blessing and Miracles

I had two friends from church come and pray with me and over me–including giving me a blessing with the “laying on of hands.”

I knew God loved me and was aware of me and my needs, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have to go through this trial.

Prayer

My parents were called and prayers began in my home state of Arizona. Family and friends in California and even in our future state of Arkansas also began praying for us. Friends and family from all over the nation prayed for me and my recovery. I tear up even now when I realize how many hundreds of prayers were offered on my behalf.

Justin and I later purchased the picture of George Washington praying and have it hanging in our home so we can remember this important lesson of prayer.

George Washington praying

While in the hospital I wrote in my journal, “We have had so many people praying for us. I am so humbled! This is why the Lord is blessing and healing us.”

“The power of prayer is a mighty tool. Nothing is too great for the Lord. Miracles do happen today.”

I also recorded the miracles:

  1. The driver of the other car was not in it–or else I doubt she would have lived. Her car crumpled like an accordian.
  2. The engine of our car was thrashed, but NOTHING came and crushed us in the passenger area of the car. In fact, you could completely open my door.
  3. Our children were not with us–I am so thankful they were spared.
  4. We had Justin’s mom and sisters came down and then my parents coming–so we had family in town to help.
  5. We weren’t hit by any other cars after the accident happened. This was such a miracle since we went over into the next lane. We had prayed for protection before we left and the Lord spared us.
  6. When I first arrived at the hospital they got an unusual EKG on me and were quite concerned about my heart. I received a blessing that evening and the next day they couldn’t find anything wrong with my heart.

To this day I feel humbled as I realize I am a walking miracle! That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have to struggle and suffer and learn some important lessons along the way.

Another Important Lesson Learned

My biggest challenge was keeping my lung inflated. It kept collapsing. It was hard to breathe. This baffled the doctors and they tried several things including reinserting my chest tube (which wasn’t fun the second time around either). They were even considering surgery which scared me to death!

Journal Entry, February 19, 2001

It has been an up and down day from discussing dismissal to surgery. I got a determining CAT scan tonight on my lung and was nervous, but I sang the song “In Perfect Faith” through it:

In perfect faith I too believe in things I cannot see.

I only need to trust in Him and follow where He leads.

With faith secure in Jesus Christ, God’s own Begotten Son,

I too go forth to do His will, and miracles will come.

Through this past week I have seen my level of humility grow and I could measure it by how willing I was to say, “Thy will be done.” Tonight as I asked Heavenly Father the question, “What would you have me do,” I received an impression in my mind, “Tamara, I would have you be healed.”

I felt peace.

The nervousness is gone and my heart is full. I don’t completely understand the complete meaning of how the healing will occur, only that it will.

I had begun to have truer faith that God was in control–and He blessed me with peace. It was really hard to be able to say, “Thy will be done” because I really wanted to be healed without having to have surgery, but I really had to submit to God’s will and trust He would help me through whatever happened.

Tamara’s Journal, February 20, 2001

Well, by the grace of God and the power of faith and prayer I am home tonight. My heart is full of thanks for my blessings and the lessons I have learned. I feel to sing praises to God’s name forever!

Car Accident Tamara Recovery with flowers and balloons

The miracle was, my lung finally stayed reinflated and I was able to come home. Yay!

Conclusion

As I look back on the car accident, I am thankful to still be alive today. I am thankful I can celebrate with my four children and husband this year and realize the blessings and challenges life has offered me the past 18 years. I have had 18 more years to learn and grow with God by my side. These years have been filled with laughter, tears and a lot of growth.

I am amazed as I look back and read my little journal how strong my gratitude was for God getting me through that challenge. He didn’t leave me alone then, or in the ensuing months and years as we went through more challenges with autism diagnosis and several other moves.

When have you felt the hand of God in your life?

About the author, Tamara

Tamara K. Anderson is a speaker, author, podcaster, and is a professional in HOPE. She has four children who struggle with autism, ADHD, anxiety, visions issues, and all bring her great joy.

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