Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My story

A few months before my most recent surgery a girl approached me at a grocery store and asked if I speak at Legacy Hospital in Portland, Oregon. I smiled and said yes. She thanked me for the way my fifteen minutes of talking had touched her. That moment made me realize, as cliche as it is, I can make a difference.
On November 21st, 1999, I was in a horrific automobile crash. No other vehicles were involved, just a telephone pole and stupid driving. All five of the teenagers in the car had to be rushed to the hospital. The driver was sixteen and had been issued a license not even one month prior to the crash. Once we hit the pole parts of the dashboard flew up and cut his head open causing him to have immediate brain surgery. He was released from the hospital four days later. The passenger in the back left seat was a fourteen year old friend of mine. He suffered a broken right femur and was knocked unconcious. He underwent surgery on his leg and was able to go home.
The rest of the passengers consisted of my younger sister, my twin brother, and myself. My brother was sitting in the front right seat and did not suffer any injuries to the head or body. Problems arose later for him when something called survivors guilt sunk in. In the middle spot of the backseat was my younger sister who at the time was twelve years old. She suffered multiple fractures, a collapsed lung, and a ruptered spleen. When the police arrived she was also unconscious. The back right seat took the brunt of the pole at a speed of over 70 mph in the exact spot where I had been sitting. I suffered multiple fractures, massive internal bleeding, and severe head trauma.
After being rushed to Legacy Hospital in Portland, Oregon I underwent immediate surgery on my body and brain to save my life. Seventeen of the first twenty four hours after being rushed into the emergency room consisted of muliple opreations. The following six days went exactly the same as the first. I was kept in a coma for weeks so that I wouldn't die due to the trauma my body and brain had endured. Once I woke up I had to relearn what life was as well as everything that wen't along with it. During the next year my mother changed my daipers and fed me through a tube in my stomach. I was fifteen years old and had no idea what fitting in or being a teenager was even like. Those years were mentally, emotionally, and physically painful for me. They were also amazing at the same time because of the leaps and bound I had made on my recovery. Me looking and feeling the way I do today is a miracle.
Almost ten years later and I am still having major surgeries and have to overcome obstacles every day. In the past three years I have had two artery bypasses done at Harborview Hospital in Seattle, Washington. The first resulted in me having an emergency life saving surgery at Legacy Hosptal in Vancouver, Washington. It took every bit of strength I had to get through that. The second bypass was a success. It was done on April 15th, 2009.
I have a message for everyone that wants, or needs, to listen. That message is to drive safe. Over the past nine years I have spoken to high risk driving classes at Legacy Hospital in Portland. The coordinator of that class was one of my trauma nurses the night of the crash. He is the reason I started speaking and has watched my progress ever since. Him and I will always remain good friends. As well as the classes at Legacy I have been in front of multiple high schools and other driving education programs to deliver the same message. I speak out as often as possible.
Reaching out to people on this subject is a goal of mine and will remain a goal while the energy is still in me. I speak and connect with people on most every level. I take pride in that because it is something I work at every day. At first glance you wont notice anything wrong with me. This catches most people's attention that I speak to as well as gives hope to those that suffer from such tragedies.
After reading this I hope that it inspires you to drive safe or even motivate someone you know that might need it. Getting hurt or dying from a car crash is nothing glorious. It hurts to even write this but most people just forget about the problem because it means so little to them. Please keep my story in mind as you drive to and from wherever you need to be.

Thank You,

Tyler Presnell

3 comments:

edward said...

Tyler, I attended the class and listened to you and was impressed with your speech, particularly your sense of humor. That you could have gone through what you did and retained it is impressive. Your ability to mix the serious and the humorous is a real talent, I hope you get your book written, or at least use this blog to tell more of your story.

GranmaLene said...

Ditto, Tyler.
I attended theLegacy Emanuel class and was inspired and humbled by your talk.
Your response to the question about how you cope with your pain, suffering and challenges was beyond stellar.
I hope you continue to write here and if you can on Facebook where more people might here your story and your admonitions.
I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you continue to deal with the results of your accident.

Nicole said...

Tyler, I pray the world is ready for you, because here you come!!!

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