Submitted by Cody Smargiassi
Over Christmas break in 2017, I visited my best friend Shayne in Miami, Florida for a week after a strenuous senior fall semester at Arizona State University. The semester consisted of 18 credit hours, a part-time job in CVS as a Pharmacy Technician, and interview preparation for the Washington State University Doctor of Pharmacy program. With long sleepless tedious nights of interview preparation and studying, I finished the semester with a 3.7 GPA on the Dean’s list, and a spot in the Doctor of Pharmacy Program at Washington State University. Everything was going great until things took a turn for the worst in Florida. One day in Florida we decided to hit the gym early in the morning so we would have all day to sit back and relax at the beach. When we were leaving the gym, Shayne fell asleep at the wheel and veered off into the express lane that was under construction, crossing over the orange cones that separated the express lane apart from regular traffic lanes. We crashed into a parked construction vehicle in this express lane that was disabled for construction and was in place to protect the construction workers. The accident reconstruction scene had no skid marks showing my friend did not attempt to stop whatsoever.
The construction worker that called in the crash reported that Shayne was speeding and we crashed into the car’s rear end at approximately 75mph. In the 911 recording the construction worker also stated very shaken up, “this does not look good at all, they are both unconscious.” The responders arrived within minutes of this being reported and found out that Shayne had no pulse, so he was pronounced dead on arrival of EMS. The EMS workers had to extract me from the vehicle as I was crushed under the dashboard and the car was totaled. While they stabilized and transported me to the local trauma hospital nearby, I was moved over to the neurological intensive care hospital next door as I was in and out of consciousness. The doctors not only had to place a ventricular tube in my brain to reduce the swelling, but also put me in drug induced coma since I was not responding well, and it indicated my brain needed immediate rest.
An officer knocked at my mother’s door in Arizona and handed her an index card that provided the hospital information and phone number. The officer told her to call that hospital immediately and that I was in critical condition. My mother immediately booked a flight to Florida and arrived at the ICU to find me in critical condition state on life support. The neurosurgeon walked into the room and told her devastating news that my friend who was driving expired at the scene. They also made her aware of my injuries of the traumatic brain and Diffuse Axonal Injury of the brain where it is very difficult to tell if I would come out of my drug-induced coma in a vegetative state. I was on life support for three days and was almost pronounced dead three times while I was in this drug-induced coma. After three days the doctors were not hopeful as they felt there was a high chance I would be brain dead, and not be able to breathe on my own which is when they removed me from life support. It turns out that as they lowered the vent settings to see how and if my breathing was labored. Without knowing fully what my responsive level would be, they removed the breathing device and I was able to breathe on my own. When they removed me from life support, I was able to swallow food for the first time in days without a problem as well. I was beating all medical odds and expectations of this injury.
It is said that 90 percent of people who sustain an injury of this magnitude never return back to consciousness. They did multiple daily tests to check for paralysis and mental cognition. Surprisingly, I did not even have any broken bones either. I did develop pneumonia in the ICU, but it resolved shortly after antibiotics. Things were starting to look up again as I was able to walk, talk, and eat. The recovery has been an uphill climb ever since I was released from the intensive care unit on Christmas day. Down was my inevitable and up was the only choice at this time for me. It is still hard to believe how far I have come since the accident as every day continues to get better. In January, I embarked on a journey to start the Spring semester at Arizona State University as I enrolled in three classes to complete my Bachelor degree and meet the final prerequisite that I need for Pharmacy school. I had some frustration and memory deficits with the class load I decided to pursue. The doctors at the rehabilitation center were not pleased that I enrolled in three classes as they advised me not to, so I ended up dropping the two and only facing one right now to maximize my recovery. School is going smoothly as I received an A on my first Biochemistry exam this past month. Also, I have been staying active in the gym every day, going hiking, and started partaking in a yoga class with my mom.
The doctors have not medically cleared me to drive and it puts me at a disadvantage as I approach the journey to Pharmacy program this August in Spokane, Washington. Even if I am cleared in time to transport my vehicle to Washington, I am not mentally ready to make the twenty-one hour commute to Washington as I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the car accident that I was in. This brings me to a dilemma on how I will be able to transport my vehicle to Washington in time to have it there for school. A1 Auto Transport alleviates the stress as they are willing to commute my vehicle to Washington safely and affordable. In the past, I have made cross country trips and have almost lost my life by nearly falling asleep at the wheel trying to accomplish trips in the shortest time possible. For everyone’s safety, it is not a good decision to put yourself and other people at risk driving a long distance by yourself. Considering the fatigue side effects of my brain injury and having had bad experiences with long commutes personally, the best option is to rely on A1 Auto Transport to safely deliver my car to Spokane.
Submitted by Cody Smargiassi
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