Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tragedy and Thanksgiving

Every year around this time Americans consider all the things in their lives for which they are thankful. November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. We spend time with friends and family. We eat. And we give thanks.

I'm no different than any other American. This time of year, I give thanks to God.  Mostly, I'm thankful for the usual things: family, friends, a home, a job. And this year, I'm thankful The Wild Rose Press published two more of my books. I'm also thankful that on November 28, I'll celebrate my forth anniversary of my last radiation treatment for breast cancer. I'm now one year closer to that five year survival mark. I'm alive. But today at work, I realized once again just how suddenly life can end.

Besides being an author, I've been a radiologic technologist for almost thirty years. Six years ago, I got my certification in mammography.

On most days, I work in the mammography area of the x-ray department. But it's not unusual for me to help out in diagnostic radiology, taking routine and trauma x-rays when things get busy. Today was no different.

After releasing my last mammogram patient before lunch, a trauma came into the ER. There had been a head-on collision in the county with casualties, and Lifeflight was on the way. So, I carried extra cassettes to the technologists who were already in the trauma room with the doctors, nurses, EMT's, lab and respiratory personnel. The portable x-ray machine was set up and ready to go, but the patient was in full code. She wasn't breathing and her heart had stopped.

As the doctors and nurses ran the code, x-ray set up, preparing to take the x-rays when the patient was stable. But the patient never stabilized. Her injuries were too severe. Internal injuries, a nearly severed left leg, the bone and tendons exposed. She never regained consciousness. I pray she never felt a thing.

The woman from the other car didn't make it either. She was transported to the ER with no identification--no name. No one knew who she was. She remained a Jane Doe for five hours after she died. And that just breaks my heart.

Two women, headed in opposite directions left home earlier that day never knowing their lives were about to end suddenly and tragically without warning. Had they fought with their husbands that morning? Yelled at their children? Would their sudden death cause guilt as well as sorrow? Were they ready to meet their maker?
A single driving mistake and two lives are lost forever.

My heart goes out to the family of both these women who died so suddenly and so tragically on such a beautiful fall day so close to the holidays. I'm thankful I've never had to endure so sudden a loss. And I pray to God I never do.


  1. How tragic, Lilly! Those poor families. I do know the pain of sudden loss because of when a boy died suddenly several years ago. He was my dd's fiance and a member of our family already. Very painful and hard to move forward from. My heart breaks for those families. Thanks for sharing.

    And congratulations on your own survival! You are a strong woman. Celebrate!

  2. Yes, This is a heart breaking story, however your posting it may very well prevent more such tragedies, as those who read it will not only drive more carefully but hold their loved ones closer.

  3. There is so much tragedy out there, you have to count your blessings if you haven't experienced anything more serious than a bump in the road. Hope your recovery keeps going, Lilly!

  4. That really is sad. I guess though you may try to not 'bring the job home' it comes with you anyway. Here's to many more Thanksgivings.

  5. Thanks for the kind comments. And you're right, Nancy. I try not to bring the job home but sometimes it follows me.

  6. Oh, this is so sad. I've often wondered how these things affect people in your profession Lilly. I somehow hoped you'd become immune to it, but you chose this profession because you are a compassionate person - exactly the kind we all hope to have attending to us in our time of need.

    We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in this country, but I think its a great time for reflection and appreciation for the people in our lives.

    I'm so very pleased for your clean bill of health the past four years. The next year is going to be a huge call for celebration!

  7. Though it was late for me to share this, i would like to share you some of my ideas for the heroes of the present times. I have list 5 Cheap Gift Ideas for Doctors and Nurses on Thanksgiving Day that I think would commonly fit them all.

  8. Sorry I'm so late. Busy busy. I always tell my kids, watch what you do because every action leaves behind a ripple. Your comments here are a perfect example. There is nothing any of us can do for those two poor families, but pray they will find some peace. They will never know that your brush with their loved ones brought about the prayers of strangers, but the result is the same. You can celebrate your hand in that, Lilly

  9. LaVerne,
    I hope I never get immune, but I do feel a bit hardened at times. And I often make bad jokes in times of stress. I made a lot of bad jokes when I had cancer. I still make jokes. But sometimes, there is no joke, nothing that takes away that little sting of reality. Tragedy could strike any of us at any time.

    Your comment brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for your kind and gentle words.