Last Thursday it had rained pretty much all day long but Greater Beckley’s elementary volleyball and basketball teams were having their last games of the season and I wanted to go. They were away games held at Clear Fork Elementary, a good half hour drive away in a completely unfamiliar area to me. The games were good and we won the basketball game!
After getting some easier (than the way I came) directions to get back home again, I headed out. I made it maybe two miles from the school when all of a sudden my headlights picked up a very small, whitish creature stumbling around in the middle of the road; as I got up closer to it, I realized it was a young kitten. Out of fear that the next car coming through might kill it, I found a place to pull over and walked back to where the kitten was. It started to try and run from me but wasn’t able to. From the second I picked it up, I realized something was bad wrong with its breathing. I carried it back to the car and it absolutely panicked when we got within a few feet of it. After getting back in, I turned on the interior lights and was shocked by what I saw. What I had thought in the dark was its facial markings, turned out to be a little face over half-covered in it’s own blood.
Because my initial fear was that a car was going to end up hitting it, I assumed it had already been hit before I found it, not thinking that if it had been hit it probably would have already of been dead. I had no way of knowing who the kitten belonged to, it was after hours for a vet, and I didn’t have the money for a regular vet visit, let alone an emergency vet visit which is far more costlier. I thought of a friend who has experience working with sick and injured animals and immediately started in that direction clutching a very hurt and frightened kitten in one arm while driving with the other.
It took the kitten about 10 minutes of struggling with me for it to either exhaust itself or realize that it was safe and it finally snuggled up against my chest and settled down. Because the kitten was struggling to breath through it’s own blood (its mouth and nasal passages were completely full of blood), every other second or so, I could feel small wet splatters as more and more blood landed on me. It took about 25 more minutes to get back near home and by then my cheek, chin, and upper parts of my sweatshirt and coat had blood all over them.
Within just a few miles of my friend’s house, I neared upon a curve. I was traveling maybe 25 to 30 miles per hour when I was approaching it. As I neared it, I began to slow even more and was maybe doing 15 to 20 when I turned the steering wheel to make the curve. The steering wheel turned but the car didn’t and I had no clue why! My last thoughts (all of which seemed to happen in about 1 to 2 seconds before impact) were “I told you to turn!;” “I’m going to hit!;” and “my God, what’s on the other side?” (all I could see was blackness on the other side of the guardrail). I slammed on the brake but it did no good. I didn’t know it but I had hydroplaned; we landed with the front passenger tire up on top of the guardrail. Out of my confusion, and possibly mild shock, I didn’t realize part of the car was off the ground and I tried to back the car up before I realized it wasn’t going anywhere.
About half a minute later, a pickup truck pulled up along side me. I rolled my window down to hear the woman asking me if I was hurt and that she was a paramedic with Jan Care; she was off-duty and had been heading home for the night. She was the one who called 911 and sat in my back seat using her hands to keep my neck from moving. It seemed things happened faster than humanly possible. I remember hearing her complaint about how long it was taking for the ambulance to get to us but my mind was no longer keeping track of time and to me it seemed within seconds that an ambulance, fire truck, and police were in front, beside, and behind us. I remember her gently but very firmly holding my neck, talking me through trying to get my breathing back under control, seeing so many flashing lights and people, and clutching that kitten to my chest, refusing to let go of it. There was a lot of concern about all the blood on me and I was quick to let them know it was the kitten’s blood, not mine.
I allowed a neck brace but refused a back board and I think the paramedics were not happy about that. I’d been strapped down on a back board after an accident 18 months ago and the feeling of being trapped and unable to free myself had escalated the PTSD I struggle with; I’d learned then that I couldn’t handle being held down. The kitten went on hopefully what will be its only ambulance ride in its life. The ambulance ride felt like it lasted two minutes but had to of been 10 minutes or more due to where the accident happened.
After a few minutes in the ER, a nurse came to me saying she wanted to help the kitten and telling me she wouldn’t let anything happen to it, and I let go of it for the first time since I picked it up out of the street. I got more scared as I watched the nurse carrying the kitten off and another nurse reassured me that they were only going to help it. I was still not feeling hardly any pain from the accident; that would soon change.
It wasn’t long before pain started in my right shoulder; the one I was driving with and that has been at a stage 1 dislocation since 2006. Soon after that, pain began in my neck, traveling up into my head, and caused a headache that covered almost the entire back side of my skull, the slightest move of my neck or head would make the pain temporarily escalate. Next, pain in my lower back started up. I’ve had a moderately bulged disc in my neck at c6-c7 since 2002 and have another bad disc in my lumbar region that showed up sometime a few years ago; they’re both caused by the osteoarthritis having made it’s way into my spine as well. The accident had also set off a flare-up with the rheumatoid arthritis.
X-rays were taken of me from neck to waist, the neck brace was finally allowed to come off, I was given a shot of tramadol and a flexeril and was released about midnight. About every 30 minutes that I was there I was given an update on the kitten. I was told the nurses used a snot-sucking ball to clear its mouth and nasal passages of all the blood, they gave it benedryl to sedate it and get an x-ray of it, they’d listened to its lungs with a stethoscope, and were trying to keep it warm. They said it hadn’t been hit by another vehicle but they suspected it had either been kicked hard in the face or thrown out the window of a moving vehicle. About 1 1/2 hours before I was discharged, the last thing I was told about the kitten was that they didn’t believe it was going to survive what had happened to it and finally the nurses quit giving me updates when I asked.
About 10 minutes before I was discharged, a nurse came back to close to where I was, wearing a blanket over her arm and shoulder and I realized she had to be carrying the kitten under it. A friend of mine had come to the hospital to be with me and the nurse called to my friend and asked her to step with her into another room. My friend had stopped just outside the doorway of the room though and I saw her facial expression. I couldn’t hear the conversation but got upset when my friend’s face changed. I called out to her, insisting to know what was wrong, and all she’d tell me was it was OK. I told her I’d seen her face change and I knew it wasn’t OK and insisted further to know what was wrong. Everything about her facial expression said it was horribly bad.
The nurse stayed in the room she’d stepped into and my friend came over to me and quietly told me the kitten was dying, they didn’t expect it to live much more longer. She told me the nurse didn’t feel I should see the kitten right then but I insisted on it so the nurse brought the kitten to my bedside and sat down with it still covered. She tried to tell that it was in extreme pain and they believed it was only minutes from death and asked me if I was sure I wanted to see it. In the half hour I had tried to get it to where it could be helped, I think I bonded with it and I felt I couldn’t leave the hospital without knowing how it was. The nurse pulled the blanket back and I’d never seen an animal in so much agony in my life. I felt helpless in controlling the cry that erupted from my mouth. The nurse very quickly covered the kitten back up and disappeared with it; my friend quickly got me home for the night.
Once I got the tears stopped that night, there were no more that came later. I believed that the kitten had died soon after and I lived in physical pain from the accident all the way up through bedtime Sunday night; I’ve been pain free since Monday. Monday evening my phone rang, the lady confirmed who I was, and then explained that she was the nurse who took care of the kitten in the ER the night of the accident. I had trouble believing the next words that she said; the kitten was alive, it was eating and using the bathroom well, it was even beginning to play a little. The X-ray had confirmed that one of the kitten’s lungs had collapsed (something they had suspected when they’d checked it’s breathing with the stethoscope) but the lung had managed to re-inflate itself. The nurse had worked until 6:30 the morning after the accident and, because the kitten hadn’t died yet, she took it home with her and continued to nurse it. It had begun to show the first signs of improvement by 24 hours after the accident and the nurse had thought about calling me then. However, she’d been afraid to call me and give me good news yet out of fear that the kitten might still somehow begin to worsen again; she’d waited until Monday to know that it was definitely recovering.
She asked me if I wanted the kitten but there was no way I could take in another cat. My friend who stayed with me in the ER had fallen in love with it too and said she would really like to have it! The nurse had told me she’d been calling the kitten Little Miracle. She’s cared for sick and injured animals before, including ones that weren’t able to be saved, and said she’d never seen an animal come so close to the edge of death and then make a comeback like this baby had. I told my friend what the nurse had been calling the kitten, and why, and we agreed to keep the name Miracle! So everyone, meet Miracle!!! We’re guessing she’s right about 2 months old and is so little yet!