Written by Kaitlyn Vegter
After partnering with Discover Wisconsin to tell my story, I was asked to write a blog about my whole accident experience and the aftermath. I responded with, ‘happily’. I have so many words, honestly, I’d say I’m overflowing with them. Words, from thoughts. Thoughts that I shouldn’t even have.
When people ask me how I’m doing, I respond with “FAR better than I should be doing, at all.”
On the day of my accident, doctors told my family that part of my skull was crushed, that my brain was damaged in that area, and that spiraling fractures went through the rest of my skull. They said it was the worst they had ever seen for somebody who was still alive. They said not to expect me to survive, and that if I did, I would be severely handicapped. Paralyzed. Or blind, deaf, unable to walk, or even talk. This was all if I survived at all, which was highly unlikely. This was all so unknown for so long. My poor family had to wait for what I’m sure felt like years. Every bit of any kind of progress was huge to them.
A family friend started a Facebook page for them to be posting updates on how I was doing, for friends, family and the community to be following along. The page was called “PrayforKaitlyn”. It got endless shares, ending up with literally thousands of followers. Even people in different countries would reach out to my family, asking how I was doing, telling them how they were praying for me daily. Thousands of prayers, and then me surviving what I medically should not have survived... By chance? Hmm. My neurosurgeon, Dr. Baskaya, is one of the top in the nation, which tells you he has seen A LOT of horrifying brain injuries and their poor outcomes. And he has called me a miracle, countless times. He actually has given me the title of his “Miracle Patient”, his "Poster Child". So when talking about my accident, I always say how hands-down, I am proof of the power of prayer. I take none of the credit, and thank God endlessly for providing His healing touch on me and for all of the amazing work of the incredible doctors who cared for me.
I had to learn to walk again, talk, and eat. I had to relearn all of it. There was a point that I didn't even recognize my own siblings. At one point it was a huge deal that I could even sit up in bed without help. Three months after the accident, I was cleared to come home. Even then, we still had to go to daily hours of therapies; physical, speech, occupational, and cognitive. Throughout all of that, it wasn't the end of it. I still battle seizures, which would prevent me from driving for a three month period, every time I have one.
All of this because I was on my cell phone, while driving. I get it, it’s like second nature to be on your cell phone. You’re always on it, checking it, communicating through it. It’s basically a physical appendage these days, isn't it? Honestly though? Being on your phone while driving is not something that you can get "good" at. Driving isn’t only about being a good driver. It’s about being a defensive driver, and always just expecting the unexpected. There's so much more to it than you'd think.
What I’ve been trying to do now is share my story. If I could stop one person from making this mistake, I could stop multiple from being hurt. I thank God everyday that nobody else was killed or severely injured in my accident.
When I finally was well enough to be out and about with my family, I wanted to share my story so badly that I would stop complete strangers in Walmart, asking them if they were busy, and if they weren’t, I shared my story with them. As you can see, this was before my social skills came back, obviously. Don't worry, I don't do that anymore. Now, I’m sharing in more public events, like speaking to news channels, high schools, etc. The DOT reached out to me to make a video, as did my high school, where I also spoke. I spoke last year at Party at the PAC in Appleton, and will be speaking at another high school in a few weeks, and at the PAC again this year. Organized, scheduled speaking in a spotlight kind of beats stopping complete strangers in Walmart, that’s for sure. The amount of high schools that I’ve spoken to is now 35 of them, total. But, who’s counting, right? The more I could talk to, the greater I could save someone a life of regret, or misery, or a life at all.
The WCA Group Health Trust was created when county officials joined together to create an employee benefit program that would meet the unique needs of local governments. Today, their founding principles still remain at the core. WCA Group Health Trust is governed by officials from participating units of government and school districts, making the organization more responsive to local healthcare needs.