The following post is written by Mandy Labonte, RN, Sentara CarePlex Hospital. Mandy shares a very traumatic event which inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.
Almost five years ago, I was at a turning point in my life and found myself reflecting about the very successful career I had built for myself as a service manager in the automotive industry. I had thoughts of joining the military and serving my country. I even went through all of the steps to join the Navy (including that grueling day at the MEPS station), when the moment that would forever change my life happened.
A turning point for me
I was in a rush to get home from another long day at work. Traveling down I-64 West, dealing with the ever so popular Jefferson Avenue traffic, when I saw a truck jolt across the solid line directly towards a sedan. That sedan weaved in and out of the highway, then back out which sent the vehicle flying into the air.
I don’t even remember when I hit my brakes or how I didn’t happen to hit someone as my heart stood still waiting for the impact. The car hit the barrier wall and landed upside down. Up until that moment I had always shied away from blood and winced at thoughts of seeing “gross” stuff.
Adrenaline engulfed me
I blame pure adrenaline and compassion for taking over my body and running up to that car to “help.” Little did I know, help would mean pulling a 10-year-old boy from the backseat of that car. There was so much chaos and screaming, yet all I could focus on was dragging this little boy to safety. It wasn’t until I reached the side of the ditch (safety) that I realized both of his legs were missing and he was bleeding profusely.
I panicked for a split moment and then just started yelling for help. I immediately took his shirt and built torniqets for his legs but the bleeding continued…
The boy went lifeless in my lap and I remember a medic showing up right about that time and starting CPR on him. To the side of me I could hear the blood curling screams of a woman who was trying reluctantly to get to this boy. I watched in complete empathy as two men held her in place and tried to comfort her as she literally clawed at the concrete. I then heard the words “he’s gone.”
I couldn’t believe it.
It hit me, I’m a mother, too
Being a mother, I started crying. I slowly raised to my feet and didn’t even seem to notice I was covered in blood. I remember looking up and the entire interstate was a parking lot and there were worried people everywhere. I walked to my car and crawled in. I looked over just in time to watch two medics place a cloth over what I later learned was a baby who was ejected from the car.
Needless to say, my mind raced the entire way home.
I want to honor life
It was during those moments that I made up my mind…I wanted to save lives! I wanted to be there for people when they were at their weakest and help them. I wanted to honor the life I had just held in my arms for his last few moments.
I signed up for nursing school that week and have since pursued Critical Care nursing and I love it!
I still have the blood stained shirt I wore that day as a reminder and will always look over at that “dent” in the barrier wall on that exit and remember that boy and his family.
I wish there was a way I could tell him or his loved ones how he changed my life.