~ ONE SPLIT SECOND CHANGED THEIR LIFE FOREVER~
On September 15th 2014 Natalie McDonald (a vibrant, energetic woman, a beloved high school music teacher and an accomplished pianist and vocalist) was driving to a school musical rehearsal when her car was struck broadside on the driver side by a truck that ran a stop sign while travelling at an excessively high speed.
It was a female police officer who arrived immediately at the scene of the accident, got into the car by crawling through the broken back window and held Natalie’s head upright to clear her airway and kept her breathing, and comforted her throughout until the ambulance arrived. It took every member of the first responder team to save her life. Without their heroic efforts, her story would have ended at the accident scene.
Natalie suffered life-threatening injuries and was rushed by ambulance to a trauma center where she was taken directly to emergency surgery with a pierced diaphragm, ruptured appendix, massive internal injuries, a potentially incapacitating neck injury, and a traumatic brain injury.
Due to the nature and severity of her injuries and blood loss Natalie was not expected to live through the night and the family was notified. She remained totally unresponsive to any stimuli and the scope of her injuries slowly became more apparent. She remained comatose throughout the next 4 weeks with very little hope of recovery.
Miraculously, Natalie slowly began to emerge from the coma and was transferred to the On With Life brain injury rehabilitation facility. After months of intensive inpatient therapy, she is now living at home and continues outpatient speech, physical, and occupational therapy.
Natalie and her family of six have been profoundly impacted by this intense life challenge in numerous ways. Her husband Marty has become Natalie’s primary caretaker and legal guardian to assist her in making medical and financial decisions.
Natalie suffers with numerous mental and physical disabilities. She is no longer able to work, drive, or even leave the house without supervision and assistance and suffers severe headaches, fatigue, and balance issues that make it difficult to walk or stand upright for any length of time. She is able to do only the most basic household chores by herself.
Needless to say, their post-accident home life is radically different. She is very fragile physically, mentally, and emotionally. She is still “mom” at their house but the burden of responsibility has shifted.
The range of Natalie’s recovery is still unclear. She continues to make slow incremental improvement but it will be an ongoing challenge to ever fully regain the abilities that she has lost.
Natalie is a very positive person and a determined to improve day by day. They continue to keep faith and hope despite the fact that their world became dark after the accident.
“This tragedy has me struggling to find new ways to define my self-worth.” says Natalie McDonald. With every step she gets stronger, reaching new goals her doctors thought she would never achieve. Because of this unimaginable tragedy, she and Marty have had to accept that their life will never be the same, but Marty said, “Though a lot has changed including my wife, I’m blessed to have fallen in love with Natalie all over again.”