On the 29th March 2012, my mom had a terrible car accident.
The worst thing was how fast life can change- literally in the blink of an eye. I had seen my mom an hour before the accident, had a milkshake with her. I can’t describe the utter shock when I just barely arrived back at work to receive a call from my brother that my mom had been in a car accident.
My mom had dropped my brother and his friend at work and as she pulled away from the stop street at her work, a bakkie had skipped the stop street and drove right into her. The car must have spun.
My brother was really distraught and he kept saying I must come. I kept asking him if she was ok and he eventually said “she isn’t moving”.
I can’t even begin to describe the emotions flowing through me at that time. All I knew was that I don’t know what I would do without my mom.
I went straight to the hospital and got there just after the ambulance arrived.
Most of the afternoon is a blur. I remember standing by my mom as she went for x-rays and scans. She was speaking and kept asking for Aidan (my nephew). She was very concerned that he was with his mom (that is a story for another day). I later found out my mother didn’t remember even asking for Aidan.
My mother had swelling around the brain and the neck area. Luckily she had no broken bones.
Then came the bills, my mom doesn’t have medical aid. The hospital wanted R100 000 to admit her (which she needed to be because according to the doctor, the next 24 hours are critical). I certainly don’t have that kind of money lying around and the best I could do was apply for a loan the next day. That wasn’t enough for the hospital. The hospital phoned around for a government hospital but there was not a single hospital with a bed to take her and with a neurology department. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! (This is what my taxes pay for).
Needless to say, we made the decision to take my mom home and we made sure to schedule and appointment for her to see the neurospecialist the very next day. In hindsight, this may actually have been the better decision as my mother would never have rested in hospital. She would have been too worried about her kids and Aidan to get any rest. At least at home, she knew that we were all fine and she could rest.
He said that he would only be able to ascertain the extent of her brain injury once the swelling had gone down and that she was to take it very easy over the next few months.
We scheduled another appointment to see him a month later. We did new brain scans and he said that the swelling was going down nicely but that there was some dark spots on the brain scan which means that the part of the brain that was there is now dead. Apparently the part of the brain that was damaged just missed the part of the brain that control motor functions, speaking etc.
We are not certain what part of the brain was actually damaged. My mom has short term memory loss, she is “slower” than what she usually was and she complains about headaches all the time.
We submitted a claim to the Road Accident Fund. The problem is that they have now changed the Act as there were people claiming for minor injuries, like whiplash. Now in order for my mom to claim, we need to show 30% damage to her.
She is going to see the specialist today to do that assessment.
This is where I feel exceptionally conflicted. Whilst I know that my mom does have some brain damage, I don’t know if it is 30%. A part of me hopes that it is 30% so that my mom can claim from the RAF- that money will certainly make a difference in her life. I also get so upset that people who didn’t need to claim, did and now they have made it difficult for everyone.
But what type of person does that make me?