Friday, February 27, 2009

Talk about some CRAPPY luck

Hubby and I heard this story on Good Morning America this morning and couldn't believe it. I think my criteria for a "bad day" is forever changed...

'It Wasn't My Time': Teen Escapes Death Twice

Best Friends Survive Car Accident; Helicopter Rescue Leads to Catastrophe


Feb. 27, 2009—

Jordan Wells, a college freshman from Waldorf, Md., was home for a weekend reunion in September when her life changed forever. She survived a car accident, only to be involved in a medevac helicopter crash on the way to the hospital that killed everyone else on board.

"I woke up in the woods and it was dark and it took a second to realize what happened," she told "20/20." "And I was just in a lot of pain and I was cold. And then I realized the helicopter had crashed. And I was all alone, not knowing if anyone was going to save me. I was definitely in pain, because I had bones sticking out everywhere."

"I was really scared," she said. "So I started yelling for help. I was thinking, 'am I going to die out here or is someone going to find me?'"

Jordan Wells and her best friend Ashley Younger were part of a tight-knit group of kids living in Waldorf. Jordan Wells, 18, was a swimmer and Ashley Younger, 17, was into dancing.

"Jordan was the one who always kept us together," her friend Joanna Potts said. "She was always making plans and always had an idea. Like every weekend she would always want to do something. [Jordan] was like the glue to our group."

And Ashley Younger, "she was really funny, easy to talk to," friend Kevin Holmes said. "I was always laughing with her ... never a dull moment. She was like a sister to me."

On Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008, Ashley Younger told her mother she was going to meet Jordan Wells at a carnival.

"And then she said they were going to the mall," Stephanie Younger said. "And from there, she called me. She said, 'Well ma, I think I'll be home in a little while.'"

Jordan Wells was behind the wheel of her car at 11 p.m., driving on slippery roads.

"I was driving and it was raining really, really hard that night," she said. "I don't remember how fast I was going, but I sure was saying to Ashley, I was like, 'I'm about to lose control.' And so before I knew it, it was going across the median and it was like bump, bump, bump, and we hit a tree."

Within minutes of the crash, police and ambulances arrived at the scene.

"As we came around the curve, we saw the accident," said Lou Ramer, an emergency medical technician who was one of the first to arrive. "We saw the cars on the opposite side of the road, the haze, the smoke. And I could hear a lot of yelling from the two female voices. There was a lot of hysterics there. They were yelling and screaming."

Bill Rudolph, another medical technician, began helping the two girls. Ashley Younger complained that her head and chest hurt but Jordan Wells, who was also in pain, seemed more worried about the damage to her father's car.

Helicopter Rescue Turns to Tragedy

Jordan Wells wanted to tell her parents about the crash but in the confusion, she lost her cell phone. Her parents, Scott and Lynn Wells, had no idea their daughter had been in a car accident.

"She wasn't home yet, so I started texting her and never got a response," Lynn Wells said. "I kept on trying until about 2 in the morning, never heard anything. So at that point, I just went to bed. "

Scott Wells said he thought his daughter was just out late.

"We knew who she was with," he said. "And so I wouldn't say we were overly concerned at that point."

Ashley Younger reached her mother on her cell phone.

"I said, 'oh Lord, are you OK?' And she said, 'My chest is hurting,'" Stephanie Younger said. "So we jumped in the car and the accident was maybe three, not even three, four minutes from my house. And that's when we saw Ashley and Jordan in the car."

Paramedics were trying to get the girls out of the car and determine the extent of their injuries. Stephanie Younger said a paramedic told her that they weren't sure how serious her daughter's injuries were and that the girls would be taken to the hospital in a medevac helicopter.

Paramedic Michael Lippy and medical technician Tanya Mallard frantically treated their injuries while trying to keep the girls calm. Pilot Stephen Bunker received weather information from air traffic control.

Just before liftoff, Stephanie Younger consoled her daughter one last time.

"She was just crying and I kissed her. She was just nervous, and I said, 'you're going to be fine, sweetie. We'll be there waiting on you,'" she said. "And she kind of calmed down."

At 11:45 p.m., the helicopter took off for the 25-mile flight to the emergency room at Prince George's County Hospital. But almost from the moment of liftoff, Bunker knew he was in trouble. It was raining much harder than he'd been told and there was a dense fog. Jordan Wells began to panic again.

"I remember taking off," she said. "I remember flying. I remember kind of looking out the window, seeing a building. I remember feeling the helicopter trying to land. But he said he couldn't land because it was raining too much. And he said, 'we're going to turn around and take you to southern Maryland.' And I think I remember us hitting the first tree and that's when my face hit the side of the helicopter. ... And that's when I blacked out."

The chopper, with the pilot, the medical technicians and the girls on board, crashed into the woods a few miles from Andrews Air Force Base. It smashed into thousands of pieces, the wreckage strewn through the forest. Jordan Wells woke up in the woods, cold, in pain and alone.

'We Prayed for Her'

At the hospital, Stephanie Younger was waiting for her daughter to arrive in the helicopter, but emergency personnel began to worry when it disappeared from radar.

Technician Rudolph said, "I kept saying little prayers, like it's going to be all right, it's going to be all right."

After midnight, dozens of rescue workers begin combing the thick woods surrounding Andrews Air Force Base. For two excruciating hours, Jordan Wells lay helplessly on the ground shivering, surrounded by debris, soaked in fuel.

"Did anyone else survive?" she said she asked herself as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

"I could hear someone looking for me, and they were running for me, and I like saw them come to me, and I just felt relief," she said. "Felt like God answered my prayer."

Jordan Wells was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where Stephanie Younger had just learned about the crash.

"We overheard someone say that the helicopter crashed," she said. "And the only person [who] came in was Jordan. And to hear it like that, it was, you know, it was still hard to believe [Ashley Younger] was gone."

At 4. a.m., the Wells received a phone call informing them of the accident.

"We went to the emergency room and I knew something different was up because the head doctor was right there, and he's saying things like, 'you know, your daughter was the sole survivor of a helicopter crash,'" Scott Wells said. Dirt and helicopter fragments were embedded deep into Jordan Wells' body. Her cheekbone, nose, eye socket and shoulder blade were broken, and five disks along her spine were dislodged. Her legs were completely shattered, a bloody mangle of muscle, bone and skin. "We just put our hands on her and prayed for her," Scott Wells said.

After several hours of surgery, Jordan Wells was transferred to the Baltimore Shock Trauma Center. For 10 days, doctors operated to put her back together. Heavily sedated, she was unaware of the desperate measures to save her legs.

When she woke up, the first thing she did was apologize to her father for crashing the car.

"And I'm like, I don't care about that car," Scott Wells said. "But it was just so good to hear her talk again."

The doctors fought to contain the infection in Jordan Wells' right leg, but it was a losing battle.

"I remember waking up in the morning in the hospital and seeing my pinkie toe was gone and then my next toe was gone," she said. "Every time I went into surgery they took a little piece off my foot. [And] my doctor told me how it was going to be if I kept it and it would be infected. And he told me the best thing to do is to amputate."

'It Wasn't My Time to Leave Yet'

As her sedatives wore off, she not only confronted the fate of her leg but she also began asking about her friend Ashley Younger.

"The same day they told me they had to get my leg amputated, was the same day my dad told me that Ashley had died," she said.

Jordan Wells was the only survivor of the helicopter crash, and two months and 20 operations after the crash, she left the trauma center.

When she finally came home, it was "fantastic" for her parents.

"Her friends arranged a reception for her," Scott Wells said. "They were sitting in front of the house with a banner, screaming and yelling and videotaping and just welcoming her home."

Now home, Jordan Wells requires around-the-clock care. A parade of visitors and friends are always around, lending a hand ... and a laugh. But her recovery has been slow and painful; she is almost totally dependent on her parents.

"I think it's pretty tough because my mom has to stay by my side for everything," Jordan Wells said. "So she does like everything for me."

Three weeks ago, she attended a National Transportation Safety Board hearing in Washington investigating her crash and others involving medevac helicopters.

Preliminary findings suggest that the emergency chopper should have stayed on the ground that stormy night. Air traffic controllers, the report says, were "casual and sloppy," relaying a misleading weather report to the pilot that sent him straight into thick, blinding fog. For families of the dead, questions linger about why the girls were airlifted instead of sent by ambulance to the hospital. Questions, of course, that will never bring back Ashley Younger.

"Even now I think about her, I just see her smiling ... just always full of laughs and joy and she loved people," Stephanie Younger said. "We were always together, always. She was my best friend as well as my daughter. She just feels like a hole in my heart."

Scott Wells said, "Jordan told me not long ago, she said, losing Ashley hurts more than all the physical pain. And she cries sometimes uncontrollably over this, over the loss of her friend, Ashley."

Added Lynn Wells: "She says her heart hurts."

Her parents say she often wakes up with nightmares, reliving the night of the crash. But she is trying to put her life back together. Two days ago, to a rousing reception, she visited her high school. She said she knows how lucky she is to be alive.

"I guess everyone keeps telling me that God has a purpose for me," she said. "That it wasn't my time to leave yet."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I remember when...

This is a bit of a wake-up call to all of us who complain about modern conveniences. It's also pretty hilarious, so enjoy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A belated Valentines weekend report

God, I've been so busy lately that it's been all-but impossible to post to two blogs. Today I decided to make the time to report back on my Valentines weekend because, quite frankly, my Hubby deserves the props.

For Christmas Hubby bought me quite possibly THE MOST perfect present ever: two tickets to see the musical Wicked in San Francisco on Valentines Day, a reservation at a fancy French restaurant, and a night in my favorite Union Square hotel. Even so, we were a little worried that, by the time cupid's special day rolled around, I would be so pregnant and uncomfortable that sitting for hours in a theatre would be ill advised.

It turned out to be the perfect distraction at the perfect time. As I've said, work has been a tad overwhelming of late and by last Friday afternoon I was so exhausted that I uncharacteristically collapsed on the couch and snoozed my way through the last three work hours of the week. Getting out of dodge was just the ticket.

So, to cut a long story short:

We dined at Fleur de Lys. Totally decadent. Thousands of dollars of expensive fabrics - silks, velvets, brocades - lining the walls and ceiling around us, and a gentle, romantic hue of pink/peach in the lighting. The menu was set into five or six courses (I can't remember exactly how many at this point - its a blurr!) with a choice for the main entree. I love it when you get a fixed menu because it means you end up trying a bunch of weird stuff you would never have ordinarily ordered for yourself. Hence, I can't remember 75% of what was on our plates for the first three 'appetizer' courses but I do know that there were artistic, mini concoctions of foie gras, caviar, chestnut mousse, skate wing, chick-pea fries, and saukraut (odd, I know, I associate with German) - some, untouching, on the same plate, some on different plates. Some I loved, some I appreciated, some I narrowly resisted the urge to spit out. Still, I loved every minute of it. Better still was the entertainment - a thoroughly self-absorbed Asian-male-20-something and his bored-to-tears date that sat next to us.

We got WICKED. Ok, I'm going to say the seemingly unforgivable: Wicked (as in the '90s slang for "cool") it was not. Maybe it was because everyone I know had hyped this thing up so much that there was nowhere for it to go but sliding off its pedestal, but I was a tad disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely well-produced, well-directed, and well-cast and I enjoyed myself immensely. BUT... and here's the thing... I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the score. Here was I expecting a series of rousing, stick-in-your-head songs and all I got was a bunch of forgettable, run-of-the-mill, Broadway wailings that seemed to run into and overwhelm one another.

First of all, there was just too much singing. I know, it's a musical, songs and singing are sort of de rigeur. But, instead of writing several great songs to punctuate major moments/milestones in the script, it was one of those musicals that seemed to insist that every other word needed to be sung. This resulted in a cacaphony of dissonant, emotionally unenvolving musical numbers that overwhelmed the script and only seemed to slow down the progression of the story line. It didn't help that the Orpheum Theatre's sound system wasn't exactly loud and booming and sometimes you had to strain to hear and understand specific words in order to follow what was going on in the narrative (because, again, almost every word was sung.)

Second of all, I read the book by Gregory McGuire several years back and, I have learned, there is nothing to be gained but disappointment from any musical, movie, or TV adaptation of a good book. Everything I loved about the book was absent from the musical: The dark, eccentric, quirkiness of it, and the sense of a real, complex inner-struggle against the very nature of good and evil. Instead, in its place, the musical focused on some over-amped, overly-G-rated relationship between the two witches (the "good" one being an on-stage witchy recreation of Reece Witherspoon in Legally Blond), especially in the first act. The result was that the first and second halves of the musical seemed slightly disconnected in theme and tone - the first was like "Hello Green Dolly" and the second half was more like "I'm Green and Miserables." It didn't gel for me and, as I said, missed a great opportunity to take some of the book's key characteristics to the stage and do something truly different and engaging.

I know a lot of people who rave over this show. I have to say I enjoyed it for what it was but I was definitely disappointed based upon the expectations they had given me, which it didn't meet by a very long shot.

Oh, one highlight of the evening - a $30 (yes $30!!!!) onesie we bought for the baby that says "Green Babies Rule" on the front and "Wicked" on the butt (appropriately enough). I just could not resist.

We slept in a luxury suite at the Hotel Monaco. And it was THE BEST night's rest I'd had in more than a week. Lots of plump, hotel pillows, a pillow-top mattress, and coffee and juice in bed before watching George Stephanopolous on Sunday morning. Sigh...

We brunched at my favorite SF restaurant, The Grand Cafe. We hadn't planned on it but it's attached to the Hotel Monaco and, while the Bell Hop unloaded our suitcases from the car at check-in, I peeked at the brunch menu on the wall and about had a canyptic fit at the overwhelming delicious sounding menu. This time I CAN tell you exactly what I had and it was an orgasm in my mouth: Crêpes Flambé - Banana Foster rum sauce, vanilla pastry cream filled crêpes, and candied pecans. Dear God, it could not have been a more delicious conclusion to a fantasic 24 hours if it tried.

Then Hubby drove us home in the pouring rain and we returned to our couch-potato positions from Friday night, thoroughly exhausted from just too much excitement in such a short period of time. Of course, if you had told me 6 years ago that this would all constitute "too much excitement", I would have laughed in your face and quite possibly gone into a spontaneous panic attack. It's amazing what being 7 months pregnant and 34 with a busy job will do to you.

So, to my fantastic Hubby I reiterate what I said in this year's Valentines Day card - many women dream of having a husband like you, only I am lucky enough to actually have one.


Footnote: for those of you who are tempted to rain on my parade about how this will be the last valentines day like this for us because once the baby comes, blah blah blah, I have this knife to twist right back at ya: My parents don't "do" Valentines Day. Guess that makes them free to babysit!

Monday, February 02, 2009

High five for a GOOD weekend!

They say that God never gives you any more than you can handle and just when I was at the end of my pain tolerance tether on Friday, Saturday and Sunday presented themselves as virtually pain free. Suddenly walking wasn't a wince-step-wince-step process, the majority of pressure/pain in my pubic bone seemed to subside (but is still there... I'm not kidding myself,) and lifting a foot up to get into Hubby's car was no longer a deep-breath experience.

I can't tell you what exactly is working because I've been doing so many things at the same time - chiropractor, massage, stretching, walking, pre-natal workouts, kegels, moist heat, and the sexy prenatal cradle - but I'm just glad that whatever it is, well, is.

It was a beautiful weekend weather wise - high 60s, clear and sunny - and so I just had to get out of the house on Saturday morning and be active. So, I went to the gym. No, don't shake your head. I went not because of some stubborn refusal to accept my situation or to lose weight or any of that, I went because all of a sudden it sounded like the most enjoyable thing to do that morning.

I have to say that it was the perfectly right thing to do. I did some light weights, high reps for my upper body, going slowly and carefully, some balance-ball squats (which I already do at home with my prenatal workouts) and some light cardio, slow walking on the treadmill and on the elliptical trainer. I was slow and cautious on everything I did and listened to my body - when something didn't feel right, I stopped or changed positions. It lifted my mood so much, I had forgotten how much working out was a part of my mental and emotional health as well as my physical health. Better still, yesterday, although I had some mild muscle soreness from using muscles I haven't engaged in a while, I hadn't made anything worse. In fact, my pelvis felt great yesterday (or as great as it can feel when you're 7 months pregnant and the hormone relaxin is making everything pop-and-click from your back to your knees.) Hence, I plan to go at least 3x a week now moving forward. This may seem crazy to many of you who hate the gym with a passion but this very prospect, just the thought of going and being active and amongst people, lifting weights and making my body stronger, makes me giddy with excitement for this week. For all these reasons, I know it's the right thing to do.

Saturday afternoon I spent walking around the Folsom Outlets (one of the few outdoor shopping places in Sac), where I couldn't resist a mega Sale in the Carters outlet store, buying two long-sleeved play rompers, one with green frogs and one with yellow chicks. So cute!

In the evening, Hubby took me on a tour of some beautiful view lots in El Dorado Hills that he had recently shown one of his buyer clients. The lots look out over the confluence of the American River and Folsom Lake and were absolutely amazing - as were the homes already built around them. Sigh... the world of homes over $2million. Personally, I'm just waiting for an invite to the housewarming party ;o)

Sunday morning was brunch with a very good friend of mine who I haven't seen for what seems like FOREVER. We chatted for three hours (past lunch time) and still had to cut it short with a plan to see each other again soon. I love good conversation and time with friends - it's so energizing - and it really pumped me up for the rest of the day. In the afternoon we visited a friend of Joss' who had a baby shower gift for us, then came home and watched about 45 minutes of the SuperBowl (about all I could stand either way) before heading out to a restaurant that overlooks the American River for a sunset dinner.

I mean, how could it have been a better weekend than THAT? Ok, I know, not pregnant and punctuated by a couple of martinis, but given my current situation that was the best I could hope for.

This week is going to be really, really, busy for me with lunches and breakfasts with friends, an ObGyn appointment, lots of work appointments, and two evenings in baby classes. This is something I'm looking forward to. I like to be busy. I find that the more I have to do, the more I get done and the more I have energy to do.

It feels good to feel good, if you know what I mean. The last three weeks have been a hard slog both physically and emotionally.

Unfortunately, my fun weekend meant no housework or laundry got done - absolutely none. Groan. There's always a cloud to your silver lining.
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