Car Accident Disabled Paraplegic Mom Seeks Handicap Vehicle Grant Money
by Katrisha Benefield
(De Leon, Texas, USA)
My name is Katrisha but I go by my middle name Shay. I'm a 28-year-old small town girl! I was born in Austin Texas and was given up for adoption.
I was adopted when I was 2 weeks old and have lived in this small town in Texas my whole life pretty much.
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I got married young and instantly started a family. I now have a 9-year-old daughter, Genesis Renay.
My husband John and I divorced after 4 years of marriage… a big mistake. I guess we just needed to mature a little more.
We got back together after my accident and although we are not officially re married we are living together as a very happy family.
I have a great support system here in this small town, I have so much family here and I have had the same best friends my whole life. I honestly don't know what I'd do without them.
I am T4/T5 paraplegic, that's being fully paralyzed from the chest down. My car accident happened in November 2006 coming home from a concert.
My very best friend that I have known my entire life was driving her Jeep. She was the designated driver that night.
We were on our way home from a concert and we decided to go home on a side country road. It was one we had all been down a number of times, but it was known for its dangerous hills and curves, gaining the name "Rollercoaster Road."
This particular night we didn't make it to the other side of the road. My friend lost control of her vehicle coming over a hill. I was not conscience much after that.
The car I was told skidded in the gravel hitting and spinning and eventually lying on the passenger side. I had been riding in the back seat, unfortunately without my seat belt.
When we hit, the back seat broke and I went flying backwards breaking the back glass with my head and shoulders and being tossed from the vehicle.
I woke up face down in the dirt. I could hear the far off cries of my friends trying to get out of the car and looking for me. I tried to lift myself up, but couldn't. I knew then that my back was broke.
When my friends found me all tangled in the brush I begged them not to touch me, just call 911, which they already had.
My friend that had been driving just so happened to be a RN so she knew the situation was bad.
They had to weed-eat me out of the brush with a chainsaw, so my legs weren't tangled and they didn't have to pull on me.
My three friends all went to the local emergency room and were checked. They all sustained some form of injury, but nothing life-threatening.
I however was picked up from the scene in a helicopter and flown to John Peters Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth Texas. I was in and out remembering only flashes like a movie, like it wasn't real.
I knew it was bad, and all I could think of was my daughter, who was four at the time, and how I couldn't die now.
I asked everyone to give it to me straight. People tried to sugar coat it, but in all honestly I had about 72 hours. If I could survive that, then my chances of living were gonna be okay.
Those 72 hours were hard. I started not being able to breath. My ribs were broken and compressing my lungs. There was too much fluid in my chest cavity.
At one point I though my heart might have been torn. They inserted chest tubes in both my lungs and eventually got me to breathe.
After a few days and celebrating Thanksgiving in ICU, I wanted to know what was really going on. I knew my back was broken, but I didn't know how badly.
Two of my vertebrae had broken and shattered and my spinal cord was stretched pretty badly and there was a lot of swelling around it.
I was told it would be a miracle if I was to ever walk again. I was 23 years old lying in the hospital, not knowing how my life was gonna end up, questioning why my life got so derailed from the path I was on.
Well after some hospital stays, surgeries and therapy, here I am at 28 years old and still very much paralyzed.
I'm thankful though that I didn't die and that I have got to watch my daughter grow, be with the love of my life, and get to be an inspiration to others, or at least I try to be.
Financial hardships have seemed to be worse than the physical ones.
My friends and family had a benefit for me. We raised enough money that I was able to purchase a house that was bigger, but it wasn't fully handicap accessible.
My husband redid the bathroom so I was able to get into it, but as far as everything else goes, the house is pretty standard.
Unfortunately, I have not had the money to get a vehicle, which is something we desperately need.
My husband works very hard and at nights so he is able to pick up our daughter from school and shuttle me to doctor's appointments and anything else I need.
We are an active family and after 6 years it's high time I had something to drive so I can get myself around town, and not constantly have to depend on the kindness of everyone else to help, wonderful though it is.
This is where I run into trouble. Because of my wreck I was not able to go back to college and my student loans started wanting payments, which I couldn't make.
When I took those loans, I had planned on graduating and getting a job that would offer me the finances to start to pay them back.
So, my credit is not good enough to get a loan to get a handicap van. I want to be able to go back to school or to get some sort of job out of this house that I am in, way too much, but to do that I will need a vehicle.
Social Security has been great and I'm blessed that I am able to receive something. I get a little over $400 a month. It's nice but very different from being something to really live on, because just my house payment is nearly that.
I hadn't been able to work outside the home because of the lack of transportation and in a small town we don't have taxis or buses.
I have done some substitute teaching at my daughter's elementary school which is only two block from our house, and I was able to roll down there in my wheelchair to do that.
Other than DARS helping me get a wheelchair and some bath equipment I have had no other grants. I would love nothing more than to get back into the community and get at least some sort of part time job.
My biggest need is a grant that I can put toward a vehicle. It would help my family, raise my confidence and lift my spirits. I'd be able to contribute more and take some of the burden off my husband's shoulders.
Thank you for helping me with a grant. I greatly appreciate it.