By Rebecca Drew
AFTER initially walking away from a car crash, this woman had to have TWENTY-THREE-INCHES of intestine removed and later had to have an OVARY AND FALLOPIAN TUBE REMOVED due to complications and now worries about how this might affect her fertility.
Customer service representative, Ashtyn White (22) from Halifax, Canada, had to have 23-inches of her intestine removed after the impact of her seatbelt locking broke the blood vessels in her small intestine after she was the passenger in a car accident on October 8, 2017.
That night, Ashtyn and her friend were on their way to McDonald’s when their vehicle was t-boned at a crossroads. In shock and overwhelmed by the smells around her, Ashtyn, who had a stabbing pain in her stomach was helped out of the vehicle by a stranger who waited with her until the emergency services arrived.
Ashtyn collapsed on her way to the ambulance and was in and out of consciousness until she woke up in hospital three days later where she was informed that she had been resuscitated twice and had to have 23-inches of her small intestine removed as it had ruptured and she was in ICU for a week before being discharged.
Back at home, Ashtyn settled back into life as well as she could but on December 20, she woke up crippled in pain and went back to hospital where she was told she had an intra-abdominal abscess which had to be cleaned. This was later found to have damaged her right ovary which had to be removed along with one of her fallopian tubes in May 2018 when she also had a temporary ileostomy which was reversed in November 2018.
Ashtyn says that the recovery from her ordeal felt like she was living in a movie but it has given her a greater appreciation for life and has encouraged her to look after herself more than she did before the crash.
“I remember everything from that night up until I went unconscious. I was with my friend who was driving and we got t-boned by another driver,” she said.
“All I could smell was chemicals from the air bag and crushed metal. The first thing I checked was to see if my friend was ok. He was in shock, so was I, I think. I was considerably calm given the circumstances, but at the same time, I noticed that my stomach hurt. A lot. An indescribable kind of throbbing, sharp pain, it felt like I had been stabbed but it also felt like my stomach was on fire.
“A woman came to my window, my friend’s side of the car was not really accessible, and asked if we were ok. I said I needed to get out of the car. The chemicals from the airbag were making me nauseous. So was the pain, probably. She opened the door and I threw up all over the sidewalk. At this point my friend couldn’t do much because his door was crushed. But he was ok.
“I went and sat by the traffic light on the side of the road, clutching my stomach. Eventually, I don’t know when, the police and ambulances arrived. Nobody paid much attention to me at first, I’m still unsure why, probably because I was out of the car. Everyone else was still in them.
“The lady who helped me out of it, she was with me, and she knew something was wrong. I have never felt more pain in my life than I did then. She got a paramedic to come over to me and they did their usual mandatory checks for spinal injuries.
“I told them I was ok, my stomach just hurt a lot. It felt like I had been stabbed. So, they got me into an ambulance, got me on the stretcher, laid me down and did vitals. I’m not sure what they saw. What my levels were. They for some reason asked me to go into a different ambulance than the one I was in, I obliged, and we were walking over to it and that was when I collapsed.
“I woke up on October 10, I think. Dazed and confused and in a lot of pain. What had happened was my seatbelt locked on impact and broke the blood vessels in my small intestine. I was bleeding out on the inside. They told me I was resuscitated a couple times, and they had to remove 60cm of my intestine.
“The next week was hard. I was in the ICU for a week, and then I got to go home once I learned how to walk again and was out of immediate danger. I kept on living, and by the end of October I was back to my usual routine for the most part.
“But then on December 20, five days before Christmas, I woke up with an absolutely indescribable pain. I went to my doctor, and she told me to go to the hospital immediately. It felt like something was wrong. So I went, told them I was an MVA victim in October, and I got in right away.
“They told me that my intestine was leaking, an ‘intra-abdominal abscess’. I had to have surgery to get it cleaned out. My right ovary got damaged which lead to it having to be removed. I was in the hospital until December 27.
“As well as my ovary, six months later I also had to have a temporary ileostomy for half a year. I felt worried. Worried that it would affect my fertility, however it isn’t known yet what the effects are, I will undergo testing in the future for it.”
Ashtyn’s mum, Shelley, was her rock throughout her recovery and has supported her through, massage therapy, osteopathy, physiotherapy, acupuncture and counselling.
The accident has given Ashtyn a greater appreciation for life and she shares her ongoing recovery under the handle, @seatbeltsurvivor.
“Following the accident, I felt shocked and determined. Shocked because it felt like I was in a movie and determined because up until that point my ways of living were not the best. I was not the healthiest and that was due to my own neglect of my wellbeing. I knew I was going to change from that point on and I felt a lot of loss from who I was before,” she said.
“My mum has been with me every single moment, every single hospital trip, she is the hardest worker I know and she took time off work for me, even though many times she was sitting in the hospital room working away on her laptop, but still. I only hope I can be there for her as much as she was for me someday.
“My life right now is good. I would be lying if I said it was the best, but it’s great considering my circumstances and I am incredibly happy with who I am nowadays. I feel like I’m becoming the person I was meant to be, it led me in a better direction than I was in before.
“I try not to take things for granted anymore, because life is not short, but it can end abruptly and unexpectedly. So I try to remind myself of that on a daily basis.
“Don’t give up. It may seem like the pain and the struggle and the hurt won’t ever end, but it will if you keep pushing through. If you want it to end, it will. It won’t be easy, but there are many people out there who have been in a similar or identical situation, and they made it through.
“It is a test of your strength, it will take every fibre of your being, but you will get through it.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/seatbeltsurvivor