My Story- Amber Bull
So here goes! My experience was in essence short, but the lessons that I keep learning from
that time seem to be endless.
The last thing I remember on August 24, 2011 was getting my son Thomas (6) off to school (it
was his second day of first grade) and getting me, Nathan(4), and Emily(1) ready for the day. I
wore a yellow shirt and my favorite new skinny jeans. I was needing to get some errands done
and looking forward to shopping being so much easier with only two young kids instead of three.
This next part is only memories from what others have told me as I don’t really have any
recollection at all.
After completing what was needed at Kohls and Hobby Lobby here in Layton, as I attempted a
left hand turn onto main street, my car was stuck on my driver’s side by a Toyota Forerunner,
who was following close behind a car that was turning right into Kohls, as I was needing to turn
left. Neither of us must have seen each other. My small Pontiac Vibe was T-boned and pushed
across the road through oncoming traffic and only stopped by the fence on the other side. It
was a miracle that our car wasn’t hit again in that process. The other driver and my two children
were thankfully ok, but I was stuck in the car as my door and side of the car was completely
smashed in. After the fireman used the “jaws of life” to cut me out, I was life flighted to Ogden
Regional Hospital. I was taken to the ER, stabilized and assessed. But as many family members
gathered in the hospital waiting room, they were told that I would need emergency surgery due
to internal bleeding. Before being taken into the operation room, my priesthood holding family
members gathered around me and gave me a blessing. My dad is a faithful and humble man.
As the thoughts came to his mind to bless me “to be whole” he was wary to say it- afraid that
that was just his wish. But, the thought would not leave him and so that was the blessing I was
given. “To be whole.”
During the operation, lacerations were discovered on my liver and kidneys, my ruptured bladder
was repaired and my spleen of all things was removed. The many scans showed that much of
the left side of my body had been broken including my C1 vertebrae in my neck, cracks in my
skull, broken ribs caused a collapsed lung, and multiple (6) brakes to my pelvis. More injuries
were discovered later, but the life threatening ones were the ones focused on.
I was placed in a medically induced coma and on life support for several days during which time
my family was confronted with the seemingly endless possible outcomes resulting from my
many injuries. Including but not limited to: Blindness due to the cracks in my skull where there
was bleeding on my brain. The jarring from the accident had shaken my brain such as shaken
baby syndrome and could possibly leave my brain not functioning as before. I could wake up a
completely different person. But the main worry and very possible outcome was that the
majority of people who suffer breaks to their C1 vertebrae also suffer damage to their spinal
cord, which would mean being paralyzed from the neck down. (Christopher Reeves- Superman
broke his neck in the same vertebrae). And those are just what I can remember after the fact. I
feel blessed that I don’t remember any of that and always say that my family’s suffering was
more than mine ever was because I didn’t have to consider any of those outcomes for a loved
The first things that I do remember as I awoke from being in a coma, was family nearby and so
many doctors and nurses always coming in. But more than anything I remember a feeling of
comfort, instead of confusion. Even though I didn’t remember what had happened, I had the
overwhelming feeling that things, although they might be hard and require a lot of work, would
still be Ok. I didn’t know exactly what ok meant, but I trusted in that feeling. And after hearing
about the priesthood blessing that I had been given, my faith in the feeling that all would be well,
was strengthened. We had truly witnessed a miracle. I had been blessed to be whole but it
was not all at once like in the Bible. I didn’t immediately rise from my bed. I knew it was then
my turn to get to work.
I spent some time in the ICU, transferred down a level and then finished my hospital stay on the
rehabilitation floor at McKay Dee Hospital. Overall I spent around a month in the hospital away
from my family. That time was not easy on anyone and I am so grateful for everyone who
helped to take care of my kids and family. I’m not sure how Ryan even survived that time. He
was able to take a little time off from work in the beginning, But when he needed to return, He
would work during the day, rush home to play with the kids and help to get them to bed, then
afterwards come to be with me at the hospital, all while still serving in the bishopric. I feel so
very blessed to have him and such wonderful family who tried to make things as normal as
possible for my kids during such a hard time.
I remember being so excited to finally go home, even though my road to recovery had just
begun. I spent a month in my wheelchair waiting to heal before I could begin physical therapy,
but after that things moved really quite quickly. We were a bit worried when we found out that
my out patient physical therapist had never worked with anyone who had a C1 injury before-
explaining that “you usually don’t rehab back from a C1 break- it either leaves you dead or
paralyzed.” Hearing him say that made the realization hit again that we had truly witnessed a
miracle. To give a quick timeline: I went trick or treating with my kids in the wheelchair, attended
family thanksgiving with only my hot pink cane and by Christmas was walking pretty much
I remember as I was going to physical therapy that my leg muscles were so weak because I
hadn’t been able to use them for so long. In our townhome, all of the bedrooms were upstairs,
and one of my major goals was to get up and down the stairs by myself. After the PT showed
me how to attempt that, I remember standing at the bottom of the stairs and feeling like I had a
literal mountain before me that I was supposed to climb. And it was scary and near impossible
at first. But, my muscles grew stronger as I exerted effort and as I put in the work. It was one of
the hardest things I have had to do, but I knew it was the only way to get to where I wanted to
be. I wanted to be walking, to be able to take care of my family. I realized that the pain and
work were necessary. I wish it was as easy in spiritual (emotional) hard times to keep that
perspective. That things are hard, but necessary for to get us where we want to be, back with
our Father in Heaven.
Even from the beginning, to look at me, you wouldn’t be able to see the injuries that I had
sustained. On the outside I looked a bit bruised at best but on the inside I was mostly broken.
Every morning I wake up and my body, even after five years, is still incredibly stiff and sore. As
the day progresses, so does the intense pain in my neck. (which has been fused and leaves me
with limited range). But I can walk! And I can be a mom to my kids! I try to remember to use that
remaining pain as a reminder. A reminder of God’s mercy a reminder to always be thankful and
a reminder to not judge others. We can never really know what someone else is going through,
we can’t always see their pain, whether physical or emotional or know the challenges in life they
are dealing with. But we can always be kind and grateful. We are all in this together and trying
to doing our best!
Often I feel undeserving to have witnessed this physical miracle when so many other’s prayers,
who ARE ALSO heard, are answered in different ways. I hope my story is a reminder of God’s
loving mercy and that miracles ARE real. He knows us and what we are going through.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that His love for us and His power to heal us are REAL.
We need to hear stories that bring us hope and strengthen our trust in Him and I thank you for
giving me a place to share my story!
Shared by Amber Bull – @memorabull on Instagram
Join in the movement. Share your story!! I am sooooo excited to give any and all of you a chance to share your story. As of right now I am able to only share one story a week with you on my podcast. I’ll never get through tell the stories of the world that way so here is my chance. I would love all of you to briefly share a piece of your story on Instagram or Facebook, whatever that looks like. And then share what this has taught you about yourself and how has it changed the way you see yourself and the world around you. Share it in writing, share it in a video. Take a photo of yourself holding a sign saying #lifebeatsforme. Write your own or download mine by clicking on the button in the sidebar. Lets be the spark to break down barriers between us, fight the urge to not share, you are so worthy of inspiring others with your story. You need to recognize its worth and they need to hear it. Allow the LifeBeats within you a chance to reach out to others and to connect and resonate with the LifeBeats of others. What you have gone through, what you are doing now, the good you are doing in the world, the struggle you are currently in, your own journey is worthy of inspiring others right where you are. Be sure to tag your story with #lifebeatsforme and @lifebeatsproject so that myself and others can find them. Each Friday I will be selecting one of your stories to share on my Instagram and Facebook pages.
I cannot wait to read your stories. The world needs you.