What A DUI Taught Me

What A DUI Taught Me

What happens when you wake up upside down dripping blood? What happens when the only person at fault was you? What happens when your entire life comes crashing down?
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I was your typical pre-med student at the University of Pittsburgh. People looked up to me, and praised me for my hard work. I was up every single weekday at 7am, and went to bed at 4am after working in a hospital. I did what I needed to do just to get right where I wanted to be academically, financially, and in life. I never thought one mistake could take that all away from me.

Last July 4th I thought I was okay to get behind a wheel after a family party. I was not. I lost control of my new car and rolled more than 3 times. My BAC was 0.162, and as a level 1 trauma (the most severe) I was hospitalized. I couldn’t subtract 7 from 15, and I couldn’t walk for a few days, but I was alive.

The first thought I had after I became conscious was: “What just happened, is there another car?” After crawling out the back window, I searched around in what seemed like a pitch black field for another car, for another person who was harmed by me. Once I found no indication of anyone else, I did what any pre-med student would do: I frantically searched for my brand new, clearly expensive (thanks college) Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. Don’t ask me why. Eventually a car came by, and thankfully those people from high school recognized me and called for help.

The hardest thing to do in this world is to look your family in the eyes while in a hospital bed plugged in to a million things and admit “I am sorry.” I couldn’t do it. I balled my eyes out. I let them down. I let my school down. I let every single person in my life down. I let my morals and ethics fly away, and I let my dreams go up in flames. Years and years of hard work to get to the point in my life where I was happy was thrown down the drain. My medical school application I was working on? GONE. The routine hours spent volunteering? GONE.

It doesn’t matter what my GPA was, or how well I did on my MCATs. It doesn’t matter if I never missed a day of school since Kindergarten, or that I spent routine hours volunteering in the nearby hospital’s surgical/trauma ICU. It doesn’t matter if I always put my seatbelt on before I started my car and drove. I got behind a wheel of a car after drinking, and I had to face the consequences. It doesn’t matter what kind of person I am, I have to face the embarrassment and shame of it all.

What is embarrassing? Being a pre-medicine student, only a few hops away from being a medical student and making one of the dumbest decisions any one could possibly make in their life. What is shameful? The fact that over and over again the saying “Don’t drink and drive” is pounded into your brain from such an early age, and I made that mistake that could have taken away a life (or a few) from this world. I told myself I would never drink and drive… but here I am.

The main thing that pains me every time I think about the accident is that I was fortunate enough to have only harmed myself. I could have killed someone. I could have killed an innocent family traveling safely and soberly home on the holiday. It was as if I got behind the wheel and never thought about who I could have harmed, or whose life I could have turned upside down on both ends.

If you think you are okay to get behind a wheel? YOU ARE WRONG. Just when you finally think you have everything in your college career and life figured out, you will ruin it.

So here is what I learned: Think before you do. I could be on my way to medical school right now, but instead I am forced to take a few years off. 10 months later, and I am still dealing with legal issues, and they don’t seem to be getting resolved any time soon.

I have spent hundreds of hours crying the past few months, because I was stupid. I threw away everything I worked so hard to achieve, and now I am set back a few years. I can’t think about the accident and DUI, without my eyes flooding with tears, and when someone asks me if I learned my lesson, I fight back the tears and think: “God only knows.”

So my advice to you? Don’t drink and drive. Don’t risk your life or your future. Don’t you dare risk the life of anyone else. You are not invincible. Ask yourself what your family would do if they had a knock on their door with a message that you had one two many drinks before getting behind a wheel and dying? What would you do if you woke up and find out you killed a mother and her child because you got behind that wheel after drinking? Seriously, what would you do?

I got behind a wheel after drinking, and I could have easily hurt or killed someone. I deserve the embarrassment. I deserve the shame. I deserve every single consequence the state legally wants to throw my way, and I more than deserve every medical school denying me the privilege of trust after this. I may have only made one big mistake in my life, but I have to live with it and become a wiser person with each passing day. I have to learn to be patient and never give up on my dreams in the meantime.

I have no one to blame, but me. So take it as you will. If you want to destroy your future, you go for it, but whatever you do, don't you dare put the life of a family member, friend, or complete stranger in danger. Please listen to me, it will never be worth getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

Cover Image Credit: Christopher Dixon

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5 Things I Learned While Being A CNA

It's more than just $10 an hour. It is priceless.
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If I asked you to wipe someone's butt for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to give a shower to a blind, mentally confused person for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to simply wear a shirt stained with feces that was not your own for 12+ hours for $10 would you do it?

You probably wouldn't do it. I do it every day. During the course of one hour I change diapers, give showers to those who can no longer bathe themselves, feed mouths that sometimes can no longer speak and show love to some that do not even know I am there all for ten dollars.

I am a certified nursing assistant.

My experiences while working as a CNA have made me realize a few things that I believe every person should consider, especially those that are in the medical field.

1. The World Needs More People To Care

Working as a nursing assistant is not my only source of income. For the past year I have also worked as a waitress. There are nights that I make triple the amount while working as a waitress for 6 hours than I make while taking care of several lives during a 12 hour shift. Don't get me wrong, being a waitress is not a piece of cake. I do, however, find it upsetting that people care more about the quality of their food than the quality of care that human beings are receiving. I think the problem with the world is that we need to care more or more people need to start caring.

2. I Would Do This Job For Free

One of my teachers in high school said "I love my job so much, if I didn't have to pay bills, I would do it for free." I had no clue what this guy was talking about. He would work for free? He would teach drama filled, immature high school students for free? He's crazy.

I thought he was crazy until I became a CNA. Now I can honestly say that this is a job I would do for free. I would do it for free? I'd wipe butts for free? I must be crazy.

There is a very common misconception that I am just a butt-wiper, but I am more than that. I save lives!

Every night I walk into work with a smile on my face at 5:00 PM, and I leave with a grin plastered on my face from ear to ear every morning at 5:30 AM. These people are not just patients, they are my family. I am the last face they see at night and the first one they talk to in the morning.

3. Eat Dessert First

Eat your dessert first. My biggest pet peeve is when I hear another CNA yell at another human being as if they are being scolded. One day I witnessed a co-worker take away a resident's ice cream, because they insisted the resident needed to "get their protein."

Although that may be true, we are here to take care of the patients because they can't do it themselves. Residents do not pay thousands of dollars each month to be treated as if they are pests. Our ninety-year-old patients do not need to be treated as children. Our job is not to boss our patients around.

This might be their last damn meal and you stole their ice cream and forced them to eat a tasteless cafeteria puree.

Since that day I have chosen to eat desserts first when I go out to eat. The next second of my life is not promised. Yes, I would rather consume an entire dessert by myself and be too full to finish my main course, than to eat my pasta and say something along the lines of "No, I'll pass on cheesecake. I'll take the check."

A bowl of ice cream is not going to decrease the length of anyone's life any more than a ham sandwich is going to increase the length of anyone's life. Therefore, I give my patients their dessert first.

4. Life Goes On

This phrase is simply a phrase until life experience gives it a real meaning. If you and your boyfriend break up or you get a bad grade on a test life will still continue. Life goes on.

As a health care professional you make memories and bonds with patients and residents. This summer a resident that I was close to was slowly slipping away. I knew, the nurses knew and the family knew. Just because you know doesn't mean that you're ready. I tried my best to fit in a quick lunch break and even though I rushed to get back, I was too late. The nurse asked me to fulfill my duty to carry on with post-mortem care. My eyes were filled with tears as I gathered my supplies to perform the routine bed bath. I brushed their hair one last time, closed their eye lids and talked to them while cleansing their still lifeless body. Through the entire process I talked and explained what I was doing as I would if my patient were still living.

That night changed my life.

How could they be gone just like that? I tried to collect my thoughts for a moment. I broke down for a second before *ding* my next call. I didn't have a moment to break down, because life goes on.

So, I walked into my next residents room and laughed and joked with them as I normally would. I put on a smile and I probably gave more hugs that night than I normally do.

That night I learned something. Life goes on, no matter how bad you want it to just slow down. Never take anything for granted.

5. My Patients Give My Life Meaning

My residents gave my life a new meaning. I will never forget the day I worked twelve hours and the person that was supposed to come in for me never showed up. I needed coffee, rest, breakfast or preferably all of the above. I recall feeling exasperated and now I regret slightly pondering to myself "Should I really be spending my summer like this?" Something happened that changed my view on life completely. I walked into a resident's room and said "Don't worry it's not Thursday yet", since I had told her on that Tuesday morning that she wouldn't see me until I worked again on Thursday. She laughed and exclaimed "I didn't think so, but I didn't want to say anything," she chuckled and then she smiled at me again before she said, "Well... I am glad you're still here." The look on her face did nothing less than prove her words to be true. That's when I realized that I was right where I needed to be.

Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I needed caffeine or a sufficient amount of sleep. My job is not just a job. My work is not for a paycheck. My residents mean more to me than any amount of money.

I don't mind doing what I do for $10; because you can't put a price on love. The memories that I have with my patients are priceless.


Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

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5 Important Skills Your First Midterm Season At College Will Teach You

It is so easy to fall behind in college.

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At my high school, teachers were not allowed to give midterms or finals because it was "too stressful" on the students. Although it was nice while we were in high school, now that I am in college I wish that I did have to take midterms or finals because now when I am taking midterms I am still learning how to study for them. This semester is the first time I have ever had to take midterms so I wanted to share five things I have learned this midterm season.

1. Staying on top of things

It is so easy to fall behind in college. Learning from this first midterm experience, I know now that after each lecture is over I should just do the assigned reading and all the notes as we cover each topic rather than saving them for the week before the midterm. You can always reread the textbook the week before midterm but reading the textbook as the lectures occur help engrain the content in your brain.

2. Writing everything out

I found it very helpful to write out when each exam was and all the topics that would be on the exam. This helped me make a study plan more easily.

3. Knowing people in your class

When I first came to college, I didn't go out of my way to talk to people in my lectures. However, this exam season I learned it is very nice to have the contact information of some people in all lectures because while studying if you ever run into a problem it is easier to first ask your peers than to wait for office hours.

4. Going to office hours

Although you can ask your peers and google answers to conceptual questions, I also wish I went to office hours more. Sometimes during office hours, the professor will give you more information about what may be on the exam and other times it is nice to go because listening to other people's questions may also help you understand your content better.

5. How to study

Before coming to college I read at so many places that high school methods won't work in college. I never believed it until now. In high school, everyone just used to memorize everything before the test. However, in college, you actually have to know the material and know how to apply it.

Hope these are helpful, good luck!

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