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“911 what's your emergency?” said a monotone voice, void of emotion.
“There was a crash. We were just driving down the highway, and a semi truck swerved in front of me. We flew off the highway and into a tree. I’m fine, but my little sister is unconscious, and I’m just really scared.” The voice suddenly became lively.
“Is she still breathing? Can you see any blood?”
“I can’t get her out of the car, she’s trapped, but I can see blood all over her face.”
“Where are you located?”
“We’re about, uh, a m-mile south of exit 44 on I-75.” I stuttered.
“OK. Just stay calm, the ambulance is on the way.” The ambulance took about five minutes to get here, but considering how freaked out I was it felt like five hours. Once I had hung up with that monotone voice, I called my parents. They said they would be there soon.
After the ambulance arrived, they took out some really big scissors, and cut my sister out of the car. “What’s her name?” they asked.
“Devlyn.” I managed to reply. “Devlyn Campbell.”
“And your name?”
“Callie Campbell. I’m her older sister.”
By that time my parents were here. They jumped out of the car and sprinted to us. I have never seen either one of them move that fast in my entire life, and both of them are runners.
The EMT’s got her out of the car and onto a stretcher. My heart was racing. All I could think was this is all my fault. If I had been paying better attention none of this would have happened. They gently put her into the ambulance. My mom went with her, and my dad and I followed in his car.
On the ride to the hospital my dad wanted to know exactly what had happened. I tried to tell him, I honestly did, but all I could do was cry. All I managed to get out before we got to the hospital was, “Semi swerved...big tree...Devlyn trapped.”
We got to the hospital in about 10 minutes, and when we arrived to the ER it was madness. There were people everywhere. Doctors, nurses, patients.
Running down the hall screaming orders I saw 3 nurses pushing my sister, going as fast as they could while pushing a stretcher and my mom running after them sobbing. I didn’t get a good look at Devlyn when they put her in the ambulance. It was not a pretty sight. There was blood all down her face, her arm was twisted and bent in ways arms shouldn’t be. If my mom wasn’t chasing after her, I honestly wouldn’t know who it was.
They took her right into the operating room, to remove the glass shards from her her face and body. Seeing as family wasn’t allowed to be with her in the OR, my mom, dad and I just sat in the hallway. I think we would have said something, cried, anything, but we were all at a loss for words. After about an hour, I had worked up the strength to tell them the story. “We were just driving down the highway on our way home from school.” It hurt almost as much to tell this story, as it did when I thought about the fact, that I could have possibly just killed my sister. “And um, a semi truck swerved in front of us. I tried to stop, but it all happened to fast,” I had to get through the story, no matter how much it killed me, my parents needed to know, “when I opened my eyes, I was on the ground twenty feet away from the car. It took me a moment to realize what had happened, and trust me as soon as I did, I freaked. And I’m really sorry, I know you said to be careful and to never take your eyes off the road it’s just that-”
“Hey, it’s okay” my mom said. “This isn’t your fault, things like this happen, there’s nothing you could have done to stop it.” She sounded very calm considering the situation, I was just glad she wasn’t blaming this on me.
After a long time of staring at the light green wall, listening to doctors running around shouting orders, and watching patients’ family walk in and out, some pleased with the visit, others looking like they were about to cry, most actually crying, and occasionally glancing at each other, a doctor finally came out to talk to us. He didn’t look too happy about the news he was sent to deliver. “Surgery went great, we had to remove a kidney, but she’ll do just fine with just one. Unfortunately, the x-rays weren’t as kind. She broke four ribs, both legs, her collarbone, and her right arm.
“NO!” my mom screeched, “Not my baby!” For a second I thought she was going to slap me, and that’s when the guilt kicked in. This really was, all my fault, if I had been paying better attention, none of this would have happened. My whole family was staring at me,
“What?” I asked
“Don’t say that ever again!” my dad scolded
“That this is all your fault!” S***. I was thinking out loud. Why do I always do that? I have to learn how to keep my thoughts to myself.
“Well it is!” I countered “If I had been paying attention, this never would have happened!”
“It could have happened to anyone Callie, don’t put this on your shoulders.”
“He’s right” the doctor said, speaking directly to me, “It could have happened to anyone, now we have a couple options for you,” he said, now speaking directly to my parents, “Her face is in bad shape, so we can allow it to heal naturally, and see how that goes, but she will definitely experience some pain, and will have scars on her face for the rest of her life. ”
“Or?” my mom asked tears streaming down her face.
“Or, we can give her reconstructive face surgery, otherwise known as plastic
“What are the risks?” Dad asked.
“Well don’t forget, surgery is surgery, the body doesn’t know why it’s being cut open, readjusted, there could be excessive bleeding, numbness, infections, anything you could get with normal surgery, you could get with plastic surgery. But at the same time, letting it heal naturally could cause some of the same effects. There could be infections going in that direction also, there will also be a lot more pain if we leave it be.
“Let’s do the plastic surgery!” my mom said a little bit too excitedly. “I don’t want my baby to be in pain.”
“Well hold on a second,” Dad said. “Just how bad is it?”
“Would you like to see?” the doctor replied.
“I would, actually,” my dad said a little bit sassily.
“Please come with me.” So we did, we followed the doctor through a maze of
hallways into a small room with a bed and a chair. The chair is where my mom collapsed when she saw Devlyn lying on the bed. The wall is what I had to lean on when I saw. The door is what my dad walked out of after he got a good look at her.
D's face was scabbed up, there were open cuts everywhere from all of the glass, her arm, now in a cast was all bruised up, her fingers bent in every direction. Her right leg was in a cast and resting in one of those dangling slings. I think the only part of her that wasn’t damaged was the big toe on her left foot. It had a cute color dark green nail polish. I wondered where we got that, I’d never seen it before.
I glanced over at my mom, to see her reaction. She was sobbing. I peeked out the window looking for my dad, and saw him sitting on one of those awful hospital chairs, tears streaming silently down his face. I sat down next to him and allowed the tears to come. After a while mom came out and sat with us.
“Let’s do it,” dad said. We both silently agreed that D was getting the plastic
surgery. The doctor came back to see how it went, and we told him our decision.
“Great!” he said. “I’m just going to need to see a couple pictures of how she used to look. And I’m going to warn you, plastic surgery takes a long time to heal, it could be months until she’s back to how she used to be.”
“That’s okay,” my mom said. “We want her back.” The doctor led us to a big desk with lots of secretaries and told them our situation. The secretary set up an appointment with the children’s plastic surgeon for tomorrow, so we can talk about all of the details.
My mom said she was going to stay with D for the night, and that we should go home and get some rest. It had been a long day, and I was tired, so I didn’t exactly fight her on that one. When we got home my dad asked me if I wanted any dinner. I said no because I don’t think I could eat if I tried. He didn’t look like he wanted to make anything either. So we both went to our separate rooms, and went to bed. I didn’t sleep though. Sleep was out of the question. *******
The next day, we got to the hospital at 9:30 for our 10:00 appointment with the plastic surgeon. My mom didn’t look like she had slept more than like 30 minutes last night. I don’t think any of us did. When we got to our meeting, the surgeon asked for the pictures, and I got out the folder I had collected this morning. There was a picture of her at the lake over the summer, one of her and I at the park just last weekend, and her school picture. He looked them over, and said they were perfect. The surgery would happen as soon as the rest of her body was up to par. We thanked him and left.
After a couple of weeks, my sister had woken up and was doing much better. I still couldn’t tell who she was, and she kept calling herself “Ellen,” but she was doing great. The doctor said it wouldn’t be long until the plastic surgeon would perform the first step of the surgery. My mom was relieved. I have to say, I was too. This whole not being able to tell it was my sister act was really getting old.
The surgeries were successful; she looks just the way she used to, same blonde hair, same round nose, and the same plump lips. Her eyes looked blue though. I could swear they used to be green, and she seemed taller. Miraculous hospital growth spurt I guess.
About three weeks after the final surgery, we were allowed to bring her home. When we walked in the front door, she didn’t recognize anything. The doctors said to expect this, but for some reason I didn’t think it was actually going to happen. I mean I knew she wouldn’t remember the little things, like where we keep the toilet paper, or the combination for her locker, but her house? The same one we have been living in since she was four? That was some pretty major stuff to be forgotten.
All of these things were adding up, first she has on a nail polish that I don’t recognize, which isn’t much, but we had just painted our nails the day before and I distinctly remember them being pink. Then she’s calling herself Ellen. It sounds close to Devlyn but we told her multiple times her name wasn’t Ellen and she insisted it was. Then, she grows three inches in about 2 hours, and changes the color of her eyes in less than a day. That’s not normal.
I brought that fact up with our parents, and they said it was nothing to worry about, and that I should just be happy that she was finally home. I don’t think they understood what I was saying. I am pretty sure my sister is not home, and I have no idea who this girl is.
At her next check up, I ask the question of how likely it is that she could have been switched with someone who looked similar to her. They said that the chances were very slim, but still possible. I was almost 100% sure this is what had happened. When we got in the car my dad said “Callie, I told you to drop it. That girl, is your sister and as much as you might doubt it, it’s true!”
“Dad! I want to believe you, honest I do, but it doesn’t feel right. Can we just get a DNA test? Please? If you can prove to me that this is the real Devlyn then I will apologize and we can move on.”
“Fine, next week, when we’re at the hospital for her final check-up I will ask about what we can do.”
“Thank you! That’s all I wanted!” I didn’t want to start drama; I just wanted my sister back.
At the next appointment, as promised my dad asks about a DNA test. The doctor said it was very unlikely that it wasn’t Devlyn but if we were that uncertain we could schedule a test. So we did.
When the results came back it was the most nerve racking experience
of my life. We were sitting in a small office, on freezing cold metal yellow chairs. The office had bright white walls and a big wood desk, with an Apple computer. There was an old fashioned school clock on the wall behind me. Tick, tock, tick, tock. It smelled like hand sanitizer and doctor’s office. My dad was sitting on my left, completely calm. My mom though, sitting on my right was extremely fidgety. I think that he knew right along with me that that girl was not Devlyn. My palms were sweating, my heart racing. The doctor glanced through the results, no reaction shown through his hazel green eyes.
After what felt like about 135 hours of sitting there staring at each other, the doctor looked up. “The DNA tests have come back negative. This is not your daughter.”