T Nation

Girlfriend was in a Bad Accident


Firstly, calling her my girlfriend may be misleading. We have been together for 9 years (since high school), through good and bad phases of life. We are getting married sometime, just waiting for the right time.

So, she was in the back seat of a car, and the driver lost control of the car while getting off the highway. She broke off her right arm and left leg clean, and needed surgery to fix them together with metal plates (she had the surgery today). She is in terrible pain when she wakes up till she gets the morphine and then she can sleep. It really hurts to even look at her. I thought you guys might be able to answer a few questions for me:

  1. Those of you unfortunate enough to have had a similar experience/know someone who did - how long does the pain last?

  2. Are there any permanent effects? Like, will she be able to run normally after, say, an year? The doctor says "physically" she should be able to, but pain etc depends on the person.

  3. How does the auto insurance work? We live in different states, and I am a poor graduate student. While I am not interested in making money off it, can I get reimbursed for the flight tickets etc for me to fly in a few times, take care of her in case it comes down to being that low on cash? (we have no family in this country. We live alone @ our places).

His insurance is anyway fucked up as this would be the second accident in as many months. First was a comprehensive claim. I dont think it would make a difference to the shafting he is going to get.

  1. How do you deal with the entire incident? I dont think it is the fault of the driver, but c'mon, you are a dick who should not be on the road if you cant get the car off a ramp. But then again, it is an accident, not that he wanted it to happen. (he just had a small bruise). I know it is not his fault.... Dredging it up does no good... But it frustrates me.

  2. Anything else that might help.

/ rant. Haven't slept in 2 days +, I probably shouldn't be posting this.


I have considerable experience with some of this so I'll try to help.

First, I'm sorry to hear the terrible news. Thankfully she is alive.

Your medical questions cannot be answered here. You have only very broadly described her injuries and everyone heals differently. One thing in her favor is she is young (assuming from your post). Anything beyond that would be speculation. Bones heal. Instrumentation can be problematic over the long term and may or may not be permanent and/or require removal. Her pain will fade from it's peak now, that's just the process of healing. That does not rule out chronic pain in the future and it does not rule out a complete recovery.

Now to my area of expertise.

The auto insurance will not pay for your flights or expense.

It is the driver's fault. She is an innocent passenger. Assuming she was belted, she is 100% free from any negligence. If she was unbelted, depending on the state, the at-fault party could argue that her injuries would not have been as severe had she been belted. This would potentially reduce any award to her.

The driver is absolutely responsible. You have an absolute duty to maintain control of your vehicle. He did not. Start consulting with a lawyer. If the driver has the minimum state limits and no other insurance is available (UM, UIM) you may want to consider attempting recovery by yourselves rather than carve up a minimum policy with a third going to an attorney.

Or, you could try to negotiate a smaller fee depending on the limit available. The point I'm making is that based on her injuries and the clear liability, if the driver has a 25k liability limit for instance, the insurance carrier will happily write that check shortly once they get all the information and confirmation of your GFs injuries. That said, at least consult an attorney.

Oh, and again, it is his fault. There is no defense to what you described. And it's not personal, you're dealing with his insurance company.

Good luck and keep us posted as you get more information. I will be happy to respond.



I'm sorry to hear that. My mother had an accident like that - actually, quite a bit worse from what I read - when I was a kid. Here's what I think:

  1. My mother's accident was in 1983, and her leg still hurts. It wasn't a clean fracture, and medicine has moved on. But the first thing I'd say is, take the pain seriously - often people think it'll go away, and just try wait it out, while their physical and mental condition is impeded by constant pain. This is not to spook you, but to make sure you understand that this may take quite a long while - and that any pain management measure you can take should be taken. It will require a lot of patience from both of you.

  2. There may be permanent effects - yet, even though she was in pain, my mother managed to break her leg again a few years later falling from a bicycle... i.e. leading an active life with pain is possible and to be encouraged. And yes, my mother (well into her seventies now) is still cycling.

  3. No idea. Not from your country and haven't got a car.

  4. All focus should be on her healing. The driver will feel guilty anyway, being angry at him doesn't help anyone.

  5. The experience will change her - and you will have to adapt. Even if she fully recovers quickly, which we all hope for. As her partner, it will be a struggle between being worried, happy that she's alive, and at some point frustration when she won't progress as fast or as far as you both might hope for. You're a victim of the accident just as she has been - make sure you both address the anxiety stemming from that.

But most importantly - celebrate the fact that it wasn't worse, and that she's alive - no better present than having a second birthday.

All the best for both of you.



That sucks dude, i'm sorry to hear that. I haven't had an accident similar to that, but i have gone through something life altering and I can tell you that each person recovers differently. She should be prepared that there could be lingering problems the rest of her life. Hopefully she has a strong will to recover and will get plenty of positive support for you.


I wish I could help you Fatty, but all I can say is that my prayers are with you and yours.


Wow man, real sorry to hear about your girl. I luckily have no experience to share with you just my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.


For what it's worth, I broke my foot in three places a year ago in a bike wreck. I can run & lift and do most things, but it still hurts some times.

Good luck to you and yours.


her arm and leg were completely seperated from her body, and then reattached?


Guys, Thanks a lot for the inputs and the support. The kindness of internet strangers too can do wonders in terms of morale boost.

@HolyMacaroni - I was (am) kind of sleep deprived, I can see hot it meant what you said. The word "clean" was used by the surgeon to indicate that it snapped without splinters/jagged edges. She broke both forearm bones in her right hand and the tibia (?) around the shin region in her left foot.

The two of us always wear the seat belt even if we are in the back seat. Unfortunately, the moment of the accident, she just unbuckled to reach out for a bottle of water on the other end of the back seat. Fate has its fool proof ways of getting shit done.

She was inspired by a few posts I showed her here, and she really put a lot into her first physical therapy today (just 15 hours after the surgery). Fuck, she has bigger balls than me at this moment. She seems to be in terrible pain for some periods of time, and pain medications are strictly time controlled.

Thanks a lot guys.

Please wear your seatbelts in the back seat at all times. I know that we would never remove the belt in the front seats for any reason, but some sort of complacency creeps in when it comes to the rear seats.

P.S - how little sleep is too little? I must have got 6 hours in the last 72.. Feel OK, but want to make sure Ill be there for her for the next several days than some crazy run resulting in me getting messed up in a short while.


I'll echo this. I was a back seat passenger in a car when the driver lost control around a curve and went into a front end crash into a mountainside after skidding out of control. I was in the middle seat and we were just going to a destination 15 minutes away. As I was getting into the car my thoughts were, "it's just 15 minutes, what could go wrong?" I got in without strapping in and the first thing that went through my mind as the tires started squealling was, "stupid, stupid, stupid! I didn't strap in and now I'm going to go through the windshield and die leaving a wife and unborn child".

It's amazing the amount thoughts that go through your head as you think you're about to die. Luckily, between me bracing for impact against the two people sitting next to me and the speed lost during the skid, I managed to stay in the seat and not get launched out of the windshield. The airbags deployed and we were left in the oncoming lanes with an eerie Sarah McLachlan Christmas album playing on the stereo. We managed to get off the road without further incident. I had the shakes for probably the next 12 hours. But now I never get into a vehicle for a trip of any length without strapping in.


I have no experience in breaking arms and legs, but a very good friend of mine was on his motorcycle at some lights when someone went into the back of him at 20-30mph. He broke his back in two places and couldn't walk for about 4-5 months.

Within a year he was funtioning like a really out of shape person - he could get around but with pain and lots of breathlessness.

Within two years, he's stronger than me and walks fine and bends over fine. Cold weather makes things painful and some days it plays up and he can barely move anything around, but those days are few and far between.

Staying positive and being determined to lead a normal life is what got him through his problems, he says.

My brother recently had to have his arm pinned cause he broke it snowboarding and it splintered in 3 places. 5 weeks later he's starting to use it again and is saying he WILL be back to normal.

All the best to your lady. I couldn't offer advice, but hopefully the stories will help you motivate her to never give up when she's feeling down.


I'm sorry to hear about that. It sucks when life sucker punches you. I've had ten surgeries and broken a lot of bones, all from trauma injuries (sports or fights). The pain never FULLY (for me) goes away - especially when it's col. In the morning when it's cold, I limp to the bathroom like I'm 90 years old LOL. But you adapt. It's good that she's in therapy the day after the surgeries. How hard she pushes her self in therapy will GREATLY determine how "fully" she recovers. Bones broken clean heal MUCH better than bones that are multiple/compound fractures or crushed. She's young and sounds like she has a strong spirit. I'm no doctor, but from what you've written, it sounds like it could have been a lot worse. It sounds like she's getting the help she needs. You sound like a great guy who is supporting her. If I were you, I'd be cautiously optimistic.

Good Luck!


A friend of mine got hit by a car while she was riding a bicycle. Broke the tibia and fibula in her left leg. She was in the hospital for 2 months in traction after they had drilled a hole through her ankle and inserted a steel rod for the traction. She did rehab and she now lives a normal life, no residual pain. Just bad memories. It was pretty awful.


A guy from my rugby team broke his femur in three places. It took him about 5 or 6 months before he could walk without crutches.

All the best to your girlfriend!


I'll echo the seatbelt point also. In high school, my friend and I were driving to the little kid's wrestling practice to help coach and (in the midst of teenage stupidity) we thought it would be cool to go 100 down a gravel winding road that had running ditches along the sides of the road. Well, we missed a curve, went in the ditch, hit something in the ditch, and the car flipped over and i put my hand on the roof to brace for impact and had a hand full of glass when the upside down car finally stopped. I was wearing a seatbelt randomly. I never wore a seatbelt when riding with friends except for this one random time. Makes you think.


I've broken a few bones, nothing like your case tho.
When I broke a metacarpal, it was a spiral fracture. So I took vitamin D3(cholecalciferol), boron, calcium, and some others to help with the bone formation. It healed nicely.
I'm sure there's swelling and stuff, but possibly keeping the area heated might help with circulation(depending on where the breaks were)and healing, but as usual get a doctor's clearance on this.
Make sure she trains her uninjured side as this can help the damaged side build strength and keep the body in a state of positive repair, not sure what it's called scientifically(I think it's called cross-something), but it's backed up.
Make sure she gets her calories, obviously from clean, healthy sources, ie lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, etc. Injuries take alot of calories to repair, BMR can increase by 15-50%.
I've read that: 7g arginine + 1.5g HMB + 7g glutamine taken 2x a day helps with healing.
All the best.