When the brave rescue team got down to where I was, I thought that they were going to have to use a Jaws Of Life to pull me out of my car. Luckily, that wasn’t the case but I do wonder if the best procedures were followed in getting me out of there? Initially, my two rescuers came to my aid and specifically told me NOT to move my head or neck. They did not know the severity of my injuries but when the team came down, they simply opened my driver’s door and told me to lift my feet over and onto the ground and try to stand up on my own. I knew that my legs were still capable of moving, so I did just that. I painfully got out of my seat and stood up right next to my car. I was still pretty disoriented but I quickly noticed how torn up the top of my car’s roof was. After waiting there on my feet for probably 5 to 10 minutes, they laid me down on a stretcher and began the process of getting me up the mountain.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was immediately placed on the ICU floor and I could hear them use male pronouns when talking about me. Even then, it was painful for me to hear them but that is what they saw. Initially, while I was being cared for in critical condition, my two nurses were very kind and polite. That quickly changed however when my doctor came into the room along with other hospital staff. I just felt like if I were to allow them to operate on me, I would not make it out alive and at best would have been left a vegetable. My doctor did not seem to care about my well-being but in getting himself another patient to practice on. He told me that my injuries were going to require for me to have surgery sooner or later, there was simply no way around it.
By January 3rd, four days after being admitted to El Paso University Medical Center, I was upgraded from critical to stable condition and was moved up to another room. Doctors and nurses were no doubt informed about the trans freak show that was on their floor. Mark had let the hospital staff know that he too was trans and that he was born female. This, no doubt, I am sure made for an unusual amount of people who would peer into my room and gawk. The nurses were all very awkward when it came to dealing with me and would always use male pronouns when addressing me. Mark was always quick to respond by using female pronouns when speaking about me whenever he conversed with them. It was around that time that I had the strength enough to lift my right arm and noticed that on my wristband they had me down as male. Even though my license and other documents were female, they had listed me as male. Upon noticing it, I asked Mark to let them know that I wanted it changed.
The transphobia was no more evident than when another doctor along with a woman from the hospital staff came into my room and tried to encourage me to take the surgery option. This Latino doctor and this Latina woman came in addressing me as sir this and that. Mark was in overdrive trying to correct them from misgendering me but they kept right on. Mark was sick of it, so he stopped the doctor and interrupted him by saying, “we are transgender sir, please use the correct pronouns when addressing Lynna, she is a transwoman and she goes by female pronouns”. He was caught aback but after Mark said that, he granted me the courtesy and addressed me properly.
We could not wait to get out of there, all we needed to wait for was that clamshell brace to arrive and for me to practice putting it on and we could check out of there. I won’t forget just how painful they made it to put that thing on when it did arrive. I hated wearing it too from day one. First of all, initially it took like four or five people to have me get it on. It was so stiff and unforgiving and actually exacerbated the pain in my neck even worse. I felt like it clamped my head in this awkward position and just kept it there. I knew that I had to wear it though and prove to them that I was getting better.
After they placed it on me, I felt so restricted and immobile and they expected me to get up and walk with this thing on? At first, I thought that it was going to be impossible but not long later, I had successfully walked around the hospital hallways a couple of times, with the help of a couple of occupational therapists. Mark could not wait to get out of there because he knew that I was not going to get any better by being in a hospital and lying down in my bed. We were so relieved when we got the news that we were going to be able to check out soon and go home. Kelly Winters arrived the next day and she gave Mark and I a ride to Silver City, where Mark was living.
The thing is that we had no place to stay. Mark lived in an RV and he knew that I was not in any shape to navigate the steps up into it. What were we to do? Mark called around and one of his friends, an LGBT-friendly pastor , Tyler Connely, helped us out. He somehow got Millie’s Assisted Living Facility in Silver City to take us in. I will never forget the moment that I made it outside of the hospital, I was so grateful to be outside for the first time since my accident and I was very grateful for Tyler. I had to wear that cumbersome and painful brace and when Kelly drove up in her car and I tried to get into it, I almost fell back. I could not bend my upper body so they had to carefully slide me in. Then there was the drive, oh gosh, I felt every single bump and dip. Mark was sitting in the back seat and he was cradling my head as Kelly drove. I am sure that he must’ve gotten tired of doing that but it was just one of the many ways that he was taking care of me.
We got to Silver City just as the sun was going down and I was exhausted from being in the brace and in the car for so long. I could not help but think of my accident and the PTSD that I felt as we drove through New Mexico and up into the mountains. Thankfully, there were no treacherous mountain passes to navigate around. Initially we could not find the place but eventually we pulled into Millie’s. I breathed a sigh of relief and Mark opened the door to get me out. The staff had a wheelchair for me to get into and after greeting some of the wonderful women who worked there, they showed me to my room. It was small room with a bed that was able to adjust, with a mounted tv and a sink. It had a recliner and that was where Mark ended up sleeping on for the three days that we were there. The restrooms were community ones and I think that I used it once to shower. They were so kind to me, the staff were so genuine and sweet to both of us, along with the people who were living there. They were gracious enough to feed us too, breakfast, lunch and dinner. We joined the rest of the people for a meal around a big table and let me tell you, that was quite the experience. I remember at first that I could not even lift a spoon up to my mouth. Mark fed me and helped me to drink, I was really helpless initially. It was going to be a while until I would be able to do anything on my own.
One moment that I know that Mark remembers quite well was either the second or third day at the assisted living home. We were in the room and he was wanting me to get up so that he could put the brace on so that we could go eat dinner. I was able to roll over on my side and he helped me up but as he left me there for a second, I attempted to get up and then passed out in the process. I don’t remember what all happened but apparently, I just lost it, my eyes rolled to the back of my head and I nearly clobbered the back wall next to the bed. It was at that moment that he thought to himself that maybe that in taking me on, he had possibly bitten off more than he could chew? He got me back to consciousness but it left a real impression on him. He got me ready to go anyways and we climbed right over that obstacle and went to dinner that night.
By the third day, we were needing to come up with long-term solutions to where I would stay. Mille’s had been generous but they had never had options to allow me to stay longer than a few days and so Mark was trying to find a place for us to go to. I needed a place that was handicap accessible and in a town of 10,000, there just were not that many options for us. He found a motel that might fit the bill but about that time a highway patrol officer showed up. He was the officer who had been at the scene of the accident back on December 31st. He wanted to ask me some questions about the incident and he wanted to know a few things about my condition the night of my accident.
I told him that I drove too far and for far too long. I told him that I had broken headlight and my visibility was not the best. He said that my car had launched itself off the highway and impacted a tree head-on. My front license plate had been found embedded into that same tree and my car had flipped over several times before it came to rest at the bottom of the mountainside 500 feet below the roadside. He said that because of the nature of my accident that I was being given a ticket for reckless driving. Mark and I were incredulous upon hearing him say that he was going to give me a ticket. He pleaded with the officer and asked him if he could forego the ticket but the officer said that he had to do it. Had I not been through enough? This ticket was like adding insult to injury for sure. I reassured me and said that it was not going to be so bad. I had a real chance of potentially going to jail and/or having to pay a fine on top of the broken neck to recover from. We just smiled and said thanks and chocked it up to another mountain that we had to climb ourselves out of.
Mark did find a place and it was a couple of miles down the street and it was called The Drifter Motel. I was a drifter alright and this town seemed like a real-life version of Radiator Springs from the Disney animated movie “Cars”. I loved that movie and now I was living in Radiator Springs myself. We packed up my things and we made our way over to our new home for the next month. This room was pretty barebones too but it did have its own handicap shower. It also included a TV and a microwave. We had a couple of chairs and I think a table, maybe not. Like I said before, I don’t really have a really great memory of that first month. I do remember the hate that I received though, that is something that I can’t forget.
During the time that we were in the hospital, a local newspaper reporter came to the assisted living facility to do a follow-up story on Mark and I. When it went online on their website, I started to look at the comments that people were leaving. I have never seen so much hate? People who did not even know me, were randomly leaving hateful and hurtful messages that no one should ever have to hear. I think that this is what made me so defensive for so long. I mean, there were old friends and family who were just being rude, mean, inappropriate and hurtful towards me. I was still trying to recover from the pain that I was dealing with and I had to put up with all of this. It was awful.
After being settled for a week in our hotel room, we got news that my Honda had been brought to a local junk yard and was ready for us to take a look at it. I still had so many things of mine inside that SUV and I did not know what was left? Mark rented a van and we made our way to take a look and when we got there I was amazed at how packed my SUV still was. I wanted all of it and Mark just wanted me to leave it all behind. I think that this is when we had our first disagreement because he just got so annoyed that I had all of this stuff and that I wanted him to get it all out and into the van. We would not have room for any of it in the hotel room and we ended up getting a storage locker in order to store it all. Hectic and crazy times no doubt.