It was the 11th of July 2008; the day was a Friday. We were taking our girls, Caitlin (8) and Brianna (4), to Melbourne for a short holiday. It was a beautiful, clear and sunny day. The girls were chatting in the back, I was having a snooze in the front passenger seat which I had in a reclined position and Peter, my husband, was driving. We were just coming up to the Princes Highway/South Eastern Freeway intersection, Monteith, SA, Australia.
I roused with the need to go to the toilet and was about to ask Peter if we could pull over somewhere. Then I saw this flash of white, I heard Peter say ‘OH!’ Then I heard a loud metal bang! The car was spinning and it seemed like an eternity before it came to a stop.
The first thing my husband and I did was look to the back seat, desperate to see that the girls were alive. Caitlin was sitting up, screaming, with blood trickling down the left side of her face from a wound a millimeter from the corner of her left eye. Brianna was missing altogether from her booster seat! She had been thrown out of her seat and had become completely wedged underneath my passenger seat. Apparently children’s booster seats with seat belt on do not keep your little ones safe!
I tried to open my door but it was jammed shut as it had taken the brunt of the first impact. I dragged myself to the gap between the front seats so I could see Brianna. I found moving my left side difficult. Once there I could see Brianna: her whole body was jammed underneath the seat with her arms and legs sticking out in front of her. Pete was already out of the car and had opened the passenger side where Caitlin was sitting. I tried to reach down to Brianna with my right arm but my right shoulder and chest exploded with pain. I looked up at Peter and asked if he could reach her and he said yes.
I continued to drag myself across to the driver’s side door and got out of the car, so I could get to Caitlin. Everything was strange and rippling in waves. I felt like I was seeing everything from underwater. I got to Caitlin and she said “Mummy can you hold me.” I went to try and sit next to her but my body would not cooperate!
I then noticed my mobile phone had landed next to her from the front seat. I grabbed it while Peter was freeing Brianna from underneath the seat. I dialed Peter’s parents number from off the top of my head and Peter’s father answered. I said that we have had an accident and it was bad. He didn’t recognise my voice and didn’t understand what I had said. He asked if I had the right number. In a panic I said that it was Chris and we have been in an accident and it was bad. He asked where we were and I can’t remember if I told him or not. I don’t remember finishing the conversation.
For the first time I looked around, I saw the other car in the middle of the road behind me. It was all banged up and there were people standing around it. I screamed at the other driver, “WHY DIDN’T YOU GIVE WAY? MY BABIES ARE IN THE CAR!”
Then a little old man on a cane with a young girl came up beside me. The man said, “I am a Doctor, can I help?” I said “Yes, please, my daughter has been hurt, can you make sure she is okay.” Caitlin was the daughter I was referring too.
I looked up and Peter was standing next to us cradling Brianna in his arms. Brianna was white and completely silent. I asked Peter if she was okay, he said he thought so. I asked if he was okay and he said yes I think so, I started to feel relieved that we were all alive!
Then I felt really sick, and I knew I needed to lie down now! I didn’t want to panic the children so I took a few steps behind the car and then proceeded to fall to the ground. I was caught halfway down by another man; he cradled my head as he released my body onto the ground. Now in hindsight I can say the care he took of my head and neck as he caught me and stopped me from just hitting the ground was life saving in its own right. As it turned out I had a broken neck!
I look back now with the knowledge of the gross amount of injury to my body and completely marvel at how I turned to the children in the backseat, tried to open my door, dragged myself to the centre of the car and then across and out the other side. Standing up trying to comfort Caitlin, making a phone call, screaming at the other driver, talking to Peter and making sure everyone was okay! That the need to take care of my family mixed with the adrenaline had enabled me to do this was remarkable, albeit for only a few minutes.
This new man on the scene said that he was an accident and emergency Doctor. We all seemed to be very lucky to have all these doctors driving by at the right time!
I still had no idea how bad it was going to get. I was soon deemed critically injured.
As the A&E Doctor was making sure I was in a position that minimised any more injury, the ambulance officers arrived. I don’t know how many ambulances there were, but I was being seen to, my family were being seen to and the driver of the other car was, too.
When I saw them I asked them to please check if my family were all okay. I remember them being surprised, because the girls and Peter were no longer in the car they hadn’t realised immediately that there were other casualties from our car. They set too directly to my great relief and gratitude. They put a neck brace on me and started asking me if I could move my legs, which I could. They cut my clothes of me. I remember being asked if I was wearing a seat belt and then one of the others said, “Oh, yes, she was, just look at that.” I had a seat belt mark, bruised into my neck and chest.
One of them said that they could see the evidence of where my head hit the windscreen. Peter later said he couldn’t see how that could have been the case because we had air bags. I agreed with him at the time but now thinking back it could have happened at the second impact. The bags would have gone off when we collided with the other driver but then we spun and hit a stobie pole knocking it down that was another great impact but without the airbags as they had already gone off.
Peter came to me and said that the other ambulance needed to take him and the girls to Murray Bridge hospital, but he didn’t want to leave me. I didn’t want him to leave either, but I couldn’t have the girls go to hospital without one of us with them. I told him to go with the girls, and that I would be all right.
The paramedics gave Caitlin a trauma teddy, while Peter held Brianna. They were all seriously injured.
After he was gone, I began to shake violently. One of the bystanders became concerned and the ambulance officer said that I was just cold. I don’t remember feeling cold. However, at that point I was inundated with about three picnic blankets from bystanders. We were all surrounded by what seemed to be more than a few Good Samaritans. I wish I knew who they all were so I could thank them. Every person who stopped, every emergency personnel and Doctors who worked so hard to save us I am so grateful for and wish I had been able to thank them.
In fact, the accident had been serious enough to gain even more attention, as the media turned up. It was reported on some of the news channels that evening with graphic footage of the scene.
I began to feel really bad, I was having trouble with my vision so I closed my eyes, a heavy feeling was building in my chest and I started finding it hard to breath. I was given an oxygen mask. In hindsight the difficulty I was having would have been because internal bleeding was pushing on my diaphragm. One of the ambulance officers asked a question I didn’t quite hear and the other answered with “No, it isn’t good”. Then I could hear the officers and the doctor becoming quite panicked. They needed to find more than one size of something because what was happening to me was also happening to the driver of the other car. The A&E doctor said it was okay that he could do whatever it was to me and they could take care of the other one.
At this point I became extremely afraid. I thought that if they were afraid then I was in real trouble. I thought I was okay when I said Peter should go with the girls. I remember thinking, My God, I am going to die! Without my family, all alone! I remember trying really hard not to panic. I felt somehow that if I panicked I would die. I thought of Peter and the girls and concentrated really hard on staying alive for them.
They called for a Medivac (helicopter) from Flinders Medical Centre for the driver of the other car and me.
When I heard this I was distracted by my other fear of flying. I imagined being put into one of those bubbles that sit on the outside of a helicopter, the ones you see in movies. Fortunately it wasn’t like that at all; I was very relieved to be put inside the helicopter next to the driver of the other car. I remember the ambulance officer who took care of me, asking me to not get mad at the other driver.
He didn’t have to worry; I found at this point I couldn’t talk anymore.
One of the bystanders, a woman, came to the helicopter and started to let me know that my children and husband were okay and had been taken to hospital. I think she was admonished because she then said in an angry voice. “I would want to know if it was me!”
There was a doctor that came with the helicopter and he was sitting between the other woman and me. He grabbed my hand and started stroking it gently with his thumb. I was so grateful; I just concentrated on that sensation and tried to block everything else out.
I really wish I knew the names of all the people involved so I could thank them with all of my heart.
I don’t remember the helicopter taking off or landing. I don’t remember being taken out of the helicopter or being taken into the hospital. I don’t remember having the scans that I had, either. The next thing I remember after the nice doctor stroking my hand was a bright light on the ceiling and a number of people surrounding me. A male in scrubs saw that I was awake and said, “It is alright, if there was anything wrong you would be in surgery right now.” The ambulance officers and the doctors had been concerned that the internal bleeding had been a perforated organ, but I was so very lucky that it was a result of a tear in my stomach lining. This took me off the critical list and added me to the stable list. Though they had missed the fact that my neck was broken at this point! I can only assume it was because of the urgency to deal with the internal bleeding and stablilising my vitals. I remember needing to go to the toilet, so they put a catheter in me. I heard them commenting on how much; I had obviously needed to go to the toilet.
The next thing I remember is being in casualty with curtains around me. I opened my eyes and Peter was there at the foot of the bed. I can’t remember what my first words to him were. I remember asking him what the time was and he said 5.30 pm. I was shocked at that, because the accident had happened at about 10.30 am and I couldn’t believe I had lost about 6 hours. A male doctor came in and I can only presume he was a new shift because he didn’t seem to know much about my case. He asked if I wanted to go home and I said yes, of course. I was absolutely in no condition to go home, but I was too off my head to give a rational answer. Unbelievably I hadn’t been admitted!
The girls came in at that moment with Narnie, Peter’s Mother. Caitlin looked terrible! I thought she was going to pass out! I told the doctor to look at her, because she didn’t look at all good and that she had been in the accident. He looked at Peter and said “Murray Bridge Hospital discharged you all didn’t they? I am happy with their recommendation”. I was stunned, the nurse next to the bed said to me, “I agree with you she doesn’t look good! I am just going to take her around to pediatrics.” Caitlin wasn’t all right and she was put under the care of the surgeons and admitted for three days. Peter stayed with her in a chair next to the bed.
The new Doctor said I could go home, even though I was going home to no one! I said I would need to have the catheter removed he seemed really surprised that I even had a catheter in. In hindsight this negligence was the catalyst for a serious of misdiagnoses and the cause of more than a few of my significant injuries to not heal correctly. Broken Neck for one!
Poor Peter it hadn’t occurred to the staff in Caitlin’s ward that Peter had been in the accident, too, he had injuries to his lower back and front and back ribs. So, he wasn’t given any pain relief or made comfortable until finally on day two something was said.
Brianna was still white and silent and went home with Narnie because Peter and I couldn’t look after her. Damn it all! My darling Brianna of course was so injured and it went completely unnoticed because Peter and I weren’t there to notice what was not normal for her!
My entire family should have been kept in hospital overnight for observation!
We live in a first world country and yet we couldn’t receive appropriate medical attention; outside of the emergency services who were outstanding!
Narnie took me home, she asked if she should stay with me and I didn’t want to be any trouble so I said no: again, not the right decision. I did ask if she could stay long enough for me to have a bath, because I didn’t want to faint in the water.
After Narnie left, I took some Endone that the hospital had given me and went to bed with a lot of pillows. I was in so much pain everywhere; I got up with difficulty and took some more Endone. In hindsight, I don’t think I stopped at all to think how much and when I should be taking them.
I posted on Facebook that we had had an accident and that Caitlin was in hospital. I said that we had all been hurt and I had some cuts and bruises but would be okay. Again I had no idea how wrong I was!
I went to the toilet and was horrified that when I wiped myself, I noticed my anal sphincter was just hanging open, I should have said something but at that point I was too embarrassed to volunteer the information. If a doctor had asked me I would have said something. I didn’t even know what it meant.
I cannot understand how one moment I am on the critically injured list and Medivac’d. To not being kept in hospital overnight for observation!
When I think of all the injuries that would have been diagnosed then and there so that they could have healed properly instead of leaving me disabled!
The hospital had only been concerned with my internal bleeding; I have since discovered that the only scans taken were in relation to this.
By the morning I felt much worse and I was finding it hard to breath. Peter was at the hospital with Caitlin and Narnie was looking after Brie, so I didn’t want to disrupt them. I put something on and dragged myself across the road to the neighbours; this was difficult because my left leg would keep giving way under me. I knocked on their door and asked if they could please call me an ambulance. I don’t know why I didn’t just call myself an ambulance; I think I was just afraid of being alone at that moment.
They sat me down and did so. The ambulance arrived and I explained how I was feeling and what had happened the day before. They gave me pain relief and took me back to the hospital.
I was in casualty for some time and while I was waiting for a doctor, I asked a nurse if I could go down to Pediatrics to see Caitlin.
The nurse got me a wheelchair and had someone take me down there. That was when I saw the poor state Peter was in and asked the nurse in Pediatrics if he could have a bed to sleep in because he was injured from the car accident too. She had had no idea and apologised and I hope he was taken better care of after that.
Caitlin was looking better but she said it hurt to move; she also had an infection, apparently unrelated to the accident, for which she was on an antibiotics drip. I remember none of her other injuries were mentioned to me at the time. I even wonder if they had diagnosed them yet.
Peter was in so much pain too though being brave for Caitlin and myself. It would have been great if family or friends could have visited and helped him manage by giving him a break so he could shower or nap.
But for some reason I don’t understand this didn’t happen.
I was feeling really bad, so I went back up to casualty. I got to see a doctor and she said that you always feel much worse the day after, so I could go home. If I felt worse, I should come back. I asked whether, if I was going to feel worse in any case, I should not come back. She looked at me for a moment then said that I should indeed come back if I felt worse.
After a few more days, I still felt very bad. Peter was home taking care of us and I was lying on the bed. Out of everything that was hurting, my stomach was hurting the most at that moment. I asked Pete if he could rub it and that’s when we noticed a massive hard lump in my stomach. It felt and looked like an iron bar under the skin.
Peter decided to take me back to the hospital. The hospital admitted me overnight for the first time since the accident. I was handed over to the surgeons. The lump was apparently clotted blood from my internal bleeding. When they came to speak to me, one said, “We should go in and take this out”, the other said, “No, it is now our policy to let the body take care it.” So I was sent home where it took weeks for my body to take care of it!
The next day after returning home from the hospital we decided to go to our GP so our injuries could be assessed and recorded. I wasn’t feeling at all confident in the hospital now.
My doctor gave me a high dose of slow release Endone (Oxycodone Hydrochloride). He expressed the importance of them giving me enough pain relief to mask the symptoms so that I could move. He said when you rest limbs there tends to be some wasting, but you can’t do that with backs. He said if I didn’t move it, I would lose it. He also gave me slow release Naproxen. He noted most of the body parts that hurt but didn’t organise any scans or xrays as he assumed the hospital would have done there job properly.
This continued to be the thinking of every health professional.
I would have to keep complaining and coming back and keep coming back again until further investigations would be initiated.
He also organised Physiotherapy. I remember my first appointment, Luke my physio couldn’t touch me anywhere without it hurting so he suggest their hydro therapy pool. I remember all I could do was stand in the pool because even the water hurt me. Luke said my body was so hard all over like I was wrapped in iron bars.
When I say I was feeling really bad this is exactly how I was feeling. Starting from the highest part of my body and then working down:
- Left side of my face was numb; this lasted six months.
- Left ear ached constantly at a pain threshold of about 6/10.
- My jaw ached constantly at a pain threshold of about 8/10.
- I would suffer from terrible headaches every day.
- My neck hurt in four different spots constantly at a pain threshold of 10/10.
- My left Trapezius muscle was torn and hurt at a pain threshold of 6/10.
- My left arm was a constant combination of numbness, dead weight, pins and needles and pain; I would often cradle it with my right arm when it was at its worst.
- My left wrist felt dead including my little finger and the one next to it.
- My left thumb was very weak.
- My left shoulder hurt constantly at a pain threshold of 8/10.
- I would get a shooting pain in my right clavicle and shoulder every time I tried to move it.
- The top of my back hurt at a pain threshold of 8/10.
- The upper middle of my back hurt at a pain threshold of 8/10.
- My lower back and pelvis hurt constantly at a pain threshold of 8/10.
- My sacrum and pubic bone hurt constantly at a pain threshold of 8/10.
- Constant pain on the upper right side of my stomach at a pain threshold of 4/10.
- Flaccid Bowel.
- Intermittent pain and numbness in my anus, urethra and clitoris.
- Constant pain in my left hip.
- My left leg would constantly give way underneath me causing me to fall.
- Constant pain down both legs then random sensations of being burnt by an iron, accompanied by pins and needles.
- My left knee wouldn’t hold my weight without pain and was constantly swollen.
- My left ankle was weak and constantly swollen.
- The top of my left foot would burn and hurt to touch.
- My left big toe would hurt when I moved it.
To manage my pain, my husband bought me a TENS (Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation) machine that would send electrical pulses into my body to disrupt the nerve pain. This was a godsend because the Endone and Naproxen helped in a lot of areas but not the nerve pain. The TENS machine really helped with the nerve pain.
I also found Salonpas patches really helpful. These were sticky patches that you would stick on your body where it hurt. The ingredients in them are Methyl Salicylate, Camphor and Menthol.
Trying to sleep at night was terrible; I couldn’t lie in our bed as it just hurt too much!
I found I could get some rest in our lounge chair, with lots of pillows, three heat bags, medication, ice on my knee and having the TENS machine attached to my back. The TENS machine would run on 30-minute cycles and I would find in the beginning that every time it stopped, the pain would wake me up. So, I would press the button to turn it on again and go back to sleep. I didn’t make it back into our bed for three years!
I believe I would have healed more quickly if it hadn’t taken so long for my injuries to be properly diagnosed. In the beginning I took myself to the Norwood Village Medical Centre because my neck and arm were just unbearable and my regular GP wasn’t open.
The doctors there referred me to a neurologist but I had to wait ten months before I could get an appointment. They then suggested I go to the hospital. I went to the RAH where they referred me to the spine doctors and organised an MRI. This was when I discovered that I now suffer from claustrophobia as a result of the accident. I had previously had MRIs and it had never been a problem for me. I then had to wait a number of months before I could go to the clinic to get the results. I then took myself back to my normal GP and he referred me to an Orthopaedic Surgeon. This also took a number of months. When I saw the spine doctors from the RAH, they said that I had changes but they wouldn’t do surgery and thought it was likely I was getting my pain from my left Trapezius muscle that had been torn — the doctor said his wife was suffering from this same pain.
Then I saw the Orthopaedic Surgeon and began to tell him about all of my injuries. He became quite confused and said that he only dealt with one area of the body, so why had I been sent to him? I just felt so let down. He then rallied and asked me some brief “yes or no” questions. He recommended I go on a medication for nerve pain called Endep and see a psychologist for the accident. He also wanted to wait and see if some of the symptoms of pain would settle before seeing me again or initiating any tests.
On a side note I have found if I ever mention more than one injury Doctors would instantly lose interest as you can’t possibly have more than one thing wrong with you at a time. Though being involved in a high speed MVA would account for it.
I went back to my GP who organised a Psychologist for me to see, to deal with the car accident. I started taking the Endep and it really helped with the pins and needles and the random burning sensations in my legs; but it didn’t help with the actual pain.
I finally got into to see the Neurologist he asked me questions and said there was nothing to be done. He said they wouldn’t operate unless the spinal cord was compromised and it didn’t appear to be. He didn’t have a copy of my MRI from the RAH but said he would look it up and if he was concerned he would contact me. I asked him how long it would take for the damaged nerves to heal; he said how long is a piece of string. He went on to say that nerves will heal quickly in the first six months, but after that the continued healing process can take years.
My GP referred me to another Orthopaedic Surgeon to look at my knee. I had an MRI for the knee only which I found very difficult to endure and that came back looking fine, so he asked me what I wanted to do. He felt that there wasn’t really anything he could see wrong with it. I said that I couldn’t walk on it and I was a mother of young children, so something had to be done. He said that he would do an arthroscopy but he couldn’t promise anything. It turned out despite the MRI, I had plenty wrong with my knee. The Medial Meniscus had been torn and was all frayed. I had debris floating around and in my knee joint; and the kneecap was injured. He repaired as much as he could in surgery and I was then able use the knee again.
Even though the knee was in working order, I still couldn’t walk properly without a walking aid, because the bottom of my back especially the left side gave me excruciating pain when I walked and the my left leg would just collapse under me. I went to my G.P. and he sent me for CT scans of my lower back. I again struggled with this and had to be blindfolded and prescribed a Valium to endure the scan. They found damage to L4-L5, L5-S1.
I continued to have problems with my far left side and personally felt that this was something separate to my bulging discs. I went back to my GP and he diagnosed Trochanteric Bursitis in my left hip and was suspicious that my left Sacroiliac joint was injured. I proceeded to have steroid injections under CT in my left Sacroiliac Joint and Greater Trochanteric.
I then went back to the original Orthopaedic Surgeon where he diagnosed the injury to my left Sacroiliac Joint. He said it would eventually heal with treatment but not for at least another two years. I was then able to start having my physio treat that area, which helped. My physio was much more beneficial when he had a more defined understanding of my injuries. Even then he was of limited help because so many of my injuries were not diagnosed. I learned that limping was the cause of the Trochanteric Bursitis so I made a decision to avoid limping and when I couldn’t help but limp, I would sit down. My Trochanteric Bursitis healed soon after.
My neck was continuing to give me a great deal of pain and terrible headaches. I went back to my GP and he said there was no more that he could personally do for me. So he referred me to the Flinders Pain Clinic. This was approved by Allianz and even though I was classed as a private patient, I still had to wait for a many months before being seen.
I was eventually seen by Dr Dilip Kapur, he has helped me so far with blocking my Medial branch nerves in C4, C5 and C6 by using a treatment called Cervical Medial Branch Rhizotomy. The procedure took over an hour and was quite nerve racking as I had to be awake for it; due to it being so close to the spinal cord, they needed to make sure I could tell them of any negative effects.
I told him of the pain in my thoracic spine but he said that they didn’t tend to treat the thoracic spine.
Including regular physio and hydrotherapy I started doing gentle yoga and found stretching helpful. I also started getting remedial massage, acupuncture, cold laser therapy and endermology, cupping and using an infrared heat lamp. This all gave me temporary pain relief even though most of them promised so much more. Allianz of course didn’t cover any of it. So it added up to thousands of dollars out of our own pocket. Because it wasn’t just for me my two girl were having all of the same treatments as well. But I had to do something since despite the fact we were meant to be covered by Allainz Insurance. We were finding it very difficult to see specialists as they refused to do work cover or motor vehicle accidents. I was referred to 10 different specialists for my hip before one agreed to take a motor vehicle accident insured patient. Ironically just as I had wound up my legal case purely so I would be able to get into see a specialist. So of course my next to operations cost us thousands of dollars.
I now know that one of the even more likely reasons specialists don’t want work cover or motor vehicle accident insurance patients other than all the extra paper work and the hassle of possibly having to testify in court is that Allianz only pays them a token amount for the surgeries not how much the surgery actually costs!
I am now in a position where I will be starting a gym membership with a personal trainer who will work closely with my physiotherapist.
This basically covers the physical side effects of the accident.
The emotional trauma I have suffered has been quite intense. I now have claustrophobia, which makes my life even more challenging. I am an extremely nervous passenger and have become even more hypervigilant. Loud metallic bangs cause me to burst into tears.
I felt intense anguish for my children, who were both diagnosed with PTSD from the accident. Caitlin panicked at loud noises and became convinced that bad things always happened on holidays. She became very pessimistic and fearful.
Brianna was much worse. Even though she didn’t suffer serious physical injuries, her mental health plummeted. She would wake every night screaming. This lasted for a whole year. She stopped talking and we still struggle with this. She would have a meltdown every time we would try and put her in the car. She eventually tolerated it, but only when we moved her seat to the other side of the car and only if Mummy drove.
Brianna would constantly seek affection and reassurance from me and would feel rejected by me when I wasn’t able to lift her up or let her sit on my lap or lie next to her in bed. And forget about being able to get on the floor and play with her! I felt gutted and angry every time I wasn’t able to meet her needs because of my stupid injuries. I would do the best I could, but not without a physical cost to me.
My marriage suffered: the whole accident and slow recovery put so much pressure on my husband. Peter would have to do everything! Our intimacy was seriously compromised. There was one very low point about 2 years into the recovery, when Peter said that he was worried that he was starting to no longer see me as his wife but as some sick person he had to take care of, because that was the nature of our everyday relationship.
The constant pain caused me to become so depressed. How much pain I felt when I woke up in the morning dictated how depressed I was going to be that day.
I also felt robbed of the chance of having our third baby that I had so dearly wanted to have.
We were shown concern from our friends in the first few weeks of the accident, but when it became apparent how difficult the whole situation was, we were left to manage as best we could on our own.
The first two years were horrible. All we could do was prioritise what we felt was important and do the best we could. This consisted of getting the kids to school every day and on time; making sure they had clean clothes and were being fed as properly as we could manage; making sure they had the professional intervention that they needed; making sure Peter was coping with it all; and for me to work as hard as I could to heal.
There was no socialising; no real housework being done apart from the bare necessities; no healthy cooking. We had to manage with processed, frozen and take away food, so we gained weight and became less healthy.
Slowly, every few months, things would improve but we really had to battle. Now, three years and nine months later, the girls are stable, I am now back in my bed, I am walking normally and I am now taking back more responsibility from Peter. Peter has now been able to take up his hobby as a musician and I have taken up writing for my own personal therapy. Our marriage is solid again and we are now starting to socialise.
I really hope this continual but slow recovery will one day find us back to almost normal.