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I Want to Knit
Monday, February 21, 2005
Why I want to knit items for the Lakeshore General Hospital even though they've screwed up big on people I know- a long and personal essay by Jennifer
In Montreal's south-west region is the body of water known as Lac Sainte-Louis. This innocent-seeming water mass harbors a deadly secret: below its calm surface is a series of sharp, pointed rocks, which become a hazard each time the tide-level goes down. A nearby yacht club used to put out buoys to warn people of the danger, but were ordered by the city to remove them, being told that the lake was not private property. Thus, there were no warnings, and in early May 1977, a water-skier almost lost his legs on those rocks. This is not his story.

This is Betti's story.

This story takes place a few weeks later, on May 21st 1977. Betti and Mitchell had been married for just under two years, and Betti was about 5 months pregnant. They decided to spend a nice day out on the water to celebrate Mitchell's 26th birthday, and invited Jack, Betti's father, along. The three of them went out near the Lord Redding Yacht club on Jack's 17-foot motorboat.

They had a good time together, and later on in the day they returned to land to re-fuel the boat. They were unaware that the tide level had dropped in the time since they were out in open water. Betti was on the deck of the boat, a foolish thing to do in her condition. They went back out on the water, and that's when disaster struck.

Jack's motorboat hit some rocks, and Betti fell off the boat. She landed face-up on the jagged, pointy edge of a cluster of rocks. The rocks ripped 3 holes right through her back, the resulting cavity was so deep you could have placed a football into her body and it would have stayed. Frantically Jack tried to bring his boat around to rescue his daughter, but there was no time. The boat's super-fast propeller got to Betti before he could, and sliced right through her midsection, tearing her straight through front-to-back, the entire length from her belly button to her side.

Mitchell immediately jumped into the icy-cold water, holding his wife in his arms and using his hands and body to keep her inner organs in place. Thankfully the water was so cold that the wound began to cauterize quickly. A passing boat called an ambulance, and Betti was rushed to the hospital.

What Betti felt the most during her experience in the hospital was her father's desperate sadness. He was sure that in one day he'd managed to kill his daughter and grandchild, and the guilt nearly destroyed the gentle, kind man.

But Betti survived. The doctor's didn't know if she'd walk again, and she knew she'd prove them wrong. Then their attention turned to the baby. Even the doctor's weren't sure what the outcome of Betti's pregnancy would be. She'd had so many tests and procedures during her hospital stay, taken Demerol and had X-rays and 5 blood transfusion...all things normally not recommended during a pregnancy. At that point Betti had been through so much that they didn't want to risk further damage to her or the baby by doing further tests, so they really didn't know if the baby was even still alive after all the trauma. Babies are normally carried in the center of the body, and Betti's entire left side had been ripped open. What were the odds that the baby had avoided being sliced in half?

Betti didn't let herself dwell on "what might be", she had her hands busy working on what was. She was determined to walk normally again and to lift the spirits of her dejected father. She worked hard at her therapy, and the result was one of those magical moments normally reserved for Disney tear-jerkers. One day when Jack went to visit his daughter in the hospital the elevator he was in opened its doors to reveal Betti in her wheelchair, just across the hall. Before his stunned eyes she rose up and walked right into his arms. It was a miracle.

Eventually Betti left the hospital and moved temporarily back home with her parents, so they could give her the detailed care that she needed. She improved continuously without many setbacks until the day she was able to remove her bandages. She took one look at the curvy scar twisting around her body and recoiled in horror. That same day she confronted Mitchell in tears. She was horribly disfigured, she cried, and probably going to have some kind of mutant baby. She told him to leave her, to end their marriage, that he didn't deserve this outcome when he could be with someone else and have a "normal" life.

Mitchell refused. He loved Betti, and knew that what he wanted above all else was a life with her, even with her scars, and even with their child's uncertain future. He promised to stay by her side, and he did.

Today Betti and Mitchell have been married for almost 30 years. Mitchell is an optician with a thriving 30-year business, and Betti has been a teacher for over 25 years. With 2 daughters, 2 sons and a dog, the couldn't have anything closer to a "normal" life.

And the baby Betti carried during her terrible accident?

That was me.

This is why when chosing somewhere to donate knitted items to, I chose the Lakeshore General Hospital. If they didn't save my mom's life, she wouldn't be here. If saved her but not me, I wouldn't be here. If they'd saved me but not her, I wouldn't have a mother. And if they hadn't saved her, I wouldn't have my 2 younger brothers or my younger sister.

The Lakeshore General Hospital saved my family. That's why I want to help them.
posted by Jennifer Lori @ 2:15 p.m.  
  • At 8:30 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WOW! I am in awe of your life's story. We are both born the same year. ;) I'm happy to see all is well, I got worried when you posted that you'd add entries silly me thought something was wrong. ;)


  • At 9:07 p.m., Blogger Beth said…

    Wow - what an incredible story and what a miracle. Thank you so much for sharing.

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