Juanne Odle smiling despite the tears because she knows she has come a long way. (AM)
JUANNE ODLE NEVER believed she would ever be sitting face to face talking with a complete stranger.
Truth is she never even thought she would be able to face the world again after a road accident in August last year that totally “mashed” her up.
Her right leg was broken in three places, her left arm was shattered, her nose was broken and she was left with cuts and bruises all about her face.
She was almost unrecognisable.
Juanne admits there were times she wanted to die.
This woman who was accustomed to being on the go, just couldn’t fathom the type of life she would be subjected to after the accident.
That was many months ago after the August 31 accident that occurred along Bagatelle in St Thomas that could have easily taken her life, and those of her ten-year-old daughter Joelle and her then boyfriend, who was driving.
Juanne is ready to tell her story of recovery, perseverance and determination and the will to live.
Tears are running down her eyes as she constantly dabs her face with a white tissue, now soggy, after catching each tear rolling down her cheeks during an interview with the SUNDAY SUN last Wednesday.
The 37-year-old has little recollection of the accident, only what she was told by friends and those who were on the scene.
The scar on Juanne Odle’s left hand and the one on her right knee are still visible.
She recalled that day her daughter did not go to school because of a dental appointment, which was later cancelled. Juanne and her friend were driving to St Lucy for chicken and chips and her daughter went with them for the drive.
“I remember coming back and I wasn’t feeling well. I was two months pregnant so I leaned back in the seat. All I can remember was waking up in the hospital. I didn’t even know I was in an accident. I only realised after I saw people looking down at me.
“I remember waking up in Accident & Emergency asking ‘where is my daughter?’”
Juanne needed to see her daughter to be certain she was okay. That’s when doctors brought their two stretchers together. Juanne reached over and touched her to make sure she was fine. She then blacked out.
Her face now tear-streaked, Juanne apologised for being emotional, saying “when you have children you just want to make sure they are okay”. With a tinge of sadness she said she lost the baby in the accident.
‘I was a mess’
Her daughter had suffered a broken hand and bruises.
When Juanne woke up, the full blow of all she had gone through, as well as the extent of her injuries came crashing down on her.
“It was then that I realised I had a broken foot, broken hand, I couldn’t feel anything in my fingers. I was a mess, but I didn’t even know how much of a mess,” she said, sitting on a sofa in her quaint apartment in Kendall Hill, Christ Church.
Juanne said she had no access to a mirror, a cellphone, nothing that would give her a visual of her face which was swollen.
She never saw the extent of her bruises on her face until two weeks after the accident. Her lips were stitched at both sides, making it difficult to talk.
Add to that, her broken nose and swollen lips were cut up so badly that she could not even drink from a cup nor eat properly for weeks.
Juanne spent four to five weeks in hospital. Her recovery was a slow and painful process.
Doctors had to take a piece of her skull to rebuild her broken nose.
Getting back on her two feet, literally, wasn’t easy either. She relied on her mother to help out a lot, bathing her, making sure she had meals. Little Joelle also played her part nursing her mother back to health.
But with her birthday in April, Juanne was determined that she would be walking by then.
She accomplished this feat a month early and credits her occupational therapist for helping her to achieve her goal. “She kept telling me ‘you have to get up’.”
Juanne went from a wheelchair to using crutches to now walking without any help at all.
She slowly raises her skirt just above her knee to show the scars on her legs, pointing to a long one in the middle of her knee, explaining the “biscuit” was gone.
Start business again
She then turned her left arm to show a long scar.
The tears are falling again. She pauses.
“I had to motivate myself. There were times I used to wish I had died,” she said, still crying.
Juanne admits she was always a woman on the move, selling food, doing messenger work.
Now business has scaled right back for this woman who has won awards from BMEX for her health drinks, as well as the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES). She reaches for all her awards which are well displayed in her living room.
Juanne tries to sell from home but it is not as profitable.
“Before I used to support myself. I used to do everything for myself. I tried to start back my business but it is hard,” she said.
“There are many times I would just sit and cry. But I feel good to be alive,” she said.
“I see people get in accidents and they can’t even remember their names. I still have my memory and I am thankful for that. There are some people who are worse off.”
It took Juanne a while to muster up the courage to go outside. “At first I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t want to see anyone. It was too much. I didn’t want anyone to see me,” she recalled.
Juanne, who attends therapy sessions twice a week, is on the mend and trying to do more for herself.
“I am now getting back to how I used to be”.
She said people are always surprised to see her back on her feet. Doctors, she said, are also amazed at what she has accomplished.
Juanne still walks with a slight limp and has to get another operation on her leg.
She admits that her faith in God has become stronger.
“You hear about the Lord but it takes for things to happen to you, to make you really believe. You don’t believe things till you see them happen. I go to church. You have to believe and you have to have faith and things will happen”.
Juanne said: “I can’t give up. I have come too far.” (CM)