To look at her today you would hardly be aware of the battles that Megan has had to face. She is made of stern stuff, this young girl from Trawsfynydd and here she shares her story with us...
I’m Megan and I was brought up near Trawsfynydd – and I had a happy rural upbringing. I’m the third of four sisters - Alaw, Catrin and Elen, and I was the one who was always in trouble, determined and as stubborn as a mule. I wasn’t shy and my sisters tease me that I got the bad traits for the four of us! I was a gifted pupil and exceled in school and I loved playing the piano.
Going to church was an important part of our family life and, although I’d always been aware that there was a God, it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I was given assurance that Jesus had died for me. My first year as a Christian was wonderful and I was on fire for Jesus, but then, gradually other things began to influence my life, things which seemed to be more attractive than reading my Bible and going to church.
By the time I was seventeen Christianity and my faith had taken the back seat in my life. I didn’t want to follow God anymore because I felt he was some sort of 'party pooper' who had nothing to offer me. Therefore, having recently passed my driving test, I decided that I wanted to be behind the steering wheel in my own life.
But on the second of October 2012 everything changed.
They tell me that the weather was dreadful that day with heavy rain all day. I needed to borrow the car for the evening to go for an interview to a local hotel and although my mother warned me to be careful, I set off without a care in the world and full of myself.
As I was driving home along the A470, near Ganllwyd, the car hit a large pool of water on the road and I lost control. I was doing about 40 miles per hour, not driving recklessly, but it was enough to cause the car to go off the road and plough through a fence, down a steep slope before coming to a halt at the bottom of a field.
Fortunately, some people had seen the accident and the emergency services were called.
Within 45 minutes I had arrived at Ysbyty Gwynedd by helicopter and been put into an induced coma. It was obvious that my injuries were serious and after a few hours at Ysbyty Gwynedd being scanned and the arrival of my parents I was transferred to a major trauma centre at Stoke-on-Trent.
I don’t remember that Tuesday or anything about the following seven weeks which I spent in intensive care.
The doctors had prepared my family for the strong possibility that I would not wake up from the coma; I was very ill with serious head injuries and many other additional injuries including losing more than two thirds of my small intestine. After stopping the drugs which had kept me in the induced coma, the wait began to see if I would wake up over the next days. But I didn’t wake up and I showed no indication of doing so.
It was a terrible time for my family, but slowly I began to show signs of waking up and on the twentieth of October I opened my eyes for the first time. But, even though I was awake in one sense, I still have no memory of anything that happened until mid-November when I was moved to a neuro ward. I spent eight months in the hospital in Stoke with four of those in a specialist head injury rehab unit.
My first recollections after the accident were feelings of peace and of the nearness of God. In a way that I cannot explain I knew that the accident had happened for a purpose. To my surprise, and although I didn’t know what was to come, I wasn’t angry at God.
Even though I experienced peace, the months of gradual improvement were hard. The effects of the head injury were still to be felt and I was extremely weak. One day, I pulled out the tracheostomy (The breathing tube in my throat) – I don’t remember much about that – just people running in and alarms going off. When the pipe was finally removed it was expected that I would begin speaking but I was making no effort whatsoever to move my lips at all let alone making sound. It seemed I was happier writing everything down in large untidy handwriting as I had been doing when I came out of the coma in the intensive care unit. The doctors wondered whether the head injury had affected my speech and it was uncertain whether I would ever speak again.
Many people were praying that I would begin speaking and I remember a good friend sending me a verse from Psalm 40: "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord."
Then one day a nurse asked me if I knew which month it was, and I answered in the weakest voice ever. My voice was very weak but slowly (with a lot of practice!) my voice came back.
Another challenge was learning to walk again - the physio was boring I must admit but on my eighteenth birthday I walked up the stairs for the first time… again!
Although my early memories are hazy and feel like distant dreams, slowly I regained my memory, but my mother could still see that I was different.
Home for a while
During my time in hospital I was allowed to come home some weekends. The first time she took me home my mother said it was as if I was seeing the world for the first time, as I pointed at and commented on such things as trees even.! Going home felt like having a fantastic holiday but by the time Sunday night came I was ready and eager to go back to hospital. It seems really strange to me now but as I had awoken from the coma in hospital it was where I felt safe and comfortable.
The most difficult aspect of my rehabilitation was the frustration of not being able to eat. I had a fairly unique condition called oesophageal stricture which meant that as a result of the accident my gullet was damaged and scarred. It was too narrow to enable food to pass through and I had to have tubes in and out of my nose into my stomach (very unpleasant). It was so difficult to eat, and I had to have treatment often when an instrument was passed into my gullet to try and stretch it.
Even after I had been discharged from hospital, I still had to go to Stoke every fortnight or so for this treatment. Although I was able to eat a little after each treatment (with plenty of water to wash the food down) eating wasn’t something I enjoyed any more. Then after a few days the stricture would close so that I wasn’t able to drink let alone eat. The future was very uncertain, and I didn’t understand why God had healed me to such an extent but had left me to stumble on this final step.
But slowly the period between each treatment started to grow longer and by today I have not had that kind of treatment for over two and a half years. Which is utterly miraculous. I can still feel the scar when I eat but that is a very small thing now by comparison.
Nearly five years has passed since the accident and over time I have met many people who were instrumental in saving my life. It is a privilege to shake their hand and thank them from the bottom of my heart; although many say that they were only doing their jobs, it’s so much more than that. Only the other month I was speaking at a Major Trauma Conference in St Asaph when I met the doctor who met me from the helicopter in Bangor and saved my life then.
I am now very good friends with Vicky the nurse in intensive care. She cared for me during the worst times when my small intestine died. My family had to say goodbye to me that night as the staff raced with me in my bed to be scanned and for the massive subsequent treatment; no one thought I would live that night. Vicky was looking after me when my mother heard her say "Come on Megan, I've been praying for you". Hearing the word 'prayer' was enough to cause my mother to look up and ask, “Did you say pray?". It was obvious that Vicky was a Christian and her support was wonderful during the hardest of times. We have kept in touch and I was her bridesmaid when she was married in 2015.
The doctors are speechless when they consider the fact that I have got better. There is no scientific explanation for the fact that I am alive today and it is even more surprising that I am the same Megan as I was before the accident -'I’m still determined ,stubborn ac not afraid to voice my opinion! The doctors were not being pessimistic when they explained to my parents after the accident that I would never be the same Megan as I was before and that I would be profoundly disabled; that was the reality of my injuries.
When I saw my neuro consultant at an appointment a year after the accident, she used the word 'miracle' with amazement at least six times. The only thing she really wanted to know was whether I was still able to play the piano and I was able to ensure her that I could.
It’s impossible to go through such an extreme experience as this without being profoundly changed and the chief thing that has changed is my attitude towards life.
The realisation that God has saved me and given me a second chance has given me a purpose and a compulsion to live my life serving Jesus – whatever that may entail. I think that is why I experienced such difficulty eating – I had to be brought to the place with God where I would be content to not be able to eat again. It was only when I had reach that point that things began to improve and even then, it didn’t happen overnight. I came to realise that it was God who was of the greatest importance in my life whether I could eat or not, and that it was he who gives my life purpose and that he is enough in any circumstance.
I’m also more thankful now. God has blessed me with amazing parents and family who were wonderful throughout everything. The fact that I can’t remember the worst bits is a blessing, but my father was off his work for three months and my mother for eight following my accident. They went through it all and in some ways, I think that it was my family and friends who had the hardest time as they didn’t know whether I would live or die for weeks.
All the support I had from home was wonderful and people were so generous. People throughout the world were praying for my healing and I can never repay those who travelled over 200 miles to visit me.
My experience has caused me to see everything differently. I feel that I can be used by God to bring glory to his name through my experience. From time to time I’m asked to tell my story in medical conferences as well as at Christian events. The medical conferences are very interesting and it’s really fascinating if there’s an opportunity at the end for questions as there is usually complete silence!
I’m thrilled to be able to encourage Christians that God will never leave them, even if they try to run away from him.
I am now nearing the end of my second year of a nursing degree at Southampton university hoping to pursue a nursing career. I hope that the experiences I faced as a patient will help make me a better nurse and will benefit others l!
But I must conclude by paying thanks to God. He is the author of all things and it is a privilege to be chosen by him to display his majesty and wonder- he still performs miracles today. This experience will be with me for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t change anything as it’s this that has shaped the person I am today.
This article has been translated from the Welsh 2017 issue of 'Holi'