When I first picked up Jennifer Kuchinka’s book After the Truck Hit, I was both intrigued and apprehensive. With a title like that, I figured I was in for an emotional journey.
After the Truck Hit is both a story and a journal of Jennifer’s life before and after the accident. It’s a story firmly rooted in Saskatchewan. In Estevan, where Jennifer was born and where she lived for a time with her husband; in Macoun, a small town in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan, where she grew up and where she lived with her parents and baby daughter while recovering from her accident, and in Regina, where she studied at the University of Regina, met her husband and subsequently spent almost three months in the fall of 2010 recovering from her accident.
Much of the book seems to have been taken from Jennifer’s personal journal after the accident which is both fascinating and a little frustrating in that the reader experiences firsthand her jumbled and repetitive thoughts. To make it easier to follow, Jennifer “fills in the blanks” in italics, putting things in context.
In the early hours of September 13, 2010, Jennifer escaped from the hospital in Estevan, where she had been admitted two days previously for extreme anxiety as a result of postpartum psychosis following the birth of her daughter Avery. On the highway, barefoot, agitated and apparently intent on getting to her baby, she was struck by a semi truck going about 50 kilometers per hour.
Jennifer was subsequently transferred to the Regina General Hospital where records show she had a Glasgow Coma Reading of three (a total below eight means severe brain injury.) She remained in a deep coma for eight days. Amazingly, about ten weeks later, with Avery as her motivation, she was discharged from the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre, spending the next six months as an outpatient.
Reading Jennifer’s story I got so caught up in the minutiae of her life that I kept losing sight of the big picture. That her injuries were so severe that she should not have survived, or at the very least should not have been able to function well enough to write the book that I was holding in my hands.
She had to learn to walk and talk again, to feed and dress herself, change a diaper and make decisions. She also had to learn to drive again, and to me this sums up her incredible determination. She failed her first test. She was advised to take ten hours of driving lessons and try again. Jennifer took twenty hours…and nailed the test.
Her story is incredible.
THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM