Left Leg amputated by police chase gone bad
Hi. My name is Mari Plaster, I’m 23 years old and was born and raised in St. Paul Minnesota. I come from a small family with mom Peggy, dad Tom and an older brother Tom. I went to Chelsea Heights Grade School, Murray Junior High and graduated from Como Park High School in 2005.
After High School I moved to New York to go to school. I attended the Culinary Institute of America to study baking and pastry arts. I choose to move to the East coast because I had never been there and the C.I.A was said to be the best culinary school in the U.S.A. I loved the time that I spent in college. I was just this 19 year old girl from Minnesota who was thrown into a city where at 4 a.m. you could go eat at a 5 star restaurant or walk along the bright lights of time square. I loved New York but I loved the CIA more!
Upon moving home I worked as an assistant baker for a French bakery in St. Paul called La Patisserie. I have worked there since I was 16 years old. On August 28 2008 I was supposed to be at work bright and early to cater a private brunch at the governors mansion for the Republican National Convention. It most likely would have been one of the biggest jobs in my young career. My boss came to my birthday party and still to this day can't explain the phone call she got from my mom about the accident. My boss has been nothing but amazing through this whole ordeal. She allowed me to come into work when I was still in a wheelchair just to hangout and pipe butter cream roses and chat with our customers. She has also seen the many struggles I face everyday while working. Standing on hard floors, bending and lifting are all things my doctors, physical therapists and prosthetists have said I shouldn't do, due to the wear and tear it puts my prosthetic and the damage it does to my joints. So unfortunately I can only work 1 day a week and have had to start looking for a new job...one that takes me far from a mixer and bins of sugar and flour and puts me in a chair with a computer in front of me...far from the dream that Ive had since I was 8 of becoming a pastry chef. That's life.
Memorable 21st Birthday
Everything in my life was good until 9:47 p.m. on Aug. 27Th 2008. My 21st birthday was to be a day to celebrate but what happened that day would make it memorable in other ways. Dan and I joined family and friends at a local restaurant called Schroeder’. We had a blast laughing while my older brother teased me about being an old lady! After the party was over, Dan and I were putting my presents into the trunk of his car. I remember seeing flashing lights in the back window and BAM we were hit. I tried to stand up but couldn't. I was scared, laying in the street bleeding to death. I knew I was hurt really bad because I couldnt feel my left leg and my right foot was now facing the wrong direction. It felt like forever before the ambulance came. Dan and I were the first to be transported to the hospital. I gave one of the officers my cell phone and told her to call my mom but to be careful when she told her because she was going to be upset. The ambulance ride was nothing but a barage of questions to try and keep me concious. I entered the emergency room where a team of doctors and nurses were waiting for me. One nurse stood and rubbed my head while I cried. The doctors started poking around asking what hurt and what didnt and if I could feel them poking me with a pin in my left foot....I couldnt feel it. I knew this was bad. The last thing I remember was the doctor asking for 8 grams of morphine.Because of the trauma that my body was in I was put into a coma untilAug. 28th.
When I woke up I was hooked up to a respirator. My brother was standing next to me. Slowly my family would come into see me. All I could do was cry. After an hour or so the nurses came in and removed the breathing tube then asked everyone to leave except my mom and my dad. My parents each took one of my hands and my dad told me that the doctors tried for 15 hours to save my leg but they couldn't. We all cried. I looked and could only see one foot peeking out from underneath the blankets. I was to scared to lift the covers to see if my leg was really gone, in fact it took about 3 weeks until I could look. At this point I was just happy to be alive. It was also the first time I found out how bad Dan was hurt. The last time I had seen him he was being loaded into an ambulance. Neither one of us knew how bad the other one was hurt. I was devestated. I kept asking for updates because he was in surgery when I had woke up. It would be 2 days till I could see him.
On Aug. 29th they moved me from the ICU to the Trauma Unit. This was where Dan and I got to see each other again. The hospital let us share a room. Dan was on one side and me on the other. This was kind of nice because the people that visited me visited Dan and the other way around. Dan was already in the room when I got there. I was to scared to look at him because I still didnt want to believe that he was hurt. I think it was that night that we talked to each other for the first time. I think we both were still in shock over what had happened.
On Sept 2nd I was moved to the Burn Unit. After you have a skin graft there is such a high risk of infection that they put you in that unit to keep you cleaner than a regular room. Everyone that came to visit Dan and I had to wash with a special soap and wear gloves, mask and gown. For days we had a room full of yellow, masked family members walking around.
By this time Dan had moved to another part of the hospital. His injuries were so different than mine. He had been sent to start physical therapy and be able to go home. My injuries would keep me confined to bed much longer. I spent about a month being able to only move my right arm because it was the one thing not in a cast or hooked up to a machine. I had 18 surgeries and 15 blood transfusions while I was at Regions. I remember coming out of surgery on numerous occasion to find my parents crying because whatever the doctors tried to do didn't work. My body was so depleted and worn out that I rejected anything they tried to do.
On Sept 18th I got to go outside for the first time since the accident. 24 days. 24 days of hospital air. They wheeled me out to a little patio they have on the floor. I remember how blue the sky was. The sound of an airplane flying overhead. I especially remember the bee that tried to sting me! I asked my physical therapist if I could come back outside when it was dark to be able to see the stars but she said it was unsafe. My cousin came and seen me one day and stuck those glow in the dark star stickers all over my room. I had a favorite one stuck to the bar above my bed that I would wish on every night before bed.
Stood for the first time
On Oct 8th I stood for the first time since losing my leg. I was terrified. I had no idea what it was going to feel like or even if I was going to be able to. I remember being pushed between the parallel bars and everyone there including members of my family had a job to do, whether it was to move the wheelchair or hold my arm....but all they managed to do was cry. Of course I was crying and only made it half way out of the chair at the first attempt. After a few more tries I was standing. Standing, a milestone in my life I will never forget. Something each and everyone of us do a 100 times a day, something we each take for granted was now the biggest thing that had happened in my life. I was nausea's after about 1 minute and had to go back to my room.
On Oct 20th I finally made a move. They moved me to the rehab floor. I knew once I hit this floor that there was an end in sight to the 4 walls, 1 window and 1 door that had been my home. I was able to start wearing actual clothes instead of hospital gowns, taking an actual shower and being able to leave my room to look out a window and to even be able to wheel over to a window at night to see the stars again. There was a dry erase board in my room and it had RELEASE DATE written on it. It was blank for what felt like forever. I remember coming back to my room after a PT session to find October 31st written on it. I had 9 days left. 9 days. I remember calling my mom and I couldn't even tell her because I was crying so hard! The day I left the hospital was actually bittersweet. The doctors and nurses from every floor and from every surgery came to see me and wish me luck. The drive home from the hospital is still to this day one of the best/worse experiences of my life. I was absolutely terrified of getting into another accident. I felt like everyone was driving really fast and hearing a police siren made me shake in fear. On the other hand I couldn't stop looking at how green the grass was, how bright the sun was or what it felt like to listen to the radio and have the wind blowing in my face. Things I haven't felt or seen in over 2 months.
Life can change in an instant
My life has changed so much since the night of August 27th 2008. I have had 20 surgeries since then (even one on the day before my 22nd birthday).I have been fitted with a prosthetic and can now go outside whenever I want to count the stars. Please remember that life is short and can change in an instant. Also remember that God has a plan for each one of us and everything happens for a reason. As the chaplain from Regions said to me one day "Mari, none of this is fair, none of this is right but it happened and it isn't going to change." He then gave me a card that said:
God grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.
These words have changed my life. Anything is possible with God.
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