Hilliard resident writes book to encourage others in physical, emotional struggles
Jan 29, 2013
By CAROLYN NICHOLS
Florida Baptist Witness

Courtesy photo
HILLIARD (FBW)—Betty Crews, a member of River Road Baptist Church in Hilliard, has penned a recently released account of her long recovery from a devastating car accident in December 2003. She says she wrote Be Lifted Up to give hope to those who need to be “inspired to walk by faith through the fire of trials.”

Crews and her husband Ronnie were on their way to Jacksonville, a 30-minute trip from their home, when their F-10 pickup truck was forced off the road by an oncoming minivan. The truck crossed both lanes of traffic, flipped and ended up in a ditch. Betty Crews, not buckled in a seat belt, was ejected from the truck at 55 mph. 

She began her long journey of healing in the trauma center of Shands Hospital in Jacksonville where she was diagnosed with a severe concussion, a compound fracture of her left arm, a broken left ankle, a cracked rib and several cuts. During her 12-day stay in the hospital, an external fixator, a device to hold bones together was attached to her left arm, and she was confined to a hospital bed. 

“Somewhere along the way, I surrendered the freedom to think for myself. And what’s more, I lost the will to even care,” she wrote. “My independence and self-esteem were gone.”

She was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation, but a life-threatening reaction to medication sent her back to the hospital on New Years Day 2004. After a short stay, she returned to the nursing home, not far from where members of her extended family lived. Members and Pastor Bill Tyler of Cedar Bay Baptist Church, where her three sisters and a brother attend, were frequent visitors at the nursing home.

“Without the prayers of Cedar Bay and other supporters, we never would have survived those trying ordeals,” she wrote. 

Since her recovery, Crews has led a women’s retreat for the church that ministered to her.

HOME Betty Crews, a member of River Road Baptist Church in Hilliard, on her first day at home from the hospital, resting with her grandson, Cooper. Courtesy photo
She developed empathy for nursing home residents, especially elderly patients whose heart’s desire is to return home.

“I empathized with them completely. I, too, was confused and perplexed. Where is home anyway?” she wrote. “I was living so close to their state of existence that peering into their eyes only reflected my own helplessness. It was difficult, if not impossible, to visualize victory on the mountaintop while I was struggling in the valley.”

She developed an infection in her arm that required more surgery, and another hospital stay, but she returned to her home in Hilliard two months after the accident. Her children and grandchildren surrounded her there.

However, “the unsettling waves of depression continued to sneak up and blind-side me from time to time,” Crews wrote. Only weeks later, an infection in the bone of her arm necessitated more surgery to remove the external fixator. Another surgery in October 2004 replaced her elbow with a metal device, and inserted cadaver bone to facilitate healing.

Her Christian friends continued to pray for her, and amped up their prayers when they sensed some of Crews’ struggles were spiritual warfare.

“I believe [these Christian ladies brought] some heavy spiritual artillery,” Crews wrote.

Orthopedic surgeon Michael Fitzpatrick, who guided Crews medical care, wrote in the forward of her book that “45 percent of those in severe accidents suffer post traumatic stress disorder, and approximately 10 percent suffer major depressive episodes.” He said what prevailed for Crews was her “belief in her family, her friends, and her faith.”

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