The euphemism, 'My world came crashing down' has been used so much that it's cliché but when the SUV you're driving hits another car, rolls three times and lands in a ditch, upside down, the cliché in an instant becomes your reality. Meagan May, a star catcher and hitter for the Texas A&M softball team, suffered this reality experiencing severe facial and head injuries in a June 27, 2010, traffic accident while driving her Toyota 4Runner near Buda, Texas. An innocent reach for something in the next seat caused the car to veer off the road slightly was enough to turn Meagan's world upside down. Not only Meagan's world but her family, her team and her friends all would find themselves involved in the turmoil of the day, the week and months ahead.
Meagan was transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where she was treated by Dr. Adam Weinfeld of the Seton Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. Meagan's mother was contacted and immediately headed for Austin. "Initially shocked," said Connie May, Meagan's mother. "Disbelief. I had just talked to her seven minutes before the accident telling her I would just talk to her later. Later almost did not come. Then the drive there (Houston to Austin) that took an eternity. I desperately wanted to speak to Meagan and couldn't. There would have been a calmness if I could have just talked to her. She would have told me how she was doing. When I did finally get to hear her voice, she was crying asking me where I was and to hurry and get there. That is when an Austin policeman pulled me over. By that time I was crying pretty hard. I think I was about 10 minutes away, but even that felt like it took forever."
"When I got there, it was a complete shock to see her head ripped open," observed Connie. About one-third of the forehead's skin was missing, according to Dr. Weinfeld. "I really felt like she would not make it thru the night," shared Connie. "I just knew that she had taken such a blow to the head that her brain would surely be swelling. I did have to kick into mom mode. I knew Meagan was looking to me for my reaction. I had to stay strong to make sure she believed that she would be ok. So the first night I just talked to her most of the night to make sure she was making coherent sentences. I was told that would be a sign that there was brain swelling. We made it thru the night, then it was let's get this problem attacked and solved."
After a nine-day stay at UMCB, Meagan returned in mid-July for more surgery and a seven-day stay - four surgeries in all. "The first two to three procedures involved cleaning the traumatic wound, followed by placing a synthetic skin matrix and then a true skin graft," explained Dr. Weinfeld. "Several months following, I inserted the tissue expanders (saline bags) to stretch the skin. They are relatively routine as a whole, but are used more frequently for breast reconstruction and for pediatric patients with facial birthmarks."
"Dr. Weinfeld came in the first night and I don't remember much of what he said, but the next day was much better," exclaimed Connie. He was so professional and calming. His expertise was phenomenal and he is so passionate and articulate with everything he says, you just know you are in good hands. We just stepped thru each of the stages with Dr. Weinfeld's office and the Seton Hospital staff. We were so comfortable, we knew we would complete the process with them even having to drive to Austin for each treatment and office visit."
Texas A&M Culture
"My team here at A&M and my Aggie family have been crucial in my recovery from the accident," emphasized Meagan. "They have always been supportive of me and what I am going through and they really made sure to be helpful in any way that they could. My coaches were especially helpful in understanding my restrictions on a day to day basis."
Being an A&M athlete herself in her day, throwing the javelin, Connie knew the support the A&M family could provide. "Just knowing the Aggie support system is so strong, that they would be there for her throughout the process. And Jo Evans (A&M Head Coach) is the real deal for any parent sending their kids off to school. She is the mother away from home. She is there for them in every way possible and when this happened, she stepped up and was Classic Coach Jo! I love and respect her. I used her along the way with her unique way to make Meagan persevere!"
"The hardest part was keeping her strong thru the tissue expander portion. It was VERY painful and there were many times that she wanted to quit and just live with the scar. With a way only Jo can communicate with Meagan, she calmed her and helped her through that difficult time. I don't think without Jo's support and the support of her team, she would have made it thru that."
Home Run Record Holder
Beyond concern that the injuries would tarnish her 20-year-old face and head, could she again comfortably and safely wear a batting helmet, much less a catcher's mask which is put on and off repeatedly each inning?
"I definitely had the chance to start catching again after the surgeries on my head," said Meagan. "I was completely cleared for practice and games on January 21st of this year, one week after my last surgery. I haven't had to make any modifications to my gear luckily. I get to play just like I always have." She holds the Big 12 and Texas A&M records for most home runs in a single season with 24, clubbed in 2010.
The forehead scar now is fading and her hair is growing back "ridiculously fast." "Meagan may later decide to have some revisionary work to further improve the scars (fat injections, dermabrasion, scar revision, etc)," said Dr. Weinfeld. Several options exist for her, so she will decide if she wants to proceed. The scar will definitely fade in time. In addition the techniques listed above can help make it even less conspicuous. It is very early in her recovery, since we know it takes at least a year for scars to reach their final mature state."
"This healing was a complete team effort," said Connie. "Beginning with God being in the car with her, to the Angels that pulled her out (Anna Hernandez & Rosanna Valdez) to the Seton ER staff, Dr. Weinfeld & his staff, the Texas A&M Softball program along with the USA Softball Program…Everyone played their part in getting Meagan back to 100 percent. I am eternally grateful to everyone involved."
PHOTO: A framed photo of Meagan hitting No. 24 last season was the 'thank you' gift Meagan presented to Dr. Weinfeld at home plate on April 6, 2011.