Brother Tim Hit By Car in Nashville; Taken to Trauma Unit at Vanderbilt


“Oh, Katie, I’ve cracked my cranium,” Tim quipped.

It was a little late in the evening and I started not to answer the phone, but my hand grabbed it up and flipped the cover. A stranger’s voice asked if I knew a Tim McDaniel. Cautiously I said yes. “How do you know him?” said the voice. “I’m his sister, Linda Smith.”

Your brother has been hit by a car. He is in critical but stable condition at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. All I know at the moment is that he has some broken bones and a hit to his head. It’ll take a few hours for the tests to come back for fuller details.” Lauren introduced herself as a social worker who would be in the emergency room till 7 a.m. and his family could call her at any time. At some point when I called I was told he had some slight bleeding on the brain and was being closely monitored.

Tim is our youngest sibling, an Air Force veteran for a brief period who has been only a marginal veteran of society for a lifetime. Though he has lots of problems, he is still the funniest person I’ve ever known. One-liners and anecdotes roll off his tongue like they were born there. It’s almost like he can’t talk any other way. He is also gifted in art — mostly pencil sketches on notebook paper since he’s never owned any art supplies. He has sometimes sang for his supper — meaning that while traveling the highways he would win money in singing contests.

Nashville is his latest and longest port of call, but not because of the music. Handyman jobs took him there. He has lived a gypsy life by the tools on his belt or taking whatever job presented itself. He’s been a roofer, a carpenter, a pizza cook, a sign changer for billboard advertisers, and a carnival ride jock. It’s a rugged life and hard on those who love him because he is completely out of touch for long periods of time.

DSCN2408When Katie and I arrived at the hospital, it was so hard to see him like that it drained our energy fast. His head was gauzed up. On the second day they removed the gauze and left a bandage toward the back. There will be a map of scars covering his scalp when it heals. There were scrapes under his eyes and both legs were immobilized. We realized even at that he was blessed to be alive. Our sister Gaynell claims that both our brothers have nine lives.

The first thing Tim said when he opened his eyes and saw us was, “Get me a cigarette”. (They’ve since put a nicotine patch on his arm). That was the last clear thing he said. The medications kept him drifting off and muttering. But even then he had not lost his sense of humor. At one point he tried to lean closer to Katie to tell her something. Katie stretched across the bed rail as far as she could and leaned down.

Oh, Katie,” Tim croaked, “I’ve cracked my cranium.” That was such a Tim-ism it brought tears to her eyes. When she told me later, I couldn’t quit laughing till I cried.

But more often than not, he slept fitfully, often plucking at the lines taped to his chest and the pulse monitor on his finger. He kept saying he wanted them off. He kept trying to move more than his injuries would allow. He put me in mind of a caged mountain lion shot with a tranquilizer dart. One morning when we walked in, he had managed to pull out some of the lines and his IV, spattering blood over himself and the sheets. The nurses were already on it and working fast. In less than ten minutes he was back in pristine condition.

Katie and I were very impressed with his day nurse, Donald. He balanced obvious compassion with firmness, his voice never irritable or confrontational in any way. In fact, the whole staff at the trauma center were friendly, courteous, and efficient and that took a great load off our minds.

We didn’t realize how many friends Tim had in Nashville until we had to share our visitor cards with them. We met Vicky and Holly, and a young lady and gentleman from the Green Street Church that Tim attended. And there were more that we didn’t get to meet. Only two visitors were allowed at a time in the room, and that only for a few minutes. Katie and I spent a couple of days there; going in for short visits, then waiting for elevators, then sitting in the lobby or the cafeteria, being swept along by the tide of people, then going back for another short visit, half of which was to say a few words as Tim drifted off again.

There were times when he had to be moved and he and his bed straightened up. That was the hardest. Hearing Tim yell through that closed door. I was proud of him, though. It was no little girl scream and he didn’t cuss. Just a manly yell loud enough to hear over the entire unit. But I knew the pain that had to be there to cause it and it ripped through both of us sisters.

Tim will have long weeks in physical therapy in his near future, and a lot more pain to endure before this is over. I don’t think he has entirely realized it yet. It’s all too new and raw. At one point when Katie and I had to stop him from crawling off the bed and pulling out the lines, he mumbled groggily it was time to go. “I’ve already been here three days,” he said. “That’s time enough.”

We came home yesterday feeling like we’d been run down by a steam roller. I posted about the accident on Facebook the day we left and updated this morning. I appreciate all the family and friends who have been praying for Tim, and for Katie and me as we traveled. God blesses with good friends and family. Thank you all.

I will be posting more on Nashville soon.


13 thoughts on “Brother Tim Hit By Car in Nashville; Taken to Trauma Unit at Vanderbilt

  1. Wow! He really got banged up, didn’t he? That’s much worse than what happened to Frank. Miraculously, Frank has been pain free the whole time, only had some discomfort. Did the person who hit Tim stop or was it a hit-and-run?

    He sounds like such a fun person and with that kind of personality, I’m sure he’ll get better quickly. I hope he doesn’t spend the rest of his working years paying hospital and doctor bills. He’s too young to have Medicare and it doesn’t sound like he’s had the kind of jobs that would provide medical coverage. Sometimes I’m glad Frank and I are “oldsters.”

    You probably didn’t get to see American Idol this week, but all the contestants did a great job. It was like an entirely different group of contestants. Ben Briley, unfortunately, did Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” and while he did it well, he should have stuck to his country roots. The judges weren’t thrilled with it and neither was the voting public because he was sent home. Such a pity. If only he’d sung a different song. In his own defense, he pointed out that the judges keep telling the contestants to “get out of your comfort zone” and “try something different.” Well, Ben did just that and paid the price.

    Thanks for your email. 🙂

    • Tim is a fun person. Unfortunately, he has other problems that reflects in his lifestyle. I did get to see American Idol that week. Katie and I had a very nice motel room just a few miles from Nashville that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and, of course, we shared the cost. We spent each day at the hospital, only getting to stay a few minutes at a time with Tim. He would drift in and out, but at least he knew we were there. Then, late in the afternoon we would return to our room and crash. Hospitals are exhausting. We also took cabs to and fro. No way was I driving in that racing, bumper to bumper traffic in an unfamiliar city. That would be like signing our own death warrants. And the cost of the cabs offset the high price of parking and the gas consumption of stop and go traffic.

      Gosh, I hated to see Ben go. He wasn’t the best, but he certainly wasn’t the worst. And I agree with you. If he had not taken that chance, he would still be there.

      But it was definitely the best show of the season thus far. Katie and I loved it, and it was such a diversion for us that we really needed.

      • I hope Tim is continuing to heal. Any idea how long he’ll need to be in the hospital? I brought Frank home this afternoon after one week shy of two months. I feel like I have a house guest. LOL It was quite a challenge getting him out of the car. Getting him in was easy because there were two men to help him. We had to do some very creative thinking to get him out when we got home. He’s in bed watching TV and let out a huge sigh of happiness to be in his own bed and have some decent TV to watch. He loves how quiet it is, too, because the rehab place was super noisy, even at night. We’ve had mountins of snow this week, but fortunately it wasn’t snowing today.

        I’m so glad you got to see Idol while you were visiting Tim. I thought everyone did well last week and I’m very sad that Ben didn’t make it through. As the judges keep saying, it’s all about song choice.

        I see from the email notice that you’ve done an entry about this week’s shows and I’ll read it and comment in a little while.

      • Glad to hear Frank’s home and content. But gone are your halcyon days of yore. (I’m really reading too much medieval fantasy),:) If Tim cooperates, and perhaps, hopefully, if he doesn’t, he will be in rehab for months. He is already giving everyone fits about wanting to get out and go to work. He was even trying to climb out of bed while Katie and I were there. Between the drugs and the head trauma he’s not thinking right even more than usual.

        Looking forward to your comments. By the way, my dtr-in-law Tammy is attempting a blog called What’s What (maybe a temporary title – she’s just getting started. I’ve urged her to do one for a while now because she’s so knowledgeable about actors/singers and popular music. She’s a walking encyclopedia of trivia on them. I immediately thought of you and told her you seem to know everything there is to know about these subjects also, and maybe each of you has your own spin on these things. We are trying to come up with a catchy title that also tells what the blog is about. So it’s in discussion right now. She came up with What’s What, but needs something more. Care to throw out a suggestion?

      • Well, it sounds like Tim is going to plan an escape ASAP if he isn’t closely watched. I hope he behaves himself. I don’t envy him being “in rehab for months.” I’m sure Frank wouldn’t either. Been there, done that.

        I think Tammy’s blog idea is great and I’ll get on the bandwagon as soon as it’s up and running. I can’t think of any suggestions for her until I see what she sets up. I don’t “know everything there is to know” by a longshot, but I look forward to some wonderful discussions…like we have. 🙂

      • Yeah, Tim will never make a good patient because . . . wait for it . . . he has no patience. Bad, huh.

        Yeah, Tammy has needed something like this and I think she’ll be good at it if she sticks with it. She and I need a parcel of time to look it over.

      • Pun aside, 🙂 when recovering from an injury like Tim’s (and Frank’s) where extensive rehab and PT are involved, two things are mandatory: Patience an perseverance. I hope Tim will realize that.


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