Page 22 - issue_4

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Whenever he moved, he
could feel and hear the
fluids sloshing around in
his head
He lay on an
operating table for more
than 350 hours to
reconstruct his face,
taking skin from
numerous parts of his
body. His face was so
unrecognizable from the
crash that the doctors
had to use one of his
senior pictures to rebuild
his face.
He couldn’t eat solid
food for more than
a year.
Engel went through
times of self-pity and
self-doubt, until one
morning at four in the
morning, lying alone in
his hospital room, he
heard the Bob Dylan song, “Negativity don’t pull you through.”
And that’s when it hit him. He couldn’t feel sorry for himself. He had to be
thankful for what he still had—a brain, family and friends.
He thought back to what his old high school principal told him, “Change the
things you can and leave the rest alone.”
Engel set out to change what he could.
His number one goal was to get back into college to be with his friends. It took
two years, but he made it happen.
At 19, he went to an adult rehabilitation school for the blind in Colorado,
where he learned basic skills, such as how to get around, how to cook without
getting burned, how to read Braille and how to use the computer. After six
months in the program, earlier than most students, he was ready to move on
to bigger and better things. However, there were two requirements
to graduate.
One, he had to prepare, cook, serve and clean up a meal for his entire school
and faculty, about 40 people. “Done, no problem.” What terrified him was the
second graduation requirement, what they called “the drop.”
the Hoot
22
By Danielle Propst, managing editor
Marcus Engel was a normal college student. He hung out with friends, went
to parties, and enjoyed life. He, like many young people, thought he was
invincible—until a drunk driver changed his life forever.
In March, he came to William Woods University to share his story. Engel grew
up in the St. Louis, Mo., area, and later moved to High Hill, where he lived on
a farm with his family. He played football and was involved in numerous other
activities. He graduated from high school and got accepted into college.
During his freshman year at Missouri State University, Engel got homesick
and decided to go home that weekend to watch his alma mater’s homecoming
game and go to a St. Louis Blue’s hockey game—a choice that would redefine
life as he knew it.
Engel and three of his friends were driving home from the hockey game Oct.
9. They drove through an intersection when Engel, who was riding passenger,
turned to his right and saw a car’s headlights less than a foot from his face.
He had no time to react. He went into shock, something he calls “a gift the
body gives you when you experience something so horrific that the brain
needs to block it out.”
The car he was in did four or five barrel rolls through the intersection, over
the top of another car, before it finally came to a rest on its roof.
Engel does not remember the crash. His memory kicked back in when he was
lying face down in the street.
“It crushed every bone in my face,” he said. “I tried to let out a scream, but
could barely choke one out because my mouth was filled with blood, broken
teeth and gasoline. My left jaw was hanging off the hinge. I lost all but five of
my teeth.”
The next morning, Engel woke up to find that he could not see, hear, taste or
smell. The only thing he could feel was what he described as unfathomable
pain from head to toe. Both of the optic nerves were severed, he lost 25
percent of his olfactory senses and his sense of taste will never be the same.
His friends made it out of the crash with fractured vertebrae, moderate
whiplash and some cuts and bruises.
The drunk driver of the other car had a sprained knee as a result of the
accident. The driver blew .17 four hours after the wreck. He would later serve
120 days in prison.
“I lost two years out of my life because someone didn’t use a quarter and call
a cab,” Engel said.
His head was so swollen from the broken bones that he had to have a
tracheotomy tube put in, and he was unable to speak for three weeks.
Blinded college student focuses on the positive