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Monroe author Sandy Blank tells story of crash, recovery

56-year-old's book warns of dangers for motorcyclists

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Sandy Blank of Monroe Township has written a book detailing her experiences after sustaining devastating injuries in a motorcycle crash on May 28, 2006. She required 42 surgeries to save her legs and left arm. Mrs. Blank says her faith helped her through the long recovery.

THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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MONROE — For Sandy Blank, the date May 28, 2006, is indelibly imprinted upon her.

On that Sunday, the then-56-year-old was riding her motorcycle, a Honda 1100, on Albain Road in Monroe Township, where she lives, when she collided with a Jeep Cherokee. She came within an inch of being killed but has no memory of the collision.

She broke both legs — including the tibia, fibula, and femur bones — her left wrist, two fingers on her right hand and the elbow on that arm, her left arm, and her pelvis and ribs. She also ruptured her spleen and liver.

“I was a mess,” she said. “I had bones hanging out everywhere.”

Her husband, Wayne, concurs, in his own understated way. He was riding ahead of her and saw the collision in the rearview mirror of his motorcycle.

“It was probably the worst thing I’ve seen in my life. It was difficult, to say the least. You walk up to your wife and she’s lying there with bones sticking out of her,” he said.

Now, after a medically induced coma, 42 operations, and almost seven years, she has written a book, My Physical Scars Are Beautiful: They Represent God’s Answer to Prayer, recounting her long recovery and the many people she met along the way.

She’ll appear at her first signing from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Book Nook, 42 S. Monroe St., here. The 120-page book sells for $11.99.

Mrs. Blank said she’ll answer questions about the accident, for which police said she was at fault, and talk about the writing of the book, which was done on a laptop in her living room.

She said her publisher, WestBow Press, released the book in December, but she decided to hold off on book signings until May, which is Motorcycle Awareness Month.

“I don’t want to steer people away from motorcycle riding, but I think people should wear a helmet. I wore one, and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here today. I suffered all these injuries to my body, but not to my head, and that’s because of my helmet,” she said. She no longer rides a motorcycle herself, but she does ride as a passenger with her husband on his Harley-Davidson.

For 35 years, Michigan required motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, but that law was repealed last year. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2008 showed motorcyclists who do not wear helmets are far more likely to suffer traumatic brain injury in a crash than those who wear helmets.

Today, Mrs. Blank sometimes limps, and she shows the many scars from her operations.

Her left arm is locked at a 30-degree angle, and she has problems with dizziness and balance, but she said she has made about as complete a recovery as could be hoped for. Her injuries forced her to retire from her job as an administrative secretary at the Michigan Department of Corrections, where she worked for 28 years.

She stays busy with volunteer work, including helping veterans submit paperwork to Veterans Affairs, and remains thankful for her survival. “I’ve been blessed,” she said.

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