Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

One Step at a Time

Posted April 16, 2008

Bettie Coates learned to walk again last month.  She takes baby steps around her Raleigh home with a cane.  At times her feet swell making it almost unbearable for her to move the few feet from her chair to the kitchen.  She shuffles and gives herself a pep talk under her breath as she makes small, painful trips around her house

Coates is over forty and has a two-year-old named Donovan.  That in itself is enough to send a chill down almost any mother's spine.  But imagine being in a devastating car accident and still having to care for your young energetic child.   There  is no playing together on the floor with  plastic cars and trucks like they used to.  There are no trips to the library or park because Coates still cannot drive.

Coates was hit head-on by a drunk driver on I-540 in October and says "I will never be the same."  She has had six surgeries which kept her in the hospital for 29 days.  She goes through extensive physical therapy.  Doctors have placed pins and rods throughout her body. 

But there are small blessings.  Coates employer, a bio-technology company in RTP, is holding her job.  And Donovan with his big brown eyes, cherubic smile and sunny disposition helps his mother in any way he can.  At night he holds her hand as they climb the stairs together and tells her he will keep her from falling.  Even though Coates dwarfs her little boy in size somehow I think he is just the person to keep her standing tall.

About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.