2 Years ago today, I was discharged from the hospital in a wheelchair and Depends, with limited sight out of only one eye, and no short term memory.
- I couldn’t remember any of the people who took care of me for 4 months, so their tears confused me when I left.
- I could only walk short distances with help.
- I had an alarm on my bed in case I forgot not to try to get up by myself.
- I couldn’t bathe without help.
- I’d lost all sense of smell.
- I couldn’t follow any TV, even for the length of a commercial.
- I never could remember which house was ours, so I couldn’t leave the house on my own.
- I’d ask my mom what was for dinner and hear that we had just eaten.
- I was told that my dream of going back to college was unrealistic.
2 Years Later:
- I remember the new neighbors and friends I’ve met and call them by name.
- I average 12-14,000 steps a day, pain free.
- I do my morning and evening hygiene routine all by myself.
- Just recently I watched my first full length feature film and could discuss it afterwards.
- I take daily walks around my neighborhood by myself and know exactly where to go.
- I make my own meals.
- I got an A and a B in the courses I took last semester at Saint Joe’s, and am currently taking 2 more.
- I can remember which room my classes are in.
- I went back to my old job at a vegan cafe.
- When I’m not at school or work, I volunteer twice a week at a daycare.
What has not been recovered (yet):
- I can’t run.
- I can’t climb trees.
- I can’t walk without my sneakers.
- I can’t drive.
- I still have a limp and limited coordination on my left side.
When you hit your head as hard as I did, twice (once on the windshield, once on the pavement), even the experts can’t tell you how much of what’s been lost can be recovered. They say 90% of it relies on your support. I look at the two lists above and know that it was only achievable because of the constant and continual support around me.
What they don’t tell you to expect is everything that I’ve gained.
- I am much closer to God.
- I am closer to my family and my friends.
- I have formed a wonderful relationship with the driver and his family.
- I got to experience the power of forgiveness, which is life changing.
- I know how much I am loved.
- I am patient with myself.
- I don’t judge myself.
- I don’t take for granted my health and privilege.
- I know exactly what my calling is.
- I don’t worry about the future.
- I am grateful all of the time.
You might not believe me when I say that the night I almost died and the brain injury that resulted was not a curse, it was a blessing. Being forced to find meaning through trauma was the greatest gift of my life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.