"It was just a normal high school night driving around with eight of my best friends in our Ford Explorer. Then came that curve that we could not handle. We ran off the road and crashed. Thankfully everyone survived.
I felt like I died that night. At 17, my life changed in a split second - I miss her, the old me. Twenty years later I still don't feel like myself. It took a really long time for me to come to any peace about the car accident, not that I'm fully there yet. I made good choices, didn't disobey my parents, was nice to everyone. Why did this happen to me? Who was I now? Wisdom should not come that young."
"I couldn't feel my legs. The pain in my back was unbearable. I had panic attacks and cried a lot. The nurses were really nice though. Since I was the only young person on the 8th floor I did get some special treatment. They would come and shave my legs and bring me cake from their fridge. I was only in the hospital for 25 days; a short time period for the extent of my injuries. I had shattered 2 vertebrae and was paralyzed from the waist down. Once I was able to sit upright the real therapy started and I promised myself that I wouldn't be in that place over the holidays. I was discharged the day before Thanksgiving.
Coming home was harder than I ever expected. Real life set in. No hanging out with friends, no hope for volleyball, no ease to anything. I just wanted to be a senior in high school and all that comes with it. I didn't want to be the freak show everyone was watching gimp around. I didn't want to wear a body cast. I'm from El Dorado Springs. That town was a big part of my healing. The people there enveloped me and my family with love. My coaches would call me in the hospital and come visit when they could. People would send us things to get through the days like bags of quarters for the vending machines or my favorite movies. My friends and their parents were a constant presence. My mothers' boss paid her for the whole time she was with me in the hospital. Small towns tend to band together when bad things happen and they were no exception.
My life since has been built around pain. The physical pain is daily but the emotional pain come in waves, thankfully much further apart as I have grown older. I yearn for simple things like doing cartwheels with my kids or teaching my daughter how to hit a volleyball. Then there are the big things like just feeling good for a whole day. I can't remember what normal is. I know a lot of people are like that so I try not to get down and feel sorry for myself because it could be so much worse. Many people with chronic pain will tell you that is easier said than done. It is maddening. It can also be depressing. I joke that I will be a really good old person because I have so much practice. I had the hardware in my back removed this past December. It was starting to move around and was causing me additional pain. I was terrified to have that surgery. I was afraid the doctors would slip as they removed them and paralyze me again. I was afraid I wouldn't wake up. That experience brought back a flood of emotions I thought I had dealt with. It's funny that I feel like a different person now, almost like I have lived three lives. Having the hardware removed almost removed some the pain in my heart too.
As cliché as it sounds I truly believe that every experience we have shapes us for what we are meant to me. I have people in my life that I always hoped I would have. My husband is one of the kindest most generous men you would be lucky enough to meet. He is mindful of how I feel and I know it is hard for him not to be able to fix me. My friends are the friends I have wanted my whole life. Sisters from other misters is what we say. I love them more than they may ever know. I would be in pain every moment of every day just to have these people. My family has of course always been there. I'll never forget their faces as they walked in the emergency room that night. They watched as I tried to put one foot in front of the other. They dealt with my anger as I became a hateful, jaded version of my former self. They never gave up on me. By all odds I should not have been able to carry a child, but I carried three. Some days I feel superhuman then I laugh because it is basically the opposite. I know that even though my physical strength is not great, my determination is. I know that if I can learn to walk again I can do anything I choose. My body will probably wear out long before my mind, which is a terrifying thought, but I pray that somehow it won't matter. I think God gave me this experience in part because he knew I had the support system to get through it. I just realized that.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."