Grace's Story - Chapter 2 "Let Your Arrow Fly"

Preview

In chapter one, we learned at the height of Grace's teen life as an all-star athlete, her life was hit with tragedy.  During a basketball game, she was knocked to the floor and soon became a quadriplegic.

Grace's Story Chapter 2

"I’ve imagined what life would be like if I had never sustained my spinal injury – if I wasn’t mostly confined to a wheelchair. I remember that my Mom was going to make shrimp Gorgonzola for dinner the night I collapsed. I’ve imagined me walking out of the car into the house after practice and eating that dinner. I’ve imagined graduating high school never having sat in a wheelchair. But whether you call it fate, or karma, or God, there was another plan for my life.

Over the last three and a half years, I have often had others ask how I ended up in a wheelchair. I’ve told my story countless times. The typical response from well-meaning others is generally something like, “I’m so sorry. Oh My Gosh that’s awful”. But you know what? It is not awful. Maybe it has taken me three and a half years to get to this place, but I can honestly say, it is not awful. I believe I was specifically put in this place because I have the determination and focus to overcome and along the way, I can help others. I believe that even when something bad happens to you, you can still strive for your dreams and your goals in life.

Grace's Story Chapter 2
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All-in-all, if I were to summarize what I wish others to gain from hearing my story, my hopes are these: that in the midst of  struggles, whatever they may be, do not lose sight of your goals;  do not let obstacles stop you from doing everything you wish; and finally, don’t listen to the negative. I know, from personal experience, that there will be naysayers. I was told by many I would never walk again. I was told that my chance of walking again was less than five percent. But yet three years after my collapse I walked across the stage on my high school graduation day and received my diploma. Miracles happen, but often they take focus, hard work, and persistence to happen. Today, I’m attending Missouri State University. I live on campus. I can walk with a walker and with braces. I continue to improve with physical therapy. I am an independent college student with plans to someday travel the world.

I read a great picpost on Pinterest that I’ve kept as a motto for myself. It read, 'Life is like an arrow, whenever it pulls you back it’s getting ready to launch you into something great.' My hope to others is that they let their arrow fly."

Grace's Story - Chapter 1 "Sealed My Fate"

"I was a 14-year-old freshman when I became a quadriplegic. Although the doctors concluded my spinal injury was the result of an accumulation of injuries, it was the charge I took in the basketball game a couple of weeks prior to my collapse that sealed my fate. It’s crazy. As my opponent ran towards me, she knocked me off me feet. I fell backward – my neck whipped back and my head hit the floor. I wasn’t knocked out, but I was taken out of the game for a concussion check, which I passed. My coach hesitantly put me back in the game, as I had the mental determination typical of a competitive athlete.

Grace disabled wheel chair

For the next couple of weeks I fought through headaches, fatigue, and confusion. Everyone presumed I had simply sustained a concussion. In effort to make me devote myself to resting, my parents limited my TV, reading, and cellphone time. After weeks, I reached my limit of boredom. So I sought the approval of a MD to get released to play again, even though I knew I wasn’t “myself”. The first day back,  my trainer noted something was still not right, and by the time my Mom and I pulled the car into the garage after practice, my headache was excruciating, my body felt heavy, and I was so exhausted that I couldn’t immediately get myself out of the car. My right side, from my neck down to my torso was flaming red (the same color as my cell phone’s red otter box!) I didn’t even have enough energy to get myself out of the car and crawl into the house. I will never forget the date: January 31, 2012. The garage was cold while I sat in the car mentally trying to work up enough energy to get myself into the house. Despite my mental determination, I was physically unable to make myself step out of the car. I finally mustered enough mental strength move, but I simply buckled and collapsed onto the garage floor. I couldn’t move my arms or my legs. As I laid on the garage floor shocked and in pain, my parents were by my side. My Mom pulled the blanket off me and saw my flaming, red skin, and I was taken to Mercy Hospital.

Grace

I had a spinal decompression surgery that night. My spinal injury was caused not only by the head injury, but from years of compiled injuries. After three hours of surgery, my parents were told I would likely never walk again. At 14-years-old, over the course of a single evening, I changed from a tri-season athlete to a quadriplegic.

The excruciating headaches continued even after my spinal decompression surgery. The doctors determined that complications from the surgery resulted in a nick on my spinal cord. My brain fluid was leaking and one lobe of my brain was sinking to the base of my head. Spinal fluid protects the spinal cord and sealing the leak was critical. After a little over a month in the hospital in Springfield, we requested that I be transferred by ambulance to a hospital in St. Louis for a couple months until I was released to continue outpatient physical therapy.

Grace

Through it all, my Mom was my rock. My Mom is really good at taking care of other people. In taking care of me, all I saw was a strong, unfaltering woman who calmly held my hand. Not until just recently did I learn that she would go to the garden at the hospital and sob and pray the Rosary.

I know this, the power of prayer is unmistakable. And, now living this life as a quadriplegic, I have clarity that if my situation will make someone else not give up in their situation, then I’ve fulfilled a purpose. This whole thing is for something and I'm okay with it."