On October 2, 2013 my life changed forever. I started my day with the anticipation of my wedding shower that the Weller Elementary teachers were hosting for me after school that day. My wedding date was only three weeks away. I intentionally picked out a dress that I hadn’t worn to my other showers so that my pictures would be diverse. I prepared my protein shake for breakfast (I had lost 13 pounds on my new diet) and I started my commute to school.
My fiance and I lived in the country on his family's cattle farm so I have about a 35-45 minute commute to work every day. As I was sipping my protein shake I misplaced it in my cup holder and spilled it all over the carpet interior of my Honda, Civic. I reached into my glove compartment to grab a napkin and began wiping up the spill, I took my eyes off the road just for a second to see what I was doing and I instantly heard the reverberating sound of my passenger side tires along the rumble strip. For a reason I will never fully understand, the sound completely startled me and I instantly jerked the wheel in the opposite direction of the rumble strip. Immediately, I could feel the car was out of control and I remember just saying to God, “I’ll see you on the other side”. I can not recall the next few seconds until the piercing sound of metal crashing filled my ears. I instantly tried to get out of the car and realized my left arm wasn’t working, but what scared me worse was realizing I was completely pinned in the car. I could not get out and I could not find my phone in the wreckage. I started to scream for help, but after a few attempts I realized I was on a country road and no one could hear me….so I prayed. It felt like within minutes two people were on the scene assisting me. I didn’t even realize I was sideways until the lady gently lifted my head up so it wasn’t hanging down. The next few hours involved a huge crew of emergency workers who had to carefully unwrap my car from around the telephone pole I had hit and then unpin my legs from the vehicle. I remember all of it vividly until they stated they were giving me a drug that would put me to sleep.
It turns out I was extremely broken. I broke my right femur, shattered my left humerus, dislocated my left knee (tearing ligaments), had multiple small fractures, multiple cuts and one severely deep wound on my left thigh. I ended up missing my initial wedding date. This took me a few days to realize would be the case, because I had never been injured before so I was very naive to the process of healing. I spent about seven weeks in the hospital, and during that time was when I realized the impact I had on the world. This was my first major perspective change. Until this accident I felt fairly small. I didn’t see the opportunities that God had given me to impact the world. I wasn’t in a leadership role or famous in anyway; I was, in my mind, a nobody. It wasn’t until the endless amount of visitors, cards, flowers, letters, etc that I realized how many people I interact with every day, week, year. All of these visitors were concerned about my well being and I had no idea I had the opportunity to pour into so many people. I literally never had a moment alone in the hospital. I had a visitor at all times (except during my physical therapy sessions), usually more than one visitor. For seven weeks I continued to have visitor after visitor. I started to ponder….what kind of an impact was I making? I obviously had an outlet to be a positive presence and I wasn’t for sure that I was accomplishing this before my accident, but it has been a huge perspective change for me since my accident that I want to be a light for others. I want to encourage others to focus on the positive. I feel I was able to do this not only for my visitors but also for the many nurses, therapists, and doctors that I worked with during my recovery. I recently ran into one of my orthopedic physician's assistants and when I was jogging his memory of who I was he stated “Oh yeah, you were the patient who was extremely upbeat”.
After seven weeks in the hospital I was released in a wheelchair to go home. I ended up marrying my amazing husband in that wheelchair, in our living room, only two days after I was released from the hospital. I still had quite an uphill climb left in my recovery but I was determined to beat the odds. I went from in home therapy to spending up to five hours in one setting at outpatient therapy. I spent about four months in a wheelchair, followed by a few months on crutches, and then a few months with a cane. I was off of work for a total of seven months. If it was up to the doctors I wouldn’t have gone back during that school year at all but I fought hard to return to my job and to find normalcy again. I had more determination than I even realized was within me. I pushed past all of the expectations that my doctors had for me and luckily I had physical therapists that helped me beat all of the odds. This is the other perspective change I had because of my accident. I realized I could literally do ANYTHING I was willing to work for. I realized that determination, hard work, and a positive outlook can take you anywhere you dream to be in this life. This determination allowed me to celebrate our first year of marriage by having a renewal ceremony, where I got to actually wear my wedding dress and WALK down the aisle without a limp or cane! I even danced at our reception! When I was released from my last doctor (I had multiple doctors that had to release me). He told me, “If I gave your chart to another doctor and then had you walk down the hall, they would not believe that you were the patient on the chart”. I know I couldn’t have done this without the support of many people, God’s Grace, and my perspective changes.
Throughout this experience I could have easily given up and allowed the darkness to overcome me. My wedding was “ruined”, my body was broken, we were struggling to pay the bills, I was home alone in a wheelchair all day, I was in pain (still am at times), etc. The mountain I had to climb to heal my body was beyond my view and honestly if I had listened to the doctors, was out of my reach. I truly believe that the power of prayer and my ability to focus on the positive allowed me to beat MANY odds. Bringing me to another perspective change, which was realizing how to focus on the positive. We can not control the path our life will take, but we can control our response to the dark times and choose to find the light.
I’m still humbled by this experience and the final perspective change of realizing that God wants me to impact the world. My life was spared for a reason. It may not be in a large monumental moment, but instead I hope to make an impact through all the small things that I’ve been given the opportunity to continue doing. I hope my story can inspire all of you to be a light to others, to focus on the positive, to reach beyond your ability to achieve your dreams, and to impact this world for the better, through your everyday life.