Some would call my life story a success story. However, I refer to my story as bittersweet. Without my life experiences, I would not be where I am today. At the early age of four, my parents got a divorce because my father being a substance abuser. As time passed, I started to realize that something was different at my dad’s house, I just did not know what it was and I would not find out what it was for a long time. As I got older, I started to tell my mother that I did not want to go to my dad's anymore, that I just did not like it there. Not only did she never bad mouth my dad, but also she never questioned me or made me go.
When I was a teenager, I was only seeing my dad about once a year. It wasn’t until I was age 15 when my world came to a stop. My mother had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. At that age, you never think that you would lose your only support person, your best friend, your confidant, and the one you have lived with your whole life. I thought she is a fighter and she will get through this. Plus, why would God take her away knowing that all I would have left would be my dad, who was still abusing many substances.
When my mom was no longer able to work, she had a conversation with my dad about what her and I were going to do. He was re-married and had just finished building a house with a basement the size of an apartment. He offered for my mom and I to move in. I get it, this probably sounds like something a nice man would do. It was at this time that I learned that my dad usually only does things that would benefit him. It was not long after my mom and I moving in that he started stealing her medications. She would just cry over the anger and pain that his actions had caused. I remember, the last time I talked to her we stayed up until three in the morning talking about life. Little did I know that she was giving me life lessons in what time she had left with me. She told me things like, “When you get bucked off of the horse, you get back on it, and you ride again.” She also told me to never give up, never sell myself short, and to never lose my laugh or smile. Man, I sure do miss her now.
She passed away the next morning, which was 16 days before my I was to turn 16. I truly believe that she knew it would be her last night with me. I look back on my life and think about how wonderful it would be for her to see what I have done with my life.
After she passed away, I had to continue living in a house that was unlike anything I had ever lived in before. All I knew is that I wanted out as fast as possible. So, I dropped out of high school, got my GED, and went to cosmetology school. By the time I was age 18, I had moved out. However, little did I know that this move would also turn out to be life changing. I moved in with a guy I was dating. He told me that I could stay with him even if our relationship did not work out due to him knowing the situation at my dad’s house. By age 20, we were married. I thought things were great! That was until July, 2007.
We were on our way home and he was driving and had a seizure. The car ran off of the road. We hit a tree on my side of the car, spun around and hit another tree on my side of the car. It all seemed to happen in slow motion and to this day I can picture it happening all over again as clear as can be. For a second, I blacked out. When I came to, I was trying to get out of the car and I could not understand why I was unable to get out. I kept pushing the button on the side to move my seat back, but the seat was not moving. I would later find out that I could not get out because the car was on me for the most part. And the seat, well it was already back as far as it would go! I would also later find out that I had to be cut out of the car with the jaws of life.
The good news is, I was not in any pain. However, my right leg was outside of the car. After that, things are not very clear. I remember hearing people yelling my name, looking down and seeing grass. This was the only time in my life that I yelled that someone needed to call my dad and brother. Oddly enough, this was a time when my dad had been sober for three months!
Next thing I remember is my dad running towards me at the hospital, crying. He asked me if I knew what I happening. I replied, “Dad, it does not matter because I am alive.” I was not concerned about what was going to happen to me. I was just happy to be alive! After surgery, I remember getting asked a ton of questions by the medical staff at the hospital. My injuries included a broken left ankle, shattered right forearm, five broken ribs, the padding on my left foot was stitched back down, and I lost my right leg below the knee. Plus, I broke out in poison ivy, which for the first couple of days the medical staff thought it was an allergic reaction to my pain medications. That meant, they took all of my pain medications away! It wasn’t until they noticed a paramedic who had helped at the scene of the accident that they realized it was poison ivy. After that was established, they gave me back my pain medication.
Day three in the hospital and my husband, (now ex-husband), had another seizure. It was this very moment that my life would take another turn. He was rushed out of my room and whisked away to the ER. It was the ER doctor who came to talk to me who told me what was going on. He was seizing because he was overdosing on prescription pills that he was buying from people and on the internet. OMG!!! I felt so stupid and asked myself how did I not know that he was a substance abuser. I felt helpless. He was suppose to love and care for me but he has changed my life forever. I knew at that instant that I could no longer be with him.
Once I got my prosthetic leg, I moved out and filed for divorce. I literally gave him everything because I did not want to be responsible for his actions. Plus, I just wanted to start my life over. I decided that I would be fine being single. In addition, I could have as many dogs as I wanted because I would have no one to tell me that I couldn’t have more! However, I did meet someone later, even after my ex had told me stuff like “no one will want you” and “you are ugly without a leg.”
While I was in the hospital, I also decided that I wanted to help people in a different way than how i had been. I was a cosmetology/barber instructor for a local school at the time of my accident. However, I wanted more. So, my accident inspired me to be a nurse!
It was in December, 2013 that I graduated from nursing school. I am the first one in my immediate family to earn a college degree. Then in may 2016 graduated I graduated with my bachelors in nursing. Say what!!! I cried my eyes out thinking I had done something important. I had really done it! I also thought how proud my mom would be if she was still here. I also had just started a nurse practitioner program and wanted to go all the way to the top! Recently, I was promoted to the Psychiatric Nurse Educator.
When I started nursing in 2013, I was on the Psychiatric Unit. I knew that this was where I was suppose to be, that I could help other people see the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew that I could give them hope and help them find that life is worth living; you just have to get back on the horse. In reality, there is not that much difference between people with mental illness and anyone else. It's just that society has such a stigma surrounding mental health. At some point and time, everyone has had anxiety or has experienced depression. With my car accident came gifts of anxiety and PTSD. The depression never really came. I guess that is because I was never really sad over what had happened.
So, for the most part, I have climbed mountains on my own. I do have someone in my life that I actually went to elementary school with who loves me even with me having one leg. When we met in 2008, I told him that I wasn’t looking for anything, which we both agreed on. As things progressed, I told him that there were going to be times in my life that I would need his help and that really he was dating me and my leg. Sometimes my leg decides what I am able to do! He was okay with that! We have been together ever since. He has seen me at my weakest and at my stingiest. I really believe that he is my number one fan! Thankfully, I have had him by my side for the last eight years and hopefully for many more to come.
What I am saying for the most part is anyone can do anything that they want to no matter what life throws at us. Life is full of trials and tribulation. But, what counts the most is what we do when these things happen. We just can’t give up, lose hope, or let someone determine what our worth is. It is up to us to determine our path in life. If you want something, go after it. If it does not work out, keep fighting for it. Never let the fire inside of you burnout and don’t give up on your dreams. Be proud of who you are and the uniqueness that you come with; embrace it. Have faith in yourself and know that we are all worthy.