Monday, November 5, 2012

I've Come a Long Way

Last Friday afternoon my mom and I went to my friend Lacee's fundamentals of nursing class that she teaches at a local college so that I could talk to her nursing students. Lacee's been teaching nursing school for several years and she's asked me to come speak to her class several times. I've always gone when she's asked me to come, but I have to have admit that I really don't look forward to doing it!

When Lacee first started asking me to come speak to her classes it was really hard for me to agree because the thought of speaking to a big group of strangers filled me with dread (because of my inability to speak naturally since I can't breathe on my own and have to rely on artificial means to breathe). It's probably difficult for you to understand what I'm talking about if you don't know me or know all of the ways that being paralyzed physically effects someone, but the long story short is that I can't speak very loudly, so I always worry that people won't be able to understand/hear me. It's just an awkward situation for me, but I know I need to get over this fear and apprehension since I know I have a lot of good things to offer others; especially future nurses.

Anyway… as nervous as I was to go to Lacee's class, I did it. I find it interesting that no matter how nervous I am beforehand, once I start speaking I always feel extremely calm and collected. When it's all said and done I always thoroughly enjoy myself and wonder why I let myself get so nervous. I talked to the students about my accident, adjusting to my "new life" and about my experiences being a semi-frequent patient in the hospital and tell them what I think they need to know as future nurses. Everything went really well and this group of students had quite a few questions, so my mom and I spent a fair amount of time answering all of their questions.

As I talked about the early days of becoming paralyzed it made me realize just how far I've come in the past nine years. I've been blessed to have never suffered from depression, which is something that a lot of people who go through major, life-altering things like this suffer from. That being said, that doesn't mean it's been easy! Each year since my accident has gotten easier and I find myself becoming more content and more at peace all the time.

After coming home to live after my accident all I did was watch TV. Like I said, I was happy and felt content, but all I had the desire to do each day was watch TV. It was an escape and I think it was my way of coping as I grieved everything I lost. (The loss of everything physical, the loss of most of my friendships and the loss of the future I'd always hoped and dreamed of.) As I look back to that time in my life, I realize just how difficult it was. Those were truly the darkest days of my life. Even though I was happy, life was so incredibly hard!! I wouldn't choose to go back and relive those days for anything!

However, as more time passed things became easier and easier. After about a year of all day/everyday TV watching, I became bored with that and decided to get a computer with special software that enabled me to use my voice to control the computer. (Now I spend all day on my computer and only have the TV on for background noise.) As even more time went on I slowly started incorporating even more things back into my life; things that I'd vowed I would never do again (like go to Walmart, the mall and the movies). At first I had absolutely no desire to go out in public, but as time went on I became more comfortable in my new skin; and I didn't just tolerate going out in public, I actually wanted to! I learned a good lesson to "never say never" since I was constantly surprising myself by trying new things that I never expected having the desire to do it again.

I guess that's where I'll leave this post. No matter what you're currently going through, don't count anything out or permanently close any doors. Just because you aren't ready for something right now or don't think you'll ever have the desire to do this or that ever again, it doesn't mean that you won't in the future. Just be patient with yourself!


Anonymous said...

Hi Heather,

You are inspirational in every sense of the word. I try hard to focus on progress not perfection...this helps me "be patient with myself". Your posts always serve to educate & enlighten. Keep smilin'

Rachael said...

How nice of you to do this for them! I remember when I first moved to the US I watched a LOT of daytime TV while cross stitching. I didn't know anyone at all, and my husband was gone all day working. I thought the daytime TV was going to drive me bonkers! Luckily the minister took me under her wing. But I do sympathize with you when it comes to watching a lot of daytime TV. Maybe after all that, going out of the house didn't seem so bad after all! (or maybe you have better quality daytime TV than we did, we had only the free to air stuff). As always, your grace humbles me.

Heather Weinhaus said...

And, this is why I LOVE YOU!!! You are amazing person! You really are!

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