Monday, November 17, 2014

11 Years Later

It's November 17, another anniversary. Number 11 this time. I feel like I was just writing a post about reaching the decade mark since my car accident. The past year has really flown by. (To read about my accident and all that transpired that day click here and here.)

November 17 was actually an awesome day for me. I got to spend the morning at the nursing home where I was doing clinicals, and I was able to get some practical experience doing some of the things I'd been learning about in nursing school. The last thing I remember that day was leaving the nursing home and I have no recollection of the accident. The people I really feel badly for are my family and friends! I cannot imagine the horror it would've been to find out that your daughter, sister, dear friend or even casual acquaintance had been in a terrible car accident, had broken their neck and would forever be paralyzed, IF they even survived at all. My family membersespecially motherand friends are the ones I feel badly for!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, even though my accident was the worst thing to happen to me physically, I would never take it back because the emotional and spiritual gains far outweigh what I lost physically. Going through this transformation of mind, body and spirit has given me the opportunity to learn some valuable life lessons at an accelerated rate that I wouldn't have learned as quickly otherwiseor maybe even at allif I hadn't become paralyzed. That is worth more to me than having a fully functioning body with a less developed spirit. I know this may seem unbelievable, but it's the honest truth. I'm happier than I've ever been, more confident and I feel like I have all the answers to life's tough questions, like "what is the purpose of life" and "why do bad things happen to people."

Whenever people meet me and they hear about what's happened to me they always apologize. Don't feel badly for me! I'm sure being totally paralyzed sounds perfectly awful, but it's really not as bad as it sounds. It does have its downsides, but I can think of far worse fates. If I'd never become paralyzed I would never have known the joy I feel that comes from succeeding at something difficult and my compassion for others wouldn't be as developed, either. It's no use speculating where I would be and what I would be doing had this never happened to me, but there's a very real possibility that I wouldn't be as happy as I am now. There's really nothing like almost dying to give you perspective about what really matters, and a new appreciation for life.

I have a really great life and I get to spend most days doing the things that I want to do, and with my BFF, too. Not everyone has that luxury! This may not be the life I always dreamed of, but it's still pretty amazing, so I won't complain!

I've seen cars with a lot more damage, but this was bad enough. I list surviving this car accident as one of my greatest accomplishments.
These pictures were taken on Thanksgiving day in 2003, 10 days after my accident. I was just starting to regain consciousness at this point. I remember trying to smile in the first picture, but then I thought, "Nobody's going to care if I'm smiling."
This picture was taken during my seven weeks in the ICU, and the next picture was taken during my seven weeks in rehab (I was working on a sip-and-puff computer):
This was my when my nursing class received their LPN (halfway through the program). My mom went in my stead:
And finally, me, 11 years post-accident. Not too shabby, all things considered!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Guest Speaker

Last Friday I had the opportunity to go speak to my friend Lacee's Fundamentals of Nursing class (she teaches nursing education at a local college). I've done this several times before, so it wasn't anything new. Even still, I always dread it when Lacee asks me to come speak! I fought the urge to say no because I know that it's good for me and it's good for the nursing students, too. I have a unique perspective on nursing/patient care that can't be learned in a textbook and what I have to offer is something any prospective nurse could benefit from hearing.

I spoke for about an hour and 15 minutes and basically talked about my story, my experiences and how I deal with stress and coping (since that's the lecture Lacee teaches when she invites me to be her guest speaker). It always goes really well and I even enjoy it once it's over, so I don't know why I always dread it so much. Part of the reason is because I can't speak loudly and I can't stand the sound of my own voice. It sounds so unnatural and coarse and not at all like I used to sound before my accident. I'm really self-conscious of it, actually. I really should be more grateful, though, since I remember what it was like to be unable to speak after my accident and how difficult/frustrating that was. It IS a voice, even though it doesn't sound like ME!

I took a group picture with the class when I was finished speaking, and then one of the students took a picture of Mom, Lacee and me:
Before I left home Chandra took a picture of my mom and me since we haven't taken many pictures together lately. The last picture is one that my mom took of me when we got home. Not too bad, considering that I got majorly windblown while we were out! I actually liked this picture of myself, which is saying something since I have a critical eye when it comes to pictures of me. I sure hope I'm not the only one that is this way! Sometimes I just wish I could see myself the way other people see me.
I have to pat myself on the back for being such a good sport about doing things like this. It really takes a lot of courage to do things like this since I hate being the center of attention and have all eyes are on me.
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