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!


Julie said...

You and your family are amazing. Thank you for sharing this, and I hope you have a wonderful day today enjoying the things that make your heart full. :)

Ronja said...

November 3rd marked my husbands 17th anniversary of his accident, which is now exactly half his life. He was not as badly injured as you were, but he permanently lost the use of his right arm, and changing his life (career decisions etc.) through it. Like you, he says he would not take it back if he could, for it changed him for the better. I met him two years after the accident, and fell in love instantly, his handicap was never important.

I love reading your blog and hope you will continue to live a fullfilled life and that you get to live your dreams!

GiblinA said...

I will never forget this day! Thank you for sharing your wonderful journey. I feel blessed to know both sides of you:). -Angie

Anonymous said...

Inspiring! Truly, no words to tell how this has touched me. You are contagious in the very best of ways! Thank you.

jamie @ [kreyv] said...

You are just so amazing...beautiful inside and out! I am so lucky that I got to know you!

Emily Ann Hupe said...

I Pray that one day I can be as brave and humble as you. Just passed my 10 year 11/17/2004. I became a T12-L-1 para following a birth accident. God Bless you and Thank you for sharing your stor

Tina said...

Heather I hope I am able to meet u one day. You r remarkable!

Julie said...

Hi Heather,
Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family. Hope you have a lovely day/weekend.:)

Faith Brady said...

You are such an inspiration to everyone! I salute your braveness and optimism in dealing with your condition. I'm so happy for you, because I can see that you are satisfied and thankful for what you have. Thank you for sharing your very inspirational story, Heather! More power to you!

Faith Brady @ KHunter LAw

Sabrina Craig said...

Wow! I truly admire you for being an inspiration to all of us. Despite the agony you faced due to the accident, you still have a positive disposition and strong optimism. Thanks for sharing your story, Heather! Kudos and more power to you!

Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney

Sabrina Craig said...

Wow! I truly admire you for being an inspiration to all of us. Despite the agony you faced due to the accident, you still have a positive disposition and strong optimism. Thanks for sharing your story, Heather! Kudos and more power to you!

Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney

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