Decisions can change your life in the blink of an eye. A friend on my cheerleading squad asked for a ride home and the next thing I knew, I was falling off the bed in a hospital. September 6, 1997, was the day my life changed; I had gotten my license earlier that summer when a car ran into the driver’s side and flipped my Jeep over. I was in a coma for over 2 months, but thankfully I came out with a TBI and fractured pelvis that healed while I was unconscious.
I had a loving family and friends who came to visit me every weekend in the Charlottesville children’s rehab hospital for 5 months. Returning home to go to another rehab program for 5 months followed by a year of outpatient physical therapy. My early days of therapy wake up and ready by 9 for physical therapy; speech and language pathology where I worked on breath control, enunciating, pronunciation, and comprehension; occupational therapy where we would work on the senses, like smells, vision (I saw double, so this was eye traking); school that worked on writing and reading; aquatic therapy where I walked in the pool; psychological therapy where I would talk about my emotions.
The accident had started at the beginning of the school year, so I returned to high school a year behind my friends which was a challenge both physically and mentally. I felt like I was different from my peers, the class that I would have been graduating with, so I tried to distance myself. I tried really hard and I went away to Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Going away to school was the best thing that I could have done; I had a chance to meet all new friends who knew me for me, not just ‘the cheerleader who got in that accident.’ I found my purpose through my car accident; I thought back to the days I spent in rehab and all the fun that I had was in the activity free time, so I wanted to become a therapist who helped others in an inpatient situation have a little fun. I graduated with a Therapeutic Recreation degree from Longwood, having worked in the activity department for 9 years and have taken time to begin writing my memoir and further spread TBI awareness. Living through a tough experience can produce purpose in life and for that reason I really am thankful for my TBI.
Dad, me and Uncle Pat getting some fresh air; October 5, 1997
Longwood University! 2005
We all need friends. Friends to be there in the joyous times,
and friends to comfort in rough situations.
In the bad times, it’s those friends who are there for you in your times of hardship, when other people have forgotten, or have been too busy living their own lives.
20 years is a long time, and I had thought that I had moved on, I was so young after all. I don’t even know if we knew the meaning of all that was happening at only 16 in high school, but I can’t seem to get over it. I need to let the band-aid keep its cover over it, so it fully heals, consider all the wonderful things that are currently have in my life, and let go of the past. Just get over it- leave it alone and let it be. Get over the ‘poor me’ stage, I didn’t have a close group of friends from high school- so what? My one close friend from high school that I still have told me that I can be thankful that I did have 2 great years, my freshman and sophomore… I missed my whole junior year, and when I came back to (what was supposed to be) my senior year, I couldn’t relate or hang out with my old friends, so I had to find new friends in the younger class.
And that’s okay, it just prepared me for making new friends in the later stages of life. And as we get older the further away our youth becomes. Mostly people grow up, and get wrapped in their own families, and get together with neighbors or coworkers.
I awoke with a jolt.
There was a was a fearful gasp in my throat. Not cool, I thought when I was conscious enough to recognize it as my own. In my dream, I recognized the very end of summer before the accident and felt reminiscent of the empty pool and high school football games. I saw the boys congregating together in the hallways while I would pass the older girls looking with judgement as I walk by.
My past is in my past. And that is where it should stay. I’m going to stop writing this dumb story of my sad life, even though it has a kick-ass ending.
Stop writing about the stupid people, that this insecure little 17 year old couldn’t stand up to or with, start writing about MY story of MY perseverance and achievements. At least that’s the plan for now, wish me luck!
I came across this quote today that really resonates with me, it seems as if I’m always searching. Searching for supreme happiness, or always waiting for the next shoe to drop.
I won’t let myself fully embrace the happiness and wonderfulness that is currently present, that is there and allow myself to enjoy it because I know how fleeting it all can be, how easily everything can stop on a dime and suddenly turn the other way. Fleeting…think about it, everything is easily fading. Anyone can be forgotten and fade into the background, just like wallpaper. If you stay still long enough, most people just forget. Either forget or you turn into a fond memory and are like, ‘what about that guy?…’ what is true in life? Will there ever be anyone left standing and waiting after a terrible car accident takes the cheerleader right out of her sneakers only leaving behind nothing more than a megaphone? Which are actually only memories of a time long ago, a time before everyone got too busy developing adult lives to realize that you’ve been left behind.
But being left behind isn’t so bad. Sometimes when you are “left behind” you actually get a chance to move forward and turn your life into something much better than you’ve every imagined it to be.
Today is a free day. No plans, perfect to get working, right?
Ya, except this is one thing that would never naturally occur to me. Instead, I have to have inspiration in the form of a friend to come over and tell me to get to it. My main job right now is finishing my memoir, but I’d rather procrastinate by working on journals, crocheting, or anything else.
I AM THANKFUL FOR MY FRIEND who came over to relax and knit, then left for work telling me to get my head where it should be, IN A BOOK. my book specifically,
leaving me listening to Shania Twain’s new CD, NOW
and with a bit cup of coffee [and more in the pot]
I AM THANKFUL FOR A HUSBAND TO SET ME STRAIGHT. And tell me to ice my hip when I’m complaining it hurts from walking around too much.
GET TO IT- STOP COMPLAINING- and get to work!
NO EXCUSES… get that nose to the grindstone!
…I maybe wasn’t even supposed to write a blog post…maybe