August 2nd started out like any other day. That was until I was carried off to the side of the road and loaded into an ambulance.
When I got into my car accident I was changed forever. No matter how much rehab I would do or how healed I became, I would always see the world as somehow changed. My life in the present is defined as before my accident and after my accident. I can remember that day perfectly. I got carried out of my car onto the side of the road. Squad cars rolled in. Fire trucks followed. My ankles were in bad shape. Tom the paramedic kept apologizing for the bumpy ride on the way to the hospital. I am still so mad that they cut the pants I was wearing off my body.
I remember being so annoyed at the X-ray tech because she couldn’t get her shot. The last thing I cared about was if she got her shot. I knew something was broken. As hopeful as I was for it to be a minor injury, I knew deep down it wasn’t. I had two broken ankles and a broken tibia that all required surgery.
The next morning, I had surgery and it felt like I had gotten hit by a bus. The doctors all said I would have to retrain myself how to walk again. The proud part of me thought that I wouldn’t be one of those people. I thought 8 weeks off my feet would be no problem. I was convinced I'd be strong enough to just get up and go like I always had.
Even when I was rehabbing in my wheelchair, I was convinced I wouldn’t need it for long. Every doctor I saw raved about how they had never had a patient pick up skills as fast as I did. I thought I was invincible.
I WAS WRONG.
I had never felt weaker than when I stood up after those 8 weeks in a wheelchair. I was dizzy, stiff, and it took every bit of strength just to hold myself up. For a long time, it felt like my feet weren’t a part of my person. My body felt foreign. I just never felt steady.
Sometimes I'd catch myself staring at my ankles, having no connection to the fact that they were MY ankles. Surely my ankles didn’t have these massive scars. Surely my body would never betray me to the point that it couldn't even hold itself up. But dammit, I was about to learn.
I was so proud of my first steps unassisted, but I still had a long way to go. For every good day, I had 2 bad ones. My daily routine consisted of achy knees, ice wraps, and balm. No matter how slow the progress felt at times, I knew that I was stronger than the struggle I was carrying on my shoulders.
I don’t know how many times I stumbled or fell trying to push myself to do better. I always got back up though. I always tried to keep one foot going in front of the other. I wasn’t the prettiest, or most graceful, or subtle 20 something year old out there, but that wasn’t my goal.
If slow and steady won the race, then I had nothing to worry about. I set daily goals for myself. If I could stand for 10 mins one day, I'd push for 15 the next. If I was able to walk outside for 20 minutes one night, I'd shoot for 30 minutes the following evening. I knew I couldn’t get comfortable because complacency is the antithesis to an upward trajectory. It should always be a goal to improve yourself, no matter the context. In the present, my walking and my form is still something I want to improve upon. Every day I set a new goal. To look forward in the direction of your goal leaves only hope and motivation in the future.
I stand today recognizing that while I have some more work to be done, I have come a long way. I stand feeling secure in my body and I move forward with the promise of a healthier future.
Until next time readers…