Last Friday I reached a big personal milestone: I started walking again! Since my accident over 10 weeks ago now, I hadn’t taken a single step. Quick recap: I couldn’t bear weight on my left leg until my broken pelvis had healed enough to withstand the forces of walking. Weirdly, out of all of my injuries, the broken pelvis has been one of the least painful. As far as I can remember–I’m told I was in a lot of pain before I had surgery to screw my bones back together, but because of my brain injury or the painkillers (they give you the good drugs when you break 22 bones), I don’t remember it. Even though I had screws put in my pelvis and kneecap, the bones had to heal enough that it would be safe for me to walk. I still have to use a crutch to get around, but after so long in a wheelchair, I’m incredibly grateful to be walking at all.
Since yesterday was American Thanksgiving, I thought I’d mention that I’m also grateful for the things I’ve learned from the accident. I said this on Twitter already, that I don’t believe, “everything happens for a reason,” but I do believe in learning everything you can from what life throws at you. Here are some lessons I’ve learned in the past few months.
People care more than you realize – I always knew I could count on my family if I needed them, but I had no idea just how much they could rally around me. As soon as they found out what had happened, my parents and three siblings were there whenever we needed them, staying with us and taking care of us. Friends helped in many ways, too, visiting us in the hospital and at home and delivering food and entertainment to help keep up our spirits. Even neighbors we didn’t know very well brought us dinner and wished us well, and I appreciated all of the kind comments here on the blog. Which is all to say, in some ways this experience helped me realize how very kind and caring people can be in times of need .
Be positive – Life can be random. Bad things often happen to people through no fault of their own. And it can be all too easy to let your negative emotions take over. But in the long run, that probably won’t do anyone much good. Especially you. A positive attitude really has no downside, and it definitely helps.
Be patient – As much as I’ve recently wished otherwise, life doesn’t have a fast-forward button. Other than following medical recommendations, there was/is literally nothing I could do to heal faster. As an active, rather impatient person, being told I’d have to spend months in a wheelchair was difficult to swallow. Sometimes I would try to push myself to do more than my body was ready for, and it never worked out very well. So patience was something that I had plenty of time to think about (and still do). Everything still takes me a lot longer than it would have before the accident, and I have to be okay with that. The other choice is getting upset about it, and that won’t do me much good.
Ask for help – I’ve never been good at asking for help. I’d much rather just do something myself rather than ask someone to do it for me. But my re-education began in the hospital, when I had to ask nurses for help even to go to the bathroom. And then when I got home, there was a lot I couldn’t do myself. So I had to ask Steven or my parents to do many things for me, which went against my natural inclination. But what I learned is that it isn’t always better to do things yourself–people want to help, and it (usually) makes them feel good to do it.
Have perspective – When bad things happen to you, sometimes it’s helpful to remember that compared to a lot of people, you probably still have it pretty good. Nothing hammered that home quite like talking to other patients in a trauma doctor’s waiting room. But it’s helpful to think about in terms of the wider world, too: If you’re sitting someplace reading this on a computer, you probably have a privileged life compared to most humans who have lived. You might have complaints, but you probably still have a lot to be grateful for.
I’m also really thankful to those of you who have stuck by me and continued reading my blog while it has taken a bit of a detour over the past couple months. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated!
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