Sunday, October 28, 2007


Two years gone

Last week, as the anniversary approached, many people expressed concern for me. Throughout the week people would ask if I was OK and I'd reply that I was fine, or that it wasn't a big deal. As I was leaving work that Friday I had a similar conversation with one of my supervisors. Her reply was that it was a big deal and that she was glad I was taking the weekend off. I gave her a hug and got in the car to go home.

On the way home I realized that, over the course of the week, I'd actually been thinking about the accident a lot more than usual. On the brightside, I wasn't wasting time dwelling on whether I had tried to get out of the jeep, or if there was something I could have done to change the outcome. However, I must admit that I've wasted some time wishing that I had tossed my CD collection out of the jeep before it went up in flames. Aside from that small detail I wasn't really thinking about the accident istelf. I had allowed my mind to wander down a very different path that I generally try to stay away from.

I had been thinking about my life, and what it might be like now, had the accident not happened. I try not to think about this because it's really pointless. I've accepted my life as it is but, as the anniversary approached, without realizing it, I allowed my mind to go down this path. I found myself wondering about where I would be now if life had continued in the direction it was going before October 22nd of 2005.

My new job was going well. My General Managers plan was to work with me so that I could take over as GM when he moved on. As you know, he recently took a promotion. I'm glad that I didn't get the job, because it is extremely stressful and demands more time than I'm really able to give it. However, if I hadn't lost that year and a half of experience I would have been ready to step into the GM role without it requiring an adjustment to my life style.

I was looking for a house closer to Greencastle, where I work, that would have a lot of land, or maybe something rustic in the woods. I wouldn't have to worry about an hour drive to get to work or home. Now, with everything that I have to do in Indianapolis, it just doesn't make since for me to move. Unfortunately that leaves me stuck with the long drive twice a day.

I was single then, as I am now, but I was dating and had a much more active social life. Had the accident not happened, would I now be in a relationship? Possibly even working on a family?

How would I have spent my three weeks of vacation each year? Would I have gotten back to backpacking? Gone on more ski trips with my friends from college? I might have even had a chance to travel to Europe.

I don't let these thoughts get me down. It's not about slipping into depression. But there is a melancholy feeling that comes over me when I think of those two years gone. However, as I said, I have accepted my life as it is. My focus is still to move forward with my life day by day and not to spend it looking back. Though those two years are gone, I have many more to look forward to.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


A "Reason"

From time to time people will stop me and ask how I lost my legs. Most people assume that I was in the war. I reply that I wish it had been something so noble, but that it was actually a car accident. Usually I tell an abridged version of the story. People are always amazed at my attitude and openness about the ordeal.

Recently I had a similar encounter at the American Village rehab facility where my Grandpa is staying. A nurse stopped Dad an I in the hall and asked if I would mind if she asked about what had happened. She had seen me a couple of times and was curious. After hearing the story she replied that it was amazing and that obviously God had a "reason" for what had happened to me. She wanted to know my name because she said I would be famous one day and she wanted to remember meeting me.

As we walked away Dad asked me how it made me feel when people say that there is a "reason" for the loss of my legs. When I was lying in my hospital bed, having only been awake for a short time, people used to say that there was a "reason" and that they looked forward to seeing what I was going to do. Statements like this made me feel a lot of pressure, and some anger at the thought that there was some divine purpose behind my dismemberment.

The more I focused on this, I came to the understanding that there was no purpose behind the accident or the fire. Later, as I learned of the miraculous events behind my rescue, I began to understand that the purpose was in my survival. I do believe that there was divine intervention that night, but I don't believe that divine intervention caused the accident.

Dad told me that he thought that the reason was the effect that I have on the people who see me walking, and the people who I talk to about the accident. I don't think about this often because I am more focused on living my life. However, I beleive that the reason is in my recovery and the impact it has on the people who are a part of it as well as those who continue to witness it.

The people around me are more aware of the needs of people with disabilities. (I include all of you when I say "the people around me".) I am more aware of the potential for kindness and generosity in people, even perfect strangers. People who have struggles of their own seem to be strengthened when they see me overcoming this very obvious disability. The people who have helped me throughout my recovery seem to feel a greater sense of satisfaction when they see me accomplish new things or have an easier time with tasks that used to be a challenge. (I stood unassisted for 3 minutes in therapy last week, and only stopped because my legs got tired.)

This weekend marks the second anniversary of the accident. It's going to be a busy weekend, even though I'm not working. Tomorrow is a very full day, but I hope to get some "me time" at some point. I'll be speaking about how the generosity of the community has affected my recovery during both services at church on Sunday. I'm taking Monday off, as that is the actual date of the accident. I started this post on Wednesday but it has taken me a long time to complete it, by the time I post this, it will already be the morning of the Saturday that began this long period of challenges, frustrations, and sucesses.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Being mindful of the body

Wow, 40 responses! Thanks to everyone who made a comment to the last update. I'm so happy to hear from you. I just wish that I had time to respond to each one of you to tell you what you mean to me. I'm so thankful for the support that you continue to give me, even if we've never met. I truly believe that I wouldn't be where I am today without all of you. You give me the motivation to continue on.

As my health and physical condition has improved I've continued to press myself harder and harder to live my life as if I don't have a disability. As you know, I'm back to work full time and am also involved in several things outside of work. Most of the time this isn't too hard to manage, but every so often it seems as if everything is happening at once. This past month has been hectic to say the least.

About two weeks ago my body started sending me signals that it was ready to slow down again. I started feeling weaker and could feel a huge energy drain half way through the day. occasionally would get hot, shaky, and sometimes a little nauseous for no apparent reason. However, my temperature would be fine, I was eating regularly, and I was getting the same amount of sleep. Mind you, sleep is not as restful as it was before the accident.

I never realized how important legs were to a restful sleep. Before the accident I slept on my stomach. I'm no longer able to do that because, without my legs to spread my weight, it hurts my back. When I get hot, I can't kick the sheets off of me in my sleep, so I wake up sweaty and have to get up to get comfortable again. I toss and turn a lot, as many people do, but even that process requires conscious thought as opposed to sleepy instinct.

Finally, I decided to listen to what my body was telling me and take some time off. Last Monday I stayed at home most of the day. I did take the time to go to UIndy and work with small groups of Physical Therapy students. This was a lot of fun and hopefully helpful to them. (Sadly, none of the women in the class offered me their phone numbers, but this really wasn't the appropriate environment for me to pick up women anyway!) I worked Tuesday through Thursday and then took a three day weekend. I stayed home for the majority of the time to recharge. Sometimes it helps me to be a hermit!

I never got sick, so don't worry, but I feel 100 times healthier this week than I have for a while and have taken this as a sign to take more time to myself. The lesson here, is to listen to your body, do what you enjoy, and accept that the world won't end if you put your work off long enough for you to be able to recharge! (There may also be a lesson about me needing to ask women for their numbers, instead of hoping that they'll be forward enough to offer them, but that's a subject for another blog!)

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