On May 20th, 2012, my life took a strange turn. One minute I was having fun with my friends, and the next, I was sitting in a pool of my own blood, unable to move.
My accident was just that, an accident. We were stuck in traffic, and an 18 wheel truck crashed into us. I was stuck in that car for about an hour before the firefighter could get me out and bring me to the hospital. I could barely breathe, I couldn’t move at all, and all I kept thinking was this cannot be the end. I was only 16, and I had my whole life ahead of me. I was a dancer, an athlete, a ball of energy, and to this day, I think that this is part of what kept me alive. Every breath was hard to take, my neck felt like it didn’t have bones in it anymore, and it could’ve just ended it out there. But I didn’t. I hanged on.
When I finally got to the ER, I went straight into surgery, and I ended up spending two months in the ICU, which I don’t really remember. With all the medication I was on, I can only remember a few moments, and the rest is all a blur.
When I got released from the hospital, I spent a whole year in rehabilitation for people under 18. That was by far the hardest year of my life. I had to deal with so many new things that I didn’t know where to start. I had to deal with the injury, my relationships with my friends and family, redefining my life, the other patients screaming at any hours of the day, and all of that when I was only 16 years old. I cried countless nights in that bed, looking at the ceiling, asking: why me?
The truth is, there is no answer to that question. It didn’t happen for a reason; it didn’t happen because I was a bad person, it just happened. Once I understood that I felt more liberated. I stopped questioning myself about what I could’ve done better or what if I’ve done that or what is the purpose behind this injury.
8 years later, at 24 years old, I’m really happy with where I am. I’ve done so many things that I never thought would be possible after an injury, like having intimate relationships, driving, feeding myself even! I have conquered all these challenges, and I believe I am the best version of myself that I can be. I am third-year university student, I live alone in my apartment, I have stronger relationships with my friends and family, sometimes I play wheelchair rugby, I do a lot of volunteering and I am really fulfilled.
I’m not going to lie, it’s not the life that I dreamed of. If there were a magic trick that would give me back my body mobility, I wouldn’t even think twice about doing it. However, such things do not exist and living in an “if” world only makes you more miserable. You have to appreciate every little bit of happiness you can. I was lucky to be born with the glass half-full, and in everything I do, I always see something positive. I learned through the years that every time I kept looking back, it prevented me from turning the page and starting a new chapter. And I was scared to turn the page because I thought I would lose that chapter of my life, I would lose who I was, but eventually, I realized that I will always be me no matter what happens to me because I am the whole book, and a book is not defined by only a chapter.
My advice would be when you are at the beginning of that type of situation, embrace your pain. As long as you don’t accept that it sucks, it will always cast a shadow on you, and the day you will embrace what happened to you and use it to empower you, you will be brighter than what happened to you.
Follow her on IG @socialcasualtyox