My name is Nicole Walsh, and I was in a severe multi-car accident in August 2018. I woke up in Jefferson Hospital and found out that I was now paralyzed from the T2 level, aka chest down. I look back everyday, and I still cannot believe that I survived such a terrible accident; one where I should have died.
After being in the hospital for 2 weeks, battling through intense pain and respiratory distress, I was finally moved to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia. Seeing myself for the first time in the mirror was devastating. I did not even recognize myself, and I wondered how I could even go on like this. Luckily Magee has incredible staff, and along with them, I had such an amazing support system with my family and friends. Due to all of this, I was able to start waking up each day with a positive mindset to do a little better than the day before.
Inpatient Rehab was hard, and outpatient continues to be so also. I still go to therapy because I have goals I need to reach to live a normal lifestyle. I am pushing as hard as I can to be stronger and better than the day before. I know that just because I am unable to use my legs now, doesn’t mean that I have to stop living. Coming to this realization didn’t happen overnight, it took a long time, and it is still a battle.
The phrase “I will walk again” has been my morning mantra to keep my mindset positive for the day, however this doesn’t always work. Sometimes I need a push from my support system to get back on track. For example, this past year, only one year after my accident, I got onto a plane and traveled to Hawaii with my family for vacation. I definitely would not have done this without them, but I am so happy that I went. It allowed me to get back on track to feeling “normal” again. We even rented a beach chair I could use that allowed me to go into the ocean, and that was huge for me. I finally started feeling like myself again.
Before my accident I was a personal trainer, and afterwards, I never thought that I would be able to get back there again. Boy was I wrong. I started to get back into the gym with the help of a personal trainer, and that began to make me feel like myself again. I know now that just because I am in a chair, does not mean that I have to limit myself. You can do whatever you want to, you may just need to ask for help.