Friday, May 22, 2015

That's a Wrap

Over the past year of this crazy ride, I have shared a lot of the ugly moments. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are invisible, under-discussed, and commonly misdiagnosed. They need to be talked about so that there aren't more people who are told paralysis isn't possible AND THEN THEY LOSE ALL FEELING FROM BELOW THE KNEE.

But I've also shared the really big moments-- my first time being able to roll myself over on my own, my first time trying out the Bioness braces with my walker, my first time walking with the Bioness braces and looking less like Bambi, my first time walking with the Bioness braces and walker free (!!!), and now my first steps without the Bioness braces during our attempt to wean me off of them.


Although technically the video I posted wasn't my REAL first steps. They were more like the first steps I would allow anyone to video, because even though I am all about sharing the ugly stuff, some of it is a little too ugly. Well, that and it's really just inappropriate for the public eye due to my colorful choice of words if ya know what I mean.

But now it's all over and life is finally making sense again. It's not only much more bearable, but it's even kind of enjoyable. I am driving, going to the gym again, going to the movies (MUCH bigger accomplishment than you would think after a traumatic event), and going out for drinks with my friends. I am back to being a generally happy person on most days and during the last 5 months, I spent every moment outside of rehab doing homework.

When people want to know about my life (aka they want to know about my progress) I'm all, "Oh it's good the legs are still dead but GUESS WHAT MY 2ND GRADERS SAID YESTERDAY?" And we all know it's a good sign when I'm back to talking about my kids every time someone will listen. ;)

Sometimes, when I'm not so focused on school and rehab and worrying about the future that I have little to no control over, I am hit with a wave of "OH MY GOOD GOD I THINK THIS IS THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL THEY WERE LYING ABOUT ALL THOSE MONTHS". It usually happens when I've had too much coffee that day, but that's a minor detail.

When something truly awful and life changing happens, I'm not sure when you reach the point where you say, "Okay. This is life now. I don't know why it happened, and it's certainly not fair, but it's okay. And I'm okay." Sometimes I feel like I'm there, but the smallest bump in the road caused by my wreck can send me over the edge and I lose it all over again. I'm okay until I'm having to get shots in the BACK OF MY FREAKIN' SKULL, and it's not even the pain that does it. It's the fact that I am only 22, but could have another 50 years of shots and neck pain and numb legs because of one person and their choice. And I'm not going to lie, I might be bitter about that for the rest of my life.

But this IS life now. And I don't know why it happened. And it definitely isn't fair. But it IS okay. And I'M okay. And I have lots of people to thank.

Thanks to all of the schools, administrators, student organizations, etc. who have asked me to come speak to their students about my journey and the importance of being a safe driver. Thank you to all of the students for vowing to be smart, be responsible, and use your voice when you know something isn't right.

Thanks to the friends and family who have stuck by me since day 1. Some of my friendships with people changed after my life wasn't normal anymore. It's one of those cliche "you find out who will really stay when you get hit by a truck" thing. ;) It's not easy to love a loved one who is going through something like this, but they so need it. To those who did-- thank you for being beautiful, selfless people.

I seriously have to brag on these two above, Amber and Haylee, for being such great friends and taking care of me when I was still living in Starkville! You know you've found a great friend when they will hold your puke bag at the hospital (Thanks, Nurse Amby!!) and translate your jumbled brain words that you say into coherent sentences for all of your school assignments during the worst days after getting a TBI. (Thanks, Haylee!!) These two are lifesavers and I am so thankful for our friendship.

Thanks to these two kids for reminding me what it means to be family. My mom's side of the family is very close, but my cousin Jamey and his wife Molly have always lived in a different part of MS than the coast, so I didn't have the chance to build that close relationship with them like I have built with my other cousins. Still, they immediately insisted that I stay with them rather than living in a hotel when I started rehab in Jackson back in September. When I found out I would be here until April and was going to look for an apartment, they told me I was ridiculous and that I wasn't going anywhere, even after they got a big surprise and found out they are having a beautiful baby girl in July. Guys, that is some serious LOVE. They didn't just give me a place to stay, but they were supportive, loving, and so fun. They made their home my home. I have loved having the chance to get close to you two, and I am so thankful. Best roomies EVER. ;)

Thanks to all of the sweet friends I made here at rehab in Jackson-- you all inspire me every day with your smile, strength, and hard work, and somehow we are all going to be just fine.

This is Cheri-- she had a stroke after giving birth to her 2nd baby boy. She rocks the robot leg AND arm on the side that became paralyzed after her stroke. Lets just say she's a badass.
THANK YOU to all of my peeps at Drayer PT in Starkville, OCH Rehab Services, and Methodist Rehab for either being one of my therapists or just being my friend.
With some of my therapists at Walk and Roll for research to help the foundation that discovers all of the great therapy stuff like my Bioness braces.
With my fabulous OT, Allison, on my last day of OT! March 2015

I have officially finished Senior Block!! Thank you to Mrs. Callahan and her 2nd grade crew at Highland Bluff Elementary for letting me be a part of your special classroom this semester. I had so much fun and learned so much. I love you all!

Obligatory "I AM DONE WITH SENIOR BLOCK AND THIS BINDER!" picture. If you are an on-campus student, you know that this picture is what every elementary education major looks forward to from day 1!

I've officially been discharged from Methodist Rehab's Quest Program. They threw me a "graduation" party with ice cream cake-- my favorite! There aren't enough positive things I can say about this place. They changed my life. Thank you for helping me re-learn how to walk, jump, think, laugh, and just be okay again. I love you all and will carry everyone I have met on this journey with me in my heart forever.

And finally, I have officially been given my student teaching placement in Washington, DC. I will be in 1st grade, which was my first pick. I couldn't be more excited! I will be moving at the end of July, and will graduate in December. Every time someone asks why I didn't just give up, this is why. This exact moment is what I've always wanted, and I refuse to let someone and their bad choices take that away from me. 

For now, I'm spending some much needed quality time with my parents before kissing Mississippi goodbye in a couple months. My mom's big side of the family is going to Disney World with us this year, and it is going to be so fun. I'm trying to soak up all of these moments with this family I love so much. They are the best thing about living in Mississippi, and I can't even imagine living so far away from them. Watch out Disney, there are lots of crazies coming your way.

So that's where we are, and I'm good with it, ya know? It's hard to believe that the worst part of this is (hopefully) over after all this time. It's crazy to think that in a couple months I'll be back to "normal" life. Living on my own, going to school, doing fun stuff that 22 year olds do. Hell, I might even start dating again. Crazy, I KNOW. I can do whatever I want. I'm free.

All I know is that I am going to enjoy the hell out of whatever I'm doing. I sure do hate cliches, but nothing puts how short life is into perspective quite like getting hit by a truck. After 17 months of living rehab life, I don't even know if I remember HOW to be a normal person in their 20s. Luckily, I don't think it will take me very long to get the hang of it. ;)

Happy Summer, loves. xo.