Me: Why can't I move? Why can't I get up?
Paramedic: Honey can you feel me pinching your toe?
Me: No, I can't feel anything.
And just like that, my whole life was turned upside down and inside out.
A 6-hour surgery to fuse my bones on my spinal cord back together and I was alive. But with a collapsed lung I was hanging on, barely breathing, literally. After months in intensive care units and hospitals, I was finally able to go home and be able to get back to my life. But what was my life? I was considered a quadriplegic, I had no movement or feeling from the neck down. So not only did my legs not work, but neither did my hands. I couldn't play sports, I couldn't run, I couldn't feed myself, I couldn't sit up, I couldn't do my hair, I couldn't do my makeup. I was completely dependent on other people to get me through my day. I didn't want to live like that. I had big dreams before my and just because I broke my neck I wasn't going to let my physical limitations get in the way of that.
Even though, all the odds (mostly doctors) were against me I decided that it was up to me to work harder than I ever had before to get where I want to be.
I like to compare spinal cord injury progression to someone's weight loss progression. If you are on a diet and you have been working for months and months and you haven't lost any weight, would you still continue your diet regimen? Try having a spinal cord injury, and working for YEARS and barely seeing any improvement. It's frustrating, it's maddening, it drives you crazy but it makes you stronger. I hate the saying what doesn't kill you makes you stronger but it's true. My spinal cord injury made a lot of things in my life extremely frustrating but it has given me a outlook on life that I would never have if my accident never happened to me. Don't get me wrong, if I could go back in time and not go skiing that day I would've. But I can't go back in time, all I can do is continue to go forward with the wisdom and strength I've gained throughout my injury.
Here are the 13 life lessons my spinal cord injury gave me.
1. Thankfulness. I am thankful for every day not spent in a hospital. I embrace the day like it's my last, because I remember what it felt like to think it was going to be my last day.
2. Attitude. Or better known as "Nattitude". Embrace your go-getter, motivational, I can kick your butt at anything drive and you will go places in your life.
3. Forgiveness. If you were hung up on every thing that goes wrong in your life, than your missing out on a lot. Be able to forgive and get past petty issues. After all, a fight at the office really isn't the worst thing in the entire world.
4. Never taking people or things for granted. Go for a beach run, use those legs BECAUSE YOU CAN. Stop taking your body and family/friends for granted, you never know what tomorrow may bring.
5. Living life to the fullest. Each and every day celebrating this beautiful thing called life with the people we love. Life can change so fast, don't be scared to tell your girlfriend you love her. Everything you know can change in the blink of an eye, don't count your moments but make them count.
6. Take chances with yourself. Throw those extra 15 lbs weights on there! Even if you feel so weak that you don't fully know if you can lift them, at least you tired! Better to say you tried than you never did at all. Ask the cute girl in your class out, whats the worst thing that can happen?!
7. Work with what you got. It is human nature to want things we don't already have, I totally get it. Living in spinal cord land taught me to work with what my body has, you'd be surprised all the things you can do with what you already have. You're more exceptional than you give yourself credit for ;)
8. Stop judging. Everyone is battling their own battles, do not compare yourself or you will go crazy. "My injury is worse than your breakup with your boyfriend"
9. Be the best friend you can be. Be an ear to listen, a body to hold, and a educated mouth when advice is needed.
10. Pay it forward. I will forever be a firm believer in karma, it really does go a long way. Even just a smile can change a persons day. Be the change.
11. Someone out there in the world always has it worse than you. For those days you feel like giving in, remember there is someone who wishes they were in your shoes. Keep them in your back pocket for your sad days.
12. Celebrating little goals and not getting caught up on the big ones. When I learned how to feed myself, I felt like I could conquer the world. Set little goals and work your way towards the big ones.
13. Realizing truly what is important in life. While being "popular" or having a lot of followers on Instagram may seem like the most important in the world right now, it's not. Remember what is important, to you and treat everyone with respect. The most important thing in my life is my family.
So go out their and make today your best day yet.