May 3, 2009
Current mood: blessed
On July 20th of last summer, I was in a forever life changing motorcycle accident. In the accident I broke four ribs, collapsed my right lung, had a stick go through my knee and a stick go through my ankle, shredded the skin off my right shin, broke my front tooth, broke my left scapula, broke both my ulna and my radial bones in my right arm, fractured four bones in my neck, fractured 4 bones in my lumbar, broke three places in my back; my T-6, T-7, T-9 and shattered my T-12… and I was left paralyzed from the waist down. I was told I may never and would never walk again…
There are no words to describe the way I felt when told this. I’m 18 years old! I’m an athlete! I’m so incredibly active!! Soccer, Basketball, volleyball, Track, Baseball!! I play it all!! I wrestle with friends!!! Mountain bike!! Snowboard!! Wash cars, clean houses, landscape yards, detail boats…these are jobs I do and love!! I wasn’t ready to have all of that taken away from me… yet there I was….
All I could do was think, and all I could think about was how I had no idea what to think. I had no idea what to feel. And most of all I had no idea what I could even do.
My life was turned upside down and the weight of it all was unbearable! It all happened in the blink of an eye. Yesterday I was on my way to go wakeboarding…and now…here I was…lying on my back…unable to even sit-up, staring at the ceiling…thinking about my entire life that may be gone forever. The way I felt was unexplainable.
My heart was broken into a thousand pieces and it felt like it could never possibly feel whole again.
I was in the hospital for 23 days and during that time I lost 30 pounds from puking every second because of the shock my body was in and all of the painkillers I was on. I had three major surgeries done where they spent 11 hours taking the shattered pieces of my T12 out of my spine, they placed rods in my arm and a cage in my back. And every time I came out of surgery I felt more messed up than I did before I went in. Every two hours the nurses would have to come turn me over to prevent pressure sores, and every time they had to give me Xanax first to calm me down because I would get so much anxiety just thinking about how much pain I was about to feel.
I couldn’t process everything that I was going through as fast as it was happening…
Everyday I would have at least 10 new visitors. My entire hospital room was covered in sympathy cards. The shelves were covered in roses. Everyday my mom would have to take some down to fit more! I left there with two garbage bags full of stuffed animals! And newspaper reporters were calling to interview me…
I couldn’t really grasp why everyone was acting this way! The looks people had on their faces when they first saw me in the hospital were even harder to handle. Everyone looked at me with so much sadness…so much pity. They kept telling me over and over again that everything would be okay as if they were also trying to convince themselves.
It scared me. But I tried to not let people know. I would always try my best to not cry when people came to visit me.
I didn’t want anyone to see that I was sad (as if they didn’t already know), but I was scared that if they did they wouldn’t want to be around me anymore. I was scared of losing my friends and feeling all alone. I would lay there making jokes about my situation and try my hardest to block out reality.
Until one day I just freaked out and gestured towards my legs crying “WHY IS EVERYONE MAKING SUCH A BIG DEAL ABOUT THIS!!!??? THIS ISN’T A BIG DEAL!!! THIS ISN’T A BIG DEAL!!! I’M GONNA GET BETTER!”. Hearing this my mom burst out crying. I just couldn’t and wouldn’t accept what everyone was trying to tell me. And to this day I still won’t… the only thing that matters is what you believe…
When I finally left the hospital I was taken by ambulance on a stretcher to stay in a nursing home for a month while I waited for my broken bones to heal enough for physical therapy in rehab.
I remember seeing all of the nurses lined up outside of my room crying and saying goodbye to me. I remember how special it felt to see them out there waiting for me like that. It was just the start of the many human blessings I have seen since then.
During the first three weeks of living in the nursing home, reality really began setting in. All the muscles in my body began to atrophy, leaving me with nothing but skin and bone. As I watched this happen, everyday I became more depressed and scared.
My friends were finally beginning to disappear as well…just like I had been waiting for, yet hoped to death wouldn’t happen. I blamed the accident. Yet at the same time I tried to remind myself that this is what happens after High School, the only difference is that instead of just going on with my life like all of my other classmates…my life had stopped where it was just a month after graduation.
I once again didn’t know what to think…and I had no one to learn from… I knew what I wanted to think…but couldn’t help thinking the opposite.
One day as I was telling a family friend about all of this and feeling sorry for myself, she said “Megan, I can count my good friends on ONE hand and you should too.” In 99 she was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and told she had 5 months to live at the most…now, 10 years later, she’s alive and fighting, living everyday to the fullest!
When my fractures were finally strong enough for physical therapy I went back to the hospital for rehabilitation. This was what I was looking forward to the whole time! I had a plan. I was going to go to rehab for six months, work my hardest, hide from the real world until I got completely better and then go home walking!! I was there for three weeks, during which I got really sick and couldn’t work as hard as I wanted to, and at the same time was surrounded by major tragedies!! I was surrounded by people who had been shot, that had no idea who they were, by people who were completely mangled beyond recognition, people who were paralyzed from the neck down, leg amputees, Aids, everything you can imagine and a lot of them had been deserted by their loved ones…left alone with nothing but their pain and suffering! This was very scary to me! And it was getting harder and harder to hide this. After those three weeks…I went home…in a wheelchair. Another defeat. And now was the time I was supposed to find a way to somehow pick up the shattered pieces of my life and put them back together.
Home was where the realist of reality checks hit me. I was surrounded by everything that had to do with my old life. And constantly reminded of exactly what I could no longer do, and how completely different my life now was.
I would try to sleep my days away, just to get through to another one, and another one…and another one. I was bored to death, I was sad to death, and I was lonely to death. Literally to death, because I might as well have been dead. I wasn’t living. I was doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t talk much, and I didn’t do much. I didn’t eat much and I didn’t care much about anything. I felt like I was forgetting how to socialize altogether. For there was nothing I wanted to talk about, I had nothing to say. Nothing mattered to me anymore. Every now and then my x-boyfriend would come see me and I would try so hard to act happy and like everything was fine…hoping to win him back, but it only made me feel worse. Pretending is never the right thing to do. And then once again I would blame the accident for us not working out. yet at the same time try to think that “people break up”. That’s all. But of course I had no idea what to think……….once again.
A lesson I learned quite fast was that life will go on…with or without me. I knew I had to do something, and fast, for I was disappearing from this world and forgetting who I was. The sparkle in my eyes was dulling and I was beginning to feel lifeless. I felt scared, alone, weak and empty! Yet while I lay there feeling this way, everyone else was going on with their same old lives, only now I was no longer a part of them. I was no longer my best friends sidekick, I was no longer my boyfriends girlfriend, and no longer the forward on my soccer team. But it didn’t seem to matter. Things weren’t going to stop working just because I did. And sadly enough, at times I wished they would! I needed something to make me feel like I was needed, like I mattered. I needed a reason to live. But the truth is…You have to matter to yourself, before you can matter to anyone else…and at the time I had pretty much given up.
There was always this haunting voice in the back of my mind constantly telling me that my fate is up to me! That there was no one in this world that could do it for me! That if I ever wanted to walk again, the only person that could make it happen was me! But I felt so weak!! Mentally, emotionally and physically weak. I felt like there was NO way at all I could ever do that!! And I just kept hoping that someone would come do it for me! That they would just barge into my life, pull me up and move my legs one by one until they started working on their own. But I knew deep down that would never happen.
Everywhere I went people would either do one of two things. A. They would look at me with that sympathetic sad look I knew all to well, Thinking “Poor girl in a wheelchair” which only made it that much harder to get the courage to even go out in public and try to move on with my life and put on my “I’m okay face”…because I was constantly being reminded with those looks that I wasn’t…or at least that maybe I shouldn’t be. That maybe this is the worst thing that could ever happen to me. (which it clearly isn’t) and it made it even worse when they wouldn’t say anything at all to me and instead they would just stare.
Or B. they would tell me how strong they thought I was, how I was such an inspiration to them, and that they were praying for me. As they would tell me these things, I would be thinking “I’m stuck like this! How does being paralyzed make me strong!? I’m not even trying hard enough! The only effort I put into this is putting my clothes on and sometimes letting someone convince me to come out of the house…that’s the only reason I’m in front of you right now, if it were just me…i’d still be laying on the couch wishing I could fall asleep! I’m pathetic not strong!” I felt like a phony. But people continued to tell me these things…until one day I thought to myself “Why am I not trying my hardest?! I want to run! I want to jump! I want to be able to play basketball and soccer again! I want to snowboard! I want to dance! And most of all, I want to be a REAL inspiration to those around me!” I was tired of feeling like a phony. And I knew I was stronger than that.
Since that moment I haven’t looked back! I am completely determined to be the very best I can be! And yes, everyday is a struggle, and everyday I have to tell myself again and again that “I can do this!! I’m going to overcome this!!” I have to convince myself that it IS possible! and therefore it is! Anything is possible…IF you don’t give up! I often think about how pathetic it would have been if I had given up when I wanted to…about what it would have been telling my little sister and all the people who tell me everyday how much I have inspired them. It would have been saying “If It’s too hard… you can’t do it. It IS impossible. So give up while your behind.” But instead I have given them faith. And knowing that helps me keep going!
I know I can’t do the things I used to do, but one day I will be able to…And I will do them better than ever before. And as for the time being, I focus on making myself stronger…mentally, emotionally and physically stronger! And I live my life to the fullest.
I went back to School at TCC and will transfer sometime next year. I got tested for driving again and am now driving! I joined the YMCA and workout as hard as I can at least 5 days a week!
Right now I can walk with a walker and have so far gotten my quad muscles back 100%, My butt is starting to come back slowly haha my hamstrings have been getting stronger lately, and my calves are starting to get a little definition in them. I still have to wear braces on my legs and my ankles still don’t move…but I know that someday they will and I’m not too worried about it yet. The most recovery a person with a spinal cord injury will see, will be within the first year and a half…and it has only been nine months for me
The people who really care about me have stayed in my life. The people who couldn’t care less about me have left my life…and as to why they have left…doesn’t even matter. Therefore I am lucky to be surrounded only by good friends and family and I am completely in love with all of them! I have learned to love myself for me and really feel like I can do anything!! Which I can. And so can you! Of course I still get sad at times, but every time I do, I just think of it as just a challenge and every time I overcome that bad feeling, I feel stronger and better about myself
I can almost walk and I just joined a Wheelchair basketball team and we have a tournament in Yakima next month!!
Below are some comments from people after I posted this 7 years ago…I kept these because these are the beginning of the amazing love, kindness and encouragement that people gave me…they are the reason I had the strength to keep pushing forward and they mean more to me than I could ever put into words.
Post a comment…
Megan, I remember when we were in 6th grade and we were such good friends, life kind of changed that but i still was praying for you, I would have loved to have come and seen you but we were never that good of friends so, i never went, i wish i had.Your amazing, and your the only girl i know that could kick that much ass.
damn girl. your made me cry! my sister told me what happened when i was living back east. i prayed for you, knowing who you are and that you are so strong and knew you would pull through. keep truckin, im so proud of you and your story truly gives me hope that no matter how bad things get, they can always turn around and you can suceed and conquer any obstacle in your path. take care of yourself (& i know you will!) and never give up. love you!
You are truly an inspiration!!! If you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything! Keep it up! Best Wishes!
You are an amazing person!! Dont ever forget that!!
Wow Megan that was beautiful! I think you can add writer/journalist to your career list. You should journal how you are feeling everyday. It can help to motivate you more and also inspire others.
You are wise beyond your years and your spirit amazes me all the time. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I think you are stronger than you give yourself credit for. I know you will walk,run,jump, and dance again. There has never been a doubt in my mind! I am so proud to be your Auntie!
I love you so much!
p.s. I want to come see you play basketball. Keep me posted on when and where!
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you are pretty awesome
i love you
For starters your a beautiful young girl and very fun to talk to… i enjoyed every conversation we had when you would come through the wash. I wish we could have hung out more but unfortunately my accident has driven me away from washington back to my hometown in california.
all i can say is great blog, good attitude and i hope the absolute best for you. simply amazing. live it up.