I knew the anniversary was approaching, but it didn’t hit me until just now that it’s actually going to be this Thursday. Yup. The third anniversary of my very first (and hopefully last) auto accident. Maybe someday it will slip by me, October sixth arriving and leaving like any other day of the year, but so far it’s still a significant day in my life.
The whole story is immortalized in my book, The Stranger In My Head. I wrote it because one of my doctors suggested I do it, thinking maybe it would help others in similar circumstances. Apparently I handled the after-effects better than a lot of people do. Someone else thought he suggested it because it might be cathartic. And it was.
It was also a very difficult book to write, mostly because it was far out of my comfort zone, which is fiction. Usually romantic fiction…and nothing about this experience has been even remotely close to romantic (except I did wind up being treated by some really good looking guys, one or two who could wind up staring in a future novel). This was more like writing a diary. Or emails to a friend.
Still, looking back, it’s amazing to me the changes that have taken place during that time. From one doctor suggesting I give up and start using wheelchairs, motorized shopping carts and walkers…just two and a half years ago…to working out in a pool six days a week (most of the time), hopping on my treadmill for an indoor, mosquito-free walk, working around my house, driving again, and getting around on my own two feet, at a pretty impressive clip, too, thank you very much.
For too long, the best I could manage at the grocery store was to shop in the front corner (usually produce), then send my kids everywhere else with a list because walking was so incredibly painful. Now I can do a couple of circuits through the entire store, and the only time I’m bothered with too much pain is when I wind up having to skip a few workouts. At this point I don’t know if that means I’ll always be doing daily pool workouts, or if I can cut back to a few days a week eventually. It doesn’t matter either way because staying active is important anyway. And I’ll do whatever I have to in order to live to be a healthy old woman. One who can run circles around the younger whippersnappers.
I’ve also come a long way in the sleep department. For the first year and a half, I averaged three and four hours sleep, every twenty-four hours, and then about five each night for the next year or so. Now I get anywhere between five and eight. I’m not sure why there’s such a wide range there, but I must be getting what I need because I feel pretty good most of the time. With that significant improvement, much of the anger I felt, along with what one doctor diagnosed as depression, is gone. Prolonged sleep deprivation can wreak serious havoc with your emotions!
A couple of things are still pretty frustrating, and when I overcome those I will consider myself 100% back to ‘normal,’ instead of the 90%, where I think I am right now. The first goal is riding my bike again. At the rate things have been improving, since I started the daily pool workouts, I expect that to happen by this coming spring.
The second thing is getting over my nervousness at intersections. The logical part of my brain knows it’s unlikely another person will run a red light and hit me. But I guess the other part figures if it happened once, it could happen again. It may just be something that gets better over time. Technically I’ve only been driving again since the end of June, only a few months, so maybe it’s not surprising that I’m not as comfortable with it as I was three years ago.
All in all though, I’m very happy with where I’m at today. And I think I can say with complete honesty that this anniversary is going to be a happy one, unlike years one and two. Although they weren’t entirely unhappy milestones either.
Because I can never forget that if I hadn’t been distracted when my light turned green, if I hadn’t had that split second hesitation before starting out, the man would have nailed my door instead of the fender. At about sixty miles an hour. I might have been killed rather than just injured. Or hurt much worse than I was. So yeah, I think I’ve got a few reasons to celebrate this week. One, I’m still alive. And two, I’m almost back to normal.
Physically I’m almost back to normal. Mentally… Hmm. I’m not sure I ever was normal in that area. Weird, odd, and eccentric have all been used to describe me over the course of my life. But I don’t think I remember one time when someone said I was normal.
That’s perfectly fine with me. I never have been much into following the crowd, or wanting to be a carbon copy of somebody else.
And I’m not. 🙂
Thank you very much, Breeana. I can’t tell you how glad I am to have gotten to know you, too. One, because you’re a great person and fantastic author, and two…because I really do believe I came within a split second of dying that day…and am very glad I didn’t! 🙂
Who wants normal? Not me! I know some normal people…and I definitely enjoy life a lot more than they do!
One step at a time, even before you could take steps, you reforged your body, your identity, and your life. Hats off to you, Kristy. That’s what I call growing your life BIG. Congratulations on a triumphant anniversary!
Thanks, Shelly. It’s like you said on your website. It’s all about changing. I had a choice to either accept things as they were, or make up my mind that I wasn’t settling for anything less than what I had before the accident. When I told a nurse I was aiming for a complete recovery, she told me she thought I’d maybe get about 70% back to normal. So I said I guessed I’d just have to shoot for 130% then, because I wasn’t settling for less than 100%. I had a choice, accept what some of the people who were treating me said, or not.
So many people don’t realize that it’s what goes on inside their heads that determines the direction of their lives. And that they can’t just sit back and accept all the negativity that comes at them, often from respected, educated individuals. LOL….they need to develop their stubbornness and rebelliousness. I can tell you from experience, they make all the difference in the world! 🙂
“So many people don’t realize that it’s what goes on inside their heads that determines the direction of their lives.” Amen, sister!
Happy Anniversary Kristy! I, for one, am very glad that you hesitated for that split second, and that I’ve had the awesome opportunity to get to know you. And normal? Who wants normal? (What is normal, anyway? Being someone you’re not?)