When I arrived at Craig Hospital, my doctor was reviewing my case with me and he mentioned the collapsed lung, the chest tube and then he told me that my other lung had deflated as well but somehow it re-inflated. Then he referred to me telling him I was gasping for air between my screams of pain as I lay in the street after the accident. He told me that my gasping probably is what re-inflated the lung and saved my life. This statement really shook me to my core. It was the first time I think that I realized I really could have been killed. That night the nightmares stopped and the next day I awoke with this feeling I had never felt -- I was absolutely elated to be alive. At that moment, my life changed again. No longer was I trying to figure out this whole experience, all I could think about was the fact that I was alive and I could still be with my family and friends. My next thought was that the accident could have been so much worse. And since that day, this has been my mantra for everyone -- it could have been so much worse. For this reason, I suddenly became extremely thankful for all the things in my life.
Below is a list of items for which I am thankful that help to describe how I'm feeling since the accident:
- I am thankful to be alive. I may not ever walk the same as I did before and that's alright. If I'm meant to be in a wheel chair or walk with braces, so be it. I accept that this terrible accident took place and I have chosen to move on with my life.
- I am thankful for the friends and family who have kept me in their thoughts. I have had so many people reach out via email, text, phone, tweets, hospital visits, etc. to let me know that they are thinking of me. I was especially moved by these messages because they have helped me more than you will ever know.
- I am thankful that my injuries are not worse. I am in the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) unit on the third floor of Craig Hospital. Down on the second floor is the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) unit. I see many people on the second floor whose mental existence will never be the same again. I have meditated on this many times and I have so many things to look forward to because I was spared a head injury. Even if my feet remain paralyzed, I am thankful that I still have my head, my hands and my heart intact.
- I am thankful that I can still do the work for my profession. Because I have my head and hands, there is nothing stopping me from eventually returning to my work. I have many people in the office who will assist me with difficult tasks, but for the most part I can continue after I have healed.
- I am thankful for compassionate people in this world. I am so grateful that Gareth acted so quickly to help a stranger in distress. None of the other folks standing around me got down on the pavement to provide me a calming voice. This is probably the biggest overarching lesson that I have learned from this experience. Without compassion and love for your fellow human beings, people would not exist.