A year ago, today, I went to sleep without a thought in the world of how the following day would begin one of the most difficult years of my life.
I went to work feeling fine and ready as I could be to take on the day. Within 5 minutes of my arrival, however, the universe had other plans that altered the remainder of my school year and perhaps the remainder of my life. I do not have a memory of exactly what occurred, but from what I do recall I stood on a chair to write on my whiteboard for the day. The next thing I knew I was on the ground slouched up against my desk with my legs stretched out. I felt like my ankle was twisted and that I'd likely have a headache the rest of the day. Boy was I in for a rude awakening that came the next few days. It was a terrible way to end 34 and ring in 35. I am so thankful for the members of my school family who helped me that day. Because of their calm and collected demeanor I remained calm and didn't think much was wrong but understood that I'd have to go to the hospital anyway.
I don't recall a whole lot about my time at the hospital aside from the knowledge I had a head CT and xrays of my foot/ankle area done. I remember being told I had a sprained ankle and then was given a boot to wear that felt way too clunky for my liking. I know I texted my sister to wish her a happy birthday and to let her know as my emergency contact what I knew of that occurred. Her response was "maybe you shouldn't fall so much." Her words didn't really sting until later, the following day (my birthday) and in the months to come, as I became aware of the breadth of my injuries. It became another justification/confirmation as to why my family was not in my life at that time. There was not a single time after that day that my sister checked on me to see how I was.
I would have felt extremely alone had it not been for my best friend who daily made sure to check on me, let me know I had a shoulder to cry on and listening ear, and someone who would hop on a plane if I said I needed them with very little reservation. A case worker through workman's comp became my angel here on Earth locally. The therapists who entered my life became my additional support system in every possible way they could. Otherwise, it was all me and me alone navigating this new world of mine.
To make what could be an extremely long story shorter, the remainder of this last year of my life has been a rollercoaster with every emotion possible running through my veins. Through the tremendous amounts of physical therapy, vestibular therapy, cognitive therapy, and mental health therapy I have been able to see that my strong resilience can help me navigate anything that comes my way. I definitely shed more tears over the course of the last year than any other in my entire life. I have felt awful more days than tolerable. On and off I have not been able to see a light at the end of this tunnel from hell.
Missing half of a school year, lots of events I had major FOMO about, feeling like a prisoner in my own body, and not knowing much other than day to day functionality was really tough. Throughout the work I've done with my therapist, I was able to work on my PTSD and use EMDR to prepare me as best we could to return to work in July. I took it upon myself one of the first days back to go directly to the spot of the accident and face it. After all, I would have to walk past it every single day, multiple times a day. Since then, I have continued to working on navigating the feelings I have about the entire situation. It has been interesting to see what my viewpoint is now.
While I will never fully be ok that this occurred and obviously wish it didn't, I find myself feeling grateful more and more for the change in perspectives that the accident provided.
I am grateful for being given the time/being forced to truly focus on my wellbeing and only my wellbeing for the first time. I am grateful for learning who the true support system in my life is and having the time to figure that out even if that added excruciating pain during the process. I am grateful for holding strong to the boundaries I had to set throughout the last year and for future years to come with my family on what I will and will not tolerate. I am grateful to be able to be back at work instead of sitting at home just wishing I was there even if it meant being stressed out. (Who knew that I'd actually be grateful for the ability to feel stressed by work chaos?! I am more grateful for the spirit days, assemblies, celebrations of student accomplishments, & wins in sports and/or organizations.) I am grateful for this injury giving me the opportunity to connect with my students in ways I would never have truly been able to understand. I am grateful for hearing aids that have improved my quality of life. I am grateful for the realization of the many times I have stood on a chair, table, etc over the course of my life and career that didn't result in injury. I am grateful for the fact that I will never look at a chair in the same way. I am grateful to be given the gift of another birthday when I know all of this could have resulted in much worse.
Going back to work, navigating the limitations that continue to exist and/or present themselves at inopportune times, in various avenues of my life, & dealing with the dysfunctional family relationships that opened up slightly after the birth of my nephew (the highlight of 35 for sure) has been draining for sure. I live in a permanent state of exhaustion. I am realistic to know that I still have a long way to go in my recovery process and am aware of the fact that the person I was before the accident isn't the person I am now.
I am looking forward to this year coming to an end and starting new. 36 is going to be a much better year for me! It has to be, right?!