"If you're going through Hell, keep going."
-Winston Churchill

Jun 16, 2011

My first year

This past Monday, June 13, was the one year anniversary of my accident. At the last minute I decided to throw a party to celebrate my “gimp birthday.” People who know me well, or at least people who see my Facebook updates, were not at all surprised that I decided to celebrate this. Like my mother said, it is a celebration of the first year of my new life. Because I had such short notice in planning the party, I was not able to get a lot of things I would’ve really liked: a piñata of someone in a wheelchair; creating a spinoff of pin the tail on the donkey- put the neck brace on the gimp; and a cake with the no diving sign. Despite this, and only giving a 24-hour notice, I had a good turnout and we had a great time.

I am very thankful for friends, family and fans who have been so supportive and have helped me cope through the first year of my injury. I cannot believe it has already been a year, it has gone by so extremely fast! Of course, four of the 12 months were spent in the hospital, but it feels like just yesterday I was getting home from Methodist. Emotionally, I know this must be the toughest year to handle. I will not lie and say it has been easy, it hasn‘t. This past weekend was definitely tough, thinking of my life a year prior. For the most part, I keep a positive and humorous attitude, but I am not super woman. I have my weak moments and sometimes when I really think about the accident, I cry. Even typing this blog is making me tear up. I think about the moment it happened, when I was face down in the water, unable to move and thinking I was going to drown. It is, without a doubt, the scariest moment of my life. It is unreal to think of how easily I could have died that day. After I was pulled out, I kept exclaiming to my best friend, “I cannot be paralyzed!” I don’t know how I kept my cool on the exterior when on the inside I was frantic and panicking. Although she tried to calm me down, suggesting that perhaps it was just a pinched nerve, I knew it was more. I thought my life was over. I did not think I had the strength emotionally to cope with this disability… Boy was I wrong.  I could not fathom what my new life was going to be like. I had no idea what a blessing in disguise this would really be.

The first two weeks in the hospital I was on a drug called Versed which does not allow you to make memories. Although I was conscious, I do not recall much of the first two weeks. I do remember shortly after the accident, when doctors predicted that I would have no movement passed my biceps, I immediately decided I would not listen. At first the only movement I could do was a “chicken wing” type of movement. I can’t imagine how silly I looked, but that never stopped me from trying to move my arms. Before long, I was able to stretch out my right arm. My right side is definitely my dominant side and has progressed much further and quicker than my left side. I remember laying in the ICU, unable to talk, watching the same movies over and over, and religiously moving my arms as much as possible for hours on end. When the accident first happened, I could not feel or move anything below my neck. A month later, after I was told I would have nothing pass my biceps, I was moving my arms more than they thought I would. Now here I am, a year later, and I just got a manual chair that I am able to push myself around in. I can’t go very quick, or very far without feeling the burn, but it is more than was ever expected of me. Sometimes it is hard to tell how much improvement I have really made, then I take in consideration that when I came home in a manual chair from Methodist eight months ago, I was unable to push myself. It just goes to show that while day-to-day you might not notice the progress, but in the long run hard work and determination really does pay off.
People probably think I’m crazy when I say this accident was a blessing in disguise. While I’ve always believed in God, I am not an overly religious person. Growing up, I couldn’t understand why I had to deal with so many hardships, I felt like it wasn’t “fair.” Little did I know, those obstacles were making me stronger and preparing me for the greatest challenge of my life. I do believe the accident was God intervening in my life. Prior to June 13, 2010, I was going nowhere fast. I was financially stressed, in debt and living from shift to shift; I was constantly putting off getting back into school because of finances and uncertainty of what to do with my life; and apparently I was in an unhealthy relationship. To be honest, and you may think I’m crazy, I always felt like something ‘drastic’ would happen to me. Growing up, it seemed like I was the only one in my group of friends who could not figure out what to do with my life. I had often times wondered if I could not figure out my future because something tragic would happen to me. Since the accident, I have decided I want to work with people who have disabilities. Had it not been for the accident, I would never have come to this decision and would probably still be living shift to shift with no real direction. Had it not been for the accident, I would still be in a relationship that I apparently was not meant to be in. Had it not been for the accident, I would not have realized my own inner strength and the impact I can have on other people. Because of the accident, I have made many new and lifelong friends while at the same time coming to the realization of who my real friends are and people who were only my friend because it benefited them in some way. Because of the accident, I have a new role as being inspiration to people, something I do not take lightly nor try to take advantage of. Because of the accident, I have become much closer to my family and to God. Because of the accident, I am stronger and better version of myself. I learned that who I am is not based on my disability, whether I walk again or not, I am still Katy and no one can take that from me.

There have been many pros and cons stemming from my accident, but I do not dwell on the cons. Why? Because it does absolutely no good. There is no back button in life. You cannot change what has already happened, you can only control how you deal with it. If you are busy living in the past, you’ll miss out on great things happening in the present. Your attitude can really change everything about a situation. I know it is cliché, but when life hands you lemons, you must learn to make lemonade (I like to add a shot of vodka in there, too). I mean, really, what else can you do? Also, there is no use crying over spilled milk. Just clean up the mess and keep going. If I had spent last year dwelling on all the cons stemming from my accident, I would have missed out on so many great opportunities and I would not be this far into my recovery. We all have the power to make a positive change in our life. Sometimes, having a positive attitude is really just about perspective. There are very few times when things cannot be much worse. Even in my situation, I realize how lucky I am not to have a brain injury, to have a higher injury (C1-C4), or to have a complete injury. Sure, an incomplete C5 injury is bad, but it could be worse- I could be dead. How can I be upset when there are people who have it much worse? When things seem bad, it really does help to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and you will realize, it could always be worse. Be thankful for what you have, because it can all change in an instant.

So in addition to the excitement of getting my manual chair this week, I have other exciting news. Sometime in July, I should finally be getting placed on the SCI Medicaid Waiver program. Even though I automatically qualify, I had to specifically call and request to be placed on a waiting list back in April. With the Waiver program, I will be allowed to hire a personal care attendant (PCA). This will be great because it will give my mom a break from the 24 hour job of taking care of me. Once I move away and get into school, a PCA will be crucial to my independence. Another exciting thing about the Waiver program is it will allow me to receive full Medicaid benefits. With full Medicaid benefits, I am allotted another 30 days of in-hospital care. Since I do not plan on being in the hospital for an extended period of time, I plan on using these 30 days to go back to Methodist Rehab. Unlike The Shepherd Center, Methodist provides 24 hour nursing care, so when I go I am not going to have my mother come with me. She has been by my side since the night of the accident, not only will this allow her to have a break, but will also help me relearn my independence. I will use the money raised from the fundraisers and donations to attend the Day Program at The Shepherd Center. The Day Program consists of therapy Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm. While attending the Day Program, Shepherd provides free housing but that does not include meals, nursing care, etc., therefore, my mom will have to stay with me the entire time. The Shepherd Center has been my dream rehab from the start, it is one of the top rehabilitation centers in the country. I am also in the process of filling out paperwork to be placed in the database at Frazier Rehab in Louisville, KY, to see if I’m eligible candidate for any future research studies. Please keep me in your prayers that I meet the criteria to participate in a research project.

We had our Southern Belle T-shirt distribution this past Friday. It was a great success and I was so happy that I could be there to see and express my gratitude to everyone who bought and sold shirts. We’re doing our final order, which will end on June 26. You can find all the information and order forms here. You are not just buying the shirt, you are changing a life!  We also have the River Run coming up in less than a month. Tickets are now on sale, you can purchase them from any of the participating fishing camps or from my sister, Kristen, who is selling them at Hinman Chiropractic. 

One final thing I would like to mention is Father’s Day, which is coming up Sunday. It has been 13 years since my Dad passed away, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I relish in knowing that he would be so proud of my attitude and how proactive I am in my recovery. I have no doubt that he is my angel and has been watching over me all these years, especially this last year. He was such a fantastic man who always put his family first. I look forward to the day I get to see him again. If you are still lucky enough to have your father in your life, be sure to appreciate and celebrate it every day, not just on Father’s Day.

1 comment:

  1. U R awesome katy as I told u before. I'm so proud of u. keep going. love u <3