There are some instances in your life which cannot be forgotten. They either bring tears of joy or sadness but cannot be erased. These instances shape you into who you are. One such instance of my life occurred on 9th May, 2017.
I left from home for work as on any other day, with my hair done up, swaying my Prius keys and waddling through my porch. The highway 138 in California was a part of my daily commute and little did I know what was in store for me on that ominous day. I was driving, tapping my fingers to the Evanescence streaming out of my car-radio. The next thing I remember was my car enveloped by smoke, my body covered in blood, and dragging myself painfully out of my car.
What the cops said was that there was a pothole in which my front left tyre got stuck and I lost control of the vehicle at a speed of 100 mph and crashed into another car in the next lane.
I was rushed to the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Centre. While in the ambulance on our way to the hospital, I remember experiencing mixed feelings like never before. The throbbing pain, the fear of decapacitation, the daze from all the pain killers that were being administered over and over again, the effort to respond in order to reassure the medics that I was conscious and assimilate the confusion around and the stress to recall all the events of the incident. It took me 2 days to digest that I had a dislocated hip, 4 fractured bones including my jaw, a rib, a femur and a finger. You can only imagine my relief when I was told I had suffered no brain damage!
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Road to recover
The next 2 months were not only physically painful but also mentally stressful and emotionally draining. I was practically dependent on others for all my routine activities. The biggest learning I had during this time was the ability to let go of a little bit of my privacy and trust strangers to help me. My nurse, physiotherapist and surgeon were all extremely empathetic, and this definitely helped my recovery to quite an extent. The Internet became the thread by which I clung on to my sanity. I could keep in touch with my family and friends even without them being physically around me at all times. My nerves were weak even after I weaned off the medication. Physiotherapy proved to be a slow process that did test my patience at times; but today, when I look back at the power of physiotherapy, it never ceases to amaze me!
At the end of about 1.5 months of being in the hospital, I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) and thus began my counselling sessions. After about 3 of these sessions, I started looking forward to them as these helped me make peace with the circumstances. When I got discharged and went back home, I felt a pinch in my heart for leaving my ‘new family’ behind that took care of me during my most vulnerable times. I gradually moved from bed rest to a walker, to a stick, to some limping, to walking with support, and at long last, walking normally and even running.
What I learned
It has been a gradual process that has taught me that the thing that matters most in life is LIFE itself. Everything else can be rebuilt or restarted. I feel this constant need to share my experience and my learning from of this incident with others. I regularly volunteer at patient engagement gatherings and try to see if my narratives can help someone else cope better! Sometimes in life, the circumstances may not be in your control and you might be subjected to consequences without any fault of your own. But how you deal with these circumstances is in your control, and in the end, that is all that matters!