Today I wake up with 8 long years behind me. And everything that has happened during each of those 8 years was all affected in some way or another by just one moment of lost traction. It really is amazing how significantly your life can change in the blink of an eye. Cars can flip off the side of the road. Bones can crush and break. Lifelong fears are born. Relationships are forever changed. Before you can even take a moment to process what just happened, already your life is changed, you're a different person and you haven't even had time to stand up and brush the dirt off.
Nobody asked me if I wanted my life to change. Nobody asked me if I wanted to take a forced 2 year hiatus from my job and then never return, if I wanted to ditch everything fun in my life for awhile or if I was interested in being challenged in every way possible. Nope, I didn't ask for any of it.
I especially didn't ask to be told of all the things I would never, could never or should never do because I was the victim of a catastrophic back injury. They told me I was different now and I'd just have to accept it.
But I had other ideas and in honour of today being the 8th anniversary, here are 8 of those things they said I'd never do and how they turned out...
1. With all of the injuries to my ribs, chest and lungs, they told me that scar tissue would restrict my breathing ability but I diligently completed all of my rehab and those "restricted" lungs have huffed and puffed their way over thousands and thousands of kilometres.
2. The nerve damage across my back and in my chest made my doctor worry that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed but I nursed two beautiful, healthy baby boys for as long as I could and am that much more thankful I had that time with each of them.
3. My doctors told me that since I would always be in pain I'd never return to physical activities so I made the best of it and started my running journey anyway - learning to run is painful for the healthiest person so I told myself I was just that much further ahead.
4. And since they said I'd never return to those physical activities I loved, I went out and ran a half marathon and then 12 more. Oh and then a marathon too and I smiled every step of the way because they didn't think I ever could.
5. When I was still on disability leave and was let go from my job because my boss didn't think I'd be able to work "hard enough" anymore, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and have since embarked on the toughest job out there, raising a family and dare I say, I think I'm doing an okay job.
6. When I was struggling with nightmares and terrifying dreams the counsellors said it was just part of having lived through a horrible experience. But time can help heal a lot of wounds, or in my case, at least help put those wounds to the side for awhile so I could focus on things that needed more of my attention - like recovering.
7. I was told I'd probably always need pain medication in order to deal with my poor aching body so I did everything I could to get back into shape and help manage that pain by getting strong and today I'm almost totally medication-free.
8. And when I still can't drive the highway in the winter because I am reminded of the accident too much, I continue to work on coping strategies so that I don't just give in and let this accident take away all of the amazing times I have had - and will continue to have - at our family's cabin which is at the other end of that highway.
And that's really at the heart of everything I've done in the past 8 years. I didn't want to just heal and rehabilitate myself. I wanted to overcome everything that this accident dished out and move on and become a better, stronger person than I was before it happened.
I don't know if I'm exactly there yet or not but I'm working on it and feeling pretty good about what I've managed to accomplish so far.