Press Pause

A year.

It’s been a whole year.

I feel like I just need to pause and not write for a minute to let all of that to sink in. I was injured May 25, 2013 and here I am May 25, 2014, an entire year later.

What do you do on the anniversary of something you never thought would happened? How do you approach a day like today? How do you deal with all the emotions and memories of the accident and of this past year? I mean seriously, how?

In one breath, it’s just another day, one more day past the one when everything changed. But everything really changed…I mean I went from walking to rolling. I went from independent to dependent. I went from running around like a fool, ready to start and enjoy summer to not even being able to breathe without a ventilator or eat without a tube stuck in my body.

So do I sit here and cry because it happened?  Spend the day in bed with a blanket over my head just trying to imagine what my world would be like if I hadn’t been standing in that exact spot at the exact moment? Do I just push on and brush it off because it really is just another day?

I wish I knew the answer to any of those questions….but I don’t…at all. I’m usually not one who likes to dwell in the past or the “what could haves” but sometimes I think looking back on something as massive as this and what it all has meant for my life helps in moving forward.

July 1(ish): Memory returns
I don’t remember anything from when I was injured on May 25 until July 1st-ish. I was awake and talking and there are pictures to prove it, but that time span seriously doesn’t exist in my head. To be honest, I’m really thankful I don’t remember any of that time…I’ve heard stories, and they’re scary just to listen to. A 10 hour surgery, 3 bronchoscopy procedures, a collapsing lung, and the list could keep going. But I’ll tell you what I am thankful for, I’m thankful for the people who were right there and have stayed right there when I did “wake-up.”


Mom was right there with me that morning when I “came to.” She was there when I was fitted for my first wheelchair, she was there as I spent long hours in countless therapies, and she was there when I’d get in bed at night, too tired to even lift up a glass of milk, let alone deal with all the emotions of a new injury. My sisters actually came out that first weekend I started remembering things and they were there for me as they always have been. I still remember crying and being terrified of seeing them for the first time, what would they think of me? How would they treat me? Exactly the same. And same never felt so good. And Dad came out for a visit which was awesome, but he also spent so much time getting our home to be accessible for me. Family is a pretty special thing and I’ve just started to learn how very special mine is…

July 9: I put on my own pants
Yep, you read that right. July 9th was the first day I put on my own pants in over a month and a half. I was so freaking proud of myself I told everyone I saw that day and I’m serious when I say everyone because it included people I didn’t really know. It had to have taken at least 25 minutes and I’m sure I looked like an awkward beached whale rolling back and forth in the hospital bed, but I did it and it was awesome. Through everything, it taught me that it’s okay to celebrate the little things. Heck, it’s important to celebrate the little things because sometimes, those things aren’t actually little. There is so much that I used to take for granted, but when you realize how quickly it could all be gone, those things mean a bit more. Savor and celebrate the little things. Tell everyone you put on your own pants:D

August 29: I discharged from Craig Hospital
It was hard to leave Craig after all the friends I had made there, but it was exciting to be able to go home. To go home and see my family, pooches, and friends. But it it was also pretty scary and really challenging. The real world isn’t made for people like me, people who approach the world sitting down where as Craig very much was. It was a strange transition, to go from being a person in the majority to being the one who’s different, the one who sticks out and gets funny looks in the grocery store. But I learned there is nothing wrong with different, and sometimes different has its perks. After all, I do get the best parking spots…

Photo Aug 28, 4 50 16 PM

Sept-Oct: Just starting to transition
In spinal cord injury land, talk of finding your “new normal” after an injury is pretty common. You really don’t have the time or energy to figure out “normal” while going through an intensive rehab program, so that all starts at home. The transition is and was everything but pretty. I was surrounded by memories of my walking days at home and I spent way too many hours watching MeTV just to pass the time (I now avoid The Brady Bunch like the plague). My friends were over a state away and some of the relationships I had prior to my injury changed drastically, and that was really really hard. I know some of my darkest days post-injury were in those two months, but because of those dark days I learned where and who I should actually be putting my trust in, God. I had spent so much of my college years putting my trust in so many earthly things, my career, my abilities, my relationships, when those things so quickly and so easily fall apart. But you know what’s eternal? You know what’s forever? God. God is and He has our lives all figured out.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. -Provers 3: 5-6

May 25: This is normal
It’s been quite the year. A lot of ups, but also a lot of downs. I mean, there was a time when I was so dependent on others around me that I couldn’t transfer myself into bed without help. There was a time when I had no idea what in the world I could or would do with my life now. There was a time when moving forward in any form felt next to impossible. But there was also a time when this all began to feel normal. A time where the only thing standing between me and driving myself from place to place is choosing a vehicle. A time where I’m excited to see what tomorrow will bring and look forward to the new adventures in my life that take the form of Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin and training for long distance races.

I’ve come a long way since that stupid tree fell and you know what?
This is only the beginning.

3 thoughts on “Press Pause

  1. Daniel Gresens says:

    It has been such a joy to follow along with you on this journey this year. To see the “new” person that you have become has been such a blessing. I am so glad you are able to let your faith shine out as you do. I always look forward to reading about what you have accomplished now. May that list never end.
    May God continue to bless you.
    Dan Gresens

  2. Kathy Shipstad says:

    A year and look how far you have come…..You are going to make a difference in this crazy world of ours.

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