I realized something the other day.
I realized that for the first time in over 2 years, I can actually consider my life “normal.” I know that sounds a bit strange but let me flashback for a second and explain…
May 2013: Sam has a spinal cord injury
There is clearly nothing normal about going from walking one moment to not being able to feel your toes the next. I spent that summer first between critical care in a hospital in North Dakota and then off to a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado.
September 2013: Sam goes home
I get discharged from the hospital and head home to a world that a person would consider “normal” but now no longer looked like the “normal” I used to know. I mean literally, I was now seeing the world at a height of 4.5 feet instead of 6 feet. But emotionally and physically everything was new, the way I moved around in the house, the way I got ready in the morning–all of that takes time to adjust and figure out. Everyone takes a different amount of time to “figure” things out, but just for grins lets say 6 months later I’m reasonably adjusted. (Side note: You still have plenty of things to learn after 6 months of being out of the hospital–I mean I’m STILL learning stuff, but I feel like the big things are figured out by then)
March 2013: Sam has a crazy idea (thanks to Google)
Six months later puts us at the start of March and thanks to some Google-ing I came across the Ms. Wheelchair America Organization. I competed and was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin and began to travel across the state advocating for persons with disabilities while also preparing for the national pageant in Long Beach, CA in August.
August 2014: Sam almost falls out of her wheelchair when she is crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2015
This startling and exciting event started a whole year of adventures I could have never imagined as I began traveling and flying more places in my wheeling form than I ever did in my walking form. Aright, so fast forward through this “not normal” year
August 2015: Sam becomes a “former,” watches her sister get married, and gets cut open
I think that’s a pretty eventful sounding month and a lot to pack into 31 short days. Tack on recovery time where I have activity restrictions and other fun surgery related nonsense to deal with and we make it to the end of September.
The end of September where my life can now be considered normal.
I can get ready in the morning without being flustered or needing help like I did when I first came home. I can manage daily life and problem solve myself out of most (what I refer to as) “paralyzed problems.” I drive myself where I want when I want. On top of all that, the things I do every day and throughout a week are things most people can or could do if they so desired.
So there you have it, my life looks normal for the first time in over 2 years.
My thoughts on being normal? A big sigh. A sigh of relief and comfort and thankfulness. You know, it’s awesome getting to do and try all these amazing new things and have some crazy cool experiences…but its so SOOOOO great to just be normal. To wake up, have a normal routine filled with normal things, and then go back to bed to repeat those normal things the next day.
You know, I don’t think I’ve every really realized how quickly and how easily I forget to be thankful for that “routine” and for those “everyday” tasks. I always wanted more–to go more places, to do more things. But now I’ve learned that there is really something so remarkably wonderful and comfortable with just being able to live “normal life.” I think “normal” often gets overlooked as a blessing…
So what am I going to do with my wonderful normal life?
Well, the majority of my time has been devoted to MCAT studying–a now 7 hour exam you take in order to apply to medical school. I plan to take it in January in order to apply this spring so I have an excess of random science knowledge that may or may not get spewed at you if our conversation turns in the right (or wrong–depending on your perspective) direction.
When my nose isn’t in a book (which isn’t super often), you can find me volunteering at a local homeless shelter, with a high school student ministry group, or as a patient companion with hospice. I have some occasional speaking engagements lined up throughout the year so I can keep advocating and teaching and naturally I’m still working out in my racing chair.
I did my first official workout after surgery a week and a half ago and after that push, I can’t even begin to say how impressed I was that I had ever managed to complete a marathon. It’s remarkable how quickly you loose your athleticism/strength, so I’ve got a lot of work to do to get “back up to snuff.”
Naturally I have some other random things in my calendar, but they’re all normal. Normal things normal people do on a normal week of life that I couldn’t be happier to be living.
You know, I hope I can remember writing this post when I start “overlooking” normal again because I know it’s bound to happen.
It’s fun to and exciting to experience change and adventure,
but sometimes “normal” is as big of a blessing as they come.