The wheelchair

It was 1991

 

In 1991 I had a great job working for Social Services as a Certified Home Support Aid. 

I had left my job as a Nurses Aid in geriatric care and went to work in a more personal role with clients in their homes. The job was at times very strenuous however the emotional support provided to clients was very rewarding. This job would provide me with a regular shift, no night shifts, and stability. 

Backtracking to August of the previous year I was nursing and had worked 6 straight shifts and I was driving to work in the morning after just working a night shift. I was exhausted and remember looking down at my uniform and realizing it was dirty. When I lifted my head up my truck had drifted to the side of the road. I realized quickly that there was no way I could bring it back so I let go of the wheel and covered my head. 

I remember the rolling and smashing and feeling the broken glass on my body. When the truck stopped moving, I remember looking up and seeing the gear shift then realizing I had flipped upside down. There was water all around me so I knew that I had flipped in a body of water. 

I took a moment to gather my emotions and to look to see how I could exit the truck. I started digging in thick mud but realized that I had wedged into a ditch and there was no way out. The truck was filling with water, I started screaming and then fell into unconsciousness. 

During this time I had what some would call "an out of body experience". I remember walking in a field with tall, green grass and the feeling of absolute peace is not something that can be easily put into words. I remember thinking about my mother, my fiance, and my friends. I remember feeling bad that I would not see them again. 

While I was unconscious a gentleman stopped. He had come to the truck and my hand was sticking outside of the window. He remembers grabbing my hand and holding it. He thought I was dead. During this time I was still walking in the field and distinctly remember questioning if I should so back. It felt like a very difficult decision but I went back. At that point, the man says I started screaming again. They lifted the front of the truck out of the water with a wench, pulled me out of the truck, and loaded me into an ambulance. 

I was brought to the hospital and was told it was a miracle that I survived the accident. The truck has been crushed from rolling and left just enough space for my body to completely turn sideways in the truck. 

After the healing process I was offered the job to work for social services, I accepted. 

What we did not realize was the trauma from the accident has long term effects. I was stricken with what is known today as Fibromyalgia. The damage to the mucous membranes around my muscles would become inflamed, thick, and would cause localized pain. 

My role at social services would include heavy care and the use of my body combined with the symptoms of Fibromyalgia would leave me completely paralyzed at times. 

It was a Thursday and I was working with a heavy care patient. I leaned into her to assist her in a chair and the pain that shot up my back was debilitating. I ended up calling for support and went home. 

Several weeks went by and the pain had not subsided. I was referred to a Neurologist. He did some testing and diagnosed me with Ankylosing spondylitis (AS). I was told at 24 years old that I would be in a wheelchair by my late 20's. This changes a person in a split second. Your dreams, your future, and your hope are shattered. 

I spent the next year researching, seeking alternative therapies, and understanding the effects of diet. I became stable and in complete remission. It was then that I realized the diagnosis must have been wrong. After forcing second opinions I was then diagnosed with Fibromyalgia triggered by the trauma of the accident. I then knew what I was dealing with and developed the tools needed to push forward. 

Fighting to remain in remission has been a challenge over the years but it also taught me resilience, commitment, and the importance of honoring your body. It taught me compassion, drive, and motivation to always be the best I can be, every single day.