Wow. I can’t believe it’s really been a year since my hiking accident last summer. To be honest, it seems like it’s been 5 years, as this has definitely been the longest and toughest year of my life. I debated whether or not to post this because I know, I’ve written several posts about my accident. I promise this is the last one! Unless I fall off another cliff. Kidding.
As I’ve become more public with what happened and my story has gotten out there, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how a near-death experience has changed my life. Of course some of those answers are probably obvious, but I figured in the midst of celebrating today, I could write out what I’ve learned over the past year and reflect on that myself, as well as give my readers a new perspective.
For those of you who haven’t read my story, I wrote about it here.
6 Things I’ve Learned This Past Year
- Never ever take advantage of your two feet (or your health in general). People don’t think about how amazing walking is until that’s taken away from you. I’m so incredibly grateful to be able to walk again, but I still get paranoid when people walk too close to me, or when a place is crowded. I can’t go line dancing like I used to at my favorite country bar. Sometimes my leg is so weak, I have to lift it onto the gas pedal to start driving. So you can imagine the anxiety I have driving if I were to slam on the brakes. And next time you complain about people parking in wheelchair spots, just give them grace. You have no idea what they are going through. Unfortunately, I get dirty looks for parking there all the time because I’m young, and people assume I’m using my parents or grandparent’s pass. And if you are one of those people who DO use someone else’s wheelchair pass but you’re actually fine, people like you made my life a living hell some days.
- Do absolutely everything on your Bucket List as soon as you can. One accident can really delay professional advancements, travel plans, relationships..so put everything you have into your job, but also make time for vacation. I’m still not ready for another Europe trip that I’m dying to go on, because I couldn’t keep up with all the walking as of now. But you better believe I have like ten places on my list that I’ll be visiting when I’m ready. Lastly, if you’re stuck in a blah relationship or want to take it to the next level, do it and stop being scared. Every day counts with the people you cherish, because you never know what could happen. So start checking off your bucket list – there’s no better time than now to start.
- Treasure the relationships you have. And show your close family and friends how much you love them constantly. I will never forget those who stayed in contact with me throughout my recovery, and I owe them so much more than I can give. Find these people in your life and tell them how much they mean to you. Do favors for them without expecting anything in return. Find the time to actually hang out with them. Everyone’s life is busy. Don’t say you miss someone or you want to hang out but never instigate meeting up. If people truly want to see you, they will make time. Always remember this.
- You can die like, really easy. Ok so working in the SICU doesn’t help my bias, but it’s true. A lot of what I see at work are freak accidents (or “hold my beer” moments). Regardless, the trauma patients we get (and this includes myself), were just going about their day as normal, and BOOM their life just changes forever. You could be in your car driving to work and someone hits you, or you slip and fall off a cliff on an “easy” hike. And you read this and tell yourself that it could never happen to you because well, it just couldn’t. I was one of those people too. And now that I’ve gone through what I have, I do have those precautions in the back of my mind. I’m not saying this to turn you into a homebody because trust me, weird accidents happen at home too. But I’m saying it so you recognize and accept that fact, and take on your life goals while you still can. Because life is short, and your goals list should be long.
- Take care of yourself. I used to be one of those people who never said no and never enjoyed down-time. I always had to have a plan on my days off and would never call in sick unless I was on the borderline of death. Now, my injury has forced me to take better care of myself and allow my body to rest. I’ve gotten better at saying no to outings with friends or extra responsibilities at work. Saying no has a big impact on your own personal happiness, and I strongly recommend working on this if this is an issue for you too. I see patients who have lived a hard life, and it truly ages them. So even if you’re trying to save money, put aside some funds to treat yourself once in awhile. Book a massage, get your nails done, try a new restaurant. You deserve a break once in awhile.
- Be thankful for what you have. There’s always going to be people out there who have it much worse than you. Telling myself this daily really got me through some rough days of self-pity and frustration. Sure you may be going through a rough patch. We all do. So be appreciative regardless of the situation. Be thankful for the good things you have, and list them out if it’s hard for you to think of these. And always be grateful for the struggles in life that make you stronger and wiser. Because they do. It’s the way you deal with what you’re handed that affects the outcome of that struggle. Pain is a given in life – suffering is optional.
Some coworkers and I celebrated making it through one rough year by going to this awesome Whiskey House downtown. Cheers to a better year ahead of me! And thank you guys for reading!