Four Lessons I’ve Learned in the Four Months Following a Spinal Injury

November 11, 2016: I was driving home for a weekend visit with my family, when in a matter of seconds I found myself upside down in my totalled vehicle. I unbuckled my seatbelt, crawled out the broken drivers side window, not realizing all that was to come.

In the following 24 hours, I went to 3 hospitals before a final diagnosis was made. Two fractures in my spine. C1 and C7. I was strapped into a neck brace for the next 6 weeks, instructed not to take it off.

Showering, sleeping, eating, brushing my hair — these simple daily tasks suddenly became daunting to do on my own. Sooner or later, I figured out the whole living-in-a-neck-brace thing. Life moved on and two days before Christmas, my family doctor removed the brace — freedom! Well, kind of… I was (and still am) restricted and limited in what I would be able to.

Today marks four months since the car accident that changed my life, and gave me a new perspective. I want to share four lessons I’ve learned in the journey…

1. Make your health a priority.

School, work, emails — it can be easy to get caught in the middle, but all of these things can be put on pause for your health. I learned the hard way that it’s better to make your health a priority in the short-term, otherwise you’ll pay for it in the long term.

2. You have to go slow in order to be fast.

This phrase was written in a card I received, and it’s stuck with me since I first read it. Being the go-getter that I am, I was back in class three days following the accident, eager to live a normal life. Much like prioritizing your health, it’s important to take a break in the present, so that you can excel in the future.

3. It’s okay to have bad days, but don’t dwell upon it.

On a particularly bad day a few weeks after the accident, I got pretty upset while out for a walk on my own. A friend of mine came to the rescue when I got a text that said: “If you let it, it’s just going to consume you. Don’t let a near miss take away all the good days you have.” This was a turning point for me.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Perhaps the hardest thing for me to do was ask for help, hence why I saved it for the end. I wouldn’t be writing this today if I didn’t have my family and friends, who dropped whatever they were doing to lend a hand over these past four months. I can’t even begin to name each person that helped me out in a small or big way after the accident. You know who you are, and I can’t say thank you enough.

While four months may seem like a long time for me, it’s really just the beginning of this journey. My spine is still broken, and it probably will be for a bit. I’m still healing, but when I get frustrated about this I think to myself: “Make your health a priority. Slow down in order to be fast. It’s okay to have a bad day, but don’t dwell upon it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

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