Celebrating the night that changed my life

We’re celebrating once again.  It feels like we’ve been celebrating a lot of things these days.  No, it’s not my birthday – that was a couple weeks ago.  And it’s not our wedding anniversary either.  Today marks a special day for me.  Although I usually don’t post on weekends I couldn’t not recognize the day two years ago that changed my life.

On October 5th 2017, I had an accident that changed who I am, and changed not only my life but that of my family.  But here’s the thing, that negative was turned into the biggest positive, but it took a lot of patience, resilience and soul searching to get to this place.  You’re probably wondering what happened, so here goes.

I was cleaning up at the end of the night, ready to put the kids to bed and then it happened, I hit my head.  I hit it hard.  So hard that I ended up with a concussion and whiplash if you can believe it.  I ended up discovering this at the Emergency Room when the pain got that bad.  I struggled for the next month with severe headaches and migraines and being the loyal employee that I was, I kept on going to work and doing my job and working the crazy hours that I was used to.  I did this even after being told by the doctors at the hospital to slow down, take a pause and give my brain the rest it needed. And then I just couldn’t take it anymore, and life went on hold.

That accident, that momentary bump, put a lot of things in my life on hold as I tried to recover.  If you can imagine, and trust me I wish that no one would have to go through this, I stopped being able to do the things that as adults we just take for granted.  All of these everyday things would end up causing me severe pain.  I couldn’t read.  I couldn’t write.  I couldn’t deal with computer screens, lights, or noise.  I couldn’t drive.  I couldn’t handle crowds or even going to a supermarket, All the lights and aisles became overwhelming and would over-stimulate me.  I even started to notice that I was reversing the letters and words when I tried to read, or even when I glanced at a sign or billboard.  And I started needing to sound out words that I saw.  One of the effects of my concussion had caused me to suddenly become dyslexic if you can believe it. In my initial neuro-vision assessment a couple months after the accident, I was also told that I was now reading at a grade 2 level.  That was a huge blow as I had loved to read and had even been an English major.  But worst of all I couldn’t handle listening to my children play or to their laughter.  I was in complete darkness – literally.  But in those difficult times, in that time of darkness, I found the greatest clarity.

Before the accident I was running hard, too hard.  I was working 60-80 hour weeks, striving for that next promotion all while trying to be a super-mom at the same time.  I was a Director at a large company, leading a large team, running 20-30 major projects every year and managing multi-million dollar budgets,  I was also that mom on the soccer field sidelines with her cellphone to her ear, on the conference call, all while trying to cheer on my son.  I was the mom who would wake up early to work before they went to school, rush home to give them dinner and then work at the kitchen island while they ate and after I put them to bed.  It was impossible. It was exhausting.  But for a lot of us moms, it’s what we do.  We just do it.

My time during my recovery made me really look at my life, and begin to appreciate all the little things and moments I didn’t notice before.  And that whatever I thought was working was in fact slowly destroying me and impacting my family.  The accident was the knock on the head, literally, to make me pause, slow down and change.  It’s now been two years of healing, self-discovery, learning, gratitude and awakening.  I learned so much about how to really appreciate and enjoy life and I continue to heal, learn and celebrate every day.  Life is about being with the people you love.  It’s about doing what you love.  It’s about discovering or re-discovering your passions and loves.  It’s about being present and enjoying every moment.

Six months into my rehabilitation and as I was starting to make progress, I suffered another blow that set me back.  I received a call from work and was told my position was being eliminated.  I think the hardest part for me was that I received that call from my manager, who I once had thought was a friend.  It’s funny though, while I was angry and I was upset because I had literally given my life to this company, the accident made me realize to put things into perspective and that I had other things that were more important to me and that I would get through this.

A turning point for me during my recovery was one day while I was lying in bed in the dark when I finally and sadly got that ray of light.  The kids were making their usual noise downstairs and I heard my husband say to my then 4 year old daughter “Please be quiet.  Mommy’s not feeling well.  Don’t you want her to get better?”  And she responded “No.  I want mommy to stay sick because I get to see her now”.  And there you have it, life through a child’s eyes.

Society has taught us that we will be happy if we reach a certain something.  Happiness seems to always be about things we are trying to attain or achieve versus what we already have.  Through my experience I was able to really prioritize my family, our health and well-being, and my friendships and relationships.

I’ll be honest I lost a few friends though this experience but those weren’t the friends I was meant to have in my life.  Relationships are so important in our everyday life – it’s what connects us to the world around us.  Whether it is our family, friends or acquaintances they have a huge effect on our happiness and our quality of life.  I’ve learned to surround myself with people who make me feel good and who actually add something to my life.  Through this journey, I’ve also made some new great friends and found other ways to connect like though friends who have been through similar situations, and through the Facebook Pink Concussions support group that helped me see I was not alone and helped to give me hope.

This journey I’ve been on has taught me so many things including the need to focus on what matters and to really prioritize it. I’ve learned to be present, and to take my time to enjoy the things in my life.  I’ve also learned that it’s ok to try things out, to take risks in life and even to fail.  What matters is doing and being what you love.  Stop planning, stop making excuses.  You have one life, live it now.

So here I am two years later from that night.  Some stopped reading this after the first few sentences and some of you have made it this far.  Selfishly I think this post was really for me, but also for anyone else who may be going through something that is so hard you just don’t think you’ll even get through it.  Sure, I still have some challenges I’m working through since the accident.  My life has changed for the better and I owe it all to my faith and the strength and support of my family, young and old, who were there by me every step of the way.  I am stronger, more resilient and a better person and mom.  I am also so much more focused on the things that not only matter to me, but also fulfill me.   So happy anniversary to me and thank you to that night two years ago.  I can tell you I’ve never been happier or more satisfied in my life than I am right now.