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Monday, April 23, 2012

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)

© Jamie Valendy
Accident Disability
Fast-forward to October 10, 2008. I was in a car accident that ended up changing my life forever. In one moment, so much was taken away from me... and, I didn't even know it until much, much later. Chronic, debilitating migraines began, as well as bad shoulder and neck pain... my life was flipped upside-down.

By this time, I had mostly come to terms with not being able to participate in sports. But, my self-image was based very much on my intellectual ability. I was an organized, driven, hard-working, and smart person. I loved challenging my mind!

Suddenly, I couldn't remember things that were said or happened a few seconds beforehand. The accident took the parts of myself that I identified with and shattered them into tiny, unidentifiable pieces. I couldn't think logically, I couldn't remember anything (I had LOTS of pieces of paper with notes on it, especially when I was dealing so much with my attorney and the insurance companies because I didn't want to forget anything that was said...), I couldn't solve simple problems, etc. To say that I was frustrated would be a huge understatement! I felt completely helpless... and I spiraled into depression.

I lost a lot of my independence, which was very difficult for me. I've always been a planner, and now I can't really plan because I never know how I'm going to feel. I don't really drive anymore because of visual disturbances and sensitivities, and I'm still jumpy in cars (though it's much, much better than it was the months following the accident). I sometimes have trouble being able to take care of myself (showering, cooking, eating, sleeping, etc.), and I haven't been able to work. ...And, it was all due to someone else's actions, which happened in just a moment.


Lessons Series:
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)


This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)

I didn't get this finished the other day (when the prompt was given for the HAWMC), but here we go... I'm sure that there are many things I've learned the hard way over the course of my life. The one that comes to mind now is that things can be taken away from you in a single moment.

Sport Injuries
© 2002 Jamie Valendy
(I'm in the front)
I used to play softball and run. I loved to do both so much. They helped me work through some difficult times, and they provided an outlet for all of my emotions (both positive and negative). I made some great friends, and I learned a lot about myself.

© 2002 Jamie Valendy
On April 6, 2001, excruciating pain started in my left hip, while I was warming up for a track event. I found out that it was an overuse injury (tendinitis bursitis) - I think I worked out about 4-6 hours a day (between high school track/cross-country, pitching lessons, and both high school and recreational softball), so it really shouldn't have been a surprise. It was my choice to work-out so much - I loved the thrill of the competition, of challenging myself to get better, and reaching goals. So, as difficult as it was, I paused my participation in competitive sports and went to physical therapy. I did just as the therapist told me to, including taking time off from impact workouts (i.e., running). Once he began to let me start jogging / running, he slowly increased how much I could do. My coach told me not to run faster than a 10 minute mile... then a 9 minute mile... and faster, as my hip seemed to heal. I always finished almost exactly at whatever speed / time he would let me run, even though I was itching to run faster and push harder. Eventually, I was able to start joining in some of the team workouts, but my coach wanted me to completely heal before running competitively again. I was able to run in the last few cross-country meets of the (fall) season, and I actually ran a personal record.

© 2002 Jamie Valendy
(I'm on the left, #3546)
In August 2002, when cross-country practices approached, I was excited. But, before the season began, I woke up one day and couldn't move because my back was in so much pain (I happened to be staying at a friend's house, where we all just laid out on the floor). I had to go back to physical therapy for that, and I ended up missing out on running and playing softball during my senior year of high school. It broke my heart! I still miss being able to compete in sports so much.

My ability to compete in the sports I loved so much was a HUGE loss for me, and I've had trouble dealing with it. But, perhaps it prepared me for the larger loss that was to come years later...

Okay, so apparently I have quite A LOT of things to say, so I'm going to let the words come out, and then split them up into a series called, Lessons. I'm not sure how many blog posts it will end up being, but I'm interested to see where things take me.


Lessons Series:
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)


This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).