9 years. It’s crazy how much can change in 9 years. On April 10, 2010 my whole life changed. The one question I was asked that day that keeps coming back to me lately was, “are you an organ donor?” Getting prepped for emergency vascular surgery to repair my dissected aorta, with a chest tube in, and 7 broken bones that is the question that made it all real. Wow, I might not survive this surgery or this day. I was whisked away in a helicopter from the accident, so I didn’t have an ID or phone or anything to tell them if I was, I was an organ donor, but never thought I’d be asked that question in the trauma unit at the Med in Memphis, Tennessee. A lot has happened since that day, and here are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned dealing with this body of mine over the past 9 years: (you can read more about me and my health here).
1. Life doesn’t always look the way you thought it would… and that’s okay. You can still find ways to enjoy it. No matter what gets thrown at you.
2. Life is hard. For all of us. We all go through highs and lows, and when we’re in a low the most important thing to remember is that this too shall pass, and that better days will come. I promise. It took a lot of waiting, but I feel like I am almost through the lowest of lows, and it makes you appreciate the highs so much more.
3. You need to advocate for yourself. If you don’t think your doctor is taking your case seriously, or not listening to you, find a new one. I used to cry at most of my doctor appointments, I found some of the best doctors in the country by standing up for myself, and waiting for 7+ hours in the ER waiting room twice in severe pain. Worth it 100%.
4. It’s okay to not be okay. I’ve had periods over the last 9 years when I’ve had to admit I was not okay, and asked for help. I might need to do it again in the future, and that’s ok. I’ve gotten help from psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, medications, therapy, and I’m not ashamed of that. I hope you never feel embarrassed to ask for help, because I assure you it’s ok, and will make you stronger in the end. Going through everything I’ve been through has been tough, but I’m determined to be tougher.
5. Other people may have been through worse, but that doesn’t make your situation any less valid. I know a lot of people who are afraid to tell me their issues because they think I’ve had it worse. It’s not a competition. We’ve all been through something, and if you ever need someone to listen, I’m pretty good at that. I might not completely understand what you are going through, but I have had my fair share of struggles and a little empathy can go a long way.
6. Make time to do the things you enjoy 😊. Depending on abilities this might look different for everyone, but it is so important. Spend time with the people that mean the world to you. Go dancing. Watch your favorite movie. Watch the birds build their nests (my recent new hobby 😂🐦). Go see the band you love. Whatever it is, it makes a difference in overall happiness and well being.
7. With that being said, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Take care of both.
8. You don’t always have to be right. We can all learn a lot from each other, and sometimes that is admitting that you are wrong and learning from your experiences.
9. You can make plans as much as you want, sometimes things don’t go according to plan and that is ok 👌. Set new goals, make new plans, and do something everyday to get there.