Five Years

I can't believe it's been five years.

I can still hear the screech of tires as if it were happening right this moment.

I can still hear the horrible sound of metal on metal – crunching, scraping, and collapsing.

I still see his eyes, vividly, as they made contact with mine in the milli-second before his car sent mine spinning …

And spinning,

And spinning.

Objects inside the car were flying around me.

The thought, "This can't be happening," came to me at the same time as "this" most definitely was happening.

Eventually the spinning stopped, the sounds of screaming metal stopped …

There was quiet,

And chaos,

Both at the same time.

People appeared and disappeared in a confusing haze. 

"I shouldn't be in the middle of the street," I thought.

I was worried about being hit by a car,

Ironic, really - 

After all, I had just been hit by a car.

I remember muttering, "I'm okay," to the officer.

He answered, "No, you're not okay.  You're in shock right now.  You only think you're okay."

Stubborn, even in my pain and confusion,

I whispered, "I think I'm okay."

Five years.

Eight surgeries.

(Two of them just this last year.)

Thousands upon thousands of hours of torturous physical therapy.

Pain, surgery, pain, surgery –

Rinse and repeat, over and over, and over again.

I haven't always believed I'd make it through this.

There were days, months, years when there was just pain and my desperate fight against it.  There have been so many days of concentrating on breathing.  

One breath at a time,

Focus,

Focus,

Breathe.

There were days I gave up,

Days when I said, "I can't do this."

Let's be honest,

There still are.

Friends disappeared, family members were (and sometimes still are) less than supportive.

When you're the only one experiencing something truly horrible,

There is such a sense of being alone.

Which is worse?

The never-ending, teeth-clenching, pain?

Or the aloneness of dealing with it?

In addition, I suddenly had a disability.

What the hell?

I'm not supposed to be disabled.

Disability and denial – they seem to go hand in hand.

I'm damned good at denial.

But somewhere along the line I stopped saying, "When my arm is working again."

Somewhere along the line, 

I began saying,

"One of my arms doesn't work and I was wondering if you could help me?"

This year there was more metal.

Metal, and wires, and electrodes, and computers,

Expertly, skillfully, placed inside my body.

My body became an example of modern medical science.

There's still constant pain.

There are still days when the pain is so intense I say, "I can't do this."

But much more of the time now, the pain is manageable.

I've been told I'll never regain use of my arm.

I've been told I'll live with pain for the remainder of my life.

But, increasingly often,

I hear myself saying,

"Only one of my arms works,

I bet I can find a way to do this anyway."

I can't believe its been five years.

I think I'm okay.

© Twenty Four At Heart 

20 Responses to “Five Years”

  1. Michelle

    Having followed your story for the last couple of years, I have seen the change in your outlook. Your acceptance of what is, but also your determination to do what you can. To adapt what you want to do, so that you are able. Photography comes to mind.
    You are an amazing woman, with an amazing story, and a more amazing journey to come.
    I look forward to hearing more of your story. And also pray that the days you “can’t do this” are fewer and further apart.

  2. LindaSalem

    You’re still on Hawaii, right? Away from the visuals of these memories?
    I’ve only been reading your blog for a little over a month and I have enjoyed reading it and seeing your awesome photography. When I get a chance, I go back and read.
    You’ve helped me so much with my own chronic pain issues. There have been days during this last month when I’m doing a ten and I can’t breath that I remember your courage. “If she can do it, so can I.” I keep breathing and praying. Eventually some relief comes. Thank you again and I’m sure you hear from many like me.
    I know what you mean about family sometimes being way less than supportive. I’ve missed many family functions because riding long distances in the car is difficult. They think I’m just making excuses. Sigh. I’ve spilled so many tears because I wanted so much to go but I hurt too bad. Their disdain and disbelief hurts more.
    Hang in there, girl. You are definitely loved.

  3. Stephen

    Suzanne, you are one of my heroes. Following your journey, and knowing the pain you endure yet live the full life you do, inspires me. I’m so proud of you! Is heroess a word? 🙂

  4. karen

    A difficult road, for sure, but you are surviving and thriving… you go girl.

  5. Di

    You are still in this world and therein lies the importance of this day. We’re all glad you’re here. 🙂

  6. tonya cinnamon

    and this is why you never give up. your photos are amazing and working through the pain shows the raw beauty. pain such a simple word but such a raw unfiltered hell.
    many hugs to you , you are strong whether you admit it or not. you push forward and you keep going. you do not give up.
    your photos keep me inspired. and you make me push on. I only have so much use in my right hand and its a struggle daily to do photo shoots and design work when its been 8 months since the guy ran the red light and I t-boned him. But you inspire me lovely 🙂
    hugs!

  7. Jan

    You know I love you.
    The hugs and chocolate souffle will be there when we finally meet face to face.

  8. Linda P

    You’ve come a long way Baby:) and you’ve got one working arm. You’re ok. Hugs and Hearts and Laughs! Linda

  9. Jack @ TheJackB

    You are a lot stronger than many. Many more good things are coming down the road- the pictures have really been great lately.

  10. Mrs4444

    Congratulations on surviving what could be much worse.I’m glad you’re doing well. Here’s to a pain-free day 🙂

  11. Sandra

    You’re awesome. I admire you for soo many reasons. I imagine how difficult your life gets but I can’t scratch the surface of reality.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m a better person for knowing *you*.

  12. Michele P

    I thought of you, 24, a few weeks ago. My 15 year old son was riding home after a 60 mile team road bike ride. He crested a hill and watched one minivan t-bone another at full speed. He watched as the victim’s car flipped in the air and landed on its roof. He ditched his bike and helped the parents pull their 5 frightened (but amazingly unhurt) young children from the rear of the car because the doors and windows were smashed shut. He was the only witness to this horrible accident and I told him about you and your five years of pain. Hang in there and know how many supporters and believers you have out here!

  13. Pam

    Wow, what a journey you’ve been on. Thanks for sharing your story.
    Take care,
    Pam

  14. Shannon

    You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing yourself with us/your readers.

  15. steph

    You can do it. You are doing it. You are pretty amazing.

  16. Jason

    I suddenly remembered when I was hit with a PUV. I was 5 years old that time and like what happened to you,I thought i am okay.But when I tried to stand on my feet that’s the time I knew i have wounds.I didn’t cry i am in shock…but thank God he did not allowed fear or phobia to stay in my heart or mind..my prayers..

  17. Kristen

    I’ve been trying to write something encouraging for this post since you put it up, but nothing that comes out seems to convey how incredible I think you are. I don’t have a way with words like you do, and nothing sounds right when I type it out. But I want you to know that I take a piece of every post with me. You are inspiring!

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