This I Believe

James - Tampa, Florida
Entered on April 17, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

It took almost two years to realize that I was never going to be the same person I was before. Considering what I had been through, it was easy to accept. Following a very bad auto accident, I spent two months in the hospital and four months in physical therapy. After first regaining my senses enough to know who and where I was, I was overjoyed at even being alive, and it was very nice to be able to recognize all of my friends and family and to say hello to them. Once I received the update on my situation, a sense of reality began to set in. This was not going to be a short visit. During my first days of therapy, it was very humbling to be asked to pick up a bunch of pennies off of a table, and to not be able to do it. Not being able to brush my teeth or snap my fingers was also pretty significant at that time, but to be cognitive of those things was worth more than all of the lost actions combined. After realizing how much all of the truly small things I couldn’t do mattered to me, my whole outlook changed and I was going to fight this with all of my energy and will.

My therapy is likely where the process of acceptance began to grow, although I had no idea at the time. The physical recovery is easy to observe by those around you since they can watch you perform the basic daily tasks again. The part not seen is the time spent sharing your pain and mental anguish with others doing the same thing. There was no one whining and complaining about meaningless daily issues, just people struggling to get back to the life they remember. Towards the end of my therapy, after a miraculous improvement, I began to see people that were never going to recover as fully as I did rejoicing over their progress, and I decided I would never disrespect them by griping about my sore knee or the pain in my shoulder.

When I was a child, I was often told that everything happens for a reason, and I believe my reason was to understand the kind of person I really am and to use that to accept and appreciate what I still have. I don’t think I can ever be thankful enough for my miracle, and although I did not reach the “same as before” recovery mark , who I am is good enough and in many ways even better. I am still sometimes surprised by my actions, both physically and mentally, and it is a very good thing. You cannot turn back the hands of time and live your life over again, so you have to try to fully enjoy every day. Instead of worrying about things you can’t do, be truly grateful for all of the those things you can do.