Nonfiction

Back on Course

30 November 2013

I had never seen so many machines in the one place at one time. They were all connected to me. A sea of coloured scrubs surrounded me and everybody was smiling. They said I had been in a car accident and it was Thursday. My family were outside.

You want to know the first thing I said when I woke?

“Thank God it’s only Thursday, I won’t have missed Groovin’ the Moo.”

Undeniably my priorities were in check.

I feel I can be forgiven, for a severe head trauma rendered me incomprehensible, delirious and utterly clueless of the situation in which I found myself.

It turns out I did miss Groovin’ the Moo. I had been in a coma for eight days and the festival had been the weekend past. It’s a weird feeling having no recollection of a week in your life.

This year was supposed to be the year of Adele. It was my turn to graduate and I had finally found some sense of direction after four years of an Arts degree. The ‘I LOVE UNI’ stage was upon me and I was actually enjoying my studies. The next step into professional awesomeness was a mere six months away.

Perhaps I got a little carried away with my perceived ability to find a job in journalism immediately after university. I was going to be the success story of my class. I had already preplanned the column topics I would write. I even went past shops, thinking, “Oooh that’s SO work chic!” before buying ludicrous amounts of patterned blouses.

I was so focused on the end goal that I forfeited the life that happened in between. Metre-long to-do lists were permanent fixtures in my tattered diary and the walls of my bedroom were covered with planners. I never had a spare second to sit back and do nothing, but I knew precisely where my life was going at twenty-one years of age.

Then I woke up at the Alfred.

Seven broken ribs were the least of my worries.

I was rushed to the operating room for surgery upon admission to stem massive blood loss and to save my life.

The brain surgery aimed to reduce the extreme pressure from the brain after lesions and bleeding as a result of a serious head trauma.

Two protruding rods were then inserted into my shattered pelvis to ensure correct bone reformation and to enable mobility.

If I were to describe my multitude of injuries I would definitely surpass my word limit.

I don’t have much recollection of the place that saved my life, but I know the ICU and its incredible staff will be forever etched in my family’s minds.

What followed the ICU was a fourteen-week stint at a rehabilitation hospital.

For three months, I was bed bound and completely reliant on others. At the end of July, I took my first aided steps. I’ve tried to fit together all the pieces to the puzzle. Why me? What even happened that night? I’ve grown to accept that my questions will never be answered.

In some ways, drivers and smokers are the same. When you say to a smoker, “Smoking gives you cancer,” they usually say two things. “You have to die from something,” and/or, “It’ll never happen to me.” If cancer does strike, the world comes crashing down.

When drivers see those gut-wrenching TAC advertisements, it’s impossible to ever imagine yourself in that position. “I’m a good driver!” We’ve all said it.

Accidents do happen. Every morning, I wake up grateful that I didn’t become another statistic. I was lucky.

Without realising, you can live life in a bubble. Things will continue smoothly without any distractions. For others, that bubble is hastily burst when it is least expected and usually at the worst possible moment.

I have taken my burst bubble of naivety in my stride. Some analyse the situation over and over, craving an answer. I, on the other hand, have accepted this part of my life and moved on.

Four months spent in a hospital bed over a lifetime is minuscule and my entire life awaits. Away from my sunny disposition, there are definitely bad days and believe you me I’ve had my fair share of them.

I don’t go around fishing for sympathy or feeling sorry for myself because you can’t relive the past. A state of depression doesn’t help. I may not always ask for help when I should and I always insist I’m fine even when I’m not, to avoid a fuss, but the facade of my usual smiling self doesn’t always mean “I’m fine.”

It takes a lot for me to ask for help. It also takes a long time to process a serious trauma.

The scars will forever be a reminder of what I have endured, but it certainly will not define me. The journey may be long and at times extremely frustrating, but the finishing line is in sight. It will just take time. Unfortunately the impatience of youth is ever present.

I still have that same goal of entering journalism and being a successful hot-shot reporter. And with said success, of course, means being invited back to my old high school as a successful alumni motivational speaker–right?

Before that happens, I’ll be back in March to finish my degree. And if you are really lucky, I’ll be gracing a few pages of Farrago ’14.

Aside from that, I now want some excitement before the chase begins. I’m actually going to do those things that I always planned to, but forever postponed them for various trivial reasons. Bucket List Item #14 for example: Go fishing and catch a snapper. (Don’t even ask, I have no idea what propelled me to write that either.)

It has been just under six months since the accident. I’m out of hospital, but I’ll be in therapy until Christmas and will have a physiotherapy program until at least March. With that being said, writing this article has been a form of therapy. It has showed me that the hard yards are now done, physically and cognitively. I will be back to PAA (Pre-Accident Adele) in no time.

It is about the journey after all, not the final destination. Although I may end up writing myself the same story I originally planned eventually, I’ll be sure to add in a few chapters along the way.

What supposedly was my year; full of excitement and drive has veered a little off course (excuse the pun). However, I’m confident it will conclude the way I intended.

With this new lease on life, while sporting one of my numerous trendy blouses, the future definitely seems beautiful to me.

Maybe it was my year after all.


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