There are certain events in our lives that change us. Events that you can never erase from your memory. Events that make you a different person. I’ll never forget the first time I road a bike without training wheels (I smashed my face in…ouch!), or when I lost my grandparents, or when I walked across the stage to receive my undergraduate degree, or when I moved to another country. These events changed me. They molded me into a different sister, daughter, friend, co-worker, and woman. It was clear to me, that there was something to be learned from these life-altering events.
There is one event in my life, that until now, I struggled to see what the Universe’s purpose was in throwing it my way. I broke my arm. That sounds silly yes, but I really really broke my arm.
“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” -Sigmund Freud
Summiting Denali last June (2014) has been one of my greatest accomplishments thus far. It tested me in every way possible, but the moment I stood on that summit – I was invincible. I could do anything. Nothing could stop me. I should have known better. The following day, my team and I began our descent down the mountain and back home. The clouds moved in for the first time the entire trip and I found myself slowly, moving down the fixed lines. It was taking forever. I took a step – and then I heard it. Bones crushing in my wrist. No longer on my feet, I realized I had fallen, and my hand wasn’t quite facing the way it should. My glove looked weird and I knew I was in trouble. Minutes passed and the pain dissipated as I turned my attention to my friend Larry and the splint we had to make. I went into survival mode where the only thing I could think of was getting down.
Days later I finally made it to a hand specialist. I was convinced I would be tossed in a cast and on my way. Denial – the power of the human mind. The moment I saw the X-rays I didn’t even know what I was looking at. I had severely displaced intraarticular fractures of the distal radius and ulna and a fractured 4th metacarpal in my hand (and a broken foot). I was not getting a cast. I had emergency reconstructive surgery that lasted a total of six hours and unbeknownst to me, wouldn’t be the last. I was left miserable and lost.
It took me a few days to realize that I had lost the ability to do everything that made me happy. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t bathe or dress myself, open anything, get my hair out of my face, climb, run, exercise, ride my bike, play tennis, think, drive, sleep, travel, tie my shoe, I couldn’t use my body…I couldn’t live. I couldn’t do anything. I spent months in the dark, falling further and further away from my dreams and reality. I had fear. Of what? I felt sorry for myself. I was too proud to ask for help. Why me?
How does one crawl out of a hole they find themselves in? What does it take? Family? Friends? A lover? A DREAM. A dream woke me up. Courage woke me up.
“Courage (noun): The realization that something is more important than fear”
Months into recovery I woke up thinking, “Quitter-I thought you were chasing something extraordinary? Something that kept you up at night with excitement?”
The lights turned on and I dared to dream again. This hiccup was not going to stop me.
“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”
I’m finally awake and living. My childhood dream is coming true next March and I’m climbing Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Despite what everyone said/says, I’m back. I’m living. I’m stronger. I’m better. I am not invincible. I’m human. Climbing is the easy part, blogging is the tough part :). Welcome.