If you were to look at me a year ago, you would never have guessed that my life would lead me down the path where I am today. I was an energetic teacher, although I had a rare disease and did a fairly good job hiding it most days. I loved my job; it distracted me from the terrible pain I suffered daily. Then one day it all ended. A tragic accident stole everything from me. I could have a pity party for myself, but instead, I am going to tell you how that one moment gave me the strength I needed to live. When I say live, I mean truly live.
I sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, along with post-concussive syndrome. If that wasn’t bad enough, it damaged my ability to see in my left eye. The symptoms were so bad at times, I thought I was literally dying. I fell into a deep depression, with thoughts of suicide. Life was so bleak and miserable. I could not read or write, two of my deepest passions. Therapy was, and still is, excruciatingly difficult. I have made little progress. There are times when I wonder if I will ever be the same person again. Will I ever return to the profession I love so dearly? I have to use speech to text technology now and it takes me forever to get my thoughts out. It is painful, so painful.
If that wasn’t bad enough, one afternoon, I collapsed in our kitchen. By the time the paramedics arrived, I was barely breathing. It was that close. I started having seizures and was rushed to the hospital. I had grand mal seizures for nine days. One day alone, I had 17. I have no memory of my time in the hospital, but I do know my family was there every single day. I am so grateful for their love and support.
When I was finally released from the hospital, I was a different person. I was quieter, less focused, more confused. The seizures still come, but with medication, I now have absence seizures where I am lost for periods of time. I know it’s difficult and sad for my family.
During one seizure, I saw something and it stuck with me. Some will say it was just an aura. I want to believe it was more than that. I saw these beautiful orbs and then I heard, “Are you living to die or are you dying to live?” When I came to, I felt an astounding sense of peace. What a profound message to hear — think about it. We live our whole lives, but are we truly living? I could be very angry at my circumstances, but what would be the point? Rick Warren once said, “Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”
We have many choices in life. We can either let our wounds tear us to shreds, destroying us forever, or allow them to make us stronger individuals so we can help others who are struggling. Instead of sheltering ourselves away, I believe we should have faith that there is a reason for every single journey we must take. Never give up.