Monday, June 10, 2013

One Year Ago

365 days. 52 weeks. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, and sometimes it seems like ages ago. One year ago today, I was on the road to Omaha with my sister-in-law and husband in tow, excited to be participating in my first mud run ever. Dressed in an old Iowa Hawkeye t-shirt, the shoes that were covered in paint from the big spilled paint debacle in Walmart a few years back, and capris to take away the sting from crawling on our knees in the dirt. Our van seats were covered in towels and our bags were packed with new clothes so that maybe we could hit up an Applebee's on the way home that night.

It was an incredibly windy day. The wind blew mounds of dust  across the open field we were entering. We grabbed our sun glasses and left our phones and our purses/wallets, shut the door and entered the gates, welcomed with live music and the smell of drumsticks and beer. Waves of runners were crossing the finish line, covered in mud, jumping over fire, and laughing like it was the best time of their lives. I was getting excited and uber nervous. This was only my second race ever, and it was 95 degrees. Our wave alone had to have had at least 200 runners.

We waited for the horn to blow and took off. Our only goal was not to stop, but that quickly became an obsolete goal as we realized that there were lines of people waiting to enter each obstacle. Most of them were a little challenging, but there were always volunteers helping out. I never felt like I was in danger. Plus, my husband and Amy were right by me. This would be a piece of cake.

We had gotten about two miles in when we had to walk through a muddy pond about chest deep. It was refreshing as the sun was beating down on my black clothes. I welcomed any opportunity to cool off, as the water stations were few and far between. The first obstacle following the water was one that required quite a bit of body strength. Looking at one another with a little smirk, Amy and I carefully walked around it, knowing that neither one of us would be able to make it up and around. We waited for Dan and continued to run while photographers snapped pictures as we rounded the bend. I remember grabbing a quick drink and heading over to the next obstacle.

The next challenge was to climb up a rock climbing wall and slide down a firepole. Simple enough, right? I really didn't want to skip this one as I knew that we had skipped the last one, but my gut was telling me that I shouldn't be on here. This was a bad idea. I spent five minutes allowing everyone to go in front of me as I contemplated how I could get off this obstacle without actually going down this pole. Dan finally said, "There's no other way down. You're a firefighter's wife. You can do this." And just like that I slid down the pole, eyes closed, landing at the bottom with the loudest snap I've ever heard in my life.

The moments that followed weren't entirely clear to me. I remember Dan and Amy rushing over, Dan holding my foot onto my leg and Amy cradling my head. I remember them calling for medics and an ambulance. I was certain it was broken, but I was in shock, and all I could do was sit and shake. I remember runners making eye contact with me on top of the platform, too scared to go down the pole after looking down at my ankle. Two of them also landed at the bottom with a giant thud, although I believe they headed off alright. My eyes made contact with a ladder off the side of the obstacle as I clinched my teeth. If only I had looked harder.

 I was told it was about 30 minutes before they found someone who could put a splint on my ankle and get me on the gator. Amy and Dan ran behind us, and met us at the ambulance. Dan knew the likelihood that Amy would be able to make it to the hospital with our van was a long shot, so she sat next to the driver and came along with me. The ride was excruciating. I don't remember the ride there being so bumpy, but I certainly felt every one of them on the twenty minute ride to the hospital in Papillion. I remember asking if I would still be able to go to Mexico, to which they replied, "Oh I think so. You'll be better in no time."

I held onto that belief as long as I could. I was just embarking on the beginning of my first summer at home where I didn't have to earn a paycheck. We had plans for pool dates, a trip to Cancun, ball games and picnics in the park. When I was wheeled into the emergency room, the first thing the ER nurse said to us was, "Let me guess, fire pole?" Um....what?! Apparently I was the 5th broken ankle in addition to a blown out knee, on that obstacle alone, and the day was only half over. A doctor came in and told me what I ankle was crushed. I had to have surgery, and Cancun was not an option. Devastation.

I could go on and on about the details about surgery and post ops and all of that jazz, but quite honestly reliving that would be hell. It was such a roller coaster ride of a summer. Towards the end of the summer, I began to ask myself why God was putting me through this. I wanted to know what lessons He had in store for me. I still don't know exactly what I was supposed to take away from it, but I do know that I restored my faith in humanity because of it. There were so many amazing people from church, school and Hospers that brought us meals, enough to get us through September. That's amazing! I had so many wonderful friends and family who offered to car pool kids to ball games and came to help clean the house or take my kids so I could rest. My mom and sister (in law) sacrificed a large chunk of their summer to sit next to me on the couch while I cried and wallowed in self-pity, did my laundry, took my kids to the pool, took ME to the pool, cooked us lunch, and helped me bathe (gross but true).

I learned that surgery is a big deal. It takes away a lot of your independence. I'm a lot less apt to overlook that part of the announcements in the church bulletin or when I see someone having surgery on facebook. Now, I try to bring meals or offer a hand when it's needed. It taught me that community is powerful, and that we all belong to each other. While it's not how I envisioned spending my summer, it's definitely propelled me into this summer with more motivation than ever to live my one wild and precious life to it's fullest. I'm so very blessed.

August and September brought about a lot of frustration and tested my patience. The timeline was never mine, but God's. I worked my tail off at physical therapy to get back to zumba by November. It was such a glorious reunion to be back on that floor. I've learned how to stay in tune with my body and to know my limitations, but also to work hard at overcoming them. I never thought I would have to relearn how to walk all over again. It was a humbling experience.

Above all, I've learned that I'm strong. I can do hard things. With perseverance and faith and a whole lotta help, I'm on the other side. 365 days later. I'm running, doing zumba, participating in all of the activities I was before my accident, and the only signs that show where I've been are my physical scars and a little bit of pain and stiffness when it gets cold. There's no more taking life for granted. No more putting off life to a later date.

Today I will celebrate by heading to the pool and jumping into the water with my kids, having a picnic in the park, going for a run in the morning with my sister, and watching my kids play ball. Saturday, I will run the Color Vibe to symbolize getting back up and trying again. We are sucking the marrow out of life baby. Every.Little.Ounce.

~Enjoying the small things today.

If you'd like to see how I dealt with this last summer, check out these posts from last year:

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