Monday, September 3, 2012

The day that changed my life

Labor Day 2012 will make it (almost) two years since my life changed.

On Labor Day 2010 (Sept 6th) we had wonderful plans to spend the holiday with good friends and their kids.  We had major plans for a tennis match, BBQ, and some swimming.  We were to play our tennis match early to beat the heat and get a jump start on the rest of our festivities.  My husband and I are a competitive couple, and the friends we were playing against are as well.  So as I tied up my laces on my tennis shoes, I was psyching myself up for the game.

Something didn’t quite feel right that day.  We were playing on a court we hadn’t played on before, and something in the air didn’t exactly feel as it should have. I even mentioned to my husband “I don’t have a good feeling about this.”  We warmed up just fine, then started the match.  Two minutes in, and it happened.  A volley over my head that I just couldn’t let go.  Running backwards from my net position proved to be a bad decision.  I ran backwards, jumped, and landed on my tailbone first which threw me back onto the concrete where I hit my head.  Hard.  Our kids were playing on the football field behind the courts, and my son could hear my scream from there.  I never lost consciousness, and thought to myself that it wasn’t that bad.  My friend suggested we head to the emergency room just in case.  So off we went, and endured a four-day hospital stay.

I don’t remember a whole lot from that point on for the next few days.  There are certain things I do remember that have changed my life.

1.  I distinctly remember that the rest of the courts where we were playing were full of other players.  Not one person asked if we needed help.  NOT ONE.  It was obvious we had an emergency, and no one stopped playing.  I promised myself I would never be that oblivious or thoughtless to my fellow man wherever I may be.

2.  While I sat in a wheelchair in the ER waiting area, I remember my son asking me “Does this mean we can’t go swimming?”  I love his innocence and hope it is a long time before he has to go through a situation where he is forced to realize the gravity of a situation that affects him.

3.  The friends we were with took our son with them to BBQ and swim while my husband stood by my side in the ER.  To have friends like this is amazing to me.  The kids continued to have their fun-filled holiday, and they kept my son occupied and distracted from the situation.  I hope to be that phenomenal of a friend one day.

4.  Being told how serious my situation was, and what could happen, I realized how short life is.  I made a promise to myself that I would not take it for granted.

I cannot express fully how this situation made a difference.  Yes, marrying my soul mate and having my first born were incredible moments and life changing as well.  This was on a whole different level.  I would never wish what happened to me on my worst enemy, but it has made me a different and better person.

I think brain injury awareness has a long way to go.  I did not get all the information I needed at the time, and was very confused as to what was happening.  I did a lot of research on my own, and learned so much along the way.  I am proud of where I have come, and where I am still yet to go.  I took a very difficult test for an IT certification just a month later.  Brain injury patients that are recovering have a very difficult time concentrating, learning, and remembering things.  I passed the test with flying colors on the first try.  I played my first season of indoor and outdoor soccer.  I was trying things I had never tried before, and I knew I couldn’t stop there.

So here we are, pregnant, and anxiously awaiting our daughter in the next couple of months.  After many visits to specialists to get clearance, and the long road of recovery, I am ready.  Bring on the next challenge.  Because I know I am strong enough to survive it. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Janet Fragle works in customer engagement for innovative technology solutions at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and is pregnant with her second child. 

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