Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making peace

Today is the six month anniversary of my car crash.

I made it.

For many now it's old news. Joanna was in a car crash, yeah I knew that, but she's alright now.

I suppose physically I am "alright" now. I still have some pain.

Running has been phenomenal for my ankle. I'm pretty sure I'd still be limping and walking slow if I hadn't been so determined to start running again. That's something I'm glad I did and I'm proud of myself for it too. Physical exertion was always something I avoided up until a year ago, so to come back from a broken ankle and get back into running is a big deal for me. Running after a broken ankle is a big deal for anyone, but for me it's a serious personal triumph. Go me!

My chin is still numb, but not as bad as it was. I have some sensation and that gives me hope that my nerve wasn't permanently damaged. In all honesty I'm kind of glad that I was numb. I know for certain that helped shield me from a lot of the pain I would have felt otherwise. Small blessings.

Something I haven't talked about on here is how badly my nose and sinus cavity were injured. It's not something I knew right away. My family shielded me slightly from how severe my injuries were. Rightly so. It took me a week to look at myself in the mirror and they waited until after that to tell me just how bad it was. If they'd told me from the beginning I don't know when I would have been able to face myself again. Once I did look things weren't as bad as I'd feared. I was very swollen of course, but another small blessing is that my injuries were mostly internal. I came out of it with only one facial scar that is quite long, but mostly hidden under my chin.

About my nose and sinus cavity. The surgeon told my family that my nose wasn't just broken, but it was no longer attached to my skull. Likewise, my right sinus cavity suffered the same fate and was also torn away from my skull. Miraculously, these two injuries have caused me the least amount of pain. Only really bothering me when I touched them. The same holds true now, six months later. Occasionally my sinus will hurt, like my ankle, with a change in the weather and it's aggravated if I smile and talk a lot. But for the most part they both seem to have reclaimed their rightful place and are happily reattached.

My teeth are straight again! I can't honestly say they are back to their original glory, but they are straight and that is a huge relief to me. The braces are supposed to come off next week, but I'm a little concerned that they won't remove them when I go in for my appointment. There is a space that wasn't there last time they adjusted the wire and I'm pretty sure it needs to close and won't do it on it's own. Really, it's not a problem if I have to wear them a bit longer. I've only had to suffer for six months. Just a drop in the bucket for most braces wearers.

Of course I lost a tooth and have to have that replaced and I may lose another, but I feel like I've gotten over the biggest hurdle with my orthodontia.

My bite is finally back! During this whole long process my molars have not been touching until recently. Once I was able to start eating real food again I had to teach myself a new way of chewing. My tongue came in really handy since my molars couldn't do their job right. Now that they're touching again it's like another chewing lesson every day. But I ate a salad for the first time since the accident this week! Trying to chew greens is an impossibility if your molars can't break them down, so salad was out for a long time. I really missed salad.

When I look in the mirror now I see me again. There is still swelling, but only the kind that I can see and those very close to me that know the contours of my face like I do. My nose always had a little bump halfway down the bridge, but now it's visible whereas before I could only feel it. Like I said, my scar is mostly under my chin and the tiny bit that curves up towards my mouth is nearly invisible. That mederma, it's miracle serum!

So while my physical ailments are slowly fading into the background I've had more and more time to work on the emotional trauma. As with any healing process there are good days and bad days. I'm happy to say that I haven't had a flashback of the accident in over a month. I'm not really sure what I did to make them stop, but they have, for now anyway.

There are a lot of questions I've asked myself. Also I often find myself doing something very mundane and wondering what would be happening right now if the accident had never happened. What would life be like? Something I wondered a lot while I was stuck on the sofa was why it happened to me. Since I've been on my feet again and been able to live life I wonder, "Why not me?"

I don't wonder anymore why it happened, but why it happened the way it did.

In the past six months I've heard stories of other accidents. Of people who didn't make it out alive. And I find myself questioning why those people died and I didn't. In the past month there have been two young men, in two seperate accidents that both passed away. They both had families and lives and futures. So why them and not me?

My mother is going to read that last paragraph and tell me I need counseling and that I shouldn't feel like my life wasn't worth saving. To which I will reply that perhaps I do need counseling, but I'm not wishing I had died.

There is no end to the gratitude that I feel for surviving. At odd moments it overwhelmes me and takes my breath. I know all too well how things could have turned out. The accident could have happened differently or I could have had irreparable internal injuries. It's hard to face your own mortality at 27, and to begin with I flat out refused to. It's taken me a long time to admit to myself that I almost died and it's something I'm still not able to say outloud. If someone else says it I usually do my best to minimize things or sweep the statement under the rug. But it's time to be honest with myself.

So this is where I am six months later. I nearly lost my whole life and miraculously God decided to give it back. It's a wonderful and terrifying feeling to know that. I can't explain why those other people weren't given the same opportunity, and that's something I struggle with. But I know for certain that I wouldn't still be here if there wasn't something left for me to do or be. I'm not sure what it is, but the amazing thing is that I'm still here to figure it out. Even if it's nothing more than being the best daughter, grandaughter, sister, wife, aunt, friend (and someday mother) that I can be. That is totally worth living for.

My accident was eleven days after my 27th birthday.

My life was my gift.

What a spectacular gift.


  1. This post brings tears to my eyes. Ever since your accident I have read your words with the feeling that you were taking them right out of my mouth.

    As I've said before our life circumstance for the last six months have been totally different yet as I read your thoughts the emotions are very similar on some levels.

    Losing Megan Grace has made me examine my own mortality too. It is a scary feeling for someone who turns 27 next week.

    You posted this just as I was thinking about it this morning.

    We are all so glad to have you here still and on your way to recovery. Go to counseling if you need to I do not think anyone would fault you but no matter what we are all here to support you.

    Big hugs!

  2. Joanna,

    I don't understand why you had the accident. Maybe to help others along the way. Or just to make me realize how special and honored I'am to be your Mother. Nothing happens without a purpose or reason. Although a lot takes me by surprise and takes my breath away with it. But nothing takes God by surprise. How God has blessed me with you and the wonderful and mature lady that you have become. Brings Him glory and honor. And that is what life is all about. Worshping Him and Glorifing Him. You have always been special not only to me but a great number of others. And you will continue to be.

    Thank you for being such a blessing and for loving me.

    You might need therapy or counseling, but I think you would be a good counselor or therpist.

    It funny being your mother and wishing I had been like you as a young woman. You amaze me and you are my little hero.

    Love you bunches,

    P.S. I'm sure thankful that God chose to keep you here.