On Thanksgiving Day 2017 my life was changed forever. I was in an ATV accident that severed my foot from my leg. I was airlifted to Memphis where I underwent six surgeries to save my leg from amputation. While there, I suffered a potentially life-threatening infection called clostridium difficile, or C. diff. In an attempt to ease the unbearable pain, an extreme amount of pain medicine was pumped into my veins which resulted in me getting ICU Delirium. I was seeing and hearing things that were not there but they were very real to me. This caused me to feel frightened, lonely and ashamed. During my longest surgery which lasted 17 hours I experienced a condition called anesthesia awareness (waking up) during surgery. I recall surroundings and events that took place during surgery while being completely helpless under anesthesia. As a result fear completely took over my life and I lost all self-confidence and belief in not only myself, but in the world around me. I decided if I ever made it out of the hospital I would never leave my house again. The world was a scary place.
Then something magical happened… I received an overwhelming outpouring of support. I received love, support and encouragement from family, friends and complete strangers from all over the world. The generosity of people blew me away and for each day that went by I knew it would be hard to fail or give up or feel hopelessness when so many people supported and believed in me. Because of my diverse background I know I had a unique experience that many accident victims may not be fortunate enough to experience. I have a large circle of people due to my work as a banker, fitness competitor and from having lived in so many different places. There are many people out there who may not have the support system I found out that I had.
As the support continued to pour in I realized that what my dad had always tried to tell me was key to life was true: our goal should be to leave this world knowing we aimed to contribute something to make the world a better place. Emerson said: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."
Right then and there I decided I have a duty to repay all those who showed me that the world indeed is not a scary place, but rather a place full of love and caring. I am determined to create something positive out of the painful times in my life and to help others the way they helped me during my time of hardship and pain.