This is quite a longer version of my post on Facebook, in which I felt compelled to tell my loved ones of my current situation not only because it would offer a sense of relief but also because I need to debunk myths that I must live with drastically transformed features after the accident.
To be perfectly honest, I was at loss for words when I decided to post about having survived a vehicular accident on the dawn of December 31, and to inform my family and friends I’m the same emotional, slightly short, fully functioning person they have known.
Maybe this mix of overwhelming feelings and lack of articulation is brought by such an unexpected ending to 2015—a year I’ve typically described as “comfortable and happy yet quite nondescript”—in the form of being thrown from a speeding pickup truck at the bridge during our XUHS 2010 reunion.
As I mentioned on Twitter, I felt carrying a huge backlog when going online for the first time in 2016 mainly because too much screen time tricked me into thinking the world was spinning. (Without an earthquake. So it was all in my head, literally and figuratively!) After more than a week of admission in the hospital, I avoided the Internet on purpose because too much computer exposure strained my eyes and made standing and sitting upright more challenging.
The mild contusions and “minimal post-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage” do not only pause me from engaging in usual exercises (e.g. cycling, jumping using a rope) but also increase my dizziness after sudden head and neck movements. In other words, the second or middle membrane before my brain bled.
Since January 7, I’ve been recuperating at home and I had attended physical therapy sessions so I can completely regain my balance and limbs use. My left eyeball has had a hematoma and will return to normal in two to three weeks; my right clavicle has been fractured, too, that’s why immediately moving my right arm could be painful for a month.
I’ve been seeing several doctors so over-analyzing won’t get the best of me and I can confirm mistakes and corrections in parts such as the skin, eyes, brain, and ears.
Although lying the entire day is tempting and matches a pitiful mood, I tried using my upper and lower extremities—those, along with my face, suffered confluent abrasions—every day through simple activities like walking and stretching so they won’t turn “frozen.” I’m glad the attending neurologist forced me to sit and stand at the hospital even if my mood turned sour toward anyone who interrupted my sleeping time; apparently, a long inactive time could make sitting and standing by myself a difficult task.
My recovery time is challenging yet I can’t imagine the amount of stress carried by my parents. (Frankly, I can’t say it was another kind of stress because I was unconscious 95% of the time at the hospital. My memory was hazy and I can’t vividly recall all the people who visited.) I’m unsure whether thinking of a worst-case scenario to their child is a late test to their experience in the hospital or a match to a parent’s job description. I’m certain, however, that my parents are expressive in thanking the heavens at random times and that asking them for out-of-town trips and typical social activities will be more challenging during this accident-is-still-fresh month. I don’t even know when the said incident will finally be a chapter of the past for them.
Best year yet
My first thought upon waking up conscious is far from magical but real, “OMG. This is my second life!”
While recovering, I learned the said accident could’ve had a wide range of consequences such as being brain-dead, quadriplegic, physically handicapped, subject to different surgeries; having wreaked teeth and slow-healing wounds. These possibilities could be the reason the doctors were quite surprised to see I’m almost back to and could describe myself as normal.
Ultimately, I’m grateful to people who have wished me well, visited me at the hospital, and connected with me online and in person. I usually took my everyday routine for granted yet after the accident, I can’t contain my gratitude that my physical, mental, and emotional aspects are functioning well; I expected my emotions to go turmoil and my memory to be affected.
My expectations in welcoming the new year were far from reality but I’m still thrilled for 2016 because it brings brimming possibilities. As my cheerleader self says, “It’ll make your autobiography more colorful!” and “You believe you can and you will.”
In relation to this year: One of my key questions in deciding to become a medical doctor is, “What would I do if I only have a decade to live?” This point for reflection couldn’t be more apt and thought-provoking as I first became conscious in the reality of spending the first part of the year at the hospital. This decision remains after being unresponsive and stupor for days.
This choice is full of uncertainty, excitement, and purpose, and, along with setting goals and a theme for the year, is a primary reason I look forward to 2016.
In hindsight, being alive and living top the list of reasons I’m thankful.