Exactly one year ago today, my life changed when I was hit by a van while riding my bike. I went from being completely carefree and in control of my life to having everything taken from underneath me. I’ve had to deal with three operations, infections, memory loss, ongoing joint problems, eye issues and more paperwork than I know what to do with.
I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, but at the time I struggled to see what good could have possibly come out of my accident. I spent a lot of time asking myself what I had done to deserve to suffer such a horrible accident. Now, one year later, I can say that it has made me a much stronger person. Small things don’t upset me and I am not afraid of pain anymore – if I can survive getting hit by a van, other things seem so unimportant. On an emotional level, I feel much more confident putting myself out there and even doing things like public speaking.
Most importantly, I discovered strongman training. It’s not to say that I wouldn’t have started training this way eventually, but I was certainly more motivated to try it having been through a serious accident. There’s something about being told you can’t do something that makes you automatically want to go out there and defy it. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to lift weights ever again, yet I competed in two strongman competitions – with many more planned for the future! (For those curious, this is how I can lift safely with my eye condition.)
Here is a scary before and after picture I shared on Instagram yesterday. I’ve never shared a picture of my face immediately after the accident before – didn’t want to scare the children!
I love having this blog sometimes because I can go back and read exactly how I was feeling at times when I thought my world was ending. It’s frightening how upset I was when I wrote these posts: from the accident itself, to thinking I would never lift again, to losing my cat on the same day as my operation (that post makes me bawl every time), to the horrible operation itself, to dealing with binge eating and finally to getting an infection nine days before my competition.
After you have an accident like this, your perspective changes. Suddenly my concern shifted from looking good in a bikini to building an even stronger frame in case something like this ever happens again. When you are weakened, you want to see how far you can strengthen yourself. When you lose control, you want to do everything in your power to regain it. It’s amazing how many powerlifters and strong(wo)men have overcome their own adversities – it seems that competing in strength sports is a natural way to retaliate against the bad hand the universe sometimes deals us.
A couple of weeks ago I had a check-up related to the fractures and concussion, and I will have a final check up on my eye next week. It appears that I will never regain full feeling in the left side of my face (I’d say I’m at about 80 per cent right now), I’m at a high risk of epilepsy for the next five years, I’m developing early arthritis in my left knee and I may have mild brain damage – but I will wait until I have a formal diagnosis before I start freaking out. I have been struggling with concentration, short term memory and mixing up my words, so I’m going to have some tests done.
This is my knee after the exercise – I still have a scar on the top:
The important thing is that I am alive and still able to do what I love. This accident will be something I carry with me every day for the rest of my life. At times I feel frustrated and upset that it happened to me, but most of the time I feel proud of what I have overcome. Whenever I’m feeling sad, I read those old posts and remind myself of how far I’ve already come.
Don’t let anyone else tell you what you can and cannot do. The easy way out would have been to give up. I wallowed in self pity for a few weeks before I pulled myself together and searched for a solution. I found a way to resume lifting which challenged me while also keeping me safe. I will never do anything stupid to risk my health (i.e. powerlifting) but I refuse to play the victim.
Don’t wait for tomorrow to do what you can today. You never know when your life could change or an opportunity will get taken from you. If you want something, don’t let anyone stand in your way. Remember that no matter how tough things may seem, there is always someone out there going through something worse. Being strong involves more than barbells.
Because I can’t say it enough, thank you all for supporting me during one of the toughest times in my life.