“If I keep the truth to myself, how will others know my story?” “If people don’t know my story, how can they benefit from it, if they are going through something similar?” The questions go round and round in my injured brain. Although my published Summer Ray book series, which is a partial story of my life and a soon to be full feature film series are in the making, my story still needs to be told in the here and now. It is almost selfish not to tell it. More often than not it is my pride that prevents me from reaching out. But, if this blog can encourage just one person in their own struggles, than it is truly worth the possible embarrassing facts about myself.
Although I figure skated when I was younger, much younger, as I grew up life took me to motherhood, not necessarily marriage as I was divorced three times. When I got hurt, I was just being a mom. I was reading a bedtime story to my then, 18 month old toddler son, when a closet door came crashing down on my face. Thankfully by the grace of God it missed my son. Who by the way is a missionary in Russia, all grown up with a beautiful family of his own. So, how does one get angry, when God spared the life of my child and allowed me to get injured instead? Yet, back when I got hurt, the doctors had no idea about Traumatic Brain Injury and just sent me on my way with lots and lots of narcotic pain medication. No one could tell me what was wrong with me and why all of the sudden I would just stop and fall into a stare seizure; or why when I was driving somewhere I would not know where I was going; or why when I would try to cook something I would always forget there was food on the stove and almost burn the house down; or why when I used to be able to shop in department stores, I would run out crying; or why I no longer could feel my entire left side, my feet or my hands; or why I had headaches so bad I wanted to kill myself; or why I could no longer talk on the phone; or why my verbal ability was greatly reduced; or why I would have to crawl on the floor because I could barely stand upright; or why I could no longer remember my past. I felt like a burden to my family and because I was medically dependent on narcotic pain medication – a full blown drug addict, I decided I needed to leave planet earth because I was no good to anyone.
Although my memories are few and far between, I will never forget the day in my 3rd floor apartment that I decided to end my life. It was 17 years ago. I had my right leg over the top railing of my balcony and as I began to lift myself over the rest of the balcony – to fall head first into the ground, the phone rang. My only thought was, “What if it were one of my kids and they needed me?” It was irrational thinking they didn’t need me and then thinking they did. So I climbed back down off the balcony and ran to answer the phone. My friend on the other end of the line screamed, “What ever it is you are about to do, God told me to tell you it will get better.” She kept screaming, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it!” Within 5 minutes she was at my front door. Looking back on it all now, it terrifies me at how close I came to not being here. I have God to thank and the love of a good friend who cared enough to make that call.
So, did it get better? Not at first. I was still injured. I was still living on narcotic pain medication. I still had the same disabilities. My neck was so full of arthritis it felt like I was being hit with a hammer on a continual basis, in spite of the pain medication. I found out from a Chiropractor that my neck was almost snapped completely when I got hit by the door. I was 1/4 of an inch from death. Those realities did not help the battles I was still having in my mind. But, I could only continue to thank God that I was finally in recovery. I spent almost three years in chiropractic therapy and God healed parts of my neck that medicine and doctors could not. But there was still the addiction; the severe headaches and all of the other issues I was facing. I could not continue on with the addiction. But, I also could not suffer a life of anguish due to pain.
My son (the one who I was reading a bedtime story to when I got hurt), wanted to have his 9th birthday party at the local ice rink. Though I skated, like I said when I was younger, I hadn’t been on ice skates in years. The very first thing I noticed when I got out on the ice was that due to the cold temperature, I could not feel pain. That party was 16 years ago and I have not stopped skating since. My first few years at the ice rink, I found myself flat on the ice, instead of skating on top of it. Since I could not feel my feet, I could not feel my skates. Without feeling in my left leg, I would constantly (and I mean constantly) hit that bottom toe pick and down I went. My poor left knee. I remember at ballet lessons, I couldn’t bend my leg. But, I was determined to skate because it was and still is the only place I do not feel pain. Thanks to God, a whole lot of praying people and the ice, I am no longer an addict. The ice became my medication. Though I may struggle to learn the moves in ways others don’t, I am challenged to, “beat the odds” every time I step my unfeeling feet and unfeeling left leg out on that ice. I am stronger and healthier than I have ever been and Figure Skating is a major part of the reasons why. My coach is patient, caring, kind and doesn’t allow me to use my disabilities as an excuse. He empowers me in ways that I could not empower myself. He believes in me and it helps me to believe in myself. I never thought I would ever be able to pass Moves in the Fields tests. But because my coach can see what I cannot feel, I am able to learn the moves. I am almost ready for Silver and then, “WOW! Gold.” It will be a day for true celebration.
I am still a mess. But I am a beautiful skating mess. Had I not had this piece of heaven on earth again, I have no idea where I would be today, if even alive. As I continue to reach my goals, I plan to go back to Special Olympics as a coach. I want to help others who have their own disabilities, whether learning or physical, learn this amazing sport. Only those of us who have truly connected with the ice understand its bond. I will be forever grateful that I am one of those who do! Without it… where would I be?