I’m a thrill junky.

I was the only female who played wheelchair rugby at Penn State Rec Fest in April. They did not take it easy on me.

When the weather gets warmer, I want to ride an ATV. I just love trying new things.

It’s now been more than a year since my accident. My new normal isn’t so bad. It’s just different, that’s all. I love trying new things and pushing myself — and why not? My accident might have set me back physically, but it did not change my spirit or my love of adventure. Now, I just approach these things differently.

If there is something I want to do that might be more challenging, I figure out how to make it happen. For example, if I want to roller skate, I will send an email to the manager or owner of the business to see how I can do it. It’s not easy, but there are altered versions of many things I used to do that I can certainly try now.

Even with blocks of time that have escaped my memory, I can still remember the day my accident happened. It was a brisk February night in 2016. I left the hospital after visiting my friend Beckie, who gave birth to my Godson Carsen. Unfortunately, that’s about the last of what I remember from that blessed day. I was less than two miles from my house and somehow I crossed two lanes of traffic and hit another car head-on.

I still don’t know how it happened.

As I was ejected from my car through the door, it slammed back on me and locked. The Jaws of Life were used to get me out. It’s all just a complete fog. I forgot everything from about 15 minutes before the accident until three weeks after. It takes a lot of time for your brain to catch-up with everything that has happened to you.

Here’s what I now know: My leg was broken; my elbow was shattered; I broke three ribs; my hip was broken; my back was broken; my collar bone was broken; my pelvis was broken. I think that’s all. Thankfully, the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center trauma team was there to catch me and fix as many of my injuries as they possibly could. They surgically put rods in my leg and then proceeded with reconstructive surgery for my shattered elbow. They put a screw in my hip. Plates and rods were put in my spine so it didn’t move all over the place. And my spleen was removed, because it was extremely damaged.

This is the part I don’t really understand. Through this whole process, nothing really shocked me. I kept wondering, ‘when is it going to hit me that I’m paralyzed?’ I don’t know how to describe that. I just woke-up and accepted it. I remember these vivid dreams of having varying degrees of paralysis. It’s like my dreams prepared me for the reality.

Beckie sent me photos and videos of Carsen almost as if she knew when I was having bad days. I felt like I was missing so many moments of my Godson and then I’d get a video of him doing something cute and I’d think, “I have to make it out of here.”

When I got to Penn State Health Rehabilitation Center, I realized I was going to have to do a lot of work to live my life without the use of my legs. The damage to my elbow meant I couldn’t put weight on my arm, so I had to go home to let it heal, and then return.

The second time I was at the Rehab Hospital was a lot more fun. I had the same nurses and aides every day and we became like family. I was the life of the party – it was awesome. When you are recovering from such a devastating blow, this type of atmosphere makes all the difference for a successful recovery. During my time in rehab I lost a few people that were very close to me. As my second family, they helped me recover from both my physical injuries and my emotional losses too.

And now, I look to the future. I plan to go back to college this fall and hope to take-over my dad’s construction business one day. For the most part, I can do things I want to do, now.

As for roller skating, my boyfriend pushed me around the skating rink in my wheelchair. It was a good time! I found a way. It’s a new normal, but – the thrill is still there!

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