May 18, 2017

Goal setting helps woman heal from traumatic car accident

Goal setting helps woman heal from traumatic car accident Goal setting helps woman heal from traumatic car accident Goal setting helps woman heal from traumatic car accident Goal setting helps woman heal from traumatic car accident
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By The West View

by Becki Church

I was driving home on August 5, 2016 after picking up my dog, Nalu, from daycare. I turned a corner onto Redwood Road. That is the last thing I remember from that day before waking in the hospital late that night, confused and groggy, my brother at my bedside.

My brother sat holding my hand, and calmly told me I had been in a car accident. As the story unfolded, I came to realize more and more of my physical condition. My neck was in a brace, my arm taped with an I.V., and my body unable to move.

In South Salt Lake, at around the same time I was driving to pick up Nalu, two men robbed a bank at gunpoint. Police were quickly on scene, and a chase ensued. The robbers ditched their original car and ran on foot. The driver was apprehended right away, while the other man took a different car and sped off again. Police chased him at high speeds up Redwood Road. The robber then took desperate measures and drove into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with my vehicle.

The crash was horrific, flipping the robber’s vehicle, and causing mine to spin several times (so I was told). I must’ve been knocked out fairly quickly, as I have no recollection of any of this.

The extent of my injuries unfolded the next few days while I was in the hospital. A concussion, punctured lung, broken C5 in my neck, broken scapula, fractured sternum, seven broken posterior ribs, three broken lumbar vertebrae, a sprained ankle, broken big toe, several deep cuts and severe bruising.

Miraculously, my dog didn’t even have a scratch on him, and spent the next two months living with my sister in Idaho. I spent three days in the hospital, and the next two weeks in a rehab center in Salt Lake City, mulling over what had just happened. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t use the restroom by myself, couldn’t shower by myself, and could barely eat by myself. Every little movement caused pain.

I decided I needed to make a goal to work toward. In October, I started looking for a 5K that I could train for, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to do more than walk it. I found the “Beat the New Year” 5K in Salt Lake City on New Year’s Eve, and signed up. At that point, I was able to walk on my own fairly well without too much pain, but I knew I’d need to build my strength if I was to make it to the finish line. Once my doctor approved the idea, I started working with my physical therapist to train twice a week.

Considering my ankle was sprained, my lower back and ribs caused aches at every twist, and my neck was still in a brace, working out seemed daunting. My trainer gave me specific workouts to avoid causing pain, and slowly but surely my muscles became stronger. By the time December came around, I was able to do subtle squats, use light weights and walk on the treadmill for two miles.

A week before the race, I felt stronger than I had in months and was ready to face the 5K. I started the race that night 15 minutes earlier than the crowd. My brother pushed along my wheelchair, just in case I needed it. The race was exhilarating. My adrenaline was pumping, and though by mile two I was beginning to feel the pain in my lower back and ankle, I completed the race. I crossed the finish line two minutes after midnight, but did the whole thing without my wheelchair. I consider that a win.

Now that the race is over, I know I can’t stop. Ringing in 2017, crossing a finish line with a body full of healing bones was quite an accomplishment, but I now want to work toward a sprint triathlon. Focusing my efforts on a specific goal has proven to keep me mentally as well as physically motivated. Keeping myself strong after such a traumatic, life-changing event has been an incredibly positive push for me to live life to the fullest.