Juleen's Corner: One of These Days

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Hello Ladies, I am excited to be back after my back procedure. It's been a tough eight months. We all like to consider ourselves to be our children's superhero, but what do you do when someone else's selfish choice takes your superhero status away? There were months after the accident where I was angry and hurt that I could not do all the things I used to. To even call it an accident is a misnomer because it was not an accident. It was the direct result of someone's poor judgment. 

I have always been very active. I was a child before the birth of the internet. I loved to be outside. I had a favorite tree to climb. I would sit in the branches and read my favorite book. While all the other little girls were having tea parties and playing with Barbies, I was soiling my Christian Dior dresses with dirt, grass, and ice cream. The internet took over, and it did not interest me nearly as much as finding a great secret outdoor spot in the woods or on the beach. I loved stories like Alice and Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, The Odyssey. I just wanted to get lost somewhere I have never been. Meet people that were raised differently than I.  As an adult, I did not outgrow these tendencies. I was my mother's windblown wild child, my red hair was as wild, wavy, and unkempt as the waves I had taken to surfing on. My daily uniform was a tan, and my perfume was the ocean breeze. I had a very special wanderlust and longing for adventure that I had hoped to share with my children. It would seem fate had other ideas for me. 

The night of the accident, I had just finished up an eight-hour shift doing Uber and Lyft. I picked up my fiancé. He got in the driver's seat because I was exhausted between the airport travelers and the drunks. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally wiped out. We got on the 605 freeway, and we started to talk about work and how our night went. We got into discussing wedding venues and what TV show we were going to binge-watch next. We talked about future fishing trips and biking the Strand, maybe one of these days doing a cycling tour of the coast. Then with no warning, my life changed in a matter of seconds. My fiancé and I were rear-ended by a drunk driver at a speed of 90 miles per hour. After the car hit the dirt embankment, I opened my eyes and was so grateful that I was still alive. Little did I know that over the eight months to follow, I would have to continually remind myself that I am lucky to be alive. I quickly learned that there is a difference between living and simply being alive. 

We were sent to the Emergency room in Santa Fe Springs. They ran all the standard tests and sent us on our way. I was warned that there would be soreness afterward. My whole body was hurting. I felt like King Kong had scooped me up with his giant hairy hands, climbed up to the pinnacle of the empire state building, and dropped me. The pain was intense. The next day I could not get out of my bed. I almost had a different kind of accident (of the bladder variety.) My fiancé had to lift me out of bed, help me to the bathroom, and pull my pants down for me. I felt helpless and humiliated. I used an old Halloween prop cane with a pirate skull on end to help me hobble around until the VA could get me an appointment. (Any veteran will tell you that is a different story for a different day.) People would stare at me. If I was not in so much pain, I would have been more understanding. Let's just be honest, I was using a Halloween prop to walk I probably would have stared at me too. Eventually, the VA gave me an appointment. I traded in my pirate prop for a rollator wheelchair walker combo by Nitro. As far as I was concerned, I traded in my freedom for a three-foot, four-wheeled prison.

I refused to accept my new normal. In my eyes, if I accepted that this state was permanent, I would basically be giving up on myself. The doctors told me that my discs were herniated. My legs kept going numb because the discs were likely pushing on some nerves, and there was nothing they could do. I was offered physical therapy, pain medicine, and lidocaine patches. All I wanted was my mobility. True freedom was an adventure, going places I had never been, and trying things I have never done. Being outside and experiencing the world as it was always meant to be encountered. Admittedly, when I moved to California, I started working more, adventuring less, but I was still adventuring. I had a list of things I said I would do "one of these days" that had grown significantly in the two years that I had lived in the "Sunshine State." It was as if this state had the most to offer in terms of excitement and adventure, but you really had to work for it. At one point before the accident, I felt like I was too busy making a living to live. I took comfort that on my days off, I could be free.

Now my "one of these days" list became a list of things that I would never do again. It felt like salt in an open wound. I lost over 100 pounds before the accident and gained 50 pounds back. I felt ugly and eventually stopped taking pictures altogether. My depression and rage were only eclipsed by my feelings of inadequacy. When I needed help to the bathroom, or needed help to get my daughter in the bathtub, it would only deepen my insecurity that this new disability was making me less than a mom, less than a woman. How do you go from being a dynamic superhero mom to being the mom that cannot move or function without her rollator walker? No matter what I was feeling, I could not wallow there, my children needed me. I forced myself to get up daily and keep trying even if everything was telling me to stay down. Life would just have to keep knocking me down because I will never stop getting up again.

The creditors did not care that I could not fully walk, they wanted their money. After driving buses for four years, and UBER and Lyft, I now had to find a job that did not require me to be on my feet. New Year new me was about to take on a whole different meaning for me. All the things I used to define myself, bus driver, wild and free, explorer of the world had been ripped away from me the way someone rips off a band-aid. I was in the world feeling exposed with no sense of self. I had not felt this way since I was a teenager leaving home for the first time. While searching for my resume on an old flash drive, I had a lifesaving epiphany. I realized that writing is the one thing I was never too busy to do. I was a socially awkward child. I wrote about everything. Writing was my way of connecting with the world; it made me feel like I could let the world know me without having to worry about missing social cues or accidentally offending people. It was the one thing that I could count on, it was how I processed everything. At that moment, it made me see that I was still whole. I was different physically, but I was still unapologetically myself. I have always believed that words have the power to move mountains, start a revolution, and in my case, heal.

With my writing, I had been fighting to shift Autism and mental illness narratives for years. With my words, I fought to build a community and support system for moms of autistic children. I can help people with their writing projects, resumes, and grants. With my company, I can give people a voice. Whether I knew it not, I was on the cusp of an adventure. If an adventure was going somewhere, you have never been or trying something you have never tried. I was being dragged into an adventure as surely and as unwillingly as Bilbo Baggins. He was forced into an adventure by Gandalf, the wizard. Like Bilbo, I only needed a little push. Quarantine and a spinal injury were exactly the pushes I needed. I had been taking freelance writing jobs here and there for almost ten years. I was published as a teen and again, as an adult when I came home from deployment. I made up my mind and a Squarespace and started taking writing jobs fulltime. In just four months built my client base from zero and made enough money to incorporate, and Mom is Always Write Media Inc. was born. 

It's been eight months since the accident. My doctor suggested that I get a procedure done where my discs are injected with a steroid. This procedure is supposed to relieve the swelling enough to where my discs are not pushing my nerves. I was warned that it would not be permanent. I did not hear a single thing after I would be able to walk again. I went to the first available appointment. (I feel like I should mention that this appointment needed to be rescheduled multiple times due to VA nonsense and COVID-19, but I got it done). When I first came out of the procedure. I was a little woozy. I still needed my mobility device. I was told it would wear off; I was injected at six different sites. I was unbelievably sore. I wanted to cry because I thought it did not work. Slowly but surely, the feeling came back to my feet and my legs. The soreness I felt in my back was caused by the tightening of lower back muscles from lack of use. I will have to continue to get that shot for the rest of my life

, but I was given a second chance and what do you do with a second chance? You take it. One of these days is now. 

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