Wins and losses. A lesson learned, not through the strike of luck, but for the necessity to live. We all have a moment in life when everything goes silent. All you're left with is the complete stillness of your body, the subtle sound of a breathe leaving your body, a feeling of a heartbeat, and loneliness.
At a moment like that you have no guidance to follow up on nor do you have a clue as to what to do. February 7th, 2016, was that defining moment that quickly hit me dead on. I was left with no choice, no spirit, no thoughts, and absolutely no faith in myself.
That's the date that completely changed my life for the better; I may not have known that at the time...boy, did I have to pick up the pieces of the puzzle and figure it out. A long journey that tormented me for a whole year, 387 days to be exact.
Driving southbound on Interstate-5, I lost control of my truck as I headed straight into the center divider, sending me into the air. As my truck rolled my left arm stuck out the window, causing the weight of the truck and the pavement tear my arm apart. I spent 28 days in the hospital as doctors spent countless hours trying to save whatever muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and bones they could. After five surgeries (two more to follow) in less than two weeks, doctors managed to save my arm and more importantly my hand. Half my elbow was gone along with my radial nerve and other major ligaments that enabled my hand to operate. I was told what most doctors love to tell people as they feel helpless, "You'll never be able to use your hand ever again." All the while my life was falling apart, my spirit crushed and dismantled to the point where I didn't feel useless anymore, but dead. My career, my life completely was taken away. Every night in that hospital room I embarked countless thoughts speeding through my head while my emotions poured out thinking of what I had done to myself. I couldn't live like this. Every day was a battle of an endless war I felt I could not win, ever.
I took it all for granted.
I was mentally drained out to the point that the pain stopped, I was numb. I was internally a zombie all while I mustered a smile on my face for my loved ones that wanted to help and cheer me up. I know what it's like to be a prisoner in your body, broken body that is. The spirit often veers that way searching for truth. Worst yet were the mind games; I didn't know the rules of my own life at this point. The questions of “why and what if” swirled like a cyclone. What was the point...what was the meaning of all this?
My mental strength was nowhere to be found. However, physically I was still holding up until I had my first follow up appointment after leaving the hospital. As soon as I stepped into the doors of the clinic, I felt powerless once more. Doctors repeated to me what I already knew and soon after, referred me to my first physical therapy evaluation appointment at a clinic located here in Irvine.
Walking into my first ever physical therapy appointment for my arm, embodied my environment with the slightest taste of hope. As I was taken to the back I had no idea what to expect, all I had was prayers for a miracle. I was led to a vast room with a dozen other people being active inside.
False Promises and True Pain
My first (of many) physical therapy evaluation, as I passed through the hallway of the clinic, I remembered seeing the diplomas and certificates from prestigious schools. I did the math and figured I was left in the best hands possible, right? Those hands only actually touched me in accordance to measure my movements and ranges, talk about a huge letdown. What followed the evaluation were two mediocre follow up appointments in which the same thing happened for both appointments, step by step. I was led back to that big room with the same faces I saw the last time, I got sat and greeted by every single aide and student intern. The doctor came to greet me for the quickest 15 seconds telling me the same thing on both days, “Don’t worry you will get better.” It seemed he was very optimistic about my case without knowing me. I was just waiting for him to tell me how that was going to happen, he made it seem like he had answers I was just waiting for them. I was hooked up to an electrical current stimulator that engaged my arm in movements I alone would never do, talk about a tease. Then they proceeded with having me do meaningless exercises I could easily do at home for about 30 minutes. 45 minutes go by quickly when you have no idea what you’re doing and just running out time, but the last 15 minutes were my favorite for the oddest reason. The last 15 minutes of every session I’ve ever had was the most painful, yet, the most satisfying. I used the last 15 minutes to tear up all the scar tissue in my arm. I knew I alone would not push myself that far as I’d like to go, so I had the therapist push me to my limit, as I belted every sailor term out. I assumed If I forced myself and placed the pain to ‘reverse’ the effect the accident had on my arm, I would fix myself. I was self-proclaiming what would never happen because I was led nowhere by the people I thought would help me. This process occurred in another three clinics because I felt it was a never-ending dream, deja vu within an environment of black truth. Until, by mere luck, I happened to fall into the hands of a familiar face. Adrian was my therapist's name; he was the brother of some past friends from high school, he took time out of every session to work with me specifically in an individual matter. He gave me a dose of what I would soon see at Rehab and Revive, he planned every treatment with me, and he was completely transparent with me. Most important of all, he cared.
If I only had found him earlier, a funny thing is I hear that from most of our patients at Rehab and Revive quite often. 58 sessions later I parted ways to continue the treatment on my own, I thank Adrian so much for the time he took out of his day to invest it in me, that meant a lot. So much so, you can say he saved my life.
Who's Stopping me?
My journey doesn’t stop there. I had the biggest battle to face, my mind. I was physically recovering, I wasn’t self-conscious of my scar anymore, and I felt like my body was responding. However, my spirit was not resurrected as I had hoped. My loved ones still holding that candle and making sure it was still lit. I had no idea where to go, and doctors weren’t helping the cause. I scheduled an EKG only to find out my radial nerve would never recover and I would not be able to heal normally.
You might not be able to do this; you won't be able, you won't be, you won't, you. Negative connotations were all I got, and that's what some experts said and kept repeating. I had to take all that energy and suppression and convert it to the pain manager I was meant to be instead of the victim I was portrayed as. I was at the wheel and remained at the wheel, of my life. I had to pan out my life with all the pessimists around me; I was ready.
I couldn’t find an employer that didn’t view me as a cripple or handicap. In their eyes, I was just a liability. Every time I revealed my scars and my vulnerability, I received this look of pettiness that followed with a noise of discouragement. That didn’t stop me, I continued working with my father’s company and pushed myself physically because I knew I was just on the brink. I then came across Dr. Lin and R+ Rehab and Revive, hope was ignited once more.
I understood what the mission was and what our purpose was established for, every patient that walked through our doors, I could easily see myself in their shoes. I understand their pain, their struggle, and their frustration. “Me too” is what I say, every morning looking at my arm. My arm is the reminder I use as my fuel to help others become better.
And we thought this would be the happy ending, not true.
Within months of working at Rehab and Revive, I had the misfortune of breaking my ankle (Bi-malleolar fracture). Besides the pain, once again matters worsened mentally. I realized my patience needed to be tested once again. But this time around I had a plan, and I had the right mentality. Although it took time, I took the correct steps to get back on my feet in just five months. I listened to the advice the doctors told me and I self-treated myself in the ways I could, more importantly, I did the correct rehabilitation steps which saved me a couple of months of recovery. At the end of the five months, I happily walked with a five-inch plate, and six screws in my ankle and people could barely tell.
You see, it wasn’t the fact that I knew how to prepare myself and rehabilitate my body this time around, physically that is. It was the fact that I was not in this alone...every night when I laid awake that’s how I felt like. The mind is much stronger than our actual physical embodiment. Unfortunately, we must be pushed to our limit sometimes to find that source. Or until you walk into a home like Rehab and Revive and realize you aren’t alone, with professionals, who can provide answers for you. The mind is both terrible, yet amazing. A thorough laid out plan by medical staff can inspire hope and a direction. The people that came into my life can motivate and spark truth. The defining moments aren’t created when we haven't lived nor have been tested, but by our scars.
I thank all the people in my life that were there for me and remain there. Rehab and Revive is here to provide that.
We are here for you!
My reason to inspire.