This weekend I had the pleasure of spending the Calgary Stampede with my closet friend from home, Carmin. She always seems to bring complete and utter joy in my life, even when there seems to be no joy left in the world. This year was extremely different from the Stampede I remember four years ago when Carmin came to visit. I was in the trauma unit at Foothills Hospital, still undergoing surgeries and not fully aware of my own injuries, nor my mom’s. This was a time where happiness seemed nonexistent.
After the medical team at Cranbrook Hospital put me to sleep, I woke up in a room with several doctors and nurses surrounding me, as well as my dad at the foot of my bed. While seeing my dad was comforting when being “woken up” from the induced coma, it was a rude awakening when the breathing tube was ripped out of my throat. I discovered later that they had previously tried to wake me up when I wasn’t able to breathe for myself yet; however, I tried to rip the tube out of my throat several times and therefore they put me back to sleep until my lungs were strong enough. My dad was at the foot of my bed that day to calm me down, and when the tube came out I remember taking a large breath. I don’t remember much else from that day due to the heavy medications I was on. At one point my Aunt came into the room and asked if I wanted to speak to my dad, but suddenly the question repeated itself over and over again. Her voice was a broken record, and her figure was so blurry that I couldn’t focus on anything, and eventually said no. However, my dad did enter the room again and I was able to focus on his words and respond/ask my own questions. When I asked what day it was, he said Sunday, the same day of the week the crash was on, yet not the same Sunday. It was two weeks after. I then asked if mom was alive, and he said yes. Hearing my mother say she was going to die was the worst thing I have ever been told, this was by far the best. While there are several instances throughout that blurry first month that I would like to share, I believe those stories are meant for another day.
By the time Stampede 2013 began, I had underwent over a dozen surgeries and was unaware of how many I still had to come. I had been moved from room to room, which may seem like a minor issue, and yet was absolutely exhausting. At one point I was sent to the rehabilitation floor because the trauma floor was so full from accidents during Stampede, as well as from the flood that I was completely oblivious to. Not only was I now taken further away from my mother, which also made my dad’s visiting more difficult, the nurses on the new floor had no idea how to take care of me. They were not trained for my injuries, and due to the high number of patients, I was refused proper care at times. I remember a day when my dad came to visit me for our daily wheelchair walk. I had just been allowed to get into a wheelchair with the aid of two men who would pick me up and place me in the chair properly, and then strap my legs and pelvic area in to reduce mobility. Although I couldn’t sit in the chair for more than 10 minutes, I looked forward to that moment every day because I got to see my mom. On that day in my new room, the nurses said I wasn’t allowed to go out on my wheelchair. It broke my heart. Thankfully, with the help of my dad, the head nurse and a social worker recognized that not only was I not on the proper floor, taking away the opportunity to see my mom was not acceptable.
I suddenly had something else to look forward to when I discovered that I had many friends coming to visit. Carmin was aware that I was unable to do much, and yet she spent most, if not all of the weekend with me in my hospital room. She brought me gifts, food, stories from home, and a bit of light in what felt like a very dark part of my life. I know that when my mother had visitors, whether that be family or friends, or even when she got to see Carmin (who painted her nails for her), she too felt joy. Its amazing what a little bit of positivity can do to someone, even when their world has been turned upside down. This weekend was vastly different from that of July 2013, and yet I still had the same sense of home, comfort, and bliss with Carmin by my side. We had the chance to experience the rodeo, walk the grounds, and dance the night away with incredible friends. She recognizes my disability, never pushes me too far, and always has a shoulder for me to lean on when my ankle begins to give out. I understand that not everyone in this world has a significant other, a best friend, or even family members. However, I truly believe that there is someone out there that will love you unconditionally, and will make you feel like the strongest person in the world, even when it has broken you down. Additionally, I have now learned that even the people who enter your life for a minute can make a massive change in your day, we just have to start appreciating those moments more.