My SECOND CHANCE



This is a photo that my father took of the skid marks at the accident site. The two red stars are where my sister Stephanie and I were walking. The drunk driver slammed on his breaks after he hit me in the back with his car. As I flew through the air I kicked my little sister in the back. I was fifteen years old and my sister was thirteen. Thankfully Stephanie was not physically injured. I love you sissy <3

206 North Main Street, Marlborough, CT
It was Good Friday 1984 at 6:30PM. My sister Stephanie and I sat at the kitchen table and inhaled our dinner. We were begging our mother to let us go for a walk. Our intentions were to visit some of our high school friends who were gathered at our favorite hangout spot. The gathering place was a little red deserted shack overlooking Lake Terramugas. Our mother was hesitant to let us go for a walk because it was getting dark outside. Finally after a little persuasion, she gave us her consent. We promised her that we would be back home in thirty minutes. Stephanie and I quickly primped in the mirror and darted out the door.

We walked as fast as we could, hoping that our friends would still be there. Ten minutes later, we arrived at the shack. As we ran toward it, we could not see anyone inside. We looked through the window just to be sure. To our disappointment, the shack was vacant. Instead of searching for our friends, we headed straight home so that our mother would not worry.

Stephanie was walking in front of me with traffic passing behind us. The right turn to our street was just ahead. All of a sudden I heard an ear piercing explosion and I was surrounded by gray clouds.




"Oh my God," I thought, "someone blew us up!" My thoughts were so clear and exact with no feelings of confusion or panic. I was sure that our friends were fooling around and threw an M80 firecracker out their car window and hit us. The explosion was deafening to me. The sound was loudly echoing in my ears. I had no idea that sound was my body hitting the car. I was hit in the back and I never saw it coming.

I felt no fear just total contentment. It was such a beautiful euphoric feeling like nothing I had ever felt before. It was like nothing I had ever dreamed before. I was being cradled in the clouds like an infant in my mothers arms. Something or someone was protecting me from pain and fear, making me feel like everything was okay. I was in a state of complete serenity, physically and emotionally. I knew at that moment that my soul was outside of my physical body. There was absolutely no connection to my physical form. "I must be dead," I thought to myself. "Why am I not scared? I feel so calm, this is so beautiful." I felt like I had jumped out of an airplane and I was floating in the sky. I was in a bed of soft, fluffy, clouds that I could feel all around me. Then I looked down at my body, but I still wasn't scared. I started leaning down through the clouds and I could see myself floating to the ground like a leaf falling gently from a tree.

Suddenly an overwhelming rush of pain jolted through my body. I couldn't breathe. My chest felt as though a ton of bricks was crushing it. I could see a blur of Stephanie's body standing over me. I wanted to talk to her, but no words would come out of my mouth. I was thinking, "Stephanie don't be scared, I will be okay in a minute." I wanted to get up, but my body would not move. The pain was a torture chamber that paralyzed my body. I was starting to panic, I was so confused. I wanted to know what happened to me.

I heard the voice of a strange man talking to me, but I couldn't see him. He kept asking me if I was okay, but I couldn't answer him. Finally, a noise came out of my mouth. I asked the man what had happened to me. He said, "You were hit by a car." Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God, I whimpered sounding like a broken record. I found out later that man I was talking to was the man who hit me with his car.

Within minutes there were paramedics all around me. They cut open the leg of my jeans and immobilized my left leg. As they were working on me, I heard my mother say, "I am here with you honey." I knew that she was trying not to scare me because her voice was so calm. I could hear the paramedics talking to each other about me. It was difficult to focus on what they were saying because I was fading in and out of conciseness. The woman paramedic kneeling beside me wrapped a brace around my neck and told another paramedic that my head was bleeding. I could not feel any part of my body except my raw scraped elbows that were digging into the sand and tar.

(Life Star helicopter critical-care medical transport did not begin operation until 1985, one year after my accident). The paramedics then slid a board under my limp body and lifted me into the ambulance. A woman paramedic was sitting beside me as we traveled to Hartford Hospital. She was trying to keep me awake. She kept saying, "You're doing great honey, stay with me, don't fall asleep." I kept telling my mother how sorry I was that this had happened. I thought the paramedic was my mother holding my hand and telling me that I was okay. The ambulance was traveling on Route 2 West at a high rate of speed. Every time the speeding ambulance hit a bump in the road, I would cry in pain and beg them to slow down.

Me 1984
When we arrived at the hospital, I was immediately wheeled into an examining room. I was helpless laying on the stretcher as the doctors cut off all of my clothes. There were so many people all around me and I was crying and saying, "No please no, please stop." I was so scared and in so much pain, it was all happening so fast. I couldn't move my broken body, I couldn't even lift my head. I felt so violated as I lay there naked. They were putting their hands on me and inside of my body. Sticking me with needles and inserting tubes into me. They were moving so fast and there was so much talking. It felt like a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from. They were talking about my injuries like I was watching a trauma scene in the movies. Then they asked me if I was pregnant because my belly was so swollen and full of blood. I knew that my injuries were bad, but somehow I knew that I would be okay. I could feel the fight inside of me, and there was no way that I was giving up.

They had stabilized me enough to send me for x-rays. I remember my body was so cold that I could not stop shaking. I was begging for someone to please help me. The nurse piled blankets on top of me, but I was still shivering uncontrollably. I was wheeled from room to room as they x-rayed and scanned every part of my body.

Finally I was brought back into the examining room where Stephanie and my mother were waiting for me. It was so good to see them both. My mother held my hand tightly as the doctor sedated me and stitched the gash in my head.


Me 1984
I was then admitted into the pediatric unit. I had a tibial plateau fracture that affected my knee joint, stitches in my head, whiplash, internal bleeding, broken hips, cuts, bruises, and bed sores from head to toe. Soon after I was admitted I developed a high fever. Once I stabilized, I had surgery to screw my left knee back together. For the next five weeks I stayed in the hospital.

Me 1984



I went through intensive physical therapy in the hospital and my mother slept on a small cot next to my bed for much of my stay there. I remember feeling so scared to go home.  It was like another world being in the hospital for that long. I was still in a lot of pain and I needed help doing everything. My crafty dad built a trapeze bar that hung from the ceiling above my bed. I used it to pull myself up as I was recovering from my injuries. I continued to slowly get stronger. Finally, I went back to high school hobbling around on crutches. As soon as I could,  I became very athletic and started exercising every day. I would wrap up my knee and push myself to extremes that I didn't think were possible.



Looking back, I now believe that I was hit by that car to change my path in life. As a result, I feel that is why I had an overwhelming desire to have my children when I was so young. If I had waited, my body could not have handled pregnancy or delivery. On December 2, 1985, I was 17 years old, and I gave birth to my first son RJ. I continued exercising and thought that I was doing okay until my knee became extremely painful again.

Me & RJ - 1986
 Remembering the words of my surgeon, "Your knee is perfect now and you won't have anymore problems with it." Two years after my accident, I found out that I had developed arthritis and I had to get the screws removed from my knee.


I recovered from that surgery and continued exercising as soon as I could. I was feeling so strong and loving the healthy active lifestyle I was living. I would put RJ on the back of my bicycle and ride for hours around the country roads of Marlborough.

A few months after my second knee surgery, I was getting ready to take RJ sledding. I was sitting on the couch putting my boots on and as I stood up, a stabbing jolt of pain shot through my lower back like a shock of electricity. I fell to the floor and I could not move. RJ was bundled up in his snowsuit next to me and I was helpless. I dragged myself to the phone and called for help.

RJ 1986

This is when I realized that getting hit by the car had caused lasting problems in my body. I continued to go through similar episodes of my back going out more and more often as the years went by.

I continued to live my life as if I was not in pain. I wanted to live and feel alive. I was enjoying every second of my life and being a mother. I would not accept that my body was betraying me. On October 5, 1988, I was 19 years old, and I gave birth to my second son Travis. In between episodes of bed ridden back pain, I was still aggressively exercising and keeping my body strong.

Travis, RJ, & Me - 1988
In 1990, when I was 22 years old, I became pregnant with my daughter Nicole. I was working fulltime and raising my two boys. During my pregnancy I had a noticeable increase in back pain. I remember days of crawling to the bathroom because I could not walk. 

Nicole was born on February 3, 1991, and I was 23 years old. I tried to start exercising again full force, however my body was not cooperating. My back started deteriorating quickly. The episodes of my back going out became more and more frequent. New bone and joint issues in my body started causing me increased pain as well. 

RJ, Nicole, Travis & Me - 1991

In 2002 I was back in the operating room. The pain had become unbearable. I was on a mission to fix my broken body and get rid of the pain. I had tried every type of natural healing under the sun. I was told by surgeons that I was too young to do multiple-level spinal fusion and I had to wait for ProDisc Surgery to become available. For the first time, I finally had no choice but to give in to pain pills while I waited for a miracle. 

This was an extremely challenging time in my life. For the next five years I went through nine surgeries and multiple Epidural steroid injections. With each surgery I was thinking that soon my body would be fixed and my pain would be gone.


2002 
Me after my first rotator cuff surgery holding my niece Ciara & my daughter Nicole next to me.

Mother's Day, 2003 - Lumbar ProDisc Replacement: 2 Levels (L4-5 / L5-6) My surgeon was Dr. James Yue.

I was in the operating room for almost 9 hours and ended up in the Intensive Care Unit for 3 days. I wasn't coming out of the anesthesia and my breathing kept stopping. Thank you to my amazing ex-husband who sat by my side, delirious with no sleep, making sure that I was breathing. My poor kids saw me like this when they came to visit me on Mother's Day <3
I was something like the 475th person in the US to have the 2-level ProDisc Implants. I was in a medical trial study for both spinal surgeries. I have had 3 discs replaced in my neck and lower back with these ProDisc artificial joints.



I was taking a daily cocktail of prescription medication including morphine for two years before my ProDisc surgery. My morphine dosage was doubled during recovery for pain control. One month after my surgery, I was still dealing with excruciating pain, however I stopped the regular use of pain pills. I made this decision on my own because I felt like my soul was dying. I decided I would rather be in physical pain than lose who I was a person. I had to get the drugs out of my body. For about one month I went through horrible text-book withdrawal symptoms. I am so grateful to my amazing family for all of their support. For future surgeries I would only allow myself to take pain pills for one week post surgery. I now continue to use natural pain control.


2004 
My (first) Left Shoulder Rotator Cuff Surgery - Arthritis & Bone Spur Removal.

My ProDisc Neck surgery was a lot less painful and I had a much quicker recovery compared to the Low Back ProDisc surgery. My surgeon was Dr. James Yue.


 

In 2005 I was having severe bleeding and I had Hysteroscopy w/Ablation surgery to remove fibroids and polyps from my uterus.


March 2006 
This is a photo of my swollen belly right after surgery. The incision from my 2003 ProDisc back surgery herniated. The coil that was used to close the ProDisc incision was tearing through my muscles causing hernias. I had a hernia repair with mesh inserted in the lower part of my existing scar.



April 2006 
One month after my first hernia repair, I had to go back into surgery to have more mesh inserted in the rest of my ProDisc incision. I then developed an adhesive allergy. The tape was burning through my skin and my incision kept re-opening :-(




Photo 2014
It's an amazing gift how our bodies can heal. 
It seemed like a lifetime away, but it does happen. I am so grateful that is over!!! 
October 2006 
My swollen left knee after my third knee surgery. Arthroscopic arthritis clean up.


After this routine outpatient knee surgery, I developed a post-surgical blood clot behind my knee. I was put back in the hospital and had to stay on blood thinners for six months. This simple procedure ended up turning into a life threatening condition. It took months of an in-home visiting nurse and dedicated physical therapy to walk again.

It was then that I decided that I was done having surgeries. My dream of being pain free was over. I went through a lot of depression and grieving for the loss of my healthy body. I grieved the loss of my career and the loss of the physical activities that I could no longer do. Around this same time, my marriage started falling apart and then the father of my children died in a car crash. (9/14/07 - I Love You Ralph, RIP <3). My emotions were being tested to the limit of my breaking point. I was overwhelmed with pain and sadness. I felt like I had no control of my life. I felt cheated out of the life that I had dreamed of. I felt lost and hopeless. Nothing was making sense in my life. I was feeling sorry for myself and I was so angry. I was so angry at the drunk driver who hit me with his car. 


I knew that I had to forgive him to move forward. I had to let go of all of the anger I was holding onto. I remembered the name of the man who hit me and I looked up his address. I found where he lived and I drove to his house. My son Travis came with me for moral support and he was waiting in the car.

I knocked on his door and his wife answered. I told her my name and asked her if her husband was in a car accident twenty years ago. Her eyes got wide and she said, "Yes he was." I said, "I am the girl that he hit with his car, can I speak to him?" She said, "One minute" and closed the door. I stood on the front stoop in the unshoveled snow for at least five minutes and his wife finally opened the door. 

He walked up the stairs from the basement of his raised ranch and he stood on the top step. I stayed in the entryway just inside their front door. He said, "I am never home at this time of day but today I came home early." I could feel the sadness in the air of their home. I knew there was no happiness there. He was clueless as to what I had been through. He said, "I'm glad your knee is doing better." In his mind, for all of these years, he believed that a broken knee is the only injury I had suffered. I told him that I had been through many surgeries and a lot of pain because of the accident. There were no apologies for what he had done. I told him that I was there to forgive him, and I asked him if I could give him a hug. He let me, then I said goodbye.

As I was walking back to the car, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was shaking from overwhelming emotion. As soon as I got into the car I burst into tears. I told Travis that he didn't even say he was sorry. I cried the whole drive to my mother's house. When I told her what happened she said, "Lisa you didn't go there for an apology, you went there to forgive him so that you can move forward." It all made sense.

There is nothing that I can do about the fact that I will live with chronic pain for the rest of my life. There is no miracle or surgery or treatment that will reverse the trauma that my body has been through. That part is out of my control.

I finally accepted that I have to live my life differently than I had planned. I realize that it is UP TO ME whether or not I enjoy my life. I now focus on the positive things in my life like being blessed with three beautiful children, a beautiful family, and beautiful friends. 


My Angels XOXO!!



Me and My Three Children - Xmas 2015


Me, my husband and my granddaughter XO!!




Me, my sister and 2 brothers XO

I made a choice to stop complaining about the things that I cannot change and to focus on the things that make me happy. Through this process I have discovered so much about myself and who I really am as a person. It's so empowering to realize that ONLY YOU control your own happiness. It's not about what happens to you, it's how you react to it that matters.  

I have realized there is still joy in life, even if we are forced down a different and difficult path in life. I have realized the importance of doing what I can to look good on the outside, so that I feel better inside. This goes hand-in-hand with making my physical issues seem more bearable. It's the same concept with the cancer patients from the LOOK GOOD FEEL BETTER classes that I volunteer for.

Being positive doesn't take away my physical pain, it simply allows me to enjoy my life. Sharing this part of my life was extremely difficult for me, but now I am so happy that I did. I feel like it was the last step in my healing process. I rarely talk about my pain and I only go to the doctors when I absolutely have to. Positive thinking has proven to be the best medicine physically and emotionally. My thoughts and my happiness are completely in my control.

Of course no one would chose to live with chronic pain, but I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned as a result. I would not change one thing about my past because I have learned from every moment I was given. Every moment made me who I am today.

My journey has guided me here, right now at this moment, typing my personal story for the world to read. We all have challenges in life; some physical, some emotional, some big, some small, but we all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to feel like we are not alone in what we are going through.

My hope is that my story can inspire even one person not to give up. That you can find the strength and guidance to create a beautiful life for yourself no matter what you are dealing with. Life is a gift and it's up to us to make it beautiful. You are not alone...




I had to go through another surgery on February 29, 2016. 
You can see my journey here.



natural pain control

http://www.beauty101bylisa.com/2013/10/my-children.html
http://www.beauty101bylisa.com/2014/01/happy-2014-change-your-mind-change-your.html

See the books HERE that changed my life!

14 comments :

  1. Hi Lisa...I've known you for over 20 years but I never knew your Story.Thanks for sharing it. Hope everything's good with you and you did a great job on this website.
    John

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    1. Hi John,Thank you!! This was the part of my life that I couldn't face and couldn't accept for most of my life. It's like being blind and not accepting that you can't drive a car. This is the life that I was supposed to have and I am so thankful for every second!! It's up to us to make our life amazing no matter what we are dealing with :)

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    2. My darling, we've known each other for many many years and yet I'd never known the details of your accident. I've always been inspired by your strength, and now I can say I'm equally awed by it. I love you and am SO proud to see how you inspire others in so many ways!

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    3. Thank you so much Alex that means more to me than you will ever know. I love you so much!!!

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    4. Hi Lisa, I just read your story and am just speechless...(trust me this doesn't happen). I love your attitude and that you choose to not be a victim. We have a mutual friend, i friended you on Facebook. Your beauty (I dont mean the physcial...although you are!) shines through. God Bless..Deborah

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    5. Deborah thank you so much for your kind words!! You are a beautiful person inside and out (I just accepted your friend request.)

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  2. Wow Lisa - I'm so glad we got a chance meet again & talk tonight! What an incrediblly inspirational story of overcoming adversity in the face of incredible odds and summoning up the courage to face life (and all it throws at you) head on! You (like me) are lucky to be alive - There's a reason we're still here!

    Paul G

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    1. Thank you Paul. It was really great talking to you :-)

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  3. What a lovely, amazing, inspiring, blog wow and you're beautiful...going to need time to read all the eay through this...well done Hun..xxx

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    1. Thank you that is so kind of you to say!! That really means so much to me XOXO!!

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  4. Wow what a life you have had. Amazing journey to find your inner strength and keep going as the sun rises every morning even in the dark times. What a beautiful soul and gifts you bring to this world. Love and light to you and your family xxx

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    1. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment. It's words like yours that help me to stay positive and continue to share. Sending Love XO

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  5. Jesus Christ, I was crying as I was reading this. I didn't even know who you are before I called you awesome. You are strong, and courageous. Just as I wrote in my previous post, forgiveness is for you not the person who wronged. It gives you freedom, and nourishes you to flourish. YOU ARE ONE AWESOME WOMAN. I PRAY FOR STRENGTH & COURAGE FOR YOU TO STAY STRONG FOR YOURSELF & YOUR FAMILY. You are a living miracle, God bless you

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    1. Thank you very much for your beautiful words. I love connecting with like-minded people! Keep sharing and we can continue to help others XOXO

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