2016. I like the way it sounds. Last year I ended 2014 with three massive expanders in my left side, and started 2015 with an 8 hour surgery (January 2nd) to take out expanders, remove several feet of heavily scarred skin and close major gaps with my newly grown and stretched skin from the expanders. I was released home only 2 days later requiring in home nursing care for wound changes and pain management. 2015 started off very difficult. I was back on crutches for some time with drainage tubes for a few weeks until my left side began to normalize. I required several more procedures of blood drainage in the OR from masses forming due to internal scar tissue build up. Found myself experiencing many moments of shear frustration that after so many races and triathlons I felt like I was once again back at a starting line learning basic things again. I watched my husband do countless wound changes the first two months of 2015 and held onto his embrace when the pain would kick in and various nerves would start to “wake back up and reconnect”. I once again embraced the feeling of being authentic, vulnerable, and in the moment and I vowed that even when my pain would dissipate and my surgeries would fade out, I would forever live a life raw, and unfiltered in hopes of being a catalyst for change. 2015 brought the honor of being asked to join the board of directors for the American Red Cross and the board of directors for Bike Walk Connecticut. 2015 brought numerous opportunities to speak across the country at races, businesses, medical communities, and in the media. 2015 brought many more finish lines and medals to be given to heroes. 2015 brought so many hugs that just sitting here my smile widens and my heart is warm. Sean and I had the honor of being flown to Arizona for the National Trauma Conference to receive an award with my trauma surgeon and lead ICU nurse from Yale for how exceptional my treatment and recovery has been.
This past year we finally had our horrid case settle which was in federal court. One of the greatest moments of this past year was meeting David Smith in person and giving him a hug. David was the first person on scene the day I was run over, he witnessed every gory detail and then stood strong as our main witness for the next several years. We bought our first home together. We signed up to be foster parents. We finally had the funds to not only pay off our medical debt but also hire an investigator to connect my husband with his biological roots as he was adopted at birth. Sean and I began writing our first book TOGETHER, co-authoring on the topic of gratitude. I was only hospitalized three times for sepsis and circulatory distress (a problem that will be chronic as long as I have the honor to live). My husbands book proposal on caregiving that he is writing in tandem with Echo Garret has been completed and is in the next steps towards securing a publisher. My memoir is also
currently seeking a publisher. We have regained training again, and Sean completed his first FULL Ironman in November. Our lives have continued on the path of being very purpose driven.
I am not one for New Years Resolutions, because I have always felt we should live each day as if it is a New Year, because it is. In 2016, I look forward to meeting many more of you. I look forward to working with the American Red Cross and helping to raise funds and educational awareness towards disaster relief, blood donations, First Aid, and CPR. I look forward to continued advocacy work around safer streets.
I look forward to the road ahead realizing that nothing is definite. I realize that change happens in a second. I realize that I can not control everything that happens around me or to me but I can control how I act and react.
I will continue to take a stand to break down societal barriers about mental illness, anger, violence, chronic pain, traumatic brain injuries, and being ok sometimes not being ok. We are a HUMAN FAMILY complete with much possibility, may we choose to roll our shoulders back with confidence, and work together to create stronger, safer, and healthier communities. Welcome 2016.