Eyes wide open, I remember staring straight up at a ceiling that was not familiar to me. As I lay there painfully still, a simple glance left and right reaffirmed my suspicions that I was in a hospital bed. Still unaware of the gravity of my prognosis, my consciousness knew that things were never going to be the same…
That was my reality almost six years ago. After an unexpected and rare fall from the high bar, I… A Canadian National Gymnast, was instantly paralyzed from the neck down.
Looking back, if you were to ask me at 14 years old, where I saw myself at 20, my answer would probably go something like this…. “I’m currently on a gymnastics scholarship at a nationally recognized University in the US, I’m finishing up my third year of undergrad and my aspiration in life is to become a sports doctor.” Now… Let’s look at the reality, “I’m about to enter my third year of my undergrad at Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program, I attend therapy multiple times a week, and my aspiration in life is to become an entertainment reporter and a motivational speaker.”
When you look at the two side-by-side there are obvious differences. I’m not studying abroad, therapy instead of partaking in a high-level sport is my work out, and I no longer want to pursue a career in the sciences.
Coming to terms with this new and unplanned reality has proven to be a lot more difficult than I could ever imagine. I constantly ask myself “Why me? How could this happen? And what does this mean for my future?”
As a woman just entering my young adulthood stage, I’m constantly reminded of how truly different my life is from my peers…and to be perfectly honest it’s a very, very hard pill to swallow. However, as I reflect back on everything that has happened to me and I look at my surroundings, I can do so with a huge smile. I am immersed by so much love and support from my family, friends, therapists and even strangers at times… And I know that they have been the vital key to my success and strength.
I want to leave this post by letting everyone know that life is so unpredictable. Every single person in this world will have to face and work through devastation that can be incredibly painful and impossible to make sense of. Whether it’s seeing a loved one die, battling cancer, moving on after a heartbreak, or living with a spinal cord injury…these tribulations will always be there and will come unexpectedly, changing you forever. When these moments arise, it is important to put your relationships, friendships and people you considered dear to work! It is your time to lean on them and cash in all the love and support that you would provide them if the tables were reversed. Although you may be surprised and deeply disappointed by a few people that you have surrounded yourself with, when you pull through and make it across that bridge, you will finally be surrounded by the love you deserve, and there is nothing more beautiful than that!
Thank you to Michelle Wolfe & the Aim2Walk team for allowing me to say my piece and for being one of the many sources of love I cherish most.
– Taylor LN