From the morning of my ten year milestone. Melissa and I went skinny dipping in the sea at sunrise in Thailand surrounded by mountains, in quiet celebration with a familiar shooting pain down my leg that constantly serves as the most beautiful reminder. Just days before I had no idea I would be there. For several years I have been living out of a suitcase instead of a hospital bed. When learning to walk again my physiotherapist told me to “just keep putting one foot in front of the other”, and I’ve since walked the world over.
I walked away from countless hospitals, blood thinners, bed sores, blood transfusions, CT scans, organ infections, walking frames, rehab, doctors, lawyers, the same questions “On a level of 1-10, how much does this hurt?” on repeat to experience the unknown.
My happiest moments have been sharing a smile and silent understanding with strangers I will never see again in cities I can’t pronounce. To learn, listen, share, give and help others along the way in my own way. The accident is not the only thing to have happened through these years but I have no doubt that it served as my awakening. Having my health, future and self worth judged by strangers to numbers and percentages has taught me the much higher values of family, love, happiness and compassion.
Travelling showed me how fortunate I am to have these as struggles, a defining point that I can overcome, grow from and use for the better unlike many others in similar or much worse situations.
Losing the sensation of touch in parts of my body has only made me feel more. I have found truer understanding, ownership, confidence and strength in myself physically and mentally than I ever thought possible. I know that I can be truly happy by myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with incredible people at home and across the globe to mutually support and grow together, who are endlessly supportive and understanding while sharing my life rather than perceiving it. I’ve also learnt the need to sometimes walk away for the better. I have learnt to not only accept uncontrollable change, but welcome and crave for the force of its waves.
I can only hope for more years like these, and a little girl one day. But for now I am simply thankful for being able to make the most of every moment. For having the best family and friends. For being able to roll over in bed, brush my own hair, take a shower, stretch, stand, walk and dance my worst in the most public places I come across. For knowing that if I had to go through it all again I would. A thousand times over. And just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Photos by Melissa Findley