The Gift of Being Fully “Alive”

It has now been officially almost a year and a half since my accident.  A journey of a lifetime, and I feel so very blessed to have experienced it.   There were moments where I will be marked forever.  However,  I would go through it all again if it brings me back to the same place I am now.  I wanted to share a snapshot of this journey.

The Gift of Being Fully…..ALIVE

It was January 2011; we anticipated a long awaited inheritance gift of a magical family trip to my favorite place in the world – Disney World.  The trip happened really because we lost 2 of our grandparents suddenly in 2007 and my mom wanted to create a wondrous and magical moment for her entire family with inheritance money.  Six adults and five children headed on the journey of a lifetime.

The first day I felt so alive, like I was a kid again. We went to Sea World the first day I wanted to leave my most favorite place in the world until last. As I looked across the stadium watching the dolphins jump in the air, I looked across at my family and I said to God, “Thank-you so much for this balance, and for all of us to be this happy together for the first time in a long time”. That night as the kids went to bed, all of us adults sat by the pool, and began to unwind and relax. I was dancing, and enjoying the night. I felt free, I felt alive. Then it happened, a tragic accident, I hit my head on the bottom of a three feet deep pool. I came up from the water, and instantly believed I was going to be ok.  “Something” told me to brace my neck.  It was an odd sense at that moment, but I believe that God was holding me in his arms right then and there. Feeling and communicating like a child again, I called for my mother.  I heard a blur of voices around me, everyone was not thinking straight.  Except mom she knew what to do; she dialed 9-1-1.  The fear set in, and I told her not to call, knowing that my one action may ruin the trip for all.  The fire department came and stabilized my neck. The pain… I could not describe it, my head felt heavy and discomfort radiated through my back and neck.

The five minute trip to the hospital lasted forever, and the pain coupled with emotion left me breathless. Emergency response personnel surrounded me; I asked myself “was this really happening, was I in a dream?”   We arrived at the hospital and people were rushing around me.  I don’t remember how much time passed, but suddenly my feet, hands and head tingled.  I was losing the feeling.  I was frightened; my brother, dad and husband were horrified. I asked them to get a priest as I wanted to pray the scripture where Jesus tells his disciples that they could have the power of healing through the Holy Spirit. The priest arrived, could not find the scripture, but we all prayed together for God to heal me. This was the scariest moment in my life. The thoughts that raced through my mind I never dreamed I would think.  I began to rationalize I could live without movement as long as I could see my children grow up. I prayed to God to give me another chance. Then minutes later the feeling and sensation of touch started rushing back into my hands, feet, and head.

Hours felt like weeks. I was so sad, and had such regret. I made mistakes. I was disappointed in myself; I gave it all to God. I asked him for strength, I needed Him, I gave everything to Him. Here I am God, take me, and tell me what to do.  We found out later that it was a C1 fracture (burst fracture), the rarest of fractures. The statistics stifling, 50% of people survive, of that 50% many can never walk again. Fear crept in… Over a period of two days as the doctors considered next steps.  I could not eat, and lay in a bed unable to move the upper part of my body I contemplated what my life was going to become.  I wondered what did this mean for me? This is when I realized that fear is the enemy lurking, waiting, wanting to encapsulate us.  I prayed, help me God, I am on my knees, I need you.

Then it was relayed to me, the decision not to operate and to proceed with a “halo” to stabilize my neck.  Four pins/bolts were drilled into my head, I had my own halo.  I didn’t feel like an angel by any means.  The halo was to be on for 80 days. In some ways I felt like I knew Jesus through this.  I had my own burden to bear but my inner strength came from the second chance at life.  God saved me for a reason.

It has been three days, and I had not seen my children since the accident. I was so worried about their reaction to their new mommy in this new metal enclosure. It looked like a jail. My poor husband tried to be so strong and positive for me.  The children arrived, and the looks on their eyes, they are marked on my heart forever. Horrific and scared..I prayed God please give me the right words. This mama then got all of the strength she could muster up and said, “Marcus, Drew, don’t worry mommy is ok, she is not in pain (as I told my first untruth). Guess what? You can show me to your friends at show and tell – your mommy is a transformer – how cool is that?” A twitch of a smile began to appear on their faces. I felt sadness in my heart, I couldn’t hug them, and I couldn’t feel their touch skin on skin. I kept telling myself, this is just temporary. Then they left, and I told God – thank-you for saving me Lord, this life is a gift. I promise, I will be alive this time around.

That day, I had to walk with 8lbs on my body, I got up and my blood pressure dropped. Heavy, hurt, burdened… I prayed, and God carried me.  Two hours later I walked a few steps, and a few hours later I walked to the door. He marked footprints on my heart. Forever changed.

You see the thing I never really knew, is that He was always carrying me. What He wanted from me was to lean on Him completely. The months that followed had their ups and downs. There are things that we all take for granted, a simple hug, washing our hair on our own, bathing. I wanted the moments back. Then it was time for the halo to come off. There was so much anticipation. These moments were overwhelming…. Just being able to touch again my boys to my stomach was such a joy. 80 days without it sure make you realize how precious those hugs can be. Oh how we take these simple pleasures for granted.

Dancing with the boys before the halo removal to “staying alive”

Removal of the Halo

Getting the collar on:

After the collar came off, a CT scan was needed to confirm healing. The radiology results revealed that break was “worse off, unhealed, non-union”.  The break had not been healed and the fracture clearly indicated that the bones were not in unison.  I was petrified, what did this now mean?  I couldn’t think straight. Two days of complete fear. I was paralyzed with fear.  I prayed, and again God was there. He told me to contact someone that could provide perspective.  My thoughts rested, due to God intervening.  This verse that rang in my ears was, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a future and hope.” Jeremiah 29:110  I made a choice from that moment on, to fully trust in God.  This is life – this is what God wants from us to really be Alive!  That was what He wanted from me.  He wanted me to trust Him completely. Up until this moment, I don’t think I trusted Him fully and completely.

And here I am today, a walking miracle of the Lord God. I am alive in so many ways; physically, mentally, and spiritually. I praise God for giving me a second chance.  He has given me a new perspective.  It’s a gift from God – to truly live in the present and to be FULLY ALIVE. I am so blessed from this amazing experience.

11 In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:11)  God’s plan for me was to go on this trip and to come out stronger than I was before, with a brand new perspective.  I would go through all of this once again, if it brings me to the same place I am now.  Being fully alive, living each day to the fullest and serving Him.


8 thoughts on “The Gift of Being Fully “Alive”

  1. Wow thank you so much for sharing your story, so very similar to my own. It’s the time of not seeing or being able to hold your children that is so very difficult, I found (my youngest was 6 months old at the time). But you are so right once out the other side there is just such a deep thankfulness and gratitude to the universe/powers that be (whatever your belief system) WE ARE ALIVE and can watch our families grow WE ARE SO VERY LUCKY!

    1. Kerryn thank-you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. Did you break your neck as well? Did you find me through the facebook page?!/pages/Broken-Neck-Survivors-Support-Page/254925164545493?bookmark_t=page
      Again, we are blessed, and I keep remembering those moments so that I continue to “ground” myself and not get caught up in the “stuff” (material things) of life.

  2. What an incredible story Vanessa!!!! I find so many things amazing. Like right after the accident, when the priest and your family prayed, and you did too… and suddenly you had feeling/tingling come back! Like seeing you dance with that halo on! Like knowing that you could still trust God when the docs told you that the break didn’t heal! (and I still can’t believe you got your picture with Mickey and Minnie when you were wearing that halo!) Your perserverence to continue believing God and actually walk through this on…. absolutely amazing!!! Thanks for sharing. BTW, I really like what you’ve done with your blog. I especially like your title “Awakening the Soul”!

    1. Barb you are so very kind. One of these days we will meet each other 🙂 You have done so much for me and I am so blessed to have you as a friend…. Yes those days were the hardest but the best of my life if that makes sense. Luv Ya!

  3. Vanessa as usual you made me cry. I know that your whole ordeal was something that none of us would ever wish to have happen. You have come through with such strength. Bless you
    Auntie Marj & Uncle Jim

    1. Awhhh auntie you are so very kind. I didn’t mean to make you cry. You have gone through times in your life too that have tested your soul 😉 These times make us stronger. Love you lots, Nessa

  4. Thank you for sharing Ness…. you are truly a remarkable woman, daughter, mother, wife and friend! While we’ve never met in person, I feel like I’ve known you a lifetime. I hope that our paths will cross someday and we will meet. I never thought I’d meet a person I could call a true friend over a simple “mothers” website, but it happened nearly 9 years ago and I am truly blessed for knowing you and having been able to share with you. Thank you for being you and I thank God each and everyday for all my friends and the blessings they are given. Love ya,

    1. Oh Cat, this is so very kind of you. I think back to that time, and I had you… Ryan was working away from home and I was going through a pregnancy with my first child. You calmed my fears, we shared stories all the time in the first few years and stayed connected. I am so glad for that; you were and still are a blessing to me! You have such wisdom and we as women are meant to be there for each other – for a season, or a lifetime. I can’t wait until we meet in person one day! Hugs, Vanessa

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