Waking up in CareFlite

I can still feel the long scar streaming across the left side of my head even though I don’t remember a thing about how it got there.  I look at the pictures from the accident five years ago. But, it doesn’t help. I still don’t remember it.

Kinda funny to me, I sustained a severe concussion walking in a parking lot rather than on the field during my days playing tackle football. That accident, ironically, ended any thought I had about continuing on the gridiron in 2011.

Five years ago, it was beautiful spring morning much like the ones we are experiencing now – little cool, sun shining, slight breeze. I put on my favorite jeans, shirt, and my comfy Nike slides. I galloped down three flights of stairs and walked across the street from my apartment where I met my best friend and her boyfriend at Starbucks. We grabbed java and sat outside enjoying the best of the Texas weather.

We talked relationships and God for nearly an hour. My friend wanted to know her relationship was all it could be and headed in the right direction. She tended to doubt herself in a relationship and therefore wanted me to meet the guy and keep her mind in the right place.

After an hour, she offered to give me a ride home but the short walk across the street seemed silly for her to drive me there.

Looking back now tends to change that perspective. I should have taken that ride.

As I began my five-minute journey back, I checked voice messages. I had one from my mentor wondering how my week went. I just moved into my apartment after nine months of not having a home to call my own following divorce. I still have her message on my phone. I guess I don’t want to ever forget the last voice I heard before the accident.

The parking lot was nearly empty on the back side of Starbucks. Not a car in sight as I headed up the lot making sure I wasn’t in the main thoroughfare.

Next thing I remember is waking up in the CareFlight helicopter. What the heck happened? I had no memory whatsoever of being struck by a car, flipping 180 degrees in the air and landing head first on the gray concrete below.

Witnesses later told me they thought I instantly died the way my limp body fell like an accordion onto the pavement below. Blood poured down my face in all directions and I was unresponsive.

Thankfully, emergency crew quickly arrived.

I do remember demanding my phone in the helicopter after gaining consciousness. In exasperation, the EMT finally gave it to me. I called my friend Anthony Dorsett, Jr. who lived close to Parkland. I remember thinking he needs to pick me up and take me back home to Frisco.

Anthony laughs to this day about that call. I mumbled and made no sense whatsoever. He had no clue what I was trying to say but relieved I was found.

Unbeknownst to me, the people who first came to my aid after impact called the number of the last person to call me. That seemed like a reasonable thing to do. It was Anthony’s agent, Mook Williams. Mook could not do much since he lived in Boston, so he started calling his athletes here in Dallas. Anthony was one of them.

After arriving at the ER, I really don’t recall too much other than my precious clothes were cut off my body. Ugh, the pain of losing my favorite jeans as they sliced and diced them was a little much for me. And I have no idea where my Nike slides ended up. Those were never found nor seen again.

Yes, my religion is fashion, but my faith is in Christ. I hated wasting a great outfit on an ER visit. I miss those dang jeans! Fashion, you see is ‘an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important’ to me. It’s my creative outlet.

Ok..back to the accident aftermath…

Multiple tests later, the ER doctor told me I was one lucky lady. The fact my body was in football shape saved my life. I had no internal bleeding or injuries, and I had no broken bones he could find. I did have a severe concussion, chipped teeth, lots of scrapes and bruises, two black eyes, and an area of my head sliced open. Those could be fixed and healed. The outfit, however, that was a goner!

Since this was Easter weekend when the accident happened, my kids traveled to their grandparents two hours away. Someone called them but I don’t know who. McKenna and Josh tell me it was the most terrifying moment of their life to hear I was in an accident with no idea if I was okay or not.

My scariest moment, however, came in the recovery. I counted on my brain to do my job as a sports psychology professional and therapist. For about ten weeks, I experienced the inability to finish a sentence, not remembering how to do something I’ve always done, and forgetting what I had just said.

Just a few weeks after the fashion stealing accident, I spoke to a group of potential Canadian Football League (CFL) athletes at Texas Christian University. After I was done, I recall thinking, ‘did I even make sense?’ Joey Abrams, Assistant Director of Football Operations & Player Personnel at Montreal Alouettes, assured me I did. Even so, I had my doubts.

Over time, as I forced myself to rest, my brain restored to normal operating procedure.

Classic question: how did this accident change me? Most people, I read, who have a near death experience generate a greater passion for life. Not so for me.

Don’t get me wrong, though, it just reinforced how I aimed to live each day–making a difference and pouring into people–that’s what I did before the accident; it’s what I was doing right before the accident, and it now remains what I do after the accident.

God, I  believe, put an aspiration in me to live each day as if it could be my last. Long before this accident, the Nickelback song, ‘If Today was Your Last Day’  rung out with every phone call I received.

“You can’t rewind a moment in this life, let nothing stand in your way cause the hands of time are never on our side. If today was your last day, and tomorrow was too late, could you say goodbye to yesterday? Would you live each moment like your last?” Those are simple but powerful lyrics in the song.

I don’t want to ever lay my head down at night and think I did not give my best to the people God put in front of me. While I am not always perfect about it, I want to lay my head down at night knowing I delivered attention, enthusiasm, and love to people.

Quite honestly, I don’t understand why people wait to live and love with excellence. Why wait for a tragedy to happen before you tell people what they mean to you? Why wait until your death-bed to open up your heart.

The time is now while those people are alive. Speak to them about how they changed you, influenced you, or impacted your life in some way. I don’t care if it’s uncomfortable, do it.

If you can’t speak, then write. Take the time to make your relationships all  they can be. Keep your mind, heart, and soul generating love, healing, and forgiveness. A closed heart will miss out on the greatest aspects of this physical life.

Oh, and for God’s sake’s, don’t waste a good outfit on a normal average day!

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