Monthly Archives: November 2011

Full Circle

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About nine or ten years ago, I met a young girl named Abigail Kelley. It was shortly after 9/11 that I decided to end working in the corporate sector and decided to work as an Americorps volunteer. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was meant to do- but I did know that I wanted my footprint to be one of change in this world. I was fortunate to get assigned to a youth center in a small town called St. Albans, in Vermont. The youth center was struggling. It had inconsistent hours, staffing, and funding, but it was well needed and youth came up and visited everyday. One of those youth was twelve year old Abigail Kelley. She was an incredibly resilient young girl. Her homelife was in disarray, and she quite often subbed as a mom.

She loved the youth center and became involved in most everything we did, and I slowly became another big sister. After some unexpected tragedy in her family, I became her official mentor so we could have time one day a week to focus on her. Much of my spare time went into my work with the youth in St. Albans, and Abigail was always at my side. She began going to meetings with me, writing press releases with me, and even grants. She was so willing to learn and always so full of appreciation. When she was a junior we drove to Maine so she could check out a college she was interested in attending. After she graduated, she attended the college and double majored in fire science and paramedicine. Now Abigail is twenty-two. When I was in ICU after getting hit, she drove down from Maine and checked in on me. Today, she returned to see me and held my hand during wound changes and cried with me when I stood and my wounds bled onto the floor.

Sometimes, we never know what seeds we plant during our actions with other people- when the seeds grow and bloom the gift is so great.

Today, she is a paramedic and lives in Maine, and I am so thankful that little twelve year old girl now stands as a strong and confident woman. I am blessed. Thank you little sister.

Thank you

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Breathe. Feel the air going into your lungs, embrace it as it fuels your blood and cells, and your organs. Celebrate life.

Today I cried a lot, I winced a lot in pain, but I did it all because God spared me. This afternoon my parents, brother and sister and law and nephews came to the Rehab hospital. They drove up from PA to make Thanksgiving dinner and celebrate together. When I finally got help organizing my tubes and getting in to a wheel chair, my sweet husband pushed me down to the cafeteria. Tucked in a back conference room I discovered my family sitting around a beautifully decorated table with smiles on their faces. One by one we embraced. This time the hugs were different, they were fully with purpose, strength, love, support, and incredible joy.

As I sat uncomfortably on my large wound in the wheel chair- I just felt such thanks. A plate of home-made dinner was put before me and we lowered our heads, held hands firmly and prayed…. The quiet ticking of my wound vac was sounding in the background.

“God, you spared me….” kept running through my head. As my ten year old nephews sweaty hand held me tight I drank in the goodness of our togetherness.

Upon eating I struggled to stay dry-eyed. I simply wanted to look at my loved ones. My beautiful sister, my older brother, my husband who kept watch of me softly, my squirmy ten year nephew that finds fascination in everything, my eldest nephew who is now fifteen. I looked at him and remembered when he was first born and I held him closely, so proud to be an aunt. Then of course my mom and dad. Although I am a 36 year old woman, I still need them. Watching them talk and laugh just brought so much joy to my soul.

I have about another month or so in the rehab hospital. It hurts to stand and walk (but I can!) for short distances and my wounds….. ugh. But, I believe in my heart this will be temporal. Today my wish was to stand long enough to embrace my husband, and I did. For about ten seconds I nestled my head into his chest as he embraced me. I really needed that.

When I am healed I look forward to being a light to you. thank you Bill, Molly, and my cousin for helping us raise money for medical bills. Your work for us will never be forgotten.

Happy day of thanks. May every day be Thanksgiving.

Tears and joy

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One of the hardest thing about being in a rehab hospital with multiple severe wounds is the countless dressing changes and the pain that accompanies them.

Every day I have to have my back wound change two to three times, my stomach wound changed twice, my colostomy cleaned out, and then every Monday, Wednesday and Friday the wound speciaist comes to remove my leg wrapping and vac and re-do it. The reality is that although remaining positive is ideal, several times a day I break.

I have learned that letting myself cry when I need to is ok, being scared is ok, and yet at the same time I could still pull strength from God. It is amazing I am here.

Tonight Sean walked in after a long day of work, his eyes full of love and yet full of fatigue. Every day he drives to the rehab hospital after work to sleep next to me. He holds me from side to side as they clean me, and we hold hands. Times like this I find joy and sadness, as I long to be healed and back home with nursing care.

Then I have to keep in mind progress- today in physical therapy I walked again. Today I did a step up on a step platform, although it hurt and I was weak- I did it. One of m y wounds around my hip is getting smaller, so although I have a new infected stomach wound- other parts are healing. My parents arrived into town today, what sweet joy it is to hug them.

I am continuing to try to learn acceptance, patience, and still fight. Until then, I will let the laughter, tears, smiles, and silence be a part of me- and I will continue to look towards God to heal me so I can be a wife, and a light.

In the blink of an eye…

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<For those of you who have been following my blog over the last several months, I hope you enjoyed sharing in the journey as much as I have enjoyed taking the journey. I cycled well over 900 miles since spring. cycling for health, environmental reasons, sport, and lastly to raise awareness about Peacejam on the 600 mile cycling tour. So many of you have been supporting PeaceJam, and me and for that I say "Thank you". I have been away from blogging for awhile due to a traumatic life changing accident. On October 8th, less than two weeks after my sister and law and I cycled 600 miles throughout New England speaking with PeaceJammers and colleges, community groups, ect. Life changed in a blink of an eye. It was a gorgeous Saturday morning and I road my bike into work to have a meeting with the executive director. The day felt perfect. Blue skies, cool breezes, and warm sun. The commute to work is about 12 miles, just enough to get excited and look forward to the ride home. No carbon emissions, no gas and oil leaking on the road, just my legs and my heart fueling the commute.

On that day as I entered the town of Madison, a truck turning into traffic did not see me and ran over me. I felt my pelvis shattering, my butt getting ripped up by my seat lever, pain as thee delivery truck went over my abdomen and left leg totally degloving it.

It happened, I was a statistic and this statistic just immediately began fighting for her life. Shrieking in pain others stopped traffic and helped me get an ambulance. I was in critical care a few days at Yale and then on a ventillator asleep in and out of surgeries for a month. On November 11, I was released to Gaylords rehab hospital where they have a wound vac on my skinless leg, much daily care to the wounds on my stomach, including my beautiful new colostomy, and a four inch deep wound right in my tookus. I am also learning to walk again.

I have felt intense fear, anger, sadness, relief (as they almost lost me a few times) and now in the state of finding trust and acceptance.

Throughout all of this I have learned the definition of unconditional love through my husband that has slept by my side every night and all of my friends and family that have rallied together to not just support and pray for me, but also for eachother. God does answer prayers.

NextGen Leaders struggled financially and due to their outcome I have lost my job, but I am still hopefull about PeaceJam. PeaceJam is an international organization so I believe my work is far from done. For now, I need to heal and nourish my soul. Please pray for me during the day. Pray my wounds will heal, pray we can find a way to pay our expenses, and pray that Sean and I can keep strong and healthy souls as sometimes we just crumble and cry.

Life changes in an instant, I am alive to tell you about it. I am also not ever going to give up.
Please keep in contact.
With Peace and hope,
Colleen