Imagine what life would be like if you couldn’t do such simple things as brush your own teeth and hair, get yourself a glass of water or drive a car. Taking a shower, tying your own shoes and going swimming on a hot summer day are things we take for granted. Imagine if those things were taken from you, everything you knew, and everything familiar in life was gone. Imagine you had to change everything about your life.
Five years ago a car accident stole so many simple things we take for granted from my sister, Jamie. She is now paralyzed. She can’t move her legs; she has use of her left arm, but not her fingers. She is a quadriplegic.
A split second is all it took for Jamie’s life and the lives of my family members to be changed forever.
Things have gotten a little easier in the past five years, well, maybe I shouldn’t say easier, but routine. We have accepted now that this happened, which allows us to move on with life. We take each day as it comes never really knowing what will happen next.
Medical complications like surgeries and infections cause regular visits to the hospital and there are numerous doctors’ appointments every week. Every weekday, healthcare aids come to care for my sister. They help get her showered, dressed, into her chair, fed, and various other tasks. When the aids are not around my parents do everything that needs to be done.
Three times a day, Jamie takes numerous different pills. I am not sure what they all are for but I know some are for pain and others antidepressants. They help Jamie cope with all that has happened.
I couldn’t deal with what she has to go through every day. But unlike many I can’t just forget what she has to go through. I see it almost every day.
At first Jamie’s eyes were full of pain and anger. That anger and pain is still there, but is shielded by optimism. Even with all the setbacks of bed sores, pneumonia and the time it took to switch insurance companies to get a new wheelchair paid for, she still has that fire for life burning within her.
I don’t know how she does it, how she isn’t bitter toward the world. There are bad days, everyone has them, but Jamie is just amazing, she is so strong.
My parents are strong to. Having to see a child in so much pain and discomfort and have so many opportunities taken from her is hard. The stress of dealing with insurance companies, doctor appointments and hospital visits takes a toll on a family. But we’re doing it. We are making it. It isn’t easy but life must go on.
Almost losing my sister to this accident made me realize how precious life is and I am grateful she is still here with us. Seeing what she goes through reminds me how much I should be grateful for.
I am a runner and am in my first season of cross-country here at Castleton. I used to feel guilty when I ran because Jamie could no longer do it. When we went on a family vacation I felt guilty for swimming in the ocean because she couldn’t. But I have realized I do not need to put aside things I enjoy, that Jamie wants me to enjoy such things in life.
All she wants is for me, for all of us, not to take things for granted and enjoy every moment of everything.
When you roll out of bed in the morning think of Jamie and remember all you are blessed with. Don’t take things in life for granted because you never know if those things will be taken from you tomorrow.
Be like Jamie, grateful to be alive, even when each day brings another new challenge and struggle.