The Courage it Takes to Live Alive Amid Challenges - Neeloo’s Story

January 25 | The Practice |

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Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I have to go to yoga today…”, internally framing your practice as chore or one more thing to check-off your neverending to-do list? If you have, you’re not alone. Nevertheless, it’s our hope the following story will help you reframe your practice – as a gift, instead of a task to accomplish.

To wrap-up our January theme of Live Alive and to kick-off our February Challenge, Neeloo, a member of our community, –  a student from Columbus, Ohio – graciously shared her story with us. Her story exemplifies the courage it takes to Live Alive amid life’s greatest challenges. Last year, Neeloo was seriously injured on her walk to work. She shared her story, in her own words, in the paragraphs below.

A big “thanks” to Neeloo for her bravery and openness.

Neeloo’s Story – In Her Own Words

The thing about trauma is that in a matter of seconds your entire life as you had once known it changes, and there is no possible way to prepare for it. You don’t see it coming and you have no way of avoiding what is yet to come. You just have to go with it. You can either stay a victim or become a survivor. That was the choice I was faced with on the day of my accident and every following day.

I never thought my routine walk to work would change my life forever. It was only about a ten minute walk from my downtown Columbus apartment to the office, but that morning in September, I didn’t make it past my block – that morning I was hit by a city bus. I was run over and pulled underneath it while it continued with its route not realizing it was dragging me along with it. When the bus finally stopped, I was laying face down underneath, screaming for help. People started to gather around the bus to calm me down and let me know the paramedics were on their way. I was trying my hardest to ignore the unbearable pain and just focus on my breathing.

The paramedics arrived, got me out from under the bus, put me on a stretcher and rushed me to the ER. After running multiple scans and tests, they told me I’d be going into surgery in a couple of hours. I was terrified and had no idea what was going on or what was wrong.

I was in ICU for a few days and then moved to the trauma floor. I had multiple injuries and surgeries that left me with screws and plates in my lower back and pelvis. For the majority of my time at the hospital I could barely move or do anything on my own. I was only able to lay on my back. Getting out of bed was not an option–I couldn’t even sit up without the help of my nurses. I could barely sleep because I was always uncomfortable. I knew I was so incredibly lucky to be alive, but I would still cry multiple times a day because I was in immense pain even with the medications I was given. On top of the physical pain, I was emotionally drained. The depression, anxiety and PTSD were taking a toll on me.

From ICU to Recovery

After the most difficult two weeks of my life, I prepared to be relocated to an outpatient rehabilitation hospital. I was completely non-weight bearing on both of my legs, which meant I would be in a wheelchair for an undetermined amount of time. There was a lot of uncertainty and I wasn’t sure when I would be able to walk again.

I am beyond grateful for the amazing amount of support I had from family and friends. My close friends were at the hospital immediately after the accident and stayed there until I came out of surgery. I was constantly flowered with love and visits while I was in the hospital. I will forever cherish those people who lifted me up during my lowest points in life and continue to carry me through.

My parents and sister came in from Chicago and Los Angeles and never left my side for the few weeks following. My dad and sister became my biggest advocates when I was too weak to speak up. My mom ended up staying by my side for over three months. She slept almost every night with me in my hospital room and then on my couch in my apartment when I was discharged from the rehab. In the beginning I could do very little on my own. At age 23, I needed my mother’s help with my daily tasks including anything from helping me put my shoes on, to taking care of my dog. I’ve always been a pretty independent person, so accepting the fact that I needed the help of others was somewhat of a challenge.

I will forever appreciate all that my mom did for me during this time of my life. She truly is an amazing woman and mother. It was the most time we have spent together since I graduated high school and I wouldn’t trade that time for the world. In November I was cleared to use a walker along with my wheelchair. From there I started in-home therapy to slowly gain the strength to walk again. By mid-December I was cleared to start walking and was able to celebrate my 24th birthday on two feet.

Moving Forward

I’m ready to leave 2017 in the past and move forward with a life of health and happiness. In the beginning, I had a hard time accepting that my body had changed. I didn’t look like I use to. I lost over 20 pounds, my clothes no longer fit the same and I had new scars tattooed on my body. All of this has taught me the importance of loving yourself and being secure with what you have. My body is miraculous and my scars are my story of strength. I’ve gained a new perspective and deeper appreciation of my beautiful life.

I’m looking forward to starting outpatient rehab in January and eventually getting back to yoga classes. I will definitely have to incorporate new modifications into my practice and blocks will become my new best friend, but I’m happy to have yoga in my life again to help with the physical and mental healing.

I struggled to find a way to write this, partially because I have trouble wrapping my head around what happened, but also because I’m still recovering. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be ready to share all the personal details when I agreed to write this post. As I continue to heal, I look forward to eventually sharing my story in full. I hope to connect with those of you who can relate whether you’ve gone through your own similar experience or been there for a loved going through it. Feel free to reach out or follow me along my journey on Instagram @neeloofathi.