My story goes back to when I was 14 years old and this guy started to like me, for 2 1/2 years he did nothing but diminish my self-worth and my spirit but the dancer and cheerleader in me kept me going. It was my escape and what brought/brings me joy. We dated for 2 1/2 years before the night of 7/22/01 when he and I got in an argument over being at a party. These arguments happened all the time, I had turned 17 in May and finally had my night license. so, we went home from the party to his house and I said I was going to go back to the party which he told me was ok but after going to the bathroom in his house (I am a big water drinker, so i had to go to the bathroom, the reason we left the party was because the keg was kicked) and on my way out he cornered me in the kitchen and fought with me for a while and then left. So, no big deal after a couple years of fighting daily. I was just happy he let me go and left so I could go see my friends. Well, I never made it back that night to the party, he was waiting for me at 7-11 on East Henrietta and Lehigh Station Road. He pulled out and started speeding up. When I turned on Goodburlet road I realized it was him and knew I could not stop my car because there was no one around to save me. I ended up losing control of my car, flipping a few times and uprooting a tree. My legs were wrapped around the tree with the hood of my car. My life as I knew it was changed in a split-second. So, although he altered my ability to walk and be athletic, which was what brought me the most joy in my life, I was now free of his controlling, physical, psychological, and emotional abuse. I was stuck in the car for 3 1/2 hours and they were going to amputate my right leg at the scene of the accident but the fire-fighter (Kevin Blair) fought to save it as I was just 17 and he has kids of his own. I honestly had no idea how bad it was when I was in the car, I just kept wondering why it was taking them so long to get me out of my car. Well, my left leg was hyperextended the wrong way 45 degrees and my right leg was crushed and the femoral artery had been cut, but miraculously, with the guardian angels I didn't know I had, the tree and the car pinched it. If that hadn't of happened I would have had about three minutes to live, yet I was in there for 3 1/2 hours. We worked together as they pulled my car apart I told them whether it felt like my legs would move or if it felt like it was pressing harder on my legs. I did not feel pain just pressure. They had to break the back window over me, somehow it did not shatter when the car crashed. So, before the rescue personnel got there my boyfriend was going to try and pull me out of the car. I had two more guardian angels that night. See, my very now EX-boyfriend was going to try and pull me out of the car...and that would have killed me. A couple was on their way home from going out and stopped. Thankfully he was tall and strong so he got him away from my car. My EX didn't fight guys, just girls. OK, so they got me free and saved my leg but the time I was trapped my lower leg died. My fibula shattered, my ankle shattered. The blood flow was gone to my leg below my knee and it just started to die. I had a six hour surgery to try and save it and for 3 weeks I had no idea if I would keep my lower right leg and when they said I could, I had no idea it was so tiny. Maybe I would have been better off if they amputated but I am so grateful I have it. So 5 1/2 weeks in the hospital, surgery almost every other day to debris the dead skin and tissue. Skin grafts, neither foot worked, I could not walk, I could not get out of the bed. The PCL in my left knee is gone, the LCL in my right knee is gone. My right thumb was broken but by the grace of god I had no internal bleeding and not a single internal injury. So, i was in a wheel chair for a while and they were not sure if I would ever walk again. I remember when I could just stand again and balance and was so grateful. I have been fighting to feel great and walk the best I can for the past 15 years. Surgery and surgery, ankle braces, knee braces, other contraptions. I did pretty well for a while. I mean, the physical therapist told me my ankle would never move again, but at 17, someone who loved dancing and jumping as a cheerleader it was hard to grasp that. The game changer for me was 4 years ago, almost 5 now I had my ankle fused. This was a very hard decision for me because it was accepting that my ankle was just not cutting it anymore. I had finally found a full-time job I could do, worked towards getting off of all public and government assistance and was making my own full-time income. However, I was in excruciating pain, just sitting at a desk. I was taking a lot of meds and it was not good. Gaining weight, feeling horrible, just not living. So, I made the call to the ankle doctor. The x-rays showed bone spurs and that the cartilage was gone. Fusion was my only choice really. I mean, I was lucky to be alive and walk but I wasn't living so I had to make the choice and take the chance. I had to fully prepare for a year recovery and to live in a cast and walking boot for a while. Every time I have surgery I start over with reigning muscle because it is so small if I don't wake it up daily it just doesn't work. So, January 19, 2011 they 're-broke' my ankle, removed any cartilage that was left, and put a lot of hardware in there to hold the bones together so they could fuse. The surgery was a success. I quickly began losing weight after the surgery because I was moving more on crutches and in a cast than I was before the fusion. So, I did really well over time, PT, pool PT, got back in the gym, joined the YMCA. Lost about 40lbs. Got married, bought a house, and then we found out I was pregnant. We were trying it just wasn't happening but then it finally did. So, I just let it all go, the eating right, the working out. I had to stop all meds, I had taken them for about 13 years. This was the best thing though because I have not taken any pain meds since I found out I was pregnant. I gained over 50lbs but I actually felt amazing most of my pregnancy. We never knew how my body and leg would handle being pregnant as I lost two main arteries in my lower right leg too so I always have to wear a pressure stocking.

Ok, so fast forward to last year. I really felt like crap after having my son and I no longer had hours to spend at the gym. I was trying to lose weight but it was not happening how I needed it too to help my leg and body feel better. I breastfed and still do so, I could not go back to my meds. I was at a point where if I didn't make a change I would be back at the ankle doctor because the screws were actually hurting me and I just can't do another surgery. So, I joined Beachbody as a coach. I have always loved helping people, I guest speak and tell my story and that is my big goal that I am working for, to be a motivational speaker full-time and start a foundation to work with parents and teens on healthy relationships in all aspects of life. Joining beachbody and starting the 21 day fix has been amazing, within 1 week I felt better. The lifestyle change, the workouts, I could do the modifications. It was refreshing and I was not aggravated. Even better I get to help others, my life goal and passion! I found joy again, I saw the light come back in my smile finally. I saw it darken after the accident and see, I had to fix me. My husband, my son, my family, they could not fix me. I had to deal with things and fix my self. There is really big focus on personal development as a coach and a challenger. I resisted at first but then I went all in. I started to read and listen to podcasts and books. I realized it was OK to heal myself and focus on me because until I did that I could not focus on anyone or anything else in my life 100%.

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I am still very much working on this but as I lost the weight and felt better I felt like I was finally healing. I an continuing to improve as a wife, mother, friend, daughter and I am no longer looking for approval from others. I am finally healing emotionally! I have focused on the physical part for 15 years I never went back to that little 14 year old girl that was broken down daily until the day of the car accident. My dream is to change lives and spread hope, joy, acceptance for the bad but knowing that you can't give up and with a positive outlook and gratitude you can survive anything. It is those that are grateful for life that make the most of it. When you know what it is like to not be able to go to the bathroom on your own or shower on your own, it puts a lot in perspective. OK, so see, I need to start writing books. There is a lot here. Sorry if I went on and on and thank you for asking about my story. When I guest speak and share it helps me heal. It is what has helped keep me sane all these years as I resisted counseling for a long time. I did see a trauma counselor 4 years ago and I am ready to go back and keep healing! The biggest thing I learned most in the past 6 months was that I was letting the mentality of "I'm just lucky to walk, so everything else I accomplish is pretty great" hold me back. Well, I can walk and do so much more, carry a baby to term and now carry his 30lbs self around! I will become the motivational speaker, I will start writing my bikes, I will keep working to build muscles and do workouts that I once thought would never happen again. Through fitness I found my joy, built my confidence back and stopped limiting myself. I went to RIT and graduation with my undergrad and grad degree in communications. I loved it and it was to help with creating a speaking career, I'm a technical writer currently. I know though that going to school was something I could do and do well so I kept going. It was my passion and I love writing but I'm ready to move on now and start doing so much more than just what I am lucky to do!

 

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