I don't believe everything happens for a specific reason, but I do believe it's possible to find purpose - even in the absence of explanation.
On August 29th, 2016 I was pinned between two cars. I was diagnosed with a crushed peroneal nerve, a broken fibula, drop foot, and a partial crush to my tibial nerve. I was hospitalized for eight days where I then went home in a wheel chair. For 3 months I had in home care - help going to the bathroom, getting dressed, as well as in home physical therapy. In November of 2016, I went to UPENN to get my first surgery on my peroneal nerve. The doctors were hesitant to go in right away as they were hoping time could help heal the nerve. Before surgery I was unable to walk and lost all feeling in my right leg below my knee. My doctor at UPMC had sent me to UPENN as the surgery was a procedure, he felt very few doctors had the ability to do. I went to physical therapy after surgery at UPENN and began walking about 4 weeks after. This was a huge moment for my family, friends, teammates, coaches and I as doctors had told me I would never walk again. My doctors were trying to plan my life in a wheelchair as we never received any hope that I would be able to walk. I was medically disqualified right when the accident happened, which led me to believe I really was done playing soccer. I got another surgery in January of 2017 and September of 2017. My fourth surgery was in October of 2018. My last two surgeries were a result of compartment syndrome that I developed from the impact of the accident as well as the recovery. It was difficult to keep getting these surgeries when I didn't feel the pain. However, I knew by the swelling and MRI results it was what was best for my body. I ended up running a half-marathon in 2018 which helped my confidence tremendously. I began feeling like an athlete again. I graduated from Pitt in December of 2018 where I took the majority of my classes online as I was either in Philadelphia getting surgery or Cleveland doing therapy. In January of 2019 I began graduate school at Cleveland State and returned on the field for spring season and will be completing my fifth year this upcoming fall.
As this was my only injury as an athlete, it was a whole new lifestyle. I remember going to therapy after the accident and would just look at my leg in the mirror in tears while moving my left foot. I couldn't move my right leg at all and looking at my left leg move in a mirror, doctors hoped it could trigger the nerve in my right leg.
I was in a wheelchair or crutches for the majority of my college career. It was easy to compare myself to other athletes and other injured people and think why did this happen? Reflecting on the experience, I find myself thanking God for all that I have learned and the person he made me into. I don't wish trauma on anyone but the way you respond is everything. It came to a point where I stopped feeling sorry for myself and believed that God put me through this for a reason.
I still don't have it all figured out today, not even close. I get upset wishing I could have had the college experience my friends got or just being able to just have feeling in my right leg. With a 12-inch scar, I get questioned about it almost daily. My scar reminds me of God's plan. The lessons he wanted me to learn, the people he wanted me to impact, and the trust I put in him to help give me the strength to keep going.
I am thankful for the encouragement, prayers, and unconditional love I received to get to this point. I was truly lost at first. Until this injury, soccer was my life. I spent the weekends playing in games and weekdays training. As athletes, we often times get caught up in performance and forget about our true purpose. Yes, sports help mold us into who we are and give us life-long qualities, but the impact we can have on each other along the way outweighs any fulfillment a sport could ever offer.