There are critical moments in life when we have to decide who we are going to be. One of
those moments happened to me in July 2020. While on an easy bike ride in March, I had
chest pain. I’m a fit and healthy person. This was definitely not normal. I found out my heart valve had to be replaced. This was a known issue checked yearly and wasn’t supposed to be a problem for decades. Suddenly I needed open-heart surgery.
On May 28th, because of the pandemic, I walked alone into the hospital for what was supposed to be a 3 hour procedure and 4 days in the hospital. Unfortunately, my heart couldn’t get off bypass and I was unconscious for 6 days and in the ICU for 2 weeks. During that time, I lost my ability to walk and my right foot dropped from the device that kept me alive pressing on the nerves of my leg.
I had to learn to walk again with a walker, while not tripping on my dropped foot. I couldn’t
even get to the bathroom alone, 8 feet from my bed. As a former division 1 athlete, this was not only physically devastating but mentally, I had trouble seeing my life as ever happy again.
In that moment I had a choice. Who am I going to be? I decided. I am NOT going to be walker girl! I didn’t even want to see it. I held my partner’s arm to walk and progressed rapidly. I self rehabbed my dropped foot and eventually got full functionality back. Once on my own power, it took a while to get my equilibrium back. I often veered sideways looking like a drunken sailor and had to be stabilized quickly. But no walker!
Two months after I left the hospital for the third time and third surgery, I biked 20 miles of rolling hills. At 3 months I hiked 6 miles at 6000 feet, and at 4 months I was paddling on my narrow racing standup paddleboard in the open ocean. I made a choice; to be the victor, no the victim. My promise was to my partner, my brain and my body. In that pivotal moment I chose who I wanted to be. The path forward was clear after the hard decision was made. I took it, stuck to it and fulfilled my promise to be the best version of myself.
In life we have pivotal moments all the time. It can be as simple as asking that person out or deciding to run a 10K. It can be as powerful as quitting your job and going out on your own. Your decisions determine which version of yourself you will be.
My calling is to dare people to be the greatest version of themselves and support them on their journey as I was supported on mine.
What decision is between you and the greatest version of yourself?