“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron
It would be understandable if my friend Lindsey felt sorry for herself. But she doesn’t.
Until she turned 13, Lindsey’s life was like that of most kids. She enjoyed hanging out with neighbors. She had a mother (one of my best friends, Tina, who I’ve written about here), a father, and four siblings. Lindsey says, “I remember going to Door County many times for vacation. That was always fun.”
Just before Lindsey entered 8th grade, her mother passed away from Adrenal Cortical cancer. “It was thirteen years ago that I lost my mother to cancer. She was not only my mother but my best friend. It was really difficult the first few months because I would wake up in the morning and think she was there. But she wasn’t.”
“We went from having two parents to one. I had to get in a routine and help my Dad with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry, and I looked after my younger siblings. I couldn’t just go out after Mom died; everything had to be scheduled. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to hang out.”
Two years later, Lindsey’s Dad remarried. “It was kind of hard getting along with three new siblings. We all had to adjust.” There were eight kids altogether, and the family later moved to another town.
Lindsey with siblings Jacob (left), Jason, and stepsister Alyssa with Harvard.
Lindsey adjusted to her new life, and all was going fairly well until May 4, 2012. She had finished a training program to be a dance instructor and was scheduled to begin teaching. She was also working full time, cleaning homes to earn money for college.
Then her life changed again. “It happened in the morning during work. We were driving from the first house to the second, and the driver fell asleep at the wheel. I tried to wake her, but she wouldn’t wake up. I had to decide whether to crash or to keep going toward the Fox River. I grabbed the wheel and we crashed between two trees.”
Emergency workers at the scene of the accident
The car at the scene of the accident
If Lindsey hadn’t turned the steering wheel, they’d have gone into the Fox River. “We would have hit power poles, too.”
The driver suffered minor injuries, but Lindsey was airlifted by helicopter to a trauma hospital. She was in critical condition with a punctured lung and spleen, an ankle broken in three places, a broken femur, a fractured disc in her spine, and five fractured ribs. She had a breathing tube and three surgeries. During the surgeries, metal pieces were put in her leg, ankle, and back, and Lindsey still has the metal inside her body.
There are two ways of looking at this accident, as is true of many situations in life: “Isn’t it awful that this happened to me?” or “Aren’t I lucky that I’m alive?” Lindsey has chosen the latter viewpoint.
“After the accident, I had to start depending on other people. I would have liked it better if it hadn’t happened, but everything happens for a reason.”
Lindsey outside rehab hospital with sister Sarah
Initially Lindsey had intensive therapy at a rehabilitation hospital. Then she had additional therapy for two hours a day, three days a week. She had pain throughout her body. “I tried not to depend on others but after my surgeries, I needed someone to push me to exercise at home. All of my family were big motivators. They helped me and supported me. It was really nice that they did that.”
Lindsey with stepmom Deeanna, father Jim, brother Jacob and sister Sarah
“It was hard the first few times I drove again. We all hear about accidents, but I never thought it could happen to me. The accident made me much more cautious. I tell my friends not to text and drive while I’m in the car. It freaks me out.”
After Lindsey’s boot and back brace were removed, she had dance therapy at the dance studio. “Dance motivated me more than anything else because that was the main thing I liked to do. Wanting to do what I used to do was a big motivator in my recovery.”
Besides dance, Lindsey enjoyed camping and climbing hills and mountains. Now these activities are limited. “I can’t go camping because my back aches if I hike too long or if I don’t sleep well. I can’t do a lot outside because I can’t bend, kneel or squat for long. I do take short hikes, but I have to take breaks.” Lindsey also has back pain if she sits too long or stands too long.
Lindsey has been a receptionist at a dermatology office for three and a half years. She went to school at night and on Saturdays to learn to be a massage therapist. “I wanted to be a massage therapist because my own massage therapy was relaxing and therapeutic. Massages were done on me during my physical therapy sessions. I wanted to make people feel better by doing something that had an impact on me during my time of need.” Lindsey is currently looking for steady work as a massage therapist.
Lindsey returned to dancing for fun and works at the dance studio occasionally. “At first it was difficult to dance because my whole body was stiff and wasn’t used to that much movement. My posture wasn’t great so that made my back ache. And it was difficult to dance without a lot of breaks. I can’t wear heels for more than 20 minutes because my ankle gets uncomfortable and weak. But I keep dancing.”
Lindsey and a friend, Steph, who is a dance instructor
When asked about her interest in dance, Lindsey answers, “My Mom put me in dance when I was three years old. I started with ballet, but I really like tap, jazz, and hip hop.” Lindsey did these all through high school. “Then I thought I should try something new, so I went to the dance studio for Latin and ballroom dancing. Dancing makes me feel good. It’s a nice workout, and I have a lot of fun. I meet nice people who also enjoy dancing.”
“I believe in a lot of spiritual things: God, an afterlife, and angels. I don’t know how I made it between the trees during the accident rather than hitting them. It was such a small gap between the trees. I feel that an angel was there guiding me, making sure I was OK. I was so functional.”
When asked if she has a role model, Lindsey says, “My Mom. She knew what she wanted to go for. She worked part-time and still took care of five kids. I don’t know how she did that. She worked on so many projects and never gave up on anything.” Lindsey’s Mom was also working on a Ph.D. in History before she passed away.
Lindsey adds, “My Mom never gave up the fight; the Savior made it so that she lived a great life with a wonderful family. He brought her back to Him and that’s the best prize that could be given.”
Lindsey also credits her Dad, who works from home. “It took a lot of dedication to work at home with all the family around. He somehow had time to hang out with all of us.”
“I’m proud of how far I’ve come since the accident despite all the injuries I had. For a long time, I still got melancholy but I tried not to show it. When I felt that way, I wrote in a journal or I called friends to hang out and cheer me up. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I wanted them to see me as happy and positive, not sad. Most days I was happy and positive, but I had my off days. If you are going through tough times, take one day at a time. It’ll eventually get better. Hang in there.”
When told that she is proactive, Lindsey says, “It’s difficult but it’s worth it in the end. Live your life as best as you can.”
I think the song “Roar” by Katy Perry could describe Lindsey. Lindsey continues to work to overcome her challenges and is a woman making strides. You can watch the “Roar” video here.
Lindsey’s Favorite Quotes
- “I am my own hero! Take risks, take chances; live the life you imagined. The only regret you will have is not making the most out of your life.” – author unknown
- “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” – Babe Ruth
- “Life’s a climb, but the view is great.” – Miley Cyrus
- “Live every day like it’s your last. You never know how long you have.” – author unknown
- “PAINS: Positive Attitude In Negative Situation” – author unknown
Are you the heroine of your life or a victim? Do you have a favorite inspirational quote? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.