Be Grateful. A Story of Perseverance from our Ambassador

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Sila Atikol | 0 Comments

A year ago, I almost lost everything I dreamt about. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I lost things that I worked so hard for but I was lucky enough to survive. Here is me story:

It was a boring September afternoon, me and my Stand Up Paddle Board Instructor, Tal, were hanging out by the beach. Then we saw a white pick up truck, stuck in the sand. I wanted to help, it was good karma after all. I talked about how important it is to help others, because according to an article I read, it is one of the two things that makes a person genuinely happy. We hooked the white pick up truck to the back of Tal's car and tried to tow them out. It wasn't moving a bit. I decided that I will go out and talk to these guys. I jumped out of the car and I walked up their truck. Tal was still pulling the other car, the rope stretched with the resistance. I reached the guys, but before I said anything, something hit me on my legs. It hit me so hard that I lost my balance and almost fell backwards. I realized that the whole tow bar had disconnected from the car, made half a circle in the air and hit me in the leg. I felt something warm and sticky inside my crocs. I looked down to see a pool of blood filling and flooding my crocs, coming out of every hole on top of crocs and dripping on the sand. I traced back the thick trail of blood on my leg, all the way up to my inner thigh, where a big chunk of my flesh was now missing. I heard people shouting and screaming, "Don't look down!", "Don't look, a piece of your leg is missing!". 

Adrenalin is a weird drug. It makes you confused. A big wave of fear was taking over me but on the other hand, I was unable to comprehend how serious the situation was. I looked around for Tal, who rushed to help me. He was very calm in his voice but his face was showing how scared he was.  He said, "It's really really bad! He put his hand on my wound, pressing as hard as he could, while we waited for the ambulance. I was already sitting in a pool of blood, feeling dehydrated and tired. The colours were fading in front of my eyes, like someone just switched the instagram filter. My eyes were closing. Falling asleep seemed so tempting. Every time I closed my eyes, I heard him saying, "open your eyes, talk to me", until finally the ambulance arrived. On the spot they informed me that my injury is very serious and I cannot be treated in the nearby hospital. 

On the 25 minute drive to the hospital, I called my best friend Turkan. I explained to her that I had a "minor accident" and there is a hole in my leg, but not to worry, I am on my way to the hospital. She and our best friend Gozde arrived at the hospital at the same time as me. The three of us met in kindergarten and have been friends ever since.

In the E.R, the doctors were explaining to me that I need surgery as soon as possible and that I am running out of time due to the amount of blood loss and risk of infection. The on-call trauma surgeon and the E.R doctor discussed that I have a 6 cm deep cut on my right thigh and my adductor muscle is torn in two. I explained to them, that I teach pilates and yoga for living and whatever happens, they have to save my muscle. The doctors explained to me that there was a high risk of infection because the cut is not a clean cut and it is full of sand. They would do their best, but no promises for the functioning of the muscle.

My best friends cleaned my legs from sand and blood to get me ready for the surgery and helped me into my hospital gown. They sent messages and made calls to cancel my lesson, and in 15 minutes, many of my students for my 6 o'clock lesson were in the hospital room, saying good luck to me for my surgery. They sent me off to the O.R with lots of love and hope. 

The surgery which was estimated to take about an hour, lasted two and a half hours, while my friends, my family and my students all waited nervously. I was miserable, until I came back to consciousness to find all my loved ones around my bedside. I woke up just as I went to the operation, surrounded by love and care.

The visit from my doctor was not promising, he explained to me that the risk of infection is still very high. Also, I lost a big chunk of muscle that will probably never grow back. He was sure I will be able to walk and drive but he could not estimate if it will ever be good for strength and flexibility. The next 6 days, I stayed in the hospital, completely bed bound. I still had sand in my hair, I didn't even get to wash my face. Times like this are reminders that even the smallest things like washing your hands are a great blessing.

In the hospital, I didn't spend a second alone. My friends came to keep me company, my students brought me flowers and books, everyone brought me fruits since they know how much I care about my nutrition. Tal brought me sushi, and my friends brought me Americanos. I made friends with the nurses, and care takers, and days passed faster than I anticipated. At the end of day 6, I was discharged and ready to go home. The doctor warned me that I wasn't allowed to step on my foot, I wasn't allowed to walk, move, exercise or to take a shower. 

It felt like the days wouldn't pass. Time would't pass. I was only allowed to walk with my crutches, without my injured leg touching the floor. I went back to my studio on day 10. Someone would drive me, help me up the stairs and I would sit on a chair give instructions everyday for a few hours. I decided to see an athlete's specialist. In the examination I realised that I could no longer lift my leg when I am lying on my belly. I fully comprehended for the first time that the adductor is part of the core. Without it, I could not pull my pelvis up. I could not bring my spine in the right position. The doctor gave me some small easy exercises to do everyday. It was so frustrating at first. I was trying so hard and my leg would not even move. Then, eventually it did. Small movements, small progresses. I started to use the rest of my body to do crunches, small weight dead lifts, hamstring stretches, and other things. 

On the fifth week, I went to a TRX teacher training that I enrolled before this injury. I couldn't do everything but I did my best. I am, still to this day, slowly regaining my strength, but I couldn't recover my flexibility as much as my strength . In the beginning, it was hard to open my legs enough to climb in the shower. I had to give up on an advanced yoga teacher training in India that I have been preparing to go before the injury. I have lost sensation and I have extreme sensitivity on most of my upper right leg. But, everyday I feel grateful. I feel grateful to be alive. I feel grateful that I didn't loose my leg. I have been told in the E.R that if I didn't get the right first aid, I would either die from the loss of blood or loose my leg. I am grateful I didn't get infection because that could have resulted in amputation of my leg. 

I am grateful that this accident has happened to me. It reminded me of all the things that we take for granted. Health and physical ability are things that we don't feel lucky for, even though we should. I was always so scared of getting any kind of injury, because I was afraid it would prevent me from doing my job. Now I know, it's not the end of the world. After the injury, I started to learn surfing and skateboarding. I renewed my faith in pilates being the best cure for physical injuries and later, yoga, to regain my abilities. I am grateful for my best friends Gozde and Turkan, for being the best sisters in the world. I am grateful for my students and family for their love and support. I am grateful that Tal has given me the right first aid I needed and still holds my hand whenever I need. I am grateful, that I managed to remain positive and didn't loose hope at any stage of this recovery.  Now, a year later, I am grateful for my big, ugly scar, because it is what I have to remember all the things I have learned from this experience and show the world how much I have accomplished in a year.

Remind yourself how lucky you are...

With Love

xox

Sila


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