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Expect the Unexpected

Shit happens.

Majority of the time, bad shit happens when you least expect it. Just like a quote that I came across recently noted, we have to realize that life is like a roller coaster, so happiness and sadness are never going to be constant. We can do things to make ourselves happier, sadder, wiser, healthier, but nothing is ever set in stone. There will be lots of ups and plenty of downs. It's how we choose to deal with what is happening in our lives that makes the difference.

Five years ago, on a regular weekday night in John Wooden Center at Collins Court, my life flashed before my eyes. At this point in my life, my usual routine consisted of class, work, more work and gym. Lucy - five years older - now understands why she may have overreacted to what was happening from my basketball accident. If I could, I would go back to that night and tell myself, "19-year-old Lucy, everything is going to be okay. Take things one at a time, and try to stay as positive as you can be," then give myself a hard slap on the back to get going. But, of course, that did not happen. Luckily, the whole experience positively (actually, negatively, at first) influenced me to become who I am today.

Who knows where I'd be or what I would be doing if things didn't change for me.

Tssssss... *the sound of ripping paper* Before that accident, I had never experienced that much physical pain in my life. I had sustained several minor injuries from the three sports I played in high school, but never something quite this intense. Yet it wasn't the pain that was scaring me. Rather, it was the uncertainty that freaked me out. As I was rolling on my back holding on to my left leg, screaming every curse word that came through my vocal cords, all I could think about at that point was "what's next?".

After a long month of xrays, MRIs, doctors and specialist appointments, I finally learned what I did not want to be true. I snapped my left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), sprained my medial collateral ligament (MCL) and shattered my meniscus (probably from as a result of a previous injury). Doctors shared that my only chance of walking without a limp for the rest of my life is the get surgery to repair the damages. Great. As someone who spent nearly four hours a day at the basketball courts, I began to ask "why me?" I was frustrated, irritated, disappointed, but mostly tired. Physically and emotionally - something I have been dealing with lately too.

Surgery was successful. Post-op rehab started off shortly after. The pain was nearly unbearable, yet I know I had to deal with it if I ever wanted to do anything I loved ever again. In fact, my orthopedic surgeon suggested I avoid any physical activities for the rest of my life, so long as I wanted to have a "healthy" knee. First time I bent my knee after surgery, the device measured 13 degrees. Still to this day, I am so shocked at the human body. This was one experience that really helped me appreciate having a mom (family) like mine. When I was going through the toughest time of my life (and back then, I didn't know life could get any harder), I had people I could count on to go out of their way to be there for me.

But before I recognized how much I had to be grateful for, I was slowly but surely become a sour soul. Anyone who knows me understands that I have a hard time staying angry, upset or sad about something for long. I don't know why but I just feel like all those emotions are a waste of time and energy. Yet, for several months after the accident, my close friends and family were seeing the impact on me more emotionally than physically. I became unmotivated, bitter, depressed and just plain unhappy. And all that was becoming contagious to folks who wanted to be there for me and support me. Every night, I cried myself to sleep. Every time I couldn't do something (conveniently) as a result of my injury, I became even more angry at life. I told myself I was pathetic and deserved the pain I was going through. That point in life really sucked, and I only made it worse by not doing anything about it.

Luckily, that was of the past. I don't remember exactly how or when, but I do recall waking up in the middle of the night several months after surgery, then I slapped myself in the face and yelled "snap out of it, Lucy!". I was getting tired of my own depression. I wanted to get out of the black hole I was letting myself fall into. The happy, motivated, ambitious and active Lucy was screaming to be released, yet I was letting something that happened to me unexpectedly determine how I was going to live the rest of my life. That night, the real Lucy came back better and stronger. Thank the Lord.

It was a long 15 months of recovery, but after that night of resurrection, I began to see how things in my life were changing for the better. My physical therapist told me I was recovering a lot faster and stronger than the doctors had planned. I became a Resident Assistant, which allowed to be see the positive impact I have have on others. I began taking more photos, building my photography portfolio (which is a goal of mine to continue now) and found a sense of peace and serenity through listening to music and singing. Now, I know that my three biggest passions are sports, photography and music. I love each of my three passions for different reasons and am thankful to know what makes me happy.

I share this story because it is my personal experience that inspires me to pursue becoming a Life and Wellness Coach. I want to help people through transitional stages in their lives. Specifically with athletes, since my injury is something quite common in the athletic world, it is challenging to feel safe and secure when the life of an athlete is usually under a microscope at all times. At a school like UCLA, there is a clear divide between the population of students and staff who are well in tune with athletics, and those who can sit in class next to our starting quarterback and not know it. Everyone has a story. Some people's stories are better or harder than others. No one truly knows what another person is going through, and no one will even get close to knowing what you are going through unless you chose to share it. And that is why I am here.

These past few months have really opened my eyes to what I can control and do versus things I cannot control and should not stress over. A close friend of mine was recently in a car accident that could have easily ended her life. Luckily, her injuries are repairable and everything else is replaceable. I can't help her in many ways, but I can be there for her to keep her company and show her she is not alone. Another close friend's partner recently was hit by a car and injured badly while jogging one day. Something so unexpected that really impacts the rest of your life. Mommy passed away pretty suddenly - in my opinion - even though she had been sick for some time. That moment she decided to let go has impacted my life every day ever since. Yet those are things we have very little control over. It is how we chose to face it all that will truly determine the ultimate outcome.

Take a breather. Do some reflecting. Recognize what you can do and what you should let go of. Just keep swimming.

One last thing: do NOT hesitate to count on others to support you through tough times. Never believe you can do it alone, because you might be able to but it will be so much harder. Not everyone is going to be the best support system, but once you find that one or two, never let go. For your sake, and for theirs.

#injury #recovery #anger #fear #depression #support

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