What if the worst thing that ever happened, turned out to be the best thing that could ever happen. That is EXACTLY what happened to me on Jan 16, 2001. This is a story of finding positivity.
NOTE: As we are moving through this crazy moment of global pandemic, where we are asked to place personal limitations on ourselves (self isolation, changing our daily habits, social distance, laid off from our jobs). Use this time to ask yourself the following questions:
What CAN I do? — What do I want that my old life couldn’t give me? — If I were to rebuild, who would I want to be? Change your mindset from “limitations” to discovering the potential.
Jan 16th, 2001: It was going to be a great night! Free tickets to Charo’s new Vegas show. It was a blind, double date with two of my best friends. The place was loud and packed. My friend went to get us drinks, bringing back a beer for each of us. We stood swamped by the crowd close to the stage, completely engaged in Charo’s show. Yep, this was the Vegas life !
Within a few minutes, I started feeling sick, whoozy, like I couldn’t stand any longer. I wasn’t sure what was happening, so I turned to my friends and said, “I’m going to the bathroom”, and stepped off into the crowd. Before I found the bathroom, I knew something was VERY wrong, so I immediately made my way to the bar and told the bartender that I needed help. Before he could get help, I started seizing. I could feel my fingers clasping onto the edge of the bar, trying to hang on. As I lost consciousness, my body launched backwards onto a concrete floor. My head cracked and I was OUT. I can still remember the “journey” I had in those unconscious moments, which will be story saved for another day.
I was carried off the floor, into an ambulance, and transported to the hospital. My injuries were severe: brain and neck injury from my seizing body meeting the concrete head-first. CT and MRI revealed a severe head injury. Luckily my neck injury did not affect my spinal cord. Blessings: Spinal cord in tact and my skull did not fracture. Thank GOD for my thick skull ! A drug and tox. screen revealed that I had been overdosed with a date rape drug .
From the hospital, I was moved into a friend’s place; thank goodness for her kindness to take care of me. I was completely unable; I could barely function. She prepared me food, water and medications, before heading off to work each morning. I could only get up once a day to go to the bathroom, eat, drink, medications and then back down to sleep. I slept for more than 2 weeks like this. As I started having more conscious time, I realized the gravity of injuries. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t remember words. I struggled to communicate. I couldn’t remember who I was, or anything from my past. I was constantly dizzy, unable to sit or stand without the room spinning. All my life I had a high IQ. I had a budding career as a computer programmer, getting my first big break in a large corporation. Now I couldn’t even add 2 + 7, or remember the word “tree”. It was THE WORST thing that had ever happened to me. I cried. A LOT.
So, how does this become the BEST thing ?
Rebuilding my mental and physical self became my number one priority. So I withdrew all my savings and 401K to pay expenses, so I could spend 100% of my time healing and rebuilding. This was the first time time in my life, where my IQ couldn’t help me out of a predicament. So instead I found a new understanding of myself: perseverance and determination.
My neurologist told me about neuroplasticity, and that the information is still stored in my brain, but the pathways to that information were destroyed. I would have to rebuild my pathways. So I did. I created flashcards from a dictionary, to re-remember words. I took math quizzes to rebuild the logic connections. I played music (guitar, sing) to help hasten the healing. I exercised by walking to the store (because I couldn’t physically manage driving). Six months into this process, and I started feeling more like myself. Memories and capabilities were slowly coming back.
I could no longer return to my high functioning computer programming position, so I started asking myself…. what else can I do? I started re-learning programming, starting from the very basics. I created a project to re-learn the programming languages. Eventually, I found customers that wanted to pay me to use the software I was building. These customers brought newer customers, which eventually launched my software company that is still thriving today.
Ultimately, my brain recovered and my neck healed. I lost a budding career at a large company. I lost time. I lost a few IQ points. But what I lost in IQ, I gained four-fold in compassion for others. What I lost in the career ladder, I gained in entrepreneurship. What I lost in my old lifestyle, I gained in quality time getting to know myself. What I gained far outweighed anything I lost.
What did I gain?
— New found level of patience and compassion for myself and others
— Self discovery: resilience, determination, and perseverance
— A thriving business, entrepreneurship
— Knowing the importance of a positive, growth mindset – and how to shift it.
— A NEW ME !
I wouldn’t be who I am today, without that “worst thing that ever happened”. I love who I am today, better than who I was.
Make this moment in history a turning point for you.
— Fall in love with who you are.
— Read. Meditate. Learn something new.
— Learn to love what you do, and do what you love.
— Think about what you CAN do, rather than the limitations (what you can’t do).
— Ask yourself the question: What would I want to do if time were not a factor? Because THAT is exactly what we all have right now…. TIME!
In closing, I would love to share this Chinese parable.
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”
The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.”
The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbors came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”