Yes, I Can Have a Career

In 2011 when I had my car accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down, I thought my teaching career was over. I couldn’t see beyond my injury at that point but I knew I wanted it more than anything. Broken and battered, I was handed a piece of paper and asked to make a very basic list of goals I hoped to accomplish.

First on the list was going back to the career that I loved, teaching! I didn’t know how on earth it would happen, but I knew that with the support I had, it could be accomplished.

I worked hard in therapy every day, learning very basic things – like tying my own shoe so that I could be prepared to tie 22 pairs of little shoes when I returned. I had to learn to be able to sit up on my own and hold my balance without falling over. I left rehabilitation in a power chair, but worked hard enough even with a nearly amputated left arm, to get in a manual chair.

In 2013, I returned to work and was named the system Teacher of the Year. I only got to that spot with family, God, tenacity and shear willpower. In my mind, I never let the thought of not returning enter my mind.

My first month back, I fell and broke my knee, requiring a major surgery. The doctor said a month of bedrest. Over my dead body! I went back to work that next week with my leg jacked up and in a brace.

I love my career. It gives me purpose. Most of all, it taught me that broken crayons do still color!

A few tips for anyone longing for their career post injury:

  • Don't settle for thinking you can’t do anything you desire.
  • Get creative with any hurdles you face.
  • Know it may be tough, but you are tougher!

 

Maria

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