In this season of giving thanks, I am delighted to share this story of strength and courage. As Natalie discloses below, when she came to my house for private yoga classes, I was pretty nervous about working with her. Not so much on the yoga mat as she had a great sense of her physical boundaries. It was winter and as I watched her fragile body walk outside on the snow, I always feared she would slip. But her inner and outer strength endured and when our paths crossed years later the transformation was immeasurable. Her radiant smile and positive outlook were present but more glow and an abundance of gratitude!! Enjoy Natalie’s story.
Well, that wasn’t exactly the best thing for my body, but the entire experience definitely made me physically, emotionally and mentally stronger. Here is my story.
I was the type of kid who ran everywhere – on the track, back and forth to the lake at our cottage and even while coming home from school. In my 20s, I got into triathlons and became obsessed with squash. I loved, and still do, anything athletic. But in the fall of 2006, that changed (temporarily).
It was Thanksgiving weekend, and I took a few days off to spend time with my parents who were coming back from vacation shortly. I had just broken up with my boyfriend and my best friend had recently moved out of town, so I needed some family time. On the Thursday before the long weekend, I was on the way to my parent’s house to collect their mail and put out flowers. I never made it.
While I was walking up the street from the subway, I approached a small intersection that never had any significance to me – until then. I was midway through the intersection when I saw something approaching quickly in the corner of my eye. It was a car. Despite the stop sign, the car ploughed straight through the intersection, and through me. The next few seconds were surreal. My left leg got caught under the car just before I was popped up onto the hood. I was looking at the driver right in the face. All I knew was that I had to get off the car, and my body rolled off the side of the vehicle. Now I was sitting in the middle of the road while rush hour traffic was swerving to avoid me. I was damn lucky.
When I tried to get up, I immediately collapsed. Luckily, a witness helped me hobble to the sidewalk. When the paramedics arrived, they looked at my left leg and bit their lip. My toes were pointed towards my nose and my ankle joint was almost bursting through the skin. I was desperately trying to convince them, and myself, that it was only sprained. It wasn’t.
After a series of x-rays, the doctors determined I had a shattered talus bone and broken fibula – no wonder it hurt! I needed surgery. Since it was late in the day, I was told to come back first thing the next day (groan). I’ll spare you the details of that horrible night, but I finally had the surgery/ies almost 24 hours later.
I came out of surgery with a repositioned leg and two titanium screws holding my foot to my leg – this was my new ankle. Everything felt so weak and painful, and I was on some intense pain meds. I was told that I could never run again, and squash was completely out of the picture. This realization left me with a scar. I was a skinny, broken woman who didn’t know what the next month, year, or decade had in store for me.
Kate was a “tough love” kind of person who made me sweat, cry … and walk again. For over a year, I had physiotherapy with her for 5 days a week. Kate’s methods were incredibly insightful. So much so, that she suggested I try yoga with Christine Felstead as a new form of fitness and well-being.
When I met Christine, she was terrified to work with me. But she was/is the incredibly talented (and super cool) person who I have to credit for my love of yoga. Christine began by leading me through very gentle yoga sessions – the most I could do for weeks was shift my weight from side to side wearing running shoes. I was terrified I’d break my ankle again. But over many months of persistence and brilliant mobility exercises, my body began feeling human again. That was 8 years ago.
Today, I’m a corporate warrior, yoga instructor and kickboxing bad ass. I have never felt stronger, and have learned so much about my body and how to adapt exercises to make them effective for me. Slight tweaks can make almost any form of athletic activity accessible.