12.05.12 Truth & Wisdom

Becoming My Own Best Friend: Loving Myself As A Quad Amputee

Becoming My Own Best Friend: Loving Myself As A Quad Amputee

BY Jennifer Griffin

The hardest thing about being her friend is this: if she’s not happy on the outside, no matter how hard I’m working on the inside, others will only see and understand her… from the outside.

After 40 years of being me, I’ve realized just how long it has taken me to get my inside and outside voices in sync and, more importantly, how to appreciate this process. We have talked a lot over the years, my voices and I, and my guidance has usually come from my inner voice owning what I was born with, understanding that life is about choices, and taking value in the small things.

By 2007, my voices were having a great time and had come together as friends through the emotional experience of weight issues, dating, making mistakes, laughing, and discovering new voices in new situations. This bond had gifted me with a strong sense of trust and intuition, and being comfortable in my own skin. However, what I didn’t expect was how quickly this bond could be broken. This philosophy had seemed to work for a long time until a life-altering experience.

One day in March 2007, I felt really sick with the flu and decided to stay home from work. As I started to get up the next day I realized I would not be returning to work anytime soon. I was really, really sick. Three days later, I was escorted by ambulance to an ER in Dallas, TX where I would end up sleeping and taking a break from life for 3 1/2 months. This was not quite how I expected the sequence of events to go.

Soon after arriving in the ER, I had emergency surgery and was told I had contracted severe blood poisoning and that I was suffering from Sepsis (multi-organ failure). In addition, my family and I learned that my chances of survival were very grim. My voices started colliding. My outer persona was leaning on my inner voice a great deal and as scared as I was, this was only phase one. As time went on, I found myself in phase two without an instruction book. Sepsis wreaks havoc on your system! In addition, to save your life, the body instinctively pulls all the oxygen and blood to your brain and heart, therefore, pulling it all away from your extremities.

My inner voice began telling me what it and God knew would change me forever. I was loosing both legs (below my knee) and both of my hands. In short, my life was going to be saved, but both voices were being transformed to a quad amputee. My inner voice was the strength and I knew early on that everyone, including me, deserved to know and understand the very best of me.

After several months of rehab and recovery, my inner voice began nagging at me to look in the mirror. This was something I had secretly been avoiding and could no longer do. One day I woke up and asked for inner strength. We talked about being open to change and accepting “what is” before we grabbed the mirror.

Ready, here we go.

There was a long pause and a blank stare. My inner self wasn’t sure whether to be hurt by my expression or to avoid how it made us feel. We had a bit of a standoff as I was trying to fight off what I was seeing in the mirror and my inner voice wanted to express it. Eventually, I had to let out how it made me feel. My emotions fluctuated between anger, sadness and fear. My inner self was upset that all I seemed to notice were the scars and differences. I had completely lost the understanding that I was a survivor.

My voices had been there for each other through thick and thin but this time, however, I just started to cry and the inner advice seemed erroneous. I felt helpless.

My emotions were all over the place, trying to reconcile whether my inner self was letting me down, or if I was taking down the strength of my voice. We were looking at the same mirror but saw different things. I remember just crying myself to sleep and stopped asking for guidance. Instead, I took the moment.

Finally, We went home and started living in public together as a 35 year old, quad amputee. We cringed just seeing this word, let alone saying it. I remember the first time someone noticed my hands missing. I kept a strong face but I took that as my cue to start becoming friends with my inner self again. My voice, and the many, many, family and friends reminded me that I was given an opportunity to grow and to give others inspiration through my experience. More importantly, at the end of the day, my voice said loud and clear, this was my journey and I was at a crucial moment of making this journey the very best of what I wanted!

We have worked together over these last few years and developed a pretty cool relationship! There isn’t much we don’t do or strive for now. My life is back in my hands (no pun intended) and I have found LIFE in LIVING.

At the end of the day, there is no greater relationship than loving your body + soul and having it love you back!

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Jennifer Griffin lives in Dallas and is the Founder of The PLAY Foundation, a guest columnist at The Dallas Morning News, Public Speaker and life enthusiast who would love to battle it out with George Clooney on practical jokes. She loves finding new adventures in the kitchen and has several videos to help others with challenges on her YouTube channel. Oh and, she has a new spin on life since losing her hands and part of her legs to sepsis in 2007. Watch out, she will spark in your soul. You can follow her on Twitter @jgchallenge.

Comments

  • What a wonderful story. Your relationship to your body is your relationship to your environment.

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