TRANSITIONS OF MY LIFE
COMMUNITY STORIES | 2.5.2016 | BY LAUREN FENDER
I remember waking up from my coma and having this funny feeling of freedom, like I was weightless. Then when I tried to turn my head I noticed I had a neck brace on. Then I noticed a tube in my throat. When I came out of my coma, I found that I couldn’t breathe, walk, talk or eat on my own. That feeling of “weightlessness” made sense because I had dropped 20 lbs during my two month stay at the hospital.
Sitting in the hospital bed I asked myself, “What am I doing here?” Fortunately, my friends from high school and college came to visit me almost every day.
“You were in a car accident,” My best friend said.
“What month is it?” I replied.
“July” she said.
They had to cut off my hair to get to my head and reduce my blood pressure, plus I had three blood clots in my arm. I couldn't speak full sentences for a while and still to this day, I forget some words. I still struggle with these things even though the accident happened three and a half years ago, in June 2012.
That summer, I was recovering from ACL surgery after tearing it playing college soccer my junior year. I was a forward for the women’s Trailblazers team from MCLA. That summer, I was getting my knee back in shape and had just got a job lifeguarding at Plymouth Beach.
I was working at DEB, the women's clothing store, the night of my accident. I came home after work and kissed my dad before going out that night. Which was weird, because normally I would just go straight to my friends house. That night, we were celebrating my friends 21st birthday. And then I woke up in the hospital.
I was the passenger in an acquaintance’s car when we hit a telephone pole. The driver was fine….me… well 17 fracture in my skull. I'm glad that I can't remember that night.
When I was discharged, the doctor told us that I wouldn’t be able to play soccer for at least a year or drink alcohol for the same time frame because I could have a seizure. So then without the life I had lived, I had to ask myself “Who is Lauren Fender?” I had played soccer and partied for a long time. I had gotten lost for a while in those years.
In December of 2012, I took an IQ test at Quincy Community Care Rehab and the results discouraged me from going back to school in the spring. The doctor told me, “You should stay here another 6 months.” That was the first time I had cried since my accident, I was so pissed. I couldn’t stay in the hospital any longer, and told them, “I am sorry but I'm going back to school. I don't care if I fail every class, but I need to get back on my feet.”
So even against the doctor’s suggestion, I went back to school and I graduated with my Bachelors in Psychology.
After graduation, I came back home after I finished doing a couple of internships. I had had a couple of different jobs up to this point but none were my calling. I had worked as a lifeguard, an activities assistant at a nursing home, and a nanny, but still nothing was calling my name.
Then, I fell into yoga. At first I was skeptical of it. No running? No sweating? I don't get it? But I decided to take an intensive month long course to get my yoga teaching certification. I understand the culture of yoga now, and I'm in love with it. It heals the mind, body, and spirit. I have finally surrendered to the peace that so many people seem to ignore! Yoga has taught me to slow things down and appreciate being present. I am finally done rushing.
Like my favorite athlete, martial artist Bruce Lee used to say,
"Clear your mind,
Become Shapeless, formless,
When you pour water into a cup
It becomes the cup
Put it into a bottle
It becomes the bottle
Put it into a tea pot
It becomes the teapot,
Now water can flow or it can crash
Become water my friend"
Now, I volunteer at Beth Israel Deaconess in Plymouth and South Shore Women's Resource Center in Plymouth. I’m very blessed to have these opportunities. Also, I speak about my story at Drivers Ed in New Bedford, high school health classes, and at DUI classes in Quincy at Bay State Facility. You can even watch my public service announcement against drunk driving here. I even spoke at the State House in November 2015 representing insurance companies to cover continued care. Plus, I got a job working with the Brain injured Direct Care at 7 Hills Foundation, and I just started a new support group in Plymouth at Reaches Conference room called "Rise and Adapt" every fourth Thursday of the month from 6-8.
“If life gives you a Brain Injury… Prove People Wrong.” -Lauren Fender