6 Years Of Healing | After My Near-Fatal Accident

December 15, 2016 marked 6 years on my personal journey of healing…

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com

Original Photo Credit: Leah Garner Photography, Michigan

This morning I woke up to another day, another breath of life.  I woke up right around the same time of the morning, in which I was facing my death six years ago.  I woke up to my little girl saying, “Mama”; and in hearing her sweet voice, I felt gratitude.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I am thankful for my second chance at life and the blessings that I have been afforded.

In thinking back on these past six years, I shared this on Facebook.

Facebook has been my personal journal since that sunny, cold December day back in Michigan.

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com
I love how Facebook shares memories.  In looking back on the past six years, I’ve seen healing, which includes personal growth, positive change, strengthened faith, and unrelenting hope.  I’ve been given an opportunity to share my journey with others and as I’ve healed, so have others.  Despite working to be a light in an otherwise dark world, I’ve also faced darkness along the way.  I’ve experienced others’ attempts to hold me back and silence me through bullying, hatred, doubt, negativity, and overall toxicity.  What I’ve come to learn is that others do not need to understand your journey, your vision, your purpose.  It is not theirs to understand or approve of.  You do not need someone else’s approval, their validation, to live your life.  When you uncover the real, authentic you, and you express yourself with vulnerability and courage, you will have people who criticize and disapprove of you. However, even if you live a fake life some won’t like you.  You cannot please everyone.  Stop wasting your precious time and energy trying to please those who are not even pleased with themselves.  Focus on those who do need your message and stop giving energy to those who are not quite ready for you or who might not ever be ready for what you have to offer.  Wouldn’t you rather be liked or disliked for who you truly are instead of being liked or disliked for a fake image that you put forward?  I cannot go through my second chance at life pretending to be someone that I am not.  I am not willing to even do that.  At the end of my life, I will look back and reflect and know that I have given this second chance at life everything that I had, and I will breathe my last breath knowing that I lived with integrity.

In looking back, this is part of what I see.  Here’s a timeline, thanks to Facebook’s memories feature, sharing my accident anniversary thoughts year by year starting with the day of my accident back on December 15, 2010.

Now, I welcome you to journey with me through my timeline of thoughts.  Let’s reflect back…

DAY OF ACCIDENT: MY JOURNEY OF HEALING

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com

My accident occurred just after 9 a.m. on that December morning and it wasn’t until after seeing my car, listening to the witness’s account of the accident, and putting pieces of the puzzle together, that I realized that my car actually had four points of impact. First from behind, then on the left side of my car near the gas tank, and later to realize, on the left front of my vehicle and the front of it.  My car’s left rear-view mirror was hanging on barely and there was a hole through the grill of the vehicle.  I couldn’t figure out how this happened in thinking back to what I remembered of my accident, but the witness shared that at a point in the collision, my car went under the truck’s trailer.

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com

I remember talking to a neighbor who is a police officer after I posted this.  He mentioned the amount of force that went into my body when my car was hit at nearly 65 mph by that 18-wheeler.  This pain was just a preview of what was to come at this point.  The next morning, I was nauseous from the amount of pain that my body was experiencing.  For someone who is hypermobile, I had very little range of motion.  My body was angry and for the next several days, I slept over 20 hours per day.  Why I was allowed to be discharged after such a traumatic accident?  Why wasn’t I sent to a trauma unit for monitoring?  I looked “fine” from the outside.  The signs and symptoms of post-concussive syndrome started to present and a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury.  This was not even addressed when I was seen in the ER following my accident.  How can we, as health professionals, neglect one of the most important organs of ones’ being post-trauma?  I was later told that the amount of time that I spent sleeping following my accident was likely due to swelling on my brain.  The only witness to this, however, was my newlywed husband who kept checking on me making sure I was still alive.

ONE YEAR POST-ACCIDENT: MY JOURNEY OF HEALING

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com

Well, that was an understatement.  In reflecting back on one year into my journey of healing, that was me holding on to a sliver of hope and my new-found faith, so I didn’t fall apart.  It felt like I was watching my life fall apart one piece at a time as I was experiencing SO. MUCH. LOSS.  This included loss of my physical health, loss of my residency after working so hard and so long in a competitive field despite not taking time off to grieve the death of my Dad when I was a third year medical student, loss of my sense of financial security, loss of family and friends who either couldn’t empathize or didn’t care to, and family members telling my husband to just divorce me (vs. committing to the vows that we took just weeks before I nearly died!), nearly the loss of my marriage with my husband who had his own medical issues that were never addressed and/or treated and so many more issues stemming from his past teachings and behavior.  Our marriage survived the first “year from Hell” as we called it by making unpopular choices that needed to be made in order to keep our marriage intact.  Our marriage, however, would see many, many, many more dark days as we both grew as individuals and in our marriage, as we learned to leave the past behind in efforts to build a better future together as one.

TWO YEARS POST-ACCIDENT: MY JOURNEY OF HEALING

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com

I had to go back through more of my timeline to find this post because I didn’t have a memory shared for this day.  Two years into my journey of healing, I was also healing from the emergency c-section, which brought my little boy into the world.  On December 15, 2012, we were heading home from the hospital with our little miracle, Jack.  For the first time, there was something very positive to think of this day by.  Jack has since been one of my greatest motivations for moving forward, for finding ways to manage my pain (without pain medicine), and for building a legacy that he will remember me by.  I do not want him to remember me by my pain.

3 YEARS POST-ACCIDENT: MY JOURNEY OF HEALING

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com

At three years into my journey of healing, I had found new purpose in my life as a Mom and I was doing my best to gain healing while living an isolated life here in Grand Cayman.  We had faced near-homelessness after moving to this island, while I was pregnant with Jack and after I had given birth to him.  I know what it is like to hold tight to prayer and faith, I know what it is like to struggle in silence, and I know what it is like to see my prayers answered right on time.  My faith has saved my life and this is something that I hope my children will embrace on their own from a young age.  On this day, December 15, 2013, we had a baby dedication for Jack at the church that we were members of at that time.

FOUR YEARS POST-ACCIDENT: MY JOURNEY OF HEALING

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com

Little did I know that our family was expanding at four years into my journey of healing.  When this photo was taken, we were capturing photos of Jack for his upcoming second birthday and in celebration of Christmas.  I accept that Christmas takes on different meanings for different people, but for me, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  It was in my acceptance of Christ, that I was able to begin this journey of healing.  It has not been an easy journey, but through my faith, I have been given strength and hope. In my faith, I have been able to continue forward when it would have been so easy to give up – time and time again.  On Jack’s second birthday, I had a positive pregnancy test and we embraced a silent prayer that I had spoke not long before, to become a family of four.  This was just one of many silent, unspoken prayers that I have seen answered.

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Here is a link to that blog that I shared at this point in my journey:
My Accident Anniversary Date: From Pain to Healing (click link to read blog)

FIVE YEARS POST-ACCIDENT: MY JOURNEY OF HEALING

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com

Five years into my journey of healing, I allowed others in deeper into my journey.  You can see this video and my thoughts shared on this day here:

5 Year Accident Anniversary Video (click link)

TODAY, 6 YEARS POST-ACCIDENT: MY JOURNEY OF HEALING

…and this brings us back to six-years post-accident and reflection on all that I have to be grateful for, and two of the reasons why I had to survive, which was a question that I once asked.

6 Years Of Healing | Reflecting On My Near Death Experience | faith | hope | www.drnicolemeastman.com
My sweet babies…my greatest motivation for always pushing forward.  I thank God for them.  For Jack and Kaitlyn, I will be forever grateful for this second chance at life.  I am grateful for each new day, each new moment, and each new breath, which I have intimately learned is never a guarantee.

I have learned a great deal along this journey of healing and I look forward to seeing where this journey is going to continue to lead.  I understand that there is a bigger purpose in all of this and I am being used to help others along their journey of healing, too.  It has been a pleasure and honor to serve tens of thousands of others through my Facebook community, Dr. Nicole M. Eastman, D.O. and I trust that I will continue to be used to assist others to a better life.

Recently, I released my keynote called Journey To A Better You! and in it, I take you along my journey sharing more intimate details while walking you through life and sharing lessons that I have learned.  These lessons focus on life when expectations do not meet up with reality, navigating transitions, and beginning a journey of healing.  So, if I’ve inspired you, if my second chance at life has served you, then I invite you into going deeper with me and to allowing yourself your own journey to a better you – your own journey of healing.  I’ve come to a place of joy and peace that surpasses all understanding and this is exactly what I wish for you.

To see a preview of this keynote and to hear how it has already impacted others, click here: Journey To A Better You! 

Until next time, thank you for going down memory lane with me today!  I hope that we can continue to do life together and that my journey, and my pain, can serve you and your journey.  I know that there is purpose for my pain and in sharing my journey, I have seen this purpose unfold.

Sending you so much love today and always,

Nicole

www.drnicolemeastman.com | New Season Of Life | blog | rehabilitation | health | wellness | Cayman Islands