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A Life Reconstructed

Photo by Jill Bates

This is my last blog post for PsychCentral, because the site transferred ownership this month and if I reappear, it will be under a different banner. Coincidentally, Sunday was the 10-year anniversary of my being hit.

I’m not a big anniversary person; nothing actually happens on anniversaries. Not like the solar Sabbats I celebrate, when a solstice or equinox occurs to mark the passage of time. It does give me pause to reflect, though, especially with my blog ending. That is a thing that’s happening.

Sunday felt like a day when you laid out a great outfit but don’t want to put it on, because you don’t feel up to being the person that outfit makes you look like. I rode my bike to the grocery store and felt a little sick to my stomach because I made poor food choices that morning. I felt like I should have taken my long mountain training ride up Galbraith Mountain and back down around Lake Samish, and home through Fairhaven. I should have done something special with the day—but isn’t every day amazing just because I’m still breathing?

Something felt forced about it all. My family made much of it, sending celebratory texts in the morning. I felt a dark cast over my mood that hasn’t lifted 4 days later. I remembered the pain and terror of lying helpless, asphyxiating in the ditch, and that was mine alone. I didn’t want anyone else taking over that memory and deciding what it means. I have a pretty tight social group with my neighbors in our country ‘hood, and I didn’t tell any of them what day it was.

The thing is, I’m reminded of it dozens of times every day. Every time my numb wrist accidentally touches the edge of my keyboard tray and sends an electric shock to my elbow with no other sensation, every time I have to run back to the house to grab my pocket lotion bottle because I ran into someone outside, got my social on, and my wrist dried out and tickled unbearably. Every time I stand and talk to someone outside until the Clamp seizes my back and it’s too late to prevent a back spasm. Every time I reach the end of my sitting tolerance at my desk and get up to do a household chore (twice since I started typing this).

My friend Rosey was right. In our first conversation, when I reached my rehab goal of riding to Free Spirit Spheres to meet her and her husband, Tom, and stay in their lovely tree houses, she said one day my story would turn the page and I’d be about something else. I then discovered and joined the tiny house movement. The rustic life helps keep me healthy. Gradually I’m transitioning from science consulting to writing and cottage industry.

Reinventing my life was hard and I went through dark times. The worst was being cut off by my hospital care team. For 2 years after impact, I was their golden girl. As long as the insurance money kept coming, they couldn’t do enough for me. After the money ran out and my high-deductible ACA health plan drove me to bankruptcy, it was like going home and finding the locks changed and my stuff on the lawn. The orthopedic clinic that rebuilt both my arms won’t make me an appointment unless I agree to pay cash on arrival. Yet they grouse at me when I come in for not getting follow-up care at the recommended intervals.

Something my friend Mela said around the 5-year mark has been a lifeline during the dark times. She said, “I can’t imagine reinventing my life in less than 9 years’ time.” That number was so specific, it validated my still floundering about 5 years later. It’s been 10 years now, and I realize there is no “getting there.” Life is a work in progress. My life is completely different from how it would have been if I hadn’t gone out on my bike for Thai food after a hard day at work on August 23, 2010. For a long time, small decisions made me panic. Go to the store before or after lunch, what if it Really Matters?

Do me one favor today—if you drive, think about your car insurance. In this country, people consider insurance a necessary evil and they buy as little as they can get away with. I made it clear to my insurance agent that I wanted good coverage, and he never even showed me the top-end policy that was only $25 a month more than the policy he sold me. If I’d had that one (and I definitely would have bought it if I’d known about it), I would be living very differently today.

If you cause an accident and do more damage than your policy covers, your liability may not end there. Your victim can initiate a civil lawsuit, but if you don’t have anything, there’s nothing they can do. I couldn’t find an attorney with the stomach for garnishing Mr. Henderson’s wages. Most states have a fund to compensate people in my position; Washington does not. Think about what was done to me, and if you could live with that—if you messed someone up permanently and were allowed to walk away. From what I can tell, the man who hit me lives without any online footprint, and I’m guessing that’s to keep from being cyberstalked (which, if I had the opportunity, I’d probably do; the fact that I know means I’ve looked). I don’t pity him for how his life has been affected, though—he’s not struggling to make a subsistence income and taking pain medication to get through the day.

It’s not just about what you might do to someone else—you could be unlucky too. I had a “good” policy and look how I fared. Insurance is there for a reason. If you can afford to upgrade yours, it may turn out to be the best investment you ever made.

To my faithful audience, and especially Lori, aka Velveteen Rabbit, my longest-term reader and thoughtful commenter, I thank you for reading my rants all this time. I hope you’ve found things of value that help you cope with your own issues. I hope to blog again soon on one of Healthline’s sites (Healthline, Greatist, or Medical News Today), or on another home platform. I hope you’ll all find me there. Meanwhile, blessings to you all!

A Life Reconstructed

Kristin Noreen

Kristin Noreen lives in Bellingham, Washington with two cats and her vintage touring bicycle, Silver. Her triple passions are animal rescue, long-distance bike touring, and writing. Her book, On Silver Wings: A Life Reconstructed, is about reinventing her life following a catastrophic injury.

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, . (2020). A Life Reconstructed. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Aug 2020
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