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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Turning Point.

It's hard to believe that it has been 33 years since I had one of the biggest life changing moments in my life.  It was an unusually Spring like afternoon for a February day in the North. I was 14 and moved recently to a new unfamiliar town which that in itself was an emotional experience for me. While it was only 8 miles away from the town I had been raised in, it might as well have been across the country, because when you are in 8th grade, your world consisted of the town you live in and the school you go to and that pretty much is it. This of course was pre-internet and when phones were attached to the wall and not your hip.    Going into a new school, my biggest fear was not being able to play in the band  and not making any friends. The new girl isn't always accepted or at least, my fear was that I wouldn't be accepted by this new group of strangers. I did get into band and remarkably ranked high among my instrument group in this new school which relieved me because music was my life at the time.   I made friends but still felt a little out of place. My self esteem never was that great because I always was overweight and very self aware of the fact I was heavier then other girls my age. To me, my weight was the reason I may or may not be liked by this new group of peers.

That February afternoon I was in a rush for time. I had Jazz band practice that evening at 7:00 pm and I had to be there because I was to play a solo at an upcoming concert. There was no way I was going to miss that opportunity. The feeling of being on stage was a huge adrenaline rush to me, one that is hard to explain and at odds with how I was with any aspect of my life other than music. I had a plan to ride my bike to the store to  buy a pack of gum and if I timed it right, I might catch a glimpse of one of my new crushes from the school playing basketball.  I had to rush though, dinner was almost ready and then it was on to practice that evening.

I don't know where my head was that afternoon. I think I just was laser focused at trying to get where I wanted to go and to hopefully see that boy, that I wasn't paying attention to the road or my surroundings.  I hopped on my bike and went down my block, crossed the street right in front of an oncoming car. I saw it coming at me but I misjudged how far it was away and there was no turning back once I started. I just peddled faster to no avail.  It hit me on the side of my body and flung me 30 ft or so and then I landed on my back but first breaking the fall with my right wrist.   The world stopped at that moment and I felt oddly numb and dizzy, like the black and white stars clouding your brain when you have been spun around 70 times before you let go and fall to the ground.  I heard my Mother scream and people all around me start to hover before I was taken away in an ambulance to the hospital just a few blocks down the road from us (luckily).

The ride to the hospital took an eternity or so it seemed.  The reality was, I was near death and hovering between this world and the next.  Several internal injuries, bleeding and a crushed instrument hand of course. In the emergency room, I remember asking the nurses if this was going to take long because I had Jazz band practice at 7 and couldn't miss it.   They looked surprised at the fact I myself, had no idea how precarious of a situation it was.  I think you are going to miss this one but you'll be back in no time, we are sure, they responded with confidence and a tone you say to someone you are trying to reassure but are a little doubtful yourself.

The next recollection I have and I don't quite remember how long it was after the accident, whether it was that evening late or early the next morning,  was waking up in ICU and seeing my family gathered around with a Priest to my right and a strange man sitting down on the left in the mix of all of those that were the closest to me.  Seeing all these figures, my first thought was that I was dead and seeing myself being buried or at a funeral.  I knew who the man was even though I had never seen him before, it was my biological father. The person whom I had only recently found out about and tried to reach out to but with no connection worth speaking about made before that moment.  Seeing him along with the priest, I was for sure that if I wasn't dead, I was about to be.

The pain I was in was unbelievable.  My lifetime souvenir was a battle scar running down the middle of my chest to to my belly button. At the time, I was afraid to look at how I was marred for life. It was an excruciating experience both physically and mentally. My self confidence was always an issue and in my warped mind at the time, I felt that this would indeed ensure that I would never be loved by a man because of this ugly reminder of a bad decision I made.   I have to say that now, it is a symbol of survival and my second chance but there's a part of me that still is self conscious of this old wound.   After an extended stay at the hospital, I was miraculously released. In addition to my internal injuries, I also had pins put into my right wrist and the bones reconstructed. I begged for my fingers to be free when they put on the cast because that would be the only way I could play my flute if there was a chance at all.    The Dr.s were able to put the cast on in a way that allowed my fingers to move,  that although it was doubtful I could play for a long time, I could at least hold out to the hope that it might happen.

I was told it was my heavier weight that probably saved me as it cushioned my body from the impact. Ironic, isn't it? The part about me I hated the most, was one of the things that spared my life.  After I was released, I tried my best to cope with the situation and get back to school but there was something still wrong. I couldn't eat or drink anything.  I was vomiting at any ingestion of food or drink and loosing a great deal of weight.  Back to the hospital I went to discover that my small intestines had collapsed in part and emergency surgery was necessary.

The recovery from the second surgery was an even worse experience than the first.  They had to re-open that fresh scar and slice through the same muscles just cut open  a couple weeks beforehand. I felt like I was split in two and with one wrong move, my body was going to open wide with my guts spilling out all over the place.  I know I got addicted to pain pills for a period of time and turned angry for many months as I recovered. But, I knew I'd get better and was determined to rise above, the anger didn't overpower my will to recover.  I also was adamant that I'd somehow play in the concert and perform my solo no matter what because I worked hard for it and just maybe, I'd get noticed in my new school and be a bit more accepted.

After that second stay at the hospital I remember we were in the middle of a move to a new home. Another dramatic change in a year that I wish never happened in so many ways.  My Mom remarried, we moved to a new town, changed schools, my accident, and another move within that same was a lot to handle to say the least.  I was at the new house recovering, still slightly dozy and out of it from the pain medicine, when we had another guest. It was my biological father again. It was the second and last time I would see him. I really wanted to see him and get some answers and hopefully forge a relationship because honestly, deep down inside, I truly felt abandoned by him.  The visit was short and a bit awkward as to be expected. He told me about his new family and wished me well.  In the end, he decided that pursuing a relationship with me, would not be in the best interest to anyone as we all had a new life but he was glad I was going to be eventually okay.

The events of those few months forced me to grow up and make decisions on how I was going to lead my new chance at life. I have to admit, some of what drove me at first was anger at the rejection I felt from my biological Father.  The drug induced haze of  my pain meds eventually wore off as I slowly weened myself off of them. It took a clear mind to realize  how truly blessed I was for being spared and how I wasn't going to take my new life for granted anymore. I was going to do the best I could possibly do at anything I did because it could all be taken away in a heart beat. I witnessed that first hand.

Several weeks after all of this happened I remember stepping on the stage holding my instrument in the hand that bore a cast. I could feel the eyes of the audience stare at me and hear the whispers start to rise from the crowd. That is the girl that was in the accident they were remarking...or at least that's what I thought they were saying. The song I played along with the Jazz Band was Stairway to Heaven. How ironic is that?  I felt that was a turning point for me, I had survived and would not be walking that stairway just yet.  It was a miracle and one that I could not have accomplished alone but with the grace of God, strength of my family and friends, along with my determination...I had come back from the dead.

The long scar still reminds me of a battle overcome, a victory lap I get to take because of its existence. I still and always have been self conscious of it, especially in intimate settings.  It sets me apart from the others and always will, but it is a gift that I have been given.  They didn't know if I'd be able to have children because of the severity of injuries, but I've had two more miracles since that day and have been blessed with amazing boys I could never imagine my life without.   As for my biological Father, I know that I still have issues to work through because of the chain of events that happened and maybe someday will truly be able to see past the abandonment and rejection issues that have hung over my head for most of my life.  I decided after that last visit that someday I'd be famous and that he'd  see my name somewhere because of an accomplishment I achieved and have a tinge of regret for not wanting to be a part of my life.    I know, silly right?   One of the biggest lessons I learned though from this huge turning point in my life is that I'm a survivor and truly, we all are deep down inside of us.  You have to be willing though to overcome your own demons, your own insecurities, and rise above the pain it takes to step over the obstacles you are faced with. Sometimes the pain is literal and sometimes it's metaphorical. Sometimes it's a bit of both.

Lastly, I also learned that no one can do the has to be you. You have a choice, always.  

February 23rd, 1983.  It was the day my life began again. 


Caroline D. said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. It is very inspiring indeed! What an impact on your life, but without it, you would not be the wonderful, strong, and talented person we all love. The scar you mention is nothing to be self conscious of. You did not put it there. That is why accidents are called accidents... no one plans them. And remember that people that have similar type scars from heart surgeries or cancer surgeries are thrilled to have them and thrilled with the 2nd chance. Just like you are. Me included. I have such a scar from a cancer surgery that goes from belly button all the way down. Think of it is as a surgery tattoo. {wink} It's just a different type of skin is all. I think your story is wonderful!

Jodi Ohl said...

Thank you Caroline for your encouragement and for sharing your story, too. We all have a story, don't we? ;)

ncurryartiste said...

Thanks for sharing your story. We are all made up of those bigger pivotal events and smaller ones that change our path or show us what they are meant to. Sharing our stories reinforce that can overcome a lot and bevy others that may be facing their defining times.

Quiltmomof6 said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes we need to be reminded that living is a gift!

carolkrafter said...

No words, Jodi. Deep feelings of so so much. You are even more amazing than i have always thought, & in many ways. Multi layered ( like your incredible art ). A rare gift to our world. Thank you, lovely lady. xxx carole u.

Lorie said...

JODI!! OMG!!! Isn't it something that we so often just don't know the stories that people we love carry with them? I kept reading and reading, marveling at the twists and turns and complications. Wow. You are an amazing woman and truly a SURVIVOR. Thank you for sharing this. I'm so glad I caught this post xoxoxoxox

Jessica Sporn said...

Thank you for this touching, brave, heartbreaking, inspiring memory. You are even more of a miracle to me now.

Cherie Haas said...

You're amazing. Thank you for sharing this with so many of us who can benefit from hearing about your experiences and courage. I wish you all the best. <3

Jean said...

Such a wonderful story of strength and courage!! Thank you for sharing!

Nicole Nadeau said...

Thank you for sharing your amazing story today. You are an inspiration!

Tommy McDonell said...

Thank you for sharing Jodi. This means a lot and I understand now things you have said to me. You received a gift that day; however it is the world that received its best gift---You. You have much to give the world--your kids, your writing, art, teaching. All of these are talents and you give them.

I have never known you not to Answer a question or not to help someone.

As to your father. I do understand but as many will tell you, it is his loss. But at last he did come to say he was glad you were ok.

Big hugs and big Brava!

Denise Spillane said...

Wow Jodi, that was a lot for a kid at that age. Thanks for sharing. Amazing things we. Go thru and surviv, even growing stronger. Do you still play the flute? Hugs and so glad you paint and bring so much joy in the world.

Kris Grover said...

Wow, Jodi. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I am awed and deeply appreciate your honest reflection. Hugs and love to you as you continue on your journey.

Annette Poacher said...

I'm so glad you conquered, survived and now flourished with your art. We definitely all have a story - me included - my scars are mental and after an horrendous 2015 - I now don't judge because we are all on a journey. I have learnt so much about myself and how strong I really am. I to have issues with my father and have realised the closure has to come from me. God bless you Jodi - for your kindness and willingness to share. You are beautiful inside and out xxx��

froebelsternchen Susi said...

Truly moving !
Thank you for sharing!

Rita Montgomery said...

Story of survival. Thanks for sharing it with us Jodi.

Dawn Gold said...

This made me cry because there are some issues I need to deal with and I just can't bring myself to do it, I know that somehow my life will change and I am scared might hope I get to be as brave as you dear Jodi and I'm glad you survived x

Rita said...

Thanks for sharing your story and telling it so well.
I hope you are able to forgive your father one day.
Very best to you, from another graduate of the school of hard knocks--just took different courses. ;)

Heidi Orndorff said...

Wow, Thank you so much for sharing this with us Jodi. Inspiring!

Cynde Jackson said...

Always Amazing Girlfriend!!!

Jill Haglund said...

Jodi, thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing, it's a good lesson for us to hear and take to heart when things are tuff: our hardest times defiantly make us stronger and develop our inner character. Please know to us, (your class peeps and Facebook friends) you are amazing, fearless, super cute and already famous! Hugs and Love to you sweet talented friend!

Gigi Black said...

I have admired your work for a long time and now I understand why. It is filled with life, strength, and confidence. You are remarkable and your story is a great lesson on how obstacles in life can make a person stronger and more confident. Thank you for sharing.

Kelly Aker said...

Jodi, I just want you to know, the world is a much better place with you in it. You have changed my life with your art and inspiration.
Thank you for fighting so hard.

Kelly Aker said...

Jodi, the world is a better place with you in it. You continue to inspire and change my life. Thank you.