Besides the hurdle of overcoming months of therapy and rehabilitation the item most people have their sights set on is getting back to their old lives. While the hours of therapy day in and day out can be excruciating, reintegration into a world that has now become foreign to you can be equally, if not more, challenging. The “real world” can be very insensitive to someone who has been in a controlled environment for an extended period of time.
Most people don’t realize how detached from society one can feel after being hospitalized for weeks (perhaps months) on end. Your life may have come to a screeching halt, but society has no intention of slowing down and waiting for you. I can remember just how fast I thought the world had become after I left my rehab facility (I had only been there for 6 weeks). I’m sure I looked like a five year old with my head “glued” to the car window the whole trip home.
As much as I hated my time in rehab I didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to the quiet surroundings and lifestyle. Everything was structured for me in a way to prevent any physical or mental overload.
Being 16 and a sophomore in high school can be a difficult time for anyone, but it can be exceptionally challenging for someone who has just experienced a life altering injury. High school is often a time when someone begins to figure out who they are and which crowds they fit in with. I had found my niche with my crew team and was beginning to show real promise as an athlete. As you can imagine my athleticism was severely impacted due to my accident and did not allow me to return to the sport and people that I loved. While all my friends were at races winning medals I had to stay at home and focus on physical and cognitive therapy.
Many of these same obstacles are faced by people reintegrating into the “real world” after sustaining a traumatic injury. It can be a difficult time in the healing process that others may not realize.