Good morning and welcome to Chaos Theory of Writing. We typically delve into craft related topics on Friday, but given that it’s a new year and I’m full of hope for the upcoming months, I thought I’d go a little rogue with this post.
Writers need all kinds of inspiration. Let’s face it, if we can’t get our butts in our chairs and write, all the craft lectures on the planet won’t help us. When I’m having trouble planting said butt in said chair, I think about my dear friend Tracey Kensinger.
Tracey is one of my college roommates, and during those years, we shared heartbreaks, laughter and just plain fun. We called her Squish back then because her shoes squished one night. Ah, college. The name stuck. I still call her Squish because she’ll always be that girl who makes me smile with her wicked wit. Her beauty stretches from the inside out. If you look at her picture, you can see it. More than that though, you can feel it. I am blessed to have her in my life.
In 1988 Tracey was involved in a horrific car accident that altered her life on every conceivable level. It is my hope that Tracey’s strength, courage and humor will inspire you to reach every goal/resolution you have set for yourself, no matter how big or small.
Here’s Tracey (Squish).
Adrienne: How did your accident change the way you look at your life?
Tracey: December 29th, 1988 changed my life forever. I was a mile away from my house and, for the first time, I didn’t have my seatbelt on. Another car slammed into me and I was thrown from my vehicle. When the ambulance got there I was dead at the scene. They revived me until life flight got there to take me to Washington Hospital in D.C. I was unconscious for a day. When I woke up, I didn’t know what happened to me. They had me on high doses of morphine, so I was in lala land. About a week later, the doctor told me I was a quadriplegic. At first I was devastated, but I was happy to be alive. I would watch my monitors to make sure everything was status quo. My injury level is C2, so I was on a ventilator. When the tube would pop off from my trach it would cut off my air flow and I couldn’t breathe. If they couldn’t get to me in time, they would have to use the ambu bag to get air to me quickly. It was very scary! I’m just happy to be alive, I never wanted to die. I now don’t take life for granted. It’s very precious and I have learned that it can be taken away in an instant.
Adrienne: You and your husband have a real-life love story. Tell us how you met?
Tracey: Jim and I met when he was working for New Day, a program which helps troubled teens and adults. He and two others came to my parents’ house to minister to me and my family through this ordeal. I also have a sister, who is in a wheelchair because of a brain injury caused by a car accident. This happened a year and a half before mine did. So this was extra stress on my parents.
After Jim and the others left, I didn’t think anything of it until he came to visit me at the hospital. I was there because of pneumonia. Jim told me about his troubled past; he was in and out of jail since he was a teenager. But the last time he went back, he became saved, and is now a pastor and serves the Lord. Jim says that he thought he was the one who would be helping me, but he realized that he was also the one being helped. He has been through a lot also.
When I got home, he kept coming to see me at my parents. We fell in love. He accepted and loves me unconditionally. We’ve gone through a lot together. The first four years after my accident, I was in and out of the hospital at least every other month.
Jim and I were married in October of 1994. We just celebrated our 15th anniversary. He is my hero. The years have gone by so fast. They say laughter is the best medicine, so we laugh a lot.
Adrienne: Would you please tell us about your friends Fifi and Francois?
Tracey: I met Jim in the spring of 93. A year later, I got a bed sore on my right ankle. The doctor told the nurses to keep packing it and it would close on its own. It didn’t close. I ended up getting a temp of 104, so they rushed me to the hospital. The infection in my ankle got into my bone. The doctor told me they would have to amputate my right leg, I was devastated. I decided to go to Pittsburgh for a second opinion. The doctors opened up my ankle and scraped the bone to get all the infection out. They took skin and muscle from my upper right arm, and graphed it onto my ankle. But it wasn’t healing. Jim was with me the entire time. He proposed to me, not knowing if I was to lose my leg or not. I said yes, of course. The doctors said they could try one more thing to save my leg. Leeches. Every two hours, they would put two leeches on my ankle and they would suck the blood up to the surface so it would circulate through my veins. At one point, a leech escaped and climbed on my shoulder. He thought he would introduce himself to me. I screamed so loud that the cleaning lady ran out to get the nurse. The leeches were imported from France. I fondly referred to them as Fifi, Francois and friends. The treatment worked, and my leg was saved, praise God.
Adrienne: We all have days when we are in a bad mood and don’t want to get out of bed. How do you handle those days?
Tracey: I believe God knows the date of your birth, and the date of your death. And there is nothing you can do to change it. After my accident, I never asked why me, but it was hard accepting it. I never thought I would find anyone who would love me the way I am after the accident. Don’t put your faith in doctors alone, but put it in Jesus.
Not that I pray to be afflicted, but Psalms 119:71 says; it was good for me, to be afflicted, why so the Lord could show me His purpose in life for me. Roms 8:28 says and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.
I get out of bed every day and try not to complain because no one wants to be around a complainer. I know I sure don’t. Thankfully, in the last 17 years, I’ve only been in the hospital three times for a total of nine days. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Adrienne: Please tell us about the book you and your husband have written about your journey. Where can readers get copies?
Tracey: The book is still a work in progress. The publisher wants a lot of detail. I’ll have to get back to you on that.
Adrienne: Do you view the world differently because of your accident?
Tracey: I do view the world differently. Before my accident, I parked in handicapped parking spaces not thinking about the people who really needed them. Now I get mad if things are not handicapped accessible. I don’t like when people stare at me. If they do, I just stare back. My sister was in a wheelchair before me, so I was compassionate towards the disabled. When we go to restaurants my husband has to feed me. The staring used to bother me but it doesn’t anymore. I figure they are staring at my beauty LOL!!! I wish people would see past other people’s limitations and just accept them for who they are not what they can or cannot do!!!!
RU Crew, who inspires all of you? We’d love to hear from you. And remember, the next time you run into a couple of leeches, tell them Fifi and Francois said hello.
A special thanks to Tracey (Squish!) for always making me smile, and for sharing her story on RU. Tracey will be here today to answer questions.
Join us on Monday when Kelsey will present our first sub-genre segment on contemporary romance.
- Inspiration Hunting in the Publishing World with Sonali Dev
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for Oct 25-29: Allie Pleiter, Laurie London, Jessica Inclan & B.A. Binns
- The Rhythm of Language with Cari Quinn
- Name That Muse – “Underdog” to the Rescue!