A second chance at life

Maily Phan

The accident

On May 8, 2011,  I came home from work and decided to go out with a friend to grab a bite to eat but didn't make it there. This is the part where my life changed tragically in a matter of seconds. My friend lost control of the car on highway 99 and the car flipped over 3x and I rolled out of the car, into a ditch and tried to get up. That's when I knew I was paralyzed because I couldn't feel my legs. Laying in that ditch felt like I was there for hours but it was only 15-20 minutes. My friend came out of the car and started yelling " Maily!! where are you??" All I could do was wave my arm and said "over here!" A witness stopped and did a report and I heard a little boy's voice saying, " Mommy, I saw them but they were going too fast" while crying. After that, 2 men came and helped me and asked me " are you okay? Where are your shoes!?" I was so hurt that I was irritable at the same time. I kept cussing at them. When the ambulance came, I kept asking them if I could call my mom and they kept telling I had to wait until I got to the hospital.

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Emergency room

When I arrived to the hospital, the first thing I remember was asking the nurse if I could call my mom and they finally let me. I got ahold of my mom and the first thing she said when she answered was, "What?" I went straight to telling her " I got into an accident, Mom. Don't yell at me." That night in the ER was hectic cause it was Mother's Day and a lot was going around me in the ER room. After the surgery, I was on a lot of pain meds so it was all a blur. I had to wear a ridiculous neck and back braces for a couple months. Hated it but had to get use of it somehow.

The diagnosis

I didn't know what my reaction was when the doctors told me I was diagnosed with incomplete T12 spinal cord injury. I was switched from the 9th floor to the 3rd floor to wait to get an okay from the doctor that I'm ready to be transferred to the 4th floor which is rehabilitation floor for PT and OT. 2 weeks in on the rehab floor, I had a incident one morning while doing BP. I fainted and my nurse wasn't in so it was a different nurse that day. No one knew what happened so I had to get cat scans to see what was wrong. I had to be moved to the 5th floor. That night, I had to get the fluid drained out on my left side of my rib so I had an open surgery that consisted of a tube being put in.  Spent 2-3 weeks there which held me back from getting any progress cause I was on bed rest. I also wasn't eating enough so I had to get a feeding tube put in also. I was so sick. The meds were making me irritable and hot temper. Overall I spent 3-4 months in the hospital. Had so many things holding me back from going home on the discharge date. UTI is a pain in the ass.

Finding my way back to God

When I finally got to go home, a friend invited me to church and I found myself getting closer to God. It's the one thing that I needed most, a relationship with God. Before my accident, I fell out and was lost and didn't attend church once a week like I did when I was a kid. I told myself "I'm here to get closer to God and know Him more" nothing else mattered at the time besides adjusting to the new lifestyle I was given.


I also went back to school for a semester until it was overwhelming for me. I wasn't ready. I took on a spontaneous trip to Vegas for my first time in my chair with a few friends and didn't know what I was expecting. Now, I have been on about 5 trips since then. Vietnam has got to top the other ones because it was a 17 hour flight.  I have always been optimistic from the beginning. I always had walking again on my mind. With and/or without assistance, I would be fine with it. I knew God was beside through this journey with me so I wasn't so worried about what was going to happen. I live life to the fullest. Taking risks and opportunities that comes my way. This second chance at life gave me a whole new meaning of how I shouldn't take life for granted and my perspective/point of view also changed. I have learned so much in the past 5 years than I ever did in the past 20. I might sound crazy but I'm glad and grateful for the everything that happen. I couldn't have it any other way. I learned the hardest way who would be by my side through tough times. I have blessed to have met so many people that God has allowed me to cross paths with during this journey of mine. I have learned to forgive,  have faith and persistence. Also, I didn't know I had so much strength to be strong until being strong is all I had.

Love for travel

I learned that I really love traveling. I always have the travel bug and do things that I would probably never do when I was able to walk. I'm grateful to be able to live a life where I was once walking and now in a chair because not everyone is fortunate to be able to say that or even compare the two. It's not easy. Nothing is impossible. Do what scares you, you'll be surprised what the outcome would be!


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