I haven’t been as diligent about writing lately, and if you read my recent Instagram post, you probably know why. Two and a half weeks ago I was crossing the street in my neighborhood on the crosswalk and was hit by a car. The driver didn’t see me and I didn’t see him either. In fact, I don’t remember anything about the actual accident.
Fast-forward to now. I’m sitting next to my backpacking bag that’s full of all camping and hiking gear because I’m leaving today for a camping and hiking trip in Havasu Falls, Arizona. I should be super excited.
Instead, I’m super anxious. The rollercoaster-like feeling in my chest I normally get with an upcoming trip that’s as a result of excitement has been replaced by nervousness and travel anxiety.
I feel this way because it’s my first trip since the accident, which was only two and a half weeks ago. The abrasions on my head have almost healed fully, but I’m still in pain from the accident. I can’t bend over to load the dishwasher or even shave my legs without back pain. I am constantly switching out ice packs on my back and neck. If I get goose bumps on my body or shiver because I’m cold, it makes the abrasion on my head hurt. It’s all still very recent.
I should be excited about this trip, but I’m worried I won’t be able to handle the hiking like I normally can. Just the day before the accident I went on a 10-mile hike that got me really hyped for Havasu. But unlike my last big hike in Torres del Paine, I won’t be doing it alone this time. It worries me that I won’t be able to pull my own weight on this hike. I don’t want to hold up the group. We planned this trip a few months ago – I didn’t expect to get hit by a car between then and now. Who could anticipate that?
Aside from the anxiety from physical injury, my emotional state isn’t at its best. I spent the day yesterday in the hospital because joined a study for brain and head trauma patients. I laid with my head in an MRI machine for an hour and underwent hours of brain games and questioning. One of the questions asked was about feeling distressed in normal situations after the accident. That’s a big, fat, YES. I feel jumpy and nervous every time I cross the street now. Sometimes even the shadow of a car throws me off guard.
I know this is in part because I can’t remember the accident. I only know what others told about the accident and I only remember the aftermath in the hospital. I don’t even remember the ambulance ride. It frustrates me not to be able to remember an incident that could have been a lot worse. That could have ended my adventure on earth. And it wasn’t at no fault of my own.
My mom highlighted that it’s kind of crazy that I’ve traveled all over the world – many of those places as a solo traveler – and nothing really bad every happened to me (thankfully). Then I move to a new city in my home country and experience a traumatic accident. It could have easily happened anywhere, but it didn’t.
I’ve been off the grid this past week because I was hit by a car last Sunday while crossing the street in my neighborhood. I managed to walk out of the hospital hours later with only a concussion, a few abrasions on my head, and some sore body parts. I was really lucky – it could have been a lot worse. I don’t remember the accident and probably never will, and that’s made recovery kind of frustrating. It all could have ended in an instant through no fault of my own. It’s weird to only know about what could have been my last moment on earth through what others have told me and only very hazy memories of my own. Although I’m still not 100% back to my old self, I’ll be there soon. I look forward to go back to being “alive” instead of “lucky to be alive”. ☀️
I know it’ll take time to recover fully from the accident. Though I’m feeling a lot better than two weeks ago and I’ve healed a lot, I’m still not at 100%. I’m not in the same hiking condition I was when I trekked solo in Torres del Paine, that’s for sure. I was a confident solo traveler then. Now I feel more weak and dependent on others to help me through day-to-day life, let alone a hike. I tossed around the idea of not going on the trip because I don’t feel prepared, but I still don’t want to miss out on this hike I’ve wanted to do for a long time. This feeling of self-doubt is worse than the physical pain itself. It’s not only affecting my ability to travel but if affects my personal relationships, too.
Don’t they say that running long races like marathons are all mental? If that’s mental, then maybe if I feel mentally strong enough to complete this trek and have a good time, the physical strength will follow. I’m trying really hard to not let this travel anxiety about my next trip get in the way of going on it and having a good time, but the emotional struggle is real.