Imagine waiting for the light to change, top-down on your convertible, and singing along with the radio on a gorgeous Tucson day. Something makes you look over, and you see a large construction truck coming at you nearly head-on. You’re blocked in by other cars and can’t avoid the collision.
That happened to me in 1992. It was frightening to see that truck turning toward my driver’s side door and knowing I couldn’t escape. There I sat, completely exposed, and instinctively, I grabbed the rosary hanging from the rear-view mirror (given to me by my grandfather, Giddee Paul, years ago) and began praying for safety, protection. The next thing I remember, blurry and dreamlike, was policemen and paramedics surrounding me, and then I passed out.
That accident happened just two months before my graduation from UofA, leaving me with a long list of injuries: a herniated disc in my lower back, whiplash, severe increase in TMJ issues, chronic upper back and neck pain and terrible headaches. A professional actor and director, I had moved and danced my whole life, but now it was as though my body was betraying me. I’d request movement from it, and my body simply couldn’t do what I asked without causing pain. If it hadn’t been for chiropractic treatments and weekly massage therapy, I probably would have been flat on my back. The regimen gave temporary relief, but I essentially lived in constant pain.
Fast forward one year. A four-way stop in Denver, Colorado on a snowy February day. I’m hit again. A pick-up truck slides through a 4-way stop and plows into the passenger side of my car, causing me to slide on the icy road and spin head-on into a tree. Once again, I struggled to focus through the noise of officers and paramedics, but blacked out.
When I finally awakened in a hospital bed, a doctor and a policeman insisted that I was “one lucky lady.” I didn’t feel lucky at all. I felt scared, aching and disconnected from a body I’d always counted on, but one becoming more unfamiliar with each passing moment. I now had a litany of injuries: fractured cervical vertebrae at C 3-4, C 5-6, a dislocated rib and a shoulder injury, My TMJ problems intensified as did low back pain. At 25 years old, I felt completely debilitated.
Part One of Five of the article: “An Unexpected Cure: My Journey from Pain to the Transformative Power of Pilates” by Geneviève Nedder.