Healing

In 1983, within four months, according to the medical model, I was healed. I could walk, I could go to the bathroom, I could get up from a chair, I could have a life. After falling 40 feet, becoming paralyzed, learning to maneuver again, and healing all that I had achieved left me angry, lost and wanting for my old self.

When people ask me how long did it take you to heal, I reply, what day is it? I’m not being facetious, I feel I am healing more and more each day. Had I followed allopathic theory, I would still be a stiff, spastic, non embodied person wandering this earth! They were correct, I could walk but that was only the start of my recovery. Healing has become a continuous for me. If I listened to my doctors, whatever nerves came back to life within the first two years would be all that my body could rejuvenate. Yet, decades later, my nerves still create sparks.

By 1985, I was ready to move on. Without entry into a Physical Therapy program I had a year to wait in order to reapply. My brother Ronny offered his place in Albuquerque as my new home. Once his wife Mel was onboard and my parents agreed to funding, I enrolled in the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics. I had no idea what I was getting into when I filed my application. Healing on many levels came wrapped in that package. My body went from jumping all over the massage table like a fish out of water, to a relatively calm existence. That helped the anger to dissipate and the frustration to lessen.

As I continued with natural therapy, my body persevered, stepping into the role of teacher. What a great teacher, to be guided within and on the outskirts of my body tissue. Any time an instructor explained something and I couldn’t wrap my head around it, my body showed me. Healing has come from each cell, reenforcing what would help in my healing.

For me, healing is a process, not an end game. Each day that I awaken and proceed in life, that is a healing day. To recognize my health, to feel my strength, to know how different it could all be. Although medically speaking I was healed 35 years ago, to me I am happy to continue the healing process, to become sound each and every day. I’m worth it. Healing is a great practice. Give it a shot! Be well… Nancy T

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Headlines

Daily Egyptian 

Monday, October 18, 1982

SIU-C student falls from bluff

An SIU-C student is listed in critical condition after she fell off a bluff Saturday afternoon at Little Grand Canyon, south of Murphysboro.

Nancy Turcich, 19, of Chicago, was carried 1 1/2 miles by friends and volunteers to a parking lot, where she was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

The accident occurred when Miss Turcich slid down a waterfall or stream and went off the end of the bluff, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said. Five volunteers joined her friends to help rescue her.

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I made the headlines. Not in some great style or in a fabulous fashion, but a student falling from a nearby bluff stirred things up at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

It was only after 27 years that I heard from a friend that a reporter wanted to talk with them. Fearing repercussions (paranoid teens), they turned the reporter away.

While compiling,“Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life,” I tracked down the Daily Egyptian snippet. It was odd to read the words and imagine a young college reporter gathering the facts for the college newspaper.

I was told there were two volunteers plus professionals, but who am I to question the Egyptian’s totaling of five.

1 1/2 miles sounds like a walk in the park, except when you are carrying an injured person in a basket. Challenging rock formations, foliage, and sunset added to the stroll.

My buddy Mike was right, perhaps a different pathway would have been best, but I chose what looked like the fastest way down. I just didn’t see the 40ft drop between point A and point B.

I do remember being wheeled into the ICU after hours of tests only to hear, “We have a live on here.” I remember thinking, “Compared to what?” In my mind, everything was going to be ok. Once I saw the relief on my parent’s faces, the nurse’s comment registered more clearly. I was in the ICU, but I was responsive. In fact, I was talking and everything. Well, I couldn’t move. . . but I was ALIVE. Now that should have been the headline: SIU-C student falls from bluff and is ALIVE. Be well… Nancy T

  • Go to http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/ to purchase your copy of “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life” by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP. For a limited time, take advantage of a special offer (only available by email: nmt1@naturalmassagetherapy.com) $12.00 plus shipping and handling.
  • eBooks are available on Amazon, iTunes, & Nook.

Anniversaries

When speaking of celebrating the day I fell from a cliff, I get mixed reviews. Some people think it is great, while others find it strange: Why celebrate something so tragic? For me, a life changing event with a positive outcome is well worth celebrating. October 16th is a day worth commemorating. Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life ~ Nancy M. Turcich available at http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/.

Today is September 22nd, the anniversary of my eldest brother Ronny’s death. There is no celebration, but I honor his memory. It wasn’t always that way. As a matter of fact, September 22nd had been a day of utter sorrow, fiery anger, and a day of great disappointment; in life and myself. Much of that came from Ronny’s choice to leave this Earth and my inability to STOP him. Through writing and many years of suffering, I have found a way to be okay with Ronny and to hold him in a fair light. In time, I felt he moved on and maybe I should too. In One of Eight–my perspective on our brother’s suicide,* I share my struggles, my guilt, and my journals.

Anniversaries mark events in our lives that have made us who we are today. For seven years, my fall made the greatest impression upon my life. Then, in 1989, Ronny checked out and nothing would ever be the same. Words last spoken, times spent, moments when the reality of what transpired sunk in, all played in my mind along with what “should” have been said, done, and completed, haunted me.

The saying, a Monday morning quarterback comes to mind. After all, at the cliff, had I listened to Michael and chosen a new route to descend, everything may have been different. Had Ronny’s day on September 22, 1989 been a little different, maybe he would have chosen to stay.

I’m not naive enough to think that I control situations, but I do know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, maybe, just maybe, I could have changed something by making a different choice.

For now, I am here, I am healthy and I am happy in my life. I hope Ronny found some peace and that he went on, somehow, someway. These anniversaries will be a part of my life for as long as they hold a space in my heart. And gratitude remains a part of it all. Both events took from me, but they also bestowed great treasures upon me. Would I change anything? Well, I’m certain that there would be different anniversaries to acknowledge. Be well… Nancy T

  • Go to http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/ to purchase your copy of “Finding My Way  From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life” by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP. For a limited time, take advantage of a special offer  (only available by email: nmt1@naturalmassagetherapy.com): $12.00 plus shipping and handling.
  • eBooks are available on Amazon, iTunes, & Nook.

** 10 % of the proceeds from “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life” benefit the   Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation.

Wheelies

Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (SIUC) is wheelchair accessible. In my time there, it was commonplace to see “wheelies” maneuvering about campus; powered by mouth straws, a joystick, or by hand.

In 1981, I met Ed, a wheelie from Chicago. Ed was old by college standards; probably in his late 20s or early 30s. Ed was riding his motorcycle when someone ran him off the road. The last thing Ed remembered was picking up his shoe and seeing his foot inside. Immediately afterwards, he passed out only to find himself a wheelie months later.

Although my first visit to a doctor in Chicago was in a wheelchair. I never became a wheelie.

In the early days of my recovery, I was transported through Firmin Desloge Hospital on a stretcher. I recognized the ceiling more than the decor. Years later, I revisited Firmin Desloge under my own power. In order to move on, I needed to walk the halls and see things from an upright position. Afterwards, my friend Ozzie and I toured St. Louis to create more positive memories of the Gateway to the West.

My family home in Chicago was anything but wheelchair accessible. Upon my arrival from St. Louis, several family members lifted me over the fence and carried me to my bedroom. An office chair became my makeshift transportation on the main floor. Although the width of the chair scraped the woodwork, it was manageable as well as cost effective.

I never imagined myself as a wheelie. In fact, I was so opposed to the idea that I threatened suicide if I was unable to walk again. That remark broke my mother’s heart. Thankfully, I wasn’t tested and her cardiac rhythm remained intact.

On a recent visit to Philadelphia, I met my cousin Margaret for breakfast at the Reading Terminal. Margaret is a wheelie. Living in the city allows her to get around on her own. With a lift out of her apartment, a powered chair, and bus service, Margaret enjoys a fairly active life. In our conversation, she mentioned how things improved once she stopped suffering. Margaret explained it this way, “Sometimes people hold on too long.” Although some consider walking with a cane or other device degrading, maybe it’s just the next step. Perhaps by using the cane, walker or wheelchair, they can be supported and have a better quality of life.

What I learned from Margaret, Ed, and the men in the movie The Best of Men (Trauma & Healing blog) was life goes on whether you are a wheelie or not. Making the best of your life is essential. I admire wheelies. Be well… Nancy T
** 10 % of the proceeds from “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life” benefit the   Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation.

  • Go to http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/ to purchase your copy of “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life” by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP. For a limited time, take advantage of a special offer (only available by email: nmt1@naturalmassagetherapy.com): $12.00 plus shipping and handling.
  • eBooks are available on Amazon, iTunes, & Nook.

The Ripple Effect

Toss a pebble into a pond and you see the “ripple effect.” In 1982, falling 40 ft. from a cliff was like a boulder plunging into a lake. The waves created were immense and they endured for years. As a matter of fact, recently retelling the story of my fall to a client, I felt the waves of the past crashing into the present. When I spoke of my friends observing my fall and their involvement in my rescue, her eyes filled with tears. She couldn’t believe how many lives were touched by what happened to me. In fact, 35 years later, she became part of the ripple effect.

Ern, an east coast cousin said, “I’ll never forget the day I got the call.” Working for a doctor in Philly, Ern was a “go to” for my parents. Ern’s sister Sandy lent us a station wagon to transport my paralyzed body from St. Louis to Chicago. So many people jumped in to help.

It’s always surprising how far ripples spread. In 1984, while touring Europe with my elder sister Kathy, we arrived on the island of Krk, our grandfather’s homeland. A relative met us at the bus stop. With a language barrier, after we pleasantly greeted each other, we quietly walked to her home. After exiting the WC, it was as if an ocean wave swept over the island. Our cousin grabbed hold of me and vigorously slapped my back, saying, “Nancy, Nancy, Nancy!” Bug-eyed, I looked over her shoulder to see my sister in shock. I mouthed, “What did you say?”

Kathy responded, “I guess she just figured out who you were.”

Family near and far received word of my fall. I could have done without the back slapping, however, the love and recognition were welcomed.

When I think of others, I see how what happened to me impacted so many. The ripple effect certainly played on the sea of my life. It doesn’t take much to see how each of us touch this world. Just look at the surface and the waves we create. Be well… Nancy T

Others

In 1982,I was a confused nineteen year old with a large chip on her shoulder. When I gathered friends to explore Little Grand Canyon for the day, I never considered how my actions would effect others. As I slid from the cliff’s edge, collided with a boulder, and became paralyzed, my friends were seriously impacted. In fact, our lives became intertwined.

Excerpts from Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life ~ by Nancy M. Turcich

~ Over the years, a few people shared their memories with me. Davey easily shared his perceptions of the fall. He recalled my search for something to grab as I descended the cliff: “Once you started to slide I looked up and locked onto your eyes. They were desperately scanning the terrain but there was nothing for you to grab hold of. Then the edge of the cliff swallowed you up and you disappeared into the trees and shrubs.” Davey’s candor settled my feelings of helplessness. I was relieved to have someone witness my attempt to save myself.

~ Dawn, my friend and roommate, couldn’t talk about my fall for many years. She said, “It was the worst thing I ever witnessed… what more is there to say?” I continued to probe for answers for myself and hopefully, to bring her peace. I’m not sure the latter will ever happen, but Dawn eventually shared a few important tidbits. As they watched me fall, everyone reacted individually. The guys all scattered, but Dawn froze. “My insides were shaking and I was unable to do anything.” Dawn and Dee Dee remained in a cave-like amphitheater on the canyon floor until they were stable enough to move, to climb. Then they managed to scurry through the rough terrain to get to me. Me and my punk attitude.

Teary eyed, Dawn spoke of hearing a scream and then watching me fall. She said, “There was definitely a scream, then the sound of falling rocks—gives me the chills to think about it.” She defines the event as an image and sounds that she will take to her grave. Something core deep but difficult to describe. Dawn felt the group responded with an overall sense of denial. They told themselves that I would be okay, that my injuries were bad but nothing to warrant my imminent demise.

~ Decades later, my friend Christine enlightened me, filling me in on a hidden past.

“Oh yeah, I was there. I remember you falling and when I reached you, I saw your eyes were open. That’s my last memory of that day—your open eyes staring up at me.”

“Nancy, I don’t remember the days around that time. I guess I blacked it all out.”

~ Guilt nearly smothered Michael—he thought he should have stopped me. “After you slid in front of me, I rose from bent knees to stand.” Though he stretched his near six-foot frame to locate me, I vanished from his sight. “At that point, I decided not to follow you. Instead, I climbed back up the cliff and went down the way we originally ascended.” Once Michael reached my side, he assessed the situation. Helpless, angry, and fearful, Michael ran until he was out of earshot. Then he screamed and cursed at the top of his lungs. I’m sure the trees shook from his emotion. “After I gathered myself, I rejoined the group.” Michael and the others formed my rescue squad.

That day in 1982 remains etched in all of our bodies, minds, and, perhaps, souls. However, each of us holds on to different aspects, different feelings, and different ghosts.

Be well… Nancy T

  • Go to http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/ to purchase your copy of “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life” by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP. For a limited time, take advantage of a special offer (only available by email: nmt1@naturalmassagetherapy.com)$12.00 plus shipping and handling.
  • eBooks are available on Amazon, iTunes, & Nook.

Trauma & Healing

In 1982, as I described in the Emotional Flurry blog, acquiring a body cast was the worst of times. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maslIQxqKsg) To this day, that experience, from start to finish was the most rotten thing I experienced from my fall. The plaster hardening on my skin, the spasms forcing my head to retract as my limbs jolted into the metal bars, the lack of empathy from my doctors, and lastly, the pressure along my ribcage as my weight increased and the cast no longer fit my form combined to create a miserable stew.

The other night while watching The Best of Men, I flashed to my body cast removal. In the film, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann arrived at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire, England toward the end of WWII. Upon his arrival he was appalled by how the partially paralyzed men were heavily sedated and how rancid bedsores riddled the men’s bodies: some hidden from view by plaster casts. In one scene, Dr. Guttmann requested a pair of pliers and proceeded to cut through the plaster, freeing the men from their cage of misery. Although I was upright and a saw was used to crack open my plaster shell, the procedure ended with my digested insides on the floor. The PA’s couldn’t exit the room fast enough, leaving my mother to clean up after her 19 year old baby.

It was inspiring to watch Dr. Guttmann fight for his patients and treat them like human beings. He helped them to rebuild their body, mind, and spirit. Athletic competition added to the recovery of the men in his charge. In this true story, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann is credited for starting the Paralympic games. With modest beginnings, the event has grown to more than 1,000 participants.

With my 35th anniversary approaching in October, I chose to read, The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer. On the back cover Packer asked, How much do we owe the people we love? Is it a sign of strength or weakness to walk away from someone in need? As the casualty of the fall, I was intrigued.

Mike, a main character, fell and broke his neck at Clausen’s Pier in Wisconsin. The following is a conversation between his doctor and Mike’s family about his paralyzed condition: “You’ve been waiting and worrying for four weeks, and now that he appears to be resuming consciousness, you’re understandably thrilled. The last thing he knew, he was having fun with his friends. You can’t expect him to be happy or relieved or grateful to find himself alive.”

Mike’s father: “He’s waking up to bad news, even though his waking up is good news.”

When I read this exchange, it gave me pause. My mind jetted back to the instant my life changed. Although my life was far from perfect in 1982, the moment the damage to my body registered, I asked for all of my troubles to be returned to me along with my body sensations. If only I could feel my body again, if only I could get up and walk, if only . . . . However, just as it was laid out in this book, it was all bad news to me, even though good news was right around the corner. One minute I was having fun with my friends, the next my body was splayed out over a boulder. From the chest down, life was literally vacating my body.

At one point, I put Clausen’s Pier aside as a hospital scene ignited my discomfort. However, the next night I picked it back up and continued to read. In my life story, no one walked away from me, although there were times I wished they had. Being surrounded by people when things were at their worst disturbed me. Even as nastiness emerged from every pore, family and friends remained by my side.

To truly release a trauma, the charge diminishes or it no longer captures your energy. Most of the time, my fall is like that. However, occasionally something pricks the old wound. Fortunately, it is short lived and it doesn’t consume me. These days, memories from my recovery bring gratitude. Both the book and the movie gave more to me than they took from me. I realize I am one of the fortunate ones. That’s why I share my story, to help those who are paralyzed in life; whether they can walk or not. Be well… Nancy T