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After A Near-Death Experience, Here’s How I Recovered From Mind-Body Trauma

I was a passenger on Amtrak 188 on May 12, 2015, the day that train derailed outside Philadelphia in a massive accident that killed eight passengers and wounded more than 150. My chance of survival was slim. I was thrown from the train at such speed that my abdominal organs were rammed up into my chest, rupturing my diaphragm. Nearly all the ribs on my left side were crushed, my pelvis was broken in half, and multiple vertebrae in my neck and back were fractured.

An object had penetrated my left hip, crushing my hip bone, and the wound was open and dirty. My spleen was destroyed, intestines badly lacerated, bladder ruptured, and my lungs collapsed. Later, my orthopedic surgeon said if someone had told him about a patient coming to the ER with my injuries, his next question would have been, “When did they die?”

Given the force my body must have absorbed to produce those injuries, the doctors were stunned I was not paralyzed and did not sustain a major brain injury. Nearly every system in my body was severely affected, but over the course of the next few years, I recovered. I recovered, but I’ll never be the same. My body is different, and I am different. Physically and emotionally, I have scars that won’t go away. But I am OK.

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