Lindsey Roy

I lived what most would describe as a normal life. Until I didn’t. On August 10th, 2013 my life changed forever. While on vacation, I was in a tragic accident where I was run over by a boat “danced with the propeller.”

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I lived what most would describe as a normal life. Until I didn’t. On August 10th, 2013 my life changed forever.  While on vacation, I was in a tragic accident where I was run over by a boat “danced with the propeller.” These injuries left me with an amputated left leg, severely injured right leg, and lacerated right arm. In a matter of seconds, a freak accident changed my life forever. 

Before that weekend lake trip, I was a working mom, the mother of a two year old and four year old. I was a wife, friend and daughter. I was an executive at a company I loved. Every day was busy, filled with independent activities, many of which I took for granted. Then instantly, I was snuggling with my kids from a hospital bed and crawling up stairs at home to sing them to sleep. My husband became an instant caregiver. My work was on hold. Even something as simple as brushing my teeth or taking a shower required assistance. I distinctly remember my Mother-In-Law washing my hair in my living room.

Six weeks after my accident, I received my first fitting for a prosthetic leg. It was amazing and sad and humbling and surreal all at the same time. When I first stood up, I felt so tall since I had been sitting down for so many days in a row. I remember the leg looking like a big Barbie-colored plastic blob and secretly hating it, as this leg was clearly not my leg. But this leg would become the only option I had to regain my life.

During this era, my other, non-amputated leg was actually the bigger problem. I had a giant wound that needed constant care from medical staff. A skin graft surgery was necessary to heal the wound and that proved to be more painful than I could have ever imagined. That initial surgery was followed by clunky leg braces, painful weight-bearing steps, terrible orthopedic shoes and eventually a surgery that rewired my tendons to allow me to walk without a brace. 

There were days during my recovery where I had a great perspective and attitude. But there were also many days I was essentially moving through the grieving process. I remember the Anger Days, as I call them, punching my fists into my bed and wailing “why me?!” I remember the dark days of winter during the Depression Days where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it out the other side. 

Like all of us, I didn’t want to stay depressed or angry or bitter. That was not the life I wanted to lead. I realized I was going to have to work just as hard at the emotional healing as I was on the physical side. I sought out friends and family and professional counseling. I also found my inner strength and tapped into a well I didn’t even realize I had before my accident.

I started to be conscious about what tactics were helping me heal. These were insightful, key moments that became treasures along this unexpected path. I remember that first morning after my accident, while lying in the hospital bed, telling my husband and a few others that everything was going to be alright. “I’m going to write a book, become a professional speaker and work one day a month.” This was never a notion that had entered my brain before but I started to use it as a north star during my recovery process. I documented my learnings – on the good and bad days – via a blog I shared with others. I read books to broaden my ideas. I watched TED talks. I actually vowed to do my own TED talk and last month I actually did! I received a standing ovation and I’ll never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I’m still working on that book.

My husband and I have reflected on how we learned you can handle so much more than you think. If someone would have told me the day before my accident what I would have to face, I never would have believed I could have dealt with it. Though I have always been a person who is confident I can handle most situations and generally dive in without thinking twice, situations like this tend to be a level beyond our ability to fathom. Can I handle moving to a new city without knowing a single soul there, sure! Can I figure out how to care for a new-born, let’s do this! Can I survive when my leg is cut off, what?? But you just do. People will tell me I’m an inspiration or that they couldn’t have handled what I have handled. You don’t know until it happens and you would surprise yourself with what you can do. Trust me, you can handle more than you think.