One minute I was on the ice, just like any other morning, and the next I was in the neuro ICU fighting for my life. On July 3, 2013, an aneurysm ruptured in my brain and the doctors gave my parents grim statistics and did not think I would survive and, if I did, I would have life-altering deficits.
I battled complication after complication for three weeks and despite everything that aneurysm threw at me, I beat it. My parents decorated my room with tons of pictures, and one whole wall was dedicated to skating. The doctors and nurses would come in and stop to look at all the pictures. My parents were determined that, not only would I walk again, but I would also return to the ice.
My rink family surrounded me with love and support and my story spread through the synchronized slating community.
Four months after my rupture, I stepped back onto the ice and I took off as if I had never left. My muscles were weak, but they remembered everything. I was home and it was the best feeling ever, but my return to skating was not that simple. I had terrible short-term memory loss and I couldn’t remember the synchro program. I was able to rejoin my team with help from my coach, Amy Fankhauser, who videotaped the steps over and over again, and my teammate, Delia Smith, who worked with me every week.
In May 2014, 10 months after my rupture, I skated my tribute program to my medical team. Many of my doctors and therapists came. I only remember parts of it but my parents say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Fast-forward through my senior year when I struggled with the same short-term memory deficits that made skating very difficult. At the end of the year I hung up my skates - I was done. The rupture had taken skating away from me.
Or so I thought...
I have always loved Meryl Davis and Charlie White, so when they came to Kansas City last November I knew I had to meet them. Getting on the ice that day and meeting them sparked a fire in me that I had thought was dead. I knew I wanted to start skating again; a big part of me was missing. Being back on the ice that day made me realize how much I needed skating back in my life.
My coach was surprised and happy when I asked her to take lessons again. When I showed up at the rink the staff was excited and surprised to see me, and I surprised myself by remembering the entire European Waltz!
Recently I was offered a job to coach in the Learn to Skate USA program. I was honest with the director and explained my short-term memory deficits, but she is willing to work with me. To say that I am excited is an understatement.
Skating saved my life. I am grateful that my rupture happened while on the ice – if I had been at home asleep I would not be here today. My parents believe that my will to keep fighting while in the ICU was because of my dedication to skating and all of the long hours and early mornings I put in. Skating helped shape who I am and who I want to be.