Life Is A Marathon

John and I the summer of 2010

I can’t tell you how many times over the past year that doctors and nurses told my husband and I that we were running a marathon. Hundreds maybe. Enough that if I were paid a nickel for each time I’d be a rich woman. They were right, of course.

One year ago today life in the Cullen household came to a screeching stop and made a huge right turn.

Even a year later we still don’t know the details of the accident. My husband went on a bicycle ride and took our black Labrador retriever with him. It was something they’ve done before, though not very often.

John fell off his bike and fractured his skull in two places. No, he wasn’t wearing a bicycle helmet.

By the time my daughter and I arrived at the hospital, the helicopter was on its way to transport him to the closest trauma hospital.

It wasn’t until months later that I would learn how close we came to losing him. By some quirk of fate John was out with friends a few months ago and ran into one of the hospital staff who was in the ER of the trauma hospital he’d been taken to. She told him that his arrival in her ER was a life changing moment for her. She’d been grumbling that she didn’t want to be there because it was her birthday when John was brought in. His condition quickly deteriorated and the doctors were yelling at him to not give up.

He was rushed into emergency surgery to have part of his skull removed to allow the brain to swell. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for nine days and in neuro ICU for fourteen days.

John is a police officer and his fellow officers were there for him, looking like they were going to take on the world and anyone else for John. I will never, ever forget the feeling of seeing them standing behind the doctor as he reported John’s condition. For the next few months they took care of my family. They drove my kids when needed, they did my grocery shopping, they cut our grass and they never left me alone in the evenings at the hospital. There was always someone there to walk me to my car. Every night.

But that marathon? That was something John and I had to run ourselves. No one could do it for us. And it wasn’t just one marathon. It was one after the other, after the other.

John spent twenty-five days total in the hospital, eventually transferring to a rehabilitation facility where he had to relearn how to walk. For five months he was in speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. The road was long and we’re still not finished walking it, although the pace has slowed. As John says, “You don’t go through something like this without some side effects.” John bears the external and the internal scars and I sport a few of my own internal scars.

But, like a pebble thrown into a pond, the ripples get farther from the epicenter and life slowly settles into a new normal. There will never be the old normal. That’s long gone. But we have a new version of it. A better version in some ways. We’re both changed people and for the most part the change has been for the good.

Recently John asked if I’d known what was to happen all those years ago when we got married, would I still marry him. Without hesitation I said yes. No doubt. No thought. Absolutely yes.

I’d like to think that we’ve reached the finish line of this particular marathon, but we don’t know that for sure. Truth is, like everyone else in this world, we don’t know what the future has in store for us. We just have to keep running and enjoy the scenery while we do.

John finishing his first 5k. Five months after he learned how to walk again


13 thoughts on “Life Is A Marathon

  1. Okay, the 5K run five months after relearning how to walk? That’s AMAZING! Absolutely amazing. And the officers doing all of that to help you? Talk about some awesome people right there.

  2. Jeffe – After John fell, the dog ran out into the street and stopped traffic. The first car he stopped was the woman who called 911. Gives you chills, doesn’t it? Winston is still with us but doesn’t go on bike rides anymore.

    Tera – I cried when I took that picture of John. If you could have seen him take his first steps, you would be doubly amazed. He truly is inspirational. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of all his co-workers and what they did for us.

  3. You really went through the mill with John’s accident. So great about all the people who helped you. Stay strong!

  4. John & Sharon are amazing, wonderful people and all of us would drop everything again to be there for them. We consider ourselves lucky they call us friends. John’s determination is inspiring. He’s one of my heroes!

  5. Okay, I’m in tears. What an inspiring story, Sharon. You and your husband are incredible people who have faced incredible challenges. The pic at the end gets me every time I look at it. There’s a man to be admired and a true hero. You are a true heroine. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your journey, Sharon. You’re absolutely right – traumas test us in ways we can’t know until those twist come upon us. I’m so glad you both had a support system in place to help you through… and big hugs to you both for starting – and continuing! – the marathon!!!

  7. Every time I hear this I tear up. It’s sad, heart-warming, thought provoking, inspirational and so many other emotions all mixed together!

    I’m happy that things are finally settling down for your household and wish you all the health and happiness you deserve!


  8. I’m grumbling this morning because it’s hot and I have to bring in a herd of stinky sheep from pasture. It’s not fun and there’s no reward. I come in for ice water and sit to read your post. Suddenly, I feel very small. There’s so much to celebrate in life. I just needed to look beyond my nose. Best wishes to you and John.

  9. Pingback: Asking for help for a friend |

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