Pilots rarely survive small-plane crashes. Karen Trolan, a real estate manager in the San Francisco Bay Area and mother of three, was piloting her family’s Cessna out of the Truckee airport near Lake Tahoe on Labor Day Weekend eight years ago when the plane crashed. In a moment, her life changed. Karen became a paraplegic.
This is a story of one woman’s courage and determination as she navigated multiple injuries in her brain, neck, lung, spine, ribs, and a number of bones, requiring months of hospitalization and rehabilitation. It’s a forthright—no holds barred—account of enduring the helplessness that comes from being wheelchair-bound and the ways that Karen and her family knitted together a plan not just to live but to thrive.
It’s a tale of trauma and its antidote: the creation of regimens of physical therapy, medical treatments, adaptive sports, and travel to recapture the joys of Karen’s earlier life, buttressed by her Christian faith and her husband’s dedicated support.
Karen calls her journey one of “pushing through” adversity. She credits her upbringing by parents who instilled a “can do” mentality in her and her brother for her positive attitude. She feels that her previous athleticism also contributed to her discipline and desire to return to the sports she loved: snow and water skiing, horseback riding, swimming, cycling, and kayaking. Today, she does all of these with the help of her husband, who muscles her into kayaks and gondola lifts, into airplane bathrooms, and onto the backs of horses. Another difference from her earlier days is the greater expense of life and equipment for adaptive use in both daily activities and sports. The family recognizes its good fortune in having opportunities for her activities and special treatments.
“The ability to give back to others by helping and teaching also inspires me to work hard every day on my core strength,” says Karen. She is grateful that she was able to return to every one of the teaching and mentoring roles in the work world and her volunteer activities before the crash. “By inviting me back to the Ski Patrol at Northstar and the Disaster Aid Response Team in Los Gatos, as well as to my coaching activities with my kids’ sports, those organizations helped me to feel myself again,” she says. “And, given the opportunity to work part time allowed me to get back on track quickly.”
Karen is an excellent communicator and is clear about all the challenges and obstacles she and her family faced beginning with the crash. The challenges continued with recovery and adaptations for her paralysis in her occupation, volunteer work, travel, martial arts, and recreational opportunities.
I really enjoyed this honest and uplifting book. I give it 4.8 stars! The score would have been higher except for the handful of spelling errors.
On Amazon it is available for preorder now and delivery on April 20, 2018
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