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Don't Dream It, DO it!

Posted by rachelhandler76 on July 31, 2012 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

American gymnast George Eyser won an impressive six medals (three gold, two silver, one bronze) during a single day of the 1904 Olympic Games. Even more impressive - he had only one leg. Fitted with a wooden prosthesis after being hit by a train, Eyser was still able to compete even in the vault event, which at the time involved jumping over a long horse without the use of a springboard.


So many people; friends, family and even strangers have been asking me, “How do you stay so positive?” They mention that I’m “inspiring.” I’m so flattered, but I don’t ever think of myself that way. What I’ve experienced in the past 5 months has been brutal and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I've had my rough days, weeks, even months. But I’ve always been an optimistic person. The word “can’t” has never been in my vocabulary, and now more than ever I refuse to let that cruel word walk into my life.


My skin has been healing slowly but surely and my prosthetic leg is feeling better and better. Even though I’m still healing from my last surgery, nearly 4 months ago, at this point the only thing holding me back is fear. But isn’t that true for everybody?


My experience was pretty extreme, but we all have obstacles to overcome. For me the obstacles are just a little more noticeable! I never want to let this injury or fear inhibit my lifestyle. It’s taken a while, but I’m pushing myself to drive again. I’m even trying things I’d never done before! Like discovering my love of kayaking:) I’ve also been studying anatomy (I’m going back to school to become a physical therapist assistant) writing a few more original songs, and now I’m writing a play. Who knows what the future holds, my only goal is to always be a constructive member of society.


On “How I Met Your Mother” Marshall asks Ted, “If you knew you’d lose your leg tomorrow, what would you do today?” Well, what would YOU do?


Now go do it! Because you never know what may happen. And hey, if you ever do lose your leg, it’s not that bad;)


 

H-O-P-E

Posted by rachelhandler76 on July 9, 2012 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I don’t like negativity, but I try to stay realistic. I don’t want to be weak but at times it’s hard to be brave. Lately it feels like any glimmer of hope turns into a step in the wrong direction. Some days hope is just another 4 letter word.


And yet, one particular night hope was presented to me as not only a feeling, but a choice. I went to a beautiful wedding and had an amazing time, but for a moment I wasn’t sure if I could let myself enjoy the night. While congratulating the groom during cocktail hour, we talked about the couple’s first dance. He mentioned the name of the song and it sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it…until I heard that first verse.


Memories of the accident flooded my mind and tears fell from my eyes. I had danced to that song in my favorite contemporary dance class, two nights before I was hit by a car. It was the last time I would dance as an able-bodied person. I hadn’t even thought of that until the moment I watched the bride and groom dancing to the music.


I knew I had to choose – let my fear of never dancing again swallow me whole, or turn that page in my life and accept this new chapter. Armando held my hand as the tears of grief subsided and a smile crept across my face. I have to admit, I felt a bit like Carrie Bradshaw in that episode of Sex and the City when she read at a wedding and tried to pass off her sadness as tears of joy for the happy couple. But looking around that ballroom, filled with love and the promise of a new beginning, the song became less painful and more inspirational.


An instance of a strange/surprise reaction is bound to happen after any kind of traumatic accident. A smell, taste, or sound may trigger a memory that has been neatly tucked away. Just the other day my family piled into our car to go home when another car ran a stop sign and nearly collided with us. When I saw that car drive through the stop sign and narrowly miss us my adrenaline jumpstarted and I had a panic attack. I never would have reacted that way before my injury.


These triggers will keep popping up, but like I wrote before, I choose to embrace life and overcome fear – even fears I never knew I had. Hope may be just another 4 letter word, but I’m choosing it over any other.

Will you?



One Step at a Time

Posted by rachelhandler76 on June 20, 2012 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (2)

I'm about to begin my journey walking through life with a prosthetic leg.

On my way to the prosthetist's office today I was surprised by my lack of excitement, but sense of purpose and hope. This has been such a long and strenuous healing process. As my patience wears thin, at least my skin is growing stronger! I'm constantly amazed by the medical technology that saved my life. I'd like to write about what I experienced in the hospital (and preface that with a quick note - I probably only remember half of the events that occured, due to all of the pain medications that flowed through my IVs). 

I remember feeling very relaxed my first night in the hospital. I knew I was finally safe. Safely on pain meds in a hospital filled with people who could help me. I had my parents with me and my close friends (shout out to Amanda, Sam, Danielle, Alban, Ben, Erin, Jon, Jen, and Sketkh!). But that night was the calm before the storm. 

The rest of my stay in the hospital was filled with surgeries, pain, anxiety, and fear. Also love and support. But mostly fear. For over two weeks the doctors weren't sure if they could save my knee. Most of the skin below my knee wasn't salvageable and they didn't know if the muscle underneath would be viable. I never prayed so much in my life. 

I had a 50/50 chance of keeping/losing my knee. Luckily the odds swung in my favor. Unluckily, I had to spend two more weeks without skin covering that muscle. Everytime the residents changed the dressing on my wound it felt like they were peeling off my skin while simultaneously burning my leg. Yet somehow my parents managed to help me find a sense of humor to cope with the situation. 

We laughed when one of the residents thought I was a med student. We found a sense of community with my roommates, who consisted of prisoners and stabbing victims (I changed rooms 5x during my stay in the Newark hospital). I cracked up when my order of shrimp scampi arrived as prawns and rice. And my parents smiled when they walked into post-op and found me holding hands with my surgeon and resting. 

I don't know how we survived between all of the surgeries and the side effects that come along with being bedridden. But we did survive! And now I'm taking it one painful step at a time.

Here's a picture of my beautiful new leg! When I start performing again, please do me a favor and don't wish me, "break a leg!"

Xoxo
Rachel


LimBitless

Posted by rachelhandler76 on May 31, 2012 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (9)

LimBitless

My life changed forever on March 3, 2012. Some may consider me disabled now, but I don't think the prosthetic limb I will wear is a sign of  loss. It will be a symbol of empowerment and a reminder to embrace life and overcome fear. 

That day turned my world upside down. For a approximately 1 second I knew I was going to be hit by a car. I'm still amazed that I remember the events of that day so clearly, yet my month in the hospital is all a blur.

Here's my story~

I was driving from New York City to an audition in South Jersey. I never made it to that audition. I was in a slight fender bender – my first ever car accident. I was shaken up but the other driver and me were fine and had little damage to our cars. We parked on the shoulder of the causeway and as we leaned against the guardrail chatting, waiting for the police to arrive, the unthinkable happened. I saw a car speed around the curve behind us. The driver quickly lost control and hit the guardrail across from us. In the matter a second these thoughts raced through my mind – “Will that car hit us? No way. Yes it will! Jump over the guardrail!” Without even the chance to scream, it was too late; we were both hit and I was flung over the guardrail and into some muddy grass.

I couldn’t move, my body was in shock. All I could do was scream at the top of my lungs, “Help, HELP! HELP!!!” I quickly realized my iphone was still in my hand, unscathed (unbelievable!). As I turned my head my second realization was not so promising – I couldn’t see my left boot. My shoe was gone, which led me to believe that so was the flesh inside it. Panic sunk it, but luckily good samaritans came to my aid. A father and his 10 year old daughter held my hand and called my dad. Not ten minutes earlier I had called him to say I was in an accident but everything was fine. This call was much more somber. As I choked back tears I told my parents, who were 2 hours away from me, that I had lost my leg. They immediately started driving towards me.

Once the paramedics got to the accident they kept my parents updated as to which hospital would take me. Those minutes spent waiting for the ambulance were the scariest moments of my life. I wondered if I had other injuries, if the blood by my head indicated a head injury, and why was I still conscious?! I cried for my loss; I cried for my pain; I blamed myself for the accident; and I cried for my dreams of singing and dancing on Broadway being dashed (I didn’t know then what I know now about the amazing world of prosthetics). I also cried for the kindness of strangers. When a person loses a limb due to illness they are in the hospital surrounded by their loved ones. But in my case, my mom wasn’t there to hold my hands and tell me everything would be O.K. I had a stranger’s hand to hold. Lucky for me, a wonderful woman pulled over and rushed to my side. She talked to me and helped me stay hopeful while we waited. 

As I write today I’m still waiting for my wound to heal so I can start walking again. I have good days and bad days, but I’m happy to say that I now have a closer bond with my parents, brothers, extended family, and friends. With their support and the aid of my talented team of surgeons, doctors, nurses, and therapists, my dreams of hitting the Broadway stage have not – and will never – be extinguished.

I wrote a song about the accident for my family, I haven't made it public on Youtube yet, but here's the link - I guess if you've read this you must be caring enough not to judge me on the poor quality of this video! But I hope you like the song:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yOarRrtfKY ;




Merry Christmas!

Posted by rachelhandler76 on December 25, 2011 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (2)

After a long day of eating and being thankful for my amazing family, I decided it was time to delve into creating my own website! I was told by my agent that it was imperative I make a website ASAP! Now, a year and 3 shows later, I have started...whew what a process!

As I continue on my journey towards creating beauty in the theatre and developing new and exciting characters, I'd like to update this blog and use it as a tool towards hopefully helping and inspiring some of my fellow actors out there!

This business can really wear you down. But the new year is upon us, and just remember, no matter what industry you work in, make goals, have a plan, and take action!

Xox

Rachel


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