What I Gained From Nearly Dying

I had a very interesting interview with a writer about my recovery from an accident I had a few years ago. She says that my story would be interesting to some people and she plans to publish a story on it. I will share a link to it when she does.

Three years ago, I was really finding success professionally and personally. My clients at IDC included Fortune 500 companies and top global brands. I got to work with some of the smartest people in the world. My focus has been market research and competitive business intelligence on tough product and marketing problems. My team’s mission was to provide insights that executives used to make deeply strategic decisions.

Michelle Gamble on Laguna Beach with son Cole
My son Cole was a huge part of my motivation to fight. Here he and I are at Laguna Beach.

One day on a normal drive to work my car was struck by an out of control driver. My airbag deployed and it knocked me unconscious so my car kept moving until it struck a high-voltage power line pole. When I woke up in the hospital I found out that the emergency workers were so concerned about the damaged car and electrical lines that they had pulled me from the car while my foot was still pinned under the gas pedal and this shattered and mangled my ankle.

My recovery started normally until I suddenly started to exhibit some unexpected symptoms. After some tests, I was told that I had contracted the MRSA Super Bug in the hospital. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a drug-resistant bacterial infection. Hospital patients with open wounds are susceptible to contracting it because it is highly contagious and very difficult to combat. It has become a major problem in hospitals across the country. The infection attacked my damaged tissue and entered the bones in my foot.

I will never forget that conversation. My doctor told me there was no way to save my foot and they would have to amputate or I would die. I got a second opinion and then another. They all said exactly the same thing. I just could not believe that in a top California hospital this was my only option.

In business, I never liked being told there were no options. I always took that as a challenge. My family and friends feared for my life and urged me to accept the opinions of the doctors. Instead, I decided to fight. I took personal ownership of my own care and approached it like I would a business challenge. I would conduct my own research, use my networking skills to identify the very best in the field, challenge assumptions, encourage others to go further than they thought they could and I was determined to push through the roadblocks.

Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

 

I spent countless hours researching MRSA treatments, asking tough questions and double checking what people told me. These are good people and well trained but I wanted to beat this for me and my family. I wanted my life back. Finally, a doctor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center agreed to help me try to save my foot.

Over the next two years I had nine surgeries and we beat the infection and the doctors saved my foot. I spent a year meeting specialists and completed over 400 physical therapy sessions. I couldn’t walk or drive so I had to rely on my amazing network of family and good friends and took trains, buses and Uber when needed. I had more surgeries to repair my bones and skin. When you don’t walk that long and have major surgery you need to learn how to walk all over again.

I missed my clients and coworkers although many visited me and became friends. Doctors said that my recovery was miraculous. I have completely recovered. I have no pain and am very active. I don’t even have a limp.

I was left so grateful for the simple things that I used to take for granted. It means so much to me to walk along Laguna Beach with Cole or to drive myself to meetings or the store. I was really inspired with how many people wanted to help. When people see you fighting for something they want to see you succeed so they jump to help you. The reporter called me a survivor. I never really thought in those terms before. However, I do feel I have learned a lot about myself. I have enjoyed amazing personal growth that comes from overcoming something and defying the odds.

One thought on “What I Gained From Nearly Dying

  1. Congrats on your miraculous recovery. . I am your Dad’s cousin Fred Cook from Dallas Tx and I guess your second cousin. Thanks for sharing your story. Gene and all of us grew up in Alabama. You have a very tough family line (the Gambles) . They were tough pioneers, so it is not surprising that you have that tough spirit. Thanks for sharing and continued good health. Fred Cook

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