Patrick McBride

LAUREN EARLY

Patrick McBride
LAUREN EARLY

LAUREN EARLY

Dallas, TX

Photos by: Angela Majerus

Car accident, broken back and back to the dance floor.  Tell us about this journey.  Also how has this affected your life in a positive way?

Dance has always been a huge part of my life. My mom put me in classes when I was only three years old, and I have been competing for over ten years. Going into high school I couldn’t even imagine my life without dance; the hours spent up at my studio, the friends I had made, and my teachers who taught me so much. But, freshman year that would all change when I was involved in a major car accident, in which I broke four vertebrae and lacerated the ligaments holding my spine in place. Normally, an injury of this magnitude results in huge problems such as paralysis, and when the doctors first discovered the extent of my injury they doubted I would ever have normal mobility in my back again, let alone be able to dance. Many surgeons thought the best route would be to place rods in my spine to stabilize the bone, but doing so would severely limit my range of motion and keep me from doing even the most basic things, such as bending over to tie my shoe. For me this was not an option. I was not ready to give up dance, and could not imagine my life without it. After getting more opinions there was one surgeon who thought that a non-surgical path would give me the best chance of fully recovering, and this is the path I chose. This plan was risky because there was no guarantee of a recovery, and if it failed the only other option would be surgery. I was required to wear a back brace all day, every day, for 3 months in the hopes that it would hold my spine in place while the bones and ligaments healed. I had to get x-rays once a week to make sure none of the bones had shifted. After 3 months my doctor cleared me to start physical therapy. Therapy was hard, especially because I did not see any immediate results and my body was no longer used to doing the simplest motions. When I was cleared to go back to dance I remember taking my first class and feeling so out of shape. I was definitely not at the level I had been before the accident. Even the simplest things were extremely difficult. But, if I had learned one thing from dance over the years it was that no matter how many times you get knocked down, you have to get up and try again. This was what I lived by for the next months as I worked to regain balance, strength, and endurance. I was not an easy path at all, and a lot of times I felt like quitting or giving up, especially when I saw all of my friends around me improving at such a faster rate. But, I would not trade this experience in for an easier route because not only did it teach me that it’s the ability to stand up after being knocked down that makes the difference, but I it also taught me to be much more thankful for the passion I have and the ability to do what I love.

Tell us more about yourself.

I am on the Senior Company at Artistry in Motion Performing Arts Center, and attend Coram Deo Academy in Flower Mound. I graduate in May and will be attending Texas A&M University. I am going into Allied Health and plan to attend their nursing school. My accident is actually what inspired me to go into the medical field as my countless hours at the doctors and hospital opened my eyes to a world I had never seen before. I want to be able to help those in the same situation I was in, so that they too can overcome any medical challenges. I still dance— a lot—and just had my first competition of the season this past weekend. It took me over a year to get back to where I was before my accident, and I am extremely thankful to be able to continue doing what I love.

Instagram: lauren_early_