A Road Less Twisted


November 23, 2010

I agreed to host the upcoming Carnival of HR on November 24th.  My idea it to have writers share stories of the events that changed their path in life.  We’ll be hearing some personal stories, some professional stories, and some stories that are very personal but that have impacted all aspects of the writers life.  My example definitely falls into this category.

I’ve been blessed with several game changing moments.  I could tell you about how I decided to get into HR because I do recall the exact moment I made that decision.  I could tell you about several times at work where incidents, both positive and negative, shaped my direction.  But when it comes to a moment so profound that it made me wake up for the first time in my life, it’s personal.  It’s a situation so deeply scarring that as I sit here typing it makes all those feelings and emotions come rushing up, even 28 months later.  I feel my palms getting sweaty and a nervous feeling in my stomach has gripped me.  But, even though I have such a physical reaction to even thinking about the situation, it’s a story of how something so negative can have a profound positive impact on a person.  It did on me.

In July 2008, I went to the hospital for a “routine” scope procedure.  You know the ones, fifteen minutes in-and-out with a short time to hang out in recovery.  Simple, right?  Well, my simple procedure turned horribly wrong when the doctor punctured my esophagus as he brought the scope back up.  I was not awake during the procedure and do not have memory of most of the next week, but my medical records and what my family told me is bad enough.  No one realized something was wrong until my body started swelling out of control.  With each breath in, air was escaping into my chest cavity and causing my lungs to compress.  Eventually, the air made it’s way into my cells and became a life-threatening situation.  I was in ICU and had to be transferred immediately to a more sophisticated hospital to the thoracic ICU.  After a grueling stay and several months on an all liquid diet, I was able to eat again for the first time.

Thankfully, I do not have clear memories of the darkest days.  What I do know is that the moment I was well enough to be released and I was wheeled outside the hospital I was grateful to take in that first breath of air.  I felt reborn.  This was my awakening.

From that day forward, I made a choice to never accept a defeating situation.  I realized that when I am in a situation I do not like, I have the power to change that.  I cannot expect others to change it for me.  I also made the decision to dedicate my life to being a good mom and to helping others.  I had always volunteered for organizations to help children, but that was when I decided to also begin reaching out to my career network and help people any way I know how.

What started as the worst experience of my life has turned out to be the situation that gave me my focus.  All things happen for a reason.  It’s our attitude toward even the challenging times that shows what we’re truly made of.  For me, it’s been a way to learn that a twist in the road was what it took to put me on a path to contentment, fulfillment, and loving who I am.

*Stay tuned later today for several guest posts on moments that changed people’s lives.  Then tomorrow, the full Carnival of HR!  Thanks to Shauna Moerke for allowing me to host.


  • Thank you for sharing such a personal story Trish. It’s amazing that such a grueling time in your life helped open up so many new and positive things for you afterwards. A great message for us all – take a moment and appreciate what we have.

    • @Jay- I guess it is during those grueling times that we really learn what we’re made of, whether we have the fortitude to go on. Thankfully for me, it was my family (husband, parents, sister, and cousin) that pulled me through. They were the angels on my shoulder whispering that I had to pull through for my kids. I’m blessed.

  • Usually, I can quickly comment on almost anything. You have left me a bit speechless for a bit.

    However, you nail home the point that we have only one chance, life is too fragile and sometimes too brief, and that we have to make the most of it.

    Thanks for sharing a most personal part of your life.

  • Thanks so much for sharing this story, it is a great reminder to always have perspective and how fragile life can be.

    I have a little understanding of what you and your family went through as my Dad had a ruptured oesophegas 9 years ago. It happened very suddenly when he had a mild tummy bug and like you, he very nearly died. The impact on all of us at the time was awful, but it does at least serve as a lesson to appreciate what you have and never take anything for granted.

    Thanks so much!

    • @Alison- Thank you for sharing the story about your father. It’s amazing how such a tiny injury can turn life threatening in a short amount of time. I hope he made it through ok.

  • I vividly remember all those horrible details you cannot. It was a very scary time and I am thankful it ended positively. Love you Sis!

    • @Karen- Sis, thank you for being there for me and for being the catalyst to get the doctors and nurses to listen that something was very wrong. You always look out for me. I love you more than you’ll ever know! xoxo

  • That’s a scary story Trish. At age 30 I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia (I don’t even know if I can still spell it). and damn near died after a week in ICU and surgery. I understand the feelings that you had. Every day is a gift!

    • @Dave- Sorry to hear of your health scare. You’re right, every day is truly a gift.

    • @Mike- Thanks for reading and commenting. Your friendship means a lot.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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