My name is Inga. Originally I am from Vilnius, Lithuania, and since 2005 I live in Santa Rosa, CA. I have a passion to help others by inspiring them, giving them hope and inner strength to go through their challenges. I have a strong desire to share my story with people about God’s power and show His glory. In addition to my native Lithuanian language I speak fluently in Russian and English. I’ve done public speaking and interviews in my home country Lithuania and in the United States for TV programs, radio and publications for inspirational purposes about how I, after being involved in a tragic car accident and losing my both legs and the function of my left arm, transformed my life from not being able to speak, move or do anything independently to travelling across the world by myself and building my live all over again in a foreign country.
…An exciting career, good income, lots of friends, fun and active lifestyle made my life joyous and fun. I worked as a manager of a Business Lounge at the International Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania. I absolutely loved my job and people I worked with. I always valued my connection with people, and most of my time I spent with my friends going to various places and having fun. I lived a very active lifestyle and it seemed that nothing could stop me.
But one day I woke up in a place that was completely unfamiliar to me. The white color was all around and heard someone next to me crying out of pain. I could not comprehend where I was and why I lay somewhere while hearing someone cry.
I was unaware I had woken up in the Intensive Care Unit of Vilnius University Emergency Hospital.
It was a cold winter in Lithuania. In February of 2000, my boyfriend and I drove extremely fast, at a speed near 100 miles an hour and got into the car accident in the downtown of Vilnius city. The road was slippery because of the snow and ice. The car hit a light pole, and literally broke into two pieces. My boyfriend was thrown out of the car and was killed instantly. Some parts of the car sheared off my legs above the knees right there in the vehicle. I lost a lot of blood and emergency crew took me out of the car lifeless and unconscious. On the way to the hospital my heart stopped and only with electricity shock treatment I came back to life. Due to the extensive traumas I suffered, my physical condition was extremely complicated. Doctors gave me only a 30% chance of survival. I was hooked up to a life support machine in the intensive care unit, and for several days nobody knew if I would survive. My body was severely injured starting from my head down to my legs. I had a severe head injury, my jaw was completely smashed, neck injury, broken ribs, right hand broken, my left hand completely paralyzed and I lost both of my legs above the knees. I was not able to move nor could I speak. I was able only to open and close my eyes.
When I perceived my condition, I was greatly frightened. I was forced into a world that I never imagined I could appear in. I did not have my legs any more. My left arm was paralyzed. I was in total shock and feeling absolutely helpless. I realized that all my dreams, aspirations and hopes that were cherished until that fatal moment were completely ruined. From being healthy, confident, beautiful, cheerful and independent, I became weak, missing half of my body, helpless and totally dependent on someone else. My work at the airport, activities with my dear friends, joyous and active life disappeared in a flash. I lied in the bed and was not able to do anything except close and open my eyes, or say few words. I could not believe I had to sit in a wheelchair in order to move around! I absolutely hated the world I suddenly found myself in, but I was unable to stand up and walk away. My head, neck, thighs, chest were hurting with every single movement. I didn’t feel and was not able to move my paralyzed left arm, but I felt constant, never ending sharp burning pain in my hand. My whole body was hurting, but it was easy to handle compared to the enormous emotional pain from the comprehension of my reality. The scariest thing was the unknown. I was only 22 years old and had no idea how I would continue my life. Watching my parents and my brother suffering from anguish and despair, it seemed that every cell of my body just screamed out in agony and horror. In my mind I begged someone to tell me that all of this was not true and it would end soon… It seemed I would have given away anything in order for it to be just a nightmare. But it was not nightmare that goes away with the sunrise. It was my reality. Every morning I would wake up realizing that I did not have my legs any more. My left hand was just there, without feeling, movement or function.
But I didn’t want to accept the reality of not being able to take care of myself, and of not having the active life I used to have. I wanted to live, not exist! I refused to accept very popular saying that I heard over and over “Oh, you poor girl…probably this is your destiny.” My immediate response to such comments was like bullet back “No, this is not my destiny! I will create the destiny that I want”. I decided that my helplessness and dependence on other people was just temporary. I will never forget that beautiful sunny day, when I realized that I did not have to live depressed and depend on other people because of what had happened. I can change it. Nothing – no accident, difficulties due to my changed physical condition, or any other problems – can determine how I feel and how I will continue my life journey. This is my life, and what it will be like depends on me, and not on other people, events or some occurred circumstances. Yes, the accident created those desperate circumstances, but I could change them by taking initiative and creating the life that I want. I don’t have to settle for the way it is, and I believe that with God’s help I am going to get out of this horrible place in my life. That moment, without any more waiting or hesitation I decided to take initiative and start making changes to get myself out of the dead-end.
My first goal was to get prosthetic legs and walk again. I thought legs would give me the independence I wanted and I would be active again. I went to some prosthetic facility in Lithuania to get artificial legs. However, I heard unfavorable news from a professor – it’s impossible for me to walk having such complicated physical condition of missing both legs and one arm. He recommended waiting until my paralyzed left arm recovers. However, I insisted in having the prostheses made for me regardless of the condition of my left arm. Finally, seeing my persistence, professor agreed to take me as their client. For two years specialists tried to fit me with prosthetics and I trained very hard learning to use them. It was a very painful and exhausting process, but I did learn to walk. I learned to walk and climb stairs, but the prostheses caused blisters and wounds, which made it totally impossible for me to use them as a tool for me to get around on a daily basis. Still I would not give up for two years, but at some point it seemed that my dream to walk was just an illusion because the pain was just unbearable. Once again I was advised to relax, accept the reality and get a different strategy for my life. But my dream and hope never left me… I still believed that my desire to walk was possible. One day I had an idea to look for help in some other countries. I went on the Internet, did the research and emailed to several prosthetic companies. On the next day I received a response from a prosthetic specialist in Santa Rosa, California who was interested in helping me. I was invited to come to California to get artificial legs made for me. The American prosthetic specialist, physiotherapist and I worked very hard as a team for 6 months. By the time I had to go back to my country, we reached our goal – I had a pair of comfortable artificial legs. I was able to walk wearing my new legs without suffering any pain and perform various activities that I was told I would never be able to do. I came back home to Lithuania with a victory – I accomplished what was called impossible – I walked again.
After I achieved my dream-goal, I made another decision that changed the course of my life and brought me to my ultimate goal. I decided to stand up on my feet in a different way – to live my life independently. I decided to move to California and see how I could achieve my dream. I had a beautiful vision, but I had absolutely no means or guarantee to implement my idea. I did not have a place to live, did not have a lot of money and did not have a job. I did not even have the right to love or work in the United States. I knew English pretty well, but I hardly understood Americans. In addition to that, I had no idea how I could move around independently in the manual wheelchair, cook meals for myself with one hand and just generally take care of myself being in such physical condition that I am. The idea of living in California seemed very exciting, of course, but I was in a very tough position – I had absolutely no resources to make it happen. I had my faith in God, several American friends who loved me, my suitcase and my dream. I put my faith in God and I was fully committed to make it happen regardless of how much effort and work it would take.
My journey was not an easy one, but I’ve arrived. It sure required persistence, determination and hard work. But today I can sincerely say that I live my dream that seemed nearly impossible. In fact, I have more than I could have dreamed of.. My traumas are still the same, but I don’t just exist – I live my life. I live independently on my own in California, across the globe from my home country and my dear family. I work, travel and live an active lifestyle, build relationships with my friends and help other people. I truly love my life.
A lot of people say they are sorry I had to suffer the traumas and go through this painful experience, but I honestly think that this accident and all I had to go through was a blessing to me. The accident, obstacles and challenges I had to face made me the person I am today. It taught me something that I would not have learned by reading a book. I became so much stronger, compassionate, patient, persistent and determined. I am thankful for the circumstances that seemed totally desperate because they taught me the power of faith and how to hold on to the faith at all times, never give up and keep moving on no matter what. I am thankful for all the pain and difficulties because it made me a stronger, better and compassionate person. I am thankful for the challenges because they taught me how to be unstoppable, how to stretch myself and go beyond what I thought I could do. I am thankful for all I had to go through because it helped me grow as a person and have a sweet taste of success. After working hard and learning what it takes to succeed, I realized that anything is possible if you really want it, do whatever it takes to reach your goal, and believe in your success. And one of the biggest gifts I got from my challenging journey was I experienced the love and incredible power of the invisible force, which we call God.
My life experience created within me the desire to help others improve or change their lives. Therefore, I am in the process of building a career as a Certified Professional Life Coach, author and speaker.
I just finished writing the manuscript for my book “Unstoppable”.The reason I started writing this book was my brother, when one day I got a text message from him on my cell phone. The message said “Inga, I don’t know how to live my life any more. Help me”. He was in our home country, Lithuania at the time, and I already lived in California. I knew something really horrible must have been going on for him to write me this kind of message. I was disturbed, but I had no idea how I could possibly help him being so far away. As I was praying for my brother, I got a clear thought “Write him a letter”. I had an insight that I should write him about what helped me to rebuild my life after the car accident. First I wrote him about my faith, because that is a source of my strength and the reason why my life has transformed in such an incredible way. Then, I continued writing him about what helped me to go through the pain, handle the drastic change in my life after losing my both legs and the use of my left arm. I shared with him what empowered me and helped me fight with deep depression and win, overcome the obstacles and challenges, and finally travel across the globe by myself and successfully build my life all over again. I wanted to encourage him not to give up, but keep moving on. I wanted him to see that he can recover his life regardless of how difficult and desperate his situation was. I kept writing him letters to pass on what I have learned, so he also can recover from his distress and create the life he desires. After a while, my brother told me that the only reason he did not commit suicide and did his best to move on in his life was my letters to him. He asked me to keep writing and put it into a book to help other people.
And I did. I just finished the manuscript and now it is the time to edit it and get it out to the world. “Unstoppable” will be inspiring autobiography /spiritual/ coaching book. It is going to be like a personal coach to inspire, strengthen the reader and his faith. Also, it will give some personal development tools that will empower a reader, so instead of allowing various events or circumstances determine his future, he takes charge of it all and creates the destiny that he desires.
…Because it’s not what happens to us determine our future, but how we look at it and what we do about it.