Everything is perfect in its place, and be careful what you ask for because you may just get it.
These are two lines of thought that I 100 percent believe and have experienced over and over in my life. No experience was as poignant as when my girlfriend, Kamilla Jönvik, and I got hit by a truck while riding my motorbike last year. To make sense of this, let’s rewind a little bit.
In summer 2018, I was feeling a bit drawn thin. It had been a busy year, my back was hurting a bit more than normal due to an old injury and my favorite activity, skateboarding, had lost some of its connectivity to source and, due to that, so had I. Don’t get me wrong, I was doing all right but wasn’t my usual bouncy, gratitude-filled self. I took a month off skateboarding to focus on healing, self-work, sleep, work projects and to prepare for the upcoming summer fruit festivals.
Kamilla and I had met in late 2017 in Bali, Indonesia, at a raw food culinary course that she was a part of. I was invited to enjoy the students’ amazing creations for their Christmas and New Year celebration feasts. After months of texting and talking through the winter and into spring, we decided that it was time to spend more time together to see if we would work as well as we thought as a couple. She already planned to come to New York City to visit a friend in July, so we saw the opportunity to spend a few weeks together around her trip. As we spent more time together, and, especially after coming back her after trip to New York, we knew we were two peas in a pod. We officially started dating July 25, 2018, and planned to meet up somewhere in the fall after the festivals.
I feel a bit bad to admit it, but I fantasized about skipping the summer festivals to just relax with Kamilla and my family. I said aloud a few times that I wished we could take a few months to watch Netflix movies as well as every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation with Kamilla, who had never seen them. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to and being in loving service at festivals and wouldn’t trade it for the world. They fulfill a deep need of mine, and I always have more than an amazing time with my fruit family. That said, they are during the most amazing time in my hometown, right in the middle of summer. It also happens that they are during my birthday week, which I had missed being with my family for the past nine years.
Be careful what you ask for.
Motorcycle Crash Sends Chris Kendall and Girlfriend, Kamilla Jönvik, to a Hospital
On July 31, 2018, Kamilla and I had just finished an amazing workout with our friend Josh. In fact, we shared it with mirth and laughs on our Instagram stories. I set a personal best bench pressing my body weight of 180 pounds for two sets of three reps. I remember heading to the parking lot. It was a really hot day, with not a cloud in site. We had huge smiles and excitement for an amazing day ahead of us as we hopped on my 1980 Honda Goldwing 1100 cc and rolled out of the parking lot.
That’s where is goes black.
I awoke in a hospital bed with a neck brace, unable to move and with my parents, sister and brother beside me. The lights were bright, and lots of noise was all around me. I was in the emergency room and had no idea what was going on. I heard someone say that I was in an accident and that I had badly broken my leg, had a concussion and was lucky to be alive. I looked to my family and asked, “Was it my fault?”, and they said no. I asked, “Is Kamilla all right?”, and they said yes. They let me know that she was badly hurt as well but was stable and that she was right next to me. They moved the curtain aside, and there she was, just about to be wheeled to surgery. We clasped each other’s hands and looked in to each other’s eyes—so happy to be able to do so.
During Kamilla’s surgery, which lasted seven hours, I shared a few tidbits about what happened to my Instagram story. (I know—dedicated. Right?) I got the three major cuts on my face stitched up in the hallway of the emergency ward, which was overflowing. Time was a nonexistent blur, undoubtedly from the amount of painkillers they flooded me with. I was brought into a small room to prep for my surgery. Kamilla had just finished and woken up. We got to briefly see each other again, sharing some love and words of encouragement before being put under.
After my five hours of surgery, I awoke again the next morning in a hospital room beside Kamilla, still unable to move much at all and not really feeling any pain. We were told we were in a temporary room. There was a fellow in the corner who had police around him, apparently injured during a crime. I was numb from the painkillers they had given me during surgery, and my leg was wrapped tightly in a leg brace that wouldn’t allow me to bend my knee. I was prompted by my physical therapist to try to swing off the bed and to use a walker to start to get moving, at least to the bathroom. I was able to do so with my first real feeling of sharp pain, especially when I tried to sit on the toilet.
Kamilla and I talked and shared gratitude to be alive and that we had our legs and minds. We were also grateful that our surgeries supposedly had gone really well. She sadly recalled the whole accident, telling me that we had been traveling down the road at about 60 mph and that the light in front of us had just turned yellow. She said we noticed a half-ton truck coming toward us quite fast in the opposite direction. I remarked, “She better slow down,” and then “She is not slowing”—not finishing the sentence as she turned left right in front of us.
That’s when we were T-boned and thrown from the bike. The bumper of the truck had badly broken both of our lower legs—with bones sticking out—severed my quad tendon, broke Kamilla’s femur in half, cracked her pelvis, broke a bone in her left hand as well as “de-gloved” her skin partly from her fingers. Kamilla was thrown so far from the bike that onlookers didn’t see her at first and called only one ambulance. We later found out that I was gurgling on my own blood and that someone on the scene flipped me to my side, despite warnings that he shouldn’t move me, probably saving my life. The first ambulance came, with responders noticing that Kamilla was there. They called another just in time as she nearly bled out before making it to the hospital.
Chris Kendall Begins Journey on a Long Healing Road with Physical Therapy
Later the day after my surgery, my physical therapists came back and wanted me to try to walk with the crutches farther down the hallway. I amazed myself and was able to do so with a moderate amount of pain. Flowers, cards, green juices and a bouquet of fruit showed up with the familiar faces of friends and family. Looks of concern with open hearts warmed us and brought more than a few tears and laughs. I had fasted the first 24 hours and then ate simply from the juices and fruit bouquet. They asked me what I wanted for food, and I told them that I was a raw foodist and registered holistic nutritionist and that I would eat fruit and that my family would bring more. To my surprise, they never asked again and even stored my fruit, juices and recipes my mom brought me in their fridge. Kamilla enjoyed much of the same and was also excited and impressed that they had some vegan options such as lentil curry and hummus on their menu.
The day went by like a dream, and I woke the second day after the accident feeling more pain. The physical therapists came back and asked me to try to walk farther with the crutches, so I slid to the side of my bed and slowly let my braced leg off the edge. Unbelievable pain scorched though my leg, a white-hot pressure, drawing instant tears. I tried a bit more before I exclaimed that I could not do this and was helped back onto the bed. I looked toward my IV and asked whether the pain killers were off. They said that I wasn’t on any and that they do not give any unless asked. I was shocked and in disbelief. Their policy was to give painkillers only every four to six hours and only if you asked. I was told none of this. I had been off them since the surgery, ending early in morning the the day before.
We were moved to a new room with a very nice guy who was hurt even worse than us. He moaned most nights, and the next week went by slowly. Pain medication became the norm for both of us every four hours, as the pain seemed to increase. We were progressively moving our bodies a bit more and blessed by more gifts, hospital visits and one anothers’ loving company. The first Canada Fruit Festival was so hard to miss, but I was in such pain and so immobile that I couldn’t imagine leaving the hospital let alone getting on a plane. Showered by love and support from our fruit family, we felt a palpable boost in our healing.
At the end of that week, on day 10, they asked me about my home and where I would be going after the hospital. They asked if I had any stairs at home. I shared that there were stairs to get in the front door as well as inside the house to go to the bathroom. The next day, they told me I would be heading home within 24 hours! I was aghast and started to cry, not feeling at all ready to leave Kamilla nor go up or down stairs, a movement I hadn’t practiced with my physical therapists. I tried to talk to the head nurse, and she was adamant that it was time for me to go, so I called my parents and told them the plans as well as how I felt about them. Soon, my room was filled with nurses and my mom and dad, who was, literally, lawyer of the year in Saskatoon and made it clear that I was not leaving until I was ready to go up and down stairs. Hospital staff claimed I didn’t tell them there were stairs at home and assured us that I would be ready in two days. They actually said 60-year-old women get out of the hospital in half the time after surgeries like mine.
Chris Kendall Gets Crutches and Returns Home, with Kamilla Jönvik Still Recuperating in the Hospital
The next day, they had me trying stairs on my crutches. I fell the first time and was luckily caught by one of the rehab helpers to avoid suffering a major fall. Just as they predicted, within two days, on the 12th day, I was sent home and decided to come off all painkillers the next morning. Truthfully, the hardest part of leaving was leaving Kamilla in the hospital alone. She is from Sweden and was far from home. She was in more pain than me and without family support near her like I had. I moved into my parents’ living room on a single bed while Kamilla was in the hospital. In the weeks that followed, I visited her every day for four to eight hours except for two days when my leg hurt so much I couldn’t make the trip. She was moved to another hospital and given her own room with more privacy, allowing us to more easily snuggle up in her bed napping and talking most of the day.
We decided to enroll in the “Mastering Raw Food Nutrition” online course by Drs. Rick and Karin Dina, two amazing long-term raw foodists, with whom I been friends and colleagues for years. Even though both of us already had expansive education in raw food and nutrition, I knew Drs. Rick and Karin to be some of the most well-rounded, unbiased research-focused raw food educators and had wanted to do the course for some time. This gave us some focus, direction and perked even more passion and purpose in us. If you’re interested in furthering your raw food education, I highly recommend Dr. Rick and Karin and their course.
Missing The Woodstock Fruit Festival was even harder than missing the Canada festival as I could almost imagine getting on a plane but couldn’t imagine actually being of any service there. I had been a part of The Woodstock Fruit Festival since the very first one was held, in 2011, as a speaker, yoga teacher and, most years, as the head chef. Truthfully, Woodstock gave me wings. It was the first place I served to that level, boosting my name and services in such a way that I have been blessed to serve in the same regard at multiple festivals around the world over the past nine years. Videos and messages of love and support for Kamilla and I from festivalgoers had us in tears.
Kamilla Jönvik Leaves the Hospital, Living with Chris Kendall As the Couple Rest, Rejuvenate and Find Silver Linings
After 42 days, Kamilla’s time to leave the hospital came. We had so many firsts such as putting our left legs on a floor without weight and unbandaging Kamilla’s hand and seeing it as well as washing it for the first time. We had lost a ton of weight and were still very sore but confident and positive that we would heal up and grow from this whole process. Due to Kamilla’s hand injury, we decided to get my sister’s house ready for us to move in to as there are no steps on the main floor to the bathroom. Blessed by my family’s help, open hearts and homes, we moved into the main floor, had a little kitchen and nice big TV where my dream of watching Netflix movies and Star Trek: The Next Generation together was realized!
We watched every episode of The Office, cuddled in bed, stretched with long groans, grimaces and, at times, tears. With both of us being yoga teachers, it was a humbling challenge to start before step one, moving slowly and breathing deeply. We embraced the challenge, and when we couldn’t anymore, we embraced each other. After a few weeks, Kamilla started hand therapy and light rehab. She started leaving every day and was exhausted by the time she got back. As Halloween approached, so did the snow. We bought animal onesies and basically lived in them. Kamilla’s parents came to visit for a week. It was my first time meeting them, and it really boosted Kamilla’s spirits and brought us all closer together.
I started light rehab that consisted of mostly massage, mobility and some acupuncture in my back, which I had fractured 12 years ago. My back was really acting up since the accident. Even though it may sound like we had a lot of free time, we actually both felt really busy, spending every moment actively or passively healing and bringing focus to facilitating our healing. Those first two months were the hardest pain-wise, but our focus and drive to get better was so strong that it was the easiest, in some ways, mentally. In part to help us on our healing journey as well as for my niece, my mom bought two baby sister kittens, Didi and Dotty. All our hearts melted with these two little blessings, and soon we moved to my parents’ house. With the stairs there, we had to go up and down on our bums. We then started to put weight on our legs more and more and tested our first steps.
Rehabilitation Ramps up to 30 Hours a Week for More Than Four Months
Rehab grew harder and longer. For four-plus months, we were there for five to six hours a day five days a week, pushed to the limit,constantly challenging ourselves. Life became a repeat of eat, work out and collapse on the couch for Netflix movies, Star Trek: The Next Generation, our “Mastering Raw Food Nutrition” course and sleep. We saw massive improvements, and although I started to really love the gym, we also started to get tired of the recovery-process wheel and lingering pain. Kamilla was allowed to go on a 10-day family trip to Australia, and I went skateboarding at an indoor park for my first time since the accident. I had a lot of fun and was able to skate OK but knew it was too early to really push it, so I took it easy and decided to wait for more until summer. I ramped up rehabilitation and sleep, however.
Our next benchmark was going on my yearly Raw Food and Yoga Surf Adventure Retreat in Costa Rica in the beginning of March. (Learn more about my yearly retreats on TheRawAdvantage.com.) This retreat went over amazingly. Taking a “break” from rehab, we had a month in the sun, with Kamilla using a cane and me hobbled with a limp. I went surfing for the first time since the accident, and although it hurt, I actually surfed better than the last time I had gone. My biggest goal was to complete the Diamante Hike on my retreat with the retreat crew. It is an all-day hike that is seriously like Avatar, with three stages, a medicinal garden, waterfall cliff jump and shamanistic caves to eat and relax in. After finishing it, my fitness tracker recorded us going 10.7 kilometers, 15,585 steps and 163 floors. Although my ankle was swollen after this feat, I felt a deep sense of accomplishment and gratitude.
Back from the tropics, we dived back into rehab life. It took everything we had to get back into the swing, but, together, and with more than a few tears, we did. Since birth, I have had a partial umbilical hernia, and, during rehab, it started to get worse to the point that I saw a specialist, and he scheduled me for hernia repair surgery. My official rehab program ended two weeks after being back, and my doctor gave me the full go-ahead to push it harder. Before my surgery, I started going to the gym two to three hours a day five to six days a week for serious strength training, actually setting some personal bests. With months and months of rehab and, now, strength training, my back felt better than it had in 12 years.
Once I had my hernia surgery, I had to take four weeks off, unable to lift more than 10 pounds to help my abdomen heal. Growing through even more patience, I had cultivated a deeper sense of discipline. Kamilla and I really came to grow in even more gratitude for the gift of life and rebirth we had been given. Getting back into “work” was a bit tricky at first. I had posted a few videos to my YouTube channel (The Raw Advantage, with more than 600 videos, spanning 10 years) but started to become a bit more regular, getting back into consultations and felt a new vigor I hadn’t for a while.
Chris Kendall and Kamilla Jönvik Regain Strength While Learning New Lessons About Patience
The last months leading to summer, Kamilla and I got only stronger and stronger, albeit challenged by the patience it requires to heal from such an accident. I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing. Really, I got exactly what I wanted and more: some time off of “work,” more time for Netflix and Star Trek, insane amounts of love and connection with my family, our new kitties and, especially, the opportunity to really get to know my beautiful girlfriend, Kamilla, in a way we couldn’t ever imagine. Diving deep into ourselves, our deepest fears, pain, challenge and patience, we grew more in love every day.
I believe deeply that perfection is inherent in the process, that everything is truly perfect in its place, and that there is no end goal, just the opportunity to see perfection unfold in front of us. We may not see it when we are so close to ourselves, but it is always there when we take time to back up and see the bigger picture. This view has allowed me to really sit in gratitude through this whole process, I can honestly say I didn’t have one day or one hour when I was angry that this happened. Sure, I was challenged and yelled, cried and pouted a few times about in-the-moment pain and hardship, but never asked “Why me?”
Faced with the possibility that I may never be able to move, skateboard or surf like I used to but filled with resolve to do anything and everything it took to do so at a higher level than before, I found a strength and focus that I’ve never known.
A full year since the “accident,” I still have a bit of a limp in the morning or after a hard day at the gym or skate park but feel stronger and more in alignment in my body, mind and spirit than ever before. The summer festivals are in full swing as I write this. The UK Fruitfest and Canada Fruit Festival went off amazingly well, and I am but days away from The Woodstock Fruit Festival. I sit with such deep appreciation for these events and even more purpose, focus and healthful pride in being a part of such an amazing movement and family.
As I said in the beginning, “Be careful what you wish for,” but also find peace in knowing that “everything is perfect in its place,” ripe with opportunity for connection, gratitude and growth.
Wishing you much PeaceLovenSeasonalFruit!