Faith In The Face Of Adversity

Gazette Staff Writer

Although probably the least life-threatening injury from her March 14 accident, it may be the most life changing for 33-year-old Allison Bowling. Since she was a toddler, dance has been part of her life, eventually developing into a career, too, with the creation of her own dance school - N'Step Dance Troupe.

Although Allison said she has had a rough life, this may be the toughest challenge for her, and her school, to try and overcome.
Jaws of Life
Allison was on her way to visit her grandmother in Columbus. Her sister, Jane LeMaster, 26, was driving along U.S. 23 North when a Freightliner box truck crashed into the vehicle as it entered the highway from High Street at 84 Lumber. Jane was fine, as well as the children in the car - Allison's 7-month-old and Jane's 7-month-old and 3-year-old - a testament to seatbelts and car seats and using them correctly, Allison said.

"I remember everything up until the point of impact ... I can remember the on ramps and moving to the left lane when all of a sudden I see a truck right there in front of us," she said. "The next thing I saw was rescue people around us."

Allison was cut from the Dodge Neon and rushed to Grant Medical Center, all the while moving in and out of consciousness and unable to see.

"I was pretty much blind," she said, adding she is still having some difficulties possibly from the fractures in her face.

Upon arrival at the hospital, they realized she was bleeding internally and they immediately took her into surgery, cutting her open to pick through her organs piece-by-piece, she said, to make sure they didn't miss anything.

"They literally run through all of the organs," Allison said, adding that they discovered her intestine was bleeding and removed about a foot-long portion before using 32 staples to close her back up.

After the surgery, doctors set her ankle.

"It's a very bad break for me being a dance teacher," she said, adding that it had dislocated and pushed out through her ligaments and nerves. "Once it heals, we'll have to see how those nerves and ligaments move ... It's discouraging."

Unit success story
Although unsure of the recovery of her ankle, Allison is very thankful for her life, which she credits to the team in the Center for Blood Conservation at Grant. The center is the first of its kind in Columbus and the area which provides patients a blood transfusion-free surgery. For Allison, her choice to not take blood transfusions is a matter of faith.

"My belief is I don't take blood transfusions because blood is sacred and it represents life and God gives us life. It's not up to us (to give life)," she said.

Although her hemoglobin count was dangerously low at times, the methods in the unit progressively raised it from two points to around seven by the time she left the hospital at the end of last week - normal range is between 11 and 13 points.

"I'm glad they took me to Grant because if they took me anywhere else, they may not have had the technology I needed," she said, adding that thinking of her family needing her helped keep her going.

Aside from the Blood Conservation team, she had one special nurse - who said she was from the Chillicothe area - who helped her calm down after coming to and realizing what had happened.

"I have no clue who she was ... All of the nurses were great, but there's one in Chillicothe who really encouraged me. She made me focus," she said.

Focus is something Allison has been keeping for quite some time.

Growing up in Los Angeles, she focused on dancing and dancing better. After moving to Chillicothe - the family following one of her brothers who married a woman from Pike County - she looked for an adult group to dance with. All she found was a group of senior citizens who clogged.

"I didn't mind. I thought, 'They're adults, great. I'm going to dance with them,'" Allison said.

Her love for her new dance style continued, especially after going to Columbus and seeing the range of clogging, outside bluegrass.

"I was blown away by this whole world of clogging," she said.

The fascination led her to become a certified trainer, and she officially started N'Step five years ago - evolving from a volunteer dance group she had run for about five or six years.

When she became pregnant with her daughter last year, Allison was placed on bed rest which hampered her participation with her team. Then, in July, all of their costumes, awards and paperwork was destroyed in the fire that claimed the Majestic Box Office.

"I just told them March 5 that we've just been through a rough year but I'm here, and back ... then two weeks later, this," she said.

Aside from maybe having lost the ability to really do something that has been a part of her nearly her entire life, Allison is worried business-wise too. She and her husband have six children, ranging in age from 7 months to 16 years old.

"I want to (continue N'Step). I'm determined to. At this point, I can't. I don't know when and if I will," she said, adding she'll probably have to hire another person to help teach. "That's a sad thing. I've always danced with my team."

However, Allison's two sons, Arthur and John, have been very active with the group and have tried to continue practices.

"They did the whole thing without asking," she said, adding how wonderful she thought it was.

Arthur may even go on to do the same clogging certification that Allison did to help out. Her Tiny Tots class has been continuing without missing a beat, too. After realizing how full her plate was with the new baby and her other classes, Allison hired Rhonda Carver to teach the toddlers so they would get the dedication she felt she couldn't give.

"I'm looking into different options," she said. "Maybe an assistant teacher. I still want to do choreography. I can hardly give that up, it's my baby," she said.

Part of her mission with N'Step was to create a fun environment for the children - allowing them to pick what level of competition they wanted, whether purely just dance classes, performances or full-fledged competition - and at an affordable rate. When they make it to national competition - which is rare because of the cost associated - they have won at times, both as a team and individually.

"It's been great and I don't want to lose it," she said. "I have to keep on trying to keep going ... So many on my team have backed me up ... it makes me feel like I need to give them something back in return."

Allison's relationship with God and her family is where she continues to draw strength. People from her church, The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, come to sit with her during the day while her family works - helping her with her daughter and other things that need done.

"Out of anyone in the car, I'm glad it was me," she said. "People tell me I'm feisty. I think it took the feisty to keep going in the hospital."

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: