A 22-year-old woman who was nearly killed in a car crash two years ago is speaking out about the horrific incident and her grueling recovery process.
Gina Arnold, of Macomb, Mich., was driving home from work in the rain in October 2017 when she lost control of her vehicle and flipped over seven times before slamming into a tree, she told Inside Edition.
Although the Northern Michigan University student was saved by her seatbelt, the life-saving device caused her permanent injuries when it sliced deeply through her stomach.
"It cut my whole abdominal wall like a sword," she recalled.
Following the "freak accident," in which Arnold suffered several broken bones and lacerations, she was rushed to the hospital, where she remained in a coma for three days, People reports.
She has since undergone 21 surgeries, including one on Dec. 3, 2018, in which surgeons at Beaumont Hospital placed mesh where Arnold's abdominal wall used to be during a rare, eight-hour procedure.
After intense physical therapy, Arnold says, she is able to walk again and accomplish tasks she thought would be impossible, like kick a soccer ball. She remains limited in her abilities, however, and remains unable to lift over 15 lbs. or stand for long periods of time. Because of this, she had to give up her aspirations of becoming a nurse.
Though Arnold is "grateful that [the seatbelt] saved my life," she says the chronic pain and issues she's had to deal with since the accident took her by surprise.
"When I left the hospital ... I wasn’t expecting to be in constant pain every single day," Arnold told People. "It was really frustrating being a 21-year-old and not being able to do the things a 21-year-old could do. I had the energy of a 90-year-old. I definitely had my days when I was extremely down. But I went to therapy and I kept reminding myself, 'I'm alive, something good is going to come out of this.' I tried to keep my spirits up."