Thursday, December 9, 2010

Scar Q.

In class today someone asked me how I feel about my scars, and after thinking about it I realize I am unsatisfied with the answer I gave. True, my scars are both "cool" and "annoying" - especially the ones that are really sensitive and painful to touch - but they are more than that. After thinking about it, I realize that I place a lot of emotional value on my scars. They are important to me and they have become a part of how I see myself now. My scars remind me of everything I've been through, not only the pain and suffering, but also the strength and recovery evoked within me. I'm proud of my scars, just like I'm proud of myself. My scars are a part of me, and a constant reminder that though I might be easily broken, I am not and will not be defeated.

-Amanda

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nails

So, I've had my nails done since my cousin's wedding at the end of October. A frivolous waste of money, but it's girly and cute and I like getting them done. Of course, since my car accident I don't drive - both because, well, my car was totaled in the accident, and because I am terrified of getting behind the wheel. So the simple process of getting my nails done transforms into a hullabaloo, with me asking for rides from my (predominately male) friends and having them sit around waiting for me at the salon for an hour before driving me home... Now, my friends are very sweet, and even when I ask them terrible favors like this they never flinch or flail, but it's hard for me to burden them with such an obnoxious favor every three weeks. At the same time, it's hard for me to function when my nails start to grow out.

I found myself in this predicament one night in the middle of last week. The nail place I frequent closes at 8pm, and I had decided I would just go get the acrylic taken off so as to not burden my peers in the future. I organized for a ride, but something came up, the time got away, and I was left by myself, carless, afraid of driving, on the verge of ripping my nails off because they were driving me insane. It was 730pm, so I wouldn't have time to get anything done before they closed. I called the salon anyway, and asked if I could come in. They said yes, so I called a cab and a $13 cab fare later, I was there.

Of course, by the time I arrived it was nearly 8pm, so I couldn't just ask them to take my nails off. I decided to get them redone, since they were really kindly staying open late for me anyway. I was very proud of myself for organizing the adventure on my own - I know that there's nothing that exciting about taking a taxi, but I made my own decision, made the phone calls, and was able to more-or-less fend for myself, something that has been lacking since the accident. At the salon, I got a sparkly Christmas red color and trimmed my nails down shorter. The whole thing took about 45 minutes, and I was ready to go as they were turning off the lights. I grabbed my phone to call for a cab to pick me up, but instead the salon techs offered me a ride home. They said they were heading in my direction anyway, and that they would be happy to drop me off. Now, this offer might have just come from the fact that they didn't want to wait around for the cab to show up. But I think they truly took interest (or pity) in me and wanted to help me home. Maybe a little of both, but I climbed in the back of their car and they dropped my off at my apartment by 9pm.

I'm sharing this story because of its indirect affiliation with my car accident. A year ago, I would have just showed up at the salon, got my nails done in the early evening, and headed back to my place myself. Now my whole life has changed, and it takes my guts, a taxi-cab, and the kindness of salon techs to achieve one small girly and cute hobby I have. At least, at the end of the whole process, I have sparkly red nails.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving

I am thankful for my boyfriend, who has helped me endlessly through this whole ordeal, who came to my rescue that day that I crashed and held my hand at my bedside while I could not move, who has held me every time I've cried, who has not left me since.

I am thankful for my family, who put their lives on hold to take care of me this summer, who kept me happy and together as I went through the hardest time of my life, who put up with my anger and frustrations of healing, who has guided me through my recovery, who is always there for me.

I am thankful for my body, which has been healing tirelessly since May and still has a long way to go.

I am thankful to be alive.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Update: Walking, Scar Massages, Leg Jacuzzis

WALKING: Well, it's been an exciting past few days! Last week I was leaving one of my classes on my scooter. A girl walked out with me and asked me how long I had to stay on the scooter. Normally when I am asked this question, I explain that it's only temporary and that I just have to rebuild up strength in my leg. But this time when she asked, I realized that I probably COULD walk to class... That I am using my scooter as a crutch because walking is hard / slow, but that I should be walking. And really, I should. Walking is not going to get easier the longer I stay in my scooter. I need to get up and practice for that to happen. At the beginning of the semester I was embarrassed because I had to stay in a scooter; then I realized I was embarrassed because I was healthy enough to walk, but I was clinging to my scooter! I told the girl that i hoped to start walking soon, then went full-bunny (the fastest speed) back to my apartment. i dropped off my scooter, wrapped up my leg in its leg brace, and started walking to class.

During my walk, I realized that maybe I should have just taken the scooter. Going home before going to my next class added another two blocks to the already lengthy walk. However, I was determined, and slowly and ardently I made my way all the way to class. My boyfriend and I are in that class together, so he was quite surprised when I showed up on my feet (and also 20 minutes late)! I was so proud of myself - I still am! I cried a little bit when I sat down in my chair. I did it.

I walked to my other class that day too. Again, I was pretty late to class, but I made it - and that's what matters. Today I was so excited to walk to my classes, to get out there and get my leg working! But then it rained - no, poured - all day today, so scooter it was. Hopefully it's dry tomorrow and I can walk to class then.

SCAR MASSAGES: In therapy last Friday my therapists took my measurements, meaning that they measured the range of motion in my knee and ankle. My knee is almost back to normal, but my ankle is still pretty tight. I explained that when moving my ankle side to side it doesn't hurt per se, but I can feel the skin tugging and that's uncomfortable. I thought it was just because there are two HUGE scars running down both sides of my ankle now, but apparently the tugging and tightness that I feel is from scar tissue built up underneath the skin that has latched on to my bones, the metal, everything in that area. If I can get the scar tissue broken up, then my ankle will be much freer. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately to break up the scar tissue requires heavy-duty pressure massages.

I lay on either my back or my stomach, and the therapist takes special lotion (I think it's vaseline) and rubs down my scars. At first I thought it was just to relieve some of the sensitivity I still feel in my leg, but then they pressed harder and deeper, and it was so painful! In the middle of the gym area I was squealing and almost in tears! Unlike a back or neck massage where pressing hard hurts but actually just feels good, this one just hurt. After what felt like forever of pain and torture, it ended and my ankle felt better than it has felt since the accident. It was so much looser! The scar tissue is apparently surrounding my ankle and muscles - the right, left, and back by my calf. The massage loosens its grip and so hopefully it will start breaking away. Even though it's really painful, the massage is definitely my favorite part of therapy.

LEG JACUZZIS: Today in therapy I was soooo sleepy when I got there (but, c'mon, the session STARTS at 7am!). Instead of the normal morning warmups today, the therapist sat me next to a little bathtub where I put my leg in it to let the heat loosen it up. What a pleasant way to start therapy! Of course, right afterward I had another one of those leg massages.

SMELLS: The last update, and this one's just for fun. I just put a new scent in my room fragrance WallFlower from Bath & Body Works. It's a Christmas scent, so now my whole apartment smells like mint chocolate chip! Mmmmmm... <3

-Amanda

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mile High Highlights

This past weekend in Denver was such a wonderful experience! It was a last-minute trip, and both my boyfriend and I had a lot of homework, but we flew out anyway for a nice weekend getaway. Since we booked it last second, our flight there was really early in the morning, and home was really late at night. Regardless, that gave us a lot of time to explore the city and relax!

At the airport there was a wheelchair around the parking area (fortuitous, no?), so I grabbed it and my boyfriend pushed me through the long corridors of the airport. Once we got to the security checkpoint there was a long line (even at 4 in the morning!) so we opted to forgo the chair and just walk through line. Once we were standing and waiting, we realized that disabled and wheelchair persons are allowed to cut through everyone else and are brought straight to the front of the line! Alas, we waited our turn politely and then went through the new TSA body scanners! I was a little nervous since my body is filled with metal, but they are used to metal plates from surgery. Plus they could probably see the plates as I stood naked (from the radiation) in the terminal area. After getting through security, Boyfriend and I waited at our gate and away we went!

Denver itself was really beautiful. I have a terrible sense of direction, but we rented a car and Boyfriend got his bearings unnaturally quickly and was able to carry us around the city. We went out for a really nice dinner on the first night, bought bottles of wine and dessert samples and even got free ice cream at the end!

It was hard for me to walk around, so I wore my knee brace all weekend. We went on a brewery tour and then to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Saturday, so that was a lot of walking! We went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner that night too, mmmmm my favorite restaurant. On Sunday we checked out of our hotel and grabbed lunch at the Downtown Aquarium - it was so fun to sit right next to the fishtanks! Our flight didn't leave until late Sunday night. When we got back home, we were exhausted and immediately fell asleep.

Even though it was an exhausting weekend, my leg held up pretty well. Like I said, I wore my leg brace the entire time, but I was able to move around decently (of course, we didn't go hiking in the mountains or anything too strenuous). There was one moment of the trip that wasn't as fun, though. In addition to being very broken and having problems with that, I am also a Type 1 diabetic, meaning I have to take insulin injections anytime I eat something. Monitoring my blood sugar levels has never been a problem for me; I keep a very close watch on them and they are always under control. However, since my body is changing so much because of my recovery, my sugar levels have been reacting surprisingly. Over the weekend, since I was very active, much more active than normal in terms of walking and moving around, my levels dropped very low one morning. It's really scary when this happens, and before my accident it had never happened. Over the past few months, there have been a couple times when my blood level is so low that I cannot wake up in the morning. This happened while in Denver, but luckily Boyfriend recognized the signs and called the paramedics. Within a few minutes (after being hooked up to a sugar IV), I was awake and better. Once I wake up, I can't remember anything that happened earlier, so it was very frightening waking up to a room full of paramedics with Boyfriend hovering next to me holding my hand. Fortunately, I was OK and didn't have to go to the hospital, but my body is reacting very strongly to the slightest adjustments back into a more normal lifestyle (aka walking). It is something I'll have to keep a closer watch on. Thank God that Boyfriend was there and saved my life.

Despite the emergency blood sugar situation, we still had a very enjoyable time. Notice the leg brace in the last one outside the aquarium!

-Amanda

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Flashbacks.

This weekend my boyfriend and I are taking a last-minute trip to Denver. I was very recently offered a job position there for next year, so we are going to check out the city and evaluate it on how well I will be able to get around. Hopefully a year from now I will be walking and so we aren't necessarily looking at the handicap-accessibility. But I cannot honestly say whether I will be driving a year from now, and from what I think I know Denver is very much a car-town. Before I can accept the job position, I need to know if I will be able to get to my job! If possible, I am hoping to end up somewhere next year where I can use a safe, reliable public transportation system. That way, even if I am able to drive again, I don't have to feel pressured to. My body is definitely recovering, but emotionally I am not recovered or prepared to drive. Even as a passenger of a car, the slightest unexpected movement can cause flashbacks of my accident and sobs to stream down my face. However, there aren't many cities in the country with safe, reliable public transit systems, so my options are few. In any case, Denver this weekend should be exciting!

Preparing for the plane is another story full of its own flashbacks, though. This is my first time going through airport security with metal plates, so I'm a little nervous as to how it will go. I called my doctor wondering if I need a note, and the receptionist said to just tell them in advance and show them the scars (!!) so that they are aware of it. Should be exciting!

This is also my first time flying since I was medically flown home two weeks after my accident. I spent the first two weeks in a hospital in Canada, and then I took a small private flight (large enough for a stretcher and my mom, and then the pilots) back here. I remember being so excited to finally be going back home - not to my house, but at least to my home country. I was also very nervous... In the car accident I suffered a collapsed lung and a badly bruised on-the-verge-of-collapsing other lung. Even though my lung had reinflated and healed at the time of departure, there was a concern that the high altitude and change of air pressure could do more damage on my lung. Luckily that didn't happen and I landed safely back home, but thinking about flying this weekend, the threat of danger returns and chokes me. Silly, I know. This time it's a commercial flight, not a medical flight, and I know that it should go smoothly. Sometimes I just can't get past these lingering flashbacks.

-Amanda

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Latest Doctor's Visit...

Today I had another doctor's appointment where my orthopedic surgeon took final x-rays to see how all my bones are healing. He checked out my arm, knee, and ankle. And he also took an x-ray of my left leg; in the accident my left leg ended up protruding through the driver's side window and got banged up pretty badly. Weeks later, an enormous bruise developed. Obviously the bruise is gone now, however there is still a tender bump underneath where the bruise was. We got the x-rays back and had good news! My arm is all healed up, with the formerly broken area a shade lighter than the rest of the bone since it is newer. Same thing with the larger bone in my ankle. The smaller bone, though, the fibula, is still completely broken... And the doctor said that that one might never grow back together. It's got a plate connecting the two pieces together, and according to the doc the only thing that bone is really used for are the ligaments at the bottom, which are not affected by the broken bone. As far as I know, it doesn't cause me any extra pain or problems walking, so it might just be that I will always have a broken bone in my body! Which I think makes me a pretty interesting individual...

My knee has healed up nicely, too. The area on the outside of the knee is still uneven, and still likely to cause me problems. Doctor suggested an additional surgery within a year or so, one where they would go into my femur and slice part of it out and then input a plate in order to relieve pressure on the outside of my knee. How it is now, and how it is for people normally, is that the weight is shared and spread evenly throughout the knee joint. Since the outside of my knee cannot really support this weight post-accident, and trying to could lead to a quicker spread of arthritis in that area, this surgery would redistribute all of the weight onto the inner part of my knee - the part that was not affected by the accident. This surgery seems beneficial for a multiple of reasons, the first of which being that it would save my knee from arthritis for longer, pushing back the date of when I'll need a knee replacement. But also it would get rid of the forever-brace (thoughts of which have been the bane of my recovery), and, of course, would return my gait to normal. So no limping, no aching, no bubble feeling inside of my knee. Of course, the thought of another surgery, especially one where they go in and have to cut up my bone to realign everything, and recovery period is enough to make my stomach churn. I'm planning on seeing another orthopedic surgeon around here to take x-rays and see what he has to say. In the meantime, unless I am having drastic problems moving and walking, I doubt I will schedule the surgery for within the next year. Perhaps a couple years from now I will be ready, both emotionally and professionally, to go through the recovery period again. After all, I am graduating this spring, and who knows where I will be next year? Hopefully I will be on my feet!

As a side note, the google homepage let me know that today is the 115th anniversary of the discovery of x-rays. Appropriate for my doctor's visit, no?

-Amanda

Monday, November 1, 2010

Flu Shot

Today I went and got my flu shot from a very nice old nurse. Even though the clinic was buzzing with people, she was very quaint and we had a sweet little conversation. I was in my scooter, and usually I love to park my scooter and get up and walk in order to show people that I am not confined to a wheelchair. When I'm whizzing around campus it's one thing, but in a crowded room I feel so embarrassed and humbled and ashamed of being in a wheelchair. Despite these feelings, I stayed in my chair throughout the whole process (more for practicality reasons than anything else - like I said, it was busy and so there wasn't really a convenient place for me to park) but everyone at the clinic was helpful and treated me so that even with my insecurities I didn't feel awkward. Perhaps it's because they are in the medical field, but not one person asked me about my wheelchair or what happened to me. Not that I dislike those questions (again, it gives me a chance to reassure the other person and myself that this condition is only temporary), but it was just sort of nice not to be questioned. I even tempted the nurse to ask me about it ("which arm should I poke you in?" / "my right one, since my left one has a huge scar on it!" / "ok!"... and that was it!) Overall a pleasant experience, and now my body is protected from the flu!

My leg has been extremely sore all weekend. Very uncomfortable and annoying, but the worst part is that I haven't even been active this weekend so I don't know why it's hurting so badly! Also, the pain in my knee has been pretty strong when I walk... Not so much pain, really, but that bubble of open space... Imagine a part of your body that suddenly just has less bone there. Yeah, it feels weird. I'll try to think of a better way to explain it if I can.

Today in therapy I practiced standing on one leg, on my bad leg. Hurt a lot! But I need to build up the strength and the balance if I want to get back to normal. And I do... I really, really do.

-Amanda

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wedding

Well, it's been almost a week since the wedding... I think I've been using this time to recover! Not that I was injured standing around all day, but what an exciting weekend filled with family, friends, pictures, and parties!


Actually, I was really happy with how well I handled the wedding. My cousin had a Catholic service, and so all of the wedding party - including the bride and groom - sat during the service! So even though I had to walk down the aisle (which I accomplished with a smile) and stand for a few minutes every time the priest spoke, for the majority of the wedding I was sitting up straight in an upholstered chair. After the wedding, though, taking wedding pictures was what was hardest for me! Especially when we went on grassy, uneven terrain. Luckily I have cute flat shoes on so I was able to navigate the ground pretty easily. For long walks over uneven ground (like when we went to the park where they got engaged to take more photos) my cousin carried me over the grass and gravel. It was really sweet, and a good thing too because I would not have made it on my own!

At the reception, they had amazing salads and pastas, and I ate a bit of salmon too. Everything was fall-themed and it was really beautiful - especially the flowers! I had a really good day, and with the help of a few strategically placed motrin my leg kept up the whole night. Once the dancing started, I got my knee brace from the hotel room to help support me a bit, for my goal was to try and get my groove on as much as possible. I danced the wedding party song (a rather awkwardly quick slow song) and then a few other songs later in the night, but for the most part the dancing was really hard on me and my leg. At one point I took the brace off because it was putting pressure on me, but most of the reception I spent sitting around with my dad(who was keeping me company) and watching the rest of my entire family dance. I ended up going back to my hotel room pretty early and crying. I took a long, warm bath to soothe my leg and my emotional state and went to bed.
Overall, it was a really beautiful day. I just wish I was healed enough to dance at the reception! Oh well, I know I will get there soon. I hope so.

Here's a picture of me and the ring-bearer, my cousin. He was really happy to see me up and on my feet again <3

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Break!

I had an amazing Fall Study Break. Being that the nature of the break is to "study", it is safe to say that unfortunately I did not get any studying done over break... However, it was really relaxing and refreshing, both internally and for my body.

On Sunday my parents came to visit me at school. They drove down in the afternoon and we spent the day together. I took them to the museum where I work, and when we got there I parked my scooter and ***walked around*** the museum with them for several hours!! Museum walking is pretty low-key; you're not moving around quickly, mostly just lingering in front of the exhibits. But we were there for a little over two hours and I was able to keep up with them! Of course, I took a couple breaks to sit down and rest, but that's the longest amount of time and space I've been standing and wandering in. I was really proud of myself, and my parents were impressed with both me and the museum!

I'm still continuing with therapy - it's getting harder as it goes on! Today I did several more exercises and with more pressure on my knee and ankle. I am still hoping that I can fully recover my sexy walk I used to be able to do before... Alas, I am still limping for the time being. Hopefully my knee won't cause me pain in the future even after I've healed.

On the plus side, every time I come home from therapy I stop at McDonalds and 1) get a coffee (mmmm!) and 2) get to play McDonald's monopoly. Perhaps not the healthiest of habits, but after an intensive early-morning therapy session it's good to get a little treat. My body is happy.

This weekend is my cousin's wedding. I am one of her bridesmaids (should be Maid of Honor, but that's another story...) and I'm really excited to be able to walk down the aisle. Unfortunately she's having a Catholic wedding so I might have to stand forever once I make it to the end, but if I take some motrin beforehand I should be okay. I'm really hoping that I'll be able to dance a little bit at the reception. I LOVE dancing and it's hard for me to think about how this injury will affect my moving and grooving! I'll make sure to post some pictures after the wedding. =]

On the very plus side, the day before the wedding the bridal party is going to get their nails done! I can't get a pedicure since my bad ankle is still so sensitive, but to make up for it I'm getting a nice manicure. I love getting my nails done. Something so stupid and silly but makes me feel so pretty!

Alright, I guess since Fall Break is over I should actually start studying!
-Amanda

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scar Massage

At therapy this morning, my therapist taught me how to do a "scar massage" to break up the scar tissue underneath. I have a lot of scars, and they each are at various forms of sensitivity. The scars on my inner ankle are the worst - I cringe in discomfort when something as slight as a bedsheet rubs against them. As for my arm, that scar is the coolest.

It isn't that sensitive and so it doesn't hurt, but the actual scar part is 3d... like a worm. It's really gross to touch, so my boyfriend will probably be the one performing the majority of the scar massages.

According to UofM, these are the instructions for a scar massage:
- Rub in a circular motion on and around the scar with firm, even pressure for 5 minutes four times per day
- You can start scar massage once incision is completely healed and strong enough to handle the motion (usually 10 - 14 days post operatively).
- You use lotion to do the scar massage to allow ease with motion over the scar and prevent friction at the area.
- found here

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Update

Well, I've been in school for a month. Since then I've developed a tender relationship with my amigo, the scooter I use to get around campus. While I was apprehensive at first, this scooter is small, trendy, and red. And honestly, there's no way I could manage to get around to my classes without it.

I've also started walking. Not like I'm about to participate in a 5K, but I can walk around my apartment and around short distances. I can even walk to the car and into a restaurant when I go out to eat, so it's been nice not having to lug my wheelchair around for shorter trips.

With all the excitement of new things, both campus and body-central, how has my body reacted? Well, my ankle is pretty swollen. And at the end of the day it's very achy after I've put pressure on it. My knee, surprisingly, never really aches... Though it does feel weird.

How can I explain this? In the car accident, the outside of my femur jammed into the outside of my tibia (image here). This impact dug out a centimeter to centimeter and a half of the lower bone, allegorically my knee was like "a marching band walked over a bag of potato chips" (as one surgeon so delicately put). While my knee was reconstructed in surgery, the fact of the matter is that the lower half of the joint is still uneven and won't grow back to the smooth, concave shell that it was. My knee still works, but there's more space in the joint on the outside than on the inside... and according to my doctor that might cause me problems for the rest of my life.


*MIGHT* - so there's a chance that it won't. However there's also a chance that I will always need to wear a leg brace everytime I walk. I know that is a small price to pay for surviving a cataclysmic car accident, but I still don't want to wear it. I want to be able to walk normal. I want to be able to dance! Not so much run, I don't care about running. But I want to heal and have everything get back to where it was.

So I have my ankle, which will heal back to normal but in the meantime is annoyingly painful, and my knee, which doesn't hurt but has an empty space in it that I can feel when I move. If it's just this hole in my knee feeling, perhaps I can get used to it and it won't be an issue for the rest of my life. My leg also has a lot of metal in it, and that feels weird too, but it doesn't prohibit me from doing anything (granted, I can only really feel the metal when I try to cross my legs... and since it's uncomfortable I haven't been crossing my legs).

***

I don't want these posts just to be me complaining about my body. I know that I am very lucky, and I'm very proud of everything I've accomplished thus far. In addition to walking, I can step into the shower on my own now (instead of sitting down and scooting in)! I can go up or down a flight of stairs (very carefully, and only using one foot per step)! And just last night I was able to sleep without a pillow between my knees for support. I am making a lot of progress. And these little things are building up my confidence too. It's been beautiful outside all this past week - if the weather is nice next week maybe I will try and walk to class. I think I can handle walking to one class, though a whole day of classes might be a little much.

Anyway, I will keep you posted on my accomplishments. In the meantime, I still have therapy three days a week. It's hard as hell, but I can tell it's making a difference.

Friday, October 1, 2010

One Step at a Time...

After spending more than three long months off of my broken leg, I am proud to share with you the biggest STEP in my recovery:

video

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lonely Body

I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend. He is my best friend, and he's been with me for years. We've been through so much together; he's given me strength throughout this whole ordeal and I don't think I could be where I am today without him. I love him very much, and even in my broken state nothing feels better than having him near me or having him hold me.


Last year we spent every night together. And even on days when we were really busy we were able to snuggle next to each other and fall asleep. It was perfect. This year we still try to spend a lot of time together, but we're both really busy (him with school and work, me with therapy and recovering, and also school). On nights like tonight he goes back to his place and spends the night at his own apartment. I love him and I love his place, but I miss him terribly when he's gone. His apartment has a lot of stairs, so it's not really convenient for me to spend much of my time there. He spends the night with me at my place often, but the nights when he leaves I feel the most broken, the most fragile.

Maybe that's silly. I mean, he's right across campus. And it's not like I just sit around and mope for him when he's gone; I get busy with school work and exercises and online shopping (naturally). It's just when he's around I feel loved and when I'm caught up in the moment with him, I can forget that I'm broken. I forget that my body is crippled and ugly, and instead I feel happy and pretty. I can stand up and hug him and he holds me tightly and sways back and forth so it's like it used to be when we would dance together. He gives me hope and strength, and when he leaves I revert to being small and broken and lonely.

As for tonight, I leave you with this song. It has always been one of my favorites, but since my accident I feel it relates even more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h19GyB11UNI&feature=related

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Swells of Therapy

Started physical therapy last week. This morning was my second session. It's very intense - doing repetitive and strenuous exercises to strengthen my ankle, knee, and hip. I like it; I'm thankful that I have something I can work toward. Therapy gives me a goal and a set path of routines and exercises to reach it. It's hard, really hard, but I prefer the difficulties of therapy to the difficulties of just waiting for my bones to heal.

However, with therapy comes swelling. My ankle has been blowing up like a balloon since my first session last week. I've iced it, but the swelling is constant... and painful! More on my road to recovery later. Taking some motrin (for the swelling) and going to bed.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I used to be perfect...

Today I find myself reflecting a lot on the few weeks before my car accident. Sure, I had problems like any normal girl, and I faced issues with my body (am I breaking out? are these clothes flattering? etc.) but I was perfect. I was pretty; I was strong - with a bright smile and hearty laugh. I was comfortable with myself and I loved myself. I realize that the things I'm describing were not really impacted by my car accident; in fact, all of my physical features and my outward appearance wasn't hurt by the accident at all, except for the various scars now garnishing my body. What changed is how I feel about myself, how I see myself.

Before my car accident, I was happy and beautiful and sparkly. Now I am broken and self-conscious and small. It's not about how I look - like I said, I look practically the same. But I feel so much different. How can I be the same person who would walk to work in high heels, laughing and smiling and stopping for coffee? Sure, I had problems with myself then, but I loved myself and I was perfect. Now everything is different. I just want to go back to who I was, to how I was, back to normal. Will I ever be like that again? Will I ever get back to normal?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Background:

It was the dawn of summer 2010. I was in Canada working with the Canadian Parliament for resume experience and to improve my study of French. I was in Ottawa, twelve hours from home, for the first five weeks of summer. In the middle of these five weeks was my birthday - my 21st birthday. Admittedly anticlimactic since in Canada I was already legally permitted to drink, my boyfriend and I planned a romantic weekend in Toronto to celebrate my birthday. I'd never been to Toronto before, and we had made reservations to eat dinner in the CN Tower. It would be a five hour drive for each of us; Toronto was the halfway point.

The Thursday before my birthday I packed up my things and set off for Toronto. I was driving really slowly and safely (my mom warned me that foreign cars are easy targets for tickets from cops), and in Ontario there's a law that you can't talk on the cell phone while driving, so I wasn't even using my phone at all. I was really excited to see my boyfriend and to celebrate my birthday. I was wearing really cute clothes.

Two hours into the drive, around 2:30 in the afternoon, my car drifted onto the shoulder, into the gravel. I swerved to get off the gravel and ended up in the other lane. I jerked the wheel back in an attempt to straighten out, but the cruise control over-corrected. I dove into the grassy, downward median, my car rolling four or five times until it reached the bottom. The front window was shattered; the driver's side window was gone; my left leg was sticking out of where the window had been; my right leg was bent up against the steering wheel. I wasn't hurt, at least I didn't feel hurt. I crashed my car. I felt it roll over. I was alone. I didn't try to move.

A woman came. She stood by the open window and called the police for me. By the time the police arrived I realized that I was hurt, not because my body was aching, but because my right ankle on the steering wheel had swollen up greatly. And because the police reached in to wipe the blood off of me. I begged them to call my boyfriend, call my family. It took them 45 minutes to get me out of the car.

I went to a hospital nearby. They looked at me, cut off my cute clothes, and took some preliminary x-rays. They determined my injuries were too great and I needed to be transferred to a hospital an hour away. Before I was moved, I was able to talk to my family on the phone. I apologized to my mom for crashing my car. This was several hours after the original incident.

After an hour-long hospital ride, I arrived at a teaching hospital elsewhere in Ontario. By the time I got there, I could tell my body was hurt. My left arm had ached throughout the ambulance ride. I was weak and shaking. I wanted water, but they said I would be in surgery later and refused. At the hospital they took an MRI of my entire body. It took them a few tries since my body was shaking so badly. After the MRI and some extra x-rays, the ER doctors informed me that I had a collapsed lung, that they needed to insert a chest tube into me immediately since my other lung was badly bruised and very weak. They helped me roll over and punctured my side. They drilled the tube into me, between my ribs and into my lung. It was painful and I didn't understand why I needed it done. The stitches afterward were too tight; they had to take them out and redo them on the table.

My boyfriend arrived at the hospital and was allowed to see me right after the lung procedure. It was after 9:00 pm. I was flat on the table, crying. It was so wonderful to see him, to have him with me. He kissed me and held my hand. He stayed by me until I was transferred for surgery soon afterward.

The surgeon set my bones. I had a shattered humerus in my left arm, a compound fracture of my fibula in my right leg (where the bone left the skin and popped back in), a shattered tibia in my right leg, and a completely destroyed right knee. I woke up from surgery hours later with large casts on my two injured limbs. I couldn't move. My dad was there when I woke up. Another relief.

The next few days were spent in a lethargic stupor. My limbs were too heavy and too hurtful to move. I was on a morphine pump. I had a catheter. I laid there until my birthday, which I spent on the surgery table for six hours. When I came out, my casts were filled with broken bones and metal plates attempting to hold them together.

I have four metal plates and countless pins and screws. The lower half of my right leg is now almost entirely metal. The metal was needed not only to hold the bones in place, but also to rebuild my knee, which they had to create out of bone graft and some type of medical cement. I spent the next two weeks in the hospital in Canada experiencing various phenomenon of my healing body: having my hair brushed for the first time since the accident (rocks and grass and leaves fell out), removing the chest tube from my side and being able to move without pain, sitting up for the first time, being in control of my bladder for the first time, getting out of bed and sitting in a chair for the first time, feeling the water from the shower for the first time...

After two weeks I was flown home on a medical plane. I spent a week in a rehab centre where my casts were replaced with braces, where I learned how to transfer and use a wheelchair, where I practiced stretching my arm until I was able to put my own hair in a pony tail.

It's been over three months since the accident. I spent the rest of the summer at my house with my family and my boyfriend, who helped me through this struggle and tragic time. I am expecting a full recovery from my car accident. In the meantime, I have this blog to track my progress.