Sunday, November 28, 2010


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


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!


Thursday, November 11, 2010


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.


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?


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.