Breathing Easier!

My surgery was scheduled for Tuesday morning, February 17th at 10:15 am. But the hospital wanted me there by 7:45 am. Which made for an early morning, so like we’ve done for years we drove into Los Angeles the night before and just spent the night close to the Surgery 2015hospital.

We get to the hospital on time, fill out the paperwork, get my bracelets and they prepare me a bed. Time passes, it’s now approaching 9:00 am and no one has been by. They still need to place my I.v and that is not easy, at least on me.  There’s been a delay, the person having surgery before me had a difficult time recovering so they gave them more time. At around 10 am. Someone comes to put in my I.V, or so she thinks. We tell her that it’s hard to get an I.V in me so she goes and gets “The vein finder”. We laugh, wondering what it is, we guess that’s probably just a really powerful light or some kind of infrared thing. We were right but even with the extra help she failed to get the I.V placed so, maybe a little deflated she said I would need to wait for the anesthesiologist. I think maybe her confidence was shaken but the anesthesiologist got it in my hand with no problem. By this time it was almost noon but they gave me some sedation and then rolled me into surgery

Surgery went well, well as well as it could have I guess. My Trachea had gotten so small they said any kind of cold or upper respiratory infection and my airway would have just shut down.  A normal, adult trachea is between 6.5 mm and 7 mm for a woman and about 7 to 7.5 mm for an adult man but mine wasn’t even 4 mm.

It’s funny when you wake from surgery and as you drift in and out of awareness you see and hear things that you’re not quite sure about, kind of like that scene in Dumbo. As I drifted in and out seeing my parents cartoon faces and hearing the woman on the other side of the Curtin ask for ice chips, I heard them say they had no room to put me in, so I would have to spend the night in a hallway cubical.  I had been going to this hospital for years having the same surgery done, so I have spent a night in a cubical before, so I thought, “no problem” and just went back to sleep. When I woke again, they said that they found me my own Private room and it truly was a nice room, complete with its own giant window overlooking the city and the new helicopter pad. My parents sat in my room watching the comings and goings and a near miss of the helicopters. It wasn’t late but considering the day, they said goodnight and went back to their hotel room and, shortly after they left my room the fog began to role in and the helicopters had to stop flying.

All these years we thought the scarring in my Trachea was caused by the Tracheal stent they put in my neck during the time I spent in a coma but we were told differently. We were informed that my tracheal tube must have been smaller than an average adult women’s and therefore when the paramedics put the trachea tube down my tracheal opening, in order to save my life; they had no way of knowing that a standard tube might be too big and cause its own damage. It was an extra tight squeeze so it probably stretched and stretched until they finally removed the tube and put the hole in my neck and, thus, my Trachea needs to be re-stretched because of the trauma originally caused from the original tube they put down my throat. Now I will need to have this surgery done more often, at least for, perhaps the next few years.

Life and death

Have a safe 4th and please don’t drink and drive!I should of posted this earlier. This is a repost.

It is a fact, in this country a drunk driver kills or mames a person every 15 minutes; I am one of those people.
The crash happened on a dark, isolated road that was out in the country. I think it was no coincidence that there were so many people there at that time of night. It was no coincidence that Russell and his family happened upon the accident scene right after it happened and were able to call for help. No coincidence that he would hold me and pray with me before I slipped into unconsciousness. God sent Russell and his family my way because He knew that this wonderful man would come to my aid despite the risk to himself. He was the first to arrive upon this horrific scene, he called 911, and without hesitation he came to my side. You can imagine, I’m covered in blood, literally from head to toe, and he didn’t know me, yet he was willing to leave his own family in the car as he ran over to hold me up. He held me in a way to comfort me, all the while thinLif and Deathking I was dying. I looked up at him and said, “It hurts”, and he said “I’m with you” and then I said “I’m scared” and he responded by saying “ I’m going to pray with you”, and as he did I slipped into unconsciousness. God was definitely with him on that night. Russell was the last person to hear me speak in my original voice; no one has heard it since. Without Russell I probably wouldn’t be here, I thank God for him.
It just so happened that there was a Fire station right around the corner from the crash site. So when the paramedics arrived several minutes later, they triaged the crash scene and quickly determined that I was the only one with life threatening injuries and began working to get me stable for the ride to the hospital. It took a team of firefighters and the Jaws of Life almost an hour to free my broken body from the twisted metal. I was struggling to breathe and semi-conscious for most of that time, the paramedics tried their best to keep me breathing while the firemen worked. When the paramedics were freeing me from my vehicle I became combative, which is the normal reaction. When someone or something is trying to kill you, it’s either flight or fight and my injured brain started to fight.
I believe that the first paramedic to arrive, seeing that I was having difficulty breathing, began to give me artificial respiration with a bag and mask since I was still trapped in my vehicle. I am guessing my heart didn’t stop until the paramedics laid me down on the gurney. I don’t know for how long, I think only God, the paramedic’s and the doctors know that. My entire head and face were covered in blood from the lacerations and broken bones, but he got me breathing again, but only briefly.
When a paramedic arrives on a crash scene, they are faced with a terrible decision. They have to assess the crash site and determine who to save first. It’s not easy; if there is more than one critical person, they will help them both but, they have to consider that persons odds for survival, and then treat accordingly. At my crash scene I was the only one that was physically injured, the drunk driver that hit me was DOA, and the family that hit me from behind was shaken up but otherwise unhurt. My prognosis was not good, to say the least. A paramedic told me, if there had been anybody else who was less critical we would have saved them first, they didn’t think my condition was survivable. He told me that he has never, in twenty years, seen anyone that was as critically injured as I was, let alone survive. All of the medics and police who were at the scene thought I wasn’t going to make it, so much so that they actually called out two coroner vans, one for the drunk driver and one for me, but the van for me never made it. It just so happened that while in route to the scene of my crash it was hit by another drunk driver, and that gave the paramedics time to save my life.

I was semi-conscious through the entire event, except when I wasn’t, the times I went into cardiac arrest. They gave me something at the scene to stop me from fighting so they could stabilize me, treat me, start IV’s, open up my airway, the side effect of that was amnesia of the incident. They would tell me later its better you don’t remember this! They got me loaded into the ambulance for a short drive to the awaiting flight for life helicopter, and that is when, I’m told, I went into my second cardiac arrest. The paramedics in the ambulance got me resuscitated before they did the transfer; they then loaded me into the awaiting Helicopter. The police, in an effort to identify me, grabbed what they thought was my purse and gave it to one of the paramedics on the helicopter. I think almost immediately after the transfer I went into my third cardiac arrest, and I believe this was the longest one, according to the records, eight and a half minutes.

A year later I asked Frank, one of the paramedic’s, why he decided to save me since my prognoses was so bad, and he said, “You were trying to talk to me through the whole thing; you were fighting, so I fought too”. He was my Angel; God sent Frank and his team to save my life on that fateful night. God knew what my future would be.

Not all in the eyes:

Towards the end of my eight month stent in the hospital my parents had an optometrist come look at my eyes to see if he could answer the question of why my vision was so bad.   He found nothing wrong with my eyes and he said that in time he thought my vision would return come back to normal; 20/20 vision. Of course we were ecstatic at that great news but still cautious. So after I got home from the hospital my mom found a Nero ophthalmologist and in October of 2001 we drove out to the Doheny eye institute at USC in hopes of a more thorough explanation as to why I could barely see anymore.

 

                                I was so scared; I knew in my heart that the news would be grim so I sobbed on the long drive; like I was awaiting my own execution. The drive was long so I was able to get myself together before we saw to doctor.

The doctor was great even though the news was very bad; he explained my vision to us and why I will never again see with 20/20 eyes again.  He explained it like this: your brain is the VCR and your eyes are the television, they both work fine but the cable that connects them is damaged and cannot be fixed 100 percent.

                My heart stopped three different times at the crash scene, the longest single time was for eight and a half minutes and the way it works is that when your body’s dying but fighting to hang on your brain chooses to supply oxygen to the vital organs that you need for basic life and, both fortunately and unfortunately it selects the ones to stop sending oxygen to and one of the places that my brain forgone was my optic nerve

                At that appointment the doctor evaluated my vision to be 20/8000 in my left eye and 20/ 9000 in my right eye and started me on a medication that I will have to take indefinitely.  

He asked me to return the next year and I did and my vision improved to 20/7000 in my left eye and 20/8000 in my right. We went back a few more times annually and each time there was an improvement in my vision and then we skipped a couple years and went back in 2010 at which time my vision was greatly improved. It was no longer 20/ thousands but it was in the hundreds it was 20/900 in my right and 20/800 in my left eye. He thought that was great and told me that he didn’t expect that my vision would improve more than that but he made sure to remind me that I could never stop taking the medicine, of course.

My vision had improved so much since my waking up that him saying that didn’t bother me because I knew better. My vision has slowly but steadily continued to get better and though I may never have 20/20 eye sight again, my vision continues in the right direction; my last visit was at the end of 2012 and at that time my vision was 20/200 in my right eye and 20/100 in my left eye.  Needless to say the doctor was flabbergasted, he said that the medicine alone that I was taking couldn’t make that kind of improvement and a higher power is the only explanation for it.  Both my optic nerves had been gray from them being starved of oxygen for so long but at that visit he saw a little pink in my left optic nerve. A BIG PRAISE GOD!

                                                                                     

I have not been back in a few years but I’m no longer overly concerned because even if my vision hasn’t improved at all, I have good friends, a great family and an Awesome God!

Gone forever

It was probably the combination of the brain injury, ruptured and collapsed lungs, and the tracheotomy tubes and then just the trauma of everything that happened but whatever the reason is, I lost it. My voice was a big part of who I was and now it was gone..

 

Adam, my speech therapist did one good thing before I quit seeing him, he gave my mom the number to a doctor that he thought might be able to help me. My mom called and set up an appointment to meet with him. He is at UCLA but I was excited so we made the three hour drive to the hospital.

In order for him to see my vocal cords he had to get a small camera down my throat and the best way to do that was via my nose. They sprayed a very bitter numbing solution in my mouth to numb the back of my throat and then sprayed some up both nostrils; we weren’t sure which one would be best. In the video he could see that the right vocal folds were not really moving and he said that we could put an implant in and that will possibly make my voice stronger so we scheduled surgery.

On the day of surgery they wanted to put in an Intravenous catheter so they could give me antibiotics and other medications, hmm. But it was like my veins had a mind of their own. Every time they stuck me my vein would either roll, collapse, blow or just disappear; Ya, I was stuck by a lot of different highly qualified people. I suggested they try my foot but they didn’t want to so after trying both elbow creases, both forearms, both hands, a couple fingers and my wrist there was not a phlebotomist I didn’t challenge, we jokingly said that I would be a good final exam . Almost every different location was with a new person after what seemed like half the day they called in a pediatric doctor and he got a line started, of all places, in my foot. By that time I was pretty black and blue in my arms. I suggested my foot because when I was a toddler I got really sick and that was the only place those doctors could get an IV started; I used to look at that scar all the time.

On January third, 2002 I had a vocal cord implant put in. It wasn’t a long surgery and he just put me into a twilight sleep because he had to wake me up so he could find the best position for the implant to be inserted. He had me say some things and during that brief time I was sure I heard MY voice, the one I was so desperate to get back but as quickly as it was there it was gone again. I knew when I awoke from that surgery I wouldn’t hear my voice like I remembered it ever again but I, at least had some voice to speak with. I will never have a strong speaking voice but I don’t let that stop me from talking to people and speaking at high schools about what the consequences of drinking and driving can be and what someone else’s poor choice cost me.

A big thank you to all my supporters!

A great Walk!!

The dog walk went well; there were no dog fights besides the small little disagreements between a couple dogs.   We saw so many different types of dogs in all sizes, shapes and colors. Walk getting ready

I saw a big, beautiful black Great Dane, an Akita, some Basset hounds and there was even a cat in a cat stroller on the walk with us.

There were lots of venders that participated; there were homemade dog biscuits and samples of dog food and professional strength cleaners along with local pet stores. The Riverside Police department was there with their dogs; they did a bite simulation and showed how they use their dogs in different fields. They talked about how their dogs are trained in many disciplines but they don’t cross disciplines. For instance, a dog that is trained in scent work is only asked to do scent work and a dog trained to apprehend a person only apprehends people. I think it is always so cool to watch a dog at work and even better because you know those dogs love it.

walking

There is always at least one dog specific breed rescue and many barnyard animals and this year didn’t disappoint. I saw two breed rescues at this year’s walk; Golden Retriever and the Leonberger, I love this breed!

http://www.leonbergerclubofamerica.info/is-this-breed-for-you/

There were goats, potbelly pigs and one very proud Tom Turkey acting tough strutting his stuff.

White tom

This is one of their fundraisers that the entire community can participate in and it truly is fun for the whole family!

They gave out prizes to the top donors and I was one of the winners! I want to  GIVE A BIG THANK YOU!!! To everyone that helped me raise money! I won a new iPad..!!!

Me getting I pad

Next year I want to do it again!

Walk with the animals

I always knew that my future would be in animals; I didn’t know what it would be but I knew in my heart it would have something to do with animals.

At sixteen I got my first job in a pet store, my next job was in a salt water fish store, next was at an animal hospital and from there I went directly to working at the animal shelter where I quickly became manager and that would come to be the last job I would have.

In the beginning we only could except owner surrendered animals but I wanted to start taking animals from the animal control facilities so, me and one of my coworkers went to an animal shelter, we saw a dog that just looked so sad and shy that we decided we would bail her out and get her out of that situation. Not the best move on our part but we took her and we split the cost of the adoption fee and took her back to the animal shelter were we worked. We named her Destiney, she was an Old English sheepdog mix and it turned out that her “shyness” was fear. She hadn’t been well socialized and she was afraid of people but we worked with her and she found a great home. I was metaphorically bitten by the rescue bug and I would go out a couple times a week looking at the surrounding animal control’s looking for both dogs and cats to rescue.

There are a lot of animal shelters to go around looking at so every so often an animal shelter would call me and tell me that they had an animal to be euthanized and ask me if I could come to look at it before they did anything. Of course, I did but usually it didn’t get that far.

Since there were so many “pounds” to visit and I still needed to work, I would have to go to them after work or before often I would come into work late because I was looking or rescuing dogs or cats, or sometimes both.

More often than not I would be at an animal control facility and I saw an animal or animals I wanted but they were still in holding, animals that were waiting for their owners to come claim them. In that case I would write the animals impound number down on a card along with the date that they would come available and if the animal was still there, which they usually were I would get them and take them back with me.

Because I would make a list of all the animals I wanted to save some people called me Shindler

The owner of the animal shelter also owned five acres in Lake Mathews that had a small house with kennels attached, so in the summer of 1998 I moved out there. I brought my two horses and that’s where I lived rescuing dogs and cats, getting them well and ready for adoption, until July 9th 2000.jenniferandchloe

Every year I participated in the Walk with the animals, I usually would work a booth but I have never missed a single Walk, even after I was injured I kept going to the dog walks and this year I am trying to help them get to their financial goal so they can continue to save the lives of unwanted dogs and cats. Could you please help me? Here is a link to go to my donation page: https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/jennifer-gardner-habicht/walk-with-the-animals

Link

Fundraiser

me and Kylie at walk

To all my friends who are supporting me in reading my blog, you know that animals are one of my great loves. The animal shelter that I used to manage has a dog walk every year and I still love to participate whenever I can and The walk with the animals has always been my favorite event to go to. This year I am trying to raise a lot of money so they can continue in the mission in saving the lives of dogs and cats.   In Riverside and San Bernardino counties over 60,000 animals are needlessly destroyed, will you help me, help them by giving to this great, and tax deductible cause.