Life goes on and the impossible task of recovery.

Please forgive me for not posting in a while.

 Lord, help me to except the things I cannot change

The brain injuries I received are what keeps me in a wheelchair.  My cerebellum was damaged. Your cerebellum is what gives you balance, coordination and aids with your overall movement, I don’t have any balance and I can get jerky or should I say my movements can get jerky at times.     Also there was damage to my brain stem that was apparent during the time I spent in the coma. Your brain stem controls basic bodily functions like breathing, blood pressure and your heart rate. I also think my Temporal Lobe was damaged, that controls auditory stimulus and, my biggest whoa, speech.  I have other issues that are related to my brain injuries but I won’t go into those.

The brain injuries may  be The reason I’m in the position I’m in today but without them I don’t know how I would  cope. I mean I lost everything, every single one of my animals, my vision, my voice, the ability to sketch or draw and write all together, let alone walk.  Just because I lost my leg doesn’t mean I could not have gone back to my life, I still could have done every single thing I did before, just maybe a little slower and with even less coordination but I still would have done it.

When I was back in the first hospital, while I and my family had our own trauma to deal with, there were many other families going through their own traumas.   July seems pretty late for a school to be having Prom but early one night there was a large group of kids, all decked out for their prom in gowns and suits, whose limousine was hit by a drunk driver. The driver of the limo was in critical condition as were all of the kids. There were so many kids in that limo that some were sent to other hospitals in the surrounding area.  That is not how any one wants to remember their prom night. There was also a family whose two sons had been hit by a drunk driver. One son was in a coma and the other boy died. Those parents had to be at the hospital hoping and praying that their precious son would come out of his coma, while at the same time planning a funeral for their other son. These are just two of the families whose lives were forever changed in the worst way possible because of one poor decision that someone made.

When I got to the fourth hospital I was still extremely weak but slowly I was regaining some strength back. Ironically this hospital had very specific rules about restraint, even if it was necessary to keep the patient safe. My brain and body was having a hard time dealing with the entire trauma it was going through so it kept wanting to retract back into the fetal position, my right arm was curled up tight on my body and my left leg was trying to do the same thing. During my time in a coma my foot had started to contract and curl inwards, I think that is what was causing my knee to hurt excruciatingly bad so every night my dad would have to tie my leg to the bed to keep it from contracting back up towards my chest. The hospital made my parents sign a, kind of release form so the hospital would not be liable; however when they sat me up in a wheel chair nobody could tie me in.  I still was extremely weak and it really hurt me to sit up for hours and I would lean forward so I could relieve the pain in my tail bone. More than once I fell forward in my chair and couldn’t right myself because I lacked the strength and, though I never fell out of my wheelchair it still  always terrified me.

On most days I received three hours of therapy; 1 hour of speech. They wouldn’t take out my Tracheotomy until I had a good, strong cough, which was funny because I could cough it out, I would cough and it would go flying on more than one occasion. After only a week or two of being in that hospital they took it out so I could start trying to talk. At the beginning though speech therapy was mostly just re-teaching me how to eat, control my nerve damaged lips and strengthening my tongue. I received one hour of Occupational therapy, which consisted of a lot of stretching, prior to my injuries I was right handed but now that hand had become unusable  and now I would have to learn to do everything with my left hand.

I also received one hour of Physical therapy which was more stretching and working with my core strength, because I had none.

The therapist knew their jobs and did them well but some of the other employees did not, and had no business working with newly injured people.

They had days when they were under staffed for whatever reason and they would have to call in the nurses who normally worked in Registration and it was some of those nurses who seemed to have no empathy.  Those were the nurses you didn’t want caring for you.

One of those nurses dropped a newly injured man who couldn’t walk into his wheelchair causing the poor man a lot of pain, I heard him scream and my nurse said he cried for a long time. I to had a couple of bad experiences. One of “those” nurses, after getting me into my chair then dropped something heavy Right Square on my big toe. Once I dropped a manhole cover on my big toe and that hurt less. I started to cry and she said “don’t cry”, I asked her if she could look at my toe and she refused. Later that evening when my parents came to visit I asked my mom if she could take my sock off and look at my toe. The nurse crushed my toe nail and my sock was sticking because of the blood. My toe nail has never grown correctly since.

I met a few new people while I stayed in that hospital and we quickly became friends; after all we had similarities or things in common. One of the guys I met was Jimmy; he had become paraplegic while in Glamis. He didn’t put on his five point harness. It was at night and he didn’t see the bowl and rolled his sand rail, he was thrown and the buggy landed on him. I don’t know if he said he was drinking or not but I used to go to Glamis all the time and a lot of people who go there go just to get wasted. It’s like a big party where some people feel like they have the right to throw responsibility and caution to the wind and, unfortunately a lot of bad decisions are made. He didn’t get a brain injury but his life will never be the same. He had a fiancé but she said she didn’t want to be with someone that required so much care. One or two of the people were their because of injuries that they had received from the life path they chose for themselves. One man was shot and made paraplegic because of his involvement in a gang; he was shot by a rival gang member.

There were a lot of sad stories at that hospital and, I’m sure that there are similar stories like that en hospitals all over the country and the world.

While I was in the hospital recovering life was still happening on the outside. My roommate was still caring for my animals.  my work stopped doing the television show sometime after I was injured but they still had their fundraisers to put on.  One good thing about this hospital is they had a van that could transport patients and so I was able to go on my first outing.

The first event I got to go to was called Comedy Night. I still looked terrible, my hair had grown back in an ugly ashen brown color, I was missing my front tooth and my arm was stuck to my side with a withered looking hand but, hey I still got to be involved in something from my previous life. I was super excited, my family came in to the hospital early that day, and they brought me something nice to wear, curled my hair and put make-up on me. They made me feel great!

I was really oblivious to how I looked, like a little kid I was in my own world.

Missy and me in hospitalcomidy night

I got to the event, feeling good, I was so excited to see my old friends, and I was all smiles, missing tooth and all. It was still early in my recovery and I had extremely poor vision, which my mom said she was so glad about. I felt good, never thinking how scary I looked to people and how sad people would be at the sight of me. There was one girl, we worked together, I was her boss but we had become good friends, I didn’t know it but when she came over to say hi she was crying and that was the last time I saw her. I never realized it but now that makes me sad. I guess I lost most all my friends with what happened to me.

I can do none of the things I did before, no running out to grab a bite to eat, no catching a movie at the last minute and no going over to my friend’s house to watch a scary movie and then just falling asleep on the couch. Yup, I’m super sad about that.

One of my friends; she was my boss from my previous job but we had become good friends. I have always loved kids and her son is the most amazing kid I have ever known. He knew, since he was three years old what he was going to be when he grew up. We have a common bond, we both love insects and it was that link that made us become close. We would go to bug fairs together every year, he was much younger than me but we had a special bond.  He was just seven years old when I was injured, in first grade, of course he was devastated then he somehow heard the story of One Thousand origami cranes, in that story someone has to make one thousand origami cranes and there wish will come true. He told his entire first grade class about me and asked them to start making Cranes, I don’t know if they got all 1000 Cranes made but they did a lot.  Him and his mom would visit me in the hospital and it was him who had the idea  of having me spell out words since I couldn’t voice words and my lips had nerve damage I couldn’t always mouth the word I was trying to say. It was really too bad that I was a terrible speller.     That sweet little boy is now in college, his goals have changed only slightly, now Entomology is his minor, and we are still friends despite all my limitations.

The hospital was preparing to send me home, my parents were trying to prepare the house but they didn’t know what to expect after all I hadn’t lived with them in a few years and now their once independent daughter was coming home needing full time care. I was scheduled to go home in the last week in February but the insurance company hadn’t approved the things my mom needed to care for me, they got my released pushed back a week but that was all they could do so on March 1st, 2001I came home, ready or not . I entered back into the world, no longer active and independent but, dependent and wheelchair bound.  My new life was about to begin.


5 thoughts on “Life goes on and the impossible task of recovery.

  1. joantav

    Your story is so moving. Most of us take our lives for granted and don’t even think about how it could change in an instant. The courage you and your family have show is really inspiring.


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