Updates of Life and Injuries.

So, although The Great Wreck seems to come up in most blog posts to explain one facet of life or another, I haven’t really updated about the recovery process itself in a while. Mainly because it’s not my favorite thing to talk about – it gets old and it’s seriously hard work to make it all funny, and I’m really not a fan of whining. The last time I did update you, I was in a euphoric state, convinced that I was almost better. I have since learned that it’s best to not allow oneself to think such dangerous thoughts – because the very next week, everything broke again.

I’ve had three or four cycles of that in the past 11 weeks – where I’ll get excited because I think I’m healing, only to crash the very next week. So I will say that I’ve been having a really great week and a half – even better than that last euphoric week – but I’m not going to say that it’s all going to be uphill from here because it most likely will not. I have, however, quit taking ibuprofen around the clock and rarely have to take muscle relaxers – so there’s that.

So. The wreck was 11 weeks ago from Wednesday – which is really just insane to process. When I texted Chris that day to tell him we’d been hit head-on, my leading line was “We’re fine” – and I truly thought that we were. It hadn’t occurred to me that adrenaline is such a liar. I’ve pondered several times the thought that if I had known then what I know now, how devastating that day would have been. Ultimately I’m very thankful that I’ve found out things slowly and didn’t know the full breadth of the recovery process and the long weeks of pain I’d have.

So, to recap, here’s a summary of the injuries that have been found at this point:

– Most importantly, the kids are now fine, thank goodness – they had a kid version of whiplash, but it healed in a couple of weeks, and they haven’t had any more problems, although Ali does tend to blame the wreck for every headache, stomachache, and hangnail. Because why not.

My injuries are as follows:

– Two bulging discs and a torn disc in my neck, all three of which are injuries that just take a long time to heal – they’re not surgically fixable, nor are they really treatable through my Physical Therapy. A neurosurgeon offered to give me a pain block, but I haven’t gone that route yet.

– A damaged muscle in my left leg – this injury has been especially long in recovering, although it does seem to be getting better slowly.

– Damaged ligaments and muscles in my head, neck, and shoulders, which has resulted in a lot of pain in the affected areas as well as nerve pain in my arms and hands.

– The resulting worsening of my dysautonomia from all of the above and the necessary laying around I’ve been doing for two months.

– TEN FREAKING POUNDS OF WEIGHT GAIN. That is totally and absolutely injurious.

I am still going to Physical Therapy three times a week – I am over 30 visits in now, so I’m pretty sure I should qualify as Patient of the Year. Around week eight, my PT began ramping up my therapy to try and get the knots in my neck, shoulders, and leg to quit returning (he used the term “chronic pain” once and I told him to never utter such a foul phrase again.) Instead of sticking needles in me and electrocuting me on separate occasions, he began electrocuting me through the needles that were inserted straight into the damaged muscles.

I looked and felt like a dead car battery.

FullSizeRender 25

The neck electrocuting needles are kind of warm and tingly-fuzzy, but the leg ones are intense.

IMG_3886

Of course, because I care about your full experience of my healing process, I Periscoped this process. It wasn’t easy, laying on my stomach and holding my phone behind my back while my leg had lightning rods in it, but what can I say. I’m committed.


I know. You’re all super jealous of my awesome spa treatments.

Although I am able to run (to help my dysautonomia) with some regularity during the periods of time when things aren’t re-broken, I still can’t sit with my legs down for more than half an hour or my back gets really achy. Because of this, I’m continuing to spend a lot of time in bed (I haven’t worked in my office since the wreck – Chris got me a rolling cart for a temporary bedroom office.) Also, I have become the church diva, stealing pillows from the lobby for my neck and claiming a half-pew for my legs.

IMG_3608

My biggest point of anxiety has been starting back school with Ali, but I bought her a lap desk, and she and I are doing her school in bed (which, for the record, I did all of my homeschooling in bed growing up, so she’s just finally getting to be as lazy as her mother.)

Because of my significant hours a week in physical therapy and my also significant hours a week of lying around, the remainder of life is quite busy and backlogged right now. I’m managing things as best as I can, and Chris is infinitely helpful and tireless in his serving of me. But I am in a place where I’m finally starting to feel like I’m able to regain control of parts of my life. I’m at least attempting to lose that ten pounds that was just the cherry on top of the whole thing, so I’m taking some supplements and eating carefully, which is also helping my energy levels. My house is still the biggest chaotic disaster ever (I haven’t been approved yet to lift more than five pounds, so laundry baskets sit downstairs for weeks and Christmas paraphernalia is still in the middle of everything), but I’m getting caught up on work and keeping up with Ali’s school and trying to still blog and run Picture Birmingham. But if I write less blog posts than usual or I’m slower answering emails, comment replies, and other correspondence, all of this would be why.

(I should start answering all of my emails with “I’m sorry this took so long – I was entirely too busy laying in bed.”)

Finally and most importantly, thank you. For those of you who have checked in on me, those who still sent me Christmas Cards even though I didn’t do a blog reader card exchange this year, and those who sent me thoughtful little gifts, I cannot tell you how much they have meant to me. I love that you love me even when I’m not doing much to actively love you back. To Mary, who sent my kids Canadian Chocolate coins (who knew? Canadian Chocolate Coins are more tasty than American Chocolate coins!) and dear Melissa who sent me another box of The World’s Best Chocolate-Covered Cherries, and to all of you who have cared for us during this complicated time, I love you dearly. Thank you for thinking of us, for considering me a real friend even though most of us have never met (I totally consider all of you real friends), and for loving on our family when we needed it.

2016 looks like it will be a good year. I still feel quite refreshed by the changing of the calendar, and plan on it being absolutely fantastic.

A Brief (or not) Summary of the Week.

Disclaimer: Don’t expect this to be too amusing. Muscle relaxers make minds mushy. Narcotic pain pills make minds even mushier. And I can’t make tragedy humorous unless I have at least a day or two away from it, and I only got one day away from it and I didn’t sit around writing. But more on that later. This is just an update for those who have wondered how it’s going. I miss really writing, but alas – muscle relaxers and narcotics. So all that to say, you get what you get.

Last Sunday – As I had promised to put myself on a seven day bed rest as much as possible, I slept and laid around all day. Hurting. A lot.

That evening, Chris insisted that getting out would make me feel better (I hadn’t left the house in 48 hours), so he took me on a sunset ride. I couldn’t use my DSLR camera, but at least I could take pictures with my phone.

IMG_2486

Only…I realized when Chris posted the picture below of me taking that picture that I broke one of the two rules I was given – don’t lift anything more than 3 pounds and don’t lift anything above your head.

12227206_10153100138846428_2938240003551578041_n

Oops. I blame my husband.

Monday – I had hoped that I had been sandbagging when I said that I wasn’t going to blog for a week, and that I’d get all kinds of writing done while I was resting.

Nope.

It hurt to type, it hurt to write, it hurt to hold my phone…and hurting hurt because I don’t like not doing anything.

But, I went to physical therapy, then went to complete the process of buying a new car (more about that soon), then came home and gladly fell into the arms of my prescription drugs and had a comatose rest of day.

Tuesday – More physical therapy followed by more drugs and more non-movingness. Yeah. Like, how exciting is my life right now.

Wednesday – I had no choice. This was the day I had been dreading all week, as I lay in bed trying to find my comfortable spot. Ali had a spelling bee that morning, and I had agreed to be a guest lecturer at a class at my alma mater, UAB, about social media later that afternoon. I was to be out most of the day, it was raining, it was exactly three weeks since the accident, which also happened on a rainy Wednesday when we were going to a school event.

The children and I both experienced PTSD. Nobody really wanted to leave the house, but we had been studying for that spelling bee since school started – you can’t just flush that kind of spellinvestment.

So we weaved our way through the many car wrecks all over town and made it to the spelling bee miraculously unscathed, albeit a little stressed, where Ali had to confront her already-existing-before-the-wreck weather fears as the spelling bee faced the window where the rain was pouring and the lightning was flashing. At the biggest thunderclap she turned around and yelled “Hey Mommy can I come sit with you?”, but she settled back down and adored rocking out spelling, placing first in her age group and 4th overall (meaning that she was spelling against 8th graders and discovered that she has her mother’s competitive genes.)

IMG_2782

We went home for a short time where I took narcotics and muscle relaxers and a very short nap, all of which are fantastic preparations for guest lecturing at the college level.

And I survived.

But not without ending the day with the worst pain yet.

Thursday –  But Wednesday was not worse than Thursday. Pain got to all-time high, including pulsing down my arms for at least an hour every time I accidentally raised one hand over my head.

It’s really hard to not raise an arm over your head. Hair in your face? Too bad. Want to switch a floor lamp on? Nope. Wash your hair? That’s gonna hurt.

Plus my dysautonomia was quite severe, giving me the gift of blacking out and feeling exhausted due to having laid around for 5 days. Activity is vital to my life, and car wrecks ruin that. I was not happy.

I Whine-Texted everyone I knew. And continued to whine-text the ones who didn’t try to cheer me up or tell me it could have been worse. (If you want to be the future recipient of whine-texts, I’m applying for backup candidates.)

Then I ended the day by not falling asleep until 3am from the pain.

Friday – Fridays are apparently my marathon health days. The Friday before I spent 10 hours trying to get answers, and this Friday ended up being a seven hour journey. I started the day at physical therapy, and my PT agreed that my worsening pain after a week of near-constant rest definitely qualified as a trip back to the doctor and another ask for an MRI.

I dropped my kids at my parent’s, took a meandering route to attempt to find a doctor that was working and could see me, and ended up seeing the rudest, angriest, most awful doctor I’ve ever experienced.

(And I’ve experienced a few.)

BUT. He ordered an MRI. Very angrily. Because apparently, according to him, Obamacare has made it nearly impossible to order an MRI without all types of insurance denying it, which is why I couldn’t have one the week before – I just hadn’t had enough good, quality, long-term, debilitating pain yet to deserve to know what was causing it.

I drove straight to the MRI clinic, where they told me my insurance had not yet approved it.

I sat in the waiting room, picturing Malia Obama in the back of a dusty unused bedroom at the White House, looking at me through a crystal ball, analyzing my length of time in pain, and deciding my fate.

Finally, Malia approved my MRI. And they took me back to that tiny Star Trek Coffin, slid me in the tube, and provided me 15 minutes of an Introvert’s Techno Rave Dance Party – without the dancing.

That evening, my regular doctor called me with the results. The MRI showed that I have muscle spasms, pressure on my spinal cord fluid, two bulging discs in my neck, and one tear/rupture in a disc in my neck. It explained my pain, but there wasn’t really a way to easily fix it. No surgery – just more physical therapy…and perhaps a lot of time.

In one of the kindest acts anyone has ever offered me, he prescribed me steroids.

STEROIDS ARE AMAZING.

I took two that night despite the fact that I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t sleep. I FELT HUMAN.

I watched TV with Chris, comfortably and in focus, and slept fine.

I LOVE STEROIDS.

…But I was so mad that it had taken someone almost a month to offer them to me.

Saturday – Saturday was the most awesome day that ever did exist.

I LOVE STEROIDS.

I felt energetic, I wasn’t in pain, and I felt like a normal human being.

I LOVE STEROIDS.

I even dared pick up my camera for the first time in a week and a half.

151121i-Ginkgo-Up-Close

151121L-looking-in-the-mirror

I LOVE STEROIDS.

I took a one mile walk around Aldridge Gardens.

151121n-Aldridge-in-Fall-Beauty

I LOVE STEROIDS.

Then went on a 4.7 mile hike at Oak Mountain State Park with my friend Kristin and her daughter Taylor.

151121ALT-Mother-and-Daughter-at-King's-Rock

(Because they’d never been and she asked me for directions and I couldn’t let her get lost with her precious daughter.)

151121eALT-Mother-Daughter-Hike

(But I made Kristin carry my camera backpack. Because I’m high-maintenance like that.)

151121c-Reward

I. LOVE. STEROIDS.

My steroid, Decadron, was my Saturday Superhero. And, as my friend Renee’s doctor-husband pointed out, Decadron even sounds like the most fierce of superhero robots that there ever was.

Decadron

I went to bed Saturday night blissfully happy for having lived, for having gotten my heart rate up and helped my dysautonomia, and with hope for a brighter future of pain-free normalcy.

Sunday – Chris, being the enabling husband he is, suggested I skip church and go on another walk while I was feeling good. But, I felt like I should be a decent deacon’s wife and go to church for the first time in weeks.

But oh. I should have listened to my husband. Chairs in Sunday School and pews in Church are not made for neck support. Or for propping up one’s legs to take the pressure off of one’s neck.

I did not make it through Church. My neck and shoulder pain was back and it was angry at me. And Decadron had failed me.

I mourned deeply for Decadron only giving me 36 glorious hours and wondered if taking, say, ten Decadron, would bring me back my happiness.

(I’m never going to become a narcotics junkie, but Decadron? If it consistently gave me days like Saturday, I’d totally be strung out.)

So that’s where I am. Not exactly knowing when I’ll be out of intense and pretty constant pain, going to physical therapy three times a week, taking so many pills that Ali’s eyes widen in judgment, and still trying to homeschool my kids, be an accountant, provide my children with food and basic interaction, and not go crazy.

Don’t get hit head-on in a car accident, kids. It’s not much fun.