Friday, November 23, 2012

A Year of Hardships



"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny." C.S. Lewis


Author C.S. Lewis couldn't have described my year any more clearer. This has been the worst year in all my days of living. Probably even surpasses when I became paralyzed (though still thinking on that one.) Though I know that Satan is not limited to years, I am counting the days until 2013. This year, 2012, has been the year where Satan has literally attacked every part of my mind, body, and life. One of my mentors encouraged me early on that God must have something huge planned for me in the new year because of all that I've persevered through this year. I don't say any of this for pity or sympathy, but more of a way for others to hopefully relate that life isn't always grand and that though I may have accomplished a lot in my life post injury, I still am a human being that has difficulties. BUT, you do have a choice in how you react to what's put in front of you (or done to you).

If you've been following my blog, let me first apologize for the delay in posts. You'll soon see why. As most of you know and experienced with me, I had an awful experience with a medication ("poison," in my eyes) that literally took over my body. This was Cymbalta. (There are three blogs on this subject.) Those who were immediately around me on a semi day to day basis truly understood its effects on me, though those who were not could not grasp the depth of it's hold on me. I went through the detox from February to the end of April, and it was horrible - especially the end. I decided to go home to my family in April for the "final weeks of detox" so that I was around people that could care for me. I think I even surprised my family with what they saw. They were not prepared for the symptoms of this detox though soon became extremely supportive of what I was going through.

May was the only good month. I decided that while I still was on Medical Leave to really focus on my health since what I just went through was horrible. I met with a trainer 3 days a week, and my goal was to lose 15 lbs. by my anniversary date of the car accident (7/29). It was hard work learning how to eat right, regain the strength back that I had lost as well as the motivation. All was going well until mid-June when I was laid off from my job. Expected, but unexpected. I feel I had done a lot for the company during the time I was able and going above and beyond on my own, but the medication plus the stress of the job is what put me on Medical Leave. (I even worked from home -unpaid - while on Medical Leave because I didn't want the company to suffer.) Turns out, there was more going on that I wasn't privy to and more people had been let go than just me. There were only 4 people left at the company when I was laid off and it had started with around 25. Very sad.

Shortly after that towards the end of June, I was stretching and suddenly heard a "pop" in the lower part of my leg. After assessing it and looking to see what may have happened, I noticed swelling starting around my foot and bruising occurring on the bottom of my foot. I had torn my plantar fascia. I was put in a "walking boot" (I think that's pretty funny, but it was to make sure my foot healed correctly) which became quite the nuisance when trying to work out. That was expected to heal in about 6-8 weeks.





Just as that had finished healing, I was nearing my goal date (7/29) to lose 15 lbs. Wearing that boot had put a delay on some of the training I was doing, so it was harder to lose weight, though I kept at it. I was weighing myself every day it seemed the week prior. I had 2 more pounds to lose shortly before. I worked hard and even did my own 5K the day before. And, I reached goal! I was so proud of myself and thankful to my trainer for all the hard work, dedication, encouragement, and belief that he had in me.

July 29th.  My 12 year anniversary of the car accident. My trainer had been encouraging to me to think of it as a new beginning. A celebration of 12 years of the new me rather than thinking of the 12 years I had lost of who I was. His positive thinking worked, and I woke up that morning - for the first time - and it was "just Sunday." By that I mean it was just a day. It wasn't the "day of the accident", a "whoa is me" day, a "day of reflection," etc. It wasn't anything but just another day. I was so grateful!! I could tell that inside Satan was trying to make me turn the other way, but my Spirit was so strong that it didn't let my mind think otherwise.

And then it happened. I was sitting in my chair next to my bed going through some mail and magazines, then something dropped on the floor. (My left leg was crossed over my right, but in a figure 4 - so basically my left ankle was sitting right above my right knee.) I bent over to pick it up what had fallen when I heard the sound that I remember all too well and cannot be replicated or described. My left leg immediately fell off of my right leg and went extremely to the left. I had broken my femur.
I lost all calmness I had had that day. I immediately called my mom (who was 2500 miles away lol, but don't you always call your mom?). She couldn't understand a word I was saying though in my head it was quite clear. "I broke my leg! I broke my leg!"I said through tears. I told her I'd call her back. I sat there for a moment and debated on driving myself to the hospital. I thought through how I was going to do that, but realize it wasn't going to work. So, I had to call 911.

Yes, I was "that" crazy woman on the 911 phone call. I was trying to spew out my address, what happened, concerns with my disability, the fact that I have dysreflexia, etc. It seemed like forever before the paramedics got there. I was crying hysterically and kept telling the 911 operator, "Not on this day! Of all days, not today!"

The paramedics got there and before I knew it, I started to experience PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) - something I have not experienced to this degree ever before. All the "stories" that I had been told about my car accident that I don't remember were now being played out in real life. I'm hearing the paramedics talk amongst themselves, asking each other how to handle me and what to do with me considering my paralysis. I hear their radios go off as they respond to the person calling. In the meantime, my head is swirling, and I see a backboard being placed on my bedroom floor. Somehow, I remember this from my accident. Flashbacks begin to happen and I'm not sure if it's reality or the stories I've been told. Six guys pick me up from my wheelchair and lay me on the backboard while keeping my left leg in the same position it was when I broke it by propping it up with pillows. It's severely not straight at all which freaks me out even more. They load me up onto a gurney while I quickly ask them to grab one of my fleece throws for me. I know how cold hospitals can be, I knew I'd be there for awhile, and I needed some type of comfort with me since I was all alone.

An ambulance and fire truck came. All very embarrassing as I'm sure all the neighbors were watching. I'm sure my crying/screaming didn't help. They wheel me outside into the bright California sunshine which reminds me of the Nevada desert. As we head down the interstate to the hospital, they are trying to take my blood pressure (which was around 144/90 - so high, but due to anxiety), and administer an IV so they can start giving me morphine. For anyone that knows me, I hate needles and I am a very hard "stick." It usually takes someone from the cancer ward/department to come and get an IV started for me because my veins are so deep and "used up." I immediately denied - which he was like, "Are you sure?" - "Yes!" I was not going to have someone trying to put an IV in me going down a bumpy freeway when I know they aren't going to get it in the first place. This entire ambulance ride escalates the PTSD that had started, and the crying hasn't stopped. Of all the days.

I ended up with a spiral femur fracture to the left leg - one that is usually only seen in children. It's one of the worst you can have because it's so hard to match up the bones and the shards of bone that are pointing out can be very dangerous. My Orthopedic Surgeon was not on call that night but could do it in the morning. I didn't want anyone else to do the surgery except for him. So, I was pushed upstairs to a room (after enduring a Twilight Zone type of experience in the ER as they gave me a morphine and dilaudid.)

The next morning, I was prepped for surgery, wheeled down to the OR, and the last thing I remember telling the woman nurse who was next to me was, "Please don't let me die." (How more dramatic can I get? I think it was mostly the PTSD.) It took me several hours - more than usual - for me to come out of anesthesia which worried the nurses from what I was told. I was on the medical floor for three days and then moved down to the Rehab floor for two weeks.

Once again, I experienced PTSD when moved to the Rehab floor. It wasn't anything like Shepherd Center when I first got there back in 2000. Everything was different, the nurses were fast, the PT/OT's were not the same. I felt neglected, alone, and scared. I couldn't move past the fact that this had all happened. How? Why?

I was released from the hospital mid- August and immediately had to move because the lease at my place was ending. This was excruciatingly painful and hard because I had loved where I lived, but I knew that realistically, I needed to be where friends and family were as I wasn't able to do a lot. The pain in my leg was bad. This was also a new feeling for me. It was a good sort of bad pain, if that makes any sense. It made me happy that I could feel pain, yet at the same time, I didn't want to feel the pain. I was told that when people with SCI start to regain feeling back, that the first sensations/feelings is pain because the nerves for pain are the smallest and easiest to get signals to the brain. Hmm. Not sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing, but I went with it.

September came, and my mom came out to help with the move since I couldn't pack boxes or anything. She was such a help. Getting dressed, taking a shower, getting in and out of bed... so hard! I was told that it will take a full year for it to be mostly healed, but that I'd be feeling better in about 3 months. In the meantime, my right shoulder had started to get worse with pain. (I was being seen for this prior as well and thought it was my rotator cuff giving out. I was warned this might happen when I first became paralyzed.) I was in physical therapy for my shoulder mid-September through mid-October, but nothings seemed to help.

In the middle of October, I went home to visit my family. The beginning of my time there was nice - traveling up to my parents cabin and spending time with my brother. But things took a turn for the worst in many ways. Unfortunately I was put back in the hospital because I caught a staff infection. We have no idea where it came from, however I was up at our cabin when it was noticed. I thought maybe I was stung by a bee or something, so I took some Benadryl. Mom suggested we go to the Emergency Room, but it was already around midnight and I was not in the mood to go back to another hospital, especially on my "vacation." So much for that thinking. 

Sure enough, I was admitted and spent a week in the hospital, getting a new IV every day (I have really bad veins) including one that became infiltrated (see picture). I had IV bags of strong antibiotics every day including fluids. Thankfully since I was home with my family, I got a lot of visits and yummy food (other than the gross hospital food). I'm so thankful for those in my life who have been there from the beginning and still care about me not only as a person, but my well-being and health.

And now November, my shoulder has become completely unbearable. Back in October, I had received injections that didn't seem to do much help. My Orthopedic Surgeon figured out it was my AC Joint that was causing the pain and problems, not my rotator cuff. AND, I much easier surgery with a faster recovery time. Basically, my collar bone is rubbing on my shoulder blade, so it's bone on bone. The small, tiny joint that separates this from happening has just worn down over the years. So, I'm headed back into surgery next Tuesday for AC Join Excision. I will be without the use of my right arm for awhile, so using my left hand only will be interesting. (This is why I'm typing out this blog now because I don't know how much I'll be able to type without it hurting, even though it's hurting now!) I'm anxious and scared for this surgery because I will only have one "limb" that works - my left arm. I'm also still rehabbing my left leg. I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I know that God hasn't broken me down yet, so I'll make it through this, as well.




I'm hoping that this is the last of medical issues - physical, mental, emotional - for awhile as this year has been one thing after the next. But when you are called into God's army, He never said it would be easy. He expects you to fight whatever is thrown your way. So even though Satan has literally attacked every portion of my body - so it seems - I will not let him win. I praise God that my leg is healing well, that I'm off of Cymbalta, and I know that He'll heal my shoulder, too. As for a job, I now that when it's time, He'll provide the perfect one for me that allows me flexibility and accommodations to my every growing needs. Even though I'm young, my body is not young anymore. I have to take care of it.

"For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. So, let the perseverance finish it's work so that you can be full and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

 I was told by one of my mentor's that God must be planning a showering of blessings over me in 2013 after all that I've gone through this year. I'm so grateful for those who have stood beside me this year, supported me even though they may haven't have understood, loved me by being there, or encouraged me through cards and emails. There were a few friends who I lost relationships with along the way - their choice. It didn't surprise me, though, because it happened when I became paralyzed. Sometimes it's too much for some people to take on the burden of someone else when they themselves aren't healthy. So I understand. I'm just grateful for the men and women in my life - elders and friends - who have loved me beyond the circumstances of my life.

 I'm looking forward to 2013 and the blessings that are going to come. I'm blessed to live in a beautiful place where I have a support system of people to help me get through difficult times. This year has been one of the hardest ever, but as it says in James 1:2-4, I'm ready to become "full and complete, lacking nothing." Blessings, start getting ready to pour over me!!






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