I can’t believe it’s been a full year since I posted this. This was just before I was going in to have the shattered bones in my face removed and my implants put in. Amazingly enough, with my ultra freakish healing abilities, there is only a small scar on my knee from the original injury. The only reason that is there is because I tore open the wound shortly after my stitches were removed a pinch too soon. Everything else has healed and no longer visible. A few people have asked me how bad my injuries actually were since I wasn’t so into sharing photos of it. So… now that we are so far away from it and I’ve healed up, if you’ve got the stomach for it, these are three moments from documenting my injuries for my insurance. I’m warning you though, they are graphic. Now that my body is mostly whole, I’m working on the anxiety that still lingers.
I’ve stripped down my site a bit as I don’t have the time to maintain a blog. I’ve kept posts dealing with my projects and new art. I decided to add this original post (below) into those articles. I think it’s important that when you go through something so massive and for a long time feel like life has chewed you up and spit you out, to share the healing time that comes after. Things can get really really suckie, but slowly, with a little time and strength, you can come back from it. I hope I can help someone else by sharing that.
The only thing I can’t do is watch people falling down stairs in movies. That might as well be torture porn. But it does give my husband a slight giggle to hear my “oooow, ewwwww, ahhh!” as I watch such scenes.
So the last time I updated my blog I was recouping from surgery. That was just about two months ago now. Well, two weeks ago, as I was mostly recovered and moving around without much issue, I got up to go to the bathroom around 5am. Our bedroom is in the attic of our house. The stairwell is in this small space that almost looks like a closet when you open the door at the bottom. It hides a very tall set of narrow, wooden stairs. Stairs I’ve made the bathroom trip down countless times in sleepy condition, sleep walking (but gotta go!) condition, tipsy, and so on. I’ve never had a problem. On this particular trip I missed the top step and caught my foot on the edge of the second and bent it under and started heading down… head first. Fun! Thankfully (if you can look at it this way, I do now) I slammed my face into the wall and knocked myself out. Everything after that is blackness. I didn’t regain consciousness (even with medic’s smelling salts and hard grinding their knuckles into my upper chest) until mid-ambulance trip on route to a trauma center in West Chester.
Setting the horror of the event aside for a moment, what really gets me is that at the time of my fall I was six hours away from getting on a bus and heading back to Grand Rapids for a week. When I came to briefly the ambulance gents were asking me questions to see just how wonky I was. Before that I was simply unresponsive. In my head, because it felt like so much time had passed and I was disoriented, I thought I’d already made the trip. My first worry, given how much pain I was in, was that my brother had gotten into a car accident after he picked me up at the Kzoo bus station. So I kept asking where my brother was and was he okay. Then I blacked out again.
When I awoke again I was in a hospital trauma bed with people around me and tubes here and there. I had managed to fall face first down those stairs and crash into and through the door. When Myke heard this and came down to check on me I was face down on the floor with a knee that was bleeding so profusely he thought I was going to bleed out. I thought he was exaggerating until I came home and saw the blood pool. I really managed to mess myself up. Injuries sustained were on par with a nasty car crash. I didn’t know what all I had done to myself. As I slowly started to get my wits back I knew that my left knee was killing me and that Myke and his mom wouldn’t let me look at it. My left hand had dislocated fingers and that fall tried to rip my pinky off, but thankfully it just ripped my web between it and my ring finger rather deeply. The trauma people only cared about my head though. I had facial fractures, a serious concussion, and I was bleeding onto my brain. I kept moving in and out of consciousness. My head was their first priority.
Here’s another interesting fact about emergency care in an ambulance: They cut your clothes off. My most favorite and comfortable pjs were cut right off of me to get to my wounds. I’m not going to mourn the pjs given my critical state at the time, but it did leave me naked in a strange bed with just a sheet over me. While in pain, bleeding, brain wonky as heal, and I still got to feel rather exposed to boot.
Eventually I was moved to a larger trauma center to address my head. They were going to take me there by chopper, however, I’m terrified of the things and apparently my reaction to the suggestion led them to figuring an ambulance would be better. So, another ride to someplace new. I didn’t like the new place. Most everyone who dealt with me was very nice, don’t get me wrong. But this is a level one trauma center in downtown Cincinnati. All the really BAD stuff goes there. And given how much near-death and horrible accident stuff they see, as nice as they are, the staff basically does what they need to do to you and tells you it’ll be over quick as you scream in pain. I did this a few times. The first time was them trying to get fresh knee x-rays. They told me I had a knee laceration but no one gave me details and as I said earlier: Myke and his mom absolutely wouldn’t tell me or let me see it.
So… a lot of hectic stuff happened there until they got me stable. I probably saw twenty different people with different specialties that checked over my variety of serious injuries. The orthopedic doctors were the worst. Nice guys, but it felt like raw torture. See, laceration was a nice way of saying I slammed my knee down so hard my entire knee ripped open. When they undid the wrap and removed the packing in the wound I was left with a seven by three inch gaping wound where I could see my knee cap. I’d like to say I was brave in the face of this but no; I freaked out. Freaking out led to screaming when the doctor moved all that around and stuck his fingers into the wound to check it. Eventually he slowly worked around the knee with a numbing agent so there was a poke into the wound and a burn. When it was numb he really gave it a look, then cleaned it out, and then explained he was going to have to pump 110cc of saline into my knee to see if any leaked from below the cap. This was to determine if my knee needed surgery. Despite the numbing agent for the wound, the saline went into my upper knee that was not numbed and it was one of the most horrible sensations. Then when he was done he tried extracting it with no success, except moving a syringe in and out till I was screaming at him to stop. It was… unpleasant.
Things gradually calmed down for me. I was no longer a priority concern so I was basically left to rest a bit. I was in one large trauma room with a curtain between sides. While I sat there resting several different traumas came through, including a car crash. The car crash was hard because I listened to them get the mother stabilized while the father needed serious work so that he didn’t die. He was awake for most of this and vocal. Thankfully I don’t remember so much about it now. My head trauma was to a degree that I was dizzy, wonky, and confused at regular intervals. I did manage to ask if someone would get me a gown.
Eventually my knee was cleaned again and sewn up. It looked rough. My torn web was sewn up. My dislocated fingers were fixed, which of course means someone held me while a doctor pulled on them to get the joints back in place. They were waiting to see if I was going to need facial surgery because the fractures were pinching muscles and nerves so I was having issues moving my left eye and feeling anything on that side of my face. They decided my face was far too swollen at the time. Another hour ticked by and everyone decided I was good for the moment so basically what remaining care I had disappeared with the supper shift. The rest of my experience there was rather hellish and long and I’ll be happy to never have to go back there again for any reason. They did the heavy lifting though when I needed it most so I appreciate that.
What has come after has been several visits to specialists, lots of new scans to keep a watch on my head, a lot of pain and healing, and one knee infection. Thankfully we caught the infection in time, but it came at the expense of my knee swelling up so badly that I was in excruciating pain. It also led to a strange and unhappy series of long moments: The ER doctor who tended to my infection and mega-knee was good and got me patched up and through the ER process in time to leave and haul ass over to West Chester to make it to my neurologist appointment. He’s hard to get into and with my injuries the time that might have come from rescheduling could have been critical for me. Sadly he didn’t feel comfortable doing the surgery my face required so he called a friend who could and managed to get me in there. This meant that morning we drove from Hamilton ER, then to West Chester hospital, then to the Eye Center in Blue Ash, and finally back home to Hamilton. No, none of these things are next door to each other. Yes, my left leg was still in loads of pain and all the excess swelling was draining. I wasn’t a happy girl. Myke wasn’t so pleased either. I woke him after he’d been a sleep for four hours because I couldn’t stand the swelling pain. During all those travels he hadn’t eaten a thing. My gentle giant can be a bear when he needs a sammich.
Now I sit here writing this as I wait for the time to leave for my eye surgery. They call it blowout repair to be precise. The week after my initial fall all my bruises had surfaced and 85% of my body was covered in them and very distressing hematoma bumps all over. My hands and legs were swollen. Numerous torn ligaments and munched up tendons. The cut across my knee severed a few important things to the space below it so I get these strange burning stabbing pains out of the blue as it heals. I had a cast on my left hand and a knee I could barely walk on. I have a very large hemtoma along side my left eye and the underneath is still black, as is the large bruise finally starting to fade along that side of my face and down my neck. Thankfully now, after a full two weeks, most of my bruises are fading and I can almost go out in public without people staring at me. I still get the looks because of my damaged face. I was even walking fine until the infection. All in all though everyone is most amazed that I didn’t hurt myself so bad I ended up staying in the hospital. It’s amazing what a set of stairs can do. It’s even more amazing how quickly I’m healing from it. Never in my life have I been so healthy that I recovered from a physical injury this fast. Without serious painkillers to boot. Tylenol got me through here and there, but honestly? Ice packs were my champion.
Mentally, on the other hand, even as the wonky and dizziness has gradually faded, I’ve been having an extremely hard time coping with all of this. It makes me angry that I could be so stupid to fall like that. It makes me sad that so much has happened to my body. I’ve had about five major surgeries in my life and what I hate most is that time in the surgery room when they’re prepping you before they knock you out. I get super anxious over that. That’s what I’m dreading most today. I’m not jazzed about a surgeon cramming an implant into my face via my lower eyelid, but at least I’ll be out of it by then. And if it helps restore my vision all the better. My eye, with that large hole in the orbital bone beneath it, is sinking you see. Not pretty. My brain just wants to scream at all of this. It’s too much in too short a time. I can barely look after my house let alone try and run my business. I haven’t been able to really spend time on the computer or phone because I can’t stress my eyes too much and frankly I can’t read anything I’m looking at anyway. Fatigue is starting to get the better of me and my appetite vacated with extreme im outta here a week ago so my weight has actually started to take a steep dive downwards. I’m struggling a little. Let’s just say I’m very frustrated right now. My thoughts are going to have to spend a little more time healing than it seems my body will.
All whining aside, we need to leave out of here shortly so I should end this to get to that. I have been updating as I can on my facebook page and Myke updates more on his. I have had a lot of well wishes and I appreciate them greatly. Time for me to scoot.