The tragic beginning of this chapter

I was in a horrific car accident in the early morning hours of November 4, 2016. I was on my way home from a late night bartending shift, and it had just begun to freeze. I hit a patch of black ice covered by those late fall leaves, and lost control of my Volvo. The car went off the road, and into a tree. 
I knew that the accident wasn’t good because the airbags went off, but I wasn’t feeling a lot of pain. The first thing I did was shit the car off, so I could get out and see the damage. 

I didn’t make it that far. 
I opened the car door, stepped out, and collapsed. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I suddenly knew that something was VERY wrong. 

I laid there on the ground for a moment, and tried to figure out what had happened to my once strong body, and what I was going to do next. I knew something was wrong with my leg – maybe both of them. And my humerus (the top bone in my arm) was definitely broken. Once I figured this out, I needed to try to get back into the car. It was freezing out, and I was only wearing my work clothes and a sweater. 

I tried to climb back into the front seat through the open door, but because of my arm, I was unable to pull my body up at a workable angle. I managed to pull my body to the back door somehow, and turned myself so that I could get the door handle open. That was exhausting, and I still had to try to get into the car. 

I’m not even really sure how I did it, and I have no idea how long it took. I knew I needed to try to warm up. I knew I needed to try to get my cell phone. I could guide the broken arm by moving my elbow with the opposite hand. I tried to reach my purse using this method. It was unsuccessful. I tried to turn my body, but my legs were in pain, too. 

I sat there, in the backseat of my car, broken and bleeding for two hours. I sat there hoping that someone would see my car and call it in. I watched several cars go by without noticing me. Every time, I got my hopes up. Every time, I cried as they continued on. 

Finally, a truck stopped, and an ambulance pulled up. This wonderful fireman immediately placed his coat around my shoulders. I still didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew I couldn’t walk. Unfortunately, I had to to get to the stretcher. 

They took superb care of me in the brief ambulance ride, and made sure I had any personal effects I needed from the car. 

After numerous tests, scans, and X-rays, I was diagnosed with the following injuries:

  • Severe concussion. 
  • Mild hypothermia. 
  • Serious laceration of my right ear. 
  • Severe sprain of left ankle and avulsion fracture of left talus.
  • Right hip dislocation. 
  • Right femoral head fracture. 
  • Right humerus fracture. 

After determining the extent of my injuries, I was stabilized and sent to a hospital more equipped to handle this. Upon my arrival there, I was sent to surgery to repair my femur, and sew up my ear. 

Apparently, my ear was halfway torn off of my head, and I never noticed. Plastic surgery fixed that up, and you’d never know that anything had happened today. I had 6 screws placed into the head of my femur, and my humerus was placed into traction. 

My GoFundMe if you’re feeling generous

Home again, home again! 

Oh, man. I was so excited to go home, even though I was in a ton of pain still, and not very skilled at getting around. I figured that since I’m relatively young and strong, this recovery would be a breeze. I was discharged to go home on November 11. Exactly one week after my accident, and only 3 days after my arm surgery. My surgeons sent me home with the instructions to bear NO weight on either my right arm or leg. This would prove problematic. 

Our home is not the most handicap accessible place, so I had to be carried into the house in my wheelchair. That was terrifying. The lack of control was painful. But, I was home. I still hadn’t showered since before the accident, and I was not very independent. I did okay getting to the toilet and back to bed or the recliner. 

Physical therapy started visiting on Monday, but there wasnt much they could do, except help me keep strength where I had it. I was still very uncomfortable. After she left, I went to use the toilet. As I struggled to pivot, I lost my balance (remember the bad ankle…) stepping firmly onto my right (broken) side. I felt pain, and heard a noise. I did what I had to do, and slowly got myself back into my wheelchair. I had a visiting nurse come by, and I told her what happened. She looked at my hip, and said the pain was likely from scar tissue. I KNEW that she was wrong. After she left, the occupational therapist came for an intake visit. I explained the situation to her, and appropriately, she refused to touch or work with me, and advised me to call my surgeon. She wished me luck, saying that we would reschedule. 

Upon speaking to the orthopedic nurses, I was advised to go to the hospital. So, we loaded me back in the car, and took the hour long drive. When we arrived, my mom went in to get a nurse to help me. My pain level had increased substantially, in spite of the medication that I had taken before we left. These guys felt so bad for me. They were very patient, but ultimately, I had to get on that gurney. And I wasn’t going to be able to do it myself. After a moment, I took a deep breath, and told them to just do it. They gripped me under the arms and my waist, and lifted. BLINDING HOT PAIN shot through my hip and leg. I grunt-cried in agony. Every bump that the gurney hit sent more shards of pain through my body. It was awful. 

After very painful x-rays, it was determined that my hip was dislocated again. I was given some intravenous pain medication​, and we discussed a treatment plan. The orthopedic doctor on call said that the best course of action would be to sedate me, and reduce the dislocation in the ER. 

While we waited for the procedure, I cried a lot, and talked to my mom about what happened. I was scared to go back home. I didn’t think I was capable of doing so. She agreed. We broached that with the doctor, who was considering discharging me immediately after the reduction. I refused, so I was admitted back to the orthopedic floor after the procedure. The social worker and hospitalist worked to find me somewhere to go. 

The next day, Tuesday, I saw my orthopedic surgeon, had additional x-rays done of my hip and ankle, and was diagnosed with an avulsion fracture of the talus in my left ankle. Basically, when my ankle sprained, a chunk of bone broke off with the tendon. I was fitted with a cam walker, so that I could still try to move, but the likelihood of further injury was lessened. After speaking with my surgeon, I was also fitted with a hip abductor brace, which eliminated the possibility for lateral movement on my right side, and also minimized the forward motion of my hip. Ideally, this would make further injury of my hip far less likely, and promote healing. 

As I worked to get used to these new devices, I started to feel a bit more comfortable in the wheelchair. I was still on a pretty high dose of pain medication, however. 

They were still working to find me a bed close to home. I was pushing for a skilled nursing facility (nursing home), but the doctors were fairly insistent that I would be better served in a skilled rehabilitation center. While this was happening, I was able to have the staples in my arm removed. Free of all staples and sutures, I can finally shower! We began to plan that, when suddenly they found a bed and arranged transport. So, I settled for another sponge bath, and got ready to roll out. 

Next up… To rehab we go. 

That scar, though…

I’ve been neglecting this story. 

I don’t really care for it much, and there are parts that make me sad. But I started, and I need to tell you the rest. 

I spent the next days in the hospital on copious amounts of medication, feeling pain through a fog. I had visitors nearly every day. Friends, family, my boyfriend. I began a bit of physical therapy, so I could learn to use my body in ways that it would let me. 

My concussion was so severe that I was unable to read a book. I tried and became frustrated more than once. 

A few days into my stay, I was scheduled for surgery on my humerus. I had a plate and 8 screws attached to stabilize the bone, and allow me to use the arm sooner. I was immobilized in a sling, but without a cast I was able to work on some small range of motion exercises. 

I began to transfer from my bed to a commode or wheelchair, so I could get a bit of a change in scenery. I also started wheeling myself to the toilet when I was able. I’ll tell you one thing – wiping with your non-dominant hand is both difficult and uncomfortable! 

I had to work the wheelchair by using my left arm and left leg, due to the extent of injury on my right. That took some getting used to! I could only go short distances, but the nurses let me start to wander the hospital with other people to supervise, and drive if necessary. 

One week after the accident, I was sent home. This turned out to be a poor plan. More on that soon. 

I had a rough couple of days. This is before my humerus surgery, while I could still feel my bone fragments clicking against each other.