I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point a couple weeks after my injury and hospitalization, my thoughts and focus shifted. I now found myself having to fight… for everything. I had to fight to breathe; to communicate; I fought going ‘number two’ in my diaper and lost; I fought the urge to rip off the cooling blankets and ice packs they would put on me almost every night because of a high fever, and also lost that fight many times. Apparently I even fought with a doctor and called him a “cold-hearted motherfucker”. We actually became buddies after that! I don’t think I knew just how badly injured I was until I got pneumonia and had a hard time breathing. There’s a fine line in critical care when a patient needs a ventilator, but you don’t want them to become too dependent on it because it will become almost impossible to wean them off, so during the day they would turn my ventilator settings down to allow me to do some of the work on my own. I can remember feeling like I was literally fighting for every. single. breath. Then the anxiety would kick in, and back into a spiral I would go. Staying alive and keeping me alive was like walking a tight rope in a tornado for me and the staff taking care of me.
PT started coming in to move me some, and I threw up every single time they sat me up. I vividly remember the first time they sat me up while I still had that halo on. I don’t know how much it weighed, but it felt SO HEAVY! Because it’s screwed into the skull, your head feels weightless and can induce vertigo which I already struggled with before the accident. They were so good and patient with me, though. Just sitting up on the edge of the bed felt like I was in the fight of my life. Keeping my head up against the weight of the halo made me feel like I was a navy seal going through BUDS or on some life or death mission. You can see it all over my face in the picture.
When I was moved to inpatient rehab, every day except Sunday was strictly regimented with PT, OT, and speech therapy. There was a break where I had time for lunch and a little downtime, and then I would do PT, OT, and speech therapy again in the afternoon. I definitely did not have trouble sleeping while I was in rehab- I was exhausted!
Not only was I physically fighting for survival and to get back as much mobility as possible, but I was still fighting those mental demons I mentioned (here & here). Something was happening in my brain that would not allow me to process everything that was happening and everything I was feeling. I had no productive way to release everything, so eventually they sent a psychiatrist to me. I can now better appreciate why toddlers throw tantrums because I threw a few myself. I missed my kids deeply and in a way that made me physically ache. I had to find a way to turn the sadness, anxiety, and fear into motivation. I’m not doing all that much in the video below, but I was trying SO hard, and I remember my mom being with me that day- she was so proud 🥰
Fast forward nine months later, and now I’m getting ready to undergo major knee surgery with a long recovery period. I wish there was a way this could’ve been done sooner because I’ve made so much progress, and the thought of going backward is a little daunting, but it must be done. I’m so ready to jump in the car and do whatever I want again! Never again will I take driving for granted- I didn’t know before how much I actually enjoy it. I want to jump in the car and go visit my sister and nephews. I want to drive to New Smyrna Beach to see my sister-in-law, Dianne. I want to meet my cousin, Toni, for lunch and I want to be able to get a haircut without having to ask someone else for a ride. BUT I’m well aware that I shouldn’t even be here- much less talking about driving!
It’s not all been a negative experience, though. There have been many, many positives that have come from all of this. I feel more connected to my mom, dad, and sister than I have in a long time, and my relationship with my husband has gone to a whole new level. I think this is a topic for another day, though- maybe sometime I’ll tell you about the time my poor husband finally got laid and I burst into tears crying hysterically 😃.