Wednesday, October 23, 2013

BIG. #18

I may or may not have had a major panic attack when the medics extracted me from my wrecked car and strapped me into the ambulance.  I had been rear-ended while I was sitting at a red light by a car going full speed.  He hit me with such force that I hit my head and had a concussion, had whiplash, and worst, my bad leg was crushed between the dashboard and seat, causing excruciating pain in my right leg and knee.  The pain was just as bad as my skin graft surgeries in December.  Being in the ambulance alone was giving me a big old case of PTSD.  I shook and cried all the way to the hospital.

Freaked by all of my scars and history, the staff immediately x-rayed my entire body and CT scanned my head and neck.  No bones were broken, but after an MRI, they found several issues in my knee, including several meniscal tears that would require surgery.  The pain was intense, and the hospital kept me overnight to help manage it.  It was my first hospitalization since being sent home from Loyola in January, and I was scared and shaky the entire time.

Later in the afternoon, the PT came in to see if we could get me up walking on my crushed (operated on) leg.  I tried to stand up, and immediately collapsed.  Angrily, I tried again.  Mind over matter, Amy, Mind over matter.  Tried to stand up again.......nope.  Knee gave out immediately and I fell.  At that point, I completely lost it.  I started sobbing.  I felt like everything I've worked so hard for in the last 9 months was completely ruined.  I couldn't fathom being at the point of using the walker everywhere, using a wheelchair, and constant, grueling pain.  Jon grabbed me, put me in his lap and just held me and let me cry.  It was what I needed at that moment, and my wonderful hubby knows how to calm me down.  (After all, he was able to keep me sane after I lost my hair....let's not forget THAT horror).

The hospital kept me over night for pain control and to regain some of my ADLs, and I was discharged in the morning.  The next surgery-- surgery #7 was scheduled for the next week.

The moral of the story today?  Don't freakin text and drive.  You might hit a girl with nec fasc and total her car and smash her bad leg and cause her to have a 7th surgery on her tiny right leg.  Boom.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

BIG. #17

God never gives you more than you can handle.

That's something I have to keep telling myself every single day.

Last post, I was telling you how I lost my hair, and then how I handled it.  At that time, that was the highest and most painful hurtle I had to jump over.  Looking back, it still is.

But it isn't over.

Since that time, I've continued physical therapy (3x a week) plus I spent the other four days a week in the gym, doing my own exercises, walking on the treadmill, and doing everything I can to get back.  My heart hurts not being able to run.  I've gotten stronger, but I still feel pain daily, some days worse than others.  I still have a lot of weakness in the leg, as most of the muscle in my right quad has been removed along with all of the fascia.  I haven't regained full range of motion in my knee.  It only bends partially, which is a big reason I'm not able to walk normally or be on my feet for long periods of time.

Right after my wedding, a new problem arose in my recovery.  I started falling.

It started on our honeymoon.  We were in the Kauai Airport in Hawaii and I was walking across the street where the buses and taxis pass for arrivals and departures.  In front of probably 1000 people, all of a sudden, I completely licked it and fell HARD in the middle of the street.  My purse and carry-on went flying, I scraped up my arm and leg, and I was in PAIN.  Tears poured down my face in pain, humiliation, and fear.  I was afraid I had broken something.  Jon, who was dragging all of our other suitcases, came running over and picked me up off the ground.  I hobbled over to the sidewalk, dusted myself off, and fought back tears.  I was scraped up pretty bad, but nothing was broken.  It was a strange fall.  I couldn't tell if my leg had given out, or if I slipped, or just took a bad step.  It was painful, but not the worst thing in the world.

Over the next month or so, the falls became more frequent and more severe.  They happened so fast that I couldn't tell what exactly was happening and why I was falling.  Each fall was a setback...I'd be in severe pain for a day or two and then be unable to go to PT and have to increase my pain medication.  Then, I'd get better, do fine for a few days, have a fall, and the process would revert back to the beginning.  My doctors were starting to get really concerned.  I have such a tiny amount of muscle left in my right quad and virtually no fascia to support and protect it, so any of these falls could easily result in a broken femur, which would be almost impossible to ever heal without muscle.  We tried a brace, we tried decreasing my physical therapy, we tried just having me walk slower and more aware.  Nothing helped.  Slowly, the walker was introduced back into my life, which sucked, as I thought I had rid myself of it forever before the wedding.  But my doctors insisted that I needed some mechanical support to grab onto when I started going down.

About a month and a half ago, Dr. G was maneuvering my knee in the office and having me do some exercises and realized just how little progress my knee has made in terms of range of motion.  "Well Ames," he said, "I'm convinced now there is something going on with this knee.  I think this is why you're falling, why you're not walking right, why you're still in pain, and why we've plateaued."  He referred me to a Sports Orthopedic doctor to look at my knee, the muscle in my quad, and what the heck was going on in there.

A week later, I was at the appointment, and they xray'ed my hip, quad, and knee.  Besides there being almost no muscle in my right quad, there was nothing broken at the time.  There was quite a bit of scar tissue and arthritic changes in the knee and the little muscle left in the quad had adhered itself to the bones in the knee.  He ordered an MRI.

After the appointment, I headed over to physical therapy.  They started using an electroshock machine to stimulate the muscle in the leg which hurt like hell.  Other than that, it was a normal day in PT.  On my drive home, I was sitting at a red light when all of a sudden, a car going full speed slammed into the back of my car, smushing the back end of my car into the front like an accordion and crushing my bad leg into the dashboard.  I also hit my head and had whiplash.  Before I knew it, I was in the back of an ambulance on the way to the ER.  Another hospitalization.  I was terrified.