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Oh I’m Gonna Be An Optomist About This

I’ve had a setback.

I’m back in Arkansas, but not permanently.

August 12th, I was driving in the rain to Walmart in Berea, Kentucky.  The speed limit dropped to 35mph so I slowed down.  I was still on the brakes as I rounded a curve.  My car started to fish-tail and I couldn’t regain control.  The car flew into a ditch, rolled, and came to rest on its side.

Immediately I had a sharp pain in my back.  My belongings were piled all around me as I rested against the door, hanging by my seatbelt.  For about 3 minutes, everything was quiet.  I didn’t have my phone.  I couldn’t call for help.  I hung there praying that someone had seen the crash and would stop.  I got lucky, two people saw the crash.  One was a driver that had been in the oncoming lane and the other was the owner of the property my car had came to rest on.  They called 9-1-1 and stayed with me until the firemen got there.

The firemen were very nice.  They made sure that I was conscious and assured me that more help was coming.  I could hear them discussing how they were going to get me out of the car.  At first they wanted to flip the car back on its wheels.  The idea was abandoned because they didn’t want to injure me further.  They told me not to move my neck or back and that the rescue squad was about 10 minutes away.  They told me that as soon as they could, someone would get in the car with me to help me.

The rescue squad arrived and got to work on getting me out of the car.  First, they cut the rear windshield out.  A fireman climbed through the opening and but a neck brace on me.  He then covered me with a blanket so that they could cut the front windshield out.  He then lay on top of me as they began to cut the roof off.  It was loud.  And scary.  They had to cut right next to my head.  The fireman lifted my head and shoulders away from the side of the car as the side window broke and the roof came off.  They were then able to slide me out of the car onto a back brace and into the ambulance.

In the ambulance, one of the paramedics began cutting my pants off.  Wiggle your toes..  Good…they wiggled.  Wiggle my fingers.  Good, those are working also.  What hurts?  My back.  Can I breathe?  Sorta.  Did I lose consciousness?  No.  What year is it?  2013.  Who is the President?  Obama.  Where am I?  In an ambulance.

They decided to take me to the University of Kentucky Medical Hospital in Lexington…30 minutes away.  As the siren turned on and the ambulance began speeding down the road, I prayed that it wouldn’t lose control like my car had.

They put me on oxygen and started an IV.  I’d never had an IV put in without Lidocaine first.  Now I know why…those things hurt!  They strapped my head down and put padded things around it to keep it from moving.  One of them left a voicemail for my mom to let her know what happened, where I was going, and that I was okay.

They told me that when we got to the hospital it would be very confusing.  Lots of people would do lots of things and ask me lots of questions.  I thought back to when I was a kid watching “Trauma: Life in the ER.”  I’d never wanted to be one of those patients and now I was.

We got to the hospital and dozen people swarmed on me.  They asked me the same orienting questions the paramedic had asked.  They flipped me on my side and examined my back, vertebrae by vertebrae.  They did x-rays.  They cut the rest of my clothes off.  Finally, the swarm of people became just 1 or 2.

A nurse shot morphine into my IV and my entire body tingled into a warm cocoon of pain relief.

I waited hours in the ER room, hoping someone could get in contact with my mom.  I couldn’t remember the phone numbers of my friends so they had no way of knowing where I was or what had happened.  I wanted someone to be with me.  I didn’t want to go through this alone.

Finally my mom called and they gave me the phone.  I apologized for wrecking the car…I just knew it was totaled.  My mom said that didn’t matter.  All that mattered is that I was going to be okay.  She told me that she had contacted my friends and that they would visit once they got off work.

Around 7pm my friends arrived.  My mom had been too scared to ask me if I was paralyzed so they called her and reassured her that I could move everything and seemed to be in good spirits.  They sat with me for a few hours.  We thought I would be released that night.  I had a CAT scan and then more x-rays.

The doctor finally came in to tell me what was wrong.  I had 3 compression fractures in my back.  I didn’t know if that was good or bad.  I forgot to ask.  She said that I would need a back brace and then I could go home.

We waited a couple more hours until a nurse came in and said that a brace wouldn’t be available until the next day.  I would be admitted to the hospital.  My friends had to work in the morning so they went home.  I was given foam cubes on popsicle sticks to suck on.  I could dip them in a cup of water and suck the water out of the foam but I could not drink from the cup.  I did this for a while, pretending the foam was a cheeseburger or a hotdog.  I was so hungry.

At 1am they came and gave me the medications I take at home.

At 4am a nurse came in with a sandwich.  I could finally eat!  She fed me pieces of the sandwich and sips of water because I had to lay flat on my back.

At 7am a couple nurses came to transfer me onto a more comfortable bed and move me to my room.  They rolled me onto the bed and my back burned in pain.

I couldn’t have morphine anymore.  I could have Percocet.   It didn’t help.  I was in so much pain that I cried for 4 hours…waiting for my next dose of pain meds.

At lunch a nurse came in to help me eat.  She spooned macaroni and cheese into my mouth and I tried not to choke as I ate laying down.  The pain started to subside as I enjoyed the meal.  Shortly after I was given more pain meds.

My mom called to tell me that she was driving to Kentucky to be with me.  She would arrive around 8 or 9pm.

A Law and Order: SVU marathon was on.  I couldn’t see the television but I was able to hear the dialogue.  I kept time by how many hour long episodes I watched.  I drifted in and out of sleep for most of the afternoon.

Eventually the man that would make my brace came in to measure me for it.  He said it would take him another day to make the brace and that I would have to stay in the hospital.

My mom arrived that night and one of my friends came back to visit.  My mom stayed until midnight with me.  I was so glad to see her.

The next day I had to use the restroom.  It had been over 36 hours since I last peed.  They gave me a bedpan but that was too awkward.  Sweet relief came when the x-ray techs came to take more x-rays.  I had to stand for these and since I proved I could walk and stay balanced, I begged them to let me use a toilet.  They said they weren’t supposed to but they would make an exception.

After a couple more hours the man came back to fit me in my brace.  I was told that I would have to wear if for 3-6 months.  It went from my neck to my waist and was made of hard, white plastic.  Finally, with the brace on, I could sit up and walk.  Assured that I could move around in the brace, I was discharged.

My mom took me to my friend’s house and removed the brace so that I could change out of the hospital gown and into my own clothes.  We quickly realized that this was no easy task.  My mom ended up spraining her back as she tried to get the brace back on me.  This wasn’t going to work.

I could not dress or bathe myself.  I had to be in the brace unless I was sleeping.  We decided that I needed to go back home until I recovered.

So that is where I am today.  At home in Arkansas, almost a month after the accident.  I have a home health aide that comes 3 times a week to give me a sponge bath and change my clothes.  I’m not in much pain, I just get sore sometimes.  We are trying to get me an appointment with a neurosurgeon so that we can see what kind of progress my back is making.  My nickname right now is Turtle because this brace is basically a turtle shell right now.

Overall, I am okay.  I’m in good spirits…just a bit bored.  Some people from church have brought dinner a few times.  I’ve gotten a few get well cards in the mail.  I’m doing okay.

Bully

I recently saw a short video about bullying.  It resonated with me.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I was bullied all through school. more…

Falling Trees Make Noise

Last Thursday morning, at 6am exactly, a dead tree fell on my apartment.  Initially, my reaction was to throw the covers over myself and curl into a ball similar to what they make little kids do in tornado drills…except sideways.  more…

Little Adventures

Overall, life has been pretty good these past couple weeks since I last posted.  This is not due to the fact that I have closeted myself at home and not ventured out for any “adventures.”  I’ve had some big adventures and goals met! more…

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone that reads this had a great Christmas.  Or if you celebrate one of the other holidays occurring right now, I hope that is going great as well.

My Christmas was pretty good.  I got nearly everything I asked for.  I now officially own my own Xbox 360 instead of having a borrowed one.  I am also now a member of the Barnes and Noble club which really excites me because now I can start getting savings on all the books I buy…which is a lot of books.  I’m not sure, out of those two gifts, which one I am more excited about.

There was a bit of a negative today.  And one that I couldn’t have even created as a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Without asking me, my parents and brother left to go see a movie.  I had no idea they were leaving and in fact, went over to the house to spend more time with them and that was when I discovered that they had all left.  I tried to call each of them but no one was answering.  Finally, I left a message on my mom’s phone stating that I didn’t know where they were and I was really worried since no one was answering their phones.  After the movie, my mom called and told me that they had gone to the movies.  I asked her why no one asked me if I wanted to go and she told me they just figured I wouldn’t want to go.  I could barely prevent the tears from flowing until the conversation ended.  I felt terrible.  For some reason, my parents thought it was no big deal to go to the movies as a family and not include me.  I wondered if my illness made them worried about being in public with me…embarrassed of me.  I felt like an outcast. more…

A Rather Large Family

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it in a post before but, I am adopted.  I was adopted when I was three days old because my birth parents did not feel that they had the support they needed to raise a child since they were young.  I’ve known that I was adopted since I was in 2nd grade.  Since then, I had a little contact with my birth dad through letters.  Since high school I’ve had contact with my birth mom.

A few days ago, my birth mom and siblings came to visit me as they were on their way to moving to a neighboring state.  I had done some research about reunions such as this and all of them warned of the potential dangers or conflicts that could arise.  Fortunately for me, the experience was amazing and joyous.  They stayed for just over two days and I can’t wait to see them again.

I was never aware of the sense of belonging that accompanies being surrounded by family members you are actually related to.  I had always assumed that the way I felt with my adoptive parents was the way everyone felt with their own parents.  I did not realize that spending time with your true mother was like spending time around a reflection of yourself.  We aren’t completely alike but the similarities are numerous enough that she calls me “Mini-Me.”  My brother and sister were also quite similar to me.  The time we spent together felt more natural than any other time I have spent with another person.  The sense of acceptance and belonging was so strong that it did not need to be spoken.  I struggle to find the words to express just how natural and perfect being with this family felt. more…

A Birthday and An Update

I am terribly sorry that I haven’t written a post in a while.  February was a very rough month for me.  My fiance, Adam, broke up with me and I moved back in with my parents.  This has caused a plethora of mental and emotional difficulties.  The good news is that Adam and I remain good friends…the break-up was not a bad one.  It just hurts like the ending of any three year relationship very close to marriage would.  Aside from grieving the relationship, I’m having quite a bit of difficulty with my family.  I haven’t lived with them since I was in high school.  My parents are very authoritarian.  Also, they never took the time to learn about schizophrenia, so they don’t know much at all about how to deal with the things I struggle with.  Of course, I try to explain, but they don’t really understand.  There is a big communication gap and I don’t know how to fix it.  I also don’t know how to prompt them to educate themselves about my mental illness.  Regardless, there is much conflict resulting from the lack of understanding.  However, they are doing there best to take the steps they can to make this transition easier.  They are planning to build me a one bedroom apartment above the garage (its separate from the house) that I could live in.  It would be friendly for all my disabilities…psychiatric and physical.  This means that the flooring would be good for my back, it would be very secure to help with paranoia, and it would have some amenities that would make it easier for my service dog to help me.  I am really hoping that they will be able to build this apartment, it would be a wonderful place that would help me immensely.

Since I have moved in with my parents, I’ve had to lose a few things…pets mainly.  I no longer have my 75 gallon aquarium, in which I had invested much time and love into.  I’m hoping that once the apartment is built, I can get a new (probably smaller) aquarium.  They are very therapeutic for me and I greatly miss it.  I’ll never be able to replace my wonderful fish, but I will be able to get new ones one day.  I am somewhat looking forwards to an aquarium that doesn’t include an eel that eats all small fish.  I enjoy tanks with several schools of fish and my 75 gallon was not able to have that.  I also had to leave behind Vex, because that was Adam’s dog.  I miss her quite a bit as well.  Newton, a Greater Vasa parrot that Adam bought, was also left behind since it was his pet as well.  I was very excited about living with a parrot who could talk again, and was large…but I can still visit her so its okay.  I am happy that Adam has found a bird that he enjoys…that does bring me joy.  Rex so far has not been able to come to my parents.  They were not sure if they were going to allow that but decided that as a birthday present, they would give me permission to bring him home.  I am so glad!  I missed him terribly!  As soon as some space is cleared out in my room and I can find a way to transport his cage, he will be coming to stay with me.  I am very happy. more…

Going Better

So we are about 2 weeks into classes now and life is much better.  Since I finally got myself out of the house and into my classes, I’ve hardly missed a class…which is really good for me.  Sometimes I am rather sporadic about attending.  However, so far, I’m doing good.

I’ve added a new link on the site, its to my brand new Youtube channel!  I’m posting video blogs (so far daily) on there that deal with stuff that is more mundane than I tend to post here.  That isn’t the right wording.  It isn’t mundane.  It just wouldn’t translate well into a written out blog.  For example, I can’t show you Rex’s brand new water and food bowls that lock in place so that he can’t spill them everywhere.  That was getting annoying.  And I can’t show you my fish swimming in the aquarium.  And I can’t demonstrate some of the tricks that my dogs know.  I also intend to eventually post some dog training videos…right, I’m gonna compete with all the other Youtubing dog trainers.  I’ll make my own little attempt to show off what I know I suppose.  So, if you want to see that sort of stuff, check out the channel and hopefully you’ll also subscribe to it?  But don’t worry, I won’t be posting here less frequently.  It is a lot easier to type than video blog…and less time consuming.  more…

Neurosurgeon Appointment

So as you can tell from the title…my neurosurgeon appointment was today.  It was not good.  My mom and I waited three hours to see Dr. Ricca, a very highly recommended neurosurgeon.  My mom was generally optimistic…figuring that my problem would be as easy to fix as her mom’s.  See, my grandma just had surgery via Dr. Ricca to repair a fractured  back that had pressed on her nerves and made it impossible for her to walk.  Now, after over 6 months of being confined to a wheelchair and in severe pain, my grandma can walk!  She and my mom were very impressed by the surgery because my grandma was walking right after it and the incision site was very small.  My mom figured that if I needed surgery (which she doubted I did), it would be just as simple and successful.  We already knew what was wrong.  The disk between my 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae is degenerated or herniated…whichever.  It has been putting pressure on my nerves since I was 16…causing me to have varying degrees of hip and leg pain.  Even though I had done some research on disc herniation, I was not prepared for today’s news. more…

Raw

I absolutely cannot sleep at normal hours anymore.  I tend to go to bed around 4 and wake up around 1…consequently missing all my classes.  I go to my Tuesday morning class…Abnormal Psych.  Mainly because Adam drags me out of bed.  All we learn about is serial killers…which quickly fuels my paranoia but Adam doesn’t know about that.  Xanex does nothing for me…I assume it lets me sleep but really, by the time I go to bed I am so exhausted that I’m not sure a lack of Xanex would prevent sleep.  Sometimes I think that sleep is just pointless…I could get so much more done if I stayed awake.  But then…I don’t really have anything to do so what would I get done?  And sleep is such an escape…the bed is so comfortable.  I just float in it and listen to all the little noises that only I can hear.  Eventually I sleep and have dreams that are better than real life. more…