Monday, 31 August 2015

A Date

There are many significant dates that have come and gone recently, some that have had to do with me and many that were others'. For example I missed Mary's, David's, Anne's and Madeline's birthdays. I missed my parent's and my brother's anniversaries. I feel badly for missing these special occasions, but I realize that I have been selfishly focused on myself. I had my own anniversary, for instance, Saturday was exactly one month. And I learned on Saturday that another cyclist in our region was hit by a car. I have not been able to learn more about it. My heart goes out to them and their family. We still have a lot of Share the Road work to do ladies and gentlemen.

The reason I am writing about dates today is because this morning we are having a Family Meeting. It has been booked since my arrival. I am not entirely sure what will come out of this meeting, but I know it will all be talk about me. You see it is not just my family, but also my Parkwood Team, my lawyer and my insurance team. I think the goal is to see what needs to be done in order for me to go home. Oh, and I have my discharge date - October 22. They gave me that last week and I have been stewing about it. I was thinking more along the lines of 6-8 weeks, including "time served", but this is a whole 10 weeks, so 8 more weeks to go.

I have other dates too - like the six weeks from my surgery when I can take my collar and back brace off. Well my collar is gone - it was never necessary in the first place (it's for C-spine injuries) and my Dr. recognized it was not helping me. As for the back brace, I will learn my fate on Wednesday. Tuesday I will get X-rays to take over to Victoria on the 2nd to see all three teams - plastics, spinal and trauma. This are my follow-up appointments where I get to stun them with the speed of my recovery (hopefully) and the X-ray will (hopefully) show that that L1 vertebrae is healed and I can take the brace off. Taking the brace off will be another story. Think: core of a jellyfish.

All the other dates on my calendar are in red (using a whiteboard calendar, of course). Red means company! I love and need company. I need company to help pass the time, keep me connected to the real world, bring me fresh food (like washed and cut veg. and in season fruit), take me outside and sometimes to cheer me on during a therapy session. I need to be honest here, too much company tires me out as I end up doing most of the talking. And it changes from day to day how much talking and sitting up I can tolerate. When it's my family I can say more easily, that I just need to close my eyes for half an hour. With guests I find that more difficult; they have come all this way to see me, I should keep my eyes open. That is why I am trying to book only one, maybe two things (above therapy sessions) in one day. My blood pressure can be low for a whole day or it can just crash if I have been sitting up for two long. Today I hope it to be high as I had Theo bring me in Swiss Chalet for a good extra high dose of sodium chloride to boost my bp. (jk - but it sure was salty)

The other crazy thing about my days is I never know what for sure is booked for me until 7:30 that morning. Now my PT and OT are usually at the same time each day, but often other things will get thrown in. For example I had asked Paul to come and see me last week and just after I heard from him that he was leaving home I found out that the Psychologist wanted to see me at 10 and that I had recreation therapy at 11. So poor Paul was here for 10 minutes before I got rolled away to meet with Steve and then I made him come bowling with me and my RT!

So send a text if you feel like coming this way and we'll make it a date!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Science Explains Everything

I have been waiting to write this blog post since August 11th, two weeks after the incident. It was prompted by a text conversation with a friend. You see, at that time I was already in the "acceptance" phase of the grieving process.  I have since realized it came pretty early - the phases of grief are pretty fluid and occur in no particular order. My friend wanted to know how I was so accepting of being paralyzed. I responded by saying that it might not last (my acceptance of my new life) but that what helped was understanding the science of it all.

Let's start with car vs. bike. It's obvious who will lose and who will win. A bike travelling 25 km/h hit from behind by a car travelling 90 km/h. The 140 lb rider forced into the air with incredible speed will hit the ground with massive force. Mr. Hoba, I'll leave that one for you to figure out, not sure I want to know the answer. So the rider hits the ground and the helmet absorbs most of the shock of the impact instead of the riders brain (just like the egg project). The unprotected face is another story.

There are other issues related to the impact, like the explosion of T4. The vertebrae releases a triangular shape piece of bone and fires it toward the spinal column. The dura (membrane around the spinal cord) is not strong enough to withstand the edge of the fragment. The fragment therefore has the ability to damage the nerves that operate all of the motor, sensory and interneuron cells below the T4 region. Nerve cells are like telephone wires. Cut the wires and the conversation ends. If the cells were not severed then there is a chance that they will come out of shock. But the body keeps that a secret, and tells it to no one.

The tear in the trachea changes the respiratory system. The whole idea being that it is a sealed container with only one way for air to get into or out of the thoracic cavity. A hole in the trachea changes all that. For some reason I escaped having a tracheal tube inserted in my neck, but instead had a breathing tube and two chest tubes. Chest tubes help remove the excess fluid or air that is outside the alveoli, but inside the pleural cavity. It's funny to think that air inside the lugs is a bad thing. But what it means is that air is inside the wrong parts of the lung, making the alveoli in the lower regions of the lung not able to expand and fill with air. Not getting enough air means lower oxygen levels in my bloodstream and less oxygen getting to the cells that are trying to heal.

All this science; the physics of motion, the biology of cell division, the mystery of nerve cells, it all explains why I am currently sitting in a wheelchair in Parkwood. So although I don't like it, I get it. What I don't like is that someone else is responsible for all of the science that was put into motion to get me here. And there is no science that explains that.

Update: still working on getting my blood pressure a little bit higher. Seem to have good bp days and some not so good bp days (I am currently tipped pretty far back in my wheelchair). Another good thing that has come back is that my rectum is now considered to be "spastic" which means it responds to stimuli and and makes me one step closer to establishing a bowel routine (and therefore some more independence).

Thursday, 27 August 2015

A Good Day

Funny that I am having a hard time starting this post.

Finally. It was a good day. Likely it has a lot to do with the fact that I got to spend the whole day with Theo - we have been apart for three days, and getting him back just sooths my soul. Holding his hand, watching him get to know other patients, how he voluntarily cleans up my space, when he asks the exact same questions as me at OT and feeling his skin. It all reminds me why I love him.

The vain part of me also knows why it was a good day...I got my teeth fixed! I can smile again. I love to smile, and for the past four weeks I have been very aware of my two front teeth. I have limited smiling or even covered my mouth to prevent those two awful teeth from showing. How vain is that? I couldn't help it. I loved my teeth - they were perfect and all with not a penny spent. I never had braces or a mouthpiece or heaven forbid surgery. It was a free, perfect smile and I showed it all the time. I work with a very wise woman who once said "Always be the best dressed person in the room". And I totally agree with her. Now that my teeth are back, I no longer have to waste precious energy trying to hide my smile.

Down the road I will spend more time writing about PT an OT, there is so much to tell, but one thing must be mentioned today as it's another reason for my good day. While sitting on the physio bed (called a plinth) Kristen was wanting me to balance sitting up without help. Which is hard, but I was trying. Shoulders back and relaxed, head tall, chin in (no turtle) and abs tight. I give her a look when she says "abs tight" and she says "just imagine you are pulling in your abs" and she places her hand on my belly. So I do as she says and imagine my abs tightening. And I did it. Kristen said she felt me do it and she made me do it again. And I did. I don't know what it means, but it must be good, some signals are getting through.

I also had company tonight for dinner, and I didn't have to eat hospital food (I'll save that topic for another post). Steve and Lisa brought nacho night (minus the margaritas) that we ate outside enjoying the fresh air and catching up. Lisa asked if I was ready for more visitors and I told her that I am. I am limited as to where I can go in my wheelchair on my own - so I make it the job of my company to get me outside. I have been living in a bubble here, so I need outside people to keep me sane. And make for more good days.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


My social worker says that tears are therapeutic. That the chemicals released when you cry have a positive influence on the brain by relieving stress and elevating mood. Maybe that explains why I am such a positive person, because I cry so much? Just so we are clear, I cried a lot even before my accident. Example: I cry at Bell commercials. Remember the ones from some years ago? Where the teenaged boy is standing on Juno Beach and he calls his grandfather and says "Hi Grandpa, I just called to say THANKS". Yes, when ever that one came on the TV, I cried.

I have been crying a lot these past four weeks. And not all of it has been a pity party (even though some most definitely is). A lot of my tears come from a place of gratitude. Knowing that so many people are thinking about me, wishing me well, praying for me and offering help. Hugs make me cry, I wonder if it is out of relief? That someone is here to help me greve a little bit, and help me pass some time - time that at this point seems endless because I have no discharge date. People who are making plans to spread the Share the Road message and coordinate a fundraiser for me also make me cry.

Talking to my parents makes me cry. Because they are so stuck, wishing there was something they could do to help. And I just wish that they could know that being with me, holding my hand and spending time with my kids is helping. Thinking about the future makes me cry. I can hear the nurses outside our door laughing and enjoying each others company. I will not be teaching this year, and I will miss all the laughing that we do everyday together, me, Julie and my Science Boys. Being outside and having the sun on my face makes me cry because I miss that feeling so much and it feels so precious.

I have an endless supply of tears and I never seem to know when they will spill over. I cried today at the end of OT. I am not sure what it was that Gary said, something about what I needed to do so I would be ready to go home. He was being kind and helpful. And there they were, just springing from my eyes. More tears. Maybe tomorrow I will be less stressed and more elevated from today's tears? Let's hope so.

Monday, 24 August 2015


I have a couple of friends who took their already fit bodys and turned them into lean, mean, muscle machines. They worked tirelessly every day at the gym, watched what they ate and were able to surpass their goals. I was thinking about them today. I admire their ability to be so disciplined - to get up early, eat no junk and sculpt their bodies. In no way am I trying to lesson their efforts - if anything it makes me appreciate it more, because as I was lifting two pounds all I could think about what how hard it was.

Yes, two pounds. And it just about killed me. Ask my Mom and Sharon, they were there with me. Two pounds in my hands, doing anterior deltoid lifts while seated in my wheelchair. Three sets of 15 reps. Isolating muscles that have never been isolated before. Gary is my OT, and he is awesome. I feel that sometimes I throw that word around too often, applying it in situations where it may not always be true. But it is true. He knows every muscle that I am working, that needs to be worked, that is beside the muscles being worked and he explains everything as we go. Do you know the 17 muscles attached to the scapula? He knows I have a mind for science and he is working hard to fill it. Anyway, back to my original point.

Everything is hard. Even sitting up is hard. I still have the back brace on, that digs into my ribs and my pelvis. It restricts my breathing somewhat and I guess I am glad that I can not feel what it is doing to my pelvis. Tonight I sat in my wheelchair for two hours, and that was too long. I have talked about blood pressure before, and the fact that mine is so low? Well today I hit a new low; 79/52. I was on the elevation board at PT, it is designed to get you into a vertical position, but gradually. Good thing it is gradual because I didn't get past 40 degrees from horizontal. Kristen started me at 30 degrees, and they leave me there for four minutes, giving my body time to adjust. The whole purpose is to retrain my circulatory system. The only good thing was that I recover well, after she lowered me back down my systolic recovered to 103. Nice, but it's hard constantly teetering on the edge of blacking out.

The other thing that I have been finding hard is constantly being reminded of "when you do this yourself". Let me back up. The day after tomorrow will be four weeks since I was hit by a guy who chose to not pay attention to what he was supposed to be doing. Driving. Only four weeks. Drs thought I would be in critical care for two and a half. So here I am, in my second week of rehab. To the nurses I am this young healthy patient, who is with it, can roll in bed (grabbing the bed rails and having her knee lifted), can help get herself dressed and feed herself. So they, of course, think I am ready to do self-catheterization and my own bowel care. And I don't mean over the toilet. They are not telling me to, but every new nurse, every day starts out saying "when you do this yourself" which I am so tired of hearing. I know that I will have to do it myself, and, when the time comes, I will do it. But I am not ready yet.
Remember that back brace I mentioned before? It goes from my chest (just below my top ribs) to my pelvis. I challenge you to try to see your private parts and insert a catheter without bending at the waist. I am still healing, I still wear hardware, my nose and my hair still hurt. My forehead is ugly. I am not recovered. I still need support from the nurses and to be told that it will get better. I feel misunderstood. And that is hard.

I just finished brushing my teeth and washing my face. Everyone around me is already snoring (thanks for the earplugs Lara). As I was getting ready for bed I was thinking of all the other things that are so hard. I can't and don't want to list them all. I am not a complainer. But the hardest thing of all, that I can't and won't write about now is how much I miss my family. I chose to marry Theo and we chose to have two beautiful children. I did not choose to be away from them for three months of their lives. That is hard.

Sunday, 23 August 2015


In my last post I wrote about asking questions and being my own advocate. What I didn't talk about what was the people who are behind me giving me the mental strength to do so. Karla (David's wife) drove from Trenton to spend the weekend with me and we had a lot to catch up on. One of the things we talked about was her job. As a Major in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Karla has had the role as a "supporting officer". Her responsibility was for an injured soldier - to make what ever arrangements were necessary for him or her in order for them to focus solely on their recovery.

Then, of course, the conversation turned back to me (because everything does these days). I am in a circle, a small one, that is surrounded by a series of concentric circles. In that second circle, that surrounds me is my family, who have been with me more hours of every day then I have been alone since this all started.

In the next circle are our friends who have supported all the people in that second circle, making food, driving, spending time with our kids, helping on the farm, making arrangements, raising money, writing articles in the local papers and buying bumper stickers. The number of people (friends, friends of friends, far away relatives, former students, journalists, training buddies, colleagues, and facebook friends) who have e-mailed, texted, sent a card, sent flowers, called, prayed, stopped Theo on the street or markered a 4J on their body. It has all been overwhelming. Totally emotionally overwhelming.

Now I don't mean for that to sound negative, because it is not. I just had no idea I knew so many people who cared so much about me and my family. And the other thing is there are a whole bunch of people that I don't know. People who have sent e-mails, cards and even money to me - a total stranger. And so I am stunned. It will take some time for me to wrap my head around it all. But what it does is it makes me able to focus on me. I know that Theo and the kids are okay. They are fed, they have friends checking in and offering help. I know that all my parents have friends that they can lean on, question and find support. My siblings have their networks too.

So here I am, writing about all the support we have had and how wonderful it has been. And yet tonight, I find myself alone. Alone on an evening for the first time. It is interesting - I am battling between being (hopelessly) sad and and being okay. I have time to blog, I read 8 pages of Outlander, I rested for a bit and I ate in my chair looking out the window. When my roommate is off the phone I will see if I can work up the courage to learn her story. After all, we will likely be here for a while. And if all else fails, there is always Suits, right Jane:)?

Update: No rehab on weekends. Three days of back-to-back PT/OT last week which was quite exhausting. More on that later. Still waking up with headaches and my eyes are still a bit wonky. My thoracic incision is almost invisible. My forehead looks to be about the same to me (rough) and I learned why my hair hurts (something about repositioning my hairline?). Thanks for continuing to read.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Just Ask

Thanks for sticking with me. This is going to be short as I am almost out of battery. Kids came home from camp today, so I get to see them tomorrow. I can't wait.

Today is Friday, the first of many here for me at Parkwood. I still have not been given a date as to when I will be ready to go home. So I wait, and guess and ask more questions. I am sure that soon enough they will all be rolling their eyes when they here I have a question. But I am never satisfied with the answers, so I just keep asking.

How long will I need to be here? What does it mean when my legs twitch? When will I will be able to go in the therapy pool? What does my blood work show? Why do I get chilled every evening around 8? When can my PT/OT times be switched so they are not back to back? When can I take off this brace? Why does my hair hurt? Won't that cause constipation? What are you going to do about this chair that I can not operate? Will I get to use the exoskeleton? Why are my eyes not as good as they used to be? Couldn't that be my natural flora? Really, I could go on...

If you don't ask, you won't know, or you won't even get them thinking about what ever your question is (even if they don't know the answer). And if there is one thing that I have learned about being in hospital for the past three weeks - you have to speak up. No matter how uncomfortable you may feel or how awkward the situation becomes. Just ask.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Bumps in the Road

Today at physio I was thinking about what I was going to write. I was keen to tell about my second day of actual PT and OT, and the progress I felt I had made. But then I came up stairs to find that I had been moved. When I arrived at Parkwood I had a single room, all to myself. They warned me that it would not likely last because they save the single rooms for people with brain injuries. Which I totally get. And don't get me wrong, I had been warned that I would be moved; it should not have come as a surprize. But it did.

When I was a kid, going to camp was not my favourite thing to do. I did not do well at sleepovers and even into my 20s, being away from home made me anxious. (Although by that point my mother would have said that I was homesick for Theo, not home). I guess no one is great with change, and everyone deals with it a bit differently; I just didn't sleep. Sometimes I even hallucinated. None of which made for good days. So today, when Jane and I came up from OT and I found I had been moved, I was not happy. In fact I cried.

I was just starting to get used to where I was at and how things were going to be. Lots of new faces; doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, a dietitian (also in a wheelchair - she is amazing), a social worker and hopefully tomorrow I will meet the psychologist. And then of course the nurses. They are all amazing. Many are rehabilitation specialists and they really know their stuff. I am definitely in good hands. I think I may have said that before.

So then why can't I just suck it up? A few weeks ago while I was still in Victoria I told myself that I was going to be here for a while and I had to get over the whole "I can't sleep in strange places" thing. And it worked. I started to actually get several consecutive hours of sleep. So here I am again, telling myself the same thing. But it's different - I am here in this room with three other women, whom I know virtually nothing about other then that they are also victims of spinal cord injuries. I think what happened tonight brought me back to the crash landing at Parkwood all over again.

But the thing is, I am not starting new. I have two good days of therapy under my belt (which is actually a very large stretchy piece of elastic called a waist binder - designed to help increase my blood pressure). Today I made an appointment to start the process of getting my teeth fixed and I have my date for my surgical follow up. Did I mention that the scar on my back is healing really well? Jane says it is hardly noticeable. I didn't believe her so I made her take a picture and show it to me. She was right.

I overheard a conversation between an OT and another patient the other day. The OT was talking to him about negative and positive self talk. Which is something that I have spent time thinking about and teaching about as a coach. So I knew exactly what he was saying. You can take the negative things and let them drag you down, or you can flip it. Spin it. And then it takes you up.

So tonight, I am going to try to believe my own positive self-talk. Take the good things that have already happened and let them blend in with the sound of others snoring and try to find that place where I can get enough rest to do it all over again tomorrow...just another bump in the road.

Okay, I can not even lie by omission. Who's kidding who? I am putting in earplugs, wearing an eye mask and taking a sleeping pill. But at least I will not be crying myself to sleep. Good night.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Although occasionally I still think that maybe I will wake up and this will all be gone, it has been long enough now that I have realized the truth. This is not a dream. Today is three weeks. It sunk in a bit more today because I met some people here at Parkwood that also have spinal cord injuries. Some that, like me, have new injuries, some that have been here long enough to get an electric wheelchair (watch out) and some that were former patients. The guest speaker was Lee Thibeault, who two years ago crashed his motorcycle and became a paraplegic as a result. He had a lot to say and I will write about it more later - but let's just say that SCIENCE IS AWESOME.

The woman who sat beside me has been in her wheelchair for 13 years. She rolled into the rehab ward with such confidence that it reminded me of me, when I would walk into a new place and know exactly what I was looking for and who to ask. It made me realize a couple of things. The first being that three weeks into a spinal cord injury is no time at all. Every day since all this began, one, if not several different people have said to me that it is going to take time. My usual response is "I am not a very patient person". But maybe this is a different type of patience. My lack of patience is usually about the actions of other people - things that I really have no control over. Now my patience has to be with me. My body, my mind and my soul.

My spinal cord is likely still in shock. All those cells jared to the point where they no longer recognized what their job was. Maybe with enough time those cells will "straighten up and fly right". My bones slowly knitting themselves back together, or in the case of my spine, learning how to deal with titanium. My mind often hurts. Physically (that whole landing on your face thing Dr's say causes head trauma) and I have had a headache every day but one.  My mind also hurts because of all the processing it is trying to do. I tried to go to sleep tonight before I finished this post, but my mind could not slow down, even with a sleeping pill.

And then there is my soul. It aches for the people I love and it wishes that they didn't have to see me go through this. No parent should have their adult child turned back in time. My soul craves for their company, but I know that soon they will have to go about doing their normal lives and I will have to pass the time here working and learning how to be the new me. To be the one who confidently rolls into the room. That will take more than the time I have here at Parkwood. There will be no discharge date for that.

Note: very little proofreading has been done on this page.  Sorry.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Crash Landing

In two days it will be three weeks since I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle. In that three weeks I have had major back surgery, plastic surgery on my face and nose and have been healing of some broken ribs and road rash. My face looks good, people say my nose looks normal and the Dr. said the scar on my back looked well healed. I got out of critical care in less than half the time that they said I would and I got a bed in Parkwood in record time.

So here I am now, in Parkwood. I feel like I have been floating along as if everything was possible, I was healing quickly and nothing would get in my way. But today I started to learn the truth of my new reality. Today I learned from my new Dr. that there are three types of spinal injuries. The first is like a shock, where the nerves need two to four weeks to recover. The second is a compression, where the nerves have been crushed at a particular level and then take time (one inch per month) to heal. The third type is what they call complete. Where the cord is severed and not able to repair. My injury may be a combination of all three.

Everyone says "you've got this" and "if anyone can do it you can" and "you're so strong". But I don't feel that way today. Today I feel like crying until I have no more tears. I want to walk again. All the strength and luck in the world can not make that a forsure thing. I can build my muscles so that I am strong enough to handle transferring to a wheelchair, that will be easy. What people don't think about is all the other stuff that results from paralysis. Stuff that is not about "being strong".

Because now it is about bowels and bladder and skin. Battles that will be never ending. Surely I have never thought about having to "train" my bowels so that I would not have an accident when I was out in public. How about avoiding urinary tract infections? Dr. says it is not a matter of when, but how often. And skin? I love my skin, but apparently it will start to break down in places where there is too much friction.

So while I begin my training for upper body strength so I can get around, I also have to train systems that were trained 40 years ago, but this time without being able to feel them. I need to do this so that I can go home, be with my kids, and sleep beside my husband in my own bed. Today was my crash landing into my new reality.

No Turtles in the Building

Those of you that know me well, know that I have a bit of an issue with garbage. Too much garbage, everywhere, all of the time. So now imagine what my life has been like for the past three weeks surrounded by disposable EVERYTHING.

It started in the CCTC at Victoria, the day I was allowed to drink water for the first time. My nurse brought it to me in a cup with a straw. A styrofoam cup. So there I am, dying for a drink, and what do I say to her? "Sorry, I can't drink from that" which did not go over well. So I drank. It was not the only styrofoam cup that I have been handed in the last three weeks: Styrofoam, dixie cups, paper and plastic pill cups, sandwich boxes, milk cartons, fruit, yogurt and pudding cups, straws...the list goes on. And that is just the food/beverage packaging waste.

Then there is the medical waste. In the past decade or more, infection control has taken on a whole new meaning. Everything is now disposable and I shudder to think about the amount of garbage that has been created by my stay at these hospitals. It's things that you would not expect to, like tweezers used to remove my stitches (the whole kit is thrown out), scissors, bottles of saline, wipes, gowns, gloves, gloves and did I mention gloves? I asked one nurse if she knew how many pairs of gloves she went through in a day, and she just laughed!

I do get it though. It is all in the name of infection control. You can't walk 5 feet without running into a hand sanitizer dispenser. They would not even let my magic bag (full of wheat to put gentle heat on my neck) go in the microwave in the nurses station without a sterile plastic bag around it. Nor would they take my reusable water glass to the location of the water tap, they had to fill a cup and bring it to my room, then pour it into my own cup.

Through the powers of evolution, MRSA, C. Dif. and many other superbugs are running unchecked in different medical establishments. People get very sick, and sometimes die from these infections, so they have to go to extremes to make sure these bacteria do not spread.

So that is what they are doing, and I have to respect that. Sometimes garbage is necessary.Which brings me to the turtle. My friend Jory, the herpetologist connected with the London Free Press about the turtle named Julie, and the LFP wanted to take a picture of it. So today, my first day at Parkwood, I had to get permission to meet the LPS and Jory outside for a photo. Outside because five day old snapping turtles are sooo germy. A public relations nightmare!

Update: First day at Parkwood. Not going to say I am happy to be here, because I am not. In fact, I don't want to be here at all.

Saturday, 15 August 2015


Here I am, standing on the edge. I am not sure what I am on the edge of, but I can tell that the only direction I can go is forward. I look behind and can see faces, places and things that I know, but there is no way to go back to them. Like some kind of video game with no reverse button, you can only go ahead, not knowing what zombies or creepers are around the corner. There is no choice but to look ahead, even though all there is is blackness - no shapes, no figures, no light.

So what is one to do? There really is no choice but to go forward. So I try, but it's hard. I cry because I miss what is behind me that I no longer can reach. I imagine what it would feel like to go ahead into the darkness and slowly I do, eyes closed to concentrate as hard as I can fighting to make my way.

And somehow I do it, I move forward. Likely because of sheer grit and wanting to prove my strength and stubbornness even if it is just to myself. [No I do NOT need that chest tube back in my body, my O2 "sats" are 100% thank you very much.]

I open my eyes to that blackness.  Knowing that they are quite capable of playing tricks on me [hello crazy hospital drugs] I don't really believe what I am seeing. My guess is that they are fireflies. You know how you see them at night in early summer across the field? You think you see one, and then it's gone? Then you see another, and it disappears too? But then, when you let your eyes relax and stop looking so hard you see that the field and the sky is actually full of them?

That is what I see now, the darkness with a few sprinklings of light. Then there are more, and more. I don't will there to be more, but they just keep coming. Somehow they are there and they make that darkness less scary, less unknown and more manageable.

I now know their source. The lights come from everyone surrounding me, both physically and virtually. And I don't even know all their names. It's crazy, because the lights just keep lighting. They are the cards, e-mails, texts, tweets, the fb messages, posts and reposts. They are the 4J campaign, the hugs, the food, the coffee, the time you spend with my kids and the kind words you say to my husband. They are the words that say "Share the Road" everywhere. They are the turtle. They are my family.

These lights all make me cry. Not from sadness and loss, although sometime that does creep in, I cry from the sheer overpowering emotion of being loved. And in this powerful emotion it makes the unknown go away.

Update: After a lot of to-and-fro from the medical staff at Victoria it was decided that I was to leave the trauma unit. A bed at Parkwood will not come available until Monday morning. So I was given the option to be repatriated (their words) to my "home hospital". So I said yes, as it would have given me the chance to see my kids before they head to camp for the week. So off I went in the Voyager with a couple of Huron County boys behind the wheel and at my side to bring me home to Wingham. Thanks boys.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Training for Life

For the past two and a half years I have been training as a triathlete. Swimming, biking and running with the occasional strength training session thrown in to shake things up and make my muscles scream at me a bit. The latest book I was reading about training explains that being a triathlete is not swimming, followed by running, followed by biking. It is swim-bike-run. Not three separate sports.

This is just like the human body, systems do not function independently, heart pumping blood, bones keeping you upright and nerves sending signals. They all work together. Swim-bike-run. So when multiple systems are compromised this is what is called a medical trauma.  I never really gave much thought to what "trauma" meant before all this happened. I asked, once I had had some recovery time, why I was classified as a trauma, and I was told it was because of the damage done to multiple systems. So here is the list:

  • fractured skull (occipital lobe)
  • shattered T4 and burst L1 vertebrae
  • bone fragment from T4 through dura and in spinal cord
  • 6 broken ribs (on both sides)
  • torn trachea
  • road rash on legs, nuckles and neck 
  • forehead and chin required plastic surgery and 45 stitches
  • broken nose (set twice)
  • pneumothorax on both sides requiring chest tubes to drain fluid and air
So my training for swim-bike-run became a race for bone-skin-lungs. 

Turns out I have been training for life. 

Health Update: I don't really have to do health updates anymore, today is day 16 and I have no more medical needs (my staples came out today). I think future updates will be all about progress. For example, today I wore pants and used them to lift my legs off the bed. Sounds easy right? Think again.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

My Switch

Any of you who have every received a Christmas letter from the Sawchuk Family know that I am the one who writes it. I make great attempts to share what has happened over the preceding year and attempt to make it as interesting and entertaining as possible. I add small photos of our life, but over all it usually ends up being a bit boring. In fact, the theme of last year's letter was "Boring is Good". 

There have been a few brief moments in my life when I had thought it might be fun to do some writing, more then just a Christmas letter, but I never could figure out what I would actually write about. 

So then I got hit by a car. 

And my sister (the English major) complemented me on my writing after she read my "letter to the editor". 

Now I have something to write about, as well as the encouragement to do so. In fact, if I don't write about it I don't know how I will get through it all. I am writing for me, if you want to read it you can, if you don't, I completely understand. I know so many of you are wondering how I am doing - it will be a good way for me to give you updates.

This first post was actually written on the clipboard that Selena left for me beside my bed. I wrote it in the dark, with only the lights from the city that came through the shades. I knew that if I didn't write down what was going on inside my head it would just keep spinning around. A lot of people say they often can't sleep at night because they can't turn off their brain.

This will be my switch.

Health update: I no longer have any medical concerns - as of Aug 10 my lungs were clear. So just continuing to heal, moderating the pain with medication and dealing with the effects of the paralysis. Today, Aug 11, I started doing physio in "the gym" learning to balance on the edge of the bed - very tiring work. My blood pressure is quite low (so much for being fit as a good thing) so the PTs have been trussing me up with tensor bandages up my whole legs and an abdominal wrap. Theo calls me a burrito.