Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Breaking News: I have GOOAAALLLLLS

The ass-kicking leftovers

As I mentioned in "We interrupt this program...", Kim kicked my ass last week. She claims to feel a little bad about it, but I really don't believe her. I think she actually enjoyed it a little. She is evil according to Dave after all. [Dave thinks Kim is eevvviiiillllll after she dropped off See's Dark Chocolates. I think she's a sweetheart - when she's not kicking my ass. He's just going to have to suck it up and deal it.] Back to the subject at hand, part of her ass-kicking was about setting some goals for myself. She had a few reasons, the most important to me being building up my strength and endurance to get back on the trails again. Kim knew that one would hit home with me. Not being able to hike in the Sierra was killing me on so many levels and she knew that. She might have seen me shed a few tears about it, just a few... billion.

Proof that Dave thinks Kim (and I) are evil.

Small goals

While there are a lot of 'low risk' PT exercises I do at home, I clearly needed to get out and practice walking without the cane more. Kim suggested doing laps in the driveway of the apartment complex as a place to start. I could get some sunshine therapy and work on my endurance, not bad. On my non-PT days, I could start doing a few laps until I was tired, take a break, maybe go at it more. Gradually, I would set my goals higher each day depending on how I was feeling. Granted it's not the Sierra, but it's a place to start. I had to start pushing myself if I wanted to get back in the Sierra faster.

I have to admit, the first day of doing it, I was tired after two little laps. Little did I know how tiring walking, focusing on form, and making sure you don't fall or get blown over by the wind can be. I also didn't realize it when I was overdoing it the first few times, but did I ever find out the next day. I've been dealing with all sorts of sore muscles, especially in the lower back, since starting this little project. I complain about it, but as they say, "no pain, no gain". I personally blame Kim for all of it; she is the one that kicked my ass into gear after all. I actually know a lot of it is because the muscles in my hips, legs and feet are still super weak, but it's more fun to blame her. 

Gradually, I've been increasing the number of laps I can do at a time and the number of times I go out during the day to walk. Sometimes I'd even drag Dave along for some evening laps. He's a good sport. I can tell when I'm getting tired now because my walking starts to look like that of someone who's had a bit too much to drink (better form though). Eventually, I'm going to start transitioning to walks in the neighborhood. Kim told me that if I ever get tired and just can't go any farther or make it back, just send her a text and she'll be there to pick me up. It's things like that which remind me just how much she cares. I'm pretty sure she'll be getting a few texts to come pick me up off the curb, but that's a sign of progress for me on so many levels. 

I'll start setting more goals as things keep progressing. I've come to realize the importance of setting them and trying to meet them. I might not always reach all of them, but it's a way to keep me focused on the bigger picture and getting back to being my crazy adventurous self. As a joke, my goal will be to kick Kim's ass at some point. Right now I could probably get her thigh, but I'd probably fall over in the process. One day, when she least expects it... :-)

THE Goal. Yes, *the* hiking goal for this fall.

After the talk with Kim about setting goals, I decided that I needed to set a hiking goal for this year, one that actually meant something to me. I needed to set a bigger picture goal. I have two favorite places in the Sierra - Precipice Lake and the Evolution Valley/Basin. I've personally ruled out Precipice this year because it's not only 18+ miles one way, but it's also a backpacking trip. While I don't know what my status with backpacking will be later this year, I wanted to set a more achievable goal, like a long dayhike. That leaves the Evolution Valley (EVO) - my favorite section of the John Muir Trail and probably the most stunning area in all of the Sierra Nevada (in my opinion). While technically to reach the EVO, we'd have to backpack, there is a shortcut. Even via the shortcut, EVO would still be a stretch for me (10+ miles one way and lots of elevation gain/loss), so I decided to set my goal to *see* it. By hiking up to the Lamarck Col, you can see Darwin Canyon, Mt Darwin, Mt Mendel and various other peaks and lakes in EVO. I'm visualizing it right now just writing this post...

Lamarck Col. Darwin, Mendel and glaciers. Oh My! Photo credit: Laura Molnar
My goal is to hike up to Lamarck Col and see EVO by late fall. While I know this is a lofty goal, 5+ miles one way and 3500 feet of elevation gain, it's my goal. I mean, I could set a goal of just hiking a few miles on some flatter trails in the Sierra or something like that, but I really wanted to set a goal that was meaningful to me. So, seeing the Evolution Valley again is my goal for this year and it's one that I'm going to push myself to achieve.

Note: first paragraph, last sentence. This will be one hell of a goal.

The Support System

Some might think I'm crazy with a goal of this magnitude, I mean I am coming off two back surgeries not even three months ago, but it doesn't bother me. I've never been one to settle for the normal expectations, I've always pushed myself to go above and beyond. The same applies to this situation. I am very fortunate to have an amazing support system through this whole ordeal. Dave has been absolutely amazing. He's always been by my side, rock solid through everything. I love him so much. Mike and Kim are like family. They've both been there for me since they heard what happened - Mike always sending words of encouragement and finding ways to make me laugh, Kim always being there to listen when I needed to talk, a shoulder to cry on, a ride to PT and doctor appointments, etc. I owe them both so much and am so grateful they are in my life. Sandy and Jenn have been so supportive during all of this, as have co-workers, friends from all corners of the world, it's all been amazing. Coming as far as I have would not have been possible without an amazing support system. The same applies to moving forward and trying to reach this goal. I am grateful every day for the support system I have... love you all.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Acute Therapy Isn't So Cute

Moving South

Let me tell you, Valium does wonders for ambulance rides. Maybe I was just happy to be out of the hospital after days of waiting, but the ride from Fresno to Bakersfield was much better than the previous one. I bet having my spine fixed helped a little too...

I'll be the first to admit I was a little scared about the next chapter in recovery. Kim had recommended Health South as an acute therapy option when the doctors first mentioned I'd need it. I'll admit, when she mentioned three hours of physical therapy a day, I was a wee bit terrified. The most I'd done in a day was maybe 30 minutes in the hospital, if that. I was determined though, so I wasn't going to let three hours of therapy scare me too much. Little did I know, I was about to be on yet another crazy adventure...

I was thankful to have the bed by the window again, and it even opened! If I had been stuck without a window at either place, I might have lost it. I was thankful to have Dave there, and Jenn, Mike & Kim visiting on that first day. I was thankful to finally get some pain meds again - it had been a good 8 hours without them. I was thankful that I had fight and motivation to get back on the slopes and in the mountains (see tweet below). I was thankful for a lot of things, and I would discover more and more things to be thankful for every single day.

Me? Give up skiing?! Fuck that!!

The Young One

Let me tell you, being the youngest patient in a place by at least two decades is not easy. Don't get me wrong, there were a few patients that I loved talking to and were sweethearts, but it was just weird. It felt like a reminder at times that I should not have been there; I should have been running up and down mountains, carving up the groomers, just being anywhere but there. I had to keep reminding myself that this was temporary and I'd be back to all of that soon enough.

The first day of PT and OT was a giant slap in the face for me. I wasn't too surprised when I couldn't do things in PT because I knew my left leg hated me, that my feet didn't want to "pull up", that muscles and nerves were just going to take lots of time to come back to full strength. It really hit me during OT when they had me put my shoes on. I got my right one on, but couldn't get the left one. It hurt my hip just moving my leg to even start putting it on. I was in tears. I could not even put my own damn shoe on. What was wrong with me?! I really started to realize at that moment what all we take for granted...

PT and OT got better each session and day. My second day at HS, I was able to pull my feet/toes upward a little and remember being so thrilled about it. It was small, but it was something I wasn't able to do since the accident. I remember being allowed to carefully wheel my own wheelchair (that's a big deal when you've had back surgery). I remember when they let me have a walker in the room to use. I remember almost being able to take a shower without any help. Even with all the positive things happening, there were times when PT and OT just crushed me. Walking was exhausting at times. Standing for three minutes seemed like forever. Who would have thought things like this would come out of my mouth?! It was always difficult for me when exercises with my right leg/foot would go well and the left side just wouldn't cooperate at all. I remember many times when I couldn't swing my left leg to the side, when I couldn't raise it laying on my side (which I can still barely do even now), couldn't bend my leg when laying on my stomach. I remember slapping the mat several times when I was frustrated with the leg. Even with all the progress I was seeing, there were many frustrating moments. 

The Weekend

I was so happy for the weekend. I wasn't going anywhere, but it was nice to have a little break from things. There was still PT and OT on Saturday for me, but it was easier than the stuff I was doing during the week. Dave was feeling a little better (the poor guy got sick after all the time he spent in the hospital with me) and so he got to see some of the progress I was making during PT. He also seemed to enjoy harassing me while I was working hard too (shocking!). I actually got to have In-N-Out for lunch and realized I didn't have my appetite back because I couldn't finish my double meat and barely touched the well done fries. I was so excited about non-hospital food and I couldn't even finish it. Later that afternoon, Jenn and Sandy came to visit. They brought me some homemade Pad Thai and chocolate cupcakes! It was so nice to spend time a few hours with them and being more mobile when they visited this time! Their visit definitely helped lift my spirits. 

Sunday was a bit of a different story. After days of telling the doctor, the internal med guy and the nurses that my iron count was always low, they decided to do more than just the iron pills I was getting. They started me on five days of iron IVs. I was not happy. They were threatening me with a transfusion, but I made sure they didn't do that. My iron had always been low and my body never had a problem with it. My blood and all that crap never caused problems. I never got AMS when Dave and I were in the High Sierra. He'd get it, but I NEVER got it. My body was fine with my blood/iron. On top of being upset about that, they had problems getting the IV started. It took them an hour to do it. Seriously. Eventually things calmed down, but it was not a good start to the day for me. Poor Dave was sick again, so I flew solo that day. 

I ventured outside for the first time and soaked up some sunshine. It felt glorious. For the first time in two weeks, I was outdoors using my own two feet (and the walker). Every other time had been on a gurney. It was amazing feeling - sunshine, fresh air, and a sense of progress. Even with that positive feeling, I had some demons that decided to attack that night. Everything started to hit me really hard. I was in tears wondering why this happened to me? What did I do to deserve this?! Why couldn't I just have a do-over or something like that?! WHY?! I don't know why, but I shot Kim a short email about it. I remember trying to hide my tear-filled eyes from the nurses as I was getting ready for bed. Kim called and emailed back while I was in the bathroom. I listened to her voicemail, but I just couldn't bring myself to call her back. I just wanted to take my pain meds, sleeping pills and hope that feeling would be gone in the morning. Looking back on it, she was 100% correct in everything she said that night. 

Back at it... and walking

Monday was a weird morning. I woke up feeling a bit off from the night before, but at the same time a little better after reading the encouraging email Kim sent again. Dave was still sick and not able to go to work or visit. Even with all of that, Monday was a big day in PT. It was the day of trying the quad cane around the gym for the first time. It was the day of walking around the gym only gently hanging onto the hand of my physical therapist. It was the day to walk between the rails without hanging on for the first time. It was a big day. It wasn't pretty walking between the rails, and it was really scary, but I had some good steps in there. It was difficult to control my hips/legs/feet and balance while trying to move. It was just bizarre feeling trying to learn to walk again. There is no other way to describe it. I was thrilled though. For the first time in over two weeks, I was taking steps without hanging onto anything. I was exhausted that afternoon. 

Tuesday and Wednesday in PT and OT were much of the same - practicing walking solo more, working on balance, getting ready for life at home, etc. My final test in OT was taking a shower without any help. I passed with flying colors. I remember working my ass off those last few PT and OT sessions (not saying I wasn't before) because I wanted to be ready for attacking life back at home. I still hated having an iron IV every morning and the food at every meal, but I was happy to be making progress. 

My last day at Health South, Kim came to visit and brought a dark chocolate milkshake for me. We sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine and milkshakes, just talking about the progress I was making, how things were going since Sunday night and life in general. It was nice to just be able to relax and talk to a good friend. Dave was starting to feel better again and came down my last night to visit too. He'd been having a rough time being sick and all that jazz, so it made me happy to see him feeling better again. Their visits made my last night at Health South a much better one. [Side note: I blame Mike and Kim for my addiction to the shakes at Moo Creamery. Mike claims it's all on Kim's hands and he's "just the humble servant", but I'm still blaming both of them for the yummy addiction.] 

A great way to end this chapter of recovery.


Thursday morning was a glorious one. I was a bit nervous about going home, but at the same time I was so happy to be going home. My departure came at a good time too because my new roommate was just a little crazy and I'll leave it at that. Dave showed up shortly after I returned from breakfast and helped pack up my stuff. I had one last iron IV to go and then I was a free woman. Finally, after what seemed like hours on the IV, it was done. Everything was packed up and in the Subie. I turned in my discharge papers at the front desk and walked out the door. That's right, not even three weeks after the accident and two back surgeries, I WALKED out of Health South. Freedom...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

We Interrupt This Program...

Appearances can be deceiving...

The past few weeks have been particularly rough for me on an emotional level. Physically, things were going well. I've been in pain from time to time and such, but my back has been healing well, walking is improving, muscles and nerves are starting to come back, etc. It's still going to be some time before I'm back to my crazy adventure-filled self, but it's coming along. Emotionally, things weren't the same. Over the past several weeks, all the "messy stuff" that I had been pushing to the side and ignoring started to resurface. I've always been good about putting on a happy face and making it look like everything was okay, but it was getting harder and harder to do it with this situation. I started to crack under the pressure I was putting on myself to be tough though all of this. 

I hadn't really dealt with how quickly things had changed for me. Working two jobs and being ridiculously active on the weekends, I was going non-stop. I went from running around in the Sierra to barely being able to move my legs in a split second. I mean, how do you even begin to process that emotionally?! I clearly didn't know how to and just pushed it aside. Things like that don't stay pushed aside for long... 

I've tried to stay strong around Dave with all of it because it's been hard on both of us. We've been trying to adjust to the "new normal", but it hasn't been easy. Lately he's seen me break down over not be able to do little things that use to be so easy, to seeing the medical bills pour in, to not being able to do our normal weekend adventures anymore. Through all of it, he has been by my side as we try to adapt to this new, extended yet temporary, lifestyle. 

An Ass-Kicking...

I knew I needed to talk. It probably wasn't going to all come out at once and it wouldn't be pretty, but Kim was use to that from me. She knew me well enough that whenever I'd say I was okay, she'd call me out. "You are such a liar" she'd say and I'd just laugh a little and say "I know". Even with her, at times it was really hard to open up about how I was doing with all of this, probably because I didn't really know how I was doing most of the time.

We had a brief talk when she dropped me off after PT last week. It was a talk that didn't sit with me well. Some of what she said really upset me and made me want to push her away. I wasn't mentally ready to hear what she was saying to me. Without going into details of the talk, I knew it was true and she was saying it because she cared, but it scared me to death. I remember punching the wall after she left and just sitting with those feelings for the next few hours.

I was reminded yesterday that sometimes talking is hard. You can think you're ready to open up and get everything off your chest, but sometimes it just doesn't happen that easily. I don't really want to go into all the details of the talk because it was personal, but Kim pushed me hard. She apologized for it, but she didn't have to because I needed it. She could see that I was starting to spiral downward. I knew I was too, but I just didn't want to admit it. Kim could see what it was doing to me. She saw that I was losing the fight that I had when I was in the hospital and after I got home. I might have put on a good face at times, but she could see through it. I knew that things could have been a lot worse, I knew that I was making amazing progress in such a short amount of time, but I wasn't letting myself accept the "new normal". Kim reminded me to focus on what I can do right now and not on what I can't (trust me, it's not easy). Long story short, she helped me get my perspective back on the situation.

This whole recovery process is going to be up and down at times, and I know that, but I clearly needed a swift kick in the ass to help me get my fight back. It was a hard talk, but I've learned that nothing in life worth fighting for is ever easy. Kim kicked my ass and I am thankful that she did.

We can rebuild her. We have the technology. :: 2

A Second Date with the OR

Just as Dave showed up with my GTL, I was told it was no more liquids or food time. Dr Levy gave me the option of surgery that evening or wait until Monday. There was no way in hell I wanted to wait until Monday, I wanted this over with so I could start pushing myself in PT. Little did I know I'd be stuck in the hospital until Tuesday regardless...

I had already survived one surgery, but the thought of the second one was scaring me still. Mike & Kim came up to be with us a few hours beforehand. I was so grateful to not only have Dave by my side, but to also have two of my biggest supporters there to help put me at ease. I knew everything would be okay, but it really helped to have three people I love to death there with me.

It was time for surgery. The pre-op room was more entertaining this time around. The anesthesiologist wanted to know what music I wanted playing as I went under and I just drew a blank. I remember Dr Levy coming in to see me and he was eating sour patch jelly beans. I was jealous. I remember being wheeled into the operating room and being just a little weirded out by it. I remember hearing Rocket Man...    

Stronger. Better. Faster.

Waking up in pain is never a good sign and this might have been a new level of it for me. I guess that happens when you are laying on the 8+ inch spine incision. It was a friendly reminder that I never want to have spine surgery again! Every bump the bed went over on the way back to my room made me want to scream. That night made the night after my first surgery seem like a cakewalk. 

The Bionic Back. Insane.
The next several days were a blur and seemed to drag on. I still hated the hospital food and barely had the ability to stomach any of it. I still hated having to go for X-rays and CT scans (mostly because those taking me didn't know how to do a proper bed-to-gurney transfer), but I had some badass hardware in my back now. I was still going stir-crazy. I just wanted to make a break for it... only I wasn't fast or sneaky enough yet.

PT was going quite well, even the day after the second surgery. I was in pain from the operation, but I was pretty much able to pick right back up where I left off with walking. Transferring from the bed to the wheelchair, walker or bedside commode was getting easier every day. I'll admit, it still was slow and painful, but I was doing it on my own. It was also a little weird because it felt like my back weighted an extra 20 pounds or so. It was difficult for me to stand with the walker and brush my teeth because my knees and hips were weak. I felt like such a failure at times because I needed someone there with me when I was brushing my teeth so I didn't collapse. How do you even begin to adjust to things like that? Life suddenly became a game of adapting...
Two incisions and a drain spot. Lovely.

The last few days at the hospital were quite frustrating. I was very thankful for everyone that helped me get through it because it was not easy. The combination of lots of pain killers and iron pills made my body hate me more than it already did. Not knowing when I was leaving for Health South was also complicating things. Eventually everything worked itself out on all levels. 

Finally, after days of waiting and not knowing, my ride to Health South was here. For the first time since arriving at the hospital, I had an awesome bed to gurney transfer too (why did it finally happen on the last day?!)! After 11 days and two surgeries in Fresno, I was heading to Bakersfield for my next adventure...

** Disclaimer: My heart and head weren't really in this post. The post following this one will explain a bit of the why they weren't into it. I wanted to share a bit about the second half of my hospital stay, but I am probably going to be thinking of different ways to share the progress on this blog when I start the next part of the adventure (acute therapy at Health South).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

We can rebuild her. We have the technology. :: 1


I felt like I was caught in a whirlwind laying on the gurney in the trauma room. There was so much going on around me and it almost felt like I wasn't there. I honestly don't remember much of the initial few hours I was in so much pain. I remember being annoyed because none of the doctors would tell me why they were only focusing on my back and not the pain in my legs/feet. I remember them somehow getting the rest of my clothes off aside from the sports bra. I remember how painful it was having the sheet draped over my feet and specifically asking them to pull it off my feet. I remember waiting for the X-ray. I remember them transferring me to the table for the X-ray and how much it fucking hurt. I didn't think it was possible to be in more pain. I was wrong.

I remember being put in another trauma room with a kid that wasn't doing so good. Trust me, definitely not doing good. I remember finally seeing Dave at some point. I remember seeing the X-ray image. I will never forget that image. I was broken. That's when it hit me. That's when I knew nothing was going to be the same again.

Not pretty. An L1 burst fracture.

The Hallway

There is nothing quite as awesome as being put in the hallway to wait... and wait... and wait. I remember the nurses rotating between morphine and some other liquid painkiller in the IV. I remember Dave handling the "letting everyone know what was going on" aspect of things because I was in no shape for it mentally. Honestly, I don't think either of us were mentally prepared for it or anything that was to come. I remember emailing back and forth with Kim about the situation and being scared. I remember getting a text from Mike joking about "no more cartoons for you" and it made me smile and giggle a little (inside joke from earlier in the week). Yes, I actually smiled for what seemed like the first time since before the fall. I don't remember much of what else happened in the hall and maybe it's for the best. I'll let Dave enjoy those memories of crazy patients pissing on themselves that I clearly forgot for a reason. 

I somehow managed to get a little sleep in the hallway. How that happened, I don't know. As we waited and waited until surgery, I was happy to have a few visitors. Sandy, Jenn, and Steve made several hour drive to spend some time with me before surgery; it meant the world to me. As shitty as I felt, it really helped to see them. I was on a lot of drugs and scared to death about surgery, but they helped make the ordeal easier to handle. I know they helped put Dave at ease too... or they at least gave him a distraction from what was going on.

The time had finally arrived after several delays, they were taking me to the pre-op room. I was scared to be going to surgery, but so happy to be getting out of the hallway. I remember Dave was in there. I remember a needle being put in my IV. That's all I remember...

We Can Rebuild Her. We Have The Technology.

I remember waking up in the post-op room. My back was in pain, but the shooting pains in my legs and feet were gone. I remember being taken to the elevator and Dave, Jenn & Steve, and Mike & Kim being there. I was still in a daze and didn't say much, but was so grateful to see all of them. I was surrounded by people I love and really had no way of showing my appreciation for all of them being there.

That night marked the first of many, many challenging nights. Sleeping was difficult. Between the pain in my back and left side (where the incision was), the annoying circulation things on my calves, and the bed movements, I didn't know if I was going to get any sleep. On top of that, needing help to turn on my right side was tough for me. Nothing was comfortable. I remember the nurse being really helpful and supportive, but it was still a long night. 

The next day was a huge smack in the face and a preview of the long road ahead for me. It started off well - Dave was there by my side, the neurosurgeon stopped in and said everything looked good from their end, the flowers that Mike & Kim brought were beautiful. I was having a really hard time being stuck in bed all the time, but I didn't really have any other option. It all really hit when PT paid me a visit. It all started with the log roll to get out of bed. My legs didn't want to cooperate and it was hard to push myself up because of the back pain. Standing up from bed wasn't easy, but I did it with some help. Then came the blow - trying to walk. I could barely move my legs. I managed two or three baby steps and my left foot was uncooperative. It was like I was hit by a semi. I felt like I hit rock bottom at that point. How does someone who runs up and down mountain passes in the Sierra all the time deal with barely managing to move her legs?! Not well. Not well at all. I knew it would get better, but at the time it felt so hopeless. I was really grateful Dave was there for encouragement and a shoulder to cry on. After I told Kim what happened, she told me to "celebrate that you can stand". It was true. Things could have been a lot worse. To this day, that has stuck with me. After what happened, I will always celebrate that I can stand. 

It was rough over the next few days. Dave and I were going stir-crazy. He was going back and forth between the hospital and the hotel and I was just, well, spending my days in room 904B. I still don't know how he did it. He was always there being supportive, spending hours upon hours at my bedside. When I was struggling with anything from PT to dealing the pain to, well, anything, he was always there. He is amazing.

PT was improving day by day. I went from barely taking two steps, to taking 10 steps in the hall, to walking almost all the way down the hall. As someone who hiked 10-15 miles/day with significant elevation gain every weekend, I never thought walking down a hallway would be so exhausting. I wanted to keep pushing myself though, to go a little farther every PT session. It was frustrating at times, but I could see the progress every day. I was transferring to/from the bed more on my own, sitting up more and almost standing up on my own. I was still struggling with not being able to get my legs back up onto the bed and not being able to pull my feet up when laying in bed, but I was still seeing progress.

The outpouring of support and love from friends since the accident really helped me survive being stuck in the hospital. Dave and I were overwhelmed by all of it and couldn't thank everyone enough. Calls, visits, messages. So much love and support. I remember getting a phone call from my arm-twisting buddy, Stacey, which totally made my day. She always finds a way to make me giggle. Our hiking buddy, Natacha, and Jenn & Al from work came to visit me and keep us company for a few hours. The support from Mike & Kim was beyond amazing; they are like family. Mike liked to send me words of encouragement from time to time. He's also quite the jokester too because I found out from Kim that he asked the surgeon to fix my attitude. I have yet to pay him back for that comment - there will be lots of post-it notes and paper airplanes. Kim was always texting me to see how I was doing, checking on my progress, sending words of encouragement, etc. She was great at making me laugh when I needed it and just being there when I needed to 'chat'. Mike and Kim are just amazing, there is no other way to put it. 

Five days after the accident, I was using the walker in the hallway during PT and my neurosurgeon walked by us and watched for a bit. He said he was impressed with how much I was walking so quickly after surgery. He must have seen something or realized just how active of a person I was, because later that morning I found out that he wanted to do a second procedure. That afternoon, we were still waiting to hear what the second operation was and when it would be. Nobody seemed to have answers for us, so all we could do was wait... and be frustrated. That night I didn't sleep well. The thought of a second surgery, and thinking I might have to start recovery all over again, scared me.

The next morning, the news came. I found out I was having surgery that evening.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Weekends Are Made For Skiing...

In the beginning

A typical winter Saturday for Dave and I meant spending the day skiing at Badger Pass in Yosemite. At least that had been the typical Saturday for the past several weeks. You see, I just started learning how to ski over the holidays as a way to spend more time in our favorite mountains - the Sierra Nevada. I didn't fall in love with it at first, but as the weeks went on and I started getting better at it, I was in love. The speed, the fluidity of the movements, the rush... I had found a new passion to go with backpacking/hiking. Little did I know, the day I was about to get on my first Black Diamond runs, my life would change drastically in a split second.

February 23, 2013

I woke up to an email from a dear friend telling me to "have fun" skiing. The morning felt the same as every other Saturday morning - driving from Oakhurst to Badger Pass while sipping coffee and munching on a protein bar or two. It looked like a cloud had planted itself on the mountain as we were getting ready to hit the slopes, but it didn't deter us. 

I always liked to warm up on the Bruin run to get a feel for the snow before hitting the Blue runs, so naturally we headed over there. The lift seats were a little snowy/wet/icy and the operator didn't seem to care too much (not cleaning them off at all). The first two runs went well, and I wanted to do one more before heading over to the the better runs. I remember the chair felt colder and almost wetter than either of the previous two, but didn't think much of it at the time. Dave and I were getting ready to get off the chair and the next thing I knew, I was sliding...

The Fall

I remember not being able to stop. I remember trying to grab for the side rail (this lift didn't have the front bars). I remember screaming. I remember the impact and falling over. It all happened so fast. I was later told that it happened so fast that Dave heard me scream and by the time he turned his head my direction, I was gone. 

I remember laying in the snow... or maybe I should call it concrete snow... or maybe even ice. If it was powder, I might have been able to ski away from the fall. Instead I lay there, on my side, scared to death and in tears. I knew something was instantly wrong. My lower back was throbbing and my legs felt heavy, but there was a little movement in them. I could move my arms and I never blacked out. I could hear Dave yelling from 15 feet above me not to move. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't paralyzed. I wanted to know everything was going to be okay...

I remember the upper lift operator by my side within seconds. He witnessed it from not even 20 feet away. I remember ski patrol showing up in waves. I remember Dave finally being able to get off the lift and be "by my side". The next several minutes seemed to last forever. When ski patrol mentioned getting the ambulance rolling, I knew it was probably bad. I just wanted to ski, that's all I wanted to do...

As the shock started to wear off, the pain started to kick in at the First Aid hut. Sharp pains shot through my shins and feet. I seriously thought that I had shattered bones in my legs and feet from the fall. Somehow the nurse and few ski patrollers that stuck around managed to get my Arc'teryx shell, pants and layers off without cutting them (I was worried... I love my Arc'teryx gear and it's not cheap. See? I clearly didn't realize how badly I was injured yet.). It felt like I was in there forever waiting for the ambulance. The pain was starting to get really bad - and I have a pretty high tolerance for it. They made makeshift splints for my legs to try and help ease the pain. It didn't do much good. It was then I learned that morphine does nothing to me. Nothing was helping. All I wanted to do was sit up because laying flat on my back was painful and kept getting worse. I was in tears. I remember Dave holding my hand and trying to keep me calm. I was scared... really, really scared...

When the ambulance finally arrived, little did I know how long and painful of a ride it would be to Fresno Community Regional Medical Center. Two hours of slow, curvy driving on the 41 and morphine doing nothing was getting to be too much. The pain started to shoot up through my thighs on the way to Fresno. I didn't know what all was wrong, but I just wanted the pain to go away. Every bump, every turn, every stop was painful. I just wanted to not feel the ride.

To be continued...