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...


  1. tiffany, happy that you're on the road to recovery step at a time...plenty of support...and the mountain trails are calling...all the best...stu@ozoz51

  2. Tiff, I remember following all of this on titter, but sometimes 140 characters just isn't enough to convey just how it feels. Proud of your for your awesome attitude through it all, and I'm glad you had the support of so many great family and friends through all of it. All my best to your continued recovery, and thanks for writing all of this, painful as it may be; perspective is a powerful thing. Tim @_duta_