This post is long overdue, but I’m finally putting aside some time to write this. On July 9th I was finally released from the hospital after 32 days. 32 days that I can never get back, but 32 days I’ll never regret.
I don’t remember my accident at all. However, for clarification, my use of the term “accident” implies the impact of Robert Slager’s (of Slager and Son Masonry) truck against my car and the time from impact until I was conscious moments later after a grateful bystander came to my side to keep me calm and whom also called 911. I remember 10 minutes beforehand where I had been at a stop sign answering a call from my sister Morgan. I told her I was on my way home and that I’d talk to her in 10 minutes or so since I wasn’t too far away. Next thing I know I’m waking up and hearing a man’s voice praying to the Lord for him to look over me. Then a huge wave of pain spread throughout my body. I couldn’t open my eyes, but my “guardian angel” noticed I was conscious and asked for my name, then phone numbers for my parents. He told my I had been in a bad accident and that the paramedics were on their way.
Everything else was a blur that night. From the time I was removed from my car to getting to the ER, it felt like 15 minutes had gone by. In actuality it took 1 hour to extract me from my car, and another 15 minutes to drive to the hospital. I had been in so much pain that I was in and out of consciousness. After a short time in the ER, I was finally able to open my eyes and at that point just kept asking for my parents. I then remember the nurses telling me they were going to cut my clothes off, and I said the least expected thing. I told the nurse she couldn’t cut off my tops because they were my favorite t-shirt and undershirt. It’s a bit of a blur trying to remember everything that night. I finally got to see my parents, my sister Morgan, and Steve. My best friend Amy wasn’t there yet, but she came while I was in surgery.
Forewarning: the rest of this post is unbelievably long.
All of my fractures were open fractures, and as such I was immediately taken into surgery after numerous x-rays and CT scans. I had a fractured left wrist, a fractured left foot, fractured right tibula plateau, and a dislocated right hip. Along with the fractures I had severe facial lacerations, the most serious being on my right forehead. I had a laceration that went through my galea which exposed my skull. My first surgery went well, and I do recall waking up from it and immediately feeling more pain. During recovery after the first surgery, my hip dislocated again, and immediately I was put back under anesthesia to fix it.
My first week in the hospital I slept majority of the time as I was on a constant morphine drip, along with other antibiotics. I didn’t eat, barely drank and was barely coherent for the plethora of visitors that came to see me. I remember some here and there but others its a blur. By week two I was a little more active, talking to my family, and friends. One night while two fantastic nurses were helping to wash me, my right hip dislocated again. The next day was a bit of a rush because my original ER Surgeon came in to tell my parents that he did not have experience dealing with the rare fracture I had. He had a few options which were to transport me to one of three hospitals in the Chicago area (which instead of 15 minutes from home I would have been 40-80 minutes from home) or to try to find a surgeon that would take on my case.
He ended up bringing in a surgeon within the hospital’s network so I didn’t have to be transferred. This surgery wasn’t too bad, and recovery was okay aside from being completely incoherent again from the anesthesia. Fast forward to the weekend and I took a turn for the worse. From June 19th-22nd I had 2-3 fevers a day which spiked to 103 each time. On Monday afternoon while I was watching tv with my mom, I ended up spiking a fever that was 99F one moment, and then 103F within a minute. I was shaking because I felt so cold, which in turn made my heart rate jump to 180, and my breathing go short and shallow.
The nurses that were handling me called a code on me and then about 6 other nurses and a general physician came in to assess me. During this time I was put on a rebreather versus my naval cavity tube, and wheeled down for a CT scan of my lungs, and abdomen (gallbladder.) After CT, I was transferred into an ICU room instead. I then was met by a general physician, and an infectious disease doctor. The urinary tract infection I previous had (from prolonged catheter usage) escalated into a kidney infection, and I also developed a blood infection. I was put into ICU because my infections were worsening, and well, I was in critical condition (again.)
That Tuesday was probably one of my hardest days ever. I woke up and had a difficult time breathing with my nasal tube. Eventually the nurse put a mask on me, but that wasn’t helping me breath and my O2 stats were under 85. I was then placed on the re-breather again but it just wasn’t helping. I felt like I had run miles and was trying to catch my breath but it would not come back. At that point my respiratory physician told my parents and I that I had two options left. I would be put on a BiPap machine to assist me with breathing. If that failed the only other option was to sedate and intubate me.
I have never felt so scared, vulnerable and close to death as I did that day. I felt as if though my time was coming to an end and that I had only been kept alive from my accident to see my family and friends one last time. The BiPap was hard to adjust to for awhile but eventually I was able to breath with it and felt safe again. At this point I was also given diuretics to remove the excess fluid from my body which had finally made its way to my lungs causing my breathing failure. The next day I felt like a completely different person. I got my appetite back and perked up. Towards the afternoon I was able to do 30 minutes off the BiPap then an hour on, and eventually in the evening I was off of it entirely.
Friday I was finally cleared to go back up to the sixth floor where I was roomed originally. For the next few days I had doctors in and out to check on my progress. I eventually learned that my kidney infection was a result of e coli, and my blood infection was from the Pic line I had. It took a few days for my infections to clear through but later that week I was cleared for my tibial plateau surgery for June 30th.
My surgery went through well but the worst part was that my right leg was put into a CPM 2 hours after surgery. Now aside from the fact my leg was cut open and stuffed with cadaver bone, pins and a metal plate… I had not moved this leg in over four weeks. The pain was unbearable having my leg lifted into the CPM. When it was turned on, it was set at just a 30 degree angle and I was screaming in pain. Physical therapy planned for me to be on the CPM for two damn hours. The most excruciating pain I have had to endure–even worse then the initial pain from my accident and 3rd hip dislocation.
After suffering that torture for an hour my nurse heard how painful it was for me (I’m also quite sure the rest of the hall heard me), and how the morphine wasn’t working she gave me an injection of Tordodal and twenty minutes later I felt amazing and passed out for four hours.
My last two weeks in the hospital were a blur of watching the same tv shows over and over again and grueling physical therapy. The first time I tried to sit up in my second week in the hospital I barely made it for a minute. I was dizzy, lightheaded and had no strength at all. The first time I stood up I was using the aide of a platform walker and managed to last for 20 seconds. Each day I gained more and more strength. My record prior to leaving the hospital was 3 minutes. I fought for that time so hard, because every muscle in my left leg had atrophied, and I am unable to use my right leg. Because of the tibial and hip fracture/dislocation, it is in a non-weight bearing status until mid-September.
Having been home since July 9th, I have gained so much of my strength back. I can hop around using my platform walker, sit in my wheelchair for 13 hours (which I actually just did the other day and without needing any vicodin!), and have a lot more strength in my right leg, although I am still unable to put any weight on it. Despite what I’ve gone through, I’m okay with it and have accepted everything. I’m lucky and grateful for the nurses I had that I’ll never forget, and especially for being able to come home to a house that’s been prepared for me. My dad built a ramp on our main walkway and in our greenroom so that I can get into the house. The floor leading into my temporary room was redone so that I could maneuver it myself.
I look forward to the day when I can start walking again and truly turn my life around.