Sunday, August 26th Is it called 'waking up' if you don't really sleep? My nights at the hospital consisted of a 10pm vital check & pills, 12pm vital check, 2am vital check, 4am vital check & pills, 5am blood draw (yes daily), 6am vital check, pills, shot of blood thinner.... A good night's sleep at the hospital is relative.
This morning I discovered the tremendous back pain that's been preventing me from sleeping more than an hour at a time is actually the place in my pelvis where all the hardware is installed. At least I'm getting acquainted with my anatomy.
The day started (the part where I give up on ever going back to sleep) with coffee from Brad followed by a visit from Laura. Brad left to go for a run. I'm trying my best to be supportive of others who can still run but every day it's a little harder to fein interest.
My ortho doc came in and asked if I wanted to go home. He told me he could make it happen if I could get him a dozen doughnuts. I called Gina, who appeared with the box that would break me from this joint 20 minutes later. It wasn't just the doughnuts, it was a clearance from PT too. Laura watched me 'walk' down the hallway clip-clopping away with the walker. When I got back to my bed, the PT said she couldn't really release me until I conquered stairs - I asked where I had to go to get to the stairs and if we could please go there right now. She told me to stay in bed. I think my persistence paid off though. Around 11am, ortho doc was back with instructions for my release!!!
I rallied the troops to start coordinating the jail break. Brad brought me real-ish clothes. I couldn't really go home in my bike cleats. In fact, we quickly discovered I couldn't fit an actual shoe on my swollen left foot. Barbara, Necole & Chris were on standby at my apartment. They would have to help transport me up 3 flights of stairs to my front door.
At 4pm, one of my favorite nurses, Rasheeda, who also operates an ice cream truck, wheeled me out the front door, where I breathed fresh downtown Newark air, for the first time in over a week. I lowered myself into Brad's car and we rushed to get to the pharmacy before it closed at 5pm. Although I phoned ahead to find out what one needed in order to pick up heavy narcotics, there was still a glitch. Our ID's weren't sufficient. The paper scripts with an actual signature weren't sufficient. They had to speak to the doctor on the phone to validate the order...on a Sunday at 4:58pm. Brad became my knight in shining armor when he used my discharge paperwork to plead our case to the pharmacist and emerged from CVS with a multitude of pill bottles.
When we arrived at our apartment, I was greeted with balloons & banners! I couldn't have been happier. I was also greeted with a something that resembled a chair or maybe it was what happens when you cross a stretcher with a chair. In any case, I was belted onto this device prior to being hiosted up all 3 flights of stairs by Chris & Brad. It pays to have EMT friends! Finally, I was inside my home...the home I'd left at 6am a week ago, thinking it was the perfect morning for a bike ride.
Before I went to bed, I was treated to dinner from Cori. Sarah came bearing pitchers and a water basin which were used to wash my hair for the first time in more than a week. A shower isn't in my cards for at least another week, probably longer, due to the placement of the the surgical incision. It doesn't quite go all the way around my waist but I was cut from my bellybutton to my back. If I were a cartoon character, I could hinge open. Clean hair, clean apartment, all the comforts of home were finally in reach.
Monday, August 27th If the nurses don't wake me every two hours, the pain will. To spite the drug regime, sleep doesn't seem to be in my cards.
Barb stopped by with breakfast and coffee. She also brought new toys for me to try out....a fancier walker & crutches. Walking to the bathroom still equates to a 10 mile run.
Wendy brought a slew of options to bath without bathing. I didn't know what a huge part of my new life this would be. Not being permitted to shower takes away all my dignity. Before this injury, I was a twice a day girl. My 10 year old daughter, Josie, is staying with me. She started cleaning my legs and was fearful I was turning into Donald Trump because the more she scrubbed, the more the towels were covered with orange residue from the iodine used in surgery.
Kim stopped by with lunch & a new night shirt. Along with the no-shower life alteration, the no-pants world is also new to me.
I was actually able to spend a couple hours working on 2018 5K Doughnut Run preparations with Gina. It was the most human I've felt in a while. I have an intrinsic need to be productive.
The day finished with a wonderful home-cooked meal from Tracey. Josie said it was the best dinner she's had in a very long time. Thank God for Jersey corn!
Tuesday, August 28th Being home is bitter sweet. I missed being in my space and having my things. On the other hand, it makes me feel like I should be doing more because I no longer qualify for hospital status. Even the people close to me leave me linger longer, forget I can't get anything outside of arm's length and generally just go on with their lives. Meanwhile, my world is the smallest it's ever been. I'm so much closer to normalcy but I have so much further to go and it's palpable.
I hosted the weekly Montclair Bread Co. leadership meeting in my apartment...more productivity. Carolyn's mom made me my favorite garlic pickles, the same pickles that sustained me during my 2nd pregnancy.
Chloe dropped off dinner for us. Lizzy came to visit in the evening. My comfort level using forearm crutches (like the young Forrest Gump), greatly increased. I walked a couple laps in my apartment and did 10 single leg squats. I felt hopeful about my progress.
Wednesday, August 29th was a set back. The pain at night is no joke. I can't sleep for more than 2 hours at at time. I dread going to bed but I'm so exhausted, I have no choice. When I lay awake trying not to think about how broken my body is, I think about the last night I was in control. Brad & I hosted our birthday party just over a week ago. It was the highest high having all our loved ones in one place, celebrating. Less than 24 hours later, it was the lowest low and I realized it was going to be a very long time before I regained control of my life.
It was a hard day. Nothing could stop the pain. It wasn't just my wounds but all the drugs started to catch up to my system. My stomach was in knots. I felt feverish. I just wanted to be alone to lick my wounds in a quiet place.
There are things I never have to worry about as an amateur athlete. I can stand on one foot. I can open the tightest spaghetti jars. I can wake up every morning and take a dump before I leave the house. Well, no longer my friends. Inactivity thrust me into a world of constipation & unopenable jar lids. Did you know you use your abs to get a better grip and force those suckers open? You do and I can't because I have a 12 inch incision across my stomach that makes it impossible to go deep. Same goes for that poop problem. It really fucking sucks and yet again, I feel helpless.
Khushbu brought us a beautiful taco dinner with fresh peach salsa. My grandpa had a peach tree in our yard when I was growing up. Peaches are my favorite fruit. They make me think of him. However pissed off Brad is that I went for a life-altering bike ride through an urban area, Pop would double his sentiments. I wish he was here to yell at me. The peaches were a close second.
Just as I was getting ready for bed, Barbara came over and taught me how to go up and down the stairs. I took four steps down and four back up. It was the first time I've been outside my apartment. I could see the front door of my building. It was another 10 steps away. It was like the scene in Beetlejuice when the newly dead Geena Davis & Alec Baldwin try to leave their house but the door opens to a dessert pit filled with man-eating sand worms....
Thursday, August 30th Three weeks ago was a "peak week" in my training plan. I swam 2000+ yards on Monday, ran 3x 1.5 miles at sub-7:45 pace on Tuesday, biked 20 miles on Wednesday, killed 4x1200 on the track Thursday (7:23, 7:22, 7:19, 7:15 pace per rep), swam 3x 600 Friday, ran for 2 hours Saturday morning and completed all 3 hours of my Sunday morning ride before my accident. If you asked, I would tell you, I was in the best shape of my life.
I am grateful for my coach, Alden, and his training plan. Prior to this season, I was only focused on running...6 days a week of running...50+ miles of just running. It didn't allow for any cross training. If this accident occurred then (only one could argue I didn't have time to cycle back then), I would have been devastated and depressed - 1000x more than I am right now. I am fortunate to have spent the last three months in the pool, on the bike and only running 3 days each week. Running wasn't my entire life anymore, just a big part of it. My body is all-over strong, not just leg strong. When Barbara came to teach me how to go down the stairs, all I could think about was how lucky I am to be physically fit. The amount of upper body strength I've gained has allowed me to become more and more independent every day. I can lift my body down one step and then another, without putting an ounce of weight on my reconstructed left side.
After lunch, I decided to try the stairs again. Brad spotted me down the first four steps to the mezzanine in my building. I could see the sun shining through the front door. I decided to try a few more stairs. Before I knew it, I was walking across the street and through the front door of my bakery. It was emotional to say the least. Just a few days ago, this seemed like an impossible feat. Note to readers: Going up is much harder than going down. Save some energy for the back half.
Tracey brought us another incredible home cooked meal. Jodi stopped by with chocolate caramel ice cream bars, more coloring books and a hand-crafted Wonder Woman robe! It was a delicious way to end a positive day.
Friday, August 31st I set my alarm for the first time since the morning of my last ride. I wanted to watch the opening registration for the 2018 5K Doughnut Run. Gina was coming over at 5:30am to watch with me. I slept from 9pm-2am last night, the longest stretch to date. If I don't wake with pain, I wake with cramps. I'm only able to sleep laying flat, sitting up or somewhere in between. Before the accident, I was a solid side-sleeper, pillow-cuddler.
Gina & I watched the registrations come through. We didn't sell out as fast as last year's race but it was still fun to see all the hype. Wayne came to make egg sandwiches with the eggs his chickens laid. Cara, Aileen & Colleen stopped by after their morning run. Jess was in and out most of the day, updating me on bakery operations and bringing me treats - like clean bedsheets & washcloths so I could trade in the kitchen towels I asked for earlier this week. Not being able to shower reduces me to this. Eric Z, who is 4 weeks post-op from a nasty hamstring surgery, stopped by with a bag of tricks he used to help recovery. Laura brought dinner. Anne brought a bag of clothes that I might be able to fit over my bandages.
Saturday, September 1st It's been 3 days since I traded my heavy duty pain meds for tylenol. I got tired of feeling fuzzy and although the pain is more intense, my brain is fully functional and I can poop. Imagine the worst charlie horse you ever had then multiply it by two. That's the pain I feel in my bones. If that were the only pain, it maybe tolerable but it's not. There's also the 12" incision across my stomach. When I cough, it feels like my guts are going to explode out of me and land in my lap. When the pain is managed, the charlie horse is just a dull ache and the incision throbs slightly. I also haven't fully regained feeling in my leg from the epidural. My thigh is in a constant state of pins and needles which, I'm told, can take up to 5 weeks to dissipate.
Earlier this week, I wrote to the organizers of Iron Man Lake Placid, my former goal race, to request a deferral. They said no. They gave me a link to the 'no refund, no deferral' policy if I wanted to refresh my memory. They lost a customer.
What I like most about running are the goals. I can set a goal that will only take me 12 weeks of training. If I put in the time, I meet the goal. Or, I don't meet the goal and I set another one for the next 12 week cycle. I'm always working toward something. I have goals for my bakery too but the fires that pop up in the way of them are so derailing that I may not ever meet them. I'm not completely in control in the way I am when I run (or bike or swim).
Now that next fall's IMLP is NOT my recovery goal, I found a new one. It's a sprint triathlon hosted by Kinetic Multisport (NOT Ironman), in my hometown in June 2019. When I was growing up, I didn't give two f**ks about athletics so naturally, I had no idea that such a race even existed. I definitely got annoyed when hoards of cyclists showed up at the restaurant where I bussed tables, asking for water.
My new goal is a little more than 12 weeks away. It's 7 months and 12 weeks away. I'm hoping in the next year, I'll be able to rotate my hip bones to ride a bike, jostle them back and forth to kick in the pool and, eventually, allow them to take a pounding as my feet hit the pavement in a constant forward motion.