The space between the accident & home.Read More
Saturday, August 18th was pretty much like every other Saturday. I woke up at 5am, ran 13ish miles before 7am with my Fueled by Doughnuts running crew, organized the troops at Montclair Bread Company, and made sure my kiddos weren't killing each other. This particular Saturday was a little different. My partner, Brad, and I were hosting a birthday party for ourselves because our big days are only two weeks apart. Our families and friends were descending upon us for an evening of good food, good drinks & good company.
I spent most of the day preparing for the party which went off without a hitch. I enjoyed a few craft beers, talked until I couldn't talk anymore and called it a night before 10pm because I had an early morning bike ride scheduled for Sunday with my friend Yana. Yana and I are both scheduled to complete the 70.3 Lake Placid Iron Man on September 9th and we've been putting in a lot of miles on two wheels together.
Sunday, August 19th, we met at 7am, a little later than normal because I wanted post-party sleep. I was groggy, slightly hungover but ready to clip in and get this over with. After the 3 hour ride, I had to run for 30 minutes. The ride was only the beginning of Sunday Funday.
We rode to Chatham, NJ which was a major win for us. We've been trying to get there for the last few weeks but we always manage to miss a turn. On the way back, we did miss a turn and went through a bit more of an urban adventure than we'd planned. That said, we've ridden all these roads before and we just had a little bit further to go before we were back to the starting point and ready to run.
We got to West Orange, 2 miles from home, and I saw a driver open a car door just in front of Yana. She gracefully swerved to miss hitting it. The driver stepped out and stood next to the door making the obstacle slightly larger for me to avoid. I swerved, my wheels slipped on the damp street and, my left hip slammed on the pavement taking the full brunt of the fall. I screamed. Yana ran back for me. Strangers surrounded me telling me not to move. My bike was on top of me. My leg was twisted with pain. The cops arrived. The ambulance arrived. Before I knew what happened, I was en route to University Hospital in Newark, NJ. I remained conscious.
Transport became the dirtiest word in the English language. Transport meant I had to be moved. Moving hurt. I was convinced my hip popped out of the socket. My IT Band was on fire. Brad beat the ambulance to the hospital. There was more transport, a series of x-rays, more transport, a CT scan, Yana was there, Necole was there, more transport. Every Xray, every CT scan meant I had to move myself and all my still unknown injuries onto a different table. The pain was beyond unbearable. Transport meant I was alone. In this final transport, I was left alone with a tech named Manny who told me I had pretty legs and I should keep them covered.
Finally, a diagnosis, my pelvis was shattered. The force sent the ball of my hip straight into the socket which pulverized the bone. I needed surgery.
Monday, August 20th I was woken by nurse Lina at 4am. This should have been my alarm waking me to get ready to catch an Uber to the airport. Brad & I were supposed to be flying to San Francisco this week for my first real vacation that I can remember. Lina was there to prep me for surgery, the surgery they told me would be Monday at the earliest. I was alone, with a complete stranger, getting prepped for my first surgery. I was alone when they wheeled me into the operating room. I have never been so scared in my life but I knew in order to get some relief from the pain that kept building, I needed this. I don't remember counting backwards. I don't remember a breathing tube being inserted. I do remember the nurse with the fabulous earrings.
I woke up in the recover ward. Brad was there waiting. It was 4pm. Then transport, more x-rays, more transport, another CT scan (The machine died while I was inside and I was left to wait for 20 minutes while they called engineering. It was never repaired), more transport, more time with Manny. This time, Manny he didn't stop with compliments, he decided I needed to be touched. I was completely alone and helpless. I was sobbing as he touched me. I had no way of calling for help. I begged for anyone to call Brad who was waiting for me to return. After almost 3 hours disconnected from all pain meds and too much time with Handsy Manny, I was finally transported to a room of my own where Brad & Barb were waiting to put me to bed. The surgery was successful. The surgery they said I might not need. The 8+ hour surgery that produced a 10 inch incision, two metal plates and at least a dozen screws to reconstruct my pelvis.
Before I passed out after the longest and shortest day of my life, the surgeon came to say it was a success. I can not bear any weight on my left side for 6 weeks. I will be lucky to start running again in 6 months. I will be able to swim & cycle before I can run.
Tuesday, August 21st I woke up at 2:42am to the sound of the people in the hospital room next to me having sex. I woke up with 3 canisters of blood attached to me with tubes to drain the surgical spillage. I woke up to a nurse throwing a bin of cold water and a rag at me, telling me to wash my slits and pits.
In addition to the drains, I had a catheter and two IV's connected to countless bags of saline, drugs & antibiotics. Both legs were dressed in compression sleeves and hooked up to a system inflating and deflating around them to prevent blood clots. I had a bandage covering the better part of my abdomen & upper thighs. Washing myself was not an option. I didn't even know what I could touch if I could even reach it.
I had visitors from the running club, Wayne, Barb, Lizzy, Yana, Sarah & Kyle. Jessica brought lunch and let me know the bakery was in good shape without me. Gina brought my kids to visit me for the first time since the accident. They had lots of questions. Everyone brought food. Sarah made sure my hair was clean & brushed. Jodi delivered chocolate covered strawberries & coloring books. I went to sleep in a much better place than I was when I woke.
Wednesday, August 22nd the doctors removed out the catheter and I had 8 hours to pee on my own or they'd put it back in. Little did they know, I'm one for a challenge and this hydration game is one I know very, very well. 2 hours later, I peed on my own, in a bed pan, on the bed. I told the nurse, it wasn't my style. I wanted to sit in a chair to pee. The angel found an adult version of a potty chair and allowed me to go from the bed to the chair so long as my feet didn't really touch the ground. Finally, a small bit of dignity was brought back into my life.
My visitors were plentiful and they all came bearing food. John & Angela brought coffee first thing in the morning. Hillary came with lunch and informed me of all the steps the Fueled by Doughnuts running club has taken to ensure I have the support I need. Meal trains were arranged to prevent me from suffering through hospital meals. Anne, Colleen and Laura brought more food & entertainment. Rebecca came with fried rice and stories from her recovery after she broke her pelvis and returned to be a stronger runner than ever before. Lizzy braided my hair while Sarah & Yana kept me company before bed. Lina who prepped me for surgery, was my nurse for the next two nights and I couldn't be happier.
Thursday, August 23rd started with a cup of coffee from Barbara, not only a fellow triathlete but also a PT and my number one advocate through this whole process. Shortly after her visit, the first of my drains were removed. The last two were removed just before I went to sleep for the night. I was able to sit in a chair for an hour today. My physical therapist moved my potty chair onto the actual potty. I began using the walker to get to the bathroom myself regaining more and more of my dignity and independence. Granted, I needed a nurse, friend or Brad to help me swing my bad leg off and onto the bed for me and I still required a lot of help getting unhooked from all the tubes in order to leave the bed. I took every opportunity to get every friend who visited me to take me to the bathroom before they left. If I had to wait for a nurse, I might wait for an hour. I was also finally able to stop ignoring texts, phone calls & emails from concerned friends who are in the medical know, asking if I'd pooped yet - if ya know what I mean. Cara brought the kids to visit for a second time, along with a stash of magazines to keep me entertained.
Friday, August 24th was my 38th birthday. It was also the day I got my morphine drip removed and one of my two IV's out. It was the IV they placed in the ER which was in the bend of my elbow. I've heard they place them there because it's an easy vein to find and they don't actually think you're going to be staying for long. It makes life difficult because it means you can't bend your arm which in my case was my right arm making eating very difficult, especially when you can't fully sit upright.
Brad brought me coffee. Ora followed closely behind with my favorite strawberry birthday cake baked with love from Carolyn at Montclair Bread Co & soup! Eslin stopped by for lunch with a dress I could actually put on to replace the awful scratchy hospital gowns I'd been living in for almost a week. The rest of the afternoon was filled with visitors...Joel, Brian, Huan & Kate. Barbara helped me take my longest walk yet and she stayed with me until I fell asleep.
Saturday, August 25th I discovered a member of our running family is also an bone surgeon. She was doing rounds nearby and brought me breakfast. I began feeling confident (and scummy) enough to go to the bathroom unassisted. I stood (on one foot) at the bathroom sink and brushed my teeth for the first time since Sunday morning.
Brad was on coffee duty again. Anne came by but the hospital bouncer wouldn't let baby Levon come see me. Brad took me for a walk to the end of the nurses station and back. Marika brought salad and stayed to catch up. Cruz & Wendy brought a new bed shirt & robe for me to change into along with latin food. Together, the 3 of us walked halfway down the hospital hallway and back to my bed. Chandra brought dinner and talked to me about her experience recovering from plates & pins.
I missed the Saturday morning group run. I didn't miss the minute by minute updates from Chris & Necole who were inside my apartment all day, deep cleaning (not sure this has ever been done) & handicapping (absolutely positive this has never been done). They tested stairs & railings, moved doors, replaced smoke alarms, raised the height of my bed and scrubbed away all the germs that might delay my recovery.
Week 1 has been unexpected and challenging to say the least. It has allowed me to see the mass of love I'm surrounded by in my community. I can't imagine what life would be like without such incredible souls. I thought I was lucky to have them run beside me but little did I know, that was only a small part of what this community is capable of supporting. I don't feel alone. I have a very long road ahead and a very long list of people to help me travel it.
PS - If I missed your name on my list of visitors or mixed up the days - I am highly medicated and this whole week is a little fuzzy so please forgive me!