Friday, May 15, 2009

Picture post.

Kevin reminded me today that it has been ten years since I broke my neck.
I really cannot believe that amount of time has passed. I think of how much has happened since my junior year in high school, and how amazing it is that I'm even here. But then I also worry about how much time I have left before it all gets bad again. I know I'm going to have to have fusions in the future. I was given the estimate of every 20 years. Has everything I've done since the accident made that worse? I went back to dance so quickly. I've started ice skating. Are these things harder on my neck? Or is it like osteoporosis where weight bearing excersise increases bone strength?

This picture was taken in the inpatient PT hospital. The wheelchair is still there, which means my friends hadn't had it taken away from me yet. I never used it once I switched to the inpatient floor. I refused to. By then I was walking slow, but I was okay. From the first moment I wouldn't accept that this was a big deal. I think that realization came to me years down the road. I still remember telling the ER nurses I didn't have time to be there because I had AP tests to study for. My hair was a bit tough to control. It's hard to put a ponytail up without pulling- my mom would tie it together with gift wrap ribbon, since she couldn't use a hair tie. I couldn't do it at all at this point- my hands were not strong enough to hold anything that small.

Then I think about the people in my life. I think my high school friends knew how much it affected me. And to some extent my college friends, because I was still having nerve problems. And I know my current friends are aware it happened, but I don't think any of them realize the severity. I've had many people tell me since then that they broke their necks. Not to discount their injuries, but only one has ever had a surgery and most were bone chips or minor compressions. The bone hit my spinal cord and I have a small hole. I had a hip bone grafted into my neck. But more than anything, I don't think the people in my life now know how much it haunts me emotionally. I've dealt with it long enough now that I keep it to myself. And I'm not as close now with anyone as I was when I was younger.

I think Kevin actually took this picture of me. We were on a double date at Olive Garden. But I wasn't on the date with him. I do sometimes think that if I hadn't broken my neck Kevin and I wouldn't be married today. That was the time I really got to know him and slowly fell in love with him. We didn't start dating just then (remember- on a date with someone else) but we became friends. And that is one of the most important things Kevin and I have. I'm glad we came to our senses once I started college and started dating :)

This picture is from Red Jacket camp. Remember how I didn't have time to be in the ER? Well I didn't have time to deal with recovery either! I think it was a really tough decision for my parents to let me go to RJ camp- especially since I was still in my brace full time (I also went to girl scout camp as a CIT II, and only had to sleep in my brace then, and to student council camp, and I only had to take it just in case...) I didn't do any dancing, but if I hadn't gone I would have had to sit out football games for missing camp. It was my senior year- there was no way I was missing football games! Check out that watch tan! It took 3 years to go away. (And now I'm pasty as a ghost)

And this picture is from Kathi Harolson's retirement. My hair seems to be finally under control. (Though I bet I didn't do it.)

You'll notice in all these pictures I'm wearing a watch. I had a stuffed animal in the hospital with me that wore the watch around it's neck so I could always see the time. There are only a few pictures of me in high school when I didn't have one on. Usually why dancing, or if I purposefully took it off for a fancy occasion. I was addicted to knowing the time. Now, I never wear a watch. It hurts my wrists too much with the rubbing. Nerve damage that didn't become apparent until later. (At this point, it was more my fingers that were the problem).

This picture I'm including because it's the only one I could find in the other brace. I HATED this brace. It was foam- and it got hot and itchy and was so uncomfortable. I wore it for awhile in the hospital before I got my fancy one, and then I had to wear it while taking showers. I'm so grateful for all my Mom did for me. I'm sure it was very scary for her to have me lay down on the bed, completely still and take off one brace to put the other on. She washed my hair for me, but by the time I got home I could do most everything else. I just needed someone nearby in case something happened. It was never the big things I struggled with. I have memorizes of balancing in releve on one foot in group PT while others struggled to stay balanced on two feet with their eyes closed. (I was with mostly elder patients.) My gross motor skills came back quickly once they did (though the memory of having to relearn how to walk, and the indignity of having to step both feet on stairs, so slowly, are still with me). It was the fine motor skills that were hard. I became very adept with my feet. My hands were not strong enough to press the buttons on the TV to change the channels, so my feet did it instead.

And finally, one of my favorite pictures of all. This was my senior Red Jacket picture (I think I also have one in my uniform, but I love this one.) My sister, Courtney, gave me this shirt when I was in the hospital to cheer me up. I still have it. It certainly doesn't fit (though I can squeeze into it), but I can't part with it. Courtney was such a source of support for me, even though at the time we were never very close. One day when I was still in the regular hospital, I remember she came in and asked to shave my legs. My mother has a picture on her bedside table of me sitting in a chair and Courtney on the hospital bed with the leg massager things (that help with circulation) on. Until you notice what a mess my hair is, I doubt you'd know I was the patient. Lastly though, this picture is my favorite because you can see my scar in it (at least in the large one). My real senior portraits they airbrushed it out (badly too) even though we asked them not to. It's not a blemish, and I didn't want to hide it. At that point, It became part of who I am. You can't see it now unless you know what you are looking for (a point of pride of my neurosurgeon) I wish I could say the same thing about the one on my hip- which was never as unnoticeable as the one on my neck. Oh- and my hair looks awesome. But man was it big!


Little Loves' Mama said...

Much love -- although the accident haunts you, you wouldn't be the person you are today if it hadn't happened. And then I likely wouldn't even know you, and that makes me sad. ((( hug )))

Linda Lee said...

Reading about how much you've overcome makes me realize just how strong and determined you are--I'm really interested to read about this part of your life. And so glad that I know you today :)