Friday, April 30, 2010

Project 365, week 17

Week in pictures April 24-30

Azaleas

Zonked

Keeping ourselves entertained

My other toys don't do this

This is what I get for leaving them with Daddy over the weekend

Andy makes a cake

My new favorite

Pot roast for dinner

Budding. Slowly, but surely

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Late night conversation in a hotel room

This past weekend I went to Atlanta with Julie for her niece's christening.

Saturday night we stayed in a hotel with Julie, Mina and Julie's aunt and her two children, E who is your typical 13 year old girl and M, her younger brother.

M had started the night in the "boy's room" next door with his dad and Julie's dad, but the snoring got to be to much and M couldn't sleep. So he came over with us. Our room was packed.

We stayed up way too late indulging in girl talk and at one point we started talking about hot guys. "Casino Royale" came on with Daniel Craig and I said he was a beautiful, beautiful man. Because he is. I also compared him to the statue of David and said he was "like a piece of art that walks around." Keep in mind that it was nearly midnight and we had all had a very long day, so the conversation got silly fast.

Julie didn't agree with me and so she started to take a survey of who everyone thought was "like a piece of art that walks around." M was not at all excited to be a part of this conversation and he shortly put on some headphones to try to drown us out, but not before this happened:

Julie: Ok E, what is your opinion? Who do you think is like art walking around?


E: Huh? (she hadn't been paying much attention)


Julie: Joanna says that this guy ::points to Daniel Craig:: is like a piece of art that walks around. Is there an actor or musician that you think is that good looking?


E: ::pensive::


M: I think this is worse than the snoring room.


E: What? Why?


M: I don't want any part of this gossip.


Julie: We aren't gossiping. We're just asking E what boy she thinks is like art walking around. So E, what's your vote?

M: It's me.
 
Ba-dum-bum.

The conversation just degenerated from there. E did finally decide that Justin Bieber is her equivalent to Daniel Craig. That plus the comment that Daniel Craig was "just too old for her" combined to make her vote null and void.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Project 365, week 16

Week in pictures April 17-23

Pleasure reading before bed

We  miss the Christmas tree and want it back!

Mud Pie

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If we put our heads together we can solve any problem, or take a nap

Tulips are better than one

Dedication

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Inked

So on Monday I went in prepared to get my tattoo on my wrist.

"I want a tattoo," I said to the guy behind the counter. He asked me what I wanted and I explained it. I wanted it in script, but he explained that it probably wouldn't fit and he pointed out another kind of lettering that was smaller. It was more blocky, but he said it could be stylized to make it more feminine. That was fine because I have the world's smallest wrists and if he thought script wouldn't fit on a regular wrist it definitely wouldn't fit on mine. So I set up an appointment for Tuesday afternoon because he didn't have time to do it Monday.

On Tuesday Andy and I got there and he had been working on drawing it out. It was too big for my wrist. So he shrunk it a little. It was still too big, but it could work. I sat there and stared at that stupid piece of tracing paper for five minutes trying to figure out a way to either make those letters smaller or make my wrist bigger. Also, I really just hated the letters. They didn't look like me once I saw them all spelled out and I wasn't going to put them on my body for the rest of eternity.

So we started talking about alternate locations. After much indecisiveness on my part (mostly an internal battle) I just told myself, "Joanna, suck it up and make a decision." And that's what I did.

So I have a tattoo on my lower abdomen/right hip.


I love it.

The location has certainly had to grow on me since I went in hell bent on my wrist. Obviously I got it in black because the guy flat out refused to do it in any other color. But never fear! Now that it's there and I know I like it I have plans to add some colorful embellishments in the future.

About the pain. It really wasn't so bad. And here is the funny thing: I never even anticipated the pain. I think because I know I've felt so much worse and the whole time I was making this decision it never even entered my mind that it might be kind of uncomfortable to get a tattoo. Julie and I even had a conversation before my appointment about what we'd heard about tattoo pain, but the idea of me being in pain because of it never even became a factor.

Not until I was laying there on the table and he had the tool in his hand and started to talk to me about relaxing and not being tense because that would make it worse and that's about the time my brain went, "Oh shit! This is going to hurt, isn't it?!" Um, yeah. I guess at that point I still could have backed out, but we had put down a non refundable deposit to hold my appointment spot and there was no way I was letting that money go. One of us was leaving there with a tattoo and since I was already on the table it only made sense for me to do it.

In all seriousness I never even considered backing out. My moment of panic was just that, a moment. Because in the next second I said to myself, "Suck it up you big baby. This can't possibly be as bad as anything that happened last year and it certainly won't last as long."

I love my tattoo. I'm glad I did it. And I would do it again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Project 365, week 15

Week in pictures April 10-16

I indulged myself

And again

Hotdogs. This only happens about once a year

I love an organized cabinet

Time to say goodbye

This is how you know we're having good weather

Hello gorgeous!



Don't forget to vote! Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Getting inked

So I'm getting a tattoo.

Oh Lord, did I just write that? My mother and mother-in-law are dialing my number right now.

But I'm serious. Before my accident I had toyed around with the idea of getting one. I just never could pin down exactly what I wanted. Should I get something to commemorate my daddy? My papaw? Or just something that represented me? I just didn't know. There were actually several that I would have liked, but it's a permanent mark on my body and nothing ever felt exactly right. I could never settle on a tattoo that I knew I could live with forever.

Then I woke up in the hospital and I knew that this was going to be the defining thing for me. I knew that if I made it out in one piece I would get a tattoo to celebrate.

I had a whole year to think about what I wanted. Again, I rolled several ideas around in my brain - big and little. Then last night I settled on what I wanted.

"Grateful"

Just a simple word that has come to define how I live my life. I want it in script.

But I need your help. I said I wanted it on the inside of my wrist, so I can see it easily. It isn't going to be there for other people, but as a reminder to me of what I've been through and that when I'm having a bad day life is so much more than those bad moments and it's worth living well.

My mind was made up and then I told Andy and he made a face. You know the kind of face I'm talking about. It says "I don't think that's such a good idea, but whatever you want."

And of course I've been second guessing my decision about where to get my tattoo and Andy isn't helping much.

So, blog readers where do you think I should get my tattoo? I've put a poll at the top of my sidebar. Please click on one of the choices to let me know what you think, or if you can think of a better option feel free to tell me so. If you have a really strong opinion that can't be settled with a mouse click leave that in the comments too.

One more thing I'd be obliged if you helped me decide on is the color. Of course I could go with basic black, but it seems like such a harsh color. I want something a little softer. I was thinking maybe gray, purple or blue. Then when I was talking to Julie earlier today she suggested that I get it in burgundy, the same color as my Jeep. Pretty awesome suggestion, no? But I'm open to more. If you have an opinion on the color tell me that too.

I'm an ink virgin so I need help here people!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

One year later

The next few days here at PS are going to be kind of somber. 

The one year anniversary of my car crash is on Wednesday and I have some things I need to say. Back when the accident happened I wrote a few posts about what went on, but I was medicated and hurt and tired and I never really said what I wanted to. That day and the few days following have been on my mind lately and I'm going to write down what happened. Because I need to do it. It will help me move on.

I'm doing this for me. There are things I haven't talked about because I just couldn't say them out loud. So I'm doing it now. 

You are welcome to follow along. I wouldn't be posting it here if you weren't. It's going to be hard for me to write and also hard to read. 

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


*********************************************************************************************

Once I got home after being in the hospital I still didn't get any rest.

The weekend was restful, but there were a lot of people around. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate everyone that came to help. My parents and grandmother. Andy's parents and sister. It was so nice, especially for Andy, to have so many hands.

But no matter how much I knew they were there to help me I was still the hostess. People were in my home and I just couldn't sleep while they were running around doing all my housework for me. Not to mention how long it took me to eat anything and the fact that I had to take a different medication every three hours, even in the middle of the night. And I couldn't get the medicine myself because it was all I could do to get from the sofa to the bedside toilet that someone had lent me.

I felt completely useless, and I was. I never could have imagined how terrible it is for someone to be in that sort of situation until I was in it myself. Now I know and I feel that frustration and pain all over again when I hear of another person having to go through it. Being healthy one day and helpless the next is the most hopeless thing I've ever been through.

And of course there were all the doctor's appointments. Just in the first week there were four, and I had to be in the car for an hour each time. Talk about stressful.

I never got enough nutrition because I was drinking all my food. Add that to a lot of pain medication and not a lot of solid sleep and that made for a very weak patient. That first week of appointments I swooned twice. Partly because of my weakness and partly because of my nerves. Even now, just the thought of going to any doctor's office makes me want to throw up.

But here I am a year later. I survived.

I've been giving a lot of thought to what I would say on this milestone day. I still don't really know where to begin.

Today has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I think because it's been a year and I'm not done yet, so it's kind of bittersweet. The sweet is because the first year is over and I think that is certainly something to celebrate, but more than anything I desperately want to put it all behind me and move one with my life. I don't want to forget. I can never forget, but I can get back to life and living it. The life that was interrupted. I feel like it's been on pause this whole time and my finger is itching to press "Play."

Lately a lot of people have asked me how I'm doing. I thought that might be something I should address here, today.

How I'm doing...

Physically or emotionally?

Physically I'm, of course, much better.

I still feel twinges of pain in my ankle and my right sinus cavity (it was torn away from my cheek bone with my nose), thought I don't seem to have any real problems with either of those. At least not right now, and though my nose is still stiff (and some days even sore) I think it's going to be alright.

My chin is still numb from the nerve damage. The numbness isn't as sprawling as it was which gives me hope that it might go away all together. My chin was actually degloved. I've said that to people and no one seems to really understand what that is, so I looked up the definition: an injury...in which the soft tissue down to the bone, including neurovascular bundles and sometimes tendons, is peeled off.  Yeah, it's pretty gross. So I'm also thinking the numbness is still hanging around because all that tissue is still healing. But like the doctor's say, time will tell.

My teeth. Oh my teeth. They just don't feel like part of my body. It is much, much better of course, but I still can't use them like I used to. I've only recently started to bite into soft or chewy things. Mostly I can hold things with my teeth and then tear the food with my hand. I still can't exert the pressure it would take to bite into say, a crusty piece of pizza. I've spent the whole last year either eating through a straw, with a baby spoon or with a knife and fork. And like I said, they will still most likely die at some point.

I was right from the beginning about losing a tooth. I'm getting ready to have it replaced and, based on my dentist's opinion, might need to go ahead and replace one more. I've hear the implant procedure is pretty painful. I'm not looking forward to it.

But at this point all the medical stuff is something I've grown used to having in my life. Though stressful, it's just become a reality for me. Not that it wasn't a reality immediately, but I had a lot to process right after the crash.

In the last six months or so I've been dealing more with the emotional side of what happened and what I've been through. When I was hurt and healing I was able to suppress most of my emotional feelings about everything. It was something I had to do. I needed to be in a good frame of mind, or the best one I could muster while I was in the thick of it. If I let myself get bogged down too much with how I felt I wouldn't heal as quickly and I knew it. So I pushed everything to the back of my mind.

Then one day the whole thing hit me right in the face.

It was the day Julie went into the hospital to have Mina. I drove down and when I got in her room her friend Frances was there for a visit. Frances hadn't seen me in a while and of course knew all about the accident so she asked me how my recovery was going. I started to tell her all the gory details and then a nurse came in to check on Julie. I was right in the middle of talking about my giant scar and how my chin was degloved and I got sort of a, "What the heck is she talking about?" look from the nurse. Without skipping a beat Julie looked at me and then the nurse and said, "That's my best friend Joanna. She almost died in a car crash last April."

Immediately I said, "Oh, I didn't almost die," and sort of laughed it off. And Julie looked at me and with a straight face said, "Yes. You did."

And that was it folks. I had spent all that time telling myself it wasn't that bad. I mean I was beat up and I had been through a lot of recovery with a lot still left to go, but I never really let myself believe how bad it really was. I just couldn't and then I just wouldn't

Not to mention that no one had really said it to me like that. I had heard how lucky I was and even Dr. F said to me that after all the trauma I went through he was surprised I lived through it. But no one had actually said the "D" word. Saying that I shouldn't have lived through it and saying that I almost didn't were two different thing to me. I know it's really just semantics, but it was still a wake up call for me.

"She almost died."

Three little words to make me face what I nearly lost. It's what I had been needing. Someone needed to make me understand and make me pull out all the emotional sludge I was ignoring.

So in October, after I got my braces off and had a little break from doctor's visits, I took a big sigh of relief and then started facing all the emotional demons I had been carrying around for six months.

I'm still dealing with them. Emotional pain isn't as easily curable as physical pain, and I'm not so sure it is curable. It's something you can learn to live with and manage. So that's what I'm doing; learning how to manage it. I certainly have bad days when I just feel so overwhelmed by all that has happened.

But at the same time I feel like some good things have come from all of it.

First, my new appreciation for life. For how fragile and precious it is. Gratitude has taken on a whole new meaning for me in the last 365 days. I don't think I knew before how to fully appreciate anything and now I try my best to appreciate every day, every minute, every breath.

I've learned that life is meant for enjoying. Enjoying what the world around you has to offer and what your body can do in it. I try more new things now and I'm not as cautious. You would think this whole ordeal would make me more cautious, and if it had been my fault then maybe I would be. But I'm not trying to be reckless, I'm just trying to live with less fear based boundaries. I've come to realize how amazing the human body is and how capable. Now that I've known a time when my body couldn't do even normal things I try to use it as best I can. God gave it to me to use and enjoy and that's what I plan on doing.

Andy and I have a real relationship now. We did before, but I feel like now we really understand how much we mean to one another. He has been through this last year right there with me and I don't think I would have come this far and been as strong as I am if it weren't for his love, support and encouragement. I feel like we can face anything now, as long as we're doing it together. He's out fishing right now. He knew I was kind of having a rough day and said he would stay with me, but he didn't get to go fishing once last year because of me, and he loves to fish. I know he doesn't grudge me one minute, but he deserves a little fishing break. He can take care of me after dark, so I sent him on his way.

I can't even being to thank my family and friends for the love and support the sent to me. All the visits and cards. All the chores. (Watching my mother and grandmother clean out the bunny cage was some serious entertainment for me while I was couch bound.) Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

And thank you to the people who have been reading along here. If just recently or for the whole year. Your support has meant the world.

So that's how I am right now. Still a little broken, but much improved.

This afternoon I drove to the post office and back home. Nothing happened. It was a blissfully ordinary trip.

At two o'clock, exactly one year later, I finally took the Jeep keys off my key ring.

And then I cried.

But it was good for me and it needed to be done. I can't hang on to my Jeep forever because it's gone, but the keys weren't just there because I couldn't give up my ruined care. I was holding on to them because they represented a very different time in my life. A more innocent time. I was certainly not innocent in the traditional sense, but I was innocent of all the pain and heartache the last year has brought. I can't get it back though and I think that's what I was trying to do. Maybe if I held on to my keys long enough it would all go away and I could just be the old Joanna.

It's time to move on and accept the changes I see in myself. I don't dislike this new version of myself. Actually I think I'm a lot better, but it was such an abrupt change. It's hard to let go, but that, as they say, is life. If we always stayed the same, never changing or evolving, life would be very boring indeed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 16 & 17, 2009

The next few days here at PS are going to be kind of somber. 

The one year anniversary of my car crash is on Wednesday and I have some things I need to say. Back when the accident happened I wrote a few posts about what went on, but I was medicated and hurt and tired and I never really said what I wanted to. That day and the few days following have been on my mind lately and I'm going to write down what happened. Because I need to do it. It will help me move on.

I'm doing this for me. There are things I haven't talked about because I just couldn't say them out loud. So I'm doing it now. 

You are welcome to follow along. I wouldn't be posting it here if you weren't. It's going to be hard for me to write and also hard to read.

Part 1
Part 2

*********************************************************************************************

Thursday:

That morning I was finally able to get a little sleep, but not before I met my new nurse.

She was petite and dark, around my mother's age and she was the mother of four girls. One of them was the same age as I was and as far as she was concerned I was her daughter laying there in the hospital bed.

At first she seemed so sweet. I had really liked the nurse before her and upon first meeting this new nurse I thought I was going to like her too.

It wasn't that I didn't like her, but she smothered me. Or rather she mothered me. She was clearly a worrier and since she related to my mother and myself so much she paid extra close attention. She fretted. That is the best word I can find to describe her.

Don't get me wrong, she was so much better than having say, Nurse Hatchet, but I had been poked and examined and tucked and checked and prodded and worried over for two days and all I really wanted was to be left alone.

Not to mention that my own mom was there fretting right along with Mother Nurse. I don't grudge my mom that, because I am her daughter. But there were several times that day when I wanted to tell Mother Nurse to just get out. Like now!

That morning I had a final x-ray on my ankle. The bone hadn't moved (praise God!) so as soon as Dr.A was able he would come and cast me. By the time I had my cast it had been nearly 48 full hours that I had gone with an uncasted, broken ankle, so it was a true miracle that the bone stayed put.

Then Dr. F came back, bright eyed and bushy tailed. My most recent blood work had come back normal, so as soon as physical therapy came up to give me crutches and show me how to use them I could be transferred to a regular room. But I wasn't allowed to get out of bed until I had seen physical therapy and they had taught me how to properly hold my leg and use crutches.

Mother Nurse continued to fret, but her aid was her complete opposite. I wouldn't say she was Nurse Hatchet, but she was pretty darn close. Her bedside manner was non-existent and she clearly hated her job. I also think she resented me (or just patients in general) for just being sick. Because, you know, people in the hospital have control over why they are in the hospital.

By nature I am not a patient person and after the last two days what little I did have had worn very thin. Nurse (Almost) Hatchet very nearly found herself in a confrontation with me.

It took an eternity for physical therapy to come up to see me. Which would have been fine if it hadn't been for the bathroom issue.

You see, for my surgery and during my sedation they had inserted a catheter. Wednesday after I woke up they had planned to take it out, but since Dr. A didn't want to cast my ankle yet they left the catheter in so I didn't have to get out of bed and further injure my ankle.

It sounds awful doesn't it? Actually it was kind a welcome discomfort because I couldn't really feel it and I hurt so much just laying still I didn't really want to get up. Also I was so groggy from the sedation and medication it probably wouldn't have been safe for me to get out of bed even if I hadn't had a broken ankle.

Well, anyway, not long after receiving my cast Nurse (Almost) Hatchet came in to remove the catheter and give me a dry bath.

The bath felt so good. I hadn't bathed since Tuesday morning and I felt disgusting. So it was welcome other than Nurse (Almost) Hatchet being kind of rough with me. Like I said, she clearly hated her job.

But the problem with no more catheter was that I needed to tend to my bathroom necessities the normal way.

I had found out in the first hospital that I couldn't use a bed pan. I just could not physically make myself pee laying down. And that was before all the medication.

Something about my pain medication made it very hard for me to use the bathroom. I could tell I needed to go, but I couldn't make myself. It became quite an issue when I was home and had been medicated for several weeks because it got to a point where I thought my bladder might explode, but I could not control my muscles. (I know this is sort of an unsavory topic, but I'm sharing in the interest of full disclosure.)

So anyway, I needed to pee and my mom paged the nurse's station. Nurse (Almost) Hatchet walked in with a bed pan and as soon as I saw her I told her I couldn't use a bedpan. This obviously made her mad, and it wasn't that I wouldn't use a bedpan, I just couldn't. There was no use in trying.

She just walked out of the room.

About an hour passed and I was getting ticked. I needed to use the freaking bathroom. I understood that I couldn't walk around, but what was the big deal if I just got out of bed and used a bedside toilet? Also, where the hell was physical therapy?

I got pretty belligerent and when I was on the verge of a complete meltdown my mom finally went to the nurse's station and told them they had better figure out a way to get PT there or to get me to a toilet. And fast!

Within ten minutes PT was there. Thank goodness. They brought in a bedside toilet and the PT lady helped me to it so I could relieve myself before she started the crutches lesson.

Let me tell you that when you use a bedside toilet in the hospital they watch you do it. I don't have a shy bladder and I have no problem using public restrooms, but I wasn't in a stall. There were no walls and there were two sets (maybe three) of eyes watching me. One of them was Nurse (Almost) Hatchet and she was shooting daggers at me the whole time.

That was a really intense bathroom session.

The crutches lesson was simple enough. She adjusted them to my height and she showed me how to put my weight on the palms of my hands and not under my arms.

And wham, bam it was time to move me. I didn't even get back into the other bed for a second. Mother Nurse brought in a wheelchair and took me to my new room.

On the way there we met my friend Jessie.

She was on her way to my new room (that computer system switch sure was fast) and Mother Nurse was wheeling me behind her. I said Jessie's name, but I wasn't loud enough so Mother Nurse called to her for me.

As soon as Jessie turned around and saw me her face pretty much confirmed everything I'd been thinking. Everything my family had been hiding from me because they didn't want to upset me. And Jessie corrected her expression pretty quickly, but I still saw it and in that moment I knew.

I knew it was bad.

Jessie walked with us to the room. Mother Nurse handed me off, after many fretful pats and tucks, and I was in a regular room! It was much larger and I didn't feel so closed in and claustrophobic. That was a good thing because the visitors really started to roll in then.

I saw so many family and friends that day. I got more flowers and cards. It was wonderful, but by the time dinner came I was exhausted.

Dr. F came in to check on me again and said he was going to discharge me the next day unless something changed. That was good. 

It was time to settle in and my family was trying to decide who was going to stay with me that night.

Truthfully I was alright to stay alone, but they didn't want me to have to. But they were every bit as exhausted as I was, especially Andy and Momma, and you could see that all they wanted to do was go home and get a good night's rest before it was time to bring me home and I would need them even more.

Jessie took the decision out of their hands, bless her, when she volunteered to stay the night. She went home to change clothes and get a few personal items, so my family spent a little more time with me before they went home.

When it was time for shift change I met my night nurse. She was very sweet, about my age and very pregnant. She actually told me that it was her last shift before her leave.

The new nurse's aid was a middle aged lady who was so nice. She spent a lot of time talking with me about what had happened. By that point I had sort of come to realize that this was going to be a long recovery. Andy was beyond angry at the older man in the other car. I could see his point, but I also knew that being mad wasn't going to make me heal any faster and might even make the process longer. I knew I couldn't let myself have a bad attitude. It was what it was and all I could do was move forward which is exactly what I planned on doing. I told her all this and she listened and agreed with me. I always felt comforted when she was in the room.

Jessie got there and we settled in for the night. We slept as much as we could, but my medication schedule made that pretty difficult. I alternated between Motrin and meds in my IV every three hours.  After each IV injection I could sleep well until the Motrin dose. Then I would doze for the next three hours until I could have the stronger medication again and by the time I got it I was hurting pretty bad. But Jessie and I did the best we could until morning.

Friday:

After breakfast Dr. F came in. It was still just Jessie and me because Andy was at the apartment trying to get everything ready for me to come home and my mom was driving around filling prescriptions and getting clothes for me to wear home (Andy had brought me a shirt, but forgot pants), plus a few other things that I would need.

He was ready to release me, but the tubes needed to come out of my nose first.

The nurse was there with me and Jessie had stepped out of the room. First he cut the stitches that were holding the tubes in. Then he used his long tweezers (forceps?) to pull out the left tube. The tube was about three inches long and it was  not a pleasant experience, but it wasn't unbearable. He got ready to take out the right one and I braced myself for the same kind of uncomfortable pain.

It was not the same at all. It was much, much worse. I think Dr. F knew it would be worse on the right side and that's why he did the left first because he thought I might put up a fight if he did the right first. He would have been correct.

The pain was excruciating. I'm not even sure how to describe it. Instead of pulling something out of my nose it felt more like he was jabbing around in it with a hot poker and using it to try to pull my nose off.

I yelled. Loud.

He made a little joke about me yelling and how it wasn't that bad, but then he looked at my face and I think he realized that it was actually that bad. Also I hadn't so much as uttered a complaint about pain to that point, so yeah, it really did hurt that bad.

I was clear to go home, but I had to wait on my mom. She was driving me, but she was still waiting on prescriptions to be filled. It took forever, but I appreciate that she made me wait in the hospital instead of in the car.

Finally she was there. The nurse helped me get dressed in the outfit my mom had bought. Getting dressed was really awkward. The shirt pulled over my head and it took me and two other people to keep it from touching my face. While I was getting dressed I got a look at the bruises on my body. Seeing them kind of made them hurt worse. My torso wasn't even skin colored and there were little blue spots all over my arms where they had drawn blood and put in IVs. Also I had "rug burn" on the left side of my groin and hip from the seat belt digging in before it broke. The scab was easily 4" tall and 6" long. I took a deep breath and then looked away. I needed to focus on the task at hand.

They gathered up all my flowers and balloons and the few personal belongings I had. The nurse also gave me one last smoothie for the road. (It was left over from breakfast because it took me several hours to eat my smoothies.)

Mom pulled around the car while Jessie and the nurse walked down with me. Well, the nurse pushed me in a wheel chair and Jessie walked.

Getting into the car was a real challenge, but I finally made it. My mom looked like she might throw up. This was the first time I had been in a car since the accident and she didn't want to do anything to upset me on the drive home. I think she would have gladly paid someone else to do it. Instead she just told Jessie thank you and gave her a hug, and then she got in the driver's seat and we were on our way.

I was in the back seat and I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open, so if she made any driving faux pas I didn't notice.

Once we got home I struggled over the stoop into the door (the next day Andy built a ramp to make it easier for me to get inside) and then got settled on the sofa. The place that would be my home for the next two months.

I don't remember a whole lot about the rest of the day. I know it was spent mostly getting me settled in. I was very unstable on my crutches and getting to the bathroom (the only reason I ever got up) was precarious. There was someone right next to me at all times to catch me when I inevitably stumbled, and after a while Andy just started using the rolling computer chair to wheel me to and from the toilet.

Being home was good, but also it was clearly going to be a struggle. I was so helpless and while I had so many people there to take care of me it was still hard. Just a few days before I could wash my own clothes and cook my husband dinner. All of a sudden it was a chore to just get into the bathroom, much less use it and I couldn't even sleep in my own bed.

But I was home. I was home and I was alive and I was going to heal. That's all that really mattered.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 15, 2009

The next few days here at PS are going to be kind of somber. 

The one year anniversary of my car crash is on Wednesday and I have some things I need to say. Back when the accident happened I wrote a few posts about what went on, but I was medicated and hurt and tired and I never really said what I wanted to. That day and the few days following have been on my mind lately and I'm going to write down what happened. Because I need to do it. It will help me move on.

I'm doing this for me. There are things I haven't talked about because I just couldn't say them out loud. So I'm doing it now. 

You are welcome to follow along. I wouldn't be posting it here if you weren't. It's going to be hard for me to write and also hard to read. 


 Part 1


*********************************************************************************************
 Wednesday:

When I woke up I was very disoriented. I knew I was in the hospital and I remembered why, but I was so groggy, and I felt like I couldn't open my eyes, so I kept them closed.

I heard voices. First Andy's and then a female voice that, at the time, I thought was my mother. It was a nurse.

Then things started to become more clear. My eyes were still closed, but there was something in my mouth. Something large and it wasn't just in my mouth, but also down my throat. I could breathe, but there was a giant tube down my throat and I wanted it out.

When I tried to lift my hand to take it out I found that my arms were secured to the bed rails.

While I know now that was for my own safety, it pissed me off. Big time.

All I felt for quite some time was rage.

They untied my right hand and I immediately reached for the tube. A hand grabbed my arm and held it down.

Andy told me I couldn't do that, but the doctor would be there in a minute to take it out.

Obviously I couldn't talk, so I motioned that I'd like to write.

My eyes were still closed. I don't know why I felt like I couldn't open them, but I did. Andy and the nurse got a piece of paper and gave me a pen. Andy held the paper on something while I wrote.

I don't remember exactly what I wrote and most of it was illegible since I was writing blind, but there were a lot of profanities. And I'm sure I threatened some lives and holy hellfire if they didn't do something about the *expletive* tube down my throat.

Like I said, I was pissed.

Andy told me the nurse blushed when he tried to translate what I wrote.

Maybe she should try waking up with a tube down her throat and see how she likes it.

After what seemed an eternity the doctor finally came. I heard him say I wasn't ready and that's the last thing I remember.

They put me to sleep again.

Some time later, who knows how long, I woke up again. There were even more voices in my room and none that I recognized.

They took the tube out immediately and I coughed. They encouraged that. My throat hurt like hell.

I still didn't open my eyes until someone told me to try.

My bed was surrounded by medical personnel. Once they made sure I was alert and they took all my vitals Andy came back in the room.

I found out in short order that my surgery had taken much longer than expected and Dr. F (my surgeon) had gotten to a good stopping point and quit, because he was exhausted. I would need surgery later to finish what he hadn't already done.

After surgery they had brought me to the ICU because I needed to remain on a respirator. My nose was so badly broken that I couldn't breathe out of it and during surgery my tongue had swelled, effectively cutting off all my airways.

I thought it was morning, but when I looked at the clock it said late afternoon. I had been in a medically induced coma for about twelve hours.

Once I had a moment I started to evaluate my condition. I didn't want to look in a mirror, but I could feel enough to know I looked rough.

I had a cast on my nose and tubes up each nostril.

My jaw had been broken and I had arch bars in my bottom teeth to hold them in place until my jaw healed.

There were stitches everywhere. Big Frankenstein stitches in my chin, stitches in my nose, in my upper lip at the gum line, in my lower lip at the gum line and on both sides of my tongue.

I didn't look at my torso or legs to see how bruised I was. I could feel it, that was enough for a little while.

Another reason I was in ICU is because there was something wrong with my blood work and they were worried about my liver. There was still a chance that I would need to be transferred to a bigger hospital.

The main thing I remember about Wednesday is all the people. So many nurses and doctors and visitors.

I enjoyed the visitors and I was glad to see them. I was kind of overwhelmed, in a good way, with how many people came to see me in the hospital. It made me feel so loved and I cried with each new face. I also cried every time I got flowers.

I think they blamed that on the medication, but honestly I was just grateful that there were so many people that loved me. That wanted me to get better. It was really the best thing about the whole situation.

But, back to the medical personnel. In and out they came all day long. I almost told a few of them to please just go away and let me sleep. I just wanted to sleep. I was tired, but also I didn't have to think about everything if I was sleeping. I could just be oblivious and I wanted that more than anything.

Two women came in and took another x-ray of my ankle. When the first hospital had sent my information I guess they had said I'd hurt my ankle, but the x-ray hadn't shown a break.

Also, since I'd already been told I hadn't broken my ankle I just assumed I'd sprained it again. I had done so a few years previously and the pain wasn't all that different. So I didn't tell the doctors at the new hospital.

But when they wheeled me into the OR the night before and then transferred me to the table I apparently was alert enough to complain about my ankle. That sent up a red flag with Dr. F so he ordered another x-ray.

Dr. A came in my room after the second set of x-rays and said that I had indeed broken my ankle. He explained that it was the kind of fracture that he usually did surgery on, but the bone hadn't moved yet, so he wanted to give it one more day to see if it was going to before he put a cast on.

Having a broken ankle bummed me out pretty bad. Until that point I had never broken a bone and then in one fail swoop I broke my nose, jaw and ankle. Welcome to the broken bone club Joanna!

The next one was Dr. H, the oral surgeon. He hadn't been available to come to my surgery so he came in to check on my arch bars and see if there was anything else that could be done right away.

Now, you have to understand that I was under the impression this whole time that they were going to fix me while I was in the hospital. As far as I knew everything was going to be put back to rights and all I had to do after I went home was heal and go to a few follow up appointments.

Then Dr. H strolls in and looks at my teeth. He said the arch bars looked good. I told him I was pretty sure I lost at least one tooth, but he wasn't sure and told me he'd see me in his office after I got out of the hospital to talk about it some more. Then he started to talk about all the options there were for people like me. He said something about pulling teeth and putting in implants and then he said something about grinding them down and covering them with caps. He was trying to be reassuring but he was sending me into orbit. I was so upset and angry I couldn't even speak. I even started to cry. I think he took that as me being grateful that eventually this would all be worked out. He was wrong.

After he left my mom came in and I found my voice. I told her to find that man and tell him that under no circumstances was he to pull my teeth or grind them down. I wanted him to get his ass in gear and make a plan because I wasn't leaving that hospital unless my teeth were straight again damn it!

She did track him down and as she was much more rational than me and not medicated and her teeth weren't effed up he was able to explain things to her a little better. Then she came back to relay the message to me that moving my teeth that quickly would cause them to die and they needed to slowly recover from the trauma they had suffered.

And even if we gave them the time they needed they would still most likely die at some point in my life.

Now, I'm jumping ahead a little here in the story, but I've spent a lot of time and energy and pain and angst trying to make my teeth straight again. And this whole time I've been wondering why the hell we're doing all this if my teeth are just going to die. But that is another issue, for another time.

Dr. F came in a little later to check on me one last time before he left for the day. I decided I didn't like Dr. F. He was entirely too chipper. He had a giant grin on his face when he said, "I see you broke your ankle." And I was all, "It's a fracture." And he was all, "That's the same thing." ::laughter at the silly sick girl:: And I just let it go, but what the hell Dr. F? I know it's the same damn thing, but if you hadn't noticed I'm broken in quite a few places and if I want to call it a fracture I can! Because "fracture" doesn't sound as bad as "break" and for the love of all that is holy I needed something to not sound so bad!!!

Also he was standing at the foot of my bed next to my FRACTURED right ankle and he kept bumping the bed and jostling my ankle. Not only did that make it hurt, but let's also remember what Dr. A said about needing to operate if the bone moved. If I'd had the strength to lift my left leg and kick Dr. F or had something nearby to throw at him I would have, and I wouldn't have been sorry I did it.

(In case you are wondering, I love Dr. F now. I'm grateful for his mad doctor skills, but I also like him on a personal level.)

Finally he left and the endless stream of doctors and nurses ended for a while. Except for a nutritionist that came in and asked me what I liked to eat of the soft foods they had to offer. I told her and she left. The whole time I was there they sent me stuff I said I wouldn't eat. Oh well.

My step dad got there that evening and sat with me.

Somehow I remembered that America's Next Top Model was on. It was the season where all the models were under 5'7" and since I'm short I'd been watching it religiously. I tuned the television to that channel and we watched it together, but I turned down the volume after awhile because I knew he had little to no interest in watching Tyra Banks make a fool of herself. I just turned it up at the elimination. They voted off the girl named London and he actually seemed to get involved in the show. I'm sure it was just for my benefit.

Andy had gone to dinner, but locked his keys in his car. I made fun of him because he does that a lot more than me. I think it's funny, but in all fairness he had a lot going on and I'd probably have done the same thing. Hell, I did do the same thing when I was at the hospital with Julie while she was in labor. Karma.

My dinner came. I don't remember what all was on the platter, but I quickly found out that eating real food wasn't going to happen. Not only could I not chew, but I couldn't even close my mouth. And putting a spoon in there with all those stitches? Ha!

The best I could do was drink my chocolate smoothie. And even that I had to learn how to do. I would put the straw on the back of my tongue and then make a seal with the roof of my mouth. That allowed me to suck. I didn't taste anything I ate for about a month because nothing really touched my taste buds, but that first smoothie sure felt good on my throat.

Night time came and I put on my sleep mask my mom had gone to get me. Bless her.

She slept in the room with me for most of the night and Andy slept out in the waiting room. I remember him saying later that there were two old ladies in there that had set up permanent residence in the only recliners and they didn't give them up. Ever. So he had a rough night.

None of us slept well really. I was able to get a few blissful hours of peace in between nurse's visits. I needed medication often and of course she had to keep a close eye on my vitals. I felt like I was never going to be able to rest again. I just wanted to rest. Why wouldn't they let me rest?

Morning finally dawned. It came with a fruit smoothie and a whole new set of challenges.

To be continued...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 14, 2009

The next few days here at PS are going to be kind of somber. 

The one year anniversary of my car crash is on Wednesday and I have some things I need to say. Back when the accident happened I wrote a few posts about what went on, but I was medicated and hurt and tired and I never really said what I wanted to. That day and the few days following have been on my mind lately and I'm going to write down what happened. Because I need to do it. It will help me move on.

I'm doing this for me. There are things I haven't talked about because I just couldn't say them out loud. So I'm doing it now. 

You are welcome to follow along. I wouldn't be posting it here if you weren't. It's going to be hard for me to write and also hard to read. 

*********************************************************************************************

Tuesday:

It began as just a regular day. Isn't that always when things happen? Just regular, ho-hum days that should go by unremembered.

I don't remember much about the morning. I'm sure I slept in as I always do on non workdays. Andy and I had just finished our taxes the night before and were planning on mailing in our paperwork that day so we weren't waiting until the very last minute. April 14 is close enough to the deadline for us (P.S. we filed early this year). Also, I had a package waiting for me at the post office. It was from Amazon. A book and CD that I'd ordered with a birthday gift card. I had tried to pick it up on Saturday, but the office was closed. Actually I think the package was why I was going to the post office that day. If I hadn't had that incentive I would have probably put the taxes off until Wednesday.

So I got up and showered. I wanted to look nice because I was planning on doing a little shopping after I ran my errand. I put on my favorite pair of jeans, a nice purple blouse (for Maddie) and my favorite floral patterned trench coat. The day was rainy and gloomy so my trench coat offered protection from the rain and also from the gloom because it was so bright and cheerful.

Then I posted this about my half painted toenails from Easter Sunday two days before. Boy howdy, did I regret that later in the hospital when innumerable people saw my toes. I haven't left my house with unpainted toes since. I'm not kidding.

I jumped in my Jeep, my old companion, and drove across the street to get all the paperwork from Andy. It was quick, we just had to sign a few things, a kiss, "I love you" and goodbye.

The drive to the post office only took a few minutes. It really isn't very far. After mailing the taxes and getting my package I walked back out to the Jeep to open it. Everything was there and I was so excited to listen to my new CD. I wrestled with the plastic wrapping and then with the sticker holding it closed. Finally it opened. I popped it into the player and drove away from the post office. It was about 2:00.

The CD had just started playing track 3. I was singing along to the chorus and going around a curve.

And then he was there. Right in front of me. No time to react. Nowhere to go.

I remember thinking "Oh no!" and that was it.

The actual impact and following seconds are, blessedly, buried in my subconscious. The last thing I remember is seeing the other car in my lane and then I woke up.

I must have regained consciousness before I regained awareness. I've been told by people on the scene that I was actually in the floorboard underneath the steering wheel and I pulled myself back into the seat. I have no memory of that happening.

My first memory is of me in my seat.

There were so many emotions. I was confused and not a little surprised to find that I had been unconscious. I knew I'd been hit, but somehow I just didn't think it should have been enough to knock me out.

I was angry. This was going to put a serious cramp in my plans for the day, and I wanted to know what the heck the other car was doing on my side of the road.

All these thoughts happened in just a few seconds and then I tried to take a breath to calm myself down.


I couldn't breathe. It was probably a combination of being winded and the fact that my nose was broken and I didn't know it.

I'm sure it only lasted a few seconds but it felt like an eternity. Real panic started to set in and I could feel myself losing consciousness again. My eyes were still closed at that point, but the light that I saw got dimmer.

In those few seconds I was sure my life was at an end.

You hear people say that during those life or death moments they see their lives flash before their eyes. That is a lie, or it was for me.

I saw my family. The people that I hold so very dear and I saw the pain they were going to suffer.

I saw faces. Andy, my parents, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I saw Julie and her pregnant belly and I longed so much to meet the child inside. I did not want to die. I was not ready. And it wasn't just for me - it was for them too.

And then I caught my breath.

Instant relief. Even if it happened again I had more time before the paramedics came. Time was so precious in that moment.

Then I opened my eyes. There were two people standing in front of my car. One of them was an older man and the other was a woman just a little older than me. Somehow I knew he was the one. Maybe it was the look on his face, but I just knew. I was angry again, but in a different way. I felt pity for him. He was clearly very old. Why was he still aloud to drive? Didn't his family care enough about him to drive him around? This was their fault.

I started to evaluate the situation inside my car. I knew I felt very disoriented. I didn't feel pain, but I didn't feel good either. The best way to describe it was to say I felt very weak.

My steering wheel was the first thing I looked at. It had been bent back. That was bad.

I looked over in the passenger seat and saw blood all over the seat and my purse. Also bad.

Then I looked at my hands. Covered in blood. Still bad.

What the hell happened?

Obviously all the blood was mine, but what on earth was wrong with me that I was bleeding so much?

Then a voice. A woman. She was at my window. I had cracked it about two inches to let in some fresh air, but still keep out the rain.

I don't remember what she said. I told her my husband's name and his place of employment and then she was gone.

Suddenly there was a flurry of activity. People all around me. Talking through my windows. Asking me questions. What was my name? How old was I? I answered them.

At some point I remembered what I'd said about Andy and wondered why I had told them to call his work. It could take forever to track him down. There were so many people so I just started asking for someone to call my husband.

A female voice (I don't know if it was the same one) told me they had called his work. I told her that would take too long and gave her his cell number. She was gone again, but just a minute later she came back. He was just up the street at the hardware store. He could have seen the accident from there. She said he was on his way. He told me later he thought I was already dead, or very close, because of how upset the person on the other end of the phone sounded.

I think I must have been going in and out of consciousness because I remember someone saying that my doors wouldn't open and they were going to have to force them open. Then a man told me I was going to hear a loud noise, but it was alright and not to be frightened. I never heard it. The next thing I knew they were in the car.

There were hands and voices everywhere.

One in particular I do remember. Her name was Marie. She was a paramedic and she was trying to keep me calm and keep an eye on my vital signs while everyone else worked to get me out.

Once they were in the car I opened my eyes again and then I saw my hood. It was bent up so bad and that was the moment my brain chose to register the fact that my Jeep was done for. My long time love that I had paid for and painstakingly kept running was no more. I might walk away, but my Jeep wouldn't.

Heartbreak.

I said, "Oh my God! My car!" and that's when I felt my bottom teeth. My perfectly straight, born with them, teeth were ruined. It was so bad I was certain I'd lost several and at that moment I also spit out a tooth fragment. My next statement? "Oh my God! My teeth!"

Marie said something like, "Yeah. You're hurt pretty bad. But don't worry they can fix your nose and teeth and at least the cut on your face is under your chin so you won't be able to see the scar."

What? What the? What?

I had no idea what my injuries were. I was too disoriented to look in the mirror. I knew there was blood, but hadn't figured out where that came from yet. That was the only complaint I had with Marie. A word of advice to anyone reading, if you are ever in Marie's position do not under any circumstances rattle off all the person's injuries unless they ask.

I hadn't asked. I would have been fine not knowing for a little while longer.

Then Andy got there. They let him in the car for a second. As soon as I heard his voice, "Hey baby," I broke down. I hadn't cried up to that point and I was on the verge of a serious meltdown. Marie saw it coming and talked me down. She was a serious godsend that day and I'm forever grateful to her.

They put me in a neck brace. That would have been incredibly uncomfortable anyway, but it sat right on where my chin was cut and that was the first time I felt pain. I had to hold my head just right to keep the brace from putting too much pressure on my chin.

While they were working all around me I started to pray. I raised my hands and prayed. I have no idea what I said, but I prayed harder than I ever have. 

All of a sudden it was time to get me out, but one of the men asked me to move my limbs and made sure I didn't feel pain they couldn't already see. I moved all my arms and legs one joint at a time. That's when I felt my ankle. It hurt, but only when I moved it. I told him so and since that was the only other obvious issue he asked me to help push myself out. The driver's side door was bent shut so they had to pull me out through the passenger side.

He had my shoulders and I pushed the best I could. It happened very quickly and easily. I was out and on a board. I remember looking up and seeing faces, so many faces. I asked everyone that would listen their name and thanked them for coming. I'd never been so glad to see a bunch of strangers in my life. I was overcome with gratitude for their presence and their knowledge.

Andy was still there. He asked me what happened. Was it my fault? He said some other things, but I started ordering him to call people. Call my mom! Call Julie! Get my purse and use my phone! 

The skies had opened up and I was getting rained on so they got me into "the bus" which is what they called the ambulance.

The other driver (remember him?) was in there too. He had said he was a little dizzy so they took him to the hospital too. For just a second we were in there alone. I was looking around at the inside of the ambulance and then I saw him. He was upside down because he was seated behind my head.

He met my eyes. "I'm sorry." he said.

I almost told him that it was OK. But then I realized I was lying there on a board, wearing a neck brace and it most certainly was not OK. I didn't know what it was, but it wasn't OK. So I just didn't say anything. I looked away. That was the last time I saw him.

Then Marie was there by my side again and we were moving. (I later found out that this whole process took about 30 minutes.) She and her partner, Topher, were asking so many questions. Then my phone rang. It was Andy. I had put my phone in my jacket instead of my purse and he'd spent several minutes frantically searching my car for it. Oops.

Then Marie told me she needed to cut my jacket sleeve to take my blood pressure.

I didn't really have a choice, but I was not at all happy about that. I still mourn that jacket. It was just so perfect.

Once we got to the hospital and I was wheeled into the ER there was another flurry of activity. People everywhere. Nurses and orderlies. The doctor came in. I still remember his name. He was very kind and told me they were going to take care of me.

This whole time my panic and concern had been at a minimum. Somehow I just felt very peaceful, like it was all going to be alright. Whether it was prayer or my own disillusionment I don't know, but I'm grateful. 

Andy was there right behind me and I asked if he'd called my mom and Julie. He said he had and my mom was on her way. Then he said that Julie couldn't come because she was keeping her friend's kids that week. I remembered that as soon as he said it and do you know what I said? I said, "Oh! Poor thing!" because those kids are kind of hyper and Julie was still having morning sickness.

There I was in an ER, broken and bleeding and I was worried about Julie. So there you go Julie, proof that I truly love you.

The nurses had to cut off the rest of my clothes. They actually asked me, but I said, "Well you've already cut off my jacket so why not cut up everything else too." I was mad about my clothes. The only things that made it out alive were my shoes, my bra (covered in blood) and my panties (that I still can't find even though Andy swears they came home with us).

Once they evaluated me a little bit and determined I wasn't going to die right there on the table they sent me for x-rays.

Up to this point everyone had been so very nice. I expected the same from the x-ray technician.

She was the devil.

First of all she was smaller than I am and she didn't have anyone to help her. By that point I was starting to feel the pain all over my body and let's not forget my ankle was possibly broken. Still she made me scoot myself off the gurney and onto the x-ray table. I asked her if she didn't have someone to help her move me and she ignored me.

First up was my head, and then my ankle that she picked up and dropped several times on the table. Oh, don't mind me and my possibly broken ankle lady. I'm just an actual person here on this table and not a practice dummy.

She took some more with me on my back and then told me to roll over onto my side. I just told her no and when she asked why no I told her that too. "I have just been in a car accident! I am in PAIN!"

Thankfully she gave up and did the best she could and Andy came in to sit with me.

Someone else came in to draw blood. Her name was Jennifer. She was about my age and very pretty and I told her so. By that point I knew my face had been ruined and even if they could fix it I was upset. So when she told me I was pretty too I just cried. I don't blame her, what was she supposed to say?

It took a while for her to get the blood she needed because I had bleed so much already. Andy got annoyed because she stuck me so many times, but honestly I didn't feel it.

Back to the ER I went and by that time Andy's parents and my mom were there. As soon as I saw my mom I started to cry in earnest. There is just something about seeing your mother in that kind of situation. Her presence made me feel like I was going to be OK and at the same time like I was still the little girl she had raised and it was alright to have a good cry. So I did.

After I got it together I saw that someone had brought me flowers and that made me cry all over again.

Then they needed to prep me so the doctor could come and stitch up my chin. The nurse came in and started to get me ready. Then I started crying again when I was telling my mom about praying in the car. The nurse and my mom were crying with me. I was pretty pitiful.

At some point someone told us they hadn't found any broken bones on my x-rays. They were wrong, but I didn't know that until the next day.

When they sent the plastic surgeon in I knew who he was. Everything about him said, "doctor" and he was with a man who was training to be a physician's assistant. They were both so kind and reassuring and while the doctor got ready his assistant took the time to clean my hands. They were still covered in blood. He talked to me all about his family and how he had decided in the middle of his life to change careers and pursue medicine which had always been his dream. He was quite an inspiration.

During my examination we discovered that my chin was numb and I couldn't feel a lot of what he was doing. He told me I had an exposed nerve and clearly it had been damaged. He wasn't able to tell me if it would heal. "Time will tell" was all he could say. He proceeded to numb the rest of my mouth and face so he could put in the stitches, but then he paused when he saw how bad my teeth were. He wasn't sure he trusted himself enough to take care of those and they might need to transfer me to another hospital. After he made a phone call he came back and told me that he and another surgeon had decided it would be better to transfer me. That was probably the best decision made that day because I needed so much more than just a few stitches.

My step dad came while we waited for the transfer. He has a hard time when I'm upset over anything and I would tell he was rocked by how I looked. It isn't often he loses his cool, but I could tell he had.

It took several hours for the ambulance to come back and get me. The hospitals were in the middle of a shift change and they had to wait for that before they could call and give all my information.

So we waited. And we waited. And we waited.

Finally it was time and Marie and Topher came around the corner. I was glad to see them again. I felt like I had already developed a relationship with them and I was comfortable riding with them to the other hospital.

Marie rode with me and Topher drove. It was very peaceful and the first time that day I'd really been allowed to rest. I was kind of sorry when the drive ended.

When they wheeled me into the new ER I looked at all the nurses and said, "Hello!" I was very chipper for whatever reason. Most likely it was the pain medication. I don't remember the exact time I got there. It was around dinner time because Andy stopped to eat before he came to the hospital.

Another flurry of activity to get me settled. I recognized one of the nurses as the wife of a former professor. Seeing her made me cry again.

I had a few more moments of peace, so I closed my eyes and got a little rest. I wasn't able to sleep, but being left alone was nice.

Two surgeons came in. One was going to look me over and make sure I didn't have any internal injuries they couldn't fix. If so they were going to transfer me again. The other was there for my facial injuries. He was going to operate that night as long as I wasn't hurt to badly internally.

The first surgeon poked and prodded me. My right side hurt around my ribs. I could see the concern on his face. He ordered more x-rays and a CAT scan (I think).

Andy came back to see me for a minute and then two women came down to wheel me up for my x-rays. One of them was the sister of a guy I went to High School with. It's such a small world we live in.

After all the scans and x-rays I went back to the ER to wait for results. Andy sat with me a little while. He came in and out. Our family was in the waiting room and he split his time between me and them.

The results came back and I didn't appear to have any internal injuries, so they just had to wait for an OR and for the doctor to get ready.

I felt like I waited a long time.

During my wait a guy came into the ER with his parents who said he shot himself in the shoulder looking through his hunting stuff. His story sounded pretty lame and I don't think anyone really believed he got shot the way he said he did. I didn't believe him and I couldn't see him. They put him in the ER bay next to me.

Now, I'm not saying it doesn't hurt to get shot, I'm sure it does. But this guy was a big 'ole baby. He yelled and cried and wailed while they were treating him. I said something about it when the nurse came in to check on me and she smiled and said, "Well, I wasn't going to say anything, but I wanted to tell him that I have a woman over here that's hurt a lot worse and she hasn't made a peep!" That made me laugh.

Finally it was time for my surgery.

It took several hours and by the time they wheeled me upstairs it was about midnight and I was exhausted.

Andy went with me and we met the anesthesiologist in the OR prep room. He told me he was going to give me something to go to sleep for my surgery.

I felt no fear, only relief. I was finally going to sleep. Which is what I had wanted for a long time.

Andy was holding my hand and I was lying flat on the gurney. The florescent lights has covers over them with pictures of clouds and flowers. There were also pictures taped to the ceiling tiles. There was a picture above me of a rabbit and I started to tell the anesthesiologist about Brunswick and Milton.Then I got a little worried because Andy and I had been gone so long from home. No one had fed them that night. Andy assured me they would be fine.

The anesthesiologist started the medication and I drifted off thinking of my two little fur balls.

To be continued...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Project 365, week 14

Week in pictures April 3-9

Self explanatory

Birthday Daffodils!

Possibly the cutest thing ever

Photo of the day, by Andy

Signs of life

Don't mess with Pat or he'll hammer you

Olive Garden makes me tired


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Facing Facts and Living French

Back in February I (sort of) reviewed French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guilliano.

In case you didn't read it, or don't want to follow the link, the short of what I said is that it's a non-traditional diet book. Meaning that it doesn't give a set formula for weight loss and then claim that it works for everyone.

Also I said that I would follow up later with a more thorough review because I hadn't had a chance to put the books principles into place. What is a diet book review unless you actually practice what it preaches? So I have been, or I've been trying.

One of the main things pointed out to you is that everyone has their own set of food weaknesses, Guiliano calls them offenders, and no one is going to be able to lose excess weight and keep it off until you identify your offenders and learn how to control them.

I really enjoyed this book and I've enjoyed "living French" as Andy calls it.

The main idea is to learn self control. This is achieved by facing food head on and not by running away from it. Food is a necessity for life. You have to eat to live and why would you want to live your whole life denying yourself when it is so natural to eat and enjoy eating?

The reason I like the book so much is because Guiliano never tells you to completely cut the food you love out of your life. She says you should eat those foods and enjoy them, otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure.

I wholeheartedly agree.

I don't believe in dieting for weight loss. It just seems like that word, "diet," has taken on such an awful meaning for people when in fact your diet is simply the food you consume. Your daily diet. Not a bad word at all. It shouldn't be scary and neither should eating.

There is so much information in the book that I can't really convey it all here. The point is that you should enjoy your food. Enjoy preparation. Enjoy consumption. All without fear or guilt.

And that brings me to my current journey and wake up call.

I have been doing my best to "live French" since I finished the book. I'm currently in the "recasting period" outlined in the book. I've been doing pretty well. I've been encouraged to try new foods that I didn't regularly put in my shopping cart and so far I've been very pleased with the results.

There have certainly been some set backs with all the birthday parties and holidays that I've been celebrating, but I'm not giving up on this thing.

My main issue has been my lack of exercise. It has become apparent to me that the metabolism from my teens and early twenties is long gone and while I still have a pretty good metabolism it needs a boost from time to time.

We don't own a scale and I haven't weighed myself regularly since... well I don't know since when. I step on the scale once a year at the doctor's office and that's it. I don't really pay a lot of attention to the number because I'm alright as long as I feel good and look how I want to look. Sure there is always that little bit of flab I'd like to get rid of, but for the most part I've always been happy with my body.

Until lately. I still don't think I look all that bad. I'm one of the fortunate few that gains weight in a somewhat even manner and though my measurements grow they all stay in the same proportion to each other. But the last month or so I can tell that I am uncomfortable with the excess weight on my body. Then yesterday I went in for that once a month weigh in and well...

I weigh more than I ever have in my life. I knew it, but seeing the scale confirm it was kind of a slap in the face.

This last year I haven't been nearly as active as usual. I did spend a good bit of time on the track last summer, but then it got cold. I don't run in the cold weather. Not just because of the record snow we had this winter, but also because of the wind. It can be 45 outside but the wind makes it feel like 30. It's miserable, so like usual I took a winter break from running. But I didn't work this year either which is new for me.

I've had the most sedentary year ever. Along with that came a lot of free time to indulge in one of my most favorite things: baking. I had ample time on my hands to bake and partake and that is exactly what I did.

All these things together have amounted to a body that I am unhappy with. Not just because of how it looks, but because I feel bad. Physically my body is failing me and it's all my fault.

So that's where I am. Last spring I was fighting a physical battle and this spring I'm fighting another one, just a different kind.

The lesson I learned from this is that I now know my body's weight maximum. I know where I need to be and what I need to do to get there.

Thankfully the winter appears to be over. Other than a few more inevitable cold snaps we should have pleasant weather from now until October at least.

I have started running again. Which was not at all bad. My speed and endurance haven't slipped like I thought they would and I feel really good. It's encouraging to know that my year of sloth hasn't completely put me out of the game.

As I continue on this journey to health I'll update you. Like I said, we don't own a scale so I won't be doing weekly weigh ins. It's just not who I am. Relying on my body is a much better guide to fitness for me. And weekly updates aren't my style. I would get tired of it and getting healthy would start to feel like a chore.

I have "before" pictures that I'm not going to post yet. Sorry, but this isn't a "tell all" and I do censor myself from time to time. Maybe one day.

I'm going to continue "living French" along with restarting my exercise routine. I hope these next few weeks bring some welcome changes. Here's to getting healthy and staying that way.

In the meantime feel free to share your own journey to health in the comments or send me an email.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Please forgive me...

But I can't be expected to come up with an interesting, coherent post when it's 80 degrees outside.

Don't fret. This weekend is supposed to be colder...

Monday, April 5, 2010

One more birthday post

Saturday was such a nice day.

I woke up early, but had a little late morning nap while Andy went to work for a little while.

Around 10:30 Milton decided it was time for me to get up so he started scratching at the bedroom door. Little stinker.

That afternoon Andy and I went out to enjoy the nice weather and do a little shopping.

I had been craving KFC for a while so I decided that's what I wanted for my big birthday meal. How extravagant! But we were planning on having a picnic and KFC is nothing if not perfect picnic food.

The wind was pretty rough on Saturday so we ended up eating in the restaurant. Oh well.

Andy took me to the local outlet stores and I picked out a dress to go with the shoes Andy got me and a trench coat. When I was in the car crash last year I was wearing my favorite jacket, a floral print trench coat, and they had to cut if off of me. It was the perfect light jacket for spring in the mountains and I've been mourning it, so I got another one to replace it. It isn't a floral print, but I still love it!

That night we had a quiet evening at home with some cleaning and watching the final four (Andy's only request of the day).

Sunday we celebrated Easter and my birthday with my family and with our friends at our monthly potluck dinner.

It was the most perfect weekend we've had in a long time.

(some of these are blurry, sorry...)

Modeling my new dress (before it was ironed) & shoes

The trench coat. I got it for $30. $100 less than the original price. Score!

This is a banner that Julie and Mina made for me. Julie cut out all the letters to say "Happy Birthday Joanna" and then she took a picture of Mina with each letter. It's so cute! (click photo to enlarge)

Birthday cake that Mamaw always makes

Mina had some cake

Donna rocked Lilianna to sleep

Hannah & Nathan

Bekah brought her boyfriend for the first time. Kind of a big deal...

Frank and Mina all dressed up for Easter

This is the only picture I got of Andy all weekend

We hadn't taken one of these in a while. I thought it was time.

Cousins! I don't know how I escaped being in this one...

By the time potluck rolled around last night I was exhausted, so this is the only picture I got.
The food.

How was your Easter weekend?