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


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...


  1. I just want to hug you. I've followed you through this while also dealing with my own tragedies yet I feel like I didn't understand quite how seriously you were hurt at the time.

    I'm so sorry for that. I mean I knew it was bad but not this bad.

    The good news is you are on the mend :) Thanks so much for allowing us to read about your trials and triumphs

  2. A, thanks for you support. It has really meant a lot to me this past year.

    Honestly I don't think I understood myself how bad it was. Or if I did I lied to myself to get through the day and it has taken me a long time to admit to myself the severity of the situation. But that is something I plan to confront in the next couple of posts.

  3. I've much appreciated your support too :) As I get all teary just writing this.

    How crazy that our life changing events were so totally different yet we kind of walked through it together.

    ((Big Huge Hugs))