Sunday, February 27, 2011

To Visit or Not, That is The Question??

I was so blessed to have an incredible number of people come and visit me during my stay at Harborview in both the hospital and in Rehab as well as now while I am at home continuing my recovery.  I can say without hesitation that this has truly sustained me.  The hubby knew it so he was always encouraging people to stop by and see me "she loves it" he would say!  Bad hair days, no make-up, drugs, and pain, none of that mattered if I had someone to chat with to help distract me and take me to a different place.  Family, friends, co-workers and people I had not seen in years, I was having the social time of my life in an odd sort of way.  So why is it that this is when we rally?  I cannot really tell you, but I know sometimes we feel like not everyone likes all the attention when they are down and out.

I know for many people there are certain values in place when people are not feeling well, we leave them alone.  Of course you don't want to intrude or bother them right?  Well, I would challenge you to re-think that and at least make the overture.  People can always say, "No thanks, I would prefer no visitors," but if you never ask than they may sit all alone, with bad  hospital food, no cable TV and no inclination to want to read.  That would have been me for sure. I was so use to being on the go all of the time to then go to spending two weeks most of the time flat on my back I did not know what to do with myself.  I usually like to read, but only magazines seemed to catch my attention.  TV was of little interest, since I have never been a big TV junkie, so no Soaps for me.  Talking on the phone was great, but during the day most people I know are working and the hubby and my mom had already made their phone calls most days to me when I was trying to fill time.

Without my visitors I really would have been in a way worse place and felt totally disconnected from my world.  Being home most days now for my continuing recuperation is barely tolerable without my people connections.   I am, and always will be, a people person.  I am around people all day when I am working and love it.  I have an amazing team of women who I work with that keep me motivated to be the best leader I can be.  In my job I get to support some incredible supervisors, managers and VP's, so people are what I am all about and to remove that from my world would be intolerable.

So, the next time someone you know is out of commission, in the hospital or just not feeling well reach out, stop by ,and visit or make an oveature so that they know you care.  It may just make the difference in their recovery.  PS, the flowers, cards, e-mails and phone calls were amazing as well and just added to the joy and love I felt each and everyday - I could feel myself improving with just the positive energy that it gave me.   Sometimes is does take a  village......

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tools to Get the Job Done

We use tools everyday and don't even think about what we would do without them.  In the horse world without a good hoof pick, a stall fork and the right saddle, bit and bridle a horse person would be ineffective.  As a less able bodied person without the right tools you cannot even function.  Occupational Therapy helped link this all back together and gave me the tools to ensure that I could function each and every day in my new world.

The main tools I use to help me during the day are - My dressing stick, which I can use to pull up pants, take off socks and to assist me in getting dressed. 

I also use an aid to get my socks on.  Since I am unable to bend at the waist due to my surgery and the brace I have to rely on either the hubby or my sock aid to get my socks on every day.  It is an amazing tool because it looks so odd, yet is so dang effective.  You essentially slide the sock over the device and drop it down and slip your foot in and pull the sock up with the long straps.  Works like a charm!
Last, but not in any way least is my "Reacher" which really does save my bacon daily.  I cannot bend so anything and everything that I drop ,which seems to be many things everyday, I need assistance in retrieving.  Well, the hubby was starting to roll his eyes when I would call him and say "it has fallen and it cannot get up!"  He will retrieve my cane, but I need to pick up the rest of the stuff and the reacher does the trick.  I have two of them, one up stairs and one down stairs and they have been great.

To help me get around I have my cane and a 4 Wheel Walker that I use.  My cane is the mainstay getting me around the house and when I go out in the world I take my walker.  A little shout out to the Hubby who got me a very cool cane that has multi-colored butterflies on it.  It is very colorful, and matches many outfits (that is what he thought when he got it for me).  I have received many compliments on it since it is so happy and colorful and much better than a generic gray one. My Walker is deluxe and it is a little more hip than the one I used in the hospital at first which I an thankful for.  If I had to learn to use a walker 30 years before I expected to at least make it cool and hip.  So, when they ordered me the 4 Wheel variety and it was "Red" I was a happy lady.  You know it is really the small things when a walker makes you happy :).

Lesson Number 6 - Always get the right tools for the job, even if you plan to later give them away or sell them when you no longer have a need for them! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Horses: In riding a horse, we borrow freedom....

Since this started with a horse experience it seems fitting that I had better explain why in the world after all of this I still want to ride and how and where it all started.   I guess it is in your blood or DNA?   Not sure, but it is in mine. 

As a child I dreamed of having a horse one day.  It usually starts small, a pony and then we build.  I was a city girl with little opportunity or access to being able to have a horse of my own.  But, you can always dream and pray and more nights than not I asked God, "Please bring me a Pony."  What in the world would my parents have done if they found a Pony grazing away in our back yard?  I could only hope.

My access to horses was intermittent, but memorable growing up.  My cousin, "P" had first one horse and then two when her Quarter Horse Mare had a foal.  I was so excited to see the baby, he was a bonus as they did not know the mare was pregnant when they got her.  When ever we would go to visit I got to ride.  At first I would ride double behind my cousin and then as I got older she would let me ride on my own.  It seemed like I had to wait forever for the other kids - my siblings, to get their rides done and then it was my turn.

That Mare was what we would call a "Packer" she was patient, kind, and put up with my lack of riding skills.  I would walk and trot her all over their field and some times we would even lope.  She was a little barn sour so I knew I should keep her away from the barn or she would run into her stall and I had better duck or off I would go.   You get to anticipate these things with horses and I never did fall off of her.  Riding that horse set in place my continued desire to have a horse of my own.  I was 9 or 10 years old. 

Fast forward 20 plus years.  I finally find myself in a situation where I can begin to make the horse dream happen.  I save up enough money to buy the horse, tack, and a trailer.  For years I have been attending horse shows, reading and dreaming about this day when I get my first horse.  I am 32 and finally I get to make it happen.  I start looking and know that I want to start with a great trail horse.  I have ridden my neighbors horse on the trail and he is part Appaloosa and I think that makes sense for a first horse.  I try out a few horses and only one stands out, but he is not an Appaloosa, he is an Arab. 

I know enough about horses as this point that I am really not sure I want an Arab, they are typically more "hot" than not and I am such a novice that I don't want to get off to a bad start.  I decide to meet him after talking to his owner.  She assures me that "Wizard" has been there and done that.  She tells me how she rode him across county in an organized trail ride to reenact the wagon train coming west, how he literally jumped a fire line when she was out trail riding and got stuck where she should not have been, and that he is calm and has been around the block.  So, I go give him a try.

My first impression is - OMG, he is White!  I later find out that in the Arab color world his color is really considered "Gray."  What ever his color is called it looks white to me and I know that I never envisioned owning a white horse.  I saw myself on something more brown - a bay (dark brown) or Sorrel (red/brown), but a white horse??   I take him for a test ride in their rock littered arena.  He is a good boy and walks, trots and lopes for me.  His trot is like a jack hammer, and I bounce around in the saddle which is way too big for me.  The owner tells me I should post his trot.  What the heck does that mean?  Boy, I was a green rider. 

I take him out in the neighborhood around their house with her daughter riding with me on her horse.  Cars, kids on electric trucks, sprinklers, none of it bothers him.  He just takes it all in stride....  The daughters horse is much more jumpy and ill at ease.  I head back to their house and know

I have found my "Dream Horse."  And so the journey begins....(To be continued)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rehab - Now the Real Work Starts

I wanted to do in patient rehab from the start becasue I knew it would get me the kick start needed.  I wanted to stay at Harborview to do it as they have one of the best Rehab programs around.  I have never been afraid of doing the hard work to accomplish something that you really want so doing in patient rehab just made total sense.  My Mom is a former Rehab nurse so I knew how it worked from hearing about her job over the years when I was growing up.  People are in rehab for a variety of health issues - stroke, heart attack, head injury, spinal cord injury, etc...

Day 6 following my injury I started my in patient rehab - I had Physical Therapy twice per day, Occupational Therapy twice and then Recreational Therapy once every couple of days - 5 days per week and Sundays were a day off.  Each theraphy has a different focus.

Physical Therapy would work on me - getting me walking, climbing stairs (since my house has quite few), strengthening my muscles, they are just like loose rubber bands after the injury.  They would create an exercise regime to address my issues that I would do in the hospital and later at home.  Occupational Therapy is focused on helping learn how to do day to day things in your life - showering, dressing, cooking (told them I was spoiled cause the hubby does this), they would help me navigate what had been easy with new tools and new ways of getting things done.  Recreational Therapy focuses on helping you navigate in the community - how do you go out and run errands, navigate side walks, streets, etc.. with a walker or cane.

Game on - I got two Physical Therapists day one, an Intern, "R"and a seasoned Therapist "J" who was evaluating "R".  They were both great and took great pains to evaluate me and establish goals for my therapy.  My right foot had been bothering me since the accident.  We were not sure if it was a sprain that I got when I fell or as result of the SCI.  It seemed like a sprain, but since my toes on the foot were not working correctly It was hard to determine and likely part of the overall injury to my spine.  They thought I may need a brace to give the foot some stability and spent time evaluating that need. Ultimately it was determined I would not need one.

We would focus first on walking with a walker and then stairs all while incorporating exercises to build strength, balance and flexibility.  Walking was different now than before.  I had to tell my body what to do where as before it was automatic.  With a SCI the path ways that work from the brain to your body are damaged and to rebuild them you must tell them what to do by focusing on asking for simple things like tighten your quads and glutes, lift your legs to climb stairs, bend your knees, etc...

These videos were taken day two in Rehab and show me walking with the walker and then assisted without the walker.  Just know that was nearly three weeks ago, so I have made great progress since then, but I felt it was important to see where I started.

Note, the special "Black Orthopedic Looking Shoes" I am wearing.  Special thanks to the Hubby for finding those style makers for me.  He spent hours at the mall trying to find them and then ended up at "Payless Shoes" for those special shoes.  Since my feet were very swollen and tender I was afraid my regular tennis shoes would not work.  Not to worry, hubby to the rescue.  Well, needless to say, those darn shoes, with no arch support and brick like insoles, hurt more than going bare foot in socks, which is what I did day one.  Those did not last another day and I left them at the hospital, they would not be part of my "shoe collection."

Lesson Number 5 - Never let the hubby or boyfriend buy you shoes!  Leave that to sisters, mothers or girlfriends and thanks to mine I ended up with some acceptable comfortable options.  Good effort hubby.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rehabilitation - Rewind, Relearn, Redo

It was no time after talking to the Ortho Docs about Rehab that a Rehab Doc was in to evaluate me.  The correct term for a doctor specializing in rehabilitation medicine is "Physiatrist ."  Well, of course the one who came to evaluate me looked just like Hillary Swank.  I kid you not, she was her younger version for sure.  Very nice as she took a pin and lightly poked me with it up and down my legs and feet to determine my sensation levels.  Yup, a regular safety pin.  By this time I had been so poked and prodded what did I care?  I just wanted to get on to my next steps in my recovery so if this is what needed to happen go for it.

I was moved to the Rehab floor on day 5 of my stay in Harborview.  When they have a bed for you on another unit these folks are serious about getting you moved.  They breeze in and say, "were moving you to Rehab" and I am saying ,"OK, great, my hubby will be here shortly to help," but they come in with a bed, a cart and they are moving me and all the stuff I have accumulated - flowers, books, general stuff.  I wondered if the hubby would find me in the maze of Harborview?  Off we go to Rehab.

My room on the Rehab floor is "Small "and it is a shared room.  Geez there is barely room for all of my stuff!  The hubby shows up and he does not like it I can tell.  With a bedside table, a walker, a wheel chair and a chair for visitors it is not the best use of space.  I am just happy to be there so I tell him to chill. 

I meet my roommate "V" who had a stroke and has been there for over a month.  She is nice and gives me some tips on what to expect.  I won't officially start rehab until the next day, but I am excited to be there even if I feel like I have gone from staying at a Westin in a suite to a Days Inn.  There are certainly different levels of accommodations as you move through the various levels in health care ICU to Medical to Rehab.

The Rehab Docs show up again and I meet my "Resident" Doctor - Doc "M"and the Head of the Unit- Doc "C"  Both, young and very nice.  The Resident - Doc M is making his rounds through the various units so he is doing his stint in Rehab now.  He gets to do the Pin test again and he pokes me all over from the waist down.  Ugh, do we really have to do this, but I guess so.  The day is filled with tons of people coming in and out of my room explaining the process.  There is a schedule posted on a white board that tells me what I need to be doing and when.  I literally have a team assigned - Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Therapeutic Recreation, Psychiatrist, Social Worker, and Nurses to make sure I get the full meal deal.

I am still having tons of pain mostly in my feet.- it is nerve pain which is incredibly painful and the pain meds barely take the edge off.  I was fitted with a brace while on medical floor that I have to wear it  any time I am out of bed - sitting, standing or walking where I am at 90 degrees.  So, I pretty much have to wear it all the time other than when I am sleeping.  It is called a Jewett Brace and it will keep my spine and torso supported and keep me from flexing forward and twisting - all not good for my healing back.  I cannot bend forward at the waist so I cannot pick anything up, I can't put on my own socks or shoes.  I really feel trapped without the brace. The worse part is at night when they take the brace off and I have to use the rest room.  I am like a turtle stuck on my back and at the mercy of the nursing staff.  The first few nights they didn't put it on to get me up and instead out came the bed pans.  I hated those things and was determined to get cleared so I could get up on my own.  Goals are an incredible thing to motivate you - Lesson Number 4 always have Goals- Write Them Down, Look at Them Often and Commit to making them Happen. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Harborview - Continued

Being in the hospital for an extended period of time is really no fun as you can imagine.  Some of the lighter moments are the only things that really get you through it each day.  The hubby loved to pick out my food from the menu they left us each day.  As soon as breakfast arrived and the menu was there he would grab the little wood pencil they left and start making "my selections" for the next days meals.  Of course, he asked for my input most of the time, but really he picked what "he thought I should have."  So, each and every day seemed like a mystery meal for me.  Fun?? Well, it was interesting.  I had little appetite so I did not really care.

It was when they moved me to the medical floor that they started to get real about next next steps.  They want you up and moving - no lying around.  No catheter cause you get to use a "bed side commode" which is such a fun thing.  When they got me up the first time I realized "girlfriend you are pretty messed up" as I tottled like a little baby , unbalanced, uncoordinated and able to take a  few steps with my new "walker."  OMG, I am going to have to relearn "A lot!"  I may be able to walk, but not like I use to.  Here I was getting to learn to use a walker "30 Years" before I had planned on using one.

For those who know me I am a "Go, Go, Person" I don't sit still much and I was always going and doing something.  This new reality hit me like a ton of bricks.  I could not even walk the same as I use to.  With a SCI (remember my new acronym) my injury was classified as a L2 Asia D which is how they rate and  classify injuries.  I have what is call an Incomplete SCI which means my spinal cord was damaged, but not severed.  What it means in reality to me is that from about my hips down is where I would see the  impact of the injury.  Yup, they were right. 

I have numbness across my lower back,  and the sensation if you touch my legs from my thighs down is off, it is just not as sharp as it use to be.  I had extreme nerve pain in my feet - imagine when your foot goes to sleep with the tingling and pins and needles and then add pain that feels like fire.  My feet were also very swollen so walking on them felt like I was walking on two big fat potatoes on the bottoms of each foot.  It was so disconcerting.  My right ankle was swollen and it made my right foot tip to the left and it just was not working right.  We think not only did I sprain it, but with the SCI I have less movement and range of motion as well as strength in my right leg.

Once the doctors know your diagnosis they are ready to move you forward and have you get better.  Rounds start early so if I was going to ask any questions of the doctors about next steps I better be up and with it.  Hence I wanted to get off the crazy pain meds as soon as possible so I could think and ask question.  On day 3 I was waiting for my ortho docs.  I had seen them briefly at one point when I was in ICU, another "Grey's moment," when three of them came in all decked out in their "North Face" athletic jackets, no scrubs for them, and looking every bit of "doctor McDreamy's" - young, athletic and "Wow!"  Gotta treasure those moments since hospital life was not exactly thrilling.

So when they came in on rounds next time I was ready, not on the drug pump, just taking the pills and I was going to get all my questions out.  Two of them breezed in, different "Ortho Docs," but I am ready.  They want to measure my strength in each leg and they do all these pushing, pulling, and resistance tests on each leg.  They seem happy with my "over all " leg strength.  I tell them about the foot pain and they ask me about rehab.  I tell them I want to do "In Patient" cause I know that it will get me off to the best possible start on my rehabilitation.  They both like that idea and will be sending down the Rehab Docs to evaluate me.  I guess it is not a given.  One of them asks about abut the accident, and it turns out he is a polo player.  He tells me that he expects I will ride again if I want to based on what he is seeing.  Since the hubby is still at "No More Horse Back riding" I figure I won't push it, but hey the Doctor is optimistic.  He leaves by saying "of course you were wearing a helmet/"  I just smile that little smile that says, "Yeah, right."

So here I am day 3 after a SCI and I still want to ride?  It is in your blood when you are a true horse person.  You can't stop the feelings that it gives you and the desire to want to ride is such a strong pull that even an injury so extreme as mine cannot keep me from wanting to be back in the saddle.......... Rehab here I come.

Monday, February 21, 2011

SCI - The Latest Acronym I Get To Learn

OK, so I have a SCI, a Spinal Cord Injury.  Yup, might as well say it.  Yes, the wonderful doctors at Haborview were able to put me back together, but I was and will remain broken.  You may fix the issue, but the injury remains.  My spinal column was reduced by 50% at T12 and I had a nick on my spinal cord caused by a bone fragment.  All of these have been fixed, but the results are what I am experiencing. 

Might as well say it since that is why this post is happening at 1:30 am when I cannot sleep due to the pain.  In the hospital it was OK, but at night it is terrible, nights are the worst.  I have tried every bed in the house, sitting, standing, walking, just have to keep moving to not notice it.  I hope and pray it gets better, but right now it is not good.  Yes, I will be real here since that is the only way I know how to be.

My body does not work the same as it did. My right side is now my weaker side.  My left is so much stronger.  The big toe and the one next to it on my right foot don't move.  They are kind of like foreign objects on my body.  I keep trying, but they just won't bend.  I cannot raise my right root up on my toes on one foot.  I can do with both feet, but not on the right.  I think I sprained my right ankle when I fell.  It keeps swelling up.  It did not seem right in the hospital so they x-rayed it and it was not broken. 

I have to tell my body what to do now with a SCI, nothing is automatic.  Lift your leg to climb the stairs.  tighten your muscles in your legs and glutes to walk.  Don't swing your hips because that will move your back which we don't want to do right now.  The good news is with work things can and do get better.  How much remains to be seen. 

I work out and do my exercises everyday.  I will start PT again next week.  Yes, it is hard and yes it is not what I envisioned that I would do, but remember I am tough and I keep at it every day.  The pain is hard.

Lesson number 3 - Live Each Day as Though It Were Your Last (I will live by this going forward forever since my last day as the former me was 1/29/11), Good Night!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Grey's Annatomy For Real

I am a real Grey's Anatomy fan.  In fact I credit that show for helping me tolerate blood.  Not ER, or St. Elsewhere (remember that one) all of which I have been a fan of off and on over the years.  Grey's is my favorite for sure and if I can't watch when it is on I definitely catch up on it with my DVR. 

Being in Harborview was my own Grey's Anatomy episode.  Day one in the ER after I found out that I could self medicate - gotta love those little buttons, I was ready for anything.  I felt pretty good as drugs can do for you when you are sick.  My room mate (Yup, have one of those cordoned off rooms with a curtain again), was in way worse shape than me.  She had been in a car accident and had a tube down her throat to breathe.  I spent most of my two nights in ICU listening  her night nurse telling her what happened and why they had her hands tied down - cause she was trying to pull the tube out.  Press the little button Michelle and go night, night :)

By day two I was feeling pretty good and before I knew it my room was filled with junior docs and their teacher.  Wow, they all had the blue scrubs and white coats they listened intently as my ICU nurse "E" gave them a full report.  Some were taking notes, but most were all staring at me and their teacher was reading all the medical terms etc... about my surgery and prognosis.  Was it a dream?  I am in a Grey's Anatomy episode and that doctor teaching them is Meridith, right?  It really was very cool to know that this is how it really works.

I got moved out of ICU pretty quickly, I don't think I was really there 48 hours.  Not sick enough, off to medical floor for you.  I have always been a bit of a medical junky, with a Mom who is a nurse, a sister who is a pharmacist and two cousins that are doctors.  I have always wanted to know how it all worked and what it meant.  I am very logical and sequential so medicine works for me.  If I could do it over I would have been a vet, a doctor for animals seems easier than one for people. So unfortunately, I understood what was going on most of the time and it  also means that you end up knowing a bit too much about your medical condition...........

Friday, February 18, 2011

Harborview - The Real Seattle Grace/Mercy West

OK, so after the MRI I really only recall someone telling me I would be going to surgery.   I think it was the ER doc or one of the Ortho docs.  I knew the surgery was for my back, but I still was not fully aware of the extent of my injury.  I think that was a good thing.  I just dozed off into a morphine induced sleep with little to no awareness, sweet dreams.

I came out of surgery fine, nearly 7 hours later and there were Bob and K waiting for me in recovery.  Wow, it seemed like a long surgery I thought, well Duh, they had to fix your spine you silly morphine induced lady.  I tell you I think the drugs are a good thing to keep you calm and less apt to focus on the reality, for now....

When they told me they were taking me up to ICU I think it began to sink in that I was pretty messed up.  ICU, that is for the really sick people, so why would I be going there I thought?  Maybe they just didn't have beds in the other part of the hospital?  No, really, that is what I was telling myself when it sunk in, "you just had major surgery and they need to monitor you, silly lady." 

OK, so there is a certain order of things in hospitals and ICU is at the top of the food chain.  You get one on one nursing attention and monitoring.  Yes, they seem to wake you up every 15 minutes to take your vital signs, but the service is top cabin.  My nurse "E" was absolutely the best.  Spunky, young, and very with it.  She was always there for me, think concierge at the best hotel and that is how ICU seemed to work. 

Once I was more awake and off the anaesthesia Bob told me what they had to do.  Broken vertebrae at T12, repaired  with my bone and cadaver bone to recreate the vertebrae that was broken into pieces and then they inserted two metal rods along the spine to effectively fuse the two vertebrae above T12 and the two below to stabilize my spine.  Wow, I really did it up good this time!   E, showed us pictures on the computer of the MRI before surgery and then after.  It was crazy and I hope to get digital copies to share.  The before showed my spine completely unconnected and off set, Ugh, and then with the repair I felt much more secure that I was going to walk out of that hospital.  Was I?  I guess I would find out soon.

It was not until later that night when my Boss, his wife and another VP from work came to visit that Bob slipped in that there was damage to the spinal cord by a bone fragment.  OK, hubby, what are you thinking not telling me the whole story and then sharing it at such an opportune (not) time??  He assured me, and the visitors they were able to easily repair it and no spinal fluid had leaked out.  Great, so this is how you let me down easy.  Thanks Bob.  I was going to have to have a talk with him later.  Give it to me and let me know it all!  I can handle it and after all I am the one who has to deal with it.  He assured me that was all, no more surprises and  I hoped he was right.   I had been so drugged up I really was not comprehending much going into surgery and had to rely on others for those lapses in time.

Later Lulu told me that they knew the status at Providence of my injury, but the ER doc there did not want to tell me.  That is why Lulu was able to keep the junior docs from messing me up in the ER at Harborview when they wanted to roll me over. 

Really people, I can handle it.  I am tough and I knew if from the moment I hit the ground.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


OK, so who really wants to go to Harborview?  If you have lived in Seattle long enough you know a few things - you will meet many characters at a County hospital.  But, the real reason to go to Harborview is because they do Trauma better than anyone else around. Grey's Anatomy can't even stand up to them. 

The ambulance ride seemed quick from Everett to Seattle and they even turned on the siren which was kind of cool.  Being on a back board and unable to see anything except what was straight above me gave me an interesting perspective on the experience to say the least. 

For those who have known me over the years this was not my first ambulance ride to a hospital due to a horse riding incident.  I think I should take note.  It does get a little fuzzy as they continue to give me the pain medication so here is my best recollecting of the events.

I am rolled into a room in the ER and the questions start again.  Lulu, my steadfast companion and advocate, is there by my side and then of course I have to sign off that she can be there, sure no problem. 

The room is cordoned off with a highly effective sheet drape barricade that makes for absolutely no privacy, but hey you just roll with it.  A legion of junior doctors want to roll me over and look at my back to see if there is a wound.  Lulu to the rescue as she sends them off - what the heck are you thinking "Look at the info that came down with us from Everett???"  The CT scan shows it all! The said they don't trust other hospitals.  OK, so off I go to the MRI so they can know what is going on.  Don't move me you guys, I have a spinal cord injury!

Of course it would not be Harborview without the requisite crazy person begging for drugs in the draped off area next to me.  He was loud, he was rude, and of course the police want to have him shackled down (Lovely).  He was not a total bad guy cause once he got the pain meds he came around and apologized for his behavior.  What a great place for K (stepdaughter) to be and see at 14, but she was a real trooper. 

I cannot thank Lulu enough for being there with me and being my advocate in the hospital.  She helped ensure that I would be able to walk out!  (Lesson number 2 - if you think you can't advocate for yourself have someone there to do it for you)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Accident Part 2

After the paramedics got me off the arena ground and into the ambulance I asked them to take me to Providence, Everett.  Why?  Well, because it was close to home and Harborview (The only level 1 Trauma Center serving 4 states - WA, AK, MT, ID) always seems to be where the toughest cases went and of course I didn't need all that right??

I asked Lulu to accompany me in the ambulance and to not leave me because I had no idea when Bob may be able to connect with us.  Lulu was a nurse and she would not let anything happen to me (remember be your own advocate), and boy, no one would mess with her when she had your back.  I chose well as I would later find out.  The paramedics would not let Lulu ride in the back of the ambulance with me ( that only happens in the movies), but she sat up front with the driver and could talk to me through an open window that connected with the back compartment. 

Staring at the ceiling of an ambulance strapped to a hard back board is no fun.  I started to feel anxious and asked the paramedic if I could hold his hand.  He obliged and tried to comfort and distract me.  Every bump of the road was excruciating to my back.  We got to Providence and the questions started again - what happened, did you hit your head, what is your address...... I could have recited it all in my sleep at this point.  Bob and K (my step daughter) arrived in the emergency room and many comments ensued about how much dirt I drug with me from the arena.  I was a little embarrassed, but that passed when they said they were going to take me for a CT scan.  OK, now we would know what we had going on here. 

This is where is starts getting a little fuzzy as they continued to give me pain medication ( morphine) and boy they kept it coming.  I had to sign a release to let Lulu stay with us in the ER and to have information about my condition.  Boy, they are serious about the privacy info, but I wanted her near by and readily signed away.  The next thing I knew after the CT scan they were sending me to Harborview?? Why?  I guess I missed that part, but would find out soon.  Oh, boy Harborview here we come......

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Accident Part 1

It really is amazing how you know something is terribly wrong the moment it happens.  I knew I was broken and when my legs began to go numb and tingle as I lay there on the arena ground I knew it was my back.  I had help and comfort immediately as my trainer-"K" and "Lulu" as well as others were right there.  "Can you get up "K" asked?" No, I broke my pelvis or my back, call 911 and someone please get my cell phone so I can call Bob ( the hubby).  I knew where my car keys were and I could direct "C" to my car and to get my purse.  Bring the purse not just the phone I told her since I knew I would not be coming back to drive home. 

It seemed like forever for them to get in touch with Bob and for the paramedics to arrive.  I really wasn't in much pain, more scared than anything.  I could feel my toes, good sign right? They wanted to put a blanket over me and to prop up my head I didn't want them to do that.  Don't move my legs I told them and I was insistent. 

Things flash through your mind so quickly and I had to go there - well if I am paralyzed at least I can move my arms, that is better than others.  It was done, I couldn't go back, all I could do was go forward.

The paramedics arrived in force.  Big burly guys surrounded me.  OK, life wasn't all bad that day.  They came at me from every direction - starting the pain meds, asking me questions.  "Did you hit your head?" "No, I landed on my right hip and back side."  I did not lose consciousness, I was alert for every moment.

They wanted to move me and I would not let them roll me or move my legs.  I made them get creative to get me off of that arena ground and part of the arena dirt ended up coming with us.  They used a back board that was split to scoop me up and wrapped my legs so they would not move.   Of course in true medic fashion they wanted to cut off my clothes and once again I held fast - Nope, you can cut off the shirt sleeves, but the pants stay on until we get into the ambulance.  Some how it was not that important as they were able to remove all my clothing later at the hospital without further damage to them or me.  Lesson Number 1 - Be your own advocate.

January 29th - A day I will want to remember or forget

January's have not been kind to me for the past two years, usually they are a time for renewal, a new year, a fresh start, but for me and my family they have not been so kind.  In 2010 our house was robbed and all my jewelry along with our electronics and my computers were stolen.  In one random act we were left totally violated.  I won't forget it and I still morn the loss of items of jewelry I had collected for years.

January 29th will be a day that I either want to remember or forget.  It started normally enough - a Saturday riding lesson on a horse that I would be leasing for the show season.  He is a well trained horse, kind ,and has been around the show circuit.  I was excited to add some new classes to those I show in.  I would be doing my lesson with English tack.  A small leather saddle which allows real close contact with the horse.  I loved riding English style with the faster pace and more forward motion.  It suited me.  The day was normal and I was excited as I always am excited to be at the barn with the women I ride with, to take a lesson and learn something new.  The camaraderie and atmosphere is wonderful and I love my Saturday routine, barn and then errands.  I live for my hobby, it is my passion and it keeps me going.

What happen that day to set Casey off remains a mystery to me.  We had been going around the arena, my trainer made some tack adjustments to get my legs back further.  I took my coat off.  I really was just sitting there on Casey when something set him off, he got his head up and I tried to get it down, he leaped forward and just took off.  He got spooked by something. I tried to stop him, to grab his mane to have something to hang on to............. 

I knew I was going to fall off, there is nothing that you can do when the horse literally leaps out from under you when you are riding on an English saddle, no saddle horn like on a western saddle to grab. I fell off to the right, I broke the reins with my fall, I hit hard on my right hip and back side.  I felt something, it really did not hurt because it went numb, all the way down my legs.  I knew something in my body broke.  My back, my pelvis, something broke.............