Monday, August 23, 2010

a life forever changed

     9 years ago today my life changed forever.  I had an accident while working as a CNA & fell down . That day lives forever in my memory & I've relived it countless times.  That day I was running down a hallway after a patient w/ severe Alzheimer's disease that was going out the 3rd floor door to the stairway. He wasn't conscious of what he was doing  & was also physically impaired. He was pretty much guaranteed to get hurt :( I was the only one around & had to act quickly to help him. So..I ran for him..& just as I got almost to him I slipped on a huge puddle from the leaking air conditioner . Down I went ..ass over tea kettle as they say ..I smacked my head & shoulder off of the unforgiving linoleum. Somehow b/c of adrenaline I assume I got back up  right away & still grabbed "Wilbur " & got him out of harms way . Other nurses had come out of the patients rooms by then & had witnessed my tumble. I was embarrassed & shaken & sore ..but, I knew that we were understaffed & tried to get right back to work. Moments later my legs went numb & off to the ER they hauled me.  

     Once I was in the ER it moved pretty quickly & frankly things got pretty hazy for me. They thought that I'd broken my neck in the fall & had me restrained & supported.  The doctors ran a million tests on me.. My shoulder was badly injured , I'd obtained some sort of head injury which caused them to run a million more tests ..It got pretty scary & I got foggier & foggier ..my speech started to slur like I was drunk. When they finally determined that my neck wasn't broken just extremely whip-lashed  & let me out of my restraint I could hardly walk. It was pretty goddamn scary!  They couldn't figure it out & to make a long story short it took them over a week to diagnose me w/ what they called a  mild traumatic brain injury .  It surely felt far from mild to me! 
     I couldn't talk very well & on the few occasions over the next few months that I did go out into public w/ my speech impediment I was treated as though I was mentally handicapped & given those smiles of pity that only the disabled can understand. The people giving them mean well no doubt but, the recipient seldom wants that attention & pity . My walking was impaired like that of a stroke victim so my one leg pretty much dragged behind me like my name was Igor ..my left arm was also pretty useless..thank god I'm right handed. Even that didn't do much good b/c when I coudln't speak intelligently to another person & was asked to write it out for them..I struggled to even do that . Forming words & finding the corrects ones was a monumental task all of the sudden .   I even carried a notebook & pen b/c this happened so often & frankly I had to write everything down b4 I forgot it . I had been an honors student especially  in English ..& now I could hardly speak & barely even write down the simplest of things.  I obviously couldn't drive a car in my condition & had to walk or w/e you could call it at that point everyplace that I went . The problem w/ that was that I would also get lost a bit more than a block from my apt & not be able to recognize places that I'd been to a million times .. 
thank god I managed to get a cell phone to make all of those pathetic 'I'm lost again" calls.
     I coudln't work in that condition so I had to rely on the measly workman's comp checks ..resulting in a lot of debt & struggling. I attended a day program for people w/ brain injury's. I have to admit that I resented it immensely !  I had been on the other end of this kind of treatment only weeks ago  & now I was the patient. I attended physical therapy every week day to re-learn walking & balance .  I struggled w/ so many things at that point ..going to stores was overstimulating & overwhelming & I would leave crying on more than one occasion simply b/c there were too many damn shampoos to choose from. I hated the "new" me, the "stupid me" , the "disabled me" ..I was young..only 20 ..soon to be 21 ..I was supposed to be partying ..I was supposed to be starting college to get my degree in surgical nursing (something they later told me would never happen b/c of my permanent impairments.)  I didn't know what I had done to deserve this , & felt so confused & depressed that my injury was caused by trying to help someone else! How could a good deed be punished so harshly? It just wasn't fair!! I was depressed , majorly depressed & was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder . I had terrible pain b/c of my back & neck injuries ..and while I'd love to say that that part is so much better now ..the truth is that I'm still in pain everyday. I do Yoga & go to see my Chiropractor but, they've told me that I can never hope to be "pain free" ..what a lovely thought!? 
I'd also managed to injure both sides of my jaw pretty good in the fall & had constant jaw pain & eventually had to have surgery on both sides of my jaw. ..All of this from one puddle ..from one good deed gone very bad...
I've had a LOT of therapy for this ..& I won't lie..I probably still need more. I felt like my life was ruined & the path that I'd intended was forever changed. I was damaged beyond repair in some ways both physically & mentally ...I hated everything there was to hate at that point .
...now I'm not telling this story to make anyone feel bad for me..I'm not trying to throw a giant pity party for myself ..I'm just telling this story mostly for my own healing ..one that I haven't really told to many people ..In fact most people that know me now don't know that I'm "brain damaged" . I find that can be both a blessing & a curse ..b/c while I don't want people to judge me based on that or treat me differently or as "special " I also have times when I do need a break & wish folks knew that I wasn't just a flake or a dumb blond..that there really is a good reason why I forgot about our coffee date or can't remember X , Y or Z..
Or..maybe I'm not just completely insane for being totally OCD about any sort of puddle or ice ..maybe I have a good reason to be scared..
    In 9 years I've obviously come a long way from not being able to walk w/o looking like Igor or barely being able to speak or write..It was a long road & a fight to say the least.  I'm not back to the "old me" I can barely remember her now. I don't know what she would think of the "new me" but, I hope that she would be proud of how far I've come , the strength that I've tried to show & the lessons that I've learned in all of this . I may have had a long journey back to "normal" but, I'll never be the same again ...& I'm just starting to be ok w/ that ..I'm a better person after all of this ..that is all I can hope for 





    

8 comments:

Kristine said...

I don't have anything to say, but that I'm in total awe. But, I wanted to say something because you deserve it.

punk rock michelle said...

thanks hun! :D I appreciate it!

Lauren said...

I had no idea that you went through that. When you mentioned going to the chiropractor it never crossed my mind. That really sucks. Really fucking sucks.

punk rock michelle said...

thanks Lauren..it does suck but, it made me who I am today & brought me to this place in life which isn't all bad really

Mom and Kiddo said...

What a difficult journey. No doubt your child will see all the strength in you.

punk rock michelle said...

thanks so much! I try to find the good in it & hope that one day my daughter will be proud of me

punk rock michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What a journey. I had a TBI when I was 5. Since I was so little my brain was able to rewire itself. I still have memory issues. It takes me awhile to learn things. I get jealous of my husband because he can remember everything and I have to write everything down a million times before it sticks. I can empathize somewhat.

I don't know what else to say. Never give up. :)