This One Time at NORML Camp......
My one-year anniversary of my surgery came and went on August 30th. I wanted to spend that day CELEBRATING my son’s birthday, rather than recalling something traumatic, which I’m sure you can appreciate! So off we go!
What I want to speak about in this writing is a bit of the turn of events, and what I learned about myself, and to hopefully help someone else with some tips on how to help yourself before an accident catches you off-guard and some food for thought.
For those that don’t know, I moved to Colorado in late 2017. I had not really established many deep connections yet, and I was at the beginning of most of my friendships. Seven months upon arriving in Colorado, my brother unexpectedly passed and that really threw me. I was grieving and learning how to be in this world without my big brother. So my connections were a bit slower than it would have been under normal conditions. Most of the people I have met--has been while doing volunteer work, or at Denver NORML meetings or events. I had exchanged numbers with some women and had seen a couple of them away from those events socially, and I was beginning to form connections, but all quite new. I also did Reiki at some local events for Primal Therapeutics, where I also made some new friends.
Fast-forward to July 23, 2019 at an event that I had not planned to go to because I had some trips already planned a week later, and visitors coming shortly after returning from my travel. My intuition told me that I was overbooked and overdoing, but I ignored it because I really wanted to let loose, and have some fun. The next thing I knew, I was off on a group camping trip with NORML, a couple of hours from home. It was a beautiful location. Those first few hours were great, that is, until I broke my leg/ankle, and all of a sudden, camping was over. It was dark when I got out of my car and stepped in a hole, I heard a pop, and down I went. I remember sitting there on the ground in the dirt saying to myself, “you didn’t listen to your intuition and now look!” Funny what comes to your mind. I'm usually a deep follower of my intuition, but every so often, I tempt fate. Usually at some kind of peril for me. ;-)
After having to be driven back home, and then to the ER, I learned that not only did I need surgery, they would need to add a titanium plate and 6 screws into the leg/ankle area to put me back together. They wanted to schedule surgery then, but I needed to figure a few things out before I could commit. They gave me 2 dates and I left knowing a decision had to be made asap. There was so much to do to prepare for surgery because I don't have family around, I was on my own, trying to figure out how to think logically while in shock. It was absolutely overwhelming.
I took a Lyft home from the ER. I made a million calls, drugged out of my head, and scared. I searched high and low for someone, most of my contacts were out of state, to see if someone could come and help me. I called my retired friends and family who I knew were home, and no one could just drop everything to come, except one person, my 24-year-old son. He took off of work and came to help his momma. He was my hero, because I needed help more than ever before, and he flew across the US to be here for me. Frankly, I don’t know what I would have done without him. He was there for the surgery, and the first week out of surgery. He saw me at my worst. I've been down before, but this was a whole other level. He got my wheelchair, oxygen, food, cooked for me, he did everything he could to be of help. He might be young, but he was mature, responsible, and FREAKING AMAZING!
I had my surgery on his 25th birthday, and we celebrated the next day, with me being completely off my face and I have video to prove that…me singing to him as he was lighting a tealight candle on top of a dessert. Doubt either of us will forget it, because we are big birthday celebratory people, and what a way to spend a milestone birthday! I would have much rather been doing what we planned. Celebrating at his house with he and his girlfriend. Not this!! So, although I was happy to have him here, I barely remember it. I was so out of it. It felt like a dream, still does. I do know that I owe him a proper celebration, still! Because of course, covid kept me from spending his 26th with him. So disappointing.
My son could only be here for a week and I was going to be off of my leg for months. I was lying in bed, with my leg in a cast, looking at the fact that the wheelchair wouldn’t fit through most of my doorways, i.e. bathroom, laundry room, guest room, I was unable to stand to cook meals, and was not great in the wheelchair yet, having to maneuver with that leg extended up and out, the crutches are not that easy to manage, even a few feet, when your drugged and weak. I realized that I was not going to be able to do this alone. I was so full of anxiety. I wasn't sure where to turn.
One of my flaws is that I have an extremely hard time asking for help. It’s hard enough to ask for help from those whom I’ve known for decades, but most of my friends in Colorado were new. The thought of having to impose on others was excruciating. One of the women that was at the campout volunteered to come and stay until I could take care of myself. It put my son and I at ease. It was something we could both stop worrying about. Once he left, the woman reached out to let me know that she had ended up in the hospital herself, out of state. So, not only could I not be of service to her, I was now in need of someone else to help me.
One of my friends from home was travelling in Italy when everything happened. She made calls on Italy time, in the middle of the night for me, but I was so relieved to hear a familiar voice, I didn’t care. A few days after returning home from her vacation, she flew out from California to help me. She did so much for me, she did everything I couldn’t. Having her here was so calming for me, she’s like a sister to me. So, her visit not only helped physically, but emotionally too. The fear and loneliness that I was feeling was in-describable, and her presence changed everything. I felt lifted up, so I was able to deal with things a little better.
She reminded me that it was a temporary situation, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time. I couldn't find the words to say how I was really feeling. I was struggling to see myself free from the wheelchair, even in the future. I was in such a strange mind-space. I had physical disabilities before this accident. I had now broken what was considered my “strong side” and I wasn’t so sure that I could be “rehabbed” back to my old normal. I just couldn't see it and I'm great a visualization. So, it was great to have someone here to remind me it would be temporary. After a few days of bliss with my friend, she had to get back home to hubby and her 3 kiddos. I hated to say good-bye. I had a really good cry that day but I was driven to figure out how to move forward.
I made the decision to move beyond my fear around asking for help. I put together a group text of everyone I had exchanged numbers with, and perhaps had visited with them on more than one occasion, enough to exchange numbers. Out of the people on the text, all but 4 were fairly new people in my life. We didn’t really “know” each other, if that makes sense? I sent the text asking for help and fell asleep for hours. When I woke up, I had one text, from a woman I had met and socialized with a bit at NORML events. She was at the campout but I didn't see her until the group picture when we were leaving. She didn’t live all that far from me, and was willing to help me get to appointments. Moments later, another text came, a woman who lived about 20 miles away, said she had a shower chair and a walker, and she brought me the items and sat and visited with me on a couple of occasions. Another woman who I had rented a room from when I first arrived in Colorado, called to check on me and did a Trader Joe's run for me. Even a woman I had sat next to at the nail salon, we had become new friends, she came and got me for appointments, and even took me out to eat a couple times when I felt up to it. All of these people were just extraordinary to me. They were the sheros I would forever be grateful. The people that came through to help--taught me some things that I really needed to learn, about myself, and others.
• It is not weakness to ask for help.
• Even if we can do everything ourselves, life is more rewarding if you can do it with others.
• Don’t make life-changing decisions in a temporary situation.
• ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INTUITION/GUT!
• Giving is only one side of the coin. The second side, which rounds it out, is in the receiving. Be open to receiving help.
• Just because you have history with someone doesn’t mean they will be available to help in a crisis. Have a backup plan.
• Friends can come from places you might not imagine. Maybe even from strangers.
• Be of service! Help others when you can, because you may need help someday. Your help might not come from the person you helped, rather someone you might not even know yet.
• There are some amazing people in this world who find joy in being of service to others.
I ended up being off of my leg for several months. Home physical therapy and occupational therapy, but I had a lot of nerve damage, and torn and damaged ligaments, which led to a very slow recovery. As I said, I was already dealing with physical disabilities before this accident, so my life was just getting back to some normalcy when covid hit.
So, how's my health today? I now have a strange little limp sometimes, and pain in my big toe when walking. And one of the strangest and most inconvenient things, is that I have a screw-head that sticks out that is located on the outside ankle bone. I never knew how many times I knocked that bone up against things until hitting it with that screw sticking out. I cry every time!
Since the surgery, and being intubated, I’ve not felt the same in my throat and breathing, being a singer, I notice it! I’ve had some new dental issues, and I have a reoccurrence of childhood asthma, that requires an inhaler. I have had some other health issues and my recovery time has been much slower than it was before, and with fibromyalgia, it was already slow.
In March, at the beginning of covid, I was pretty sick for 42 days, and it required antibiotics, and a host of other meds to get through it. I still don’t feel right and I’m in the process of having tests to find the source of the problem.
When I saw my doctor earlier this week, he said that often when people have foreign objects in their body; titanium, nickel, breast implants, etc., they report strange occurrences in their health, like not feeling well but not really knowing why. Then they make the decision to have the items surgically removed and some report feeling better. But there was also no proof that “I” would feel any better removing the hardware. Not to mention, I’m not so sure at my age, that I’d do well going through another surgery. Of having to be intubated again, and then the recovery process, with the no weight bearing etc. It’s more than I can even think about right now. I do have a friend that had her hardware removed and she does feel better. So, I do have a personal “good” story to have it removed, however, she is 19 years younger. At this point though, I am of the belief that I need more time to consider things before I decide to have another surgery.
Another way I hope this blog is of service to others is to share that it’s important, no matter your age, and especially if you live alone, or if you are a caregiver, that you have an emergency plan in place just in case you can’t drive yourself to appointments, or go to the store, or cook for yourself. Your plan must include a list of people that you have discussed the process. The “in case of emergency” process. Perhaps you have a friend or neighbor or two that you could meet and agree to do this for each other. And it’s always nice to have a few people on call just in case because not everyone will be able to drop everything to help when you need it and vice versa.
· If you haven’t already, and if it is available in your area, go ahead and get signed up for grocery delivery and give a try to make sure everything is a go. (Call your local stores)
· If you don’t have that availability, know what your options are if you do suddenly find yourself down.
· Make sure someone you trust and that lives nearby, has a key to your home.
· You could sign up with mail order prescription plans in case you cannot drive.
· Make arrangements with someone to walk your dog/empty cat box.
· Make arrangements with a trusted friend/neighbor to help with your mail, and taking out your trash, help with laundry, cleaning, etc.
· Get signed up with food delivery like Grubhub, DoorDash, etc. Go ahead and signup now and have your payment info on file so that if you need an emergency delivery, everything is all set up.
· If you have a vehicle that you cannot drive, make sure that you have someone start it and even give it a drive so that the battery stays charged up, and to make sure no animals move in under the hood. (This happened to me—when I was ready to drive, after my accident, I couldn’t because rabbits/squirrels chewed all of my electrical wiring, rendering my car useless. Had to have it towed and repaired).
· Open an account with Lyft, taxi, or a car service in case you need a ride to and from an appointment. Again, set this up in advance so that it’s ready to use if you need it in an emergency. (Remember, I took a Lyft home from the ER the day they set my leg. You just never know.)
Some of these things may seem so obvious, however I’m a super organized person, yet I didn’t have some of those things in my emergency plan. Maybe, my lesson learned can help you be more prepared?
Thank you to Anthony, Caterina, Don, Jeramiah, John, Judy, Kathy, Kourtney, and the Sacred Sisters and every person who sent a text, a card, sent goodies, etc.
I am especially grateful to the women of the cannabis community here in Denver for stepping up and helping me when I couldn’t help myself. Some from the moment it was broken at camp. Christina, Dee, Jordan, Katie, Lisa, Priscilla, Sarah, and everyone else at the camp that helped. I appreciate all that you did back then, and all that you do now, as friends. They say that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps my broken ankle happened for me to know who my real friends were, who my new tribe were, and are. I love you, my tribe! Thank you for being there, for including me, for coming to the birthday potluck when I was too weak to leave my house. Thank you so much for your love and your friendship. You are loved and appreciated from the bottom of my heart. I hope one day I can repay your kindnesses.
And to my son, Michael, YOU ARE MY HERO! I cannot thank you enough for what you did for me in my hour of need. I love and appreciate you more than mere words could say!
Well, there it is—the big story of the last year and what I learned. I hope that there will be something here that will be helpful for everyone.
In Love and Light!
This One Time at NORML Camp.......
I'm the one with the crutches!
Before the ER
I'm now a bionic woman
Grateful for plant medicine
My 58th Bday w/the women from Denver NORML
Yes, that's the screw head at the bottom