Thursday, May 31, 2007

No Time in the Pokey

Yesterday afternoon was my court date. Apparently since I was unable to accept my ticket at the scene of the accident, I had to appear in person in court to accept my fate. Len hired a lawyer to represent me because I was still unable to appear at the first scheduled date. The lawyer was there to postpone it a month for me. He was also there yesterday for me.

As I have explained before, I was going the wrong way in one of those lanes that change direction of travel. I was confused and paid a hefty price for it. Anyway, I was cited for improper lane change. I planned to plead guilty and pay the fine.

But, no, Mark Gaffney the lawyer said, let's see how this plays out. Turns out the judge was one of Mr. Gaffney's law professors back in the day. Then, the "victim" (wasn't that ME?) never showed up, and the case was dismissed. Whoa! No fine, no record, no inflated insurance rates? Hurrah! Best part is, my time began at 5 p.m. and we were in the car by 5:11. Who knew Atlanta traffic court was so efficient?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Invalid Invalid

I often joke with Len that I feel like an invalid (as in not valid) invalid. But, it's really not funny.

As a person in a wheelchair, however temporarily, I observe the actions of the people around me -- how they interact, what they do -- and I must say I am appalled that folks don't have more compassion or understanding when it comes to the handicapped.

I get stares from grown people who should know better. I know what they are thinking when they see me: "She's so young, I wonder how it happened. That poor woman." Etc. Truth is, people see me and other injured folks as a reminder that anything can happen, and it frightens them. I know because I have felt that way.

Innappropriate stares from the able-bodied isn't where it stops. To add insult to injury, life for the handicapped is a thousand times more difficult because very little accommodates their needs.

I recently went to a nearby fabric store to purchase a couple items for a project. The giant glass doors were not automatic, so I had to push them to get in. I made it, though, and I placed a basket on my lap and began to shop. I got stuck in an aisle and items protruding from the shelves nudged my basket to the floor and everything spilled out. No one was around to help, so I struggled to get the items from the floor. I paid and backed my chair to the door to push out when a young man walking by outside saw me and opened the door for me. (Very nice!)

I will begin physical therapy next week, and there is a facility just two blocks from my house. I thought it would be great to just wheel down for the therapy, but nixed the idea when I saw that the sidewalks in between are not built with the mini-ramps needed at the intersections. That, and the fact the sidewalks are very uneven means I'll have to be driven to sessions. Two blocks.

I can't reach the top shelf of my refrigerator. I can barely wash my hands in the sink because it's too high. I am using the smallest wheelchair available for adults and I only just fit through the doorways in my house.

This weekend, Len and I went with some friends to the annual Decatur Arts Festival. Half of the booths were in the grass and poor Len pushed me hard to get me through. At one point we had to turn and go all the way around a line of booths that we had just passed because there were steps at the end. We had to go back to where we started just to get out.

There were loads of people there and when some people saw me they pushed through in front of me -- like I was a city bus that no one wanted to sit behind in traffic. By rudely pushing through ahead of me, they saved themselves a good two seconds. At one point I said loudly, "Don't mind the woman in the wheelchair. She doesn't matter."

Come on, people. Life is difficult enough for the disabled. Why make it more difficult? My legs don't work right, but otherwise I'm exactly like everyone else. I matter.

I'll be out of this chair soon, thankfully, and I will again join the ranks of the able-bodied. But, I won't push ahead of the wheelchair-bound, and I won't avoid their eyes. Instead, I'll smile as they pass. Just like I would any other human being.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I am not a drug addict!

Okay, so I've been taking some pretty serious narcotics for pain since returning from the hospital, including oxycodone and such. But about a week ago I decided to do only over the counter painkillers and tried Aleve, which worked for the most part. Last night though, I fell asleep before taking my nighttime dose. And this morning, I passed altogether on the pills. I have not had pain medication of any kind since 7 a.m. yesterday. I feel some discomfort, but not enough to do anything about it. I'll take the occasional pill when I expect a particularly arduous day. Point is, I was on heavy narcotics for eight weeks and I'm glad to be free of 'em.

One more box to check off in my recuperation plan.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nerve News

I went to see a neurologist this morning. Dr. Mishu was very personable and likable -- Dr. Furie has a lot less personality. I went to find out what kind of damage had been done to my nerves in my left leg and foot. I have a condition called "foot drop" which means I can't raise my left foot. I also a good bit of tingling and numbness in that foot. Sometimes I have pain, too.

Dr. Mishu and his nice nurse practitioner asked a lot of questions and poked at me for a while. Then Dr.Mishu did an electric current-type test to see if he could stimulate my foot. He explained to me that a nerve is a lot like a copper electrical wire that is wrapped in plastic coating. A nerve has a coating as well. If the coating is not damaged, but the nerve inside is, there is the chance for the nerve to grow back through the coating. If the coating is severed, then thing become much more complicated.

The damaged nerve is called the peroneal and is located on the back of my knee and down the outside of my calf and into my foot. The electric impulses to the back of my knee did, indeed, stimulate my foot and spontaneously my toes rose up. That means the coating around the damaged nerve is intact, meaning the nerve can grow back. He also believes there is not damage to my sciatic nerve.


This will take time, he further explained, because nerves grow at a rate of about 1 millimeter per day, or about a centimeter every 10 days, or about an inch a month. I have no idea how much damage there is, so I don't know how long it will take for the nerve to reconnect to itself.

But, I don't really care. I had resigned myself to living with a limp for the rest of my life. So this is fantastic news!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dog Pile

Four dog beds. Maggie lays on three. Daisy, Devon, and Scully share the fourth.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Adventures

What a lovely day it is here in Atlanta, Georgia. There's not a cloud in the sky, it's 80 degrees and there is a nice breeze. I know all this because Len and I went out today. I showered and put on clothes and Len wheeled me out to the car.
We drove past my accident site on Dekalb Avenue (I didn't get upset because seeing it did not trigger a single memory!). The accident happened in a different spot than I'd imagined, and with all the construction going on, I didn't really recognize it anymore. One less thing for me to fear!
Then, we went to Oakhurst to the Universal Joint for sandwiches for lunch. We sat outside under a shade tree and it was lovely. Across the street from the restaurant, we saw several people in wheelchairs gather from different directions. It was like a MeetUp group! I didn't join in... they seemed a lot more mobile than I am. Besides, I only belong to the group on a temporary basis.
After lunch we came home and each took a nap.
Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Pain Management

I'm taking weaker painkillers these days and fewer of them, so I am beginning to feel a good bit more discomfort in places that were pain-free before. Understandably, it freaks me out when I feel a new ache in my right hip, since that caused so much trouble in the hospital. Yesterday, I was rubbing on my right sit bone (you cyclists out there know what that is) and comparing to to my left. I felt the tip of it move! Oh, my God! I was going to have to go back to the hospital! I tearfully asked Len to check it out, and he said,"That's your fat moving around, Megan." So I re-checked and sure enough, it was no bone fragment, it was fat.

I gotta chill out.

I'm getting a little stir-crazy not being able to get up and go whenever I want, so I seem to be focusing on my aches and pains and what they might mean. I think that's making Len a little crazy because he's having to talk me down several times a day.

So, today I finished reading "The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs," and started knitting again for the first time in several days. I wish I could sit outside to knit because it's such a lovely day, but I can't seem to stay in the chair long enough to make going outside worth my while. I do open the front door and sit for a while each day. I say hello to neighborhood joggers as they pass and dog walkers.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Can You Ever Have Too Much Information?

Since I've been laid up with only the internet as my connection to the outside world, I've been researching my injuries and what the doctors did during surgeries and what I can expect in the future. In particular, I found this interesting interactive video that allows the user to be the doctor during a hip replacement surgery, something I expect to have in the next several months. Thing is, I have a lot of hardware in that hip and chances are I won't be able to use it without a lot of pain. And, even if I don't have pain when I go to walk on it in a few weeks, chances are I'll develop arthritis there fairly soon. Hip replacement surgery has been shown to very successfully eliminate arthritis pain and the folks who have it tend to start using a walker the day after their surgery. So, I'm not terribly concerned after all about the likelihood that I'll need the surgery.

I also found out that people who suffer the kind of injury that I have to my knee, a tibial plateau level 5 fracture, tend to develop arthritis there because of the damage to the cartilage and the bone. It's not clear to me yet whether a knee replacement will remedy arthritis pain caused by that kind of fracture, however. More research...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Good Times...

It's been a great, but painful, weekend here at Injury Central. Lots of important progress was made these last few days, but with that activity comes a lot of soreness. No pain, no gain.

I showered for the first time since the accident on Friday, and it was a wonderful thing. Sunday, I put on real clothing, pants, shirt, undergarments, the whole nine. Len took me out for a stroll around the neighborhood, too. The circuit is made up of slight inclines and declines, so Len did all the work. I was just there for the ride. The sun and breeze did me a lot of good. At one point, though, we hit a huge bump in the sidewalk that nearly knocked me out of the chair, and caused me great pelvis pain. It stayed with me until well into the night last night, but this morning I'm good.

Scully is home again (THANKS Suzy and Clark for everything!!!). She stepped on my sore foot once or twice, but she's really being gentle around me. In the three nights since she's been back, she has slept in the dog bed next to my sofa. Every now and again she'll try to get up on the sofa, but she's actually listening to me when I say "no." She's a good girl.

I think I overdid the activity, though, and was sore all weekend. I have several restrictions on moving my left leg: Don't cross over the other leg, don't bend more than 90 degrees, etc. With all the transferring from chair to sofa to chair I did, I'm sure I came close to violating once or twice, so I need to be very careful. Today, I'm taking things easy and see where that gets me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

WARNING! Graphic Images Follow!

Now that Scully is home and my family is intact again, I thought it was time to reflect on the injury in pictures. Some of these are hard to view, so consider yourselves warned.

Len took this first picture on my cellphone at the emergency room on March 26, 2007, just hours after my accident. Note I am still in the neck brace and sandwich boards. Frankly, I think I look dead. Thank goodness looks can be deceiving.

Next, here I am in the Intensive Care Unit in the first few days after my accident. Notice the traction stuff? That leads me to the next picture, a close up of the rod they put through my left femur to stabilize my leg. Connected to the rod is the traction system, pulled down by weights at the end of my bed. After my first pelvis surgery, when the nurses accidentally dropped me while transferring me to the potty and re-dislocated my pelvis, the doctors had to add a second set of traction. But this time they went through my tibia, below my knee, because they had already used my femur.

When I was moved to a regular room, I had a lovely view of Atlanta. I don't see it in this picture, but from my room I could see my downtown office building. The other thing you don't see here is the helicopter pad, just outside my window. Since Atlanta Medical Center is a category 2 trauma center, there is a lot of helicopter traffic there, to bring in injured souls. The view was lovely, but the noise could be pretty distracting at times.

After I was in the hospital about a week, bruises started to appear all over me. To illustrate, here is the bruised underside of my arm. I didn't feel pain from the bruising, but the pain may have been masked by the mass amount of painkillers I was taking. Both arms were bruised like this and I had several mysterious bruises on my legs and even hands. Never saw a thing on my neck or face, though. Helmets rule!

Finally, and this is probably the grossest image, this picture of the side of my butt was taken just before the staples were removed from my hip.
This was just a couple weeks ago, just after I returned home. Those first few days were hard physically because I was taking smaller doses of painkillers. They were hard mentally because I really thought that as soon as I returned home I'd be better.

I'm still not there, but I will be.

The wound there is about a foot long and still causes me problems. The scar on my knee looks a lot like this one, just no staples and not quite as long.


Finally, here I am in my own bed just after I returned from the hospital.

Now, that these pictures are up for the world to view, I can just log on to see how far I've progressed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Splish Splash!

I took a shower today. And, I feel better than James Brown!

Len moved a sofa and arranged a wheelchair ramp so that I could get to the bigger bathroom with the big shower stall today. He put my plastic bench half in and half out. It was a little awkward at first, but I managed to get from the chair to the bench and slid inside the shower. Hot water running through my hair. Knowing I rinsed all the soap out. Exfoliating my face. You can't imagine how wonderful it feels to be truly clean again!

Plus, now that Len's exams are over, he bought a lawn mower and took care of our front and back lawns yesterday. Today, he's been cleaning the inside of the house, removing as much dog hair as possible. And, best of all, Suzy and Clark are coming today to bring Scully home. It will be wonderful to see Suzy and Clark! I can't wait! I just worry my girl Scully won't remember me!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


As I sit here on my living room sofa, with an overweight italian greyhound resting next to me, I think about how fortunate I am in this life. I may be laid up with severely broken bones and unable to go outside when I'd like, but I have folks coming by to check on me all the time. Through the aftermath of this accident, I have found that a lot of people love me and are willing to take the time to attend to my needs during this healing period. It's pretty humbling, really, to learn how genuinely kind and considerate the people around you can be. It's been a wonderful lesson.

One thing people are always willing to do in a crisis is provide food. Len and I will not go hungry as long as I'm injured. Casseroles, soups, meatloaf, cakes and candy, and gift cards to local restaurants have poured in since I returned home. I'm worried that my fabulous weight loss will turn to weight gain by the time I can walk on my own!

So, I've been exercising more and really trying to do more on my own. I spent an awful lot of time in the wheel chair yesterday and did the bulk of transferring without help and just did a good deal of moving without assistance. When I went to bed last night I felt like I'd been working in the fields all day. I was exhausted!

Len is taking his last final today and after that, he has two weeks before starting his summer internship. Hurrah! Some time to hang with Len! And Scully, the crazy dog who likes to jump, is likely to come home this weekend. Hurray! Can't wait to hug that girl!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Changes to TFB

I've been wanting to upgrade these pages for a while and never got around to it. The green was a little too, well, green. I like the simple look, and I hope you zillions of readers out there do, too.

Status Update
It's been a couple of wonderful days here at Injury Central. I've been spending a lot more time in an upright position and doing a lot more exercises. My mobility has really improved, my pain has decreased, and I generally feel like I've crossed over some midpoint and am starting the climb to the top of Health Mountain.

Now that my staples are out and my draining has almost stopped, I'm planning my first shower in six weeks. Oh. My. Gosh. I can't wait! Friday or Saturday will be the big day. Once I've had a shower, I might even put on pants!

Just to clarify, I have been bathing, with a basin and wash cloths. So I am clean (ish).

I officially started back to work on Monday and have already had some meetings and started editing some stories. Not sure if I'm really ready, but I'm stir-crazy and really need to do some brain work. If it's too much, I'll say so. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

That new car smell...

I talked to my brother John the other day. He's leaving for Qatar on Monday -- he lives there most of the time. He had a terrible motorcycle accident several years ago that left a big giant pin in his leg and didn't ride again until last year. I completely understand. While I still love the idea of the scooter lifestyle, I'm a little gun shy about not having walls around me when I drive around town. So, I need a car.

In keeping with the scooter theme of not using a lot of gasoline, I'm pretty intrigued by the Toyota Prius, which gets 60 miles per gallon. The Prius is automatic, which is a plus now that my legs are injured, and has a nice hatchback compartment that can carry at least a few of my dogs.

Still, the Mini is a car I've loved for years and it gets 35 mpg, not as great as the Prius, but still good. I've also looked at the Honda Fit. It's cheap, cheap, cheap and gets great gas mileage. The science fiction Scion xB is pretty cool, too, but I'm afraid it's too similar to an SUV, which I just don't like.

I'm doing my research now and once I'm up and about I will do test drives. Something really fun to look forward to!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

There's Nothing To Win...

Taco Bell's new commercials on their "Fourth Meal" concept: How many time do you think their marketing team watched The Lord of the Rings before coming up with that one? A little herb, second breakfast...

TV is so boring. I try not to turn it on until at least 8 p.m., and then I'm lulled to sleep by all the same shows. I've got to start walking soon, or this TV lifestyle will make me crazy. Funny thing is, TV didn't seem so boring before my accident.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I sleep ALL THE TIME now. It is practically routine: I wake up in the morning, bathe with my wash rag, move to the sofa, check e-mail, and fall asleep until around 11 a.m. Then, I surf the internet until lunchtime, eat, and then take an after lunch nap. After that, I think about sending e-mail (occasionally I actually manage to send something), read a bit of something until I fall asleep. Then, It's dinnertime. I hope all this rest is good for bone mending, because I'm certainly not doing anything else productive!

Len has been studying Contracts today, preparing for his exam tomorrow. Taking care of me this week has cut into his normal study time for this test, but I have great confidence he'll do well in spite of my unintentional interference.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My First Trip Out Since the Hospital

We went to the Doctor today for my first follow-up appointment. It was good to get outside and see the world. It was also good to spend a lot of time in the wheelchair. Yeah, my foot swelled and it hurt, but I got used to it. I'm going to try and spend a couple hours in the chair every day now. Maybe have dinner at the dinner table with Len like the old days... it could make a big difference in how I feel about my injury prison/sofa.

Dr. Furie's office was a disappointment, to say the least. Very disorganized and kinda junky. Len pointed out that it appeared no one ever took out the trash. It wasn't dirty, but it wasn't at all what I expected, either.

So, first the receptionist took me back and removed the bandage from my pelvis. She was going to remove my staples, but since I'm still draining a bit she wanted the doctor to look at the wound first. In the meantime, she left me there with my would uncovered and draining, while she went on about her business. As careful as Len was about cleanliness when he changed my bandage each night, I knew he was horrified by the apparent lack of concern over germs shown by the receptionist. Did I mention she was the receptionist?

Dr. Furie came in a bit later and checked on things and then started pulling out staples! I am now officially staple free! Then I had x-rays done and the right knee is great, exactly as hoped. The left pelvis has a LOT of hardware in it. Both Len and I were startled. Dr. Furie basically said there is a very strong chance I'll have arthritis in my hip and that I'll need a replacement sometime. Sure, there is a chance I won't, but I think he truly believes I will. So, I'll just prepare myself for it and hopefully be pleasantly surprised that I don't need another surgery.

I see him again in a month -- when I hope to start putting weight on the right leg. Woohoo!