Monday, January 25, 2010

The lows: fortunately few and far between, all things considered!

One of the highlights of my time at Shepherd Center was when I had a visit from my friends Adam, Rick and Kelly. As you can imagine, I was quite lonely since I was so far away from all of my family and friends. The visit from my friends meant so much to me and I was so excited to have them come. They drove down Friday, spent the entire day with me on Saturday and a couple more hours with me on Sunday morning before they drove back home. I so enjoyed being able to show them the rehab facility and the different things I'd been up to. This visit really lifted my spirits and it was just what I needed to get me through the next few weeks of rehab before being able to come home.

Despite having to go through a lot of things at rehab that I didn't like for various reason, I always tried to maintain a positive attitude and to be pleasant all of the time. I always thanked the nurses and therapists that cared for me, and I even thanked the techs (nurses aides) that weren't always so nice to me. (A lot of the techs seemed to have bad attitudes, probably from being overworked and under paid.) I knew that all of the things I was learning and going through were for my benefit, so I always tried to participate and be a good sport, even when I didn't really want to. All this being said, I did have a few low or sad times during rehab. Here are a few instances:

One thing that was particularly difficult was having lost all of my physical independence. In one swift move I'd gone from being an independent, self-sufficient young woman to now being no more physically independent than an infant. This was so frustrating and often humiliating, and I didn't like it! Here's an example: One evening when I was getting back to bed I found out that my pants were soaked with urine because the balloon that held my catheter securely in my bladder had ruptured, so the catheter had come out. I was so embarrassed to have basically "wet my pants." 19 year old adults don't wet their pants... backspaceor at least most don't/shouldn't. Of course this wasn't my fault, but I felt so humiliated that all I could do was cry. Fortunately, I had a wonderful nurse that evening that didn't make me feel badly for what had happened. She and my mom worked together to make everything right again.

I didn't often look in the mirror, but when I did it was a rude awakening. I didn't even recognize the person I saw. I felt like an ugly little girl and I wondered if I would ever feel pretty again. Before my accident I'd been a beautiful young woman (although I didn't fully appreciate how pretty I'd actually been until after my accident...after my looks had seriously changed for the worse.) As superficial as it sounds, it was very difficult for me to feel like I looked so awful.

These days my mom tells me that I used to be pretty on the outside, but now I'm pretty on the inside. (She isn't implying that I wasn't pretty on the inside before, or that I'm not pretty on the outside now, but she notices a change in my beauty, as do I.) I know I'm being petty since I could look far worse than I do now, especially considering the fact that I could've been disfigured in my accident, but I have to admit that I do miss looking pretty the way I used to, especially since I never fully appreciated my looks when I had them.

A few pictures of the "pre-accident" me:
The after accident me:
Me in rehab. Even though I didn't feel pretty at all, I always tried to smile in every picture. Whenever I look back at pictures from rehab, I realize how far I've come since then, and that makes me feel happy.
If you notice in all of the pictures of me from rehab, I have something taped to the left side of my glasses. I had double vision after my car accident. The patch on my glasses lens was to hopefully strengthen my eyes so that they would be able to focus together again. As ridiculous a it looked, it made it easier to see if I was only seeing one of everything, instead of two.

Another thing that frustrated me was to never be able to get comfortable. I was always uncomfortable, whether I was lying in bed, or sitting in my wheelchair. Although I was sometimes more comfortable than at other times, I never felt completely comfortable and I was always in some sort of pain or discomfort. My neck muscles were very weak on the right side of my neck (since that's the way my neck broke) so my head always leaned/listed to the right. No one seemed to ever be able to position my head in a way that was comfortable, and this was very frustrating. (My neck muscles have gotten stronger since that time, but it's still impossible for me to hold my head up straight.)

The absolute worst time of day was when my mom would leave for the evening. (I've already said that if I would've had things my way, I would've wanted my mom to stay with me 24/7, but I knew that it was important that she have a little time for herself, especially since she was devoting so much of her time to being with me.) I got so lonely in the evenings, and it was tough to not have someone with me who could help me get comfortable or do things for me that I obviously couldn't do for myself. My mom usually left for her apartment around 7 PM. I always worried about my mom taking a cab to her apartment since the apartment wasn't in the best part of town. So, when she would get safely back to her apartment she would call the telephone in my room and let it ring several times so that I would know that she had gotten home safely. I always felt better when I heard my telephone ring so I knew she was safe.

More to come...


Tyler and Jen said...

You are a gorgeous girl, inside and out!

Loretta Valenta said...

Heather, I think it is so wonderful that you are writing about your experiences and that you do it so honestly. I like it that you answer questions in your writing that I have thought about. Yes, I did wonder what was over your left eye in the pictures and today you told me! You already know that I wondered how you typed your blog! I am still fascinated by that! Thank you for sharing. Knowing what you have endured makes you that much MORE beautiful -- inside and out!

Laura said...

Heather, you are beautiful and amazing and I love you.

Michelle said...

Heather, I'm afraid I'm at risk of becoming highly repetitive in my commenting, but these posts are fascinating! I have been clueless, until now, as to what you went through during all that time and now I can learn. You, my dear, are nothing short of amazing and the more I read about your experiences, the more that is proven true!

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