Now I have a Disability

Now that I was home for a few weeks I was very sad and depressed that all of my friends were able to go out all summer and I had to stay at home in a hospital bed. I tried really hard not to get mad but deep down was just really sad and angry that I was missing out. I had a boyfriend at the time of the accident. We had only been together for a few months and I liked him so much. After my accident we hung out a few times. Then one night he came over to tell me that he didn’t think he could go out with someone that couldn’t do anything. Now that I am older I understand that it was a lot of pressure for a 16 year old and I do not have hard feelings about it at all but at the time it was a reality check that there would be people that wouldn’t want to be with me because of this disability.
I was also in a wheelchair for a while after I was finally able to sit up enough. I was finally able to go out in public once I had the wheel chair. My friend would take me to the mall to get me out. It was the first time that I realized just how rude people were. My mom taught me to not ask people that were hurt what was wrong. I was amazed at how many people would come up to me and ask me what happened and why I was in a wheel chair. I was still really traumatized by it and didn’t want to talk about it but really didn’t know what else to say.
I was very embarrassed by my foot even though I didn’t have any control over what happened to it and it should have been more of a symbol that I had survived an accident that very easily could have killed me. I was young though and didn’t have that perspective. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what was wrong with my foot I feel like I would be a millionaire. People would come up and say “Oh my god what did you do?”, “Wow is your ankle that sprained”, “Did you get bit by a horse?” are just a few of the many. It just amazes me how often people can’t help themselves. Even though I knew that people weren’t trying to be mean and often thought they were joking until they heard my answer. I would love to think it taught them to never ask others again but only they know the answer to that.
Even as I got older I had people that were even mean and rude about it. I have a handicapped sticker and have had people question that it was valid. When I was about 19 I had a woman report me to mall security for parking in a handicapped spot. I was so shocked by it. I was also 19 so felt the need to confront her about it. She tried to walk away when she saw me but I of course being 19 didn’t let that happen. Once I told her about my accident and having to get my foot reattached then she said she was sorry. I of course told her a few more sentences of how I felt about it. I also have had people walk by me and say yeah you are pretty handicapped. I think probably the worst was that I had a police officer that followed me into a gas station and started questioning me about it when I came out. He asked me for proof that it was my sticker, which I had. I finally was crying and asking if he needed to see my foot in order to prove it. He had enough nerve to then say that he had to go to his car to “check his database”. There is no database for something like this. Instead of coming back and apologizing or anything even close to it he came back and said that he couldn’t check it because his computers were down. We had been on our way out for a night of fun but instead he ruined my entire night. I wrote a letter to the chief of police about it and he did personally call me and apologize. He also offered for me to do a ride along with the officer that had confronted me. I told him no thank you, like I really wanted to ride along with someone like that but I did appreciate the phone call.
This unfortunately is something that I will have to deal with the rest of my life. I don’t always fit the picture of what people have in their mind of someone that is disabled. I used to wish every single day that this didn’t really happen. My foot may have given me a disability but my personality, strength and most days my attitude certainly do not. I know that I am not alone in that so please always think before you judge others.

Recovery

Due to my extensive injuries I underwent a very lengthy surgery that the plastic surgeon chose to remake and reattach my foot. He took a muscle from my stomach and skin from my right side and a vein in my right leg to make a flap to remake the foot. It was a very long surgery due to all of the small detail of repairing and reconnecting the nerves and blood vessels.

I was in the intensive care unit for almost a week. I was in and out of sleep a lot during that week. I remember waking up in a lot of pain. I was also asking to see what I looked like. I could feel that one my teeth were chipped and I wanted to see a mirror. No one wanted me to see myself due to the swelling from breaking the two bones in my nose and my cheekbone. It wasn’t looking so good at the time. They would hold a mirror really far away so I could barely see it and I was so drugged that I would fall back asleep and forget about it. I would also wake up and ask about what happened to the driver. No one would answer my questions as they were trying to not upset me. I had also lost a lot of blood so I also received a lot of blood transfusions. My brain was also bleeding and they were going to have to do surgery but at the last minute it cleared up on its own. I did have to have another surgery due to my nose being broke and my cheek bone. I tried to not have the surgery but they told me that my nose would eventually move over into my eye so I finally agreed after I heard that. I woke up from the surgery and got sick from the anesthesia. It was so awful because my nose was packed with stuff so I couldn’t breathe out of it. I also had an infection in my mouth from all of the antibiotics that I was on which really dried out my mouth. Total I was in the ICU for a week and I was in the hospital for another week.

I had many close friends and family that came to visit me. I also remember people sneaking into my hospital room when I was in ICU to try to talk to me and I was so afraid that the people in the cars were going to come into my room. They never came into my room but I still had so many unanswered questions and fears about why this happened.

Once I was discharged I went home where there was a hospital bed set up in our living room. It had a triangle hanging from it because I couldn’t sit up and needed it to help pull me up because of them taking part of my stomach muscle.  I needed someone to be there with me around the clock so my friend quit her job and my dad hired her to take care of me.

I also had so much debris in my foot that I would have to go to the hospital to get it cleaned out every day. The first time they had me go to a local hospital due to it being closer to my house. They had taken skin from my side so I had a ton of staples in my right leg. I remember how bad it hurt when they took them out and I knew exactly how many I had so I would count down to how many more I had to go through to get to the end. They put me in a sit up tank to soak it and I passed out the first time. Once I wasn’t able to handle the sitting up in the tank it was determined that I would go to a different hospital daily instead. They would take me by ambulance every day. We had the steepest steps to go down and they would have to carry me down in a stretcher every time. I would have to have a pillow that I would hang on to so my stomach wouldn’t hurt so bad. Every bump we went over made the pain worse. My ambulance team was amazing. They would always do whatever they could to make my ride better. They would take the long way because they knew it was less bumpy.

Once we got to the hospital the surgeon would stop in and look at it and then I would be taken down to the basement where the tank was located. I would be raised up while laying down and transferred over to what looked like a giant cow tank but was a giant whirlpool tub. The occupational therapist would clean it and remove the debris while the water would whirl around and loosen some of it up. I would lay there and cry because it would hurt so bad. It helped if I had someone there to talk to me about other things so I would be distracted.  My foot was so gross looking I could barely stand to look at it. I had huge open sores and could even see all the way through my heel. It was so huge from the muscle and skin graft being added to it so it was closer to the size of a football. I would post pictures but it was pretty bad and graphic.

I also had a nurse that would come to the house to check on me also. Thank goodness she was there one day. My nose was packed with an elastic type thick string, almost like a shoe lace from the surgery I had. On that day it became untied and started to go down the back of my throat. Luckily she knew what to do and cut it and pulled it out. It was almost five feet long. I couldn’t believe how long it was and that it all fit up inside my nose.

My recovery continues today from this tragic accident but these first few months after the accident was one of most difficult times in my life.

Coming Up: Dealing With a Disability