Not being quiet anymore. Getting my blog on…

I have had this blog for over a year yet I have only posted a few things. I don’t know if it is being scared to put everything out there or what it was but that is over. I feel that God has given me the gift of writing and to relate to others. I guess I have felt like I am just an ordinary person with a life that has given me bigger hurdles than others. I still feel that way but I have had several people tell me that I am inspiring to them and make them feel like they can conquer the hurdles that they have by hearing about how I face mine. For that reason I am going to start sharing what my life is like every day and not just the really good or the really bad because there is a lot in between that I haven’t shared. I think it will be good for me too because I don’t always talk about or share how I am feeling, what my difficulties are, what makes things better and what makes them worse. 

I also want people to know that they can reach out to me too. I want people to asked me questions about what I am going through. I want people to share what is going on with them too. I feel like people think they can’t talk to me about what is going on with them because they think I have too much on my plate. I feel like even my close friends feel like this.  While it is true that I have a lot on my plate I love being able to talk to other people about what is going on with them. That is a huge reason I became a therapist is to help other people. Not only is it rewarding but it makes me feel like I am giving back for all the people that have been there for me and helped me through my journey. It also keeps my mind off of things and it helps me put things into perspective that there is always someone that has something worse off than I do. It also will keep me from losing my sanity especially while I am out on medical leave. Having a therapist alone in a house all day is not a good idea. My poor family when they come home and want to chill after being around people all day get attacked by me wanting to talk about everything. My family and friends that come here probably feel like they can never leave because I can’t stop talking. Hopefully by blogging more I can save my family and friends from getting attacked by the locked up therapist. 

What is Life With Chronic Pain

What is it like to have chronic pain? Some days it takes every ounce of your being to pick to get up rather than lay in bed where you know you would actually feel good. It’s having to choose to hurt so you can try to function as a human being, a parent, a spouse, an employee, a friend, etc. It’s trying to not absolutely freak out on people when they try to make your life even harder than it already is. It’s trying to not scream at people who have it so easy yet try to make it seem like their life is so difficult. It’s getting treated like a second class citizen because you take pain medication so you actually can function more than what your body wants you to do. It’s having people judge you based on what they see on the outside even though you are screaming in pain on the inside. It’s staying patient with everyone when you just want to scream or cry or both. It’s trying to be empathetic with people that are going through something and complaining more than you are even though you would be so grateful to have their problem instead of yours. It’s not crying because you feel so awful yet you continue on because you don’t want to let anyone down. It’s not yelling at people that screw your order up, overcharge you, make you have to do extra work to get treated how all customers should be treated, or other small things that cause extra work in a day. It’s not feeling appreciated for the things that seem so big to you yet go unnoticed, unacknowledged and unappreciated by others because they expect so much more. It’s not crying when you’re trying as hard as you can yet nothing seems to be good enough. It’s not getting offended when people stare and assume without ever asking what happened or what’s wrong or any question at all. It’s trying to act happy when you are feeling defeated on the inside. It’s trying to hide your tears in the bathroom, when everyone is sleeping and in the car because you can’t explain the sadness. It’s praying every day to God for peace, patience and less pain. It’s accepting that there is a reason why God has chosen you to live this life for a reason. It’s hoping every month that you won’t need a refill on your medication because this just might be the month where everything changes. It’s answering people and telling them things are good because you don’t want to see the disappointment or the awkwardness of what to say on their face if you tell them that things still aren’t good. It’s choosing pain so you can drive and work rather than take the medication that would make you feel better. It’s keeping your goals without getting your hopes up too much in case they continue to be shattered. It’s being thankful that it’s you going through it and not your kids or family members. It’s being anxious to the point of panicking when it hurts so much and you can’t do anything about it in some situations. It’s being jealous of others that have life easier without ever admitting it out loud. It’s trying to comfort others when they ask stupid questions so they don’t feel bad. It’s walking a fine line of saying how bad things are and being a complainer vs not saying things are too good so people think everything is great and wonder why you aren’t doing more. It’s sitting on the sidelines when you want to be in the game. It’s feeling like a failure even though others tell you that you are an inspiration. It’s having a fear of the future and trying to fathom how hard things are now vs how bad they will be in the future but trusting that God will get you through it. It’s feeling guilty for missing out on things that you would’ve given anything to be a part of. It’s showing others that you can overcome things that seem unfathomable. It’s remembering every day that someone has it worse than you do and that at least you are alive and not fighting a battle for your life. It’s trying to feel comfortable enough to share your feelings and worries. It’s finally sharing your feelings only to have someone tell you that you are lucky to have what you have because someone else has it worse. It’s trying to get those people to understand that you tell yourself how lucky you are every day and that only on the really bad days that you actually share your feelings and fears and don’t need to be reminded how lucky you are. It’s never knowing what the hour, day or night is going to bring you. It’s feeling loved when someone makes life easier for you, gives you a break, helps you, gives you a hug and understands how hard life really is. Its finding peace knowing that this is all happening for a reason and that someday in heaven you will fully understand why. It’s knowing that as long as you are feeling pain it means that you are alive. It’s choosing to continue to live and be grateful for every day that you have with your loved ones. It’s having an understanding of what chronic pain is so you can identify with others that have it too so you can give them encouragement. It’s trying to do the best you can and be the best you can be. It’s being thankful for those who still choose to love you and be friends with you. It’s living…

Hope

Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Hope is what drives our dreams, prayers and wishes. It is something that we have every day from the moment we are born till the last breath we take. Some hopes are our own, some have been given to us by others and some are hopes that we think others want for us. We are told from early on to, “Try not to get your hopes up.” We probably don’t even realize how often we say the words, “I hope…” Some of our hopes are small and some are big. Each time one goes by another one comes. It’s all about the unknown.
Hopes can be crushed and cause us to feel devastated and also what keeps us going from one day and sometimes one hour to the next. This time of year we think about it more as many hope to have a better year of health, overcoming personal struggles, finances, organization, or just being better at something. Often times we don’t share our hopes with anyone in case they don’t turn out. When people feel like they haven’t succeeded or see no way of achieving their hopes they can become depressed. If they aren’t sure if they have the right hopes or if they may not have turned out how they worry about what others think of their hopes they can become anxious. I have struggled with anxiety for a long time and have had depression different times throughout this journey. I feel like a lot of times it involved hopes that I had that were crushed and questioning whether or not I was on the right track or not.
Over the years I have had more hopes that I can even remember. Some of the major ones were hopes of keeping my foot, graduating high school, getting a job I wanted, getting into college, finding the right person to spend my life with, having kids, that loved ones could beat cancer and many more. Some have worked out and others have not. Things that I have learned are: if you don’t try you will never know if it will work out, if you don’t share your hopes with others you may be missing out on someone that can help you with your hopes, praying for your hopes is a must even if they don’t turn out how you hoped; even when you don’t want to you have to get up out of bed every morning and live life, you never know when you may be an inspiration for someone else even if you don’t think that you are and that there is always someone worse off than me.
This year I have hopes of feeling better, having less pain, doing more with my kids and husband, no more surgeries, walking, running, writing more, sharing my story with others through writing, traveling, and would love to be able to speak to different groups of people (high school students, alternative high school students, anger management/ road rage classes, health care workers, and anyone else that could be inspired about my journey.

“Smile”

What is a picture? It is a moment in time that someone is trying to capture. Someone is usually trying to get you to smile, telling you to say “cheese” or being silly to get you to look happy. If someone isn’t smiling it is often referred to as a bad picture and gets deleted or will take 10 pictures to make sure there is a “good one”. Sometimes people really are happy and may even ask for the picture to be taken. Other times you smile because you feel obligated or want to look good for the picture.

People see these pictures get posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, shown on someone’s phone, in newspapers, magazine’s or if they are really lucky an actual printed picture. These are usually the “good pictures”, of them smiling, being silly and having fun. The crazy part is that it is such a small fraction of a second of your life but others will judge how a person is doing based on how they look in that picture. Social media is a great way for a person to get positive comments and feedback. How often though do people post pictures of them hurting, crying or angry? How often do they even post bad things about themselves unless someone has died, something significantly bad has happened or they are truly open and honest about themselves. There are not many people that open themselves up to let the world know how they are doing on a daily basis.

Sadly pictures, especially on social media is now how we know other people the best and even feel that we can vouch for how others are doing in their lives because of it. It isn’t with bad intentions that we do this. Even twenty years ago you wouldn’t even think of responding about how someone was doing based on a picture they saw of someone without having a conversation with them first.

Now that social media is the norm and the easiest way to connect with people it is also the fastest way misread situations and sometimes judge others. The worst part is that it has caused people to forget to check in and talk to each other about how they are doing. More than the casual walking by someone and saying “Hi, how are you?” where everyone usually answers “good” because often times people don’t even wait to hear the answer if it was different than “good.” This has somehow turned into a polite norm rather than honest communication. It’s difficult and often awkward when this is the only in person contact people have with others because if they aren’t doing good how do they respond. You don’t really want to say “good” because you aren’t but don’t want to say bad because there isn’t usually time to elaborate. This is where an answer like “Living the dream” comes in handy.

So why do people try to portray such happiness and positivity if things are so bad? It’s more likely that it is nice to have some positive moments to post than that they are trying to portray something fake or innacurate.

I know when I am not having good times in life I still want my kids and family to remember good fun things rather than their mom, wife, family and friend is hurting all the time. It’s trying to find the best mix of sharing with others what’s happening and even the bad times so they know just how bad things can be. This leads to trying to decide to share with others or only the ones that live with you.

Next time, before you assume you know how you think people are doing by looking at a picture that instead if you are wondering how they are doing pick up your phone and give them a call or ask to meet in person. Remember a picture isn’t always as it appears.

It is great that everyone is able to stay in touch this way however people are losing something by only connecting through social media. People will often determine how a person is doing based on the photos they see. These photos where someone is telling them to smile.

High School Reverse Psychology 

My accident completely turned my life upside down. I was so outgoing and the week of my accident I found out I made Varsity Cheerleading for football in the fall. It was supposed to be the best summer but I was left with a nightmare that was my new reality. It felt so unfair that I could not process all of what happened. On top of it I had a head injury from my head hitting and causing my brain to bleed which obviously comes with it’s own issues. 

Instead of starting my junior year as the outgoing cheerleader I returned to school as the angry teenager in a wheelchair and crutches. 

Previously school came pretty easy to me. I got good grades overall. I had some issues with skipping classes and  my  inability to not talk to people around me but I definitely managed. 

After my accident I had a really hard time focusing and concentrating when I was in class. I would read something and then not have a clue what I read. I would have to read something so many times before I could comprehend it. This was something I had not had to deal with before. 

I started back with a wheelchair which didn’t make it easy to get around. When I wasn’t in my wheelchair I also had to still be on crutches. It was difficult because whenever it would rain it would make the floor wet and I fell more than once. It would hurt not only physically but mentally it was so embarrassing.  This was only making me more angry and anti school. 

Due to some choices I made I ended up switching to my schools my senior year to go to an alternative high school. My attitude about school and anger certainly didn’t improve just because I was now at a new school. In fact I was more stubborn on days. I remember times that my teacher would call me and tell me to get my butt out of bed or he would come pick me up. That would finally get me moving but didn’t mean I was going to accomplish anything. In fact it was getting to the point that I could possibly not graduate high school. 

My mom has always been my biggest supporter. She knew me better than I knew myself. I still remember this conversation like it was yesterday. She came up into my room and started talking about school and how I was not going and not getting credits. She then said to me one of the most defining sentences of my life “Maybe you could go get your GED instead of going to high school.” It wasn’t said as hurtful only as a suggestion. I have the upmost respect for those that have GEDs and cheer them on for being able to attain it. For me though this was not the answer. That one sentence was the best reverse psychology EVER! It was like a challenge that now even my mom didn’t think I could do this. That was one thing I would never ever be able to live with. 

It was exactly what I needed to kick my butt in gear. I finally shifted my mindset and got to business. Luckily for me I had the BEST teacher at my school. He also knew just the right thing to say to keep motivated at that point. I started going to school every day. My teacher found ways to teach me or to help me learn that worked for me. We also had an awesome guidance counselor that would come down once a week that was so good at knowing just what to say to us to keep us going. The kids that went there turned into a whole new support for me too. I finally started putting in the hard work and started flying through my credits. I turned it around so much that I even finished my credits a little early. 

I was able to walk across the stage with my entire class and accept my diploma from high school with my head held high. My confidence had grown along with my determination. We all dressed up for graduation and I had both a dress shoe and a tennis shoe on that day. Inside it did bother me but I was able to deal with it because I knew I did it! I made it through high school!!!

People continue to have judgements and even think less of alternative high schools. I could not commend them more. Sometimes I feel like I could be a spokesperson for alternative schools. They should never be looked at like a failure to high school but instead as finding a place that can figure out how to teach kids how to learn so it makes sense to them.  I don’t know if Mr Walters ever realizes how much he did for me and all if the other students that went through when he was there. Lucky for me I am now friends with him on Facebook so I know he is still there. As for my mom she continues to be my role model, friend, supporter and is so amazingly humble about it. I love her so much and can’t imagine where I would be without her.  

To those that are going through something similar themselves or if it’s a parent or teacher I can 100% say to hang in there and don’t give up. You never know what one sentence can do for someone. 

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