Tag Archives: accident

Baby Steps

If you’ve read my blog this month, then you know about the accident and saga that began two and a half weeks ago. Today was another appointment in a string of appointments. On the docket was cleaning my wounds, changing the dressings and a check-up with the doctor on my progress.

Update: The road rash on my ankle is healing pretty well, and while it isn’t exactly pretty, the majority of my wound is now dry and they didn’t need to even cover all of it today. My toes are healing, but considering the open wounds are only a week old thanks to last week’s fiasco, they aren’t as far along as my ankle. That being said, only 3 toes needed to be covered today. So, progress. My ankle, foot, lower calf is still swollen, but is not nearly as swollen as it has been, so the doctor was pleased with that. I’ve got some range of motion, although my Achilles tendon is super tight, which is making it difficult to put my foot down normally.

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I’m soooo over the whole hobbling on crutches or using a wheelchair thing though. Teaching preschool in a wheelchair seriously cramps my style. I can’t get around easily, especially in a school that’s not totally handicap accessible (so many steps!), and I’m just not the teacher I want to be right now. I can’t do what I want to do and that makes me cranky! I wake up every morning and think, I’ll just walk. I’ll be fine. Only I’m not fine. My leg doesn’t do what my brain tells it to do. Grrr!

Anyway, the last few days, I’ve been able to put a little weight on my foot, and with the aide of my crutches, I’ve been able to walk-ish. Due to the fact that I can’t put on a shoe or anything, my practice has been confined to my apartment. Today, I asked the doctor if I could have some sort of foot covering to try and walk outside and at school. I demonstrate my willingness to try by hobbling around the treatment room. After a bit of cajoling, he agrees to let me try. He even recommended I see a doctor in the rehab department and start physiotherapy today!

Physio went well. After a heat pack treatment for 30 minutes, I was put through a series of exercises, and to my surprise, most of them didn’t hurt at all. I then got to practice walking around with my new kicks! She kept telling me I was doing it wrong, but like I said, my leg’s not listening to my brain right now. At least I was doing it, even if it wasn’t exactly right!

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They say my recovery will take a while (3 months til I’m back to normal!), but if I keep at it and do my exercises everyday, I’ll improve faster. I’m determined to get off these crutches, so I’m going to follow the doctor’s orders. Here’s hoping it won’t take as long as they think! 🙂

Baby steps, literally and figuratively. 😝

 

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Saint, my pint-sized protector

From the moment he first saw me in the wheelchair, my ankle bandaged up, he was my protector. My little Saint.

I wheeled over to the edge of the playground where my class was happily playing. I’ve missed their smiling faces, their hugs, their sense of wonder. Catching their attention, they rushed over, all with the same question, “What happened?” All, that is, except Saint. With indignation in his voice, he points to my ankle, and asks, “Who this?” His face said it all. Being his teacher, I knew “Who this?” really meant “Who did this?”. Saint, my little three-year-old protector, wanted to know who did this to me. What happened wasn’t as important as who hurt me. Such sweetness wrapped up in such a tiny person.

Since returning to school, wheelchair-bound, my class has been curious, asking me what happened one too many times, learning to respect my boundaries (“no touching my foot please”), and wondering why I can’t do the things I normally can. The novelty for some has worn off, and preschool as they know it is back to normal. But not for Saint, whose sweet gestures bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Everyday, at random times, he comes over to me, smiles, and pats me on my arm or my leg or my shoulder, reassuring me that he cares and is worried about me. Knowing that I keep my ice packs in the freezer, he will bring me one at random, making sure I take care of my foot. He watches me, too. When the pain and swelling get to be too much, I prop my leg up on the table, an attempt to reduce the swelling that occurs from keeping it down all day. He questions, wondering what I’m doing, why I’m resting.

Yesterday during interest areas, I was wheeling around, snapping photos of students busily cooking hamburgers and salad with the playdoh, making melodies on the xylophone, or building a tower out of blocks, wondering how high they can make it until it topples over, sending them into fits of laughter, when something caught my eye.

The dramatic play area, by far the students’ most sought-after center, is too small for my wheelchair to fit, so I watch from afar, an outsider not a part of their fantasy. What I saw was Saint sitting in a chair, his leg up on the table. Lali was tending to him, bringing him a glass of water. Zooming in, I snap a picture before I ask, “Saint, what are you doing?”

With a forlorn look on his face, he responds, “My leg is hurt.”

“It is? I’m sorry. Is Lali helping you?”

Nodding, he says yes. A smile crosses Lali’s face, as she continues to care for her hurt friend. Knowing that I’d removed all the doctor stuff last week, I asked, “Would you like an ice pack?” Of course he would!

Lali came over and I handed her a no-longer-cold ice pack. She went back over and wrapped his leg. Later, his leg still on the table, another student tries to help him, using a pizza cutter as a tool. Grinning, I think, maybe I should return the doctor stuff to dramatic play.

I go about my business of tending to the other students in the class, but about ten minutes later, I look over at the dramatic play area again. There is Saint, his leg still propped up with his ice pack, sitting alone. His heart is so tender and loving, and he is just trying to make sense of his little world.

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Not Just a Routine Check-up

“You know, I didn’t cry the last time I had my wounds cleaned,” I bragged to Dr. Narong, my no-nonsense doctor who thinks crying is unnecessary.

“You didn’t? Good for you! Are you going to cry today?”

“I hope not.”

He undresses my wounds and begins his assessment. I’m now nine days post-accident. “Your arm is almost completely healed. I’ll just clean it, but we don’t need to wrap it anymore,” he tells me.

One good report. Let’s hope there’s two more where that came from.

Inspecting my largest wound, the gnarly road rash on my ankle, he reports, “Your ankle is healing well. It won’t be too long before it scabs over and we don’t have to cover it. There’s just this one spot that’s not so good. Let me clean it,” he says as he begins scrubbing my ankle with a cotton swab doused in Betadine.

Flinching, letting out some grunts, and unsuccessfully keeping my right leg still, I hear him ask, “Are you gonna cry?”

Determined, I grit my teeth. “No.”

“Good. There’s no reason to cry.” He finishes scrubbing and cleaning the rest of my wound, and dresses it with foam and waterproof tape.

Another good report. One more to go.

Taking a closer look at my toes, I hear, “Hmmm…this isn’t good. I’m worried about your second toe. That black spot is really bad.”

You mean that same spot I’ve been worried about since the accident? The one I’ve been told was no big deal up to this point?

“What’s wrong with it?” I ask.

“There’s a lot of dead tissue on top, so the wound can’t really heal, and we don’t know what’s under there since we can’t see. There are some spots on your other toes, but not as bad as your second toe.”

How did my toes get such deep wounds when I was wearing tennis shoes? What would it look like if I had worn my sandals like I originally wanted to that morning? I don’t think I wanna know.

“OK, so what does that mean?” I ask, worry creeping into my voice.

“Well, it means that if we don’t treat it, your toes will have really bad scarring, and most likely you won’t be able to move that toe since the scar would be on the joint.”

“What do you mean by treat it?”

“I’ll give you a local anesthetic and scrape out all the dead tissue from your toe. Then it can heal properly.”

Tears sting my eyes. “Do you mean the spray they used on me in the ER?” Flashbacks to that day send a shiver through me.

“No, we’ll inject a local anesthetic into your toe, and you won’t feel a thing.”

“With a needle?” I say, my voice quivering.

“Yes, with a needle.”

Alone and worried, I think about whether or not I should do it. I know I should do it, but I hate needles, and I hate pain. And I know it’s going to hurt. A lot. Silent tears fall as I try to decide.

Less than a minute later, with a bit of impatience in his voice, he asks, “So what are you going to do? Are we doing it?”

“Do we have to do it today?”

“No, but if we wait, it may get worse.”

Man, I wish my mom or dad was here. Heck, I wish anyone was here with me. They could hold my hand, reassure me, and tell me what to do. But they’re not. I have to do this alone.

“Can I call someone?” I ask.

“Sure.”

Looking at the time, I realize I can’t call my family. It’s the middle of the night. I call the next best person, my best friend Shaggers. She immediately picks up. She already knows where I am, since I had been texting her updates and photos of my injuries.

“Shannon, I’m scared,” I barely get out.

“What’s going on?”

I explain the situation, through tears and shallow breaths. “Should I do it?”

“If he says you should do it, then yes, you should. It’s good they’re being so thorough and wanting to get rid of all the dead stuff.”

“But they’re going to use a needle. It’s going to hurt.”

She reassures me that while yes, the needle will hurt, I won’t feel a thing after that, and they’ll make it all better by removing the bad parts.

Turning to Dr. Narong, through blurry eyes, I tell him I’ll do it.

Shags tells me she’s proud of me and asks, “Would you like me to stay on the phone with you to distract you from the needle?”

I crumble. Through sobs, I say, “Yes, I would like that.” This is why she’s my best friend. She’s always there for me through the tough times. She begins talking about some topics she might slice about tonight and asks me about my slice. I tell her an adorable story about what one of my kids did in school today. I might slice about that. We talk about a few other things…her sister’s new baby, Marlowe kicking her crib when she should be napping.

The doctor and nurse prepare my foot. Dr. Narong tells me he’s ready to begin. Fear sets in, and I start to cry. Shaggers reassures me that I’m brave, I’m going to be okay. The needle goes in. AHHHHHHHHH!!! Screaming, crying, and thrashing about, the nurse holding my leg still. Shannon is still there, telling me the worst is over. Then, a few seconds later, a second needle in my other toe. AHHHHHHHHHHH!!! More screaming, more crying, and more thrashing about.

What the hell? Why did I have two injections?

Confused, Shannon asks me what happened. I tell her about the second needle…at least I think I do.

“There’s no reason to cry,” Dr. Narong says.

Like hell there isn’t! You’ve just injected me two times with anesthesia when I was told I would have one, and now you’re about to scrape my toe. Yeah, I have a bloody reason to cry!

Dr. Narong then starts scraping my second toe. I can feel it, but not feel it, if you know what I mean. I’m still crying and struggling to breathe through my nose. Shannon’s still on the phone, talking to me, trying to distract me from the pain. I can’t really recall what she’s saying, but I appreciate that she’s there.

Unexpectedly, I scream out in pain again, a guttural scream that comes from deep within me, but this time it’s not from an injection. It’s from the fact that my doctor is scraping the wound on my big toe without anesthesia. Shags wonders what’s happening. Dr. Narong tells me there’s no reason to cry. I tell Dr. Narong I don’t like him anymore. Petty, yes, but I’m not in my right mind at the moment.

The next few minutes are a whirlwind of pain. My fourth toe gets the same treatment as my big toe. I question his wisdom. A few more scrapes, and he’s done.

“All done. It already looks so much better. Have a look,” Dr. Narong cheerily says to me.

“No thanks.”

“No really, look at it,” he pushes.

Sitting up, I look down at my mangled toes, bleeding uncontrollably at the moment. Yeah, that’s heaps better.

Still tearful, I thank Shannon for being there for me. And I apologize for screaming in her ear. She laughs, and says she only wishes she could have been here to hold my hand. Me, too, Shags, me, too.

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As I sit here, back home in my apartment, tears streaming down my face as I relive the experience, the pain coming on strong as the anesthesia wears off, I’m a mess of emotions. I’m in pain and disheartened that I have another setback, especially after such a positive day yesterday, and I’m grateful that I have a friend like Shannon who loves me through the hard stuff. I really don’t know what I’d do without her, and despite living in different countries for the past 5 years, we talk nearly every day and she knows me even better than I know myself. Shannon is my person. I love her.

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Everything, Everything

Today was day three of returning to work since the accident. Days one and two resulted in me leaving with an incredibly swollen foot and in intense pain, resulting in me crawling into bed to hoist my enlarged foot, wrapped in an ice pack, onto a mountain of pillows, while I took meds to stave off the pain. This weekend wasn’t much different. Other than my doctor’s visit and dinner with a friend on Saturday, I was either on the couch or in the bed, elevating my foot, wincing with pain whenever I hobbled around my tiny apartment on my crutches. Today, day three, was different. I was able to last for longer periods of time on my crutches, although I primarily used the wheelchair when I was in class, as it’s infinitely easier.

I had to leave at 1:00pm today to go pick up my work permit, and when I left I noticed my foot was swollen, but less than it was the other days. In the car, I asked how long it would take for us to get to the immigration office. One hour. Ugh…I should have brought my book. Oh, wait! I have the book Elissa gave me!

Earlier this morning, Elissa handed me a book she’d finished this weekend, saying she thought I’d like it. It’s a YA novel called Everything, Everything. Apparently they’re making it into a movie (Don’t they always?). I took it, but since I’m in the middle of another book, I wasn’t sure when I’d get to it. A two-hour round-trip ride downtown was the perfect time to dive into it. I was instantly sucked into the story. The fast-paced storyline and suspense kept me hooked.

After the immigration visit, I visited the massage parlor next to my apartment building, where they helped work out the kinks and knots that have taken up residence in my back and shoulders. From there, I walked home on my crutches…without getting winded! My foot was swollen, of course, but I wasn’t in pain. Nevertheless, I propped it up and continued to read more of my new book.

My stomach started grumbling around 5:30, and rather than ordering in again, I decided to venture out in a taxi to one of my favorite restaurants. Gingerly, I walked up the steps and across the uneven footpath. My dinner companion was none other than my new book. Between bites, I turned page after page, unable to stop. After dinner, I was surprisingly still not in pain, so I headed to Starbucks to get my favorite iced tea and continue reading. I ended up finishing my book! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book in a day, and I loved the uninterrupted reading time.

Back at home now, I’ve elevated and iced my foot to reduce the incredible swelling, but I have to say there is minimal pain. I can even wiggle my toes and ankle a bit without it hurting, and there’s a hint of itchiness, which according to the doctor and my dad, means the road rash is starting to heal. Yay for small victories! I go back for another check-up tomorrow, so we’ll see how gnarly it looks under there. I’m hoping to see less red and more scabby bits. 🙂


Side Note: Everything, Everything reminded me of The Fault in Our Stars, and while I liked it, I would say The Fault in Our Stars is still much better. However, if you are into YA literature and looking for a quick, engaging read, I suggest this one.

Wondering the Reason

It’s been five days
since the accident
Five days since my life
suddenly changed

No more going where I
want to go
doing what I
want to do
Heck, even going to the bathroom
is an ordeal

At first, being cooped up
isn’t so bad
You get a free pass
to binge-watch
your favorite shows
You can stay in your PJ’s
all day long
No judgements

But then
the desire to do
normal things again
sets in
Things like walking around
taking a shower standing up
leaving the house
without it being a big thing
And suddenly
being confined to your bed
isn’t so glamorous anymore
It’s suffocating

At first, you expect
the pain
You know you have to
endure it
But you think
it’ll get better
each day
Only it doesn’t

Throbbing, pulsing
pain
Blue to green to yellow
yet it still hurts
Glancing down
not my foot
but a balloon
ready to pop

Too many pills
too much sleep
not enough sleep
can’t get comfortable
No longer
self-reliant

And then the thoughts
Playing the what if game
What if I hadn’t
stopped for that bottle of water?
What if I’d left
five minutes later?
Would it have been
the same?
Everything happens for a reason
Wondering the reason

Trying to stay positive
But today
it’s hard

 

Enveloped in Kindness

Ever since my accident over the weekend, I have received countless kind words and actions from friends and strangers. I cannot get over just how nice everyone has been, especially given the fact that I’ve been here less than two months!

From the moment the crash happened, when several Good Samaritans came to my rescue, I have been surrounded by kindness! My friend and boss, Julie, went to incredible lengths to make sure I was taken care of. From taking me to the ER when the initial crash happened to setting me up in her house for the first day and night to waiting on me whenever I needed something to taking me to my follow-up appointment the next day to checking on me daily, she has gone out of her way to make sure I’m well taken care of. I cannot thank her enough for her generosity!

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My friend Lauren was the sweetest! On Saturday afternoon, she and Lincoln delivered a yummy Thai care package of a fresh coconut, mango sticky rice, and pomelo, all my favorite things here in Thailand! Later on that evening, she made me homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese, the ultimate in comfort food. She’s the best!

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After hearing about my accident, a colleague of mine, Dainty, brought over a bounty of treats including more mango sticky rice, bananas, bread and tomato salsa from the local Italian joint, and more pomelo. She barely even knows me, but went out of her way!

My colleague and friend, Elissa, has been checking on me non-stop offering to bring me anything I needed. She sent over fresh fruit and a Starbucks treat via her husband Mitch on Sunday. She’s also been helping me out in the lesson planning department by supporting my sub while I’m laid up in bed. I am so blessed to have her as a friend!

Josh, my friend, neighbor, and writing buddy, has also gone out of his way to help me, bringing me a jug of water, helping me tidy up my apartment, and hanging out with me. He’s coming over again today after work to keep me company and eat some dinner. I am so lucky to have met him during my first week, one rainy day at the hotel we were staying. He’s turned out to be a great friend!

I’ve also received countless texts and emails from colleagues, friends, family, and my students’ parents offering their well wishes and offers to help. Whenever strangers see me struggling to get around on my crutches, they offer support, by way of holding doors, helping me with my bag, or just a simple smile.

I am one lucky girl! I mean, getting into a motorbike accident is no fun, and in a foreign country, it’s definitely not ideal, but the people I’ve been surrounded by have made it a little more bearable!

My Thai Emergency Room Experience

Yesterday, I was in a scooter accident that sent me to the emergency room. Click here to read the first slice about the accident.

After fighting stop and go traffic, where it took us 45 minutes to go the 5 miles to the hospital, we finally arrived. As soon as we stopped in front of the emergency room entrance, an orderly rushed out with a wheelchair, and I was promptly taken inside. Wheeling past the registration desk, I was taken to bed 7, and helped onto the gurney. Crying and unable to stay still, 2 nurses and a doctor were by my bedside in an instant. After ascertaining my personal information from my driver’s license and insurance card, they began checking my vitals and examining my wounds.

“Tell me what happened.” Through cries and fast, shallow breaths, I recounted the basics of the accident. Turned right in front of me…tried to stop…hit him…skidded on pavement…scooter landed on my ankle…I was wearing a helmet.

“We’ll need an x-ray to see if you’ve broken your ankle.” In preparation for the x-ray, the nurse laid pieces of gauze over my open wound. The simple act of placing feather-weight gauze on my ankle sent intense pain through my body. Clutching the bedrail, tears streaming down my face, I made them promise they wouldn’t clean the wound without first giving me pain meds. The thought of cleaning it without something to take the edge off was too unbearable to think about.

Another orderly appeared to wheel me to the x-ray room. Florescent lights streamed past, as we twisted and turned through hallways. As we entered the elevator, I thought, this must be what those patients on Grey’s Anatomy feel like. Only being able to look up, rather than forward, as you are wheeled through an unknown place creates another layer of anxiety of what’s to come.

In the x-ray room, the technician asked, “Have you dependency?”

With my face scrunched up, I asked, “What?”

“Have you dependency?”

“Do I have dependents? No, I’m single, no kids.”

“No…have you dependency?” This time, his question was accompanied by actions. Mimicking a pregnant belly, I finally understood.

“No, I’m not pregnant.”

Taking x-rays of my ankle in a couple positions, the process took just a couple of minutes. Then, we headed back to the E.R. where the real pain would soon begin.

The doctor, after having reviewed the x-rays, said the words I wanted to hear. “Your ankle’s not broken.” Thank God! According to her, there was damage to the soft tissue and muscles surrounding my ankle. I’d have to stay off of it for the next couple of weeks, but then I should be able to start putting weight on it again.

Per my request, I was given an injection of some pain medication, and told it would take effect in about 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, my pain had only reduced from an 8 to a 5, but the nurse said the cleaning had to happen in order to prevent infection. Preparing for a stream of saline, I clenched my teeth and held onto the bedrail.

What happened next was some of the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced. The nurse began spraying a numbing chemical directly into the wound, sending a searing sensation through my body. Uncontrollably, I began screaming bloody murder, cursing, and kicking my good leg. Julie held my leg down, as I later found out, in an effort to prevent me from kicking the nurse in the head. Another nurse stroked my arm, telling me it was going to be okay. I didn’t believe a word she said. Following the nasty spray, I was doused in saline, and the nurse began scrubbing my wound. Yes, scrubbing my open wound. According to Julie, I must have taken the entire road with me, as dirt and debris poured out and onto the plastic mat underneath me. There was so much junk in there that halfway through, they had to change the mat beneath my leg. The same procedure was repeated with my toes, which had also, despite wearing tennis shoes, experienced gnarly road rash.

After the cleaning, they applied betadine and anitbiotic ointment before placing a special thin layer of gauze-like material designed to prevent the dressing from sticking to the wound. My ankle was then wrapped up in a layer of gauze, as were each of my toes, which now looked like white little sausages. My arm, which sustained a 5-inch long road rash burn on my elbow and forearm, now needed to be cleaned. The procedure, along with the pain, followed.

Once I’d calmed down, I was seen by an orthopedic doctor, based on my complaints about pain in my hip. After I told him my medical history with back pain (scoliosis and sciatica), he scheduled a follow-up appointment to see me in a week, saying that at this time, with the damage to my foot and leg, he would be unable to ascertain whether my hip pain was related to the injury or not. He was very knowledgeable and kind, and didn’t rush, which I really appreciated.

My wounds bandaged, I was taken in a wheelchair to the rehab wing of the hospital to be fitted with crutches. The nurse gave me some basic lessons on how to walk with crutches, and then I was given some time to practice. Leg first, then crutches, when going up the stairs. Crutches first when going down. Being on crutches is no joke! It’s super tough, and I’m really glad it’s only for a few weeks. I admire those who have to do it for longer.

Last up was the pharmacy, where I was given antibiotics to fight possible infection, muscle relaxers, pain medicine, and Tylenol in case of fever. All in all, I only had to pay for the crutches, ice packs, and meds, which totaled about $90. Insurance covered the rest (less than $200).

Before we left, we talked the orderly into wheeling me over to the Starbucks for an iced tea and a sweet treat. Yes, there is a Starbucks inside the hospital!

While I was still in pain, I was grateful for the kind and attentive doctors and nurses, and the high quality medical care I received. Oh, and I was super pumped that my ankle wasn’t broken!

I was a little worse for wear (okay, a lot worse), but here’s me on my way out of the hospital. I’ll spare you the gory photos of my foot. It’s a little hard to stomach.

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