Category Archives: Post injury hospitals

Miami Valley Hospital Trama Center and Rehab Hospital in Chicago (RIC)

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Winter break started off hot. Not having to worry about school and being home with my family was awesome. Christmas was great and so was my birthday. I knew I would be in the hospital over New Years, but I didn’t care, I was looking forward to getting a big part of my recovery out of the way. The surgery went well and I was out of the hospital a few days after and back to Ohio. I went home with no idea what the following few weeks had in store for me…

The first couple of days went fine, other than some pretty serious pain in my abdomen from surgery. That alone was a lot worse than I expected, I couldn’t even turn to one side on my own, which I have to be able to do to prevent bed sores, especially while being bed-ridden. I took the surgery very lightly because I wouldn’t let myself worry ahead of time. It took about a week until I was able to eat again and eating did not become any easier after those first couple of days I was home. Monday (January 6th), I had a good breakfast, but nothing more than a few bites for lunch and dinner. The urine that was draining out of my catheters was really bloody and the two weren’t draining right. This was way beyond me, or my parent’s comfort level to deal with, so my mom took me to the ER. This didn’t end up being a serious problem, I was released about six hours later. Tuesday is when my stomach started to hurt, and I ate even less than I did on Monday. On Wednesday, I had some Honey Comb cereal for breakfast and my stomach pains only got worse. They were so unbearable that I couldn’t even take a drink of water. My mom reminded me that I had to drink, so I finally had a little apple juice and vomited almost immediately. “Alright that’s it, we’re going back to the ER,” my mom said. We went back and after waiting around for a couple of hours, I was admitted and sent to the X-ray room. The X-rays showed that I had a bowel obstruction. Basically, a kink had formed in my intestines since leaving the hospital in Chicago and nothing was passing through me. I was full of shit. They put an NG tube in as the first attempt to fix the problem. The NG tube goes in your nose, through your nasal cavity, and down your throat into your stomach—–If you’ve ever had an NG tube put in and were conscious for it, you know what a bitch it is passing through your nasal cavity—– It was used as a vacuum to suction my stomach out. I remained full of shit because the tube could not go past my stomach, and my obstruction was at the bottom of my intestines around the surgical site. However, the hope was that pressure would be relieved from the obstruction and it would unwind itself in a couple of days.

I stayed at Miami Valley hospital in Dayton through Friday. My stomach no longer constantly hurt, but still produced spikes of excruciating pain. Meanwhile, the doctors at Miami Valley had no idea how to treat me. My urologist in Chicago is one of the few surgeons in the country that performs the particular surgery I had, and the Miami Valley doctors were clueless to it. They put me on all kinds of serious antibiotics to kill the bacteria in my bladder, even though I told them not to treat my bladder:  “Two feet of my intestines were just put into my bladder, there’s gonna be some bacteria there that shouldn’t be in any normal body. I do not have a normal body. Here’s my surgeon’s number, he said to call him if anyone tries to treat my bladder for infection.” Which the doctor responded, “No I know what you’re saying. I get that this operation was done, but you have so and so kind of infection. You are very sick. This needs to be treated right now.” For me it was like… what can I say back to that? He was getting all defensive like I was saying I knew more than him. No I don’t study medicine, I didn’t even know what the hell he just said, all I knew was what my surgeon told me to tell other doctors if they tried to treat an infection in my bladder. “You have his number, just call him.”

By Friday, the doctors saw that the heavy antibiotics were not solving anything and they finally talked to my surgeon doctor. The local doctors were very happy when he told them he would like me to come back to Chicago to be under his supervision. They realized they were lost. I’m convinced the doctors there would have killed me had I stayed. But Friday night came and so did the ambulance squad. The ambulance squad loaded me up and got me on the road to Chicago. I did get to lay down in the ambulance, but between the super hard little ambulance bed I was on and the NG tube, the almost five hour ride was hardly bearable. What choice did I have?

I returned to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the middle of the night Friday January 10th. The nurse that I had when admitted would talk to me and ask me basic questions, just doing her job, but I kept my blanket over my head and never said a word in response. I figured if it was important, my mom would answer for me because she was in the same room. I was miserable and hadn’t gotten more than a couple hours of sleep a night for days, or had anything to eat or drink in a long time. The doctors ordered another fluid for me, so the nurse tried at least three times to get another IV started on my arm, but had no luck. She brought in the head nurse to give it a try and I would have lashed out at this guy had I given a fuck about anything anymore. I laid in the bed lifelessly as he tried to hit my vain: “Okay lets see what we can do here, you gotta be very still. Be still, be still. Okay almost. Be still, be still!” I didn’t so much as twitch a muscle in my entire body the whole time. I wanted to rise up from the sheets, grip him by his mouth and tell him that. I made it through the night and Saturday marked the peak of the worst week of my life. My surgeon was off for the weekend and was not on call either, so I still had to wait until Monday morning to talk to him. His team of med students and a partner surgeon came in multiple times throughout the weekend, but I stayed on the heavy antibiotics because that’s what I was on when I arrived and my doctor wasn’t able to give an order yet to take me off them. The doctors present thought my infection was septic and were telling me all of this false information. I had figured that once I got back to Chicago everything would get figured out and I’d be “back on my feet” in no time. However, there was still no plan and thus no end in sight. I needed to see a finish line, something to look forward to. I thought it was the end of the road for me. After a good 15 hours straight of not talking and hiding under a blanket, my mom came to my bed side, “you didn’t give up, did you?” “I gave up a long time ago,” I said. My mom started crying, “Just like that? You’ve made it this far, been through everything you’ve been through and you’re just done?” I don’t think I responded. She went on to talk about all of the finer things in life and what all I have to look forward to with returning to school and the great job that I more or less have lined up already, “But you don’t want any of that. You’re just gonna give up.” I finally responded, “I guess I do. This is just the worst thing I’ve ever lived through. At least I was unconscious most of the time after my accident. I am very much here for all of this and I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve eaten like three days out of the past two and a half weeks; I’m running on nothing.” I continued, “I guess I haven’t given up, but I don’t think it matters. Are you hearing everything that’s going wrong with me? I’m gonna die in this bed. Maybe not tonight, or the next, but I’m not getting out of this hospital.”

I made it through another night with only a couple hours of sleep, and Sunday was the start of my upward swing. At least for me emotionally. The doctors told me that I would go in for surgery in the morning to get the obstruction corrected. This was pretty bad news, the risk of an obstruction reoccurring goes up after every surgery due to scar tissue, but I was thrilled. I was finally given a plan, and I had sights on the finish line. Later in the day, I had some more X-rays done, which I was told looked better, and I finally shit a little bit. I had never been so excited about some poo. Monday morning, my surgeon came into the hospital, and told me that things might be starting to work themselves out. He prolonged the surgery until early afternoon. Things started to pass through me again around noon, more than the day before, I had some more X-rays done, and my surgeon came in late afternoon and told me that I wouldn’t have surgery that day. This was good news, but it kind of bummed me out. I had been saying ever since Miami Valley, “Would they just cut me open already?? They’re gonna keep putting it off and end up doing it like a week from now. By then it will be too late and I won’t make it back to school in time.” I was so determined to make it back to school. I had been so used to being in a hospital, so when I returned to school first semester to get my life moving again and was able to spend time with friends, it was the best thing ever. I knew I would get that same feeling because I would have been so used to the hospital again leading up to my return.

I had it in my head that I would for sure need to be cut open again, but that the doctors kept pushing it back. I honestly thought school second semester was now out of the question for me.  I spent The whole day Monday trying to become okay with the idea: “Well at least I’ll have no school related worries for the next several months. Always was a bitch getting homework you couldn’t figure out. I’ve probably lost 15 pounds, so I’ll just hit the gym day after day again and put on twice as much as I’ve lost… Yeah, I’ll just be massive when I go back to school next fall,” I thought. Things continued to progress, though: I got a PICC line put in Monday night to give me the nutrition I was missing from not eating and I started to feel better. More and more was passing through me each day from then on. I got my NG tube out late Tuesday night and I slowly worked my way up from liquids to food starting Wednesday. I got released on Friday, but stayed local in Chicago through the weekend because my surgeon said that Monday would be the earliest I could get my catheters removed.

My mom and I held down the Ronald Mcdonald House for a few days. I still couldn’t do anything because I had two tubes draining urine out of my body. How are you supposed to push your wheelchair around when you’re holding two bags of piss? On the bright side, I could actually have food and water. Not having an NG tube after having one in for a week felt like such a luxury. I could eat, drink, and swallow painlessly whenever I wanted. I was so amped about that.

This is ridiculously long, so I’m going to finish it up real quick. Getting my drains out was so nice. Like I got rid of my chains and was free again. Since getting home on Monday, I’ve been preparing for school and trying to catch up on all the sleep I missed out on. My bladder is supposed to be worse at first, and it is, but is supposed to be way better after a couple of months. I’m keepin’ my nuts crossed until then.

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Surgery

The surgery went unexpectedly well! It was four and a half hours long, but could have taken up to six. The surgeons expected to run into a lot of scar tissue that would complicate things, but hardly ran into any. They said my organs looked great, especially for what my body endured two Octobers ago! Time had done my body good. My bladder has doubled in size with intestinal tissue that is much different from bladder tissue – more stable and not possible to become spastic, this time.

With all of this being said, I don’t see why the surgery wouldn’t have met it’s goal! I need to do lung exercises 10 times hourly to regain most of my voice, and turn myself side to side (which literally feels like being gutted) every 2 hours. It is, however, tolerable after recently taking pain meds (IV morphine or valium – that good good). Doc says he expects to see me up in my chair tomorrow. This got me at first (good joke doc), but I’m already feeling better than I was right after surgery. It’s undoubtedly gonna hurt like a dirty bitch, but may be tolerable? I was told I would likely remain as a patient through the weekend, but I’m really not tryna stay that long. I don’t know if this recovery process is possible to speed up because my body needs time more than anything, but I’ll be looking at my tattoo a lot reminding myself that anything is possible through Him who gives me strength… I mean look at me now – Typing on my laptop a couple hours after wakening from a very serious surgery, haven’t  eaten more than jello since brunch on Saturday, or had anything to drink since 10:00 pm last night. Haha honestly though, if only you could see me right now: drainage tube out my side-check, indwelling catheter- check, pelvic catheter out my other side-check, IV in right arm-check, IV in left arm-check. I’m prepared to give it my all. Prayers would be greatly appreciated. I don’t care what anyone says, prayer is powerful. I should have died at the age of 20, but instead, I beat the odds and have continued to do so because of the many people supporting and praying for me. Not to mention recovered from a brain injury to get an internship then return to school less than a year post. Not a chance I could have done this all on my own. I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t give all the glory to the big man upstairs.

Enjoy New Year’s Eve tomorrow everybody! Second year in a row I’m spending it in a hospital, but hey, I get to experience yet another year!

This Again

My family and I left Ohio; Chicago bound, on Friday afternoon. I was to be admitted into Northwestern Hospital on Saturday afternoon and had a bladder reconstruction surgery scheduled for Monday morning. I have had a lot of work done on my bladder within the past year, but it all consisted of minor outpatient surgeries. Getting rocked by that SUV totally wrecked my organs:  My spleen so badly it was going to kill me if it wasn’t removed, my lungs which were preserved after a few months of rehabilitation, and my bladder which will work normally (God I hope so) after this surgery. I have had a seriously spastic bladder that would empty itself at its’ time of choice. Botox can be injected into the bladder to provide stability and fix this problem, which I have done, twice. Botox is not permanent and this surgery must be repeated every six months. This bladder surgery is supposed to be a permanent fix and will hopefully be my last. One to two feet of my intestines will be detached from my digestive tract and added to my bladder.. I didn’t know that was possible either. Medicine is nuts.. Having a large bladder supposedly trumps the negative effects of a spastic bladder. I’m really hoping it does trump the spastic bladder because I’m sure this one month recovery period will be no fun at all.

I’ve stayed pretty cool so far. I don’t understand the point of worrying about something that will inevitably happen. Although, this is a pretty serious surgery; I had to be admitted two days early for pre-op work and have to stay for what could be up to another week of recovery afterward. I’m so damn hungry, I haven’t eaten in 24 hours and can’t for at least another 24. I’m sure I will have a pretty terrible night’s sleep tonight. If I could find my way into your prayers, I’d appreciate it. Prayer has served me well in the past.

Being back in Chicago, back in a hospital, is nostalgic in the worst kind of way. I was “stuck” four times in the first four hours trying to get an IV started and blood drawn. Got an IV in right now as a matter a fact. No, I’m not at RIC, but I payed Northwestern multiple visits while at RIC and it’s right next door.

Yesterday, while lying in my hospital bed and on my phone, my mom and sister were out shopping and my dad was in the room with me on his laptop. My dad is a very hard working man that keeps to his business, also the most morally stable person I know. “You’ve had about the best disposition on all of this as anybody could. I just wanted you to know that and that I’m proud,” my dad says to me after a long moment of silence. “Thanks a lot dad, I appreciate that,” I respond. It’s not uncommon that I am complimented on my reaction to everything, but it was especially nice to hear it from my dad. I know I’ve held a positive attitude, but I don’t know, it’s just different when you’re actually “that person.” I don’t think I’ve met another paraplegic, or really any person that has been through a tragic accident, with an unsimilar attitude. When you know you shouldn’t be here anymore and you’re just living on borrowed time, it changes you. Like, really changes you. If I had to sum it up in one word it would be appreciative, it makes you a whole hell of a lot more appreciative. I don’t offer advice in my blog because I think I’m smarter than everybody. I just had to change my major in school because it was too hard; I know I’m not that smart. But, from the experiences I have been through as a result of my tragic accident, I firmly believe I have stories and have attained some views to share that could benefit others.

Is This For Forever?

I don’t remember much from the Trauma Center at Miami Valley, just bits and pieces. I was only ‘all there’, well, ‘mostly there’ for the last three or four days. I was still partially out of it and feeling the effects from more drugs than any one person should ever be on. During these days, there was a lot of talk about what was next. I also know I asked a lot of questions about my paralysis: Why can’t I move my legs?.. This can’t be for forever, right?.. This can somehow be fixed, right?…. Tell me one more time, what in the FUCK even happened..??? I’ve never had an injury so serious — An injury that I had to ask the question, “will I ever get better?” I don’t exactly remember most of my questions, but I can vividly remember one conversation. It was on the last full day at the Trauma Center. I was talking to my mom, getting packed and prepared for our flight to Chicago the next morning. I was really nervous because at that time I could only sit upright for about a half hour (while on pain meds) without experiencing a lot of pain. My mother kept telling me because I kept asking, “Modern day technology has really been advancing. It’s possible it will be forever, but we’re going to stay optimistic. Stem cell research has shown some really promising results within the past few years.” She was being a comforting mother, doing a good job, too. I had only known about my paralysis for a few days and I was still in shock about everything, waking up in a hospital bed and hearing about everything that had happened (to me?) within the past couple of weeks. I didn’t believe it at all. I knew I couldn’t move my legs and that I was in a hospital bed all scarred up, but still. –Woah, waking up and after awhile casually looking down at my stomach was awholenother story of its own–Everything people told me about what happened sounded made up, it was just a bullshit story, I first thought to myself, “I very well might still be asleep, or maybe I got really drunk, got ahold of some hard drugs, and I overdosed on both crack and acid?” “Well, we’re going to the best SCI rehab hospitals in the world, right? Everything will probably be alright, and as far as the time that I am paralyzed, it will be a great life experience at least,” was my response. I knew that spinal cord injuries were rare and very few people had the ‘privilege’ of experiencing what paralysis is like (I later found out that about 0.003% of the people in the world have a SCI). “That’s a good attitude to have. We’ve got to stay optimistic,” mom replied. At this point, I didn’t at all see myself being paralyzed for the rest of my life, or fully believe that I was then for that matter.

When at RIC in Chicago, I got to meet a lot of fellow gimps. The majority of the patients were older, but there were a handful of young guys close to my age. Almost all of whom were quadriplegics, but we nonetheless had spinal cord injuries in common. Probably my closest buddy at the time was a quad named Jeffery. Jeffery was a year older than me, and he was a true veteran of RIC (he had been there for 8 months). I was really glad he was still there when I was, he showed me the ropes of RIC and gave me some SCI tips, he was a beast. Jeffery, as well as all of the doctors had told me that the lower the injury–the greater the chance of recovering. Doctors never told me this in the case that it wouldn’t happen, but Jeffery would frequently tell me, “Your injury is pretty low man. I wouldn’t worry too much about what you can’t do now, I bet you recover.” He wasn’t the only patient that told me this. There was a psychologist (also wheelchair bound from being a quadriplegic herself) that lead a meeting with SCI patients every Monday night. This is when people would share whatever is on their mind, provide stories of being out in the real world during day passes, or talk about what they worry when imagining their life after RIC once returning to reality. I had a lower injury level than most of the patients, and we were all supposed to be supportive and optimistic, but everyone there would tell me that I was going to recover. Anytime I raised my hand and spoke about any future worry, this really kind lady who recovered herself would say, “Honey you’re going to recover from this. You’re going to walk out of this hospital, I have no doubt.” I started to believe it after hearing it so many times.

There were several patients that were in the process of recovering, their therapy consisted of walking around the big loop formed by the hallway. Therapists would support them by holding their belts tightly to keep them steady, or follow them closely while they use a cane or walker. Haha, I just remembered something. One woman was paralyzed when she came, but gained all of her muscle function back within the first week, however she still needed an oxygen tank at times because her breathing still needed some recovering. Pressure breaks were a h-u-g-e deal at RIC; everyone was told to lift themselves up from their chair, or for the quads recline their power chairs back more than 45 degrees, and hold this for two minutes… every thirty minutes. During group therapies, every half hour that passed the therapist would say, “Okay time for a pressure break, does anyone need some water?” All of us gimps did our thang to relieve pressure from our asses that get next to no blood circulation, and the one lady (we’ll call her Kim, I don’t remember her name) would lean forward and stand right up. After chillin’ on her feet for a couple of minutes, she would sit back down in her wheelchair. I thought this was hilarious. I never once saw her maneuver her wheelchair with her hands on her wheels; she would push off the ground with her feet to gain momentum and drag her feet when she needed to slow down. I would also see her performing therapy in the hall around the floor, outside my door. While watching tv after my day of therapies, I would see Kim walking around the big circle, no limp, no cane, no signs of anything wrong, only the therapist following her and sometimes holding an oxygen tank. She walked like a normal person, like my mom walked when she would come watch my therapy sessions. I always joked around with my mom, “Saw Kim out there again. I overheard the therapist tell her that she’s past squat-thrusts, she has her running sprints now. Go look, she’s doing suicides down the hall. Daayum! A 40 in 5 flat, she’s fucking quick!”

The calendar year changed, it was officially 2013. New years eve was ridiculous. I turned 21 less than a week prior, so me, Jeffery, and a couple of other guys played a game of poker and got trashed up in my room.. Yeahright. Instead I had zero sips of alcohol because I felt like hell (much like my 21st five days earlier), watched a couple of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ reruns on tv and fell asleep before 9 o’clock. It wasn’t all bad though, they gave us the day off therapy for new years! After throwing up my breakfast again, I didn’t have to drag myself to the workout room!

Anyways, I was released from RIC January 10th and my mom and I went home. I don’t think I had been home since I started school in August, so I hadn’t been home in five months. I quickly started to alter my everyday activities to accommodate with being all paralyzed and everything. I had to. I mean, they had been altered already from living in the hospitals, but now I was home. It was like, real life. After being back a few weeks, it started to hit me harder and I knew everything was definitely real, “Well fuck, I guess this is what life is now? I’m functioning the exact same way I was months ago back when I woke up at Miami Valley..” This was definitely the biggest reality check that I had, well have had even up to right now really. I was told there is still a chance of recovery up to two years post injury, sometimes even past that. The greatest chance by far was during the beginning of rehab though, like within the first six months after the injury. No percentages were ever given, only stories of other people, but from everything I had heard the way I saw it — First month: 10%, 3-6 months: 5%, 6-12 months: 2%, 1+ year <1%. Three months had passed awhile ago, before being released from hospitals. Six months came and passed. One year came and passed. I’m down to a fraction of a single percent at this point, but I stopped thinking about recovering a long time ago. Not long after my big reality check did I have another, also pretty big. About five months post injury, I started hearing from some of my old friends from the RIC days (most of which were 1+ year post injury at this point). All of their bodily function was virtually the same. Through spring and summertime, I was lucky enough to meet a handful of paraplegics in the area whose injuries ranged from 2 years-40 years ago. I think this was at one point late spring-early summer, I was tired from my workout at ‘Xcel’, but I couldn’t fall asleep my mind was racing, “There were a few people that recovered within their first month at RIC. Nobody else that I’ve met has recovered. Why should I be any different from them? I’m well past my first month.. Apparently you can continue on with your path… this is gonna be an interesting life.”

Being paraplegic sucks, but I’m still alive

Not being able to move my legs is very unfortunate, but hey, I am still alive. You just never hear of people being hit by a 2 ton vehicle at 50+ mph and living. Yes, of course I have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, but it’s the things that people don’t initially think about that are most troublesome. For the most part, I am over being in a wheelchair and the fact that I can no longer walk. Okay, maybe not over it, but I’ve learned to accept it. It sucks and all, but I really don’t even think about it anymore. It’s something you can get used to much easier than you would think. Wheelchairs aren’t so bad. I’ve learned to really like mine and enjoy taking on obstacles in it. I haven’t had any bad falls yet, but I’m just waiting for the first one. I’ve fallen back twice; once messing around doing a wheelie when I was drinking, and the first time going down a curb. The wheelie didn’t hurt at all, and the curb hurt pretty bad at first bc my back fell right on the lip of the curb, but neither were very bad.

Like I said, it’s the things that people don’t initially think about that are most troublesome. The biggest one being losing all control of bowel and bladder function. As many of you have heard, if you’ve been following my story at all, I have had several bladder surgeries. All of which have been only temporary solutions; I am waiting for the big one (permanent fix) to be done, which will be over my winter break from school this year. As far as no bowel control goes, this has been my number one biggest frustration by far. I have finally (within the past month or so) gotten it under control, but up until then I would shit my pants nearly every single day, for like 9 straight months. When you have no muscle in working function to keep the shit from sliding out of your anus, you’re bound to have accidents which leads to a lot of work in clean up and embarrassment because you feel like a damn baby again. The human body is a fascinating piece of work, however. It can be trained to work in certain ways, and act as needed to be. Through training my body, as well as help from some medication, I have been able to avoid this problem, finally.

Another big problem due to paralysis is keeping your lower body healthy. The fact that I cannot use any muscle makes this a challenging task. The first thing I do for this is stretch all my leg muscles out everyday, this takes about 10 or 15 minutes. This will hopefully prevent my legs from  stiffening up and becoming rigid. The second thing I do is get in my standing frame for about an hour a day each day. This helps maintain bone mineral density, so my bones are less likely to fracture from small spills out of my chair. My standing frame is also a glider (elliptical), so I get a little cardio in as well, while I’m in it. Not being able to run, or so much as twitch any muscle in either leg for that matter, I’m sure you can imagine that nothing good has been done for my six pack. I’ve been a really skinny kid growing up, so I’ve never had to work for a good looking stomach. I’m still trying to think of the best ways to trim up stomach fat and keep from developing a gut. Thank god I have the genes and young age to work in my favor right now.