October 27, 2015
A little over 2 years ago, almost 25 months if I were to age it like a toddler, I was hit by an inattentive driver in an SUV while riding my bicycle into the office.
This happened on September 11th, so it’s really easy to remember.
There are a lot of things that happened to me in the aftermath of this wreck: my bicycle and work computer were damaged, I acquired some gnarly contusions and road rash, but the farthest reaching of these physical things is that I sustained a concussion that has dramatically reshaped my life.
On September 11th, 2013 at 9:40am I was in the best shape of my life. I was in a stable, very happy relationship that was just coming out of the “newly wed” period. I had recently had surgery to fix a congenital defect in my jaw and had just gotten my braces removed (I was still wearing the retainer 24/7). I was biking 15 miles a week on average and running around 9, completing some of my first 5ks; I was getting ready to run my first one with my husband in a few weeks. I had recently lost about 50lbs, finally bringing myself back to a healthy weight. I was volunteering with the Girl Scouts regularly as a troop leader. I was kicking ass at work, taking on high profile projects.
And in a split second, all of that vanished. I was a broken girl bleeding onto the asphalt, dress flipped up over her head and shoes thrown across the road, partially underneath an SUV as the driver jumped out screaming at me for “not paying attention” when I had the light to cross the intersection and he turned directly into me. I’m still not sure how I ended up underneath his truck, as there were my hand prints on his hood where I had gone over it.
It happened in slow motion, as these things tend to. The light turned for me as I was half a block away, the SUV was sitting in the intersection not moving. I entered the intersection and the SUV was still sitting there, having not moved an inch. I had just crossed the yellow line, almost safely to the other side when he began to turn. I saw the hood of his truck coming right for me and all I could think was “well, this is how I die,” along with a whole string of things I hadn’t gotten accomplished. I looked down as his bumper neared my foot, still stuck firmly in the clip on my pedal as I was still frantically trying to make it across. There was a brief flash of white and I woke up underneath his truck, with my arms wrapped around my head. I was terrified if I didn’t die that my jaw would break again, since it hadn’t quite been a year since the surgery I had on it.
The paramedics came and bandaged me up. They checked my head, but since I hadn’t hit it on anything and there were no sore spots or bruising/abrasions on it they told me I didn’t have to go into the hospital. I exchanged insurance information with the driver, he was ticketed, my husband came to pick up me and my broken bicycle and I headed into work. I was sore and scattered from what I thought was adrenaline, but I needed to check some of those outstanding items off my to-do list before the next day. I have been in many car accidents, I know the second day is the worst day in terms of pain. I took the next day off, but went in on Friday. I was still a little confused and dizzy, and 2 days out I thought it likely wasn’t adrenaline.
Did you know you can get a concussion without hitting your head at all? Just your brain sloshing around in your skull is enough to do it.
My doctor practically yelled at me to go to the ER immediately. I did and had many an xray taken. Nothing was broken “just” a concussion. This concussion ended up turning into post-concussion syndrome which meant that every single day I woke up violently nauseated and dizzy for almost a solid year and a half. My regular doctor put me under the care of a neurologist who monitored the nerve damage in my legs as it corrected itself and the extreme vertigo.
At some point as my body began to heal, my psychological state began to rapidly deteriorate. I was having trouble falling asleep, and when I would I’d be plagued with violent nightmares. It got to the point where I could barely even get out of bed. I ended up being referred to both a psychologist and a psychiatrist where I began an intense 18 month EMDR program as well as various prescriptions to help treat my PTSD and major depression. As that started to improve, and I could at least sleep like a normal person again, my body once again began to have issues. I’ve been told by my medical team that this sort of back and forth of physical and psychological maladies is pretty common.
Regrettably, what popped up was debilitating migraines. Do you know what a 3 month long migraine feels like? Because I do. I had a span of 3 months where I think I had 1 or 2 headache-free days and I ended up hospitalized and giving demorol shots, which did absolutely nothing to help. I spent most of the last bit of 2014 and the first half of 2015 in my dark bedroom, shades drawn, chained to my bed in near constant, horrible pain. It hasn’t done much for my mental state, although I’ve tentatively “graduated” from therapy. For the past 6 months or so I’ve been getting Botox injections for my migraines and they’ve made it significantly better, I’m only getting 3-4 per month now, but it’s not perfect and now my eyebrows don’t move correctly. I don’t like the changes in my face at all, which is doubly problematic because I was still getting used to my “new face” after jaw surgery.
Since the accident due to the vertigo and then migraines, I’ve been almost completely unable to exercise, meaning I’ve gained a significant amount of weight. I’ve effectively cancelled out all of the weight I spent such a long time losing. I used to be so proud of all the things my body could do, but now it can’t do anything for vast stretches of time but lay prostrate. I’m very down on myself for having gained back all this weight I swore to myself I would never gain back. I’m down on myself because my face is a different shape now from the surgery, and my eyebrows are frozen like Barbie. I can’t do anything, I can’t even emote correctly anymore. I don’t feel like I can take pleasure in anything my body does anymore, like I’m just a brain trapped in some horrible flesh bag that just hurts all the time and is weird and ugly and borderline alien.
As one could imagine, this amount of trauma and sickness hasn’t exactly been very kind to my relationship with my husband, nor any of my friends. I’ve just disappeared into a little cave, my world restricting further and further. Much like a light on a dimmer, the glow becoming smaller and weaker until it clicks off because there’s not enough power. It’s very isolating to have so much of who I am not shaped by this wreck. I don’t want to talk about it all the time but it’s seemingly all I can talk about if I meet up with friends, because it was a major event: my life is now classified pre-wreck and post-wreck. It’s isolating even though my husband has lived through it with me, because most of the ways I suffer are invisible, I can’t expect him to really understand what it is I am going through because I think on some level you can’t know unless you’ve been there. Can you really relate to the trauma of almost having your life ripped away without having experienced that same thing? I’m sure you can agree that it’s terrible, but can you really know how terrible if you haven’t spent every day of 2 years having it limit your life, deny you sleep, cause you pain, change your body?
So I’m soldiering on because I have to believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. That the insurance company will pay my tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages from all the freelance gigs I lost because I can’t produce at the capacity I previously could. I have to believe that I’ll someday be made something close to whole.
January 1, 2014
a tale of woe and bathtubs
so, i haven’t updated since before i got my braces off. this is me just glossing over the fact that i was hit by a car while biking to work about 4 months ago because i’m personally tired of dealing with the effects of that accident, and if i’m tired of living this concussed life, surely people are tired of hearing about it on my various social media.
instead, i’m going to share with you the story of how i’ve come to possess 3 (soon to be 4) copies of the lord of the rings.
back in 1998, i started high school. i think. yes, it was 1998 and i had to google math that because even pre-concussion i was ass at head math. so, it’s 1998 and i was taking journalism with this youngish teacher named van wyk. i absolutely adored van wyk, he was this wiry, skinny, vaguely dangerously russian looking, what i would now refer to as a hipster, dude. i have no idea why he was teaching highschool in my podunk hometown, but my life is better for it.
i used to stay after school in van wyk’s room until my mom would come pick me up. he’d grade papers and talk to me as i, i’m sure, dazzled him with the incredibly deep things i thought about as a teenager, which looking back on i cringe. i’m pretty sure everyone knows what i’m talking about, that stage where you obviously have discovered the world for the first time and no one has ever thought the thoughts you were thinking right then.
anyway, one afternoon he told me i should really read lord of the rings becuase he was positive i’d like it and there was a movie being made so i should read it before the movie spoiled the book.
that year i asked for lord of the rings and got it for christmas. i am about to show the world pictures of this book that will probably make librarians cry. i’m going to preface this sorry display by saying 1. i’ve read this book 20+ times by this point, and 2. i know it was probably a bad idea to read a book of this magnitude 20+ times while bathing (but dammit, bath time makes for the best reading time). please don’t hunt me down and murder me for crimes against literature.
So for xmas, my loving husband bought me what is now going to be known as the “non-bathtub copy” of lotr. it’s the fancy 50th anniversary edition.
so yeah, for those people who aren’t privy to my ridiculous tolkein geekery, you know someone who owns three copies of lord of the rings, you’ll never be cool simply by association.
March 20, 2013
in a state of flux
in a month, i’ll be through most of the unpleasantness that has defined my life for the past 2 years. i am thankful that i have a good job and awesome friends, because i don’t think i could have made it through some of it without knowing that at least that part of my life is good. that’s not to say i haven’t been unbelievably angry at basically everyone i’m in the middle of a transaction with at the moment, but it’s been manageable.
so today as i was pulling into my building after staying late at work, i came to the realization that i am a good person. i’ve never really believed that about myself because i’m also a fairly awful person. i say terrible things all the time and have a tendency to skew negative. i’m just going to assume not believing that i’m inherently good is an extension of my lack of self esteem and the continuous low levels of emotional abuse i suffered as a child. i didn’t think that people in general were inherently good, and i sure as hell thought that i wasn’t worthy of being a “good” person.
but i realized today that you don’t have to be sunshine and rainbows to be a good person. when shit gets bad, i am always there for people. i am very reliable, it was always a selling point with my freelance clients that i’m not a flakey artist. I am also very giving, almost to a fault, when people i am close to need me. Whether it’s because i need to step in and help in some material way or just volunteer some time to talk something out, everyone i’m close to knows that i’m good for it. I volunteer a fair amount as well, which isn’t completely selfless as it’s rewarding, but it’s a thing that “good people” tend to do.
i think most of my negative traits stem from the fact that i have a very strong sense of social justice. i am easily angered by people being wronged and i tend to not forget it. I hold grudges until i feel as though the universe has repaid the shitty behavior. if it’s not something i can fix, i internalize that outrage and that tends to manifest itself in being snarky and saying negative things. most of my glorious thoughts of violent restitution stem from this as well, although i very rarely act on them, unless it’s traffic related. i will 100% beat on a car if the person is being an idiot. i would say the remaining negative aspects of my personality stem from the fact that i don’t suffer fools gladly.
so, other than the fact that i can’t deal with the willfully ignorant, i believe most of my behaviors are driven by a desire to do good. eventhough some of these actions aren’t necessarily considered things that good people do, they come from a good place and therefore i can now believe that i am a good person.
January 17, 2013
Gordon gets the shittiest present
I’m not sure if i’ve ever made a big deal out of it, but Gordon and my sister in law share the same birthday. That would be August 10th. Yes, i’m that far behind. I get this far behind and think to myself “no one cares what happened 6 months ago, just give it up”, but i persevere for whatever reason.
So Gordon turned 2 and we had a small doggie party complete with meat cake.
The only bad thing about Gordon’s birthday, is that he started throwing up on it. He continued throwing up and eating grass at his party on Saturday, through the weekend and into Monday. I was pretty concerned. Gordon is a 17lb dog, and he hadn’t been able to keep anything down for 3 days at that point.
We took him to the vet and he was given anti nausea meds, antibiotics, and enough fluids that it looked like he had a second head emerging from his shoulders. Unfortunately, he continued puking like a champ. On Tuesday, our vet was concerned enough to send us to the emergency vet since she was in surgery all day.
Gordon had bloodwork and an xray done. Nothing came back conclusive, but the vet had a strong suspicion that he had a blockage. Gordon went in for exploratory surgery. I learned that day that it really doesn’t matterĀ the price, if you put something in front of me and tell me that my dog might die unless i sign it, i will do it.
After surgery and a severely lightened pocketbook, we learned that he didn’t have a blockage after all. He was kept overnight for 2 nights due to the extent of the surgery. They cut him basically sternum to penis, biopsied his stomach, cut it open to check for blockages and palpated the entirety of his intestines to make sure nothing was in there.
He was immediately coned because as soon as he woke up he ate off his IV. I knew he would be okay if he was an asshole that quickly. The vet let us visit him every night. He started trying to walk again 3 hours after surgery. I felt really bad that we put him through that surgery for no medical reason and cried about it a lot. My regular vet was also scared that it was a blockage, which is why she sent us to the emergency vet, but she seems to think it was just a food allergy now, which just made me feel extra awful given my diet situation.
Even though he got a pretty shitty birthday present, he healed pretty quickly and a week or so later was back to his normal asshole self. I have no idea what i’m going to do with the inevitable happens with Gordon. I love his stinky face so much, it wouldn’t even feel like home without him.
Soon we get to discuss me getting cut open!
September 28, 2012
Paleo really isn’t that bad
Since the last time i posted, i got the okay from my dr to drop the ridiculously restrictive part of my diet where i couldn’t eat ANY starch or high glycemic fruits. I’m now on a straight paleo diet (including some natural sweeteners, i.e. honey, agave nectar, maple syrup) with a “cheat day” every 10-14 days that I have been using to add in foods. So right now, i’m eating paleo with occasional goat cheese, because i seem to be able to handle goat cheese.
However, i 100% canNOT handle corn. I ate some gluten free bread that had corn starch in it and my throat got tight. However, it also had rice flour in it, so I wasn’t sure what caused my throat reaction. A little while later, i ate a piece of scallop that had been sitting on top of corn and had corn juice on it and the same thing, my throat started closing up.
That sort of put me off working in new foods for a while. My dr said that i may very well only be allergic to GMO corn, and that i should try some heirloom organic corn if i feel up to it, but i don’t know if i want to chance my fucking throat closing up.
I recently tried ice cream, and i now believe that my 4 month break from dairy has rendered me lactose intolerant. i didn’t have a real allergic reaction other than my nose running a bit (which happened with the goat cheese and eventually stopped), but the stomach badness… ugh. Also, I still get pretty bad headaches when i eat refined sugar. i’m not sure if i’m ever going to be able to handle it.
I’ve gotten pretty used to the diet. It’s better now that i have coconut ice cream and can bake again. it’s sort of making tim’s life hell, which is an issue. but i feel like if it didn’t bother tim so much that i could probably keep this up long term.
i’ve lost around 40 lbs in 4 months. according to my personal trainer, i lost around 1% body fat, but he thinks that’s a bit inaccurate based on my results. I hit my goal weight back in August, but not my goal size. my weight loss has slowed down significantly since june, but i’m trying to not focus on my weight as much anymore since i’m within healthy BMI now.
I started training with the couch 2 5k program. My trainer cleared me for running since he worked some magic on my knee and it no longer hurts. It does still pop occasionally, so i’m having to take c25k pretty slowly to not damage it. i’m up to week 4 day 2, halfway through the program. I’m run/walking a little over 2 milesĀ at a 13 minute mile currently. i seem to default to running a 10-11 minute mile. i’m hoping to train to run a half marathon next year. we’ll see how that goes.
my other fitness goal is to be able to do a pullup. i have a LONG way to go there. i tried to do one and just… no. wasn’t happening.
June 17, 2012
Well i don’t seem to have done anything on here except whine about not being able to eat for a while. Here’s a change of pace.
Tim and I have a tendency to travel a lot. This year seems to be a relatively slow one since I’ve been trying to save up my PTO for looming surgery. Here are some pictures of trips we’ve been on starting in April.
After our trip to Canada, we rode back to Atlanta with the inlaws, who were coming to spend a week in Atlanta.
That pretty much catches everyone up to this weekend, which was a nice, lazy one.
June 17, 2012
Ugh, all I think about lately is health.
i’m in slightly better spirits than I was last time I updated. I have approximately a week until I visit my doctor again, and hopefully i’ll be able to start adding food back into my diet.
In a couple of days, i have an orthodontist appointment. he should (finally) give me some sort of date for when my surgery can happen. By that, I mean, he should release my treatment to the surgeon. I’m still waiting to hear back from my insurance company regarding whether they’ll cover it or not. I want these brackets off my teeth SO FUCKING BAD. Come on, ortho, please release me.
Not that the braces come off until 6ish months after surgery. I’m hoping against hope that i have them off by the end of the year. I’m really tired of my year in a chrysalis.
I have yet to build back up to where i was in regards to exercise. I’m getting better, though. Last month I did a 37 mile charity bike ride with my husband. It sounded like a much better idea before i caught bronchitis the week before the ride. I was doing alright until my lungs started giving out 35ish miles in.
I still haven’t really started going back to group classes at the gym. I did my first group class last friday. I had to go in early on friday because we had our end of fiscal year party, which meant we all left at 2 to go bowl for a couple of hours. since i got in at 8am instead of 10am, i felt alright about going to zumba. I always want to do zumba, but it’s at 11:15, and i’d feel like a shitheel working for an hour and then taking lunch.
Even though I haven’t been taking classes like I used to, I’ve still been going to the gym 2-3 days a week during lunch and almost every day after work. The days i don’t go to the gym during lunch, i walk about 2 miles with the girls. I have noticed that if I bike to work, i can’t also do 2 hardcore workouts at the gym that day. Hitting physical limits like that sooner than I used to still bums me out, but i’m doing a little better at taking it in stride.
I bit the bullet and hired a personal trainer. I’m doing one 30 minute session with him per week for the next little while. He says that I’m stronger than I think that I am, and that my muscle balance is more even than most women he has trained. (yay for working my arms so heavily?) but my balance and core strength is pretty shit, and my knee issues are going to make training difficult. One of the things we’re going to focus on is balancing the muscles in my legs to hopefully help the popping/random knee pain issue.
I’ve still been going to ballet most saturdays. i think i’m getting marginally better. my barre work isn’t as sad as it once was. My center work is still pretty awful. I did manage to finally do a full pirouette and land it properly yesterday, which is a much bigger deal to me than it sounds like. Last weekend I had some drama with the substitute teacher where she basically told me that I sucked and should drop down to a slower class. However, my regular teacher was back this week and apparently i’m doing well enough to bother correcting my mistakes, so suck it other teacher.
I recently found a few good paleo recipe blogs, which have recipes pretty close to what I can eat (i usually just have to take out sweetener). One of my current favorites is paleomg , where i got a nice recipe for blueberry muffins. almond and coconut flour is keeping me sane right now. I missed quick breads so much.
I need to update my mordor tracker and tack it on down here. I’m awful about that thing. I’m definitely past rivendell, now! oh, and since lego has started making lotro sets, i’ve decided that whenever I pass a place where a set is, i will buy it and make it. Next set, moria!
May 24, 2012
Anyone who has had the (dis)pleasure of talking to me lately has probably heard me bitching about my diet.
At least a quarter of the conversations I’ve had lately:
Anyone: “so how’s the diet coming?”
Me: “pretty awful!”
And shutdown, because how do you respond to that? I know these people are asking out of care or concern, but I don’t think they expect the complete lack of sugarcoating they get out of me.
I am miserable.
You don’t know how awful limiting your food choices this severely is until you do it. I can barely eat anything that isn’t prepared from scratch at home. Everything has something in it that I can’t eat. I recently found a single smoothie that was questionable because of the sugar content of the fruit in it, but nothing outright banned in it. I almost cried from pure joy. I’ve gone a month without being able to buy food. I felt normal being able to go in someplace and buy something.
Its alienating not being able to go out to eat. Or going to parties where I have to bring special gimp drinks to drink, where I can’t have any of the snacks. Making a cake for my husband’s birthday that I’m not going to be able to eat. Tim suggesting we make the cocktails and cupcakes theme “stuff Alicia won’t eat”, presumably so I wouldn’t feel bad about not being able to eat it since its stuff I don’t like anyway.
I guess the fact that I have come home multiple days crying because I feel like a leper hasn’t sunken in yet.
I really like food. I enjoy eating good food and have friends who do the same. Its hard to get people together to do something not food related. Most of the stuff I can eat now is meh. There have been a few things I’ve really liked, but they take a really long time to prepare. Tim does all the cooking and I get the feeling that this diet is straining my marriage a bit. He’s constantly in the kitchen and not exactly happy about it.
I also can’t even exercise normally because its next to impossible for me to eat enough calories. I’m terrified that eating so dew calories is going to cause my body to lose muscle, but if I work out it just makes the situation worse. I have so little energy because I just cant eat enough.
May 22, 2012
One of the conditions of getting my braces a year ago was that I consent to jaw surgery. Not that you’d notice it due to my prominent chin, but I have a pretty severe overjet/overbite.
I’ve finally gotten far enough through my treatment that I could meet with my soon to be oral surgeon. I’m pretty happy with him. He’s a cute old man with a great bedside manner, and he’s the head of maxillofacial surgery at emory. I feel like i’m in more than capable hands.
After he and the residents spent 20 minutes measuring my face with a ruler, which I thought was really odd — they even measured the distance between my pupils, I was pronounced as having a 9cm overjet (my bottom teeth are 9cm back from where they should be) and a 3cm overbite (my top teeth overlap my bottom teeth 3cm too far).
Given that the angle of my jaw is great and my biting plane is level, my surgery will be pretty simple. they literally only have to move my jaw forward. Also, since my chin is already pronounced I won’t need genioplasty (where they slide the bone of your chin forward).
It’s interesting how they do the surgery. I was mistakenly under the impression that they just cut the mandible and then hold it in place with plates with a gap between the pieces that then fills in with bone. What they do is so much more indepth than that. they split the mandible vertically near the bend in the back and split the bone apart like you’re chopping wood.
According to this dr, I should be out of surgery in about 3.5 hours, outfitted with some shiny titanium plates in my skull, spend one night in the hospital and then go home to recuperate for about a month. He doesn’t believe in hard wiring your jaw shut unless the bone splitting goes poorly. He’s anticipating me just needing bands to guide my jaw into place until my muscles get used to the new position.
Now, it’s basically just a waiting game. My teeth are REALLY close to being in the correct place, so my surgery is going to be dictated by how quickly my insurance company approves or denies my claim. Since I’m not getting the genioplasty (which is largely cosmetic), the team at emory thinks that my surgery will be easier to get approved than most. however, this type of jaw surgery is notoriously hard to get covered. My mom’s surgery was pre-approved and then the insurance company still decided to not pay it.
Here’s hoping the insurance company isn’t a total dick and approves my surgery in a timely manner. Right now, it’s looking like jaw breaking time will be late July or August!
May 10, 2012
Medical news is always fun
I’m sure I’ve posted about my ongoing thyroid issue in the past. After a year and a half or so, my levels are holding steady like a normal person.
You may also remember how I won a free membership to the gym in my building and eventually bought a membership. I have continued going just about every day, twice a day 5 days a week and taking a ballet class on Saturday.
I have not dropped a damn bit of weight during all of this. I also realized that I was due for my yearly physical. I had been unhappy with my old dr, mainly for not listening to me when i told her i had a thyroid problem, so i was on the hunt for a new one.
I found a new dr at King Plow, where we got married. She’s a more holistic dr, which I’m loving. She wants me to be hands on with my treatment and tries to treat naturally before prescribing drugs.
Well after they drew 10 vials of blood, did an EKG, and tested my body composition, she’s come to the conclusion that I have metabolic syndrome. In a twist that really enrages me, one of the causes of it is untreated subclinical hypothyroidism. thanks old dr!
What this means for me is that my iron, b12, and vitamin d are all low and my insulin is elevated. I’ve known about all of that for a while. My endo briefly put me on metformin for elevated insulin levels and ovary stuff (which i did not tolerate well AT ALL), and I have been on b12 injections and pretty hardcore vitamin d supplements for a while now. Even with all that my levels were still low.
So because my b12, d and iron are low, I don’t have as much energy as I should. Because my insulin is high, I haven’t been burning fat during the hours I’m at the gym every week. Apparently my muscle density is fantastic, it’s just covered in fat that won’t go away.
My dr wanted to try me on a noninflammatory foods diet to help with the malabsorption issues and with low sugars to keep the insulin in check until my body straightens itself out. If that doesn’t work, I get prescribed a fuckload of drugs.
So currently I’m eating basically a hybrid of a paleo and glycemic index diet. I cannot eat grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, dairy, soy, high glycemic index fruits, or processed sugar. When Cheryl at work was on gluten free we used to joke about her not being able to eat anything, but now i REALLY can’t eat anything.
I’ve been on this hell diet for a week as of today. After 4 days I stopped having sugar withdrawal headaches. I’m trying to eat at least 1200 calories a day (the lowest you’re supposed to eat without going into starvation mode), but it’s super hard. I don’t eat red meat, and chicken with vegetables just doesn’t have enough calories to reach 1200. I haven’t been going to the gym this past week either, because I have raging bronchitis. I can only imagine how hard eating enough is going to be when I’m burning some as well.
The good news is I’ve dropped 9lbs in 6 days, although I can’t really tell. Dropping weight means that I’ll get to start adding back in foods slowly next month, so I’m hoping it keeps up :)
edit: Also, I need to update my walking to Mordor ticker. I’m pretty close to Bilbo’s trolls in the Trollshaws now.
edit #2: Here it is!