Saturday, April 18, 2015

On March 28th, 2015, my life was literally flipped upside down.  I wanted to start a blog from the very start, but it has taken me 19 days in order to get enough energy and courage to start writing.  It was around 7:00 PM and we were riding our "lazy" bikes back home from Peter B's after watching Wisconsin's win.  There were 6 of us riding slowly (about 5 mph or so) along the bike path near the Aquarium in Monterey, CA.  Dustin and Airik were up ahead.  I was on the right side of the path in front of the other three.  As one of our friends almost caught another's wheel, he tried to swerve and ended up T-boning me near my front wheel and sent my bike forward and my body backwards.  As I was flying up in the air, I thought about how I wanted to protect my head, so I pulled up really hard with my neck and ab muscles, but it didn't help.  I hit the pavement hard on the upper back right portion of my head and then my right low back, then fell to the left and the bike fell on my left ankle.  There was no blood, no abrasions, no injury you could see to the naked eye.  I never lost consciousness, but I was confused as to what the heck just happened.  I knew I hit my head and I knew I hit it really hard.  I knew I wanted to stay conscious, I knew I was going to be ok, and I thought maybe I could walk home and thought Dustin could drive me to the hospital just in case to get things checked out.  But then within minutes, my front left part of my head started hurting pretty badly.  So, my friend Melissa called 911 and the ambulance arrived shortly after.  As they were putting me on the stretcher and putting the neck brace on me, I threw up for the first time, not very fun to do when the pressure in your head is already extremely high.  Dustin was able to ride in the front of the ambulance with me, as a very kind EMT assisted me and kept me calm.  It was a surprise to us that we weren't going to the hospital right up the street, but to Natividad in Salinas about 30 minutes away because they have a much better trauma department.  It was a long, bumpy ride as I denied pain medicine because I wanted to feel what was going on in order to tell the doctors once I got there.  I also knew it would make me nauseous.

As they wheeled me into the ER on the stretcher and put me behind a curtain, of course we had numerous people coming in to ask questions.  One of the questions was always "you weren't wearing a helmet?" and I  would embarrassingly say "no, it was stupid, I know" and I pleaded with each person I met to please wear their helmets and have their kids wear helmets even if just riding around the block.  I hope I can help to prevent this happening to someone else in the future.

Protocol for accidents like these are apparently to cut off the patient's clothes as to not cause further injury, so they cut off my two shirts (one of which I had just purchased at the Treadmill and LOVED and my new Victoria Secret bra too.....oh well, material things truly don't matter as much as health, so I am ok with it).  They took a chest Xray, a pelvic Xray, and an Xray of my left ankle since it was pretty sensitive when they were moving me around.  Then, they wheeled me in for the important one, the CT scan of my was actually outside in a semi-trailer and another bumpy annoying ride!  After it was over, when wheeling me over the bumps, I threw up again and further increased the pain and pressure in my head.  At around 10:30 PM (thanks to my secretary Dustin who entered in everything into Evernote on our phones), the trauma surgeon Dr. McCague came in to share the results of the CT scan of my brain.  It showed a significant bleed on the front left side of my head, a subdural hematoma between the brain and the skull, so they admitted me into ICU where I had a fantastic nurse who made me feel slightly more comfortable.  She got me a warm blanket and when she wrapped it around me, it was the first positive thing that I felt and I just started crying!!!  Such a simple act of kindness that meant the world to me.

Of course Dustin was by my side the whole time holding my hand and trying to make me feel better. Airik and Melissa drove out to the hospital but they wouldn't let them in the ICU until they had everything set up and they knew that I was stable.  My blood pressure and heart rate were low, but they always are.  They hooked me up to telemetry to make sure my heart was functioning well and there were never problems with that thank goodness.  They gave me platelets to slow the bleeding (and also because I had taken ibuprofen the day before because of monthly cramps).  At about 11:40 PM, Dr. Tran, the neurosurgeon came in and we had anxiously been awaiting his arrival.  He basically said that I suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury and that I would need to be in ICU for a couple days and then in a regular room for a couple days most likely.  He actually said "you have head full of brain, it fills all the nooks and crannies, so you will be feeling a lot of pressure and pain" and convinced me that I needed to take pain medicine so I could sleep in order to heal. It made sense and Airik and Melissa were allowed in the room right before they were going to pump 4 mg of morphine through my IV.  Thank goodness because as they did, I completely hated the feeling, it was like everything was numb, goosebumpy, nauseating and it felt like liquid was running through my knees into my toes.  I asked Melissa to squeeze my toe and she just kept squeezing and squeezing throughout the next 10 minutes or so and I didn't even realize she was still doing it!  That knocked me out and that was the end of that horrific day.

They did 2 more rounds of morphine and after nausea, vomiting, and itching, they switched me to Norco but then I started itching in my eyes and mouth, so they switched me to Fioricet, which ended up being the miracle drug for me that actually worked and helped with the pain and pressure in my head.

On March 29th, at 4 AM, they did a 2nd CT scan to make sure the bleeding had stopped and it had, so that was super good news because otherwise, the neurosurgeon explained that I would possibly have to have a craniotomy surgery where they would make a large cut in my skull.  At 3:15 pm that day, a physical therapist came in to do some neuro tests (which I had already been testing myself) and balance tests and I got to WALK outside the room, whoohoooo, with a gait belt!!!  I wanted to do stairs to prepare for going home, but they told me "you are still in ICU, you are not going home right away."  As I did laps around the ICU, I was definitely the luckiest patient in there.  You can't help but look in the rooms and see patients really bad off, on all kinds of machines, etc and it made me feel so lucky to be up and walking (even if it was the speed of my elderly patients that I usually work with).

After I got moved to a regular room on the 30th, I was starting to feel better and was on Facebook on my phone when one of the doctors walked in. That's when he told me my brain didn't need overstimulation at this time and to not be on my phone, watching TV,on the computer, or reading....what the heck was I supposed to do??  He also told me I couldn't drive for 6 weeks, so I really wasn't liking this Dr. Roth fellow.  He said it was because multitasking would be hard, but I told him I promised that I was still better than my husband at multitasking even with a brain injury!  Turns out though, most of the things that Dr. Roth said (with not very good bedside manner) were true (except the multitasking), but it would be very difficult for me to drive even now with my vision issues and pressure in my head at times, as well as the overstimulation from everything that happens when you are driving.  He also wanted me to limit any exercise, lifting, or straining at all because of increasing intracranial pressure.  How long until I can run? How long until I can go to spin class? How long until I can go in a sauna or go to Refuge to purge all these horrible medicines out of my system?  We were getting all kinds of different answers from different doctors, but basically it boiled down to when I feel better and don't have symptoms.  Turns out that is at least 20 days and counting and I am craving the ability to sweat!!!

After another physical therapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist cleared my safety (thank goodness I never had motor, cognitive,

or speech deficits!) I finally got to go home late on Tuesday, the 31st and what a feeling it was to just feel the outside breeze and smell the fresh air.  I am not a person who likes to be cooped up and I was literally starting to go crazy!

In the next few entries, I will elaborate on the setbacks I encountered once I got home, including a fun ER visit, but I want to end this on a positive note.  I've always said everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe this happened to finally slow me down and make me appreciate relaxing more and giving me more quality time with family, friends, and especially my husband.  They have shown me such amazing love and support through all of this and have helped me each day to have new small things to celebrate.  We've never had a hard time celebrating, but this has taught us to celebrate even the smallest accomplishments.  And I am also so lucky to be in the most beautiful place on earth as I endure this slow recovery process.


Blogger Wolf Sr and Janet said...

Angie & Dustin.... I have tears for you both as I approach the 2 year mark of my Brain injury..... it is a long road... you are wise to REST and pamper your Brain for as long as it takes.... Baby Steps are best.... and connecting with a Acquired Brain Injury Assn. for information and re-assurance is helpful too. There will be "up-hill " - " plateaus" and "I think my brain is all better" times.... You both have a wonderful positive attitude.... lots of family and friends for support.... HUGS Janet

12:59 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

Janet, wow, to be honest I didn't know you went through this as well. I remember you had a bike accident, is that when it happened? Message me on Facebook, thanks for the advice and I totally know what you mean with the plateaus already.

12:12 PM  

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