Unlucky Lucky Part 2 – A story of trauma recovery

(Last Updated On: August 4, 2019)

Upon leaving the ER, they wheeled me up to ICU and I spent a very hallucinogenic night there. I did sleep, but I was in a lot of pain. The nurses kept waking me up because the arterial line that was connected to my left wrist was acting up. This line was used to monitor my blood pressure and oxygen levels, breathing rate, etc. It was especially important because I was undergoing spinal perfusion protocol, meaning they were trying to elevate my blood pressure with IV drugs to help improve blood flow, and therefore healing, to the spinal cord. My left arm, however, was the one most impacted by the nerve damage from my spine. Overnight, the nerve pain in that arm and hand became worse, and I kept moving it into positions that were more comfortable for me, but optimal for arterial line readings.

The next morning, one of the spinal physician assistants came to check on me. The tests showed I was getting weaker in the left arm. Spine surgery needed to happen ASAP.

In order to do the surgery, they had to take me off the blood thinner medication, which of course increased my risk of stroke. It was a long day of waiting for the surgery, and 6 hours of so of surgery itself. But, I came out of it so much better. I no longer had numbness in my right hand, and I regained some feeling in my left as well. More importantly, that stabbing pain in my neck was finally gone. I could truly breathe a sigh of relief.

ruptured disc from neck.
A disc that had ruptured, causing me nerve pain, and was removed from my neck.

The next morning, I woke up feeling more human. I made my first Facebook post explaining the situation:

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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On Saturday I was subjected to the most tragic experience of my entire life. One of those fluke freak accidents that you think will never happen…. As Frank and I arrived to the trailhead of something that we were planning to ski, I got out of my car just to get something quickly out of the trunk. I thought I put the car in park but apparently I did not. Because as I tried to open the car trunk the car started moving on me, reversing on me and I stumbled to get out of its way. I missed and the entire car ran over me, thrashing me around tires running over my head. Everything mutilating my body. I didn’t feel the pain. All I felt was how much I wanted it to just stop. What body part was it going to get next. When the car finally stopped, I screamed in terror for not knowing what else to do. I grabbed for my head which was bleeding profusely. Then I looked down at my leg, and my femur was mangled. Frank came running towards me. He saw the blood right away. But I said, don’t worry about the blood. My head is fine. My leg is not. I broke my femur. With the aid of two other people at the trailhead Frank managed to move me into the back of our Subaru. We started driving down to cell service. It was then that I noticed the pain in my neck. And I was worried about a spinal injury. Frank pulled over the car and pulled the SOS function on our Garmin. He continued driving as slow as he could. We were both in shock. Eventually, he reach 911 and at the end of the dirt road there was an ambulance waiting and then helicopter to take me to a hospital in Denver. A CAT scan revealed a broken rib, a broken neck, and a broken femur. I also think that my finger is broken but I don’t think there’s much they can do about that. I have several lacerations and they put 20 stitches in my forehead -apparently the laceration went all the way to the bone.. I am srathched and bruised all over and feel like car ran over me. People say that breaking a femur is very painful. But I didn’t feel a thing. I still don’t feel it even as I lie here with it and traction. But I did feel it was my neck. My neck hurt. And it hurt all the time until yesterday (continued)

 

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But, I was still very much a wreck. Because of the traction, I could not sit up more than 30 degrees or the bones in my leg would start pulling apart. Blood was still on my face, and plastered in my hair making it stiff, like I was wearing too much hairspray. I also had blood all over my hands still, despite the efforts of the ER nurses to wash it off. It was ingrained in my fingerprints and cuticles. Keep in mind, I hadn’t eaten anything since Saturday morning, and it was now Monday. And I didn’t see that changing until I could sit up more than 30 degrees anyway.

I was thankful when they decided that I would undergo femur surgery that day. From what I understand, the surgery was pretty quick – a couple of hours. And then, I remember them saying to me post-op, “Your leg is now weight-bearing as tolerated.” What? That’s impossible? I’d known over a dozen people to have broken their femurs too, and none of them were allowed to put significant weight on it for 6 weeks. How could this be? But, it was what it was. It didn’t take me long to be determined for the next step…. I wanted to walk again.

But first I needed to start eating again, after being three days on solely IV fluids, and I needed to do a bit of self care… I still had blood dried in my hair, make it stiff like I had too much hairspray. I still had blood all over my hands. I hadn’t bathed in days, and I was feeling good enough to know that I felt dirty. I asked the nurse to help bathe me. But that day she never got around to it. I was so thankful when my friend Heather arrived to visit. She is a long-time nurse herself and knew what to do. She more or less took over, asked the nurses for the right supplies, and started bathing me herself. It was then that we discovered a second laceration on my head – this time in the back, about 4 inches long. It probably should have been stitched but was easily overlooked in the ER. Now, it was too late to stitch. But, Heather got a good deal of blood out of my hair, some more off my hands, and bathed my skin so I didn’t feel like an oily mess. I finally felt minutely humane again.

The next morning my friend Natalie visited (In the post below), helping to brush my hair more to get the dread-lock snarls out that had developed over the last few days. As she left, the physical therapists arrived…. And then I learned to walk again….

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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Update 7/11 – Yesterday, I learned to walk again. Protocol for the rod in my leg is weight-bearing as tolerated. So, I can cautiously stand on it and walk, but have to be careful because my spine is not fully fixed. The PT and ortho teams were a little hesitant to get me up and moving. But I told them that I could do it, and I did. My desire to heal from this is very strong. I believe I can get past this and recover to enjoy the things I could do before this terrible accident. I remain positive, and part of that is because of all of you pulling behind me. All the positivity and well wishes that have been flowing towards me has made a big difference. I am blessed to have so much support from my husband and my family and my friends. I never knew how important that could be until now. Thanks to all of you ❤️

 

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After laying down for days it admittedly felt really strange to sit up again. My blood pressure dropped, which made them hesitant to allow me to stand.

Sitting up was the first step.

But I told them I wanted to walk and that I could walk. My constant persistence and positive attitude persuaded them to allow me to do so…
Learning to walk again after trauma.

By the next day, I walked to the end of the hall and back:

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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Update 7/12- Every morning I get an inspirational quote sent to my email. This is what came this morning, “He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions.Louisa May Alcott – 1832-1888 – Novelist-Short Story Writer-Poet.” I believe that I am strong. And I believe that I will rise above these injuries. Yesterday, I walked all the way down the hall and back, twice. And PT said they’d never seen anything like like it before. I have been off the pain meds for a couple of days now, and each day I get better and better, with all of your encouragement and well wishes. Healing is my focus, recovery is my job. Which leads me to the fact that I won’t be able to really return to work for quite some time. With piling medical bills, some of which insurance is sure to not cover, this ordeal is going to be as much of a financial setback as a physical one. My sister-in-law has set up a GoFundMe to help gather donations to help me during this time of need. I don’t like asking for help. But in this case, it’s become necessary. So please consider donating: https://www.gofundme.com/f/brittany-walker-konsella-recovery-fund – Thanks so much to those who have already contributed! And thanks so much for all of your love and support! 💓

 

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And the days just started getting better…

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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Update 7/13 – Yesterday was a big day! I got ICU spa treatment with a massage, full hair wash (blood is still in my hair from other cuts), and full body wash. Even got most of the blood off my hands. The PT people gave me the okay to graduate from a walker to crutches. Plus, I got the stitches removed on my forehead! Looking like I’m transferring out of ICU today too as I am finishing up with spinal profusion protocol, where they elevate my blood pressure to promote healing of the spine, monitoring it constantly. I still gotta stick around this place for another neck surgery on Tuesday. And also waiting to see results of a scan to see if the blood clot in the back of my head is dissolving or has changed it all. Hard to believe it’s been a week since I got rolled over by a car…. Thanks to everyone for their constant encouragement, messages, emails, gifts, and donations to our GoFundMe. The generosity of friends, family, community members, and even strangers has been unparalleled. It shows me that there is so much compassion in humanity still. Thanks everyone ❤️

 

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I was eager to get out of the ICU…

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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Update 7/14 – Well, they didn’t quite spring me out of ICU yet. Yesterday, they weaned me off of the Levophed that was elevating my blood pressure. They wanted to keep me overnight just to make sure that my blood pressure didn’t drop a whole lot as a result of being off the Levo. But my blood pressure seems to be doing well and signs are pointing towards me actually leaving ICU later today. In the meantime, I’m enjoying some walks around the floor and physical therapy activities. Here the therapist was having me stand one leg and swing my leg back and to the side to work those glutes! Second neck surgery is still on course for Tuesday!

 

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And was finally sprung on the 15th, 8 days after being admitted to the hospital. Some people thought that was quick. But, it felt like an eternity.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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Update 7/15 – Goodbye ICU! They finally kicked me out of the ICU, and moved me to the regular trauma floor were they allowed me to take an actual shower. Finally, the excess blood has been freed from my body. To feel hot water streaming over me, something I haven’t felt in 9 days, was amazing! My new room is beautiful, has some great mountain views, and coincidentally even has a picture of the flowers and Gothic valley near Trail 401 in Crested Butte. The Universe is telling me I’m slowly making my way home. Plan still stands for my second neck surgery on Tuesday. Then they will see how I am faring, but they are talking about discharging me this week! #recovery #healing #imgonnabestrong #trauma #traumarecovery

 

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The picture of Crested Butte in my new room on the regular trauma floor brought tears to my eyes. I was one step closer to getting home…

To be continued…

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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Summary
Unlucky Lucky Part 2 - A story of trauma recovery
Article Name
Unlucky Lucky Part 2 - A story of trauma recovery
Description
Brittany tells more of her story about her trauma recovery, going through another surgery, learning to walk again, and finally being discharged from the ICU!
Author

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

One thought on “Unlucky Lucky Part 2 – A story of trauma recovery

  • July 31, 2019 at 5:03 pm
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    Stoked you are working hard and successful in your comeback. You are in our thoughts and prayers – Uwe and Pam

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