Where I Am Now….

(Last Updated On: December 2, 2019)

To most people, I appear healed. It would take the average person to notice the subtle things, like how I can’t turn my head all the way, and how much I have trouble with using my arms above my head to get things off a top rack or shelf. To most, I walk fine, I talk fine, I smile fine, I have a few extra scars but so what…. I am healed but not healed.

Today, it has been 3.5 months since I nearly died under the wheels of my car – now named Voldemort after giving me a large “Harry Potter” scar, among dozens of other injuries.

I am sure I am farther along in the healing process than most doctors could have imagined. But, then, they don’t know me. They don’t know that, when faced with challenges, I rise to defeat all odds. It’s who I am. That’s what I was born to do. And this was the biggest challenge I have ever faced. So, I rose even harder.

So, let’s do a recap on what it’s been like since I last posted this summer….

Arteries are kinda important
After a couple of weeks at home, I visited the neurologist who is responsible for overseeing my vertebral artery occlusion and he gave me clearance to start maintaining a normal life – meaning, I could start riding the exercise bike and doing things to increase my circulation. As a recap, I have a vertebral artery that’s more or less squished like a straw. Even worse, it has a blood clot hanging out in it, which, if a piece breaks loose, could give me a stroke. I have been on a double dose of blood thinners – daily doses of Xeralto and low-dose Asprin, to help prevent my brain from getting clogged. The scan I had back in August more or less showed that there wasn’t much change in the damaged vertebral artery, which feeds my cerebellum, the part of the brain that is the hub of one’s balance and movement. Earlier scans taken in the hospital show signs that I suffered a small stroke in this part of the brain, likely during the trauma. But physical therapy has shown that I have basically no symptoms of said stroke…. thankfully. The plan is for me to remain on blood thinners until at least January, when more scans will evaluate the status of the occlusion/clot.

You may ask… “Wait, so if your artery is blocked, how is your cerebellum getting blood supply?” That’s one of the cool things about the body. The vertebral artery is separated into a right side and a left side that merge together before they enter the base of the brain. While my right side is blocked, the left side has gone into overdrive, pumping extra blood that is needed into that part of the brain. In fact, hospital scans seemed to indicate that blood was actually backflowing into the right artery, essentially pushing backwards on the clot, helping to prevent it from breaking free. Just the first example of how amazing the body can be.

The femur
The femur fracture in my left leg was the quickest injury to heal. I was astonished at how quick it was. If you read previous posts, I was allowed to bear weight on that leg as soon as the rod was put in, as long as the pain was tolerable. Well, here’s the thing. If you know me, you know my high tolerance for pain… So, the femur fracture didn’t stop me much.

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Update 7/24 – Had a visit with the doc that put the rod in my femur yesterday. As I walked into the room and put my crutches aside and stood in front of him, he exclaimed, "You are already weeks ahead of where most people would be wit this injury!" I replied, "Well, I've had a lot of knee surgeries for practice!" – Many people have asked or commented about my broken femur and why I was allowed to walk on it as soon as the rod was put in. I found it strange myself as I know over a dozen people to have also broken their femurs, but none of whom where allowed to put much weight on their broken bone, if any, for about 6 weeks post-op. The doc explained yesterday that because my fracture was so close to the hip, they had to use a longer rod that basically went close to my femoral head. Because of this, he used two screws to secure the top of the rod, instead of one. It is something to do with the placement of these two screws that allows me to put weight on my femur as the fracture heals (the bottom is secured with only one screw, scroll through the photos). – Admittedly, I would feel the bone shift a tiny bit sometimes when I moved for the first week. But after a week, it began to calcify enough that I no longer felt it. I sometimes get aches in the hip when I walk, likely due to the large incision there.. But I don't feel much on the fracture itself. – I am very to thankful that I can walk on my femur as it makes my recovery a little easier. Trying to manage a broken neck with a non-weight bearing leg would be extremely difficult! I have said times over that this incident has been unlucky lucky. Breaking my femur was unlucky, but I am lucky that the healing of it is relatively easy😃

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After the neurologist cleared me to start exercising vigorously, I did. Having anticipated this, I purchased a recumbant stationary bike, as my neck could not handle an upright bike yet. Biking for long periods of time allowed me to gain valuable strength in my legs. It also allowed me to start feeling human again. Exercise does so much for the mind and body alike.

As the end of August neared, I could feel changes in my femur. About 6 weeks after the surgery, it started to not have any pain while standing on the hurt leg. This signified that the calcification was getting to be solid enough to do more – like walk longer distances. My hip, however, sometimes hurt after walking or standing for longer periods, so I was a little leary. Thankfully, I was able to persuade my visiting friend, Natalie, to “take me for a walk” – kinda like I was a dog or something 😉

I had her take me on Peanut Lake Road, a mostly quiet dirt road, largely flat, and definitely beautiful. That way, if I started hurting, she could always walk back and get the car. But, it didn’t hurt – well, not much anyway. And I found that my hip actually felt better the more that I walked. We walked over 2.5 miles on Peanut Lake Road and the Lower Loop Trail, just 2 weeks after I was cleared for vigorous exercise. A couple of days later, I walked with my visiting parents 3.5 miles from the town of Crested Butte to my home at the base of the ski area. It was all uphill from there ;)\

A neck like the “Tin Man”
The worst injury I incurred was the broken neck. Obviously, the fracture of it is closely related to the aforementioned problems with the vertebral artery. While in the hospital, I had two surgeries to fuse the C5 to T1 vertebrae and wore a cervical neck brace for over 7 weeks, 6 weeks after both surgeries were complete. But by the end of August it was time to start weening off the neck brace… the same time that I was starting to walk/hike.

I was ready to get rid of the neck brace. Things like washing my face, brushing my teeth, eating, and drinking were a lot more difficult with it on. Every time I ate, I felt like a 2 year old, because so much food ended up all over both me and the floor. So, ditching that thing was certainly a blessing. However, I was still not allowed to turn my neck a whole lot. Subtle movements were allowed, but I a was not permitted to work on increasing my range of motion. My neck was so weak, and my head continued to move with my torso instead of independent of it, so I felt like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Sometimes it creaked just like the Tin Man too. For real.

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Yesterday, we celebrated my 2 month anniversary of a second chance at life. I can't believe it's been only two months since I was flown to the ER with a broken femur, neck and sternum, and blood pouring down my face. I can't believe that I am no longer visibly injured to the untrained eye and that I can already hike miles. It has been quite a journey, one that is far from over. And I am thankful to have had @crested_butte_is_home by my side the whole way. He has been a champion through this challenge! 💋 And thankful to have had so many friends and family cheering me from the sidelines. It was also great to see so many of our community out and about at @donitascantina, supporting a long time restaurant that is about to close its doors! #trauma #traumasurvivor #traumawarrior #traumarecovery #crestedbutte #feelingloved

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However, I didn’t ditch the neck brace entirely right away. My femur had healed far faster than my neck, and I was hiking longer and longer distances, over more and more difficult terrain. But, because I was still physically weaker than I wanted to be, I would tire easier, which made me prone to tripping. And tripping hurt my neck. Plus, as I tired, I actually found it hard to hold my head up. It’s weird to say that. But, it was actually hard to hold it up. I guess that’s what babies struggle with too. So, I kept wearing the neck brace to protect my sping while hiking into mid-October.

Arms like a puppet
My upper body took a much harder hit from the trauma and surgeries than my lower body. A broken sternum caused me pain in the hospital, and maybe a week after discharge, but it healed relatively quickly. But, the soft tissue damage from both the trauma and surgeries took much longer to heal. I had, and continue to have, pain in my pectoral muscles – likely due to muscle tears. And my upper chest, shoulders and back were so tight that I had trouble putting my arms above my head.

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Believe it or not, this is a stretch for me! My range of motion in my shoulders has been really limited since my accident – not from my shoulders themselves but because of soft tissue damaged from a broken neck, broken sternum, two neck surgeries. I finally got approval to start working on improving this range of motion and built a pulley system on my deck to help with this. It's strange to think that such a simple exercise could provide so much relief. But, it feels good to finally be addressing this subset of injuries that has had to go by the wayside for 7 weeks! My body just heals better through movement.🤣 #traumasurvivor #trauma #traumawarrior #traumarecovery #warrior #imgonnabestrong #healingthroughmovement

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Then, there was the weakness. When I was discharged from the hospital, my left arm was so weak that I could not press down on a soap dispenser hard enough to get the soap out. As my femur’s healing accelerated, I focused on gaining strength and mobility in my upper body. By the end of September, my arms were going easier above my head, although still with some pain.

A Stuffy Head
When I was in the hospital, I wanted to prove to myself that nothing was wrong with my brain. I made a concerted effort to remember every nurse’s and doctor’s and PA’s name. And I did a pretty good job. But, I still had trouble with high level thinking – any time I’d have to think critically or do problem-solving – it was like my brain could not work. This lasted for a few weeks after being discharged from the hospital too.

Cap that off with some obvious PTSD that I was going through for awhile…. I never had panic attacks or anxiety. And for that, I am thankful. My brain didn’t choose to forget much about my experience, but rather it decided to play it over and over and over in my head, like a video where there was no pause or stop. And it would do it spontaneously too. Sometimes something would trigger it – like an episode of Friends where a random guy was hit by a car. Or Frank and I decided to watch a Will Ferrel movie, Stranger than Fiction, expecting a comedy. Instead it was another somber story where a guy eventually gets run over by a bus. Do you know how much this is shown on shows and movies? It turns out, a whole heck of a lot – even the comedies!

But other times they would just come without warning, for no apparent reason at all. With so many appointments that I could not drive myself to yet, I sought the aid of online counseling. I guess my brain is incredibly resilient, because this was all it really needed. I think having been completely open and honest about my experience the whole time has helped. But, I can honestly say that I don’t have PTSD symptoms anymore.

Driving
I was scared to start driving again… for a few reasons. One, I was allowed to start driving as soon as I ditched the neck brace. But, I wasn’t allowed to turn my head a whole lot. So, my driving would be compromised. And, I really didn’t want to get into even a fender bender, as that too would hurt my neck. But, driving is important. I needed to do it for my jobs. I needed to do it to hike more things. I needed to do it for my independence. So, sometime in early September I had Frank take me for a drive, except I was the driver. A few trips between the town of Crested Butte and the mountain, and I had gained enough confidence to drive on my own. It’s a blessing we live in a rural town without much traffic, no stop lights, and not a single two lane road. Driving was easy in Crested Butte.

People have asked me if I had PTSD flashbacks while starting to drive. The answer is no. The accident didn’t happen with me in the car, I was outside the car. Sure, I pause when I put the car into park. and I pause every time I open the trunk. I think these responses are perfectly normal. Shortly after the accident, we talked about selling my car and me getting a new one. But, it turns out I kinda like Voldemort – especially the backup camera which I never used until he decided to break my neck. Besides, every time you buy/sell something, loss is incurred. I’d rather that money go to paying my plethora of medical bills right now.

The Camino
It’s literally translated as “The Way”. We had the trip planned to Spain to hike the Camino back in January but after the accident, Frank and I decided not to go. But, when my parents visited during the second half of August, and I started to actually be able to walk long distances, we changed our minds.

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Madrid. What brings me here? An unplanned pilgrimage of sorts. You see, last winter, my family and I planned this trip to hike the Camino de Santiago – a route that crosses northern Spain passing over majestic mountains, scenic countryside, and through many villages. The pilgrimage is rooted in religious significance, with people walking hundreds of miles to visit the supposed tomb of St. James, in Santiago de Compostelo. When we planned this trip, I thought of it as a worthy hike, with the goal being to hike 62+ miles over 5 days from point A to point B, enjoying some scenery, culture, and time with family along the way. But as events had it this summer, this journey has become so much more. While I am not a religious person in the Christian sense, I'd be lying if I said that this journey was not spiritual in a sense to me. The Camino is not just a hike for me anymore, it's about being here, being alive, being ABLE to walk, let alone hike… And just 3 months after my accident. It's about things that I can't even put into words. They say no one hikes the Camino without a reason. My reason is clear now. At the same time, I'll admit, I almost feel guilty about being on this trip. Why? Because when I sat in the hospital in July, so many of you came to my aid on GoFundMe. Would it seem like we were paying for this trip through that ernest cause? (The money has been used to pay medical expenses, which need a good deal of sorting as my insurance is denying hundreds of thousands of dollars nof claims – a whole story in itself). The truth is that Frank and I thought we should cancel the trip, partially because of the reasons mentioned above and also because of the extent of my injuries. But we realized much of it was already booked and paid for, and much of it was nonrefundable. As we waivered, a little voice in my head was whispering, "You need this." And then miracles happened – I walked those first few miles back in August and September, and I started to feel like a normal person again. With the encouragement of my parents, we decided to stay the course and to hike the Camino. And suddenly the hike was not just about the hike. Tomorrow, we start the Camino!

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Originally, when we planned on doing the Camino, I thought it would be fun opportunity to do something cool. It didn’t have a whole lot of meaning, other than to just check off that specific experience from the list. But, it turns out the Camino was the perfect healing adventure. First, it was non-threatening – the trails were wide, not too loose most of the time, and usually not very steep. So, it was not technical. But, also, the trails weren’t exactly remote either. Every few miles we would pass through a village where you could easily call a taxi to take you to your finishing point if you could not go on that day. So, I always had options if I felt like it would not be good for me to go farther. Third, the Camino is more than just a hike. It’s a mindful journey as well. The origin of the Camino is religious in roots as pilgrims journeyed to Santiago de Compostelo to visit the tomb of St. James. While modern-day pilgrims aren’t always on the Camino for truly religious purposes, most people do some soul searching along the way. It’s a good time for people like me to reflect on the meaning of life – kinda like the Monty Python movie.

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Today we marched 16 miles through forests and fields, passing through roughly a dozen villages along the way. Here in Galacia, time seems to stand still. We don't know the day, and our surroundings seem ignorant of the decade. As we tiptoe through the silent forest, I keep thinking that surely fairy or an elf or even a leprechaun will jump out to greet us. But we have had no such encounters, or luck, but I can't help but keep hoping. – Admittedly as I wandered along the Camino in a somewhat surreal state, I was also struggling. Although the terrain is not particularly difficult for hiking, the back to back long days (15 miles yesterday) were havoc on my recovering body. I lost over 10 lbs as a result of my accident, and I am slowly rebuilding the muscles that power me. But that takes time, and for now, I remain weaker than I can remember ever being. Can I finish all the 62+ miles from Sarria to Santiago de Compostelo in just 5 days? I am honestly not sure. But I am sure going to try. However, if needed, I can always call a taxi from a village we pass through help me get to my desired destination for the evening. Tomorrow is over 18 miles long with a forecast of rain, rain, and more rain. It will be the crux of the Camino for me, and has been the day I have been most worried about for this journey. I am up for the challenge, but I also need to listen to my body and let it make decisions for me. But either way, I am happy to be here, experiencing this wonderful place with friends and family, and pushing my body to do what most people thought I could not do just 3 months after this accident! @lekiusa @lasportivana #camino # caminodesantiago #palasderei #traumarecovery #traumasurvivor #PostCervicalSpinalFusion #PostFemurFracture

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It turns out, I was able to walk the Camino in its entirety (and then some) from Sarria to Santiago de Compostelo, over 115 km over 5 days, just 3 months after my horrible accident.

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Accomplishing big life goals often comes with such sweet sorrow. On one side, you are happy, and proud of what you have done. But then then on the other side, you area sad – sad because the journey is over, because thing that drove you for so long is now done, because you aren't sure what to devote your thoughts and energy to next. That's how I felt when I arrived at the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela – the "end" of the Camino. Historically, seeing the tomb of St. James was what this pilgrimage was all about. But for many, including myself, it has become so much more. After visiting the Cathedral we then headed to the Pilgrims office to get a certificate to document our achievement, an interesting experience in itself. The line was so long we had to get a number and we back, only to wait in line again. After showing my "credentials" – a document that I had to get stamped during my time on the Camino, two certificates were easily obtained. According to them, I walked 115 km on the Camino, which is almost 72 miles. But according to my tracks, I walked over 80 miles. Either way, it's a long walk. And I am happy to have done it. What I was surprised about was that they didn't ask me anything about why I did it. What was my purpose for hiking the Camino? Had they actually asked I probably would have explained that I almost died nearly 3 months ago, and I continue to search for the reason that I was spared. I still don't know the answer, other than I truly feel I have unfinished business in this Earth. All I know is that I finished the Camino and I'm pretty certain that most finishers, if any, can't say they did so only three months after breaking their neck and femur. They say miracles happen on the Camino, and I think this is one of those miracles. Not only am I lucky to be alive, but I am lucky to have experienced the Camino as part of my recovery. @lekiusa @blackdiamond @lasportivana #camino #caminodesantiago #spain #trauma #traumarecovery #traumarecovery #PostCervicalSpinalFusion #PostFemurFracture

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The third day was the crux of the voyage. And I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. We had to hike 18 miles that day, which ended up being more like 21, in the pouring rain.

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Today was hard. What was supposed to be an 18 mile hike turned into a 21 mile hike – partially because we got off route for 3/4 mile and also because the routes are always longer than they say. And it rained… The.. Whole… Day… And not just the misty kind of rain either. We started from Palas de Rei in the dark, as dawn doesn't break until 8:15 am because we are so far west in the time zone. And we finished like drowned rats, soaked through and through 9 hours later, in Arzua. I'll admit, it was mentally tough, and physically too. I set out the day with the goal of making it half way, stopping in the town of Melide, with plans to take a taking a taxi the rest of the way. But Melide came, and I felt okay to go on. We skipped lunch, but I stayed fed on cookies and made sure to drink lots of water, and took a picture of the octopus we were supposed to enjoy for lunch. Admittedly, the last 3 miles dragged on, and I was sore, tired, and drenched to the bone… and wondering why I didn't just take that taxi. But as I sit by the fire in the historic manor (built in the 1500's) turned B & B where we are staying, I am glad to have prevailed and thankful my family encouraged me the whole way. This is the Camino, afterall, a place where miracles happen! @lekiusa @smithoptics @lasportivana @blackdiamond #palasderei #arzua #camino #caminodesantiago #traumarecovery #traumasurvivor #3monthsposttrauma #PostCervicalSpinalFusion #PostFemurFracture

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But, just being in Europe in general was good for my healing. Just being in the cities alone challenged me. Walking on cobblestone streets, worrying about tripping without a neck brace, while having to navigate around crowds of fast-moving people was honestly hard. Going to art museums and having to look up to see the cool stuff was hard too. Carrying my luggage – I could not have done it without help. All these things that we take for granted in our daily lives were still hard for me. But, but the end of the trip, these too had gotten better.

Overall strength
I lost about 15 pounds during my stay in the hospital. And it wasn’t the kind of weight I wanted to loose – it was mostly muscle. Never had I felt so weak in my life, so helpless, and tired so incredibly easy. Obviously, the lower body strength came back first. But up until 3 months after the accident, which coincided with our trip to Spain and Portugal, I wasn’t even allowed to lift more than 15 pounds with my arms. But, upon return from Europe I started hitting the gym and lifting light weights. My arms and shoulders and back continue to strengthen exponentially, as does the strength of the rest of my body.

The neck is the limiting factor
During our trip to Spain and Portugal, I was allowed to start working on range of motion in the neck. And gaining this range of motion is truly the crux of my healing. It’s taking a long time, though I work at it every day. But since my neck was immobile for so long, lots of scar tissue built up. Every now and then when I do my physical therapy, a horrid noise comes creaking through my neck – and it moves a little further. It’s the noise of that scar tissue tearing.

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Had a visit with the spine doctor today. Two weeks ago, I said that the surgery on my posterior cervical spine was the most painful surgery I have ever had. The incision alone is massive – seen in this photo taken as the staples were being removed this morning – and this has good deal to do with why this surgery hurt so much! * It's becoming more and more clear that the spine fusion is going to be the limiting factor in my healing process, compared to the femur and arterial occlusion. Admittedly, it's probably going to be an effort in patience. But, I am dedicated to healing and will be doing everything I can to help this bone heal as fast as possible, and do the therapy that needs to be done to maintain mobility and strength! #spinesurgery #trauma #traumasurgery #traumasurvivor

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Fusions like mine take a long time to heal. A recent x-ray from a couple of weeks ago shows that bone growth is just starting between the vertebrae. It’s been 4 months since the fusion, and the bone is just starting to grow there, yet it’s solid as a brick in my femur. The body is so weird. The neck is the reason why I can’t bike outside or can’t ski yet. The neck is the crux of my healing.

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Update 7/17 – On Monday night at 8:30 pm my spine surgeon paid me a visit. He said this one was gonna hurt. He was right. I've counted and I have had 8 surgeries in my life, and this one is by far the most painful – because they essentially ripped open the muscles out of my neck. But, after a full day of surgery, I now almost have full feeling back in my left hand. Yesterday's surgery was a huge success. Say hello to my new spine. Check out the staples down my back, and the fact that they said it was okay to leave my glasses on🤣. Once I can get past recovering from this surgery, I can blow this popsicle stand. Thanks to everyone who kept me in their thoughts yesterday. This surgery was certainly a big one! #spinesurgery #trauma #traumarecovery

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The other injuries
I had a lot of injuries. Aside from breaking my neck, sturnum, and femur, I also broke my little finger – but that wasn’t discovered for weeks after the accident.

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Update 8/23: When I was in the hospital, I swore my little finger was broken. They had x-rays taken, and told me it was not. But 6 weeks after the accident, as I shook hands with numerous people at Jess's wedding, I realized this little tiny finger was hurting way more than my femur – and I still could not straighten it. Something was not right. So, in an orthopedic follow up, I requested another set of x-rays which revealed an avulsion fracture – where a ligament tore off a piece of bone. So yes, it is broken. And yes I have a damaged ligament. Occupational therapy, here I come! I'd like that finger to go straight some day, you know? My femur is healing amazingly well. I ride hard every day on the stationary bike – so hard I drench my whole shirt in sweat. I am starting to walk without a cane and starting to use that leg to step first while going up and down stairs. Physical therapy continues to show daily progress. The neck gets stronger every day and I'll be starting to wean off the neck brace next week. Yep, you got that right – next week! Thanks to everyone who continues to support me through this. The calls, messages, lunch and dinner dates (and even hair cut dates) are so much appreciated! I am surrounded by so many wonderful people and I appreciate each and every one of you♥️ Thanks for making me smile 😃 #traumasurvivor #traumawarrior #trauma #warrior #femurfracture #healinglikeachamp #brokenneck #imgonnabestrong

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Since then, I have been going to occupational therapy. But, because it went so long without being treated, the healing is slow. It’s a lot of work to get my finger to go straight, and I have a medieval torture tool as well as a nighttime splint that helps me. But, a few hours later, it just goes crooked again. At least I don’t need to go straight to be able to bike or ski again 😉

I suffered numerous lacerations on my head and arms and legs. My Harry Potter scar healed fast because it was treated well. They decided to stitch it up after they said they could see my scalp through the gaping cut. But a laceration in the back of my head went undetected for days and took over a month to heal as a result. Many other cuts took their time too – I was amazed at the damage to the skin on my legs considering I was wearing ski pants and leggings during the incident. Imagine how bad it might have been if I was not….

I also have twin lumps in my thighs….. Okay, let’s back up here. While I remember bracing for the tire to roll over my neck, I have no memory of things happening to my lower body. I was in shock when I sat up and noticed my femur was broken. But, evidence indicates that a tire rolled over that part of my body too, as I have matching lumps on either side of my thighs. The left one is largely due to the surgery to fix my femur. But a matching lump exists on my right leg, in the exact same placement as the left. However, this, I am told, is a seroma – different than a hemotoma as it doesn’t contain much blood. It’s full of other fluid though – or at least it was. I had it drained twice and some awful rusty colored stuff came out of it. A lot of fluid was aspirated the first time, but not a whole lot the second. Yet, the lump still remains. I continue to keep an Ace bandage wrapped around it with hopes that the compression will help the body naturally reabsorb it. That has been helping, but a lump still remains.

Then there is the hair. This is less noticable to just about everyone else but me. I lost about 1/3 of my hair while in the hospital. Part of this was because of the lacerations on my head and the associated blood that encrusted my hair so much it basically had to get ripped out. The other part was lost because my hair did not get brushed for days, resulting in unintentional dreadlocks, which also basically got ripped out. And then there was the back of the neck hair which they actually just cut off during my second neck surgery.

(The first of many hair-detangling sessions).

Where I am now
I am still healing. But every day I get stronger and more and more like myself. A couple of months ago, I claimed I was at 50% strength. Now, I’d say it’s more like 75%. Definite improvement, but the most difficult thing about healing is that it starts to slow as you are further along in the healing process. The last 5 to 10% of the healing is the hardest and takes the longest. And my pace to approach even that level has slowed, which is natural. I don’t see day to day improvements anymore. Improvements are more every few weeks, or month to month. But, I remain focused. I spend an average of 4 hours a day dedicated to my healing. Healing remains a part-time job for me.

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"Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you."-Walt Whitman, 1819-1892, American Poet *** A visit to the spine doc last week shows all is healing well! My posture is improving as well as the strength, function, and mobility of my arms (the left one was definitely more compromised). Although I have been out of the neck brace for all things but hiking, I have not been allowed to work on range of motion in my neck. But all that changes in 3 weeks – Then I can start actively turning and bending my neck, and my 10 lb weight restriction gets lifted so I can continue to work on progressing my upper body strength. – The femur fracture in the left leg? All seems good with that too. I get occasional cramps in the muscles at the site of the trauma, but no pain from the fracture. Just continuing to regain strength. – The broken sternum? Haven't felt that since July, except that a muscle was torn in the chest during the trauma which causes pain and limits the range of motion in my arms. But that too is significantly improving. – The broken finger? Well, that continues to be crooked. But it is slowly getting better. – The only thing not getting much better is a seroma on my right leg – a pocket of fluid that won't drain and refills when aspirated – whose location matches the site of the fracture on the opposite leg. So basically this leg took a beating too. We will see if this fluid finally starts to reabsorb after continuous compression and lots of manual therapy. – Nightmares and frequent spontaneous flashbacks have stopped, so my PTSD symptoms are waning. I am lucky my brain seems to be very resilient along with the body.

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The other hard part is my appearance. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, to most people I appear healed. Or they would never even know I was hurt in the first place. I am healed, but not healed. I still feel pain. Some daily tasks that were easy to me before my accident remain difficult, like lifting just about anything above my head or turning my head around to do things like back up a car. Even when I walk down a crowded street or store, I still worry about people running into me and hurting my neck. Driving over speed bumps hurts even more. Getting items off the top shelf of the grocery is as hard as climbing a mountain.

But, I remain positive and overall thankful to be alive.

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Thanksgiving now has new meaning to to me. 🦃 Today, I can honestly say that I am thankful to be alive, walking, & healing well. July 6th will be a date I remember for the rest of my life. Who knew you could get run over by your own car & that it would actually be survivable? I am thankful that it was & thankful for the quick response of Park County (increased by the use of our Garmin InReach), the Flight for Life helicopter that took me to St Anthony's hospital, the team of surgeons, doctors & nurses, physical therapists, etc that cared for me during my 2 week stay.. I am thankful for the continuous help support of family & friends & fans through the healing process. Healing is my job & even though I appear highly functional to most people, I still feel pain & fight effects of the trauma EVERY DAY. It will likely be more than a year before I am fully healed & there may be some things that never quite do – for example, I have lost some feeling in my left hand. It may never fully come back. But I am thankful for every day I have on this Earth, thankful that I can truly call myself a survivor, thankful for my body's ability to heal, that my brain was minimally impacted, that I can hike & thankful that I will be skiing & mountain biking in 2020. I am thankful that this experience has given my life new meaning, that it has enriched me as a person, & helped me develop deeper empathy. I am thankful for my physical strength & mental fortitude, & that both continue to develop every day. It's normal human tendency to "ask why" when bad things happen. I have asked that about so many things over the course of my life. But I never "asked why" about this accident. I believe the Universe doesn't put things in your life's path that you can't handle. I feel that all my experiences in life led me to be ready for this & that if it had to happen to someone, then it may as well be me. Not only could I survive it, but I could thrive from it. And that is now my goal – to take this horrible experience & use it to reshape my life and bloom – a metamorphosis of sorts. I am a butterfly emerging slowly from my cocoon. I am not ready yet, but one day I will fly🦋 @lekiusa @smithoptics

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I am a butterfly quietly emerging from my cacoon. I am not ready yet, but one day I will fly.

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!

Latest posts by Brittany Walker Konsella (see all)

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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