If only I looked that happy and bubbly. Instead, I looked like this:
At least despite my injuries, I still had a pretty face~ 😊
I spent Day 1 out of the hospital calling our insurance and finding out what the heck we were going to do for our return to Canada.
From my title, you may have guessed I didn’t make it there right away. Long story short: my neurosurgeon didn’t approve me to fly or take the train back to Canada… even when the discharge doctor assured us he would! Air Canada requires people with medical conditions to be cleared by their doctor to fly. The doctor needs to sign a form from them. My insurance company sent this form to my doctor and after five days of calling and checking back with them, my doctor just finally flat out declined to complete it.
Okay, scary?!? More importantly, he didn’t want to be liable if we had to stop the plane in case of an emergency with my halo. Though it was frustrating, it was also understandable. It was pointless to get a second opinion because there would be no neurosurgeon in his right mind to accept such liability.
The only other option was to drive back. My neurosurgeon cleared us to do that.
My husband suggested we drive through Route 66, one of the world’s quintessential road trips. We both got excited about it… HONEYMOON PART 2! After the initial excitement, I thought about it long and hard and decided this was not the time to do an extremely long trip like this. Not in the halo. Plus I risk myself possibly getting into ANOTHER accident on the road. Sure, accidents happen anywhere anytime (that’s why it’s an accident) but I would be putting myself at risk for four long days. Even a minor bump could be catastrophic for me. My husband insisted that we drive back since “the neurosurgeon said it was safe.” But I didn’t feel safe, and that was the end of it.
Had we driven back, we would also need to rent a car one-way from LAX to YYZ airports at $500 per day and the insurance wouldn’t cover that. On the flip side, now that I opted to stay in California until my halo brace would get removed (in two more months), I had to pay for all my treatments (physiotherapy, X-rays, CT scans). The insurance covered only the initial medical emergency and only one follow-up visit and no more. The total cost between the two options (driving vs. staying) was comparable.
My husband booked his return flight home because he needed to go back to work. He had already taken more than a month off. In the two weeks he stayed with me, we had the days to ourselves playing board games, watching TV shows and movies, reading, and doing whatever else we could do to pass the time.
I would take naps in the afternoon just so my body could recuperate with the “increased activity”. We continued our (really, my) practice of walking daily. This was when I began walking an hour per day, a commitment I uphold to this very day.
Since I had so much time on my hands, I read other halo manuals from other hospitals and universities. We discovered that I WAS GETTING UP WRONG ALL THIS TIME. The log roll was the proper way:
I was getting up right from my back, bending at the waist. I always needed someone to support my back as I would get up. Maybe that’s why IT HURT SO MUCH. Though I didn’t really feel it, apparently this incorrect way of getting up puts too much pressure on the front pins. I always felt the pain in my neck though. I was disappointed that no one from the hospital said it was wrong, when they all saw me do it at least once a day.
It was time my hair experienced “running” water. It had only been washed with a rinse-free shower cap in the last month. The moment had finally come when I could actually wash my hair. I read various halo manuals on how to do this. Examples:
Piece of cake, right? My husband was able to jerry-rig a hair washing set-up. The first wash of water had a murky brown colour… which I had to stare at as my husband poured more water on my hair.
My hair was so oily and probably ridden with bacteria that the shampoo wouldn’t come off!!!
It was nasty. My husband said that trying to get this shampoo off was worse than when he had to wipe me when I had diarrhea. IT WAS THAT BAD. I got up and lay face up, thinking it would be better for removing some of the shampoo.
It got rid of most of it.
We would wash my hair in this manner (I lay face up and my head extended from the couch) every two or three days for the next two months. We used baby shampoo so the pin sites wouldn’t get inflamed (eventually the nurses said it was okay to use anti-dandruff shampoo because I was having dandruff problems – GROSS, I KNOW). The whole hair washing endeavour would take at least an hour.
My hair grew too long to maintain so we had to cut it. My cousin helped with that.
We never left the house during this time. My aunt was scared of any risk associated with me leaving the house. One time we did get to go to the beach with my cousins, since my husband was leaving soon. It made for a nice afternoon.
On June 3rd, 2015 the splint on my left arm was removed after five weeks. Underneath the splint, my skin was all crusty and disgusting. With frequent washing with warm water, my skin eventually returned to normal. I began physical therapy to regain the functionality and mobility on my wrist, hand, and elbow the week after. I could barely move my wrist in any direction, make a fist, or bend my elbow less than 90 degrees towards me… I had a lot of work ahead.
I was definitely getting better. I reduced my dependence on narcotics as the pain subsided. I was down to taking one pain pill in the morning and one pain pill and muscle relaxant at night to make sleeping easier… instead of being on these nearly 24/7 at the hospital. I slept a bit better (10x better than I ever did at the hospital) but my body was sore every morning. It was probably from all the healing it needed to do over the course of the night!
When my husband left to go back to work, I never felt so lonely. Someone was almost always by my side ever since the accident happened. Now I was by myself. That first weekend by myself gave me much time to reflect about everything that had transpired thus far. Again I felt the same sense of dejection and hopelessness as I felt during my early days in the hospital.