By mid-July 2015, we had a full house. From Canada my dad, two teenage siblings, and husband all came to visit me at my relatives’ home in California.
My husband stayed for five days, my dad two weeks, and my two siblings a month until I finally left California. My husband and I hadn’t seen each other for three weeks, my dad a month, and my siblings since OUR WEDDING. With them by my side, all my wallowing in self-pity ceased altogether.
My younger siblings had a great summer vacation in California out of it. I paid for their plane tickets “in exchange” for taking care of me.
I became extremely anxious with two weeks to go until my scheduled CT scan – my anxiety was so great that I must have had an actual disorder. The progress of my bone healing as seen in this particular CT scan at the three-month mark would determine whether my halo would be removed and replaced with a less rigid neck brace. Only then would I be able to go back to Canada.
No pressure, right?
With everything that I had been through, this was one out of the three most difficult things I had to overcome. The first was the initial acceptance of the accident and my broken neck. This was the second. The last? Stay tuned to find out!
I could not stop thinking about it. What if I don’t get my halo removed? I can’t handle another two weeks or month in this thing. I had trouble sleeping. I went through spinal fracture forums and medical journals once again to find clues about how long people usually stayed in halos. Even though several articles mentioned that three months was the standard treatment period in previous patients (I even found a graph showing age vs. time in halo wherein my age group fell in the three-month time frame), I remained invariably uneasy.
I was so stressed about eating properly. Am I drinking enough milk? I obsessively tracked my nutrient intake, especially my protein and Vitamin C. What if I’m not getting enough??? I did every good thing I could health-wise for my recovery and I was awfully scared it was still inadequate. (Come on, I ELIMINATED REFINED SUGAR FROM MY DIET. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.) I neither gained nor lost any weight so I was probably fine?
I was a certified nutcase but I confided in only my two best friends – my husband and cousin. I remember panicking while I FaceTimed my cousin back in Canada. We looked up information about vitamin and mineral needs for fracture patients in medical journals even. As a soon-to-be-nurse, she told me, “It’s not like anything you change in the next two weeks will affect anything! Nutrition is just one aspect of it.” My parents were worried enough that I didn’t want to unload my fear and trepidation onto them.
I developed some acne to boot with my anxiety. It was the worst my skin had ever been since puberty in Grade 5. The acne caused me even more stress as it degraded my self-confidence. I was surprised I even had any left wearing the halo.
Side note: It’s under control now. 😅
While I was raised Catholic and believed in God, I was not overly religious. Catholics are often guilty for imploring God’s help only in times of need, and I was just the same. Every night I prayed that my bones healed enough that my halo could come off.
Now that I look back, I would have benefitted from getting proper counselling and/or taking some medication to combat my anxiety. Luckily it lasted only for two weeks and no more, and my younger siblings lightened the mood around me.
Finally the day of reckoning arrived – August 3rd, CT scan day.