Brief update…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2011 by squawky

January 11. By the calendar, 7 months since my accident (June 11).

Have received the official “okay” to go back to work… keeping the hours sane at first (2 or 3 days per week, none of those 10 hour days), and no driving until spring.

I expect this will be as tiring and crazy as that first semester was, and to regret the choice to go back so soon (also like that first term)…

…and then the semester will wrap up, and I’ll have to wonder why we all thought this was such a big deal.

First, though, a snow day…



Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 by squawky

Been home from the hospital over a month now, so long past time to share an update…

Being home is fantastic, which should really not be a surprise.  Beyond the really obvious benefits (nice to sleep in one’s own bed, function without a pre-imposed schedule of meals), there are the small joys to savor as well.  For example, I have yet to wake up (or otherwise be required to involuntarily listen) to theme songs from nineties or eighties era sitcoms… and I have completely dispensed with the joy that is a hospital style “bed bath” (pretty much what it sounds like – basin of warm water, hospital issue no-rinse soap, and washcloths… apply while lying in bed.  Exactly as much fun as it sounds, too.)

But there are the small drawbacks, too – and that’s where the claustrophobia comes in.

There are the things I can’t reach or can’t find (usually because they’re buried somewhere I’m having trouble looking in).  Makes the whole house seem a lot smaller sometimes.

There’s the furniture I can’t use – if only for the time being – because I’m not skilled enough to get myself from a wheelchair to the furniture and back.  Which doesn’t sound like a huge imposition (I come with my own seating arrangements, right?)… but it gets a bit old sitting in the same position in the same chair all the time.   I can shift a little bit (and should do so frequently anyway) – but I do occasionally get the urge to lie on a couch or put my feet up on a recliner (someday?).

Then there’s the stamina issue – rolling around in a wheelchair on the rug is not as easy as it sounds… some days, the kitchen that’s “just around the corner” feels like it is miles away.  Do I really want to refill my iced tea?  Is it critical that I have a spoon to eat dinner with?  Is there some way to arrange the laptop and the TV and the tea so I can access them all without moving?   Most tasks take significantly longer than they used to – so there’s a lot more planning involved.

But mostly the claustrophobia had to do with the initial conditions of my release: in order to be eligible for therapists and nurses to visit and help the transition to being home, I needed to be officially “housebound”.  As in “cannot leave house except for medically necessary appointments”.  No trips to the park, the grocery store, the mailbox, etc..  Better than being in the hospital?  You bet… but stuck within the 800 or so square feet of home that I can currently access.  Which sometimes seemed tiny and cramped – even if it does get bigger as the day goes on (it seems downright huge some nights).

That is all over as of this weekend.  I can go outside now just to be outside – or to go out to dinner, or whatever else we want to do.  Still don’t have the stamina to roll that far… still cannot get out of the chair except to get back into bed… but the world got much bigger this weekend with just a roll out into the parking lot.   We’ll keep expanding that little by little from now on…

Your new departure gate and time…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2010 by squawky

is now September 2nd.

This one’s for real – we’re talking now about who will be around to help and how to continue treatment.  The “other shoe” part of this – insurance coverage for in-home therapy only applies to those who are “housebound”.  This means no leaving the house for non-medical reasons – no shopping trips, no quick visits, no trips to the mailbox, etc.

That’s ok – this is a short term thing (2-4 weeks, perhaps).  Then I can get the OK to start coming back to the hospital for continued out-patient therapy: and start venturing back out into the world.  Until then… I think there are some DVDs I could watch… some papers to catch up on…

and anyone in the area is welcome to visit – I can’t go out for coffee/beer, but I hear my fridge may be well-stocked…

Your flight has been delayed

Posted in Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 by squawky

…due to storms in Chicago.  New estimated time of departure is August 26th.  (Passengers are asked to remain in the boarding area, as we will board the flight as soon as the aircraft is ready…)

Insurance pending, we’re putting off the “end of rehab” date for a week – hopefully this will let us iron out some of the remaining wrinkles (and make it less stressful to go home).   Not a huge deal, though: the more practice and strength I can have out of the hospital, the less traumatic the transition home will be…

Before I forget…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 by squawky

Over the past month (and a bit), it seems that every day brings a new message – an email, letter, card, care package, Facebook or blog comment – from, well… someone – friends, even the ones I see maybe twice a year; people I haven’t seen in years and weren’t expecting to hear from, or even people I’ve never met (friends of friends/family).

I haven’t had a chance to reply to many of these – to say thank you, to explain what happened or where I am going from here…. but this does not mean I do not appreciate the messages of support.  I am honestly overwhelmed at the moment, and just not getting to that reply very quickly…

Overwhelmed by the amount of mail… the emails… the therapy… the healing…  …and the curiosity about how exactly I managed to cross paths with so many wonderful people along the way.

So when things get tough (and they will – sooner rather than later), I can look back on all the messages and remember (….before I forget) all the good things people have had to say… and someday I’ll be able to say “thank you” a little better.


Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 by squawky

So we finally have a date…. August 19.

A bit tight for the beginning of the semester, but good enough.  I’m sure I can take the first few weeks easy and even miss a few office hours/meetings if things get too crazy.  (Too crazy…. they’ll be crazy anyway, but there is a limit!)

Hit a small plateau over the last week or so (hence the lack of updates), partly due to meds – at some point, the body starts to reject the chemical changes we’re trying to impose on it – and partly due to something unknown.  The unknown bit is fatigue: I need a few too many naps nowadays (this presents an issue when I start dozing off in therapy….).  Starting to feel like that might be something we’re getting a hold off, too – but we’ll see.

Have a trip next week (first time out of the hospital!) to visit a therapeutic riding stable.  No riding, of course, but lots of horsey stuff.  It’s a start – and it’s definitely more exciting than going to the mall or the grocery store!

We’ve also put together a list of “goals to accomplish now” – tasks I need to be able to complete before I can go home.  Things that I still need a bit of help with now (getting in/out of the wheelchair, for example), and won’t be able to get help with later…  having the list is a bit intimidating, but it really nicely spells out where we need to be when that magic date starts to approach.

It’s still weird, looking around my room, to notice all these signs that refer to me in the third person (restrictions on movement, diet, etc.) – I know I saw these type of things as a kid (visiting Mom – a nurse – at work), but it’s a bit surreal to think they are referring to me now…

Am starting to think about those places I might want to go outside my house… and the random thoughts are sometimes a bit strange (I can’t recall having ever seen an accessible craps table  – wondering if such a thing exists), but mostly productive (will I have the energy to navigate the hills on campus for those essential paperwork trips, how to ask a hotel if by “handicap accessible” they mean “regular room with no stairs to get to it” or if they’ve made the necessary design changes, etc.).  Might be having some anxiety-related insomnia, or I might just be getting back to normal – this is something I’m keeping an eye on.

Hopefully we’ve killed the fatigue problems and I can update more often – cross fingers!

Rehab Update 1

Posted in Uncategorized on July 6, 2010 by squawky

Yes, creative title – will have to do better with that in the future.

Things are progressing well in rehab  – healing-wise, the staples are out and the nurses say the incision (all 28.5 cm of it) is healing neatly.  There may not even be much of a scar to tell stories about…

Rehab is tiring, though – 2.5 hours of therapy (weekdays) re-learning skills I know I took for granted… like how to sit without support (new muscles, new balance) and rolling over.  Lots of physics, actually – thinking about how body position affects weight-bearing, and how to change upper body position to help readjust weight in the lower.  I do find that I’m tired most of the day (and starting to feel some muscle strain), but the positive progress makes it worthwhile.   Keeping on track to be out of here in a few more weeks, though – the most important part.

Moderately worried that I have no appetite (and am not craving anything – scary!!) – but have to figure that comes back with time (and once I’m no longer on a pre-determined meal schedule).   Not worried, though, about the getting back to the real world part yet – scary, yes, but know there will be lots of help waiting.  My classes are already moved to appropriate classrooms (no lab tables at eye level), so back to work should go as smoothly as … well… the beginning of the fall semester should (4 wheel drive recommended, that is).  I just need to find a way to make that spiral staircase in my condo usable – I hate to lose it!

Trying to be positive, still – finding those frustrated/fearful thoughts in the dark now, realizing that the future will be difficult.  This is to be expected, of course (and healthy to release these feelings on occasion)… but trying to keep them to a minimum.  I always appreciated a challenge – as long as I can see the obstacles as challenges to overcome, I know I can find a way around/over/through them.

Still great to hear from everyone – I’m moderately more connected now, so watching Facebook updates (and feeling a little cooped up in here!) and keeping track of emails.  I know I owe some email replies… will get to those as I can!  Lots of visitors, too – again, the positive talk and the chance to chat are always welcome.  Will keep the updates coming as the news comes along!