It was here that I first looked in a mirror… Wow, was I not the person that got in that car that day! I'd grown to thin and my hair, normally so blonde from sun exposure, and my own doing, ha ha, had grown in so dark. That alone was shocking because I had been a natural blonde since childhood, and only recently started coloring it for thickness. Now I had the dark head of hair with blonde tips, go figure. My skin was behaving well, forever my nemesis. I'd always had problems with acne, always had skin like a teenager. But ultimately that went south again too! My hair needed to be washed, and my face needed help and I was always cold… I wore a lot of hats. It killed two birds with one stone. A couple of the nurses and techs got together to try and wash my hair from the back of the bed… I couldn't yet take showers…
I battled this odd curse of paralysis on many fronts. Forming a new image of self does not happen quickly or easily. Things are done in bits and pieces. I finally got a haircut by a good Samaritan that my neighbor across the hall knew of. I had surgical glue stuck in my head here from where my scalp was cut severely. The staples were gone, but that glue, that glue! This wonderful hairdresser had the patience to cut my hair and work out that glue with conditioning sprays and tireless fingers… The whole thing took about two hours. According to one family member, I now looked like a 12-year-old boy! My hair was short, the glue was gone and I felt a little better, though not myself. I was some sort of strange version of “me” that I had not met yet.
There were other challenges aside from looking like myself, there was lack of sleep, constant nausea, new pain I’d never known before. Insomnia was always a battle and finding the right concoction for sleep seemed like a constant endeavor. Not to mention having visits throughout the night for various things like emptying my catheter bag. Every morning I was nauseous before taking my medications and often had to spin up gobs of mucus before I could take them. Other times of the day it would just hit me and I would be sick to my stomach albeit minimal amounts. It was finally decided that a certain drug I was taking was making me sick, and antidepressant I had never given permission to be put on! That was back at trauma center where they made that executive decision. The same people who were so impressed with my attitude… But I guess expectations are that everyone crashes eventually. The pain, that was physical and something I’d never thought I could endure.
Severe pain is a concept I’ve had little intimate knowledge of throughout my life. So when rehab started and my body started responding, mostly my left bicep and shoulder, a monster was awakened! I learned about trigger points in deep muscle tissue and I learned why people get cortisone shots, though I did not. My OT managed to hit a spot in my back one day while we were working in the gym, that sent me through the roof and beyond. The tears started… A flash of pain so intense I could only see white light for a split second. My OT very calmly finished our session without responding to my yelping. The pain subsided as she knew it would and she explained to me what has happened and why. I respected her for that and it was in her training obviously not to crumble just because her patient did, ha ha. In that moment it never occurred to me how I looked because everyone in the gym was going through their own struggle and I understood their looks. My image of myself was going through a metamorphosis. One moment I worried about my face, the next I was feeling tough because I had endured such pain. Who am I now… A process that is still ongoing, or should I say a question