I married to get out of the house, when I was just 20 years old. That lasted 10 weeks and it was so terrible that I won’t even discuss that time period. Luckily that marriage was annulled and I moved away to another city to work at a school for the Deaf. I lived between my 2 aunts homes and got to work with Deaf children. I loved that job and I was also Interpreting for the Deaf at a great church. I got to participate in 2 drama groups that did sign language or “ASL” to songs and choreographed dance. I had a wonderful time during the year that I lived in Arizona. It was 1982-1983 and I celebrated my 21st birthday there and was part of a church youth group with wonderful friends.
I arrived home from Arizona and later met someone. We dated, got married and we were married for 8 years. We had 2 daughters, a dog and a beautiful home. I won’t belabor the story of how the Marriage ended because people can be hurt still today, from that “story”. I will say that I obtained help from a shelter and the Women’s Resource center. I moved out of our home a few months later when my older daughter finished kindergarten. Their father moved 1800 miles away and rarely saw them. I took care of them all by myself. I was the only person that was always there for them! Even if I had to leave my job in the middle of the day to be there for them and return to work afterwards; I would do that. So much has happened in my life. Most people would think that it’s horrific, but I soldiered on. I was almost completely alone but the three of us had each other. We were very lucky to have received some help from some very good people, churches and counselors.
When my oldest daughter was in 4th grade, I went on field trips and I took every chance possible to help out at the girls’ elementary school. I started a “Sign Language club” at their school, for a group of 4th and 5th graders. I taught 35 children some songs in Sign Language and did that for about 4 or 5 years. I love children and had so much fun interacting with them. I would teach fun songs in Sign Language and at the the end of the year we would have a show for the parents and the rest of the school. The “Silent Impressions Sign Language Club” was after school each Friday. I had that day off from my job and used it for volunteering in the classroom or at school and for teaching the Sign Language club. Towards the end of that year, my daughters’ teacher and I started to discuss meeting up for a coffee. He was a single dad and I was a single mom but we decided not to date until the school year was finished. Once we started dating we found that we were truly “soul-mates” and a little over a year later; we were married in the Wedding Chapel on Valentines day 1997.
One Saturday afternoon during the Summer of 2002, my husband and I were meandering & sipping lemonade at an outdoor Craft fair; while deciding where to go for dinner. The girls were with their friends and so we headed towards our town to a restaurant. As we were driving through a green light, a man ran through the red light and “t-boned” our mini Van with his SUV. I only remember a terrible burning smell after screaming “OH MY GOD”! The “lights went out” and I have vague memories of being in an ambulance and at a hospital and crying due to horrible pain. Luckily my husband was not hurt and a Police officer took him home to get our other car and our kids. I have no memory of the time without him being there with me.
I could not stand or barely move. My husband says that people were leaving the halls because my screams of pain were too hard for them to hear. My case was given to a trauma Dr. and I was admitted to the hospital. After 5 days my husband called my Neurologist (who I knew because of a Long thoracic nerve injury in 1999); and signed me out against medical advice. The weren’t doing anything for me. My husband told them that I was not acting like myself. I wet the bed and could not even stand to go to the bathroom. Instead of diagnosing me correctly with the TBI, that I later was finally diagnosed with; they sent up a Psych consult. They told us that I was “acting that way due to being abused”. My husband stayed with me the whole time and it was still a horrible experience. I left the hospital and that’s when questions started being answered. My then, G.P. and Neurologist helped get me the testing that was needed. I was found to have 2 torn rotator cuffs and multiple herniated/bulging lumbar and cervical discs. I had a torn Meniscus, sprained ankles and wrist. Also, I was diagnosed with Chiari I malformation, which I was born with but until the MVA, it was “sleeping”. Well, it awakened and I started having the worst migraines in the back of my neck and head. I could not hold my head by myself. My husband had to put me in a wheelchair with a yardstick behind my back and head with a pillow holding up my head. I couldn’t dress or undress myself or even go to the restroom alone. I couldn’t cut my own food or sleep in my bed. The insurance company sent a hospital bed for me to use or I slept in our recliner. I was in the most pain I’d ever known, outside of childbirth. The Physical Medicine & Rehab Dr. sent me for Neuro-Psych testing and I was found to have a TBI or “Traumatic Brain Injury”. The report said that my “short term memory was in the toilet”!! I went to a TBI Rehabilitation Center, daily from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm for 3 years. I had several different areas of nerve damage. It was discovered that I have a convergence insufficiency in my eyes and Moderate hearing loss in my ears. I needed Prisms on my glasses and 2 hearing aids. As I continued to faint nobody would help me or even listen. My husband knew something else was wrong and so did I. But to get Dr’s to listen when things are complicated and when so many things wrong; is very difficult. I saw a Neuro-Cardiologist because the TBI center sent me to him finally because of the fainting. I was diagnosed with Dysautonomia and POTS. I had Coronary spasms and a permanent pacemaker was placed. I ended up having 8 surgeries! I had visited so many shoulder Dr’s but none of them would listen to my issue regarding a “nerve zing” that went down my left arm from my left shoulder. One Dr. said to me “What part of “I can’t fix it, don’t you understand? Is it your brain injury?” OMG!! He was horrible and while I was walking out with my walker; the girls in his office looked horrified by what their boss had just said to me. I had several awful experiences with physicians, until one finally listened to me. It only takes ONE Dr. Folks! One to listen to you and help you. I ended up finding out that during that entire year that I was visiting shoulder Doctors; my biceps tendon had ruptured during the accident and it had grown onto the bone incorrectly. I had to have open shoulder surgery! They had to un-attach my Biceps tendon and reattach it with 2 screws. It was very painful.
I went through so much! Later, I had my 7th surgery, which was in 2007 on my right foot. It was the start of another nightmare! I was told that it would be a 30 minute surgery. I had been put on Coumadin, a blood thinner; due to having a heart attack in 2005. Following that Heart attack, I was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation. After that, in 2006, I suffered a CVA or stroke. The surgeon didn’t want to take me off of the Coumadin and so she put a blood pressure cuff around my ankle to stop blood flow to the right foot. The surgeon came out and told my husband after 90 minutes, that “once inside, the foot was much more gnarly” than she originally had thought. It took much longer than expected and there was no blood going into my foot during that time. Five days after my surgery, I was hobbling along in our kitchen and suddenly a big golfball sized lump popped out of my ankle and was purple, black and blue instantly! It felt like knives sticking in my ankle and I was writhing in pain. My husband took me to the E. R. but nobody wanted to help me. I sat there crying in so much pain while they “were waiting for another ambulance to come for the girl in the next bed who was “stable”. I was crushed again that no one would help me. We paged the Dr. who did the surgery and left the E. R.! She told us to meet her at the surgery center the next morning. I had to make it through the night like that! It was so much pain! She said that the “synovial joint sac had burst over my ankle joint “ and that is why it was so painful! She gave me Fentanyl Lollipops and told me to take them until the swelling could go down. That would take time & then the pain would lessen, slowly. I went for my 6 week check up and told her that the pain was worse than before I started. She told me that I had “a little RSD” and gave me some “Lyrica” I waited and things got worse and the Lyrica was horrible with nasty side effects. It did nothing but make things worse for me. I went to another Orthopedic Dr. and got a 2nd opinion. He walked by the room and said that my foot looked like “classic RSD” and he sent me directly to a pain clinic.
Prior to that MVA, I had only known the pain of abuse, and non physical types of pain. Childbirth was painful because I had 2 C-sections. The second time was a C-section after 43 hours of labor! But it was worth it because I got to have a beautiful baby both times! Also, there was an end to the pain of labor! There is no end to my current pain. The CRPS or “RSD” has gone systemic or full body since my 2nd pacemaker placement in 2013. Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. Mostly, because Dr.’s would not listen or had a preconceived notion of me and who I am. But I am strong! I am a survivor and it’s time to listen to me! I’m fighting for the pain patients and I won’t give up.