A: This was the worst day. The worst. I opened my eyes in the morning to a world that was SPINNING. My room looked like those desert photos taken of the sky at night where the stars look like they’re circling us. It was scary. “What do I do!?” I said, grabbing B’s arm. He didn’t know! He said, “Does it feel better with your eyes open or closed!?” It was traumatizing. We made a little corner on the couch where I could sit up and rest. Every time I put my head back, the world spun, so that was my day. All I can say is that I’m so lucky B was there and that he graciously worked from home to stay with me. It was so scary!
B: There was no way I was going to leave A alone. She kept waking up in a panic and then going back to bed. It was kind of terrifying.
Thankfully things calmed down a bit and we chalked the dizziness up to the 1/2 Percoset she took the night before. These kind of side affects are a big reason I am not a fan of drugs.
As A calmed down we started to focus more on updating the people in her life about the accident. Her and I freelance and so when things like this happen you have to be proactive about letting people know. Her writing colleagues were super gracious and understanding about everything.
As the news spread the questions about the accident and well-wishes for a speedy recovery came in. As I read the messages to A I was overwhelmed. Above is a photo of the first of many bouquets that arrived.
Day 1 of recovery – Research and Meeting the Dad
Date #351 – Sunday, July 20, 2014
A: I think it’s safe to say that I was in complete denial of my accident on day 2. We ordered pizza and read my concussion book. I had mini anxiety attacks over taking the wrong medication and B helped me do nearly everything. I felt guilty and dumb and helpless and frustrated and overwhelmed all day. I have no memory of how B must have felt. Pizza didn’t even help, although I tried to make it seem like it did. I don’t ever want to feel this way again.
B: Concussions are scary. What do you do? Thankfully St. Michael’s Hospital has a great guide they gave us. Reading it really helped. I had a brain tumor many years ago and the effects of a concussion can be quite similar. I learned a lot about myself reading this book.
One of the scariest and most real things to accept is that after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) a person’s personality can change. The other thing to accept is that the healing process can also be hard on the injured’s support network.
I tried to be as helpful to A as possible, knowing the first few days of recovery are the most important. Her arms were almost fully out of commission, she couldn’t read or look at screens, and eating was really hard.
Slowly I sifted through her emails, only reading her the essential ones and responding to the amazing and caring people in A’s life. I read about what supplements A should take and I moved things and bathed her and tried to smile a lot.
Oh yeah! The day before I spoke with A’s Dad for the first time and today I met him for the first time. It all felt inconsequential in the larger picture. I thought it was nice how her Dad was willing to come visit A. I honestly didn’t expect him to even suggest that.
Andrea goes over her handlebars
Date #350 – Saturday, July 19, 2014
A: After writing about date #349, I am so completely worked up that I don’t even want to THINK about this day. This awful day. I just want to cry. Again. This bike accident has been really difficult. Most days, moments, conversations, I am well and positive and proud of my recovery and my luck. I am happy to have had B there, that I memorized his phone number and that he stood beside me the entire time. He never once left my side for almost an entire week. He was and is the most supportive, understanding, and caring person in my life. He went so far out of his way to make sure that I was and would be okay, it makes me feel so unbelievably lucky, I can’t even tell you. I wrote about what happened this day on my blog, so I won’t repeat it here, but if I could tell B one thing, it’d be that I’ve never felt so loved in my entire life, by someone other than my mother, than I did this day and week. Thank you.
B: When I got the call I was in the middle of photographing coffee. I never actually drank the drink I was taking pictures of, I found it a week later. I don’t even know why I thought to pick up the phone early on a Saturday morning, but I did.
The caller didn’t allude to memory loss, or a bloody face, as they calmly said, “Your partner has been in an accident. She’s OK, just a bit shaky.” Then, as I arrived to the scene, reality began to set in. I hoped the ambulance wasn’t for her. I hoped the blood wasn’t real, or at least wasn’t from a loss of teeth.
Then I heard her scarred voice, “Where am I?” “What’s going on?” A didn’t know what happened. I didn’t know. Thankfully three bystanders were there and helping. They told me what they knew. The one who called assured me that things would be OK (he was also in an accident). The two others helped me lock up her bike and then gave me her tooth.
As we rode to the hospital the paramedic and I worked to keep A calm. The paramedic was INCREDIBLE as he would ask basic questions and A would panic as details became confusing.
The ten minutes in the emergency waiting room were hell. A, inside, me outside unsure of what was happening. When I came inside and she made a joke I knew things would be OK. A is so strong and amazing and hilarious. I couldn’t believe she was making jokes. I wanted to take a picture of her because I didn’t think she would believe how bad she looked. I said, “it looks like you’ve been in a bad fight.” She eventually looked (it was way worse than what you see above…missing teeth, lots of dried blood).
Oddly, the most frantic I felt was taking A’s bra off while the X-ray technicians waited outside the room. I felt rushed and pathetically useless. Otherwise, I was surprised at how naturally calm I felt helping her clean her mouth or take her to the bathroom.
There was a panicky moment where we were checking out and we had to find an emergency dentist and I thought, “This is it. We have to be adults now. No one is going to solve this problem for us.” It was odd.
I’m so thankful for all the people that were there to help A. I’m happy the memory loss was temporary. I’m happy that A is so strong and incredible and courageous. I’m happy her Mom and Uncle came up and drove us around.
Things happen and you can’t plan for them and you can’t predict them. Life happens and sometimes all you can do is look around and choose whether you’re going to count the good things or the bad ones.