So where were we? Oh yeah, car accident, sprained ankle, Matt deployed.
One of the first things I did was contact the American Red Cross. They are the ones responsible for locating and sending home deployed soldiers when there is an emergency at home. We had been apart for 10 months at this point, the longest time we've ever spent apart. My mom went and picked him up at the airport because I no longer had a car. When he walked through the door our son Aidan, who was barely two at the time, was scared to death of him. Alexander and Ashlenne remembered him, but Aidan wouldn't go near him for three days.
After watching Alexander and Ashlenne climb all over Matt, he cautiously approached him. It took almost a full week before he would run to him or call out for him.
During this time my "sprained ankle" is getting worse, and something is obviously wrong with my foot. It just hangs there. I am unable to flex it up towards my shin. My big toe won't move either, and it is hurting more and more. I went to see my doctor, Dr. Sue. She took one look at my foot and ankle and sent me to a specialist, Dr. Greg. Dr. Greg x-rayed me right away. Yes, my ankle was severely sprained, but it was also severely broken. I also I had multiple fractures in my foot. I had been walking around on this mess for two weeks. Enter the walking boot. The walking boot was a big part of my life for the next five months. It was awesome.
Also around the time my lower extremity injuries are making themselves known, a nasty neck injury also presented itself. I had compressed all the vertebrae on the right side of my neck. Enter physical therapy. I went to physical therapy three times a week for over a year. I was hung by my head in a traction device to try and get those vertebrae to realign themselves. I had a headache for about four months. Again, awesome.
Matt only had two weeks of emergency leave at home. During this time he deals with the insurance and buys a new car. Shortly after Thanksgiving we take him to the airport and watch him walk away and get on a plane back to Qatar. A fog thick and dark as a black, inky night settled on me. I thought I had known depression before, but baby, I was wrong. This was depression. I slept around 13 hours a day. It's hard to describe, but I literally had to force myself to push air in and out of my lungs. The effort was enormous. Any light I had in my life went out. Now the accident wasn't the only thing going on in my life at this moment, but with the injuries and Matt leaving and some personal family issues, a perfect storm was created that spun me down so low I didn't think I would crawl back out. And I didn't want too. I was hopeless. No matter how much pain medication I took my leg hurt. Unknown to me or the doctor, there was damage spread all the way up to my knee. One night after the kids were in bed I stood at the medicine cabinet and thought. I looked at the pills. And I looked some more. Thoughts that I don't talk about very often filled my head. I just don't want to be in pain anymore. And those pills offered a way out. The next day I went in for an emergency appointment with Dr. Sue. Her husband was also deployed at the time. And when I told her what I had thought the night before she held me and we cried together. It took a full two years, therapy and some very strong selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (anti-depressants) to climb out of that hole.
Matt came home in March 2004. I was still hobbling around on a broken foot and ankle. They hadn't healed at all. I would go in for new x-rays every three weeks and there was never any new bone growth. Matt's little sister was married in June. I was on my foot for a lot of the night. The next morning I woke up and my foot was the size of a football. Matt took me up to Dr. Greg and he x-rayed it. Not only was it still severely broken, it was broken more than right after the accident. Enter walking boot number two. The doctors are really starting to worry. I go in for tests on my bone density. I go in for a full body scan. Blood work, nerve tests. It was never ending. Why won't this foot heal?
It turns out the magic bullet was getting pregnant and having all those wonderful hormones circulating through my blood causing all that bone to grow back together. Thanks Andre! It could also be that the 7 1/2 months I was pregnant with Andre (he was early), I was so sick I didn't get off the couch at all.
Fast forward to September 2005. The x-rays show the bones have finally healed. But I am still in considerable pain. A MRI shows that scar tissue tumors have grown along the nerves in my foot where it was broken. They are called neuromas. There are two ways to treat neuromas. Cut them out or inject 100 percent alcohol into the nerve hoping to dissolve the fatty covering of the nerve so it can't fire anymore. Sclerosing the nerve is what Dr. Greg called it. Enter six weeks of living hell. You know how much alcohol stings when it's poured on an open cut? Imagine 10cc's of it being injected into an area of your body that is already in pain. Twice a week for six weeks. I had bruises the sizes of oranges. After the twelth injection Dr. Greg says this obviously isn't working. It's time for surgery. In addition to the neuromas, a MRI showed that my tendons and ligaments had been torn in my ankle and that's why it still hurt.
January 29, 2006. Dr. Greg puts me out and goes about cutting nerves and scar tissue out of my foot and reconstructing my ankle by literally cutting and pasting my tendons and securing them to the ankle bone with some very long screws. I have five weeks of no weight on my foot. When I'm finally able to put weight on it again I go back to my new best friend, Damon, at physical therapy. Four months later I graduate. They actually give me a diploma and a T-shirt. I walk out of there feeling better than I have in almost two and half years.
Where does all of this leave me now? I was disabled from all of this. I permanently lost 25 percent of my muscle mass in my calf. I lost feeling feeling in about a third of my foot from the nerves being cut out. And that nasty neck injury never really resolved itself. Scar tissue had grown in between the vertebrae. I can no longer turn my head to right very far. And some days, for no apparent reason, my foot and ankle will throb with a vengeance.
But I'm alive. And if you can believe it my kids got away without a scratch on them. They walked away from this whole mess completely unscathed.
Part 3 next!