Monday, October 29, 2007

Travelling in a Brace

A weeek ago, I went to Austin, TX to attend the fantastic Maker Faire (more on that on the other blog.) Travelling in the brace is an interesting (and uncomfortable) experience. Just sitting down in general jams the chin support up onto my chin, even riding in a car is not too much fun.

So plane travel, with cramped seats and little legroom, wasn't looking too appealing. But what I was really worried about was getting through security without being stripsearched or tasered. I had read some pretty scary accounts of what has happened to people with a brace or prosthetic. Apparently regulations state that you can't be asked to remove an orthotic or prosthetic, but why would an underpaid, poorly trained security guard know or care?

It turned out that the staff in the Vancouver airport was baffled by the brace. I showed them a letter from my doctor, and the guard performed a pat down body search. Really wasn't too bad.

And the guard in Austin was lovely, very polite and respectful - she too gave me a complete pat down, but did tell me what she was doing as she went. So, my fears were unfounded.

The only snags were that I had requested an aisle seat and didn't get one except for the last leg of the return trip. The flight attendant suggested asking my fellow passengers if they would trade, but no one wanted to move. An older man who sat down next to me as I was squeezed into the middle seat said, "Gee that looks painful," but when I asked him if he wouldn't mind switching seats he said "Nah".

Oh well, I survived! And only a few weeks to go before the brace comes off - I am healing well!

Friday, October 12, 2007

No, Accidents Really Do Happen!

If you were to Google the title of this blog, the site that appears right above mine* is a quasi New Thought tract that suggests there are no such things as accidents, and that I caused my own fall due to some lapse of attention, lack of sleep or emotional disturbance. Sorry, guys, "The Secret" or not, I just don't believe in the "Laws of Attraction". If I had such powers I would have saved the planet by now.

I guess I'm one of those touchy sorts who takes offence at the suggestion that it was the powers of my mind that caused a cloth bag to suddenly thrust itself between the spokes of my front tire. But since I have the time to obsess over the details of the accident, I have considered why it happened when and where it did.

I didn't mention it before, but I have had one previous bike accident, a couple of years ago. I ended up with a Grade III separation of my right shoulder that has left me with some weakness, often resulting in fatigue and pain when I overwork the muscles. Now consider this - In this most recent accident, I was two blocks short of completing a ride that had taken me over the Second Narrows bridge and back again. I hate crossing that bridge - the path is narrow and traffic is disconcertingly close - so I focused and rode very carefully, gripping my handlebars tight. By the time I reached the intersection where I fell, my shoulder and back were aching. Perhaps it is possible that to relax the muscles I changed the position of my grip (the witness does say I seemed to swerve) causing the bag to tip into the wheel. Could the previous accident have been a factor in this much more serious one that just happened?

I have wondered why if people have been injured, they often have subsequent injuries in the same area of the body. If you were to subscribe to the wobbly thinking that suggests the powers of the mind attract what happens to us it might seem like we want to get hurt over and over again, but in this kind of case it is more likely that where there's a weakness, there's a greater chance of being re-injured in that same place.

*I won't link this, but the heading is Question of the Month.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Putting Humpty Together Again

I now have a fake front tooth to fill the gap left by the one that was knocked out. No more hillbilly smiles! And new glasses as well, as the old pair broke in half in the accident. I even went and had my hair done, and in spite of being alarmingly blonde, received my step-daughter's seal of approval as looking younger and more stylish. Woo-hoo!

Still on the long and winding path of healing. A fair bit of anxiety and frustration - too much time to get philosophical. I had the thought that so many people say, upon hearing about the accident, that it could have been worse. Very true, but it occured to me that it could also have been better. I could have had a scraped knee, or injured nothing but my pride.

I mentioned this to my husband, who lost a leg in an accident when he was 15. (Yeah, what right do I have to moan about ANYTHING?) He agreed that he has spent many hours thinking about the fractions of a moment, or angle of movement, or inch one way or the other that could have made all the difference between the best and worst outcomes in his accident. I definitely have regrets, and blame myself for having the stupid bag on the handlebars. I need to forgive myself at some point.

I have flashbacks of the moment of falling, and the impact. They are not as disturbing now, but still make me wince. I use the technique of substituting a mental image of a "happy place" when the flashbacks happen - it helps me quite a bit. I am also working on breathing and meditation, but have found I need to loosen my brace for that, as it restricts my diaphragm so much. I had a massage last week, which was wonderful - relieved so much tension - and acupuncture this week. I am looking into cranio-scracral, which I have had in the past with some significant results, but the cost is quite steep, and not covered under Blue Cross.

And that's another worry. I am lucky to have extended health coverage through my husband's work, but it doesn't cover everything, and since I can't work myself, money is pretty tight. What on earth do people without extended health or disability plans do?

Practise gratitude, Heather. Practise gratitude.

P.S. I would like to mention my cat Britannia who has turmed out to be a good nurse through this healing thing. She regularly reminds me of the need for rest and and her warm and comforting presence enforces it if need be. It's no wonder that the many alien creatures on Doctor Who included a race of giant cats who were nurses.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Spinous Process (or The Long Slog)

Fast forward from Heather exiting the hospital 4 weeks ago to today. 4 weeks of rest, Demerol, good wishes from more friends than I knew I had (xox), a brace that is semi-excruciating, and enforced idleness. This last is hard to take - I, the lover of reading, knitting, sewing, etc. cannot bend my neck, and so am unable to do all these simple things that I never thought it took a neck to do. I have found that a kneeling position beside the bed, with a book or project propped up on the bed, allows me to read or knit for a half hour or so, until my knees get sore.

I am trying not too complain too much, but am probably crankier than usual just now because I have just returned from visiting the inscrutable Dr.C, who has informed me that I have kyphosis and scoliosis, it's probably not going to get much better from here, continue wearing the brace for another 2 months... next! (Now here I have to tell you that Dr.C's office is lavishly and eclectically decorated with every gift he has ever received from a grateful patient - ranging from Haida carvings to needlepoint to very nice oil paintings to a giant ball made with rubber bands. It certainly inspires awe if not confidence.)

I decided on the way home that I am going to ask my GP for a referral for a second opinion. I am not ready to accept that there's no more room for improvement. Unfortunately the waits to see an orthopedic specialist are up to six months long in this province.

Oh, and that spinous process bit. That's what broke in my neck, and in spite of a large gap between the broken off bit and the rest of the vertebra Dr. C says it's fine. Well, what do I know. I certainly have never received the princely gift of a giant ball of rubber bands for my healing abilities.

But I am having a massage later today, acupuncture next week, maybe I'll finally get the hang of the meditation thing... there's lots of good things I can do for myself still.