Late September, 2015, changed my life forever.
I was standing at the door of my apartment, talking to my friend – and neighbor – Tanya. I can see the moment that altered the course of, well, EVERYTHING as clear as day. It was dusk and a beautiful, clear night. She was getting ready for a visit to Florida and we chatted about Disney World – which, for as much of a badass that I am, I fucking love. I was in the middle of defending why Epcot was full of the awesome when it happened.
It felt like a gunshot had gone off inside my leg.
I felt the bone crack. There are no words to describe how it feels when the biggest, strongest bone in your body breaks.
Grasping for something, anything to break my fall, I grabbed Tanya.
And I began screaming.
I didn’t stop until they gave me something in the Emergency Department.
Emergency surgery made my femur bionic. It also infected me with a group D streptococcus bacterium.
Rehab followed the surgery and, in looking back, did not help in the slightest. The rehabilitation center kept me for a week, not the month I should’ve had, but not knowing any better, I was just glad to come home. Until, of course I got home. I was in such agony that I could barely move, let alone DO anything for myself, which is especially hard when, y’know, you LIVE by yourself.
I went back to work a couple of days after I returned home. I was summarily fired on a technicality I knew nothing about. I’d been preparing for it – another one of the nurses had been fired for going on FMLA (not, of course for taking it – that would make it illegal! – but on a technicality. Same old song and dance.
There were bits and blurbs I can remember from October to December, but really, most of that time was erased from my memory banks. I was told that in cases of severe stress and pain, our brain (thankfully) “forgets” those times. Permanently. I do remember that every time I went to see the orthopedic doctor who’d performed my surgery, my leg made no progress toward healing. I do know, thanks to my Facebook feed, that I, much like Chicago’s voters, I fell early and I fell often.
At the beginning of December, I fell again. This time, there was no cute Facebook post whining about a fall. This time is completely black. I can remember waking my child with my screams. He called 911. I remember parts of the ambulance ride and what I described in the post below.
What I now know is that my orthopedic doctor called in a trauma surgeon to treat me. I’d managed snap the titanium rod into pieces. And, as a precaution, both my femur and the hardware were swabbed for bacteria.
My second femur break:
I didn’t wake up following the second surgery.
I didn’t wake up for weeks.
I ran extremely high fevers.
I was septic. No one knew why.
9 days after the surgery, the cultures taken by my infectious disease doctor grew a rare form of Strep D. They pumped me full of more antibiotics and prayed they weren’t too late.
ECT snapped me out of it, albeit slowly. When questioned as to why that happens, I was reminded that the brain is a mysterious organ and the exact reasons behind my awakening were unclear.
They used the term “miracle” a lot.
Once my fevers cleared, I was sent to a rehab facility located in a nursing home. I remained in and out of consciousness (in this world, at least). Finally, I became aware in the middle of January.
I came home in the middle of February, alone. While the rehab facility strongly suggested having someone else with me, no one really wanted THAT job. As frustrated as I was, it was – by far – the best thing I could’ve done. I’ve gone from being dependent upon my walker (who I named Mrs. Hernandez) to walking alone, even though I walk like I’m drunk 8373% of the time (which, of course, is NOTHING NEW TO ME).
At my most recent ortho appointment, he showed me the x-rays taken minutes before. See all that swirly stuff? That’s BONE, bitches! I done got me some motherfucking BONE GROWTH! (I’d use more exclamation points but I tend to multiple exclamation points only when being ironic and/or obnoxious)
Now? If you can read this, the bitch is, indeed, back.
And? It feels fucking divine.
Growing up, we always had a spot for canes – or “walking sticks” as my father referred to them as – by the front door. While I’m certain that other people had cane holders like we did, I recall being baffled that my friends all thought it was weird.
As I recall, these canes were highly ornate and boasted these beautiful gold filigree handles. I couldn’t understand how exactly my father used them on his nightly walks without screwing up the gold (gold is a naturally soft metal) but they always managed to stay intact.
Sort of like this – only prettier.
This assortment of walking sticks helped tremendously when we played dress-up: pretend you’re a 1920s gangster and the cane was used as a Tommy gun.* Or a pretentious poet who used o!, and, despite being very thoroughly American, added a “U’ into words like color in an non-ironic way. Or you used it as a “shovel” while “mining for gold.”
When I got older and popped out a few crotch parasites, House, MD made canes and Vicodin cool. This helps tremendously, well, NOW.
After the hospital, I went to a old people home to receive twice-daily IV antibiotics and physical therapy. When I was relearning to walk, I realized that my right leg was shorter than my left, because I was, well, WOBBLY.
(And not just because I was drunk.)
My PT confirmed that my right leg is about an inch shorter than my left. My orthopedic further confirmed: when I rebroke my femur in December, the breaks in my femur, hip, and usage of additional bits (that allowed me to begin the slow process of becoming totally bionic) worked in tandem to shave an inch off my right hip.
Here’s the downside: my right leg doesn’t yet know it’s now closer to 5 foot 4 inches than 5 foot 5. I’ve set that motherfucker up for a total self-esteem crisis. It’s going to want to go out and pick up bikers in bars and wear too much liquid black eyeliner, and I’m going be the one that has to say “motherfucker, NO. Just no.”
Alas, I digress.
Some of the time, when my leg isn’t being stiff or hurty, my right leg is fine and (no matter what the stripper tells you) there is absolutely NO sex in the champagne room. I walk mostly normally** – for a 35 year old using a fucking walker, but there are times, mostly when I am half-asleep, post-frat party, or after a particularly strenuous PT session, that I wobble.
Which is why it’s likely that I will graduate from my super sassy walker to cane. Unfortunately, my father will not allow me to use one of his walking sticks (I think it’s because of the frat parties). However, fortunately, there appear to be any number of truly awesome and beyond bizarre canes available:
There’s this one:
Which nattily matches the stick shift knob in my car.
Or this one:
Which nattily matches my life.
So I started thinking about how awesome it would be to stop hiding my flask it my purse, and wound up here:
(pointless aside, the website I found ONLY stocked patriotic flask canes)
Or this, if’n I decide to spell colour incorrectly and become a beat poet as well as a drunk:
But, that’s where things take a decided turn for the truly weird and fucked up:
Now, I heart me some dogs. Fucking love them. Can’t wait to HAVE one of my own.
That said, why the fuck would I want a porn-lighting cane that actually LOOKS like a dog? I can’t picture any situation in which this could be used comfortably OR fashionably. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Now this one wouldn’t be a bad cane to own.
It’s from an antique cane website, looks amazingly similar to a cane my father owns, and it’s tasteful (if boring).
If you squint at it long enough, it becomes clear that the last word on the cane is “coffin.” The first word appears to be a name. Which, after you Google “weird ass canes,” for long, you realize it may actually be a cane that just might store a part of a dead person.
Then we have this, which is not only offensive, but frightening:
And this, which is just fucked the fuck up:
I mean, I GET that it’s supposed to be a Victorian woman cane, but seriously, that cane would keep me up all night, every night, in mortal fear that it would come to life and eat my face off. That bitch would TOTALLY boil a bunny.
I could totally kick those damn kids off my lawn with this:
And now we are at the ridiculously tasteful canes section.
If you’re reading this at work, you may want to skip the last two and go directly down to my challenge below.
Who DOESN’T want to be able to perform a vaginal exam every time they go, well, ANYWHERE.
As an aside, this item is being sold by *blink blink* Sears, which, for the low low low price of $17.42.
And then, then we have this is this horrifying monstrosity which is INCREDIBLY NSFW (I never EVER warn against this unless I fucking mean it), unless you work at THOSE kind of jobs. If you think that makes it challenge-worthy, well, you’re my kind of person.
If’n you need clarification, just look.
(but know that you CANNOT unsee it)
I have no real words, except for this: I call The Butthole a “chocolate starfish” for a reason.
*St. Charles, due to its inability to properly allow anyone in or out, was, for that reason, home to many a Mafia princess, so we ALL knew the gangster stories from birth. They nearly sent us home with an “I (heart) Uncle Capone” when my mother was discharged.
“**As if ANYTHING a 35-year old who writes a blog on The Internets called “Mommy Wants Vodka,” can be considered “normal.”
I’m throwing down the gauntlet, Pranksters: these are the most outrageous canes I could find after a morning of fat-fingering Google on Friday.
You can do better. Leave a comment with the most outrageous canes your fast googling fingers can find. Find me a good (bad) one? I’ll absolutely add it/them to the post.
Or, in the event that you’re so inclined, leave me a can I SHOULD own after I’ve graduated from my walker.
Prolly best to listen to while reading this post. Honestly, if you CAN listen to it, you should. It’s an excellent song:
Nothing could’ve prepared me.
They could’ve told me that I’d been depressed and I still wouldn’t have expected that walking into my apartment, I’d see just how depressed I’d been. I confirmed my fears with Ben, who explained that my house had ALWAYS looked like this.
It was an epic fucking disaster – and not just because I’d been in and out of there for the past 5 months. Certainly, the hairballs and fur on the rug were from the cats who’d been, I can only imagine, expressing their displeasure at my absence. Or perhaps it was just 5 months of cat hair untouched by a vacuum.
Either way, I wanted to scream.
They tell you to make sure you’re wearing clean underwear every day in the off-chance you get struck by a bus and require an extended recovery far from home. You don’t want the doctors to see your stanky underwear now, do you?
(the toe-tapping guilt trip is, as always. implied)
But they DON’T tell you that you should prepare your home the same way. And I think they should.
It’s the same feeling – magnified about 3,927,383 times. If you get hit by a bus unless you’re on Grey’s Anatomy or happen to be a place where a bazillion doctors operate, the paramedics are the ones who’ll be seeing your stanky underoos. And if you’re in particularly bad shape, you’ll have those puppies torn off you like BAM.
But your home? The place you live? The direct reflection of you? That’s a little different and a HELL of a lot more telling of a lot of things. Including ones mental state. Which is what I learned when I came home.
No doubt that my life had been in shambles more times than not after I moved out of Dave’s house, but I hadn’t realized just how bad things had gotten. And how horrifically depressed I’d been. I could only see that once I came home, well, happy.
Life notwithstanding, I’ve got a lot to be UNhappy about:
I lost my dream job after my second fall – they just couldn’t give me any more time off. Despite being massively hurt, I understand completely. That means, though, that I have to find a new jobity-job by the end of April – which is always a tremendous stress. I’m living on such a fixed budget, I can’t even pay my bills, which are, naturally, mostly medical now. Bills are, by nature, a big stress to me, and not because of the money. Even when I have money, the act of paying bills freaks me the fuck out. I’d moved away from St. Charles for a while and have to move back to be closer to my family, so if this – God forbid – happens again, I have local help. St. Charles happens to be wicked expensive, so I need to find a decent job. More stress.
Once again, I have to start over from scratch. While before this would have led me down a sinkhole self-loathing, I’m absolutely fine.
Inexplicably, I have the coma to thank for it.
When the doctors told my parents I was a goner (which may or may not be my memory filling in the gaps – I was lucid during the coma, just in another reality. I spent most of that time trying like hell to get back to this life), they were visited by a psychiatrist who suggested, as a last-ditch effort, ECT.
Because they had nothing left to lose, they agreed to ECT. Shock therapy. Y’know, the highly controversial medical procedure used to treat major depressive episodes and treatment-resistant depression?
Before you skip to the comments to tell me why this was a Colossally Bad Idea (capital letters, of course, implied), let me make this clear – I am NOT getting into a debate about the relative merits and pitfalls of of ECT. It was absolutely the BEST thing that’s happened to me.
Why? I can hear you screaming into your computer from here. Why o! why are we not going to have this debate?
Because it fucking woke me the fuck up. I snapped out of that fucking coma like WOAH.
And because I was told it was a miracle that I woke up, I have a new lease on life. I’m happy. For the first time in a long fucking time, I’m truly happy. No longer dark and twisty.
But don’t worry, Pranksters, I promise I’m not going to turn into a person who has inspirational quotes at the bottom of my emails. My handwriting may have changed completely since I woke up, but my blog will not suddenly become one of those “look at my perfect life” blogs. Those still make me want to fling poo.
My house is SLOWLY getting back into shape. (Because my second break and subsequent repair were far more invasive, my ability to bend down and pick heavy things up has been compromised). I updated my resume and started the job search yesterday. Things are progressing – albeit more slowly than I’d like – and I’m taking it one day at a time.
And for the first time, well, ever, I’m trusting that things will work out the way they work out and that’s that. I’m no longer fighting The Universe about things I cannot control.
It’s just time to let go.
So, now I’ve caught you (sorta) up to date on what’s been going on with me, what about YOU, Pranksters? I’ve been gone a good long while and I assume your life has drastically changed as well. Pull up a chair, grab a Vicodin-chip cookie, and tell Your Aunt Becky all about what’s been going on with you!