Saturday, September 9, 2017

SOS: When you're stuck on an island and bleeding profusely

It's 4 p.m. on Monday, the fourth of September, and I'm holding my mom's hand as we walk along the beach. The sky is peaceful, calm, and the tides have retreated, leaving behind a wide expanse of flat, wet sand that is scattered with rocks and shells. The stairs to my uncle's house are about fifty feet in front of us.

As we step, we are trying to be careful to avoid sharp rocks and shells, but it's a nearly impossible task.

"Don't worry," my mom says. "We are almost to the stairs!"

That's when she looks down at my feet and gasps.

"Blood," she says, and at the panic in her voice, I follow her gaze.

Blood. Everywhere. A seemingly endless stream of red stains the sand surrounding me. My left foot is so covered in blood that I can't identify the source.

My uncle, who is standing twenty feet in front of us, runs over and carries me to a rock in the middle of the beach. He sets me down, and runs toward the stairs to get his girlfriend to help.

"So much blood. So much blood. There's so much blood." My mom keeps repeating this, and there's an edge of hysteria to her voice that makes me wonder if she might pass out.

"It's okay, I'm okay, I'm okay," I say. I'm not quite sure if I'm talking to her or if I'm talking to myself. The beach starts to spin, and I close my eyes. I'm afraid to say that I'm dizzy, because I'm worried my mom might faint. But it's almost as if she knows, because she gets down behind me on the rock and opens her arms so I can lean back. I close my eyes.

When I open them, my uncle's girlfriend (we'll call her Karen) is running toward me with a dishtowel and a pair of kitchen scissors. My uncle trails behind her with a first aid kit.

Karen looks down at my foot, at the blood streaming steadily down the rock. "Oh my God," she says.

She thinks I might need stitches, but my aunt and uncle (who share the same blood clotting disorder that I inherited) think I can get by without them.

"Well..." she says. Her hands are covered with my blood, but her voice is suddenly bright - almost cheerful. "I could suture you up right here if you want! I have a suture kit right here!"

NOPE NOPE NOPE. She's a biochemical engineer, so she knows her science, but even if she was a doctor, I don't know if I would be brave enough to let someone give me stitches in the middle of the beach, especially since my feet are still a bit hypersensitive from SDR.

The sunset on the island :) I took this after dinner,
during the second rebandaging of my foot. 
As they rinse off my foot, it becomes clear that the source of the bleeding is a pretty deep gash on the top of my big toe. They bandage it up with gauze, wash off the bloodstained rock that served as my makeshift exam table and I get to my feet to make the trek up the stairs.

("I'm so impressed you didn't even shed a tear!" someone says. "If it were me I think I'd be sobbing."

Well, after everything's she's been through lately, this is nothing, my mom says. #truth...CP has steeled me!)

As I step, my foot continues to drip blood, so they have to rebandage everything at the top of the stairs. I'm told not to look because there's still a lot of blood, so someone drapes a beach towel over my head. ;)

Later, I join the family for dinner and then we have to rebandage everything AGAIN...and then at some point on the way home, we realized that it was still bleeding significantly. My aunt (a nurse) met us at a CVS and applied some steri-strips and some clotting medicine, using a flashlight to see in the dark as I propped my foot up on the dashboard of the car.

My sad toe :( This is from today, 5 days later.
I took a bandaged pic because I don't want to traumatize anyone ;)
On Tuesday afternoon (24 hours later), I could walk on it, and it didn't hurt much, but every time I stepped, the cut began to bleed again...so we went to a walk-in clinic. The doctor there (who was the same doctor who saw me at the urgent care center when I broke my femur in 2007!) said that I probably should have gotten stitches, but it'll heal up on its own with the steri-strips to hold everything together.

I was really discouraged by this injury because I was afraid it would interfere with all of the progress I've been working so hard to achieve...but luckily, it hasn't slowed me down much! For some reason (maybe it's an SDR thing or a CP thing) it barely hurts at all, and I only missed one day of PT (Tuesday - the day we went to the walk-in clinic). I stopped doing the treadmill for a couple of days, but otherwise, I've been continuing as usual. Today I met with my personal trainer and she was so happy with the strength I've gained in the past two weeks. My squats are looking better, and my core is engaging more as my back heals. And the BEST part? When I was using the abductor strengthening machine, I can now press my knees completely against the pad. When that happened, we didn't say anything...we just stared at my knees in silent reverence until the last repetition, when she pointed and said, "Do you SEE that??" :,)

I wish I could go back in time to five days ago, to the moment when I was curled up bleeding on that rock in the middle of the beach, whispering
I'm okay.
I'm okay.
I'm okay.

I wish I could go back to that moment and say
Yes.
You're okay.
You're okay.
You're okay.
You can do this
and you will.

11 comments:

  1. I always love your blog posts, and read them, even if I already know the story, because I love the WAY you write. So vivid, and I'm glad you're okay. (And I'm glad your knees can do the thing! Yay!)

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    1. Thank you, Tonia!! ❤️❤️❤️

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  2. I love your storiesssss. Yay knees! Yay toe for slowly healing itself! Yay you! :)

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  3. As Tara said yay knees! I'm so glad the toe will heal up and you can continue your surgery recovery as planned. So sorry you were dizzy again! :( I would have freaked if I got dizzy from bleeding. Continued prayers as always.

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    1. Thank you for the prayers and continued messages, Margot! The dizziness *was* a little unsettling...I don't know if it was a psychological thing (i.e., seeing all that blood and everyone around me panicking) or if it was a physiological thing (bleeding a lot over a short span of time) or a bit of both, but I'd rather not repeat this experience if I can help it! ;)

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    2. You're very welcome K! Always glad to hear from you! I think it was a little of both but regardless like you I hope you don't have that experience again!

      btw what Oana said reminded me of when I cut my toe at a pool once at 6 yrs old and I do remember it bleeding a lot. Not fun for me either.

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  4. I'm so happy to hear about your knees!
    Wow, that seems like a really bad cut. Such a scary situation! I hope it heals completely soon. I actually thought of you and your blood clotting disorder a few weeks ago, when Sam cut my toe by stepping on it. It bled for about an hour and my mom and I started freaking out a bit haha. Toes bleed A LOT, apparently!

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    1. Thank you Oana!! Ouch, so I guess you can relate then...yes, it seems we both discovered the hard way that toes bleed a lot! ;) Hope you and Sam are doing well! ❤️

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  5. The clottery, K!

    Good to know you have relatives who know and friends you care.

    And it's okay, it's okay, it's okay.

    You will be okay, you will be okay, you will be okay.

    And saying it in different voices, tones and emphases helps.

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    1. Ha! The clottery! If I can't win the lottery, then I guess I can at least hope for clottery, right? ;)

      Thank you so much for the encouragement, Adelaide. <3

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