The challenges I was facing were disheartening. Having to be admitted to Los Robles Hospital was the first. With my left arm in a sling to help relieve pressure and pain from my broken collarbone, pumped with pain killers, and given instructions to take a few days off work, I was ready to leave. We had been in the ER for five hours and I just wanted to get home, put on my pjs, get into bed, and sleep. Unfortunately, as soon as I slid off the examination table and my feet touched the floor, a pain hit so sharp that all I could do was scream. Because I hadn’t stood up since I landed on the blacktop after the tumble over my handlebars, no one could’ve known I fractured my pelvis. An MRI confirmed it, so I needed to stay overnight. The only problem was there were no private rooms available, so I had to share a room. The woman in the bed next to mine was obviously not well and was inconsolable. After a sleepless night, I looked forward to going home.
However, I ended up staying two more days as my caseworker tried to figure out how I’d be able to function at home. I couldn’t use crutches, or a walker, so I’d have to be in a wheelchair. She’d also have to line up a Physical and Occupational Therapist and have them go over the basics prior to leaving the hospital. On day three, she said it would be best if I went to a rehab facility and that she found me a place at the Los Robles Rehabilitation Hospital nearby. For just a few days.
When you want time to pass quickly, it rarely does. I couldn’t help but replay the accident over and over, wondering why it happened in the first place. I just wanted to get back on my feet – literally and figurately. I wanted to feel good again instead of being in agony and groggy from medication. I wanted to have an appetite again. I wanted to finish out the school year. More than anything, I wanted to be home. I didn’t want to endure the hourly interruptions. I didn’t want a nurse to have to take me to the bathroom or give me a shower. I didn’t want to have to wait six or more weeks to fully heal. And more than anything else, I didn’t want anyone to see me the way I was. The cards, flowers, and calls continued to come and after three days, I was told I’d have to be there for an entire week. Seven days doesn’t sound like a long time, but it felt like forever being in the state I was in.
From my journal: May 12, 2012, Thousand Oaks, California
“Andrea, my PT said maybe I should let people visit. I tried to explain that I couldn’t let anyone see me this way…she said maybe I needed to look at it from their point of view. They want to help me and let me know they care. She said it’s their gift to me…and maybe it’s a gift I need to accept.”
I reconsidered having people visit. When my co-workers Charmaine and Flo walked into my room, all three of us just cried. Sometimes nothing really needs to be said. We were all glad to see each other. Initially I felt embarrassed. They had never seen me outside of school, meaning they only saw me dressed for work, with make up on, and hair done. They had never seen me sit, except for behind a desk when planning lessons, otherwise I was on-the-go. They had never seen me subdued, I was usually talking away. The same thing happened when my co-workers Marsha and Yvette dropped by. I had to quickly get over myself and focus on how grateful I was for their company.
Word of my accident spread to the elementary schools I had worked at. Friends from Madrona and Glenwood came by for coffee. Friends from Banyan brought lunch. Some took me out and about. One friend even walked our dog, Capers. Being on the giving side most often, it was a change to be on the receiving end. It felt uncomfortable, strange, awkward.
Thirteen days after my accident, I took my first steps. In a month I was walking without a walker or cane. And in less than two months, I was back on my bike!
From my journal; June 8, 2012, Newbury Park, California
“Some good things happened…outpouring of kindness from co-workers, friends, and family. I need to appreciate them more. I can overcome obstacles…I am stronger than I thought both physically and mentally…now I know I need to build more downtime and relaxation into my life…I am changing my diet and going to try different work outs…As each part of my body heals, I am becoming whole and it feels great.”
At times, does the Universe give us a nudge in a new direction? Do we only know what we’re capable of until we’re tested? Was my accident actually a blessing in disguise? I don’t know. But I do know, eleven years ago when I was out for a bike ride, everything changed in an instant. As it turned out, the changes and insights that came about improved my life for the better. Could I have made the changes without having to go through all I did? For sure. But the real question is, would I have?