photo by Surely Sweet Photography

Changing Diapers: the Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Two Years.

Today marks 2 years since our motorcycle accident. I often wonder when the day will come that it won't constantly be on my mind. While I have accepted what happened and forgiven the person who hit us, it is difficult to put it behind me when I am reminded of it with every step I take. Literally.

On April 6, 2013 I participated in my very first 5K. I knew I couldn't run it, but I wanted to do it to prove to myself I could complete it. I felt that if I could accomplish this small feat, then I would be one step (or a couple thousand) closer to putting the accident behind me. I walked it with a friend who is training for a 5K in May. We completed our 3 goals: 1) finish in under 1 hour; 2) don't come in last place; 3) cross the finish line.

During the walk, I felt fine! I was barely winded as we kept up a brisk walking pace. I was proud that all of the work I've put in at the gym over the last 3 months have paid off, in that respect! We even jogged for about 100 feet or so. I have discovered that I am capable of jogging, though it's with a limp and a lot of pain. But I am capable of jogging for brief distances -- something I was not able to do a few months ago. This is a great comfort to know that if my child runs out in a parking lot I will be able to chase them.

Immediately after the 5K, I felt fine. I felt proud. I felt accomplished. My foot was a little sore, but not too bad.

Two hours later, I wasn't feeling so great. We had a busy day, shopping for flooring and picking up our new appliances for the new house. Yes, that's right! We bought a house!! More on that later. My foot hurt so bad that I took a long, hot bath and a pain pill before bed. It was the first pain pill in over a year. Two other times the following week I took a pain pill, as the aftermath of the 5K was just too much.

That proud feeling of accomplishment diminished. I wondered, Why the hell did I think I could do that?! The awful thought crept back into my mind, Why didn't the doctors just amputate my foot? Why did they try so hard to save it, when it causes me so much pain?! Medical technology has come so far that people with prosthetics can do far more than I can.

It is hard to stay positive when every step hurts.

One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas holidays is bake. I love to try new recipes, as well as old. This past Christmas, I decided to just deal with the pain of standing in the kitchen so I could do what I love. I have tried to make this decision more often the last several months. I figure, this is something I just have to deal with so I shouldn't miss out on what I want to do. I joined a gym in January and started meeting with a personal trainer twice a week. With my inactivity, I gained weight. I decided I would no longer use the pain as an excuse not to better myself. I try to prevent as much pain as possible, by taking ibuprofen, stretching, and using kinesio tape before anthing that requires a lot of standing or walking. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't.

But when I do something I love, I pay for it dearly. It takes a minimum of a week to recover from a big event. The 5K was by far the worst recovery in a long time. It has been harder to deal with emotionally than I expected. While I'm still proud of myself for doing it, it also made me extremely disappointed that I was one of the last ones across the finish line. No, I wasn't last, but I wasn't even close to being in the middle of the pack. I was reminded yet again of how one moment can change a life forever.

Then the guilt hits. Again. I feel like I should be more grateful we are okay, and I am. I am extremely grateful. The guilt creeps in when I remind myself of how much worse it could have been.

I didn't pay attention to what the charity was when I signed up for the 5K, or even the morning of the event. It was all about proving something to myself (kinda selfish, huh?). It wasn't until later that day when my mom noticed the race's t-shirt I was wearing. The race was to support Jackie's Scholarship Fund. Jackie Murphree is the victim of a drunk driver. She suffered traumatic brain injury, and nearly died in the accident in 2007. Her family has held strong to support Jackie. She has become an inspiration to those around her. 

I feel I don't have the right to complain about the pain when others aren't as fortunate as we were. While I am thankful it wasn't worse, it doesn't change the fact that every step I take hurts. Yes, it could be worse. But that doesn't take the physical pain away. I feel guilty for wishing (at the worst of times) that the doctors had just amputated my foot.

I also feel guilty when I think about how Ryan survived cancer. If he could go through 2. 5 years of chemo and be the amazing man he is today, then I can suck it up and deal with this.

I also have guilt about money. I received a sizeable settlement from the insurance company for the accident. Part of me is thankful for what we got, the other part of me thinks it wasn't enough. I have had a hard time accepting that we do deserve some kind of compensation for the short and long term hard ships the accident caused. It was a stressful ordeal, and I'm thankful we had a lawyer to take care of it all for us. We haven't talked publicly about the settlement very often. I feel like others will judge me for accepting a settlement. Even worse, I feel others will judge me for being excited about getting a settlement.

I used to secretly judge those who pursued a settlement after an accident. I thought they were just being greedy and trying to take advantage of an unfortunate situation.  While many people do this, I now realize there are many people who pursue settlements because they truly did suffer.  I didn't realize until we went through it just how hard it makes your entire life. We paid a lot of money upfront for medical bills, while others went to collections because we couldn't pay them. Yes, we have medical insurance but there were the co-pays, deductibles, and patient portions that we were responsible for.  In addition, there were childcare expenses so I could go to doctor's appointments and physical therapy once my mom moved back home.  I also went to a chiropractor for a few months to see if that made a difference -- that was all out of pocket.  It was hard not just on me, but my entire family: my husband, my parents, my kids, my inlaws.... It was more than just myself affected by my injuries.

I have permanent damage, that I will always have to deal with. How do you put a price tag on something like that? I struggled with finding a magical number that made me feel comfortable. I felt guilty for wanting more, but also felt like I was selling myself short if we asked for too little. Nearly 2 years after the accident happened, we got a check from the insurance company.

It would have been easy to splurge with the money (which we've done a little bit, but not much). We have done our best to be smart with the money. We paid off some debt and medical bills (because I had a lot of medical bills!). We also took full advantage of things we normally wouldn't have been able to do. We bought a second vehicle (the truck Ryan has wanted since before he met me!). We bought a house with 5 acres, in cash. Not having a mortgage is such a blessing for us, as we are a one income family. We are also buying an RV to use for family vacations. Since hotels and airfare are so expensive this will help make those trips more affordable. We are planning a 2 week vacation this summer to visit Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, family in California, Disneyland, the beach, Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon. Most importantly, we are setting aside a good emergency fund and retirment savings.

I often joke that my foot has paid for all of these things. Though it's true, and it's a bigger blessing than we can even express, I would never go through any of this again. I can't imagine where our lives would have been if we weren't in the wreck, therefore never receiving the settlement. There's no point in wondering what would have been, but I don't think we would be in as good of a place as we are now.  But I also wouldn't have chronic pain.  It is very bittersweet. I am thankful that something good has come out of something bad. I hold onto that everytime I feel the guilt creep up.

We finally feel like our life is no longer on hold. For the first year, it was all about short term recovery. For the last year, we have been waiting to see what would happened with the settlement. Now that that chapter is closed, we can finally start moving forward. At times, it is harder to deal with the aftermath of the accident now than it was in the beginning. Short term recovery was easy, in retrospect. The reality of the long term effects is hard to accept.

I am working on dealing with the guilt. I also plan to make a doctor's appointment to see if there is anything that can be done for the pain in my foot and ankle. While I don't have an official diagnosis, I am pretty sure I suffer from Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis as a result the permanent damage in my ankle. I have done research to find new ways to find relief for these conditions, to no avail. Everything I've tried provides very little, short term relief. As much as I hate to think about it, surgery appears to be the next step for relief (and it's not even a guarantee). But I'm to the point that I will try anything to reduce the pain in my foot and ankle. I am tired of living in pain. I'm tired of having to decide if an activity is worth it, as it takes a week or more to recover.

The one thing I know for sure, is that God has seen us through the last 2 years. He would have been there through every "what if...." scenario I could think of, if those had come to fruition. He will always be there for us, no matter where life takes us. I have always been, and I continue to be, thankful.

And now, just a few photos of the reasons I am thankful!  These are raw, unedited photos -- far from perfect!  Which is fitting, since we are far from perfection.  These memories hold a special place in my heart.  Not only the memories we have already experience, but the ones yet to come as we see what God has in store for our future.

Taking the boys to see the pond on our new property!

Sunset view from the pond.

The gorgeous view behind our house! It's not all ours, but it's nice to look at!

Ryan showing the boys a prickly pear cactus.

Kings of the Mountain!

Ryan and his new (to us) truck.

Working together at the Children's Museum.

Mr. Fix It, just like his daddy.

I love the bond these boys have!

Easter Sunday 2013