Whoa, I definitely didn’t expect to find myself here. Who the f*#k gets med-flighted and lives to tell? Back up Barb.
I had been living pretty peacefully and happily these last few months. It felt surreal and always, the shoe was ready to drop, assuredly from Cancerworld. It felt too good to be true, that I was living 25 months without treatment and still NED. I felt well. I was active, albeit with weak upper body strength that I attributed to my wretched hospitalization 2 years ago and of course my buddy, aging.
I recently traveled to see a show in NYC, a conference in Philadelphia with sightseeing, a trip to North Carolina to participate in a new #thisismbc project and retreat. I was excited to start a temporary gig subbing as Team Leader for a maternity leave, a trip to Cancun with the little coconut. I even won a trip to Colorado in June from raising a lot of money for Metavivor. Wedding preparations continued. But, something always lurked around the corner that I tried so hard not to see. My own infallibility?
It all came crashing down Tuesday night after my first long day at work in months (pun intended). It was unseasonably warm and I eagerly basked in it, sitting outside on the deck with Blanket. I didn’t realize how tired I was. My wobbling, thanks to my adrenal insufficiency, is always worse when I’m tired or have had wine (and the never-ending fight with my endocrinologist about increasing my steroids to improve my balance). We sat outside talking until well after dark, nothing unusual in that. I headed inside to eat quickly while standing at the sink, and then upstairs while Blanket cleaned up. The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital ER with my kids and Tim leaning worriedly over me, feeling very unwell…..Apparently, being so independent, I let my guard slip and managed to fall backwards down the stairs, unable to hold the guard rail ( my bruised fingers tell that story). I hit my head, hard. Tim heard the crash, ran out and found me splayed on my back, unconscious. He called 911 within 90 seconds and they arrived before he hung up the phone. They cut off my new LL Bean polar fleece, swept me up, and just like that, I was off to the local elementary school to be med-flighted to Tufts Medical Center with a potential brain stem injury. WTF!?
I remember none of this, fortunately, but when I did wake up, battered and confused, I began a new nightmare. Hours in the surgical ICU while they determined if I needed brain surgery and I vomited for hours while wearing a tight neck brace. It seemed endless. Two cat scans by morning and they deemed my brain bleed stable–no surgery! I have a subdural hematoma the size and shape of a tennis ball. By Wednesday night they felt I was well enough to go home, again with the tight, uncomfortable neck brace and significant bruising over the right side of my head, neck and body. Despite being scared to death to leave the hospital, I wanted so much to be unhooked, unwired, home in my own bed. Motion of any kind see saws me. I feel like I have been caught up in a Cuisinart and spit out.
I didn’t see this coming. Who could? I have been blind sided by something other than cancer, the big story of my life. Yet I feel ashamed and humiliated by my own stupidity and tendency to live too much on the edge. I often disregard caution and lull those around me into thinking I am more physically capable than I am. Head coconut tells me to stop ruminating and start recuperating. It’s hard when I feel so beaten up and reduced, more dependent than ever. I know I have to pick up from where I am now, plans canceled, path forward altered. I know from past experience I will get beyond this but for the moment I have let myself and my family down.
Mind the gap and remember to duck. Till better times. Barb