It was the evening of Christmas Eve 2018 that my family and I went to look at Christmas lights on the way home from my in laws. We were stopped as the car in front of us was letting another car go by. I had my 11 week old 1lb chihuahua Elvis in my lap. My husband was driving and my 2 kids were in the backseat. Avery was 6 at the time, and Dylan was 13.
I remember the sound first. I’ll never forget that sound. The sound of the F150 slamming into our Nissan Pathfinder. My first instinct was to protect Elvis. I curled my body over his. My seatbelt didn’t lock up, instead it loosened. In a fetal position my body went up onto the dashboard cracking the windshield. Then the seatbelt yanked me back snapping my body opened. Elvis went flying out of my arms and landed under the driver seat peddles. The first movement I made, I knew something was wrong.
We first made sure the kids were okay, which they were. My oldest has autism and was screaming for dear life. A little shook up with small bumps and bruises, but they were okay. Paramedics were there in less than 5 minutes. I immediately showed signs of a concussion, but I could hardly stand up. One of the EMT’s gained my sons trust and was able to calm him down. We all went to get checked out at the hospital. From my neck to my tailbone was black, blue, and swollen. I was told the swelling would go down. I was told to go to physical therapy. I was told a lot of things but they just kept getting worst.
The trauma from the accident wreaked havoc inside my body. I began having severe muscle spasms that mimicked seizures, spasticity, cervical torticollis, chronic inflammation, dystonia, fainting spells, dizziness, chronic fatigue, chronic back pain, headaches, paresthesia, widespread numbness, high heart rate, and developed a pulmonary embolism. It has been over a year and I am still going through the diagnosis process. I spent almost the entire month of December through the first week of January admitted into the hospital. I’ve had multiple scans with contrast, a couple lumbar punctures, SO much blood work, and SO many medications.
What we know is this. I have a positive ANA with symptoms leading to obvious answers, but tests become negative. My doctor just calls it undiagnosed autoimmune. I have significant nerve damage on my left side with a 56% loss of nerve signals to the brain. I have muscle spasms so severe that it creates bruising from the muscles contracting so tightly. My left foot has dystonic posturing causing severe pain and also causes me to fall sometimes. There are days I wake up and cannot feel my foot. Some days I wake up and can hardly stand at all. I’ve had cervical torticollis a handful of times which made it difficult to breathe from my neck being so tight, it would look like a baseball was lodged in the side of my neck. I am sick almost all the time. I will not take pain medication because I want to help the problem, not mask it. I’m on 4 different heart medications. I get severe palpitations and it will be difficult to catch my breath, all of a sudden i see black spots and next thing I’m on the floor. Yes, I’m being tested for POTS. I have a cane and a walker for the bad days. I manage daily pain at about a level 7, but you wouldn’t know it. I’m extremely positive and have been throughout this entire journey.
Recently, my husband lost his job. 2 days before Christmas to be exact. I have not worked in 10 months due to my illness. I used to be a bartender. I loved my job. I also coached competitive cheerleading, which I had to take a step back this year to focus on my healing. My husbands unemployment was denied. We received the letter yesterday. He’s of course going to appeal it, but it is one more thing to add to a very stressful journey. i don’t worry about the medical bills that are piling up, they can wait. My focus is on the proper treatment for me. My kids health and wellness, and that my husband is going to find a better job. I have faith in my medical team. I found some new specialists who are all working together and keeping the communication opened. I miss my life. I miss being able to do things without worrying how I’ll feel later on or the next day. I miss my active lifestyle. I miss working. I miss coaching my girls.
In closure I will say this...keeping a positive attitude, finding reasons to smile every day, and keep on fighting every single day, has been what has helped me throughout this year. Some days are worst than others, but every day is a reason to be thankful to be alive.