Today, we’re sharing a major milestone and update in this post, One Year After a Major Fall.
Given today is supposed to be the unofficial scariest day of the year, I couldn’t think of a better way to recap the adventure that has been without a doubt one of the hardest of our lives.
For it was around this day, last October, our lives were changed forever.
Chaos in the Middle of the ORC
I can still remember sitting in my worn-out rocking chair quickly responding to emails about contracts with my hair in a messy bun and wearing paint splattered pants. My only goal for the day was to finish painting the kitchen cabinets and to knock out the most pressing emails.
The house was a total disaster because we were in the middle of the kitchen and pantry makeover as part of the Fall One Room Challenge.
A Call to the ER
I rarely pick up my phone during the workday since it can be super distracting. In fact, there are only 3 numbers I even pick up for during the day.
So, when I saw my bestie S’s number come across the screen shortly before 9 am, it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.
As soon as I answered the phone and heard a man’s voice calling me by my birth name though, I immediately knew something was wrong.
“I think you need to come to the ER,” S’s boss Jay said. “They’re loading her up in the ambulance now. There’s been an accident, she’s fallen down the stairs.”
I’ll freely admit, I was stunned at first but not at all alarmed. At the time, the details were so vague.
S’s boss said it was “probably a bad sprain on both ankles” but the therapist in me knew he was using his “Dad voice” to keep calm.
Still, it didn’t really sound all that bad.
I quickly changed clothes and headed to the ER which was 50 minutes away from the house. They ushered me right into the room and it was only then I realized something was really wrong.
Both of S’s legs were motionless.
Thankfully, two of her best friends and coworkers were already there. As you can imagine, S was in a lot of pain with doctors and nurses all around.
There are certain events from our time at the hospital and throughout the recovery period that I’ve intentionally had to block out of my mind.
Honestly, they’re just too upsetting to relive. Some of them, I’ve never even shared.
One Inch Made All the Difference
But I’ll never forget the moment I walked out of the room to collect my thoughts. The doctor was right behind me and said, “Let’s wait to tell her she’s never going to ski again or hike the AT, ok?”
Completely numb, I shook my head in silence as he continued.
“I’m not going to lie to you, this situation is not a good one. These injuries are consistent with someone that has fallen off the top of a ladder or off the roof of a small building. Her road to recovery is going to be a long one. But I need you to know it could have been so much worse. Her head landed on the concrete steps when she fell. One inch, was the difference between mortality, tragedy and permanent disability. Someone is looking out for her. She’s lucky to be alive.”
And with that, he walked away.
The Road to Recovery
The following weeks were a whirlwind of surgery, doctor’s appointments, medical care management, patient advocacy and trips in the wheelchair van. I tried everything I could think of to offer a sense of normalcy to someone that was (and still is) fiercely independent.
But it was not easy.
Many days I had to walk outside to keep from crying or being completely overwhelmed by the amount of care S actually needed. There was no night nurse, home healthcare attendant or even an hour of respite.
Day after day, hour by hour, for months, it was just the 2 of us refusing to give up, give in or quit no matter how bad things got.
Thankfully, my parents and family carried us on the days we needed it most. They showered us with unconditional amount of grace and loving care, lifting us up every step of the way.
While you were seeing pantry wall makeovers, Thanksgiving tablecapes and holiday home tours on the blog (thanks in large part to my parents), we were seeing x-rays, surgical teams, dealing with wound care and wheelchair ramps.
Our real life couldn’t have been more different than our blog life.
Even now, I know having a creative outlet kept me going. Although most days, I truthfully felt like I was in a fog.
S on the other hand had it much worse dealing with extreme pain while struggling through bouts of anger, grief and depression.
Despite it all, she never gave up trusting she would one day walk again.
Embracing Our First Milestone
We hit our first milestone just a few days before Christmas when I somehow managed to get S into the car. She was battling a major case of cabin fever. So, I loaded her up, secured her wheelchair in the back and drove her to see the light displays at the zoo.
It was freezing but it felt so good to get out and enjoy the holiday season even if just for a few hours.
The minute we got back into the car though, we both started sobbing a mix of bittersweet tears. While we were so grateful for how far S had come, we were also painfully aware of how far she still had to go.
Intensive Therapy & Rehab
The next milestone didn’t come until February of this year when she was finally able to enjoy a real shower. All in all, it had taken almost 4 months of intensive physical therapy and rehab to even be able to stand up with crutches and leg devices.
It would take another 3 months to learn how to walk again. And another month and a half after that to be able to walk without the assistance of leg devices at all.
Celebrating the One Year Mark
When I asked S how she wanted to mark the one year anniversary of the fall and celebrate her recovery, she immediately said she wanted to spend time at the cabin and hike part of the AT (Appalachian Trail).
I’m excited to say just a few days ago, we made that goal come true.
This week has been a nostalgic mix of recounting all the lessons we’ve learned this past year.
I had no idea how to be nurturing much less a caregiver. She had no idea how to let people help her much less be a patient.
There are three important lessons, we’ve learned from this experience that we won’t ever forget and lessons we hope you’ll be able to take with you too…
- Your health is truly a gift, treasure it.
- Never give up no matter how dark things seem.
- Believe that love will show up when you need it most because sometimes, it’s just an inch away.
As we enter another season of thanksgiving, we just wanted to say big thank you everyone that has prayed for us, supported us and encouraged us with your kind comments throughout the year.
While this experience has changed us forever, we have so many things to be grateful for and we count each and every one of that you stood beside us as some of our biggest blessings.
With love and appreciation,
CoCo and S