How do we move forward?

My road came to an unexpected halt on November 9, 2010.

That morning, I was bicycling to work when a garbage truck turned across a city bike lane. I was in that bike lane.

I was critically injured in the accident. A team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my left leg. I had a long road ahead of me, physically and emotionally, yet I was grateful to be alive.

An ending can be a beginning too. I started over.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Gradually I learned to walk again. So I began counting steps. Then miles.

Over time, that journey turned a corner. It became less about my own recovery and more about resilience -- the connection we all share.

Ten years later, I still take one step at a time. Yes, there are bumps in the road, but each step means rising to new challenges, adapting to change, and moving forward with hope.

Are you on your own journey?


Saturday, August 6, 2022

Love Is Blind (and so is my digestive system)

Cheers from Mile Marker 10,530... the Outpatient Imaging Center.

It's not the best selfie, but when you toast with a supersize of contrast solution, you get what you get. 

The guy next to me (which by COVID standards means down the hall) is drinking two tall bottles of what looks like Muscle Milk.  

"It's a bit chalky," he says.

"Mine's kind of minty," I shoot back.  It tastes like water mixed with toothpaste.  You might even call it a Crest Cocktail.  

Between sips, we yank our masks up and down.

The man tells me he has a test at Nuclear Medicine tomorrow.

I tell him that one time, they had to put this drink down my NG tube.  (TMI?)

It's like an awkward first date at the worst restaurant ever.

The truth -- which we don't get into on the first date -- is that I'm an expert at abdominal CT scans because I've had so many bowel obstructions since the accident 11 years ago.

Take Mile 37 ...

or 632 ...

or 7,650.
(FYI: Smile = morphine.)

Lately it's been happening again -- and I will do ANYTHING to stay out of the hospital.

Mile Marker 10,559:  

Have you ever seen Love Is Blind?

It's this reality show where people "date" without seeing each other.  They chat, fall in love, and sometimes propose marriage.  All from behind a wall.  

Figuring out my digestive system is kind of like that. 

I have a few scars on the outside.

But inside, my abdomen has a web of adhesions that developed from massive surgeries after the accident.  The adhesions constrict and obstruct my small intestine.  It happens suddenly, and it's unbearably painful -- not to mention life-threatening.  

The last few months have been particularly difficult.

I can manage an amputation.  
I can't manage this.

It's hard to live this way -- always one step from the ER.  So my doctors are taking a closer look at what's going on behind that wall.

Date #2 is a *quest* for bloodwork.

See what I did there? :)

Mile Marker 10,612:

On to Date #3 -- at Jefferson Radiology.

Complete with "tilt table"

and fancy beverage cart!

Um, not quite.

A 4-hour GI study stretches into 8 hours.  

Pretty sure I hold the record for the slowest digestive system in Jefferson history. 

The radiology team sits patiently behind the glass.  There's even an attending physician. 

"Lie on your stomach," he says.  
"Now turn onto your left side."  
"Now do it again, all in one motion." 

My prosthetic leg clatters against the table, metal on metal. 

"This is the strangest modeling job I've ever had," I tell them.

At least we get a laugh.

After a few hours, I earn a beverage upgrade -- OJ!

By the end of the day, I've mastered the tilt table (and Snapchat).  

I've been here so long the radiologists offer to hire me.  Either that or charge me rent.

We're ALL relieved when this date finally ends.

Mile Marker 10,629:  

Who knew there were so many Jefferson hotspots??

Hello Jefferson Stratford!
Date #4 comes with perks...

Two quick ultrasounds.
Free parking. 
No drinks required!

And get this... against all odds, the technician has a family member who suffers from bowel obstructions too.

You never know who'll you'll meet on a date!

As I lie there on the (non-tilting) table, we commiserate about how terrible those obstructions can be.  I rattle off a list of what I've tried over the years -- from liquid diets, to visceral manipulation, to medical consults -- in case something might give them a glimmer of hope. 

If nothing else, it can help to know you're not alone. 

Mile Marker 10,733:

After 200 miles, it's about time for answers.

Greetings from the Navy Yard!

Date #5:  The results are in.

Good news:  I'm in excellent health, aside from all this.
Bad news:  My insides are a hot mess.*
(*non-clinical interpretation)

In other words, exactly what we suspected.  

My medical team is honest.  There are no easy answers.  The best we can do is try to make it more manageable.  We have some ideas, and we'll keep working on it.  Together.

I was hoping for a happier ending.  You know, like walking off into the sunset, hand in hand with my adhesions -- or something like that.  

Oh well.

Even in the best rom-coms, the point isn't really about the happy ending.  It's about finding love in what you have.

(Pretty wise for someone who's still single, right?)

Truth is, I'm grateful for this body of mine.

Even with its robot parts.
Even with its abdominal issues.
Even though I can't always count on it. 

I'm proud of it, too.
For digesting those nasty drinks.

For going to all those appointments!

For walking and working -- and living life to the fullest -- whenever I can.

And finally... are you ready for this?


Yep.  I do.  I love my body.  For better or worse.

Despite everything.  (Or maybe because of everything.)

I appreciate it every day, and I'm glad it's mine.

Can I be OK with not always being OK??  

Well, I'm working on that. 

Love may be blind, but I like to think science isn't.  

I haven't given up yet. 

Hopefully there's a solution somewhere in between.

Walk on,