Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why I started Tri-ing...

This post goes out to Little Miss Runner Pants and her epic crash...

Gather round and let me tell you about the 22yr old that was me a handful of years ago.

I graduated spring 2004 from UW and opted to stay in Madison because that's where the love of my life was. We got an apartment, moved in together, and were going to live happily ever after. Sigh...

Well, January 2005 I was out snowboarding, as I do, tearing it up in the terrain park, when things went awry. I came off of a rail looking pretty fly for a chick, landed, cleared the base and lost my balance. I sat back and caught my left wrist wrong on the not so soft snow. SNAP CRACKLE POP! I snapped that wrist clear in half. In the adrenaline of the moment I pulled off my glove, my jacket, and my watch, hoping to minimize the clothing they would have have to cut off. There were no blood or guts, but there was one hell of a deformed wrist. Too dizzy and upset to walk they carted me off to the patrol room.

They splinted me up while we tried to reach my emergency contact: my boyfriend. (Side note: as I stayed in Madison at that point for him I really knew very few people in town and certainly did not have other qualified "in case of emergency" people to call in the area.) Turns out he was shooting darts at the bar and couldn't drive to the hill to pick me up, but would meet me at the hospital. Promise. It was like 7:30-8'ish at this point. At that point I was still part of the Ski Patrol for the hill I was at, so one of the patrol members, Judy (who also happened to be a nurse), drove me into Madison to the UW hospital.

We probably got there around 9 or so. Seeing as I was not bleeding, young or old, or in respiratory distress, they left me in the waiting room for an hour or so. I guess Tuesday nights are busy at the ER. Around 10:30 they moved me from the waiting room to a bed in the hallway of the ER, conveniently located across from the security guard in case I got rowdy, where I sat until almost midnight. Still no boyfriend.

When they took me in for x-rays I decided to put this semi-private space to good use and shed a few layers (I was still sitting my my snowboard pants...). Seeing as my bf was still MIA, Judy helped me change. PS-I definitely mooned the the unsuspecting DR who walked in to the room. Opps. She also had to help me go to the bathroom at some point. Sometime around 11:30 they finally got me a room, and Judy and I moved in there. Not long after my boyfriend FINALLY showed.

The x-rays showed that I had shattered the top of my radius and had a clean break on my ulna,. They tried multiple times to set my arm, but as I had sat for hours and the muscles had contracted so much, and there was so little in tact bone to work with it, it wasn't happening. They even tried putting my arm in an awful traction sort of device to get the muscles to give and allow them to set it. In the end, around 5am or so, they splinted it as best they could and sent me home telling me to call the dr in the morning.

There was no sleep that night, and come 8:30-9am when we couldn't get a hold of the dr back to the ER we went. I was in so much pain. Like nauseous dizzy worst pain of my life, drugs not cutting it, pain. We spent the entire day in the ER again until around 4pm, convinced I was being overly dramatic, they sent in dr to sign off and send me home. That dr, however, noticed something else. Apparently the amount of pain I was in and the loss of feeling in my hand was a bad thing. Really? Shocking.

Next thing I know I am being hauled into emergency surgery. Turns out that I had developed acute compartmental syndrome and the pressure in my arm needed to be reduced STAT! Cut'er open and get in there people! I woke up multiple hours later, still no clue what's going on, but with a pump attached to my arm and external pins holding the bones in place. Wait....wasn't I suppose to be going home because I was faking the pain?!

Thus began my 2wk stay at UW hospital. Midway through this little vacation they hoped that pressure and swelling had been reduced enough to close up my arm. They went in there only to discover it had not and they couldn't close the incision completely. So again, I woke up with things completely different that I was told they would be. And my hip hurt. WTF? I don't remember hurting my hip. Turns out they had to graft skin off of my hip and into my arm to be able to close me up. So not only was I going to have a hideous scar on my arm, but they took the equivalent of a cheese slicer to my hip and left me with a giant painful scar there too. Awesome.

My boyfriend couldn't stay with me so my mom had come up and moved into my hospital room with me. Once she was there I saw my boyfriend one other time. I guess he couldn't miss time at the bar, darts, snowboarding and life in general for lil ol me.

Finally, after 2 painful weeks at UW Hospital, and after 2 surgeries, multiple mishaps, and many many visits from many different med students (I was like the bearded lady at the circus, EVERYONE had to see me) I was sent home. Not only was I still in pain, but I was all sorts of scarred up to boot. I had a 2x4 rectangle of missing skin off of my left hip, decoratively covered by medical cheese cloth stapled to my hip, and a scar from my wrist to elbow. And we're not talking any old scar here. There was a giant, misshapen, bloody, flesh-colored, mesh-like skin graft in there, and more stitches and staples than I could count. I was hideous and not happy.

To add insult to injury, the love of my life boyfriend had let me down! Huge! And now I had to go home to our apartment and cohabitate with this inattentive loser! And yes, this paragraph deserves every exclamation point it has!!!!

I had almost a month on disability to sit at home and think about these sorts of things. It was obvious the bf had to go. But if I broke up with him, who would ever like me again? I was deformed (and getting rapidly chunk-tastic from lack of any sort of activity)! And even if I could find some weirdo with a scar fetish to love me, I certainly never pictured this disgusting grafted monstrosity of an arm in my wedding pictures. More times than I can count I was told that "it would give me character" and "build strength." Well, dammit, I was strong enough and had more than enough character!! And really, who was ever going to want to see me neked again? It was a dark spring that year...

So yeah, we broke up (and lived together for a handful of months that way, talk about adding insult to injury). And as I sat and felt sorry for myself that spring I got progressively more and more out of shape that spring. It was bad. I only felt worse about myself. Now I was deformed AND fat.

What did I do? I signed up for my first triahtlon. My x-boyfriend/roommate laughed at me and thought I was off my rocker, and to be honest I didn't disagree. But I trained and I did it. And in the process I discovered that I was ok. I was ok being single, I was ok with my arm (and hip), I was ok with my life. I was so proud of myself and what I had accomplished, and that in and of itself, made everything worth it. Take THAT x-boyfriend!!

It was sort of a pivotal moment. I learned a lot about myself. But bones and abraisions heal, and scars fade. Sure you'll have a scar (and a story) but the way I see it, that all adds to my general mystique and badass-ness.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I know it's easy for me to sit here, not bloddy not scraped up and my chiclets in tact, feeling relatively ok (except for my broken foot) and say these things. I know what it feels like to say "why me?!?!?" and let's throw in an "it's not fair!!!" for good measure. Yep, been there. I had my own version of that jsut this summer, when in my quest for Ironman this fall I fractured my foot and will not be attempting to race.

Life handed me my ass that spring. It wasn't easy, but I dug deep and got through it. And you will too Little Miss Runner Pants!!


Steve Stenzel said...

Yikes! But GREAT story!! Yeah, TAKE THAT X-BF!!


Thanks for sharing!!

a.maria said...

thanks katie. and eff your boyfriend, too!
i'm with you on the "i'm strong enough and i have plenty of character" thing.. but i know people mean well and they're right.

i'm sorry you had to go through that, but thanks for sharing :)

jeanne said...

that was a great story! but i think dickhead was a boyfrenemy, not a boyfriend! thank god he's gone. loser.

Jim Smith II said...

Katie - Great story, and congrats for turning a bad break (literally) into a great success!

"Scars are just tattoos with better stories"