Sunday, February 6, 2011

So February 4, 2011, that would be the 18 month mark since the day of my accident, a year and a half. I don’t think that I could have ever quite grasped the understanding, even if someone explained it to be in great detail, of what an injury like this consisted of as far as time needed to heal with ongoing and new issues that arise.

Here is a picture that shows how my eyes are healing. They still have a while to go with hope that the skin tones will even out enough that I won't look like I've been in a recent bar fight!

I have an appointment at the burn unit on the Feb 22 and I’m pretty certain that it will be my last. My appointment back in August was right after the year anniversary of my accident, and at that appointment they thought I was doing better than expected. They tried to get me to stop wearing my compression garments on my legs three months prior to that appointment and told me I could probably start phasing out the torso compression sometime around September, but I could never feel like It was time to give up on them and always hoped that the scars would end up looking better than they do. The ultimate decision of when to be done wearing the compression is something they always leave up to the patient to decide. I took a couple different attempts where I would go a few days without wearing the compression garments and trying to monitor how the scars would change but always opting to continue wearing them. I might have just been letting my mind play tricks on me but I always felt that the scars were still raising and still needed more time to mature before abandoning the compression. After every attempt at not wearing the garments for even the shortest of time I would always go back putting them on and wearing them almost religiously.

I'm not going to mention the itching factor today because it makes me itch just thinking about it.

I do realize that at least 50% of the healing process for me was and continues to be the mental/emotional game I seem to struggle with on a daily basis. A big step that I took in beating this game happened on Christmas morning when I decided that the Christmas gift to myself was to allow myself to accept the way my body and scars look and be done with the leg and torso compression once and for all. I found the perfect size box to fit the folded garments in and hide away until I need them for show and tell for my kids when they ask me what happened and how I got all of my scars. I think there is just enough room in that box for all of my compression sleeves and mask when that day finally comes.

Since I mentioned the mental/emotional game that I have no choice but to play, in which most days would better be described as a war, I should probably try to explain at least a part of what that involves. For the first six months following my accident I had a very hard time dealing with constant images and thoughts swirling through my head. I, being a very analytical thinker couldn’t stop trying to piece together the details of my accident looking for an answer of what went wrong and why it happened. Without an answer my brain would not give me peace.

I think that after the first six months following my accident I was so mentally drained from the constant replay of events in my head that my brain decided to shut down that section of thought for a while. In reality I know that I had just received another answer to my prayers for some much needed peace and calmness. The other things going on in my life that had become priority took a lot more of my focus and had become a huge blessing of distraction from my accident. It seems however that for the past 5 or 6 months that the thoughts have been slowly building up and finding their way back into my daily routine.

One of the classes I have been taking this semester at school is a public speaking class. I have always had speaking anxiety and would have probably never registered for the class if it were not a requirement for my major. Of the four speeches that I will be required to give for the class I hope that the first one will turn out to be the most difficult. I gave this speech last Saturday. The topic of the speech was a simple self-introduction. Tell something about myself or share something from my life in a 5 minute speech. I wish it were as simple as it sounded. I spent a couple of days thinking about different things from my life that I could share as an interesting story and fit into the time parameters. Out of all of the things from my life that I’ve done or experienced I couldn’t stop coming back to the idea that I should just share the story of my accident. I really had some serious doubts about that decision after I had laid down an outline and started practicing for my speech out loud. It turned out to be a very time consuming project as I kept repeatedly rehearsing and timing myself to try to fine tune my presentation, taking out different details that I thought were too graphic or didn’t help the story move along.
While taking notes from the dozens if not fifty times that I recorded myself running through and reliving the events of that morning I realize that there are still certain things from that day and the months following that I have a hard time sharing with people, especially with a room full of complete strangers. To fit that experience into a five minute speech and cutting out details that I still cannot emotionally get through, definitely leaves the story in an abbreviated form.

The speech itself went as well as could be expected coming from a person standing in front of an audience of strangers riddled with anxiety that was amplified by the self consciousness that comes with wearing a mask on ones face while sharing one of the most emotional things to have ever happened to themselves fearing that at any moment one of the shared details might be the emotional straw to break the camels back to ultimately end in a display of physical collapse and balling on the floor!

I made it through without the break down or wetting my pants and I seemed to have done a relatively good job at hiding the anxiety, with the exception of a couple of cracks in my voice that made me sound like a 14 year old. The video of the speeches that the teacher made and posted online will always remind me that I was able to get through it.

The main thing that I learned form the assignment really had nothing to do with public speaking skills. It let me know that when the thoughts of my accident or life get to the point of being overbearing, that working through it in my head over and over again like I have always done can be a good thing but only if it is paired with the opportunity to vent it out verbally in some way. I have had a much calmer mind concerning my accident since I shared a part of it with people.

Feeling like I have had success in one more battle gives me hope that I can survive the war.