For a lot of people who experience traumatic injuries or witness it they deal with psychological trauma. When I woke up I was nothing but positive telling others to forgive and let go. At the same time I was very hurt by no apology, visit, or concern of how I was doing from the person who did this to me. I didn’t let this take me though because I knew life was going to continue and although things wont be exactly the same that the things we love and enjoy you find different paths in order to enjoy them.
The visit from Tonya and the long talks about how my “baby”-the produce area at the Grocery Store-was doing, her funny stories of her family, us laughing at past crazy things I did or things that happened at the store, emotional moments at times that she lifted up with hope and our talks of how to adapt to my possible unknown disabilities, stories of her son Brennan’s adventures in Peru, and stories of whats going on around town. Brennan and I were work friends when he decided to move on and go to Peru he wanted me to take over managing the Produce area.
He tought me everything he did and knew in the produce area and even expanded to teaching me some things only management.
I looked at Tonya as the Mother I always wanted to have in my life. She was my best friend and the fact she was there by my side with Brett and my family from the very beginning I knew she was family and nothing could break that.
Walking into the grocery store it was disappointing it was Thanksgiving time and the lines were long people up set at the wait because of a lack of employees, the produce area was not disappointing since Brennan was back from Peru and working. We had discussed many times of when I come back I would help him for a while until he felt comfortable with me taking it fully back over. The rest of the store though felt cold and sad like something was missing.
In this waiting time to get back to life again I spent strengthening my body. All that was on my mind was getting back to life, my job and competing. Not looking any further than that.
A week into November I started noticing a loud POP POP when I stepped down on my left foot. I adjusted my AFO -(ankle-foot orthosis)is an orthosis or brace that encumbers the ankle and foot, one of the uses is for Drop Foot- nothing seemed to stop the horrible cracking pop. So I decided to talk to the doctor and to see how we could speed up and figure out when my leg was going to come back.
After a day of stationary cycling 10 miles, physical therapy, I set in Dr. Pete Maders office waiting for him to send me to another doctor to get me fixed up. Pete entered wanting a hug to start with and of course has to give me hard time. I told him about the issue with my ankle and asked him what was causing it. He explained to me that my cartilage was missing on the outside ankle and that they drilled into my bone to produce scar tissue to give the bones something to protect them from grinding on each other. He then said I need to have your foot Fussed. This brought me to tears. I said “That would mean I would never be able to run again.” Pete said “Yes, but Liz you’re not going to be able to run again anyways.” Any hope that I had that day felt like it was taken away. I said The man who I went to for the AFO said there is a brace out there for the military that makes it possible for people like me to be active again do you know anything about it?
Pete had never heard of such a thing and if it was only for the military then there was no chance for me to receive it.
I stayed strong and gave him a hug and went to my car. I called Brett and told him what Pete said. He disagreed with the fusion and said to leave those decisions to Dr. Dart ,my Orthopedic Doctor or the man who put me all back together again. I could tell in Brett’s voice that hard time had come to let me know that things are not going to fully come back and that the outlook of me running again is highly unlikely. I was crushed but knew there was one thing out there and that anything can happen. I just have to not give up.
By the end of November had reached the end of my Physical Therapy. My lower left leg still paralyzed and nerve damage to 90% of my hamstring (the upper back leg muscle that’s attached to your glut-Butt muscle) and my left glut and hip flexer sometimes working for just a moment then stop, but the few muscles in that leg and my right leg I strengthened and was able to pass my physical capacity test to go back to work in Produce. Yes it sounds like a lot not working but if I was able to bike 45 miles on a stationary bike that automatically did the elevation for the Ironman 70.3 bike path of Lake Tahoe then I think I’m ready to get back to life and start working!
I went in to talk to Pat and Norm. Pat was the owner of all the stores and Tonya’s Husband. I was so excited to be going back to work again!! I set down in the office with a smile on my face not ever expecting what was to come. Pat starts out by saying how far I have come and it that he is happy to see me sitting in front of him. No body ever expected me to come this far. He was sitting in the hospital that first day and they never thought I would make it and here I am ready to work.
“I’m a little concerned of what people might thing though to see us having you picking up heavy apple boxes and down on the floor. People would think we are uncompassionate to have someone who has went through so much and has some difficulties doing such labors work. I should care though. You passed your physical Test.
Norm what openings do we have?”
Norm said “We have an opening in Freezer and that’s about it.”
The smile I had was gone. I have two main arteries that go to my legs capped off. The very first thing they did when I went into Via Christi and the surgery they were doing when he set in the hospital with my family. I have nerve damage were I can’t tell when my legs are cold and the Application I filled out when I started working there 2 years before my accident that I noticed on the desk In front of him said
“Can not work in Freezer can’t stand the cold!”
Pat said “Other then Freezer we just have no openings at this time.”
I give them a fake smile said Thank you for your time and left. I didn’t want anyone to see my disappointment, the feeling I can not stand
I slowly walked right foot first down those steps I use to run two at a time up everyday knowing this is the end of this life. What I had thought was my future. A Job that made me happy had challenges I enjoyed conquering and math problems I would get excited to figure out, the beautiful colorful layouts I would put together, creating recipes with different items I would share with others. My Red M&M dude that I always had to high-five as I passed by. I know I wasn’t close to Pat but he knew how close Tonya and I were and why? The store was so lacking of help it is all the town complained about yet the only place they had for me was the one place I can’t be at?
I left the building letting everyone think I was fine I pulled out of the drive and this is when the emotional moment all the doctors and everyone feared of came. I couldn’t see past the tears I couldn’t breathe my music was so loud I couldn’t hear the horns of the vehicles around me.
I don’t want to live anymore!
I did nothing but lay in bed that week. Brett not knowing how to handle the situation and terrified.
My hurt and pain then turned to anger.
I get out of bed I grab my phone and call Advanced Orthopedic and ask to talk to Jason. I ask him about the brace he was telling me about months back. He tells me that he had went to school with the man who developed this brace and its called the IDEO. He said he can try to contact him tell him my story and because of everything I had went through and how far I have come he wouldn’t be surprised if they could figure something out to make it available to me.
I had hope again but for all the wrong reasons. All that was on my mind was proving those people wrong. I was going to come back stronger than what they ever will! Not by will but real strength!