Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our First Getaway Since My Accident

Aaahh...finally, we actually got in the car this weekend to go somewhere OTHER than to a doctor appointment or surgery! We went on an actual vacation! It was relatively short but boy, did all of us need it. As I blogged about earlier, you know that we went to Agate Beach in Newport. We got there Friday early afternoon and stayed till Monday morning. I haven't been to the beach in I can't even remember so I was ecstatic. And so was my mom because she absolutely loves the ocean. The weather wasn't exactly supposed to be the best but it actually turned out okay. In fact, Saturday, the day the picture above was taken, was the best and most gorgeous day of the weekend. And we took full advantage of it.

Saturday, with the incredible weather, we headed down to the beach. And I took off my flip flops and just walked along the beach in the shallow tide looking out into the beautiful ocean. For once, I felt positive about my life. Like everything really was going to be okay. It was like an escape from the reality of my life back home. Everything melted away and I just let the sun warm my skin, the water wash over my feet as they sank into the sand, and the beautiful sound of the ocean fill my ears as I forgot my pain.

Almost immediately when we arrived at The Agate Beach Motel, a tiny little gem of a motel with only 10 apts located on a cove looking over the ocean, I made friends with our neighbors and their sweetheart of a dog, "Jab On The Line" or "Jab" for short. He was a racing greyhound that they adopted and we became instant pals. In fact, there was one time where he actually walked over to our apt unbeknown to his owners to see me! I was constantly hanging out with Jab, petting him, smothering him with kisses and talking in doggie babble to him. When we had to say goodbye it was hard. He jumped on me and gave me a doggie hug. I am still determined to adopt a racing greyhound :)

This picture above was the front deck of our apt. It overlooked the ocean perfectly. We would just sit out on the chairs and either just watch and listen to the ocean or read. It was perfect.

(A view from our front deck)

(Another beautiful view from our front deck)

I think this was also a very good vacation for my mother. She had been having a hard time at work lately and dealing with my care that she really needed a break. And the ocean is her favorite place. I know she has dealt with some major Post Traumatic Stress, as I have also, because she is the one that found me engulfed in flames and put me out. That's not an image you can ever get out of your head and it truly hurts me deeply that she had to see that and that she still sees it. My mother does so much for me as not only as my mother but also as my caretaker. She now plays two roles for me and that is hard for me to deal with because I feel bad she has to take care of me. I feel bad when she has to take me to doctor appointments and to surgeries, especially when sometimes she leaves me at the hospital if I'm staying for an extended period and she has to go back to work and she has to travel that 4.5 hours alone. I care for my mother so much and I feel so guilty everyday for putting her through this tragedy. So I was so glad to see her happy this weekend. So glad to see her smile and hear her laugh.

(Me and Daddy on the beach on Saturday)

(Just sitting out on the deck, enjoying the sound and view of the ocean)

This vacation was truly a delight for me and my parents. Although, it is hard that being 29 years old that I was vacationing with my parents and not with a boyfriend/husband or a few girlfriends. But we all got along and enjoyed each other's company. Although I was happier than I have been in a long time (except for my best friend's wedding), somehow I still felt some depression. Since my best friend's wedding I have started to slip back into that hole. I just think about Corrie (my best friend) and her new husband and how happy they must be together and it upsets me that I don't have that, too. I couldn't be happier for her but I also wish that I had that. I am tired of being alone. I love my friends more than they will ever know, but there is just something about having a companion by your side. I'm tired of this body that the accident left me with. I'm tired of struggling. I want to be happy again. I want to feel the way that I did that Saturday on the beach, free. Free from my body, free from my struggles, free from mourning my past, free from the anxiety of my unknown future, free from my pain.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Enjoying The Beach But Still Fighting Depression

It is Saturday on Memorial Weekend and I am sitting outside, on the front deck of our little bungalow apt at Agate Beach just watching the ocean and taking in some sunshine. This is the first time we have gone on any kind of vacation since my accident over three years ago. It's the first time we've traveled anywhere out of town that WASN'T for a doctor appointment or surgery. It's kind of strange. But my parents and I really needed it so on the spur of the moment, my mother called this little tiny motel that only has 10 apts, not thinking there would be any vacancy, but low and behold there was! So on Tuesday of last week, we left for Portland for a doctor appointment, my last expansion before surgery and a pre-op appointment, came home Wednesday early evening and then turned right back around Thursday afternoon to drive to Portland again so we could drive into the Oregon coast on Friday. It was a long week spent mostly in the car. But definitely worth it once we got here to Agate Beach on Friday. Oh my was it ever worth it.

Our first day/night here we were basically just thrilled to be here! We came to this place on the recommendation of someone my mother knows so we weren't sure exactly what to expect. And we got more than we expected to get. This place is a little gem. Little bungalow apt's with 1 bedroom, cute little bathroom, fully equipped and cute kitchenette, great sized living room with a little fireplace and tv with basic cable/DVD player, little kitchen table that faces out the front window to the ocean and a front deck that looks out over the ocean. It couldn't be more perfect.

As soon as we got here, I immediately made a friend - a retired and rescued Red Brindle racing Greyhound who is just the sweetest thing and so beautiful. I took to him right away and we became instant pals. His owners are pretty cool, too :) They are our next door neighbors.

We went down on the beach this morning and the weather is gorgeous today! It is supposed to rain and be nasty but so far it has been warm and the sun has graced us with it's wonderful and ever welcome presence. We have a private access to the beach and it's very clean and quiet. Though we have four dogs, we could only bring two with us so the other two, unfortunately are staying in the kennel at the vets. But the two that we brought with us just loved running around on the sand. For one of the dogs, one that we rescued, it is his first time at the beach and I can say with great confidence that he loves it. It was fun to watch him run around and explore the feel of wet sand under his little feet. It's been so long for me that I had almost forgot what the feel of sand under my bare feet felt like. Agate Beach is also apparently a popular place for surfers and there were quite a few out this morning so it was a lot of fun to watch them paddle out and catch a great swell.

I haven't been feeling very well since my best friend's wedding. A few days later, I started to feel low again, starting to fall back down the hole of this depression I can't seem to quite get out of. I'm having a hard time, a real hard time. In fact, on Monday, a former police offer from Coeur d'Alene, ID, and his wife came down to La Grande to do a presentation about a trauma that happened to him. He was shot in the line of duty in the cheek by a hollow point bullet that exploded in his neck and almost died. In fact, his wife was told if he survived, he would be deaf, dumb and blind. A quadriplegic. But his will to live and fight the fight surmounted all the odds against him and he is alive and well and even walking. He is a 100% assist, however, but he is alive and well. Him and his wife are quite inspiring people and have an incredible outlook on life despite what they went through. I have become Facebook friends with both of them and they are very supportive of me and what has happened to me. It was good for me to go to that presentation. But despite the inspiring presentation by this man and his wife, I am still struggling. I just don't want to be this way anymore. I'm tired of this body and I'm scared for my future and lonely. I just want to be happy again. I want to be bigger than life, like I used to be before my accident. I'm enjoying my vacation here at the beach but the thought of going home and going back to my life in La Grande depresses me. Being here has given me an escape from the reality of my life and what happened to me. Will I ever be able to escape this prison of depression? Or will I just learn to deal with it better? If it is the latter, I'm not sure I will have the strength to stick around to deal with it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Best Friend's Wedding!

This last weekend, on May 13-14th, 2011, I took a huge step for me. I walked down the aisle as a Bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding. That's right, I didn't just attend a wedding, I was IN IT! And let me tell you, I won't lie, I was CRAZY NERVOUS for months! MONTHS! And even on the Wednesday before the big weekend, when I was in Portland for a doctor appointment, I started having bad panic and anxiety attacks just thinking about. So my doctor prescribed a little something for me to calm me down, which did help, but I was still nervous. Just minus the panic/anxiety attacks.

Friday, May 13th, 2011 was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Kate, my best friend's sister, her husband was going to Baker City (where my best friend and I grew up together until I moved away and where the wedding was) and picked me up on the way there. I was dying that morning I was so nervous. I didn't know anyone beyond Corrie's immediate family including her twin sister Kate and her husband Keith who picked me up, and Corrie's now husband, Michael. And here I am, this Burn Survivor with all these scars and a huge tissue expander in my neck. How could I not be dying from nervousness! Everyone else was going to be normal and beautiful. And then there's me. But there was no way I was going to miss one of the biggest days of my best friend's life. I've known Corrie for 23 years! No way in hell was I going to bow out because of my own insecurities. So I bucked up and headed over to Baker City with Keith.

When I got there I thought I was going to die but it all started melting away as soon as I saw Corrie. She stayed right with me the whole day making sure I was doing OK. This was HER weekend and she was so selfless as to always be watching out for me making sure I was comfortable. But as soon as I met the other girls and bridesmaids as well as the groomsmen, I settled down a little bit. But, once again, I won't lie, I was still a little on edge not because the other people made me feel that way, but because I made myself feel that way. That night I went back to La Grande, exhausted already because I'm just not strong enough for such a full day like that. But I went to bed feeling a little more relaxed about this wedding and the people involved.

The next morning, May 14th, 2011, came quick. I was beat and I had a full day ahead of me yet. But back to Baker I went, arriving at the salon where all the girls including the bride were getting their hair and nails done. I didn't take any pictures at the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner cause I was so nervous the entire day. But I was determined to relax and enjoy myself and document my best friend's huge day! And I did. I really did. The wedding day went much better. But I think it had mostly to do with the fact that I was really only around the bridesmaids and Corrie the entire day as we got ready while the groomsmen as well as family and guests were doing their own thing getting ready. And then the big time came. It was time to walk down the aisle with my groomsman, Kevin, as well as another bridesmaid, Chris. I was a little nervous walking down that aisle but not as bad as I thought I would be. I just felt so ugly with all these scars and this huge tissue expander bulging out of my neck. I felt even uglier next to all these BEAUTIFUL bridesmaids and groomsmen. But I guess I sucked it up. I was doing this for Corrie, my best friend.

And the wedding went off without a hitch. It was beautiful and perfect, just like the bride. As soon as she walked in, I just started tearing up. I couldn't help it. Here was my best friend of 23 years getting married to an INCREDIBLE man who has also been so good to me. Michael, you are amazing and you are perfect for Corrie.

Unfortunately, my mother, who came to the wedding while my dad stayed home with the dogs, and I didn't get to stay long at the reception because I had two problems going on: 1) My right leg where they took a huge chunk out of for the flap on my neck is just not strong enough yet to have been doing all that I did that day so it was getting weak and tired and 2) I could feel my blood sugar starting to drop. So I didn't get to stay for the cutting of the cake, the speeches, or the first dance which I am still upset about. But at least I got to be there for the most important part of the day. And the second best part about the weekend? Making amazing new friends as well as reconnecting with childhood friends. Thank you to all of Corrie and Michael's friends and family for treating so kindly.

Corrie, you are my bestest friend in the whole world and I couldn't be happier for you and Michael. You are an amazing and beautiful person and friend and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for having me be a part of your wedding. I'm so happy we have remained friends all these years and I also thank you for all your love and support through this tough journey of mine. And to you, Michael, thank you for being so wonderful to me. You are the sweetest guy I have ever met in my entire life and you made me feel right at home. I am so happy for both you and Corrie. I hope that I will continue to be a part you guys' lives because I honestly couldn't bear to lose either of you now. I love you both with all my heart. You both mean the world to me.

(My best friend, the now Corrie Sergent and I at the wedding)

(An old Baker City childhood friend, Emily Davis Thomas and I at the salon)

(Corrie with the cutest flower girls, Joey Agar's twin little girls)

(Corrie and her twin sister, Kate Karch, the maid of honor or the "MOH")

(Mrs. Corrie Sergent, the most gorgeous bride I have ever seen and my best friend)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Enlightening Therapy Session With A Double Amputee

I had a different kind of therapy session today. My therapist had a man who had had both arms amputated when he was just a young fellow in high school come in and talk with me. She did this because this man is one of the most positive people she knows despite what happened to him. So she thought it would be good for me to meet him and hear his story, have him hear mine, and hear how he struggled and got through it and how he is still so positive about life.

He wears a hook prosthetic on his left arm because that's how he likes it. He has a hand prosthetic but in his words, "it doesn't help shit," as much as the hook does. He doesn't wear any prosthetic on his other arm because he has problems with that stump.

Anyway, he told me his story, which was heartbreaking, and I told him mine, which was really hard to get through. I haven't really gone through the whole story about what happened in a long time so it was hard going back there. And then we just talked about things that we struggled with and things that were hard and he had some very good things to say that made me think and reflect. My therapist was right, he was incredibly positive about life despite his accident and what it took away from him. I don't know how he does it. But then again, he is 17 years from his accident so he's had a lot more time than me. However, I still give him enormous credit and respect for his positivity despite the struggles he went through and the life changing accident he had. He said many things that I took to heart but one thing that stood out to me was when he said that we know about life, we who have been through such life changing accidents and the struggles that have come from them truly know about life. And he's right. I mean, I think I knew quite a bit more about life when I moved to NYC because I was REALLY on my own being 3,000 miles away from home and having to learn a whole different way to live with a city that houses nearly 9 million people, a grand and elaborate subway system that was so easy to get lost in when I first moved (however I knew it like the back of my hand real quick), high rent no matter where you lived, cabs, living a completely different lifestyle being a bartender at night and actress by day, going to audition after audition, learning about rejection, etc. So I think I had some idea from my experience with NYC. But I really learned about life when I had my accident and the struggles and experiences I have gone through since. We know more about what life is truly about, how hard it can be and how precious it really is because we have been through our accidents where most people haven't a clue. I just so wish that I could have gone on living and learning about life in NYC instead of having to learn what life is about with an accident like I had, an accident that burned my flesh off so badly that I almost loss my life.

He is an incredible man. I wish I had half the strength he does. I don't know what kind of strength I have anymore. Somehow I had the strength and the will to live when the accident happened and now it feels like I'm losing that strength and that will. This has been a very hard fight and it's not over yet. And the worst thing to face up to is that this fight will never be over.