I feel like that’s the “in between” age before 30…like standing on the top of a hill and about to walk down. That’s pretty nuts man. In the process of looking back over the past year, I can’t help it but stop and rub my head at how many things have happened this past year. So many good, so many bad, but all important.
I had the opportunity to fly to Oakland, on about a 2-week notice, to get a tattoo…and sleep on the artist’s studio floor. I experienced some weird SF nightclub scene, pooped in said nightclub w/ a (really badly placed) mirror on the door facing me, met some cool and artistically driven minds, and got to spend time with a friend in her “own environment.” We had a long meaningfel conversation that pretty much has come full circle. I came back with an arm that was kind of covered with a bunch of black ink that is kind of permanent. It was a great trip though. Joel is very open minded and hugely positive, he believes so much in the power of growth and the mental mindset that can carry you to so many positive places. He’s just really driven and believes in everything he does with so much confidence. It was a breath of fresh air. I carried a lot of that home with me as I continued to understand who I was in the midst of getting over someone. (this actually happened before my birthday..but I already wrote it..and technically I started writing this on the 12th so its kind of still within the year)
In July, I went to Carson, CA, with a bunch of my good friends, to go to Disneyland…and watch the CrossFit games, I guess. Disneyland was awesome!!!1!!1!!1!!!11!!! No explanation needed. But really, the CrossFit games was amazing and inspiring. Watching what the athletes do what they do, in person, isn’t comparable to watching it on a computer screen. The positive atmosphere was fun to be around and the amount of lululemon being worn was awesome lololol.
On July 31st I had an accident that left me with my distal phalanx on my right 4th finger being amputated. It had to be one of the scariest moments in my life to that point. Whenever I have problems I tend to run towards something that occupies my time. Before, it was a lot of basketball and it grew into CrossFit..which grew into what left me without a finger — Olympic Weightlifting. I pour myself into these things because I know they’ll be there whenever I need them. Whatever type of day I’m having, or whatever has been plaguing my mind, I can count on the basket ball/barbell to be laying there ready for me to grab. I remember sitting in the ambulance wondering if I’d be able to do that again. I never cried, but as we waited for the ambulance to come pick me up I remember cursing A LOT. It was one of those things that happened at “the right time.” A lot of this past year was finding who I am and understanding what I have control of and what I don’t. Sitting in that ambulance, I realized that this was one of the situations where I understood that I no longer had control over. It challenged my faith, and everything that I had built upon this year. I never got too angry or depressed because I knew that it would do me no good to spend time feeling those things..so I decided not to. I accepted it for what it is and understood that I had to build a “new life” with this new circumstance.
I remember the look on the kid’s faces as they saw a stream of blood running down my hand, a piece of my finger hanging off, telling them to gather my things and run to first aid and call an ambulance (I remember thinking if I could actually attempt to drive myself). I remember having to calmly explain to the manager there where my locker was and having to give various bits of info. As we waited for the fire truck and ambulance to come I was escorted by the IMA’s security officer up to the front. The same people I saw inside the weight room were making their way out and walked by me, looking at how I covered my hand with a blood soaked towel. When the first responders got there, after the standard questions, they had to rewrap my finger. I remember the look on everyone’s face, about 8 or 9 them, who surrounded me when it was unwrapped. Sympathy, every single one of them. It wasn’t the last time that day I would see it. My blood pressure was 180/115, 175/114 in the ambulance, and 170/120 at the hospital..numbers I won’t forget that easily. They decided to take me to Harborview because they had the trauma Doctors who could reattach it. I remember making the phone call to my dad, then my brother. I was scared to tell my dad, worried to tell my brother…neither was easy and both left me swallowing lumps. I think that the hope that I carried throughout the whole ride was the hardest thing. Trying to tell yourself to expect the worst is impossible to do when a sliver of hope is presented. You can barely manage to prepare yourself.
I ended up in the ER for about 10 hours, sitting on a gurney in the hallway right next to the big trauma room. The only time I came close to crying was when my brother came in. Just imagining what I was putting him through made me sick to my stomach (although, he thought I actually crushed my whole hand vs. yanked a finger tip off). It took about an hour before an attending saw me, another hour after that is when I got fluids (my very first IV that I can remember..hurt like shit), another hour after that when I got my hand x-rayed to see if anything else was broken, and then another hour after that when I got my very first pain pill. Each person along the way had one look in common…sympathy. Too many “poor kid” “I hope he’ll be ok.” After some tests to observe blood flow, it was eventually determined that it would be amputated. Now, this is kind of a tangent but this was my first time in a trauma hospital. I think it was about 930 after they determined to have the surgery and was deciding if they would have it in the OR or bedside. Keep in mind that after they decided to have it bedside and do the amputation it happened at 1:30 in the morning, the next day. In between that time there were 3 gun shot victims rolled into the room across of me. It wasn’t planned that I had to wait that long but they got busy. I work in the ER at UW sometimes and Harborview made it look like child’s play. Our exciting patients are drunk kids/homeless people and drug abusers. Anyway, the amputation happened and I never looked..not even once. My dad did, and his face was all I needed to see. I remember the sounds and the numbness in my finger. The clipping and tugging. The smell of the iodine. After it was finished I remember looking at it for the first time, the piece of my finger laying on the steel table just beyond my vision (which sadly, I never got to keep, and thinking it looked like a zombie’s hand. All in all, the whole damb visit/surgery cost nine grand before insurance kicked in and knocked it down to nine hundred.
I never took any pictures of the accident…I don’t think I could’ve. Seeing yourself in such shape is completely different than seeing someone else in the same position. It rattles you, all the way down. Every time I closed my eyes or looked at my hand I saw flashbacks of what it looked it. How mangled it was. And the feelings that came with it come flowing in as well. I relived that day, for quite sometime. Days, weeks, months…all I had to do was clench my hand, extend my fingers, look down, move, or touch something.
I won’t lie and say that learning to live with itwas easy. Shit was difficult as hell. You really never get used to it because you’re always reminded of it, in everything you do. After the surgery, I experienced a good bit of “phantom limb pain” due to the cut off nerve endings (at least this is the theory behind it.) I remember the first few nights where I’d try to sleep but there would be constant tingling where the finger used to be. It got to a point where I’d wake up multiple times during the night wanting to “press it”. As weeks passed, it slowly died down. There’s a slight absence of feeling and at times the nerves pulse in the area. It’s something that you live with…because you have no choice. Adjusting to it was pretty hard too. Had to baby it after the surgery because the sutures were still fresh. I remember I had to position my hand a certain way in order to grab things without touching it. As soon as the sutures healed and the stitches came out I continued to baby it because any pressure on it would cause some pain. I constantly kept it covered. My PT/OT that I saw once or twice urged me to continue to touch things because everything would feel different and I had to train my brain into “feeling” things differently. I also had to begin the process of relearning how to grab and interact with things. The stick shift in my car, typing on a keyboard, soaping and shampooing, grabbing groceries, my back pack, putting on clothes, holding my phone, holding a hand.…holding a barbell.
I took a month off from CrossFit. I talked to my coaches Andrew and Tony about leaving for a bit and what I could do when I could make my return. I was in a state of panic. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do anything anymore and if I could I wasn’t really sure at what capacity. Knowing I would be limited for the rest of my life and knowing that there was a potential that I could/should be able to do better was pretty hard to swallow. I never really stopped working out. You get bored easily if all you do is watch The London Olympics. I ran two separate 5k’s and did a couple of at home WOD’s that was all body movements. After my check up appointment with my hand surgeon about a week and a half later I was cleared for lifting things heavier than 25#. Then began the slow process of readjusting in the weight room.
It’s been difficult. I never really tell people, but it still sucks. There is always going to be pain in that finger whenever I work out and the best thing I’ve done for it is wrap it with coban bandages that constantly bring pressure to that area. But even then, it’s only enough of a distraction from the pain. It’s hard to do everything that I used to do. I get frustrated wondering how different it would be if I just had that inch of bone and flesh there. That panic I felt during my talk with Andrew and Tony is realized every time I step into the gym. Has my attitude limited me? Absolutely. Honestly, I don’t imagine myself fixing it anytime soon. Although, I’ve recently exceeded expectations. If you would’ve told me that I would be able to snatch 100+ kgs after my accident happened, I would’ve laughed….and then cried because I thought it was be impossible.
In the end, as I reflect on it, I think that throughout the whole ordeal…whenever I’ve talked to someone about it, I’ve been able to keep a positive (and comedic) outlook on it. All the made up stories I’ve told people and all the jokes I make about it make it a lot easier to deal with.
(I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone the complete “story” before..and its reallllllly long typed out…and I still don’ think I told anyone)
I finally went back to school!!! My first (and last) year of retaking pre-requisites for nursing school is done! I didn’t know how much I missed school until I got back into it. Now that I am able to apply and understand that hard work is the only way to be successful in school I did pretty decent. I struggled here and there balancing school, studying, work, training and a fragment of a social life but it was good for me because I was able to find some sort of balance and was able to find a priority for all of it. The next step is applying for the winter program at Shoreline when it opens up in the middle of August.
I jumped out of my comfort zone, a lot. Like completely out of it, because I haven’t really done something quite like whatever was going on. Sometimes I feel like I got ambushed. One day she was here, and at some point, she kinda just stayed but kinda didn’t and she grew on me for completely surprising reasons but then things kept changing but I wasn’t sure what was actually going on because I really don’t get any of it or her and then things changed again and I really wasn’t sure what she’s about and at some point I made up my mind but because of my tendency to keep overthinking hadn’t really made up my mind at allllllllll. Honestly, some of it left me feeling a bit embarrassed, for various reasons. When you “know what you’re getting yourself into” and you’re told by people to “be careful” you tend to keep that in your back pocket at all times, you automatically hold back, guard yourself. I think it kind of saved me/the situation and I’m proud I handled a lot of it the way I did..understanding what I have control of and not letting it take control of me emotionally. She makes it easy to like her and just as easy to not like her. The whole situation kind of challenged what I believed in and what I thought I believed in. I took chances and did things I didn’t see myself doing. It also let me learn from those challenges and grow and move forward in a good direction. I mean, I fought with demons that have haunted me for years, that I thought I was completely rid of. Too many comparisons, too much holding back. Of all the negative-ish things I have said about it, there is an equal amount of positive things that I’ve experienced. She’s such a free spirit so it’s been fun and interesting (and definitely confusing), that’s for sure, and I learned quite a bit from her. I’m glad it happened no matter wherever/whatever we currently are/have been. (I make it all sound like such a huge draining deal, but it wasn’t bad…even if I was so focused on school.)
Everything preceding this paragraph has been underlined with the amazing support of my family and friends. It’s like they was all up in everything. My support team, my psychiatrists, the ones who slapped me in my face when I needed it most, the ones who listened, the ones who patted me on my back at my accomplishments (big or small), my advice givers, my happy hour drinking buddies. These people helped me get through some of the best times this year, and some of the worst times. I know this isn’t a clear event, but I can’t go about reflecting on my year without looking at all the people who were there, who kept me sane. It makes me feel so unbelievably blessed to have such a large family.
This year I’m hoping to continue this growth and continue thinking as positive as I can. My life is so ridiculously blessed.
One year older, (hopefully) one year wiser.
Ps: I started writing this on the 12th/13th…eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek (wrote in pieces, so that’s why its really fizzled out in places…)
#HBD TO ME #I wrtie novels in my freetime