The Good, The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 3 | Life Love and Hiccups: The Good, The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 3
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Sunday 20 July 2014

The Good, The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 3

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I remember being carried through the office lobby on an ambulance stretcher, I was sucking on one of those pain killer tubes like my life depended on it and so the pain in the leg was no longer making me want to throw up. I was high as a kite and yet I was aware that everyone was watching the commotion and all I could think was “F***! everyone is going to know about my leg now”.

The hospital confirmed that my knee was dislocated and that I had done some pretty major damage to the ligaments and muscles, they just weren't sure however of the extent of it. The orthopaedic surgeon on duty didn't really want to touch me either given the history of the leg, and so he splinted my leg and sent me home with instructions to get myself into a specialist asap.

My work was fantastic and the General Manager immediately pulled strings with a top Sydney surgeon and got me an appointment to see him in a week’s time. A week sounds like a long time, but anyone who has dealt with specialists knows that a week is like a miracle of all miracles given their waiting times are usually months.

In the days that I was waiting for our appointment, I was bed ridden and so I had my boss send me my computer and files so I could keep working. Carl took over everything to do with the kids including all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, night feeds and of course showering me and getting me to the bathroom. All I needed to do was sit in bed and distract myself by doing my work.

A week later we saw the surgeon and the news wasn't good. “Your leg is not like a normal leg” he told us “the damage that has been done is irreparable, it is unlikely you will walk again. I'm sorry but there is not a lot I can do for you”.

Not what we wanted to hear, and we were told it again in a second opinion by another Doctor.

Finally, nearly a month after the accident we were put on to a knee specialist and I reluctantly made an appointment to see him fearing it was all a waste of time. Again with the luck as we had an appointment within days and from the moment he welcomed us into his room I had a good feeling about him. He had the friendliest face of any Doctor I had ever seen.

“I’ll give it a go” he said after reviewing all the scans and tests. “It is one messed up leg and I can’t make any promises, but what have you got to lose? The worst that could happen is you don’t walk and you aren't walking now anyway, so let’s do it”.

That was all we needed to hear. Someone who had enough faith in their ability and me to give me the best shot at walking again.

The surgery didn't go ahead straight away. I was given two and a half months of full on physio to prepare for the surgery and then mid December I headed into hospital with a heart full of hope. The recovery from the operation was awful and reminded me of when I was little. The muscle and bone grafts and all kinds of puke inducing stuff caused pain that at times had me begging to be knocked out for a while. 

Once again I checked myself out of hospital early, eager to get out of there and back to my family… oh and home to the surprise 60th Birthday party I was holding at my house the very next day for my mum. Nothing was going to stop us from celebrating her milestone birthday with a bang. 

We even managed to do our Christmas shopping on the way home from the hospital. Ridiculous I know - Me in my wheelchair wing pushed by my hubby, and our four year old pushing his 10 month old brother in his pram through Westfield. But with only 10 days before Christmas I was panicking about not being ready. Carl was not impressed but knew better than to try and stop me. Heck even I was smart enough to know we were pushing our luck, but we went ahead and did it anyway. 

The next day with the help of my brother and sister in law, we managed to pull off the fabulous surprise party my Mum deserved.

And so life went on just a little differently to how it was before. I was working from home and doing physio everyday. Carl was full time carer to the kids and myself and we were totally hopeful about the future. There was no still no guarantee the surgery had worked and no way of knowing until the physios told us we were ready to try walking again. 

Nine months after the accident I was out of the wheelchair, off the crutches and walking again. 

We had done it. 

With the help of the most incredible orthopaedic surgeon we defied the odds and had our life back, all be it a slightly different version of our old life. I had lost all the feeling on the outside of my leg and I was prone to the most intense nerve spams, but medication helped with all of that and slowly but surely we settled into a new kind of normal.

A month on and Kai was about to turn 5. We had a party booked at McDonalds as we weren't quite up to hosting a big shindig at home, but Kai was excited and Carl and I were delighted to be celebrating our precious boy’s special birthday. 

On the day of the party, the day before his birthday, I woke with a niggling pain in my stomach. Cluelessly I popped a couple of Panadol and we continued with the preparations. 

As the day went on the pain got worse and began to spread to my shoulder. The Panadol was doing Jack squat to relieve the pain and I have no idea why I even thought of this, but on the way to the party I asked Carl to stop at a pharmacy and buy me a pregnancy kit. 

I stayed in the car with the kids whilst Carl went into the chemist and whilst we waited Kai and I excitedly chatted about his party. Sammy was busy deafening us with his 18 month old squeals when suddenly the pain in my stomach made me want to throw up. Carl arrived back with a paper bag holding a pregnancy kit and we headed to McDonalds where I went straight to the bathroom to throw up. 

In the privacy of a little cubicle and under the harsh fluorescent lights I took the test and my hunch was confirmed. I was pregnant.

I wasn't excited as in my heart I knew something wasn't right. The pain in my stomach and my shoulder was almost crippling me by this stage and I just needed us to get through Kai’s party. 

Kai had an awesome time and as soon as we waved farewell to the last guest and loaded the gifts and two exhausted children into the car I whispered to Carl “I’m pregnant. Please take me to the hospital and you take the kids home to bed”.

At the hospital they confirmed the pregnancy but given the extent of pain I was in they were concerned I was possibly about to miscarry… yet again. I was rushed through for an ultrasound and the young sonographer pointed to a blob on the screen and said, congratulations there’s your baby. Despite the pain, I was elated and was busting to tell Carl the good news. And then I fainted.

When I came to in a morphine induced haze, the first thing I saw was my obstetrician’s face. Something about his expression told me this wasn't going to be a happy chat.  

It turns out the blob was bleeding in my uterus. “You have an ectopic pregnancy Sonia” he told me  “We need to operate as soon as possible”. 

I begged and pleaded to go home as I needed to make a cake for Kai’s birthday. I promised to come back in a few hours when it was morning so that they could operate, I just needed to be there when Kai woke up on the morning of his 5th birthday.

I didn't happen. I wasn’t going anywhere except to the operating theatre at first light.

Carl arrived with the kids as they were prepping me for theatre and I gave my beautiful boy the biggest of cuddles. He was scared and didn't really understand what was happening. Carl told me he hadn't even asked about the pile of presents from his party the day before or any presents from us and that broke my heart. This wasn't what I had envisioned for his 5th birthday, this was all so wrong.

My mum arrived to take the kids and Kai gave me the biggest of hugs before they wheeled me off. “I’m so sorry little buddy” I said as I hugged him. “I promise we will celebrate properly when I get home. Now you go and enjoy all your lovely presents OK” 

“The only present I want is you to get better and come home Mummy” he bravely said, and with that all of us - Carl, my Mum, and I all burst into tears.

The surgery went well. I lost the fallopian tube in the process which is apparently common with an ectopic pregnancy and I was informed that the chances of falling pregnant again were now significantly reduced.

We had two beautiful children, but we also had dreams of five kids and I was devastated at the thought I may have no more children. No one was more shocked than I when at my 6 week post op check up, the obstetrician confirmed that I was doing OK. In fact I was more than OK - incredibly I was already pregnant again.

We were truly blessed.

My leg Doctor warned me that there was a strong possibility that the stress of being pregnant would be too much for the leg and it was possible I would spend the last few months in a wheelchair again. Determined that this would not be the case and with the help of my physio, a personal trainer, and a fabulous chiropractor - I walked unaided into the hospital a week before my due date to give birth to my beautiful 9.6 pound baby boy Flynn.

The accident had meant that I missed out on much of the nursing and caring for Sammy like I had had with Kai, so I was desperate to make up for it with Flynn. I remember snuggling him in my arms late one night as we sat in the rocking chair in his dark room, and at that moment I was dead set certain I was the happiest person in the world.

There was no sign of PND this time around, although I had the mental health nurse calling me every second day to check on me. I was being completely honest when I told her and anyone else who asked that I was feeling great and loving every minute of my time with my children. 

Unlike the other two, Flynn was a healthy baby, putting on weight and doing everything a newborn should be doing. Kai had started school and Sam was powering along as a 2 year old does. 

Finally everything was how I always dreamt it could possibly be for us.

Three months into my maternity leave and we were all doing well. The leg was still very painful and it had been playing up following the birth, but I guessed it was probably just all the loose ligaments and stuff that comes with pregnancy. 

My leg Doctor made me an appointment for an X-ray and scan just to be sure, and I figured we would worry about it if and when the scans confirmed there was any reason to worry. 

Until then I was busy enjoying the time with my beautiful family.

One morning Carl decided to go for a surf. It was the first time he had been in ages and the first time I had been left at home alone with the 3 kids by myself, but man that guy deserved a good surf.

“I’ll be fine” I assured him. “Flynn is upstairs in bed asleep and the other two are happy down here with me, so go have fun, we are OK”.

He had been gone maybe half an hour when I stood up from the couch to change the TV channel for the kids. 

You know what’s going to happen next don't you?

Yep it really does happen.

I felt the leg wobble but I was mid stride and couldn't change direction to go back to the couch. As I reached out to grab hold of something to support me, the bad leg was facing one way and the good leg was mid turn. Suddenly my bad leg buckled and I started to fall. 

I had been taught how to fall by my physio and I knew how to throw the weight of my body in a direction to avoid falling onto my bad leg. Unfortunately in the process of doing this, my good leg twisted at the knee and dislocated, tearing the ligaments, cracking the patella and doing as much damage if not more than what had happened to the other leg.

As I hit the floor in a deja vu daze, all I could hear was the voice in my head laughing at me and saying “Yep, you've really screwed up this time Sonia”.

To be continued next Sunday…