As many of you know, I was run over by a Toyota Landcruiser while in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe with my family. You would think that getting run over would be the most difficult part of this adventure, but juggling everything I need to do to recover has proven more difficult than Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Many people have asked what I’ve been up to, so here it is: A Day in the Life of Kendall Ymalay: Recovery Edition.
My day typically begins with Ramon “gently” waking me up for my first infusion of IV antibiotics. This usually happens after about two hours after I have finally gotten comfortable and been able to finally fall asleep, which is otherwise known as 6AM. If I’m lucky, I can roll over and go back to sleep during the 2 hour infusion.
If not, I lay in bed with my eyes closed listening to the chaos of the morning routine. Some things I have heard while trying to fall back asleep are:
“Yes, you in fact have to wear shoes to school.”
“No, we are not getting a hamster.”
“No, the dog cannot come with you to school.”
“Zack! You missed the bus!”
After the kids get off to school, I have just enough time to catch my breath before my infusion ends at about 8AM. Then, the mad dash begins! I have to get to my wound care appointment, which is at 8:45AM! I honestly don’t know how I get ready for the day in time given I only have one foot, but I do. I have to get unhooked from the IV, hobble to the bathroom, brush my teeth and my hair, change into hyperbaric approved clothing (hospital provided scrubs) scoot down the stairs, grab a quick togo breakfast, get in the car, take my morning meds (which is in itself a meal), have someone drive me to my appointment, transfer from the car to a wheelchair, and then get wheeled on over to my appointment all with only one good foot. Whew!
Wound care appointments can hurt. There is no way around it. They always find new ways to test my pain tolerance. The best part about these appointments are the health care professionals. I am on a first name basis with them as I basically live at wound care. They are so efficient, caring, and helpful. The worst part is when these caring and helpful people torture you by ripping off my bandages and then go digging into my wounds. This process has gotten easier as my wound has gotten smaller over time. Of course having some Lidocaine helps, too.
After my first round of torture is done and all the wounds are dressed, I get to go into the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. This is a big glass tube that I get locked into for two hours while I am subjected to double the atmospheric pressure of sea level which then pushes 100% oxygen into my body helping my wounds to heal. In hyperbaric terms, this is called “diving” because the pressure is that of 45 feet below water.
While I love hyperbaric therapy as it helps with healing, you have more rights in prison than when you go into the hyperbaric chamber. If you are going into hyperbaric, you have to wear their scrubs. You are not allowed watches, phones, books, or really anything any human would care about in the chamber. This includes your jewelry, shoes, socks and underwear. They do allow me my glasses, though, so I can see which is very nice of them.
There is at least a TV outside the glass tube that you can watch. You can even pick your channel from a very large selection. I typically put it on TBS and watch 2 Broke Girls and Friends. It’s comfortable and not painful at all.
It’s two hours of my day that is truly just to myself with limited entertainment, no kids, no responsibilities, and no one is actively poking and prodding me like a piece of meat.
At about noon, I resurface, and leave the chamber. Since my next appointment is at, 1PM, Ramon and I pick up lunch on the road. Given I haven’t eaten since 8AM I go at food like Cookie Monster goes at a pack of Chips Ahoy!. Then it’s time for what I and also Dante affectionately call the seventh circle of hell! That’s right people, it’s physical therapy time!
Today is my first time going to big girl outpatient PT. Previously, home health has been coming to our house as I have been relatively immobile and unable to bear weight. Once cleared to bear weight I was cleared to go to outpatient physical therapy where they can torture me even more than the home health physical therapists do.
When I arrive, I have to fill out a survey about my current abilities. They ask some pretty absurd questions given my current condition such as “Can you run a mile?” and “Are you able to ambulate up 3 flights of stairs?” After I stop laughing out loud due to the absurdity of the questions, I circle no to every question.
There is one final question on the questionnaire that asks, “What are your goals?” I immediately write down, “To walk again.” My therapist gently reminds me to temper my expectations as to how fast I will be able to walk again, and quickly reminds me this is a very long process. I tell him that he greatly underestimates my motivation, pain tolerance, and stubbornness. Ramon also chimes in, “You have no idea how determined and stubborn she can be.”
Then the torture begins. I do several exercises to increase my range of motion and strengthen my muscles so I can put weight on my foot and eventually walk.
I am very proud of myself for putting 60lbs of weight through my foot as that is over half my body weight, and I need to put all my body weight on it in order to walk. So I am over halfway there. I am also very grateful that no one pointed out the fact that I was actually crying while doing it.
After physical therapy, I go home and begin my second infusion of antibiotics. At this point it is about 2PM, which is about 1 hour before the hurricane, also known as Zack and Lucy, come home from school. During this calm before the storm, I start icing my foot to try and decrease the swelling and pain. It is now 3PM and the hurricane has made landfall. I try to manage home work and after school activities while stuck to an IV. I think I have a better chance of winning the lottery than managing the afternoon successfully without being able to move.
At about 4PM, my IV antibiotics are done, and for the first time today I get a break from recovery duties as the next time I have to get an infusion is about 9PM while I am in bed. Most days at this point, I continue to try and manage the kids, with Ramon, and the grandparents. Being non-ambulatory may make these efforts the most futile I have ever made toward anything, but I still have that innate maternal instinct to attempt to pitch in. I hurriedly have Zack do his homework, and make sure he is ready for soccer. Since Ramon is on call this week and cannot leave the area, we have friends who have graciously offered to drive Zack the hour to his soccer practice.
Then 6PM rolls around, and it’s time for dinner, and I scoot over to the dinner table. This is a huge deal for me, as for many weeks, I was unable to tolerate eating dinner at a table and was having dinner in bed. Now it’s definitely one of the highlights for me, as I’m actually able to keep food down as during my initial recovery I had severe nausea from the pain medication. It’s so nice to when you’re no longer taking medication that makes you want to vomit every second.
Ramon and the grandparents help get Lucy down around 8:30PM. I start my last infusion at 9PM as Zack get’s home and gets ready for bed. I wish I could get to bed before then, but the IV antibiotics make that impossible. I take my nighttime meds, which is again practically a meal into itself. I get to go to bed between 11 and 12 once my infusion has finished. This time is the hardest part for me. I miss being able to be a mom. I miss taking my son to soccer and my daughter to dance! There are SOOOO many things in their lives that I have missed these last months, and I see how much this has affected them daily and it truly make me sad.
I can’t focus on what I can’t do. I do focus on gratitude. I am grateful for my parents and in-laws who have helped consistently. I’m grateful for friends who do everything from bring meals, taking care of my kids, stop by for visits, and send cards and texts to check on me. Most of all, I am grateful for Ramon. If you think you married well, I can guarantee I married better!
Without my friends and family, we could not get by. I have full confidence that I will recover, partly because of my stubbornness and determination, but mostly because of the love and support around me. This love and support has kept me afloat in some very dark times, and because of that I know there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and that light is not another train coming at me. It is me walking with my family again.