Throughout my life I’ve always seem to have had the worst luck when it came to my health. I mean I was thankful that I didn’t have any life threatening condition(s). And I always had pulled through all the pain, suffering, mental anguish and financial hardship from those moments…
When I was younger I use to have stomach problems. I didn’t really think twice about it nor do I remember going to the doctors to find out what it was. Although now as an adult when I started getting my routine annual check-ups and blood-work done, I found out that I had IBS and Gerd. Through family members I found out that the IBS and Gerd runs in my family. Now looking back to when I was a kid I probably had the IBS all along but didn’t realize it. There was also a time in Jr High when I was really sick, I couldn’t keep anything down and became really dehydrated. Luckily I got over that illness with medications… to this day I’m not sure what it was. But it wasn’t until I was 17 years old when my Friday the 13th birthday luck (joke) and Murphy blood kicked in (laughing).
One night in the Fall of 1985, my girlfriend and I went over to a friends house to hang out for a bit. After being at his house for awhile we were hungry and decided to go get some junk food. We jumped in her car and drove down to the 7-Eleven were I got some nachos and cheese. We got back in the car, I placed the nachos on my lap and we headed back to our friends house. The road we were driving down was only one-way on each side, kinda in the boonies and had minimal street lights. The next thing I know, this truck hits us on the passenger side were I was sitting. Apparently he was just leaving the local bar and was drunk. As her and the guy went into the bar to call the police, I recall getting out of the passenger side and leaning into the driver side to get her purse on the floor. Now here is where it got weird. You know when you feel like something is behind you? Well that’s the instinct I got at that moment. I leaned up a little and looked toward the back window of the car to only see headlights approaching my direction. I was like a deer in headlights and I froze! Those headlights were from a car that a teenager was driving and hit me doing 55 mph. I hit my head on the front window and then was ejected out of the car. Crazy thing is… I don’t remember any of that part! The next thing I do recall is an ambulance there on the scene trying to talk me into going to the hospital. At that time I didn’t have medical insurance and all I could think about was not being able to afford the medical bills. However, the EMT eventually talked me into going to the hospital. I did get released that evening with a back injury and whiplash to which I had to wear a back brace and soft cervical collar. I must of looked like some poster child for an auto insurance commercial.
I was grateful to go years with no major sickness or injuries until 2004. While I was living in Tampa, Florida a girlfriend and mine were on our way out one night to have drinks. As we were pulling out of my gated community a drunk driver hit me. He was in one of those huge trucks and struck the side of my car (driver’s side) all the way to the back of the bumper of my little Dodge Neon. I was so shocked with what just happened that I sat there for a minute before I got out of the car. I went to the back of my car were my friend, the guy that hit me and his friend were standing and assessing the damage. When I got to the back of the car the first thing I heard was, “That killed my buzz.” Then another obtuse comment came out, “Who’s fault was it?” I’m not sure which one of them said those things but as I said, I was shocked that I just got in a car accident. At the time I didn’t call the police nor did I go to the hospital because I was’t bleeding or felt like I had any major injuries. And because I was still dumbstruck by what just happened, my girlfriend made sure she got all of the guys info for me. Her and I did still go out for a drink… and now I needed one more than ever. The next day I started to feel the aches and pains kicking in so I decided to go to the doctors. After I saw the doctor I was talking to someone regarding the accident, they said that in the state of Florida you have to report any car accident that has damages of $500 or more. Well to keep this story short, the damages to my car were way over $500. That same day I did call and make a police report and in the end I had to get my first cervical neck fusion surgery in 2005. I got lucky that the person who hit me was nicely insured to take care of all my medical bills. The recovery wasn’t too bad and I was back to pretty much normal in no time… until 2007.
In 2007 I started to have problems with my left arm and hand. My arm was getting weak along with my hand getting cramped up and starting to lose my grip on holding things (I was bartending at the time too, not good). I ended up having nerve damage from the past injuries and by the time I got to the doctor it was too late to fix. So I ended up having to get a second cervical neck surgery in 2008. After that surgery I was on my way to physically recovering and trying to get back to some normal activities. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much of the things I liked or wanted to do but I could still enjoy some things. And any time I started to feel aches and pains I would just do a normal routine of Naproxen, massages, tens unit, stretching, light exercises and pain killers. But this wouldn’t last for long…
In 2009 I was out running errands for the day and decide to stop at my favorite place for coffee, Dunkin Donuts. After I got my coffee I pulled out of the parking lot and into the road intersection. As I was waiting for the oncoming traffic to pass, this truck came along the passenger side and blocked my view. I had to scoot up a bit to see the traffic and when I moved up he thought that I was going into the traffic. Well I wasn’t and he ended up rear-ending me. We both signaled to pull into the Dunkin Donuts parking lot. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot I already started to have a headache. We called the cops and I believe he got a ticket. No ambulance was called because I wasn’t injured, except having the headache. I didn’t think twice of any major injuries to myself because after all, it was just a fender bender. After almost two weeks the headaches and neck aches didn’t get any better. My mom and brother kept telling me to go to the doctor because I already had two neck surgeries and who knows what that fender bender did to my neck. Shortly after those conversations I did go see the Neuro doctor that did my last neck surgery. He examined me and said that I just had “muscle spasms” and sent me to physical therapy. After a month of physical therapy and my symptoms not getting better I went to see a pain management doctor. That doctor had me continue doing more physical therapy, medications and had me start wearing a soft cervical collar when I drove. More time went by and my symptoms didn’t seem to be improving, if anything, they seemed to be getting worse. Even to the point where I had a hard time standing up straight or walking. The pain doctor recommended me to another Neuro doctor for tests and an evaluation. When I went back to see him for the results he told me my diagnose and said I’m not suggesting it but telling you that you need another neck surgery. I kinda had a feeling that’s what he would say, it was like I always expected the worse. Why? Because I always knew my body and my intuition was usually 99% spot on. So after leaving his office I had an appointment with the pain doctor to give him the follow up from the Neuro doctor. For some reason (intuition) I decided to call the first Neuro doctor that I trusted and see if he was accepting my auto insurance again. The receptionist had told me that he just started accepting that insurance again so I said great and made the soonest appointment available for a second opinion. My husband (#4) went with me to the appointment because I had seen so many doctors over the years that I would get so frustrated. Only because I felt like they wouldn’t listen to me or what I believe was going on with my body. I needed someone there to hear what they actually said because I had started to become numb to any conversations at these doctor appointments. When my husband and I got to the Neuro’s office, it wasn’t long before we got into the room and the doctor saw me. He walked in, we exchanged greetings and I had updated him on everything that was going on since the accident. He started to review the films results of my neck. Then he turned to my husband and said, “If you and I fall the wrong way it’s no big deal but if she were to fall the wrong way, she could end up paralyzed.” I found out that day that I was walking around and working for a month with spinal cord damage. The doctor then proceeded to tell me his recommendation which was surgery… I stopped him mid-sentence and said, “Do whatever you have to do.” He continued to say that I would need dual neck surgery… it was like I just wasn’t listening, I trusted him and I just wanted to feel better. So I said to him, “I don’t care what you have to do or what it costs, I trust you to make me better.” Luckily I had raised my auto insurance benefits earlier that year because I didn’t have medical insurance. I mention that because the guy that rear-ended me only had the required insurance coverage for Florida which was only $10,000. My therapy and medical bills ending up costing almost $200,000. I ended up getting the dual neck surgery in 2010 and it took months to fully recover but I eventually got better. I definitely couldn’t be as active as I use to be but through frustration and understanding, I eventually found activities I could do. I guess you can say that I came to the terms with not being able to do a lot of things I loved to do but was thankful that I could still walk. It’s like that saying, “There’s always something to be grateful for.”
Now years went by without any auto accidents and for a second I thought that I finally hit a lucky streak. Don’t get me wrong, there were some days that my body would take a beating from past injuries. But I would just do my normal Naproxen, pain killers, light exercises, stretching and massages. And to go years without having a surgery…. after having 10 of them in 8 years… that was a lucky streak to me!
Now I’m going to do a ‘squirrel’ on you… I don’t want to end up writing a novel or having to split this blog in two parts. So let me just give you a quick synopsis of all the other stuff I had going on throughout my life with health issues (excuse any reiterations).
1990 Ovarian cysts, 2007 Stage 4 Endometriosis, 2005/2008/2010 Cervical fusions, 2005/2010 Breast implants/lift, 2011 Hysterectomy/Oophorectomy , 2012 Bladder Sling, 2013 Intraoccular mono lense implants/cataracts (both eyes), 2015 diagnoses with Gerd and IBS, 2017/2018 Lumbar steroid injections and 2019 Facet joint medial nerve radio frequency (burning of the nerve root).
I know, you might be thinking what the hell??? Trust me, I use to laugh every time a doctor would tell me I would need a surgery. The running joke with me and my family/friends would be that after the 3rd surgery, the next one is free. Or my family/friends would say they are going to bubble wrap me and eventually one of them gave me the nickname, Debbie 2.0. And if that didn’t overwhelm you, there was one more accident in 2017 in Chicago. Someone T-boned me while they were backing out of a parking spot. I can’t go into details because I’m still in litigation with that accident but I can say this… in the past two years I’ve had two steroid lumbar injections and a few months ago did the facet joint medial nerve radio frequency (burning of the nerve root). My work and lifestyle has now changed more than before due to those injuries from that last car accident. And I’ve had my share of struggles physically, financially and emotionally from it. Although a higher being, my guardian angels and the universe have given me people in my life to help support me mentally/financially and get me through this crazy time.
Now for me to keep it real, I have to say that there were and are times that I get frustrated and down on my situation. But then I try to find the littlest piece of gratification in this chaos to give me hope to look forward to. Life is never easy and I’m not sure I would want it that way. After all, how else would I learn to appreciate things?
“When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always be worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better.” ~ Unknown
Debbie 2.0 (pix below)