Sunday, February 23, 2014

Are you there, God? It's me, Alexa.

Think of your biggest fear. The one that makes your muscles tense up just from thinking about it. Now triple it, and that, my friends, is what getting a brain MRI and a cervical spine MRI feels like.

If you've never had an MRI, thank the Good Lord Himself (or the universe, or Buddha, or whatever suits your fancy) right this second.

I had one done for my wrist before my surgery, but I was laying on my stomach with my arm stretched above my head (aka the most uncomfortable position in the world), so I couldn't see how small the tube was.

In case you're wondering, IT'S VERY, VERY SMALL, PEOPLE. Teeny. Tiny. Microscopic. Minuscule.

Each MRI took about an hour, give or take 10 minutes. They have headphones that play music, but of course I couldn't use them with the 2 MRIs I had to have. Just. My. Luck. The tech asked me if I was claustrophobic and I said yes. She said, "Oh. Um, hang in there!" as she pressed the start button. I figured I could handle it, until I realized that the top of the tube was approximately 3 INCHES FROM MY FACE. After that one was over, they let me get out while they changed the equipment for my brain MRI. And that one was even more fun because, not only was the tube 3 inches from my body on all sides, but there was also now a CAGE AROUND MY HEAD.

Take a nap, they said. It will go by quickly, they said.

If you've never had an MRI, then you also don't know anything about the obnoxious sounds that come with it. There's a reason they give you earplugs, and it STILL sounds loud. Curious? Here ya go. Click through to hear all of the different obnoxious sounds. Then, plug your computer up to surround sound speakers, turn the volume all the way up, and stick your ear right next to the speaker. You know, to get the full effect.

Now, I work at a daycare. I am going to school to be a teacher. I grew up with a big Italian family. I can handle noise, I really can. But this? For over an hour? TWICE? Well, that's enough to send someone to the nut house.

So now I'm impatiently waiting for results. I had to call a million times and get it faxed a million and three times and my neuro doctor's office finally got it. So now it's going to take my neurologist approximately 8 days to call me back, because that's how long it took them to contact my physical therapist after we called a million times to inform him of the life-threatening red flags that started popping up.

Maybe I should rewind a bit. I started physical therapy a couple weeks ago, but my awesomely brilliant therapist (thankfully) noticed some very concerning things when she felt my neck, did a few tests, and asked about my symptoms. It's hard to turn my neck and my head, neck, and spine are constantly in tremendous pain, along with other not fun stuff. So it's looking like there is a lot of brain/neck/spinal cord damage that was either missed or developed after I saw my neurologist.


Are you there, God? It's me, Alexa. HELP A SISTER OUT, PLEASE.

(Again, that is.)

(You did a great job not letting the car wreck kill me. I appreciate it.)

(Really. I'm very grateful.)

(I try not to ask for much! Okay. I'm done. You rock. As You were.)

(And yes, I am, in fact, referring to one of my favorite Judy Blume books.)

Despite my efforts to prove to my doctors (and everyone else and their mom) that I could return to school full-time, I'm now going part-time. I decided they were right. With these types of injuries, I'm just not capable of being the over-achieving perfectionist (I hear admitting it is the first step) I was before getting slammed into by a speeding, red-light running truck. Of course, I didn't realize this until the 40th time I was throwing my books across my living room because my vision was getting blurry and I wasn't even close to being halfway done with my homework.

But it is what it is. I'm taking my two (technically three, but two classes are combined) important elementary ed classes now and I'll take the other ones this summer. I dropped my honors stuff. Studying abroad in Spain is off the table.

Of course, this is only the plan for now. Everything could change again when I get my MRI results back.

So. I'm checking in with a doctor every two weeks. My kitchen counter gives me flashbacks of my Nana's because of all of the medicine bottles and my AM/PM pill divider. I've invested in an obnoxious amount of heating pads. My mom comes up every couple of weeks to cook, clean, and organize my apartment because she's the best mom in the world. And I go to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays thanks to my amazing teachers who are willing to work with me so that I can keep working towards being an amazing teacher myself.

I don't know what my MRI results are going to say. It's one of those "hope for the best but prepare for the worst" kind of things.

But I'm doing my best. I have more bad days than good, but at least I get up, and at least I try. Even if I do it reluctantly sometimes.

Luckily I have the daycare and babysitting to lift my spirits.

A few weeks ago, I had a drink with me at the daycare. I'm not a big soda drinker, but I was drinking Root Beer that day. One of my sweet, funny 3yo boys was sitting on my lap and looked at my drink.

Him: Ms. Alexa, what are you drinking?
Me: It's root beer.
Him: My daddy drinks beer!!
Me: No, no. ROOT beer. It's soda like Coke and Sprite.

Except I forgot most 3-year-olds probably haven't encountered Root Beer yet. So all the parents in the daycare heard, "MS. ALEXA IS DRINKIN' BEER AT SCHOOL!!"

Did I mention how much I love my sweet, precious, innocent kids?!

My doctors think I'm crazy for actually wanting to go to work, but they just don't get it. Sure, my neck and back hurt a lot, and I have to tell my kids to be gentle to Ms. Alexa sometimes. And maybe I should be using that time to do all of the resting I'm supposed to do. The doctors think of the ways I could get hurt, but they never think of the ways it heals me. Somehow, playing Mario Kart while babysitting my favorite kids and being in that messy, chaotic daycare room heals me. And no, it's not healing my brain or my neck or my spine, but--this is going to be so cheesy so get ready--it's healing ME. It's healing my heart (I told you--cheesy) and lifting my spirits. When I don't want to get up in the morning, I do it anyway because I love those sweet babies and all of their hugs and silliness.

So that's where I'm at. I wish I had lighter topics to blog about, but this is pretty much every day for me. Every now and then I have a really good day, and I take in every second of it. But this is where I'm at most days. I'm trying incredibly hard to cling to my faith, because it's really all I have left at this point, but that is WAY harder than it sounds.

Pray for good results. Pray for anything that doesn't require me to quit school, quit work, and have surgery. Pray for peace. Pray that one day I can look at a stoplight while driving without being scared to death and feeling my heart rate increase. Pray that my taste buds will go back to how they used to be, because I miss being in love with pickles. Pray that I start feeling like pre-accident Alexa, because I really miss that funny & bubbly girl.

Also, pray for Brianna Medina. She's a sweet girl from my hometown who was recently hit by a drunk driver. She has a lot more injuries than I do, but she is also dealing with spinal cord injuries. That kind of stuff turns your world upside down.

And please, for the love of God, do not run red lights.