trauma weirdness

My body went through some weird phases after the accident. And because I’ve never been through trauma on pretty much any level, I honestly can’t say what was part of the recovery process and what just happened to coincide with it. But either way, I’m willing to bet that my experience isn’t unique.

Weight Loss

First, I lost a ton of weight in my legs. I expected atrophy to happen, but I was totally unprepared for how fast it would happen. Between the physical and psychological stress of the situation, combined with the fact that moving was painful and difficult, I lost 11lbs in two weeks, predominantly in my lower body. I was around 182-183lbs before the accident, and when I could stand steadily enough to be on a scale without the crutches, I was down to 171lbs. When I put on my Lululemon studio pants, they were a little baggy, especially the left leg.

That was pretty depressing. After all, one of my commonly used hashtags was always referring to my legs at “The Great Whites,” and now they’re just these spindly looking things in comparison to their former glory.

So you CAN lose 5 lbs in a week, but you don’t want to. My left thigh and butt cheek have no tone left in them, they feel squishy and gross to me. The muscle that is there is sinewy and stringy feeling. It’ll come back when I start training again, but that’s another at least 2-3 months away rights now.

Body Odor

This one was weird. I don’t usually have much in the way of body odor, and luckily I seem to be able to smell myself far before other people can. But for about 2-3 weeks after the accident, I seemed to be able to smell myself within hours of taking a shower. It made me feel really self conscience. Even though I could barely do anything physical, I smelled like a dumpster diver.

Why is this? I’ms sure it’s a number of reasons. First, for the 1.5 weeks I was basically bed and couch bound, Matt (the angel that he is) would go out to get food and bring back. So I wasn’t eating my normal diet. I wasn’t really eating anything NEW, though. I was eating things I usually eat, just with much more frequency.

My other theory is that between the pain meds and the trauma, my body chemistry was just off. Between not working out, eating off routine, pain medicine (hydrocodone AND hydomorphone) and whatever else my body was going through, it just came out my pores.

Nerve Damage Sensations

My lower leg took quite the beating, obviously. I had large swaths of numbness from nerve damage along the inside of my calf, most of my foot, and around my knee cap where they had to move things around to get the tibia nail put in.

First nerve healing sensation was the intense pins and needles. Like a limb that fell asleep and comes back awake, these were on the edge of painful and would keep me up at night. Much of my ibuprofen consumption was to address this.

Then there was the weird freezing sensation. Towards the end of the day, it would feel like my lower leg was suddenly encased in ice. I would wear long tights, leg warmers, and sweat pants to no avail. Apparently, when the nerves are fucked, it messes with your temperature sensing and subsequently your circulation which can make the sensation worse. That was also fairly painful and very uncomfortable.

Now much of my numbness is just skin level superficial except around the knee, where the numbness is affecting my ability to fully activate and control my quad.

The Week of Hives

This one is the weirdest in my book, and honestly, I can’t actually say with any certainty that it’s linked to trauma or was something else entirely. But I can say that I’ve never in my life had hives and I know of nothing that I’m allergic to…

I was able to quit my pain meds with a taper and no adverse effects. Then about two weeks after my last hydrocodone, 3 weeks after being discharged from the hospital, I start getting these horrendous itchy areas on my torso and legs. It will start as an itch, and when I scratch it spreads and turns into hives. If I try to ignore the itchiness, either the starting itch or the subsequent itch, it will turn into a painful, burning, itchy sensation.

I bought a shit ton of Gold Bond with menthol and that would take care of the skin irritation once it started, and taking an antihistamine every ~8 hours seemed to keep the initial itch from happening too often. This lasted for a week and was horrible. It would keep me from falling asleep at night and god forbid I wake up in the middle of the night having forgotten to take an antihistamine before going to sleep.

But…. exactly a week later and it all cleared up. Just as I thought something changed and I would be taking Benadryl every day for the rest of my life. It was so awful that even now, a month later, if I feel something start to itch, I freak out a little. Terrified I’ll be covered in burning hives again.

Pure Exhaustion

Even now, nearly two months since the accident, I still stumble home and to the couch exhausted out of my mind. Maybe it’s the psychological part of not being able to move normally, maybe it’s the physical toll of having to move carefully. Perhaps it’s part of the energy expenditure of using these assistive devices coupled with the atrophy so I’m basically using less muscle to do my job.

Either way, I get home and it’s a struggle to make myself eat before bed. I just want to go to sleep and let my legs and feet stop working so hard. This coming from someone who would get “energized” from doing squat sets at 300lbs.