*WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES*
My life changed forever during the early morning hours on Memorial Day, May 30, 2017.
Last Memorial Day, I decided to go out and used a dating app to meet someone. The man I was talking to on the app sounded interesting, sweet, polite, and handsome. We made plans to meet. He arranged for an Uber to come to my apartment and pick me up for the date because I did not want to drink and drive. I arrived at a bar in the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego around 8:30 PM. Once I arrived, everything seemed fine, just like a normal first date. I allowed him to order our drinks. We drank and chatted. That’s when I went completely blank. The flashes of memory I have from the night are the following: a meditation restaurant and a white house that was being renovated.
I woke up after spending two weeks in a coma in the ICU. I couldn’t move my limbs but could think, see, and speak. It was a miracle that I didn’t have any brain damage. While in bed recovering, I was told the inconceivable story of that night.
From what I can piece together with my family and friends, the man from the app drugged me and attempted to bring me to the casino in Lakeside, San Diego. We believe he made advances because I ran away from him; he might have been violent because I felt the need to jump a nine-foot fence to get away. I left my Rebecca Minkoff purse, boots, and everything I had on one side of the fence. I must have been trying to get someone to save me, waving my arms about, calling for help. I only know this because of the report from the CHP and the toxicology report from the hospital.
While fleeing a potentially dangerous situation on foot, I was hit head-on by two vehicles (both hit and runs) on Interstate 8 in Lakeside, California. Amazingly, a tractor-trailer driver saw the vehicles hit me, and pulled his truck horizontal on the highway, blocking all oncoming traffic. He was a guardian angel. He called 911, scrapped my nearly dead body off of the asphalt, and kept me breathing until the ambulance arrived.
Thankfully, I was brought to one of the most respected hospitals in the San Diego area, Sharp Memorial, and operated on for hours. My family was told it was uncertain if I would make it. My mind raced uncontrollably.
How could this be? What happened? The last thing I remembered was going out in downtown San Diego. Then, I realized the severe damage to my body: my right leg was immobile, my left elbow was torn open, my bladder was detached, and my urine was coming out of two tubes. My stomach, chest, and head were covered with stitches. By this time, I had been through 14 surgeries and there were more on the way.
I was in Sharp Memorial for months before being transferred to Kindred Hospital, where I spent three weeks. In mid-August, I was transferred to a rehab and nursing facility north of the city. I thought I was healing, gaining strength, and working on learning to do things again that were second nature before. I still had a catheter, Foley, and a large wound on my leg. I also was not able to bear weight on my right leg yet, but I was thankful that I had my leg and was trying to move forward.
When I was given permission to bear weight on my leg, I was ecstatic. But, that feeling was fleeting when I took my first step. The pain was unimaginable. Each time I took even a tiny step, it felt like someone was sawing off my right leg. The pain left me screaming at the top of my lungs. As time went on, I started doing more and more occupational and physical therapy, trying to work through the pain.
One night in September, my catheter and Foley fell out at the same time. I thought it was a sign that I was getting better. To make sure, I immediately checked with the doctor, he assured me it wasn’t an issue. Unfortunately, we were both wrong, which we’d find out in a few weeks’ time.
As time passed, discomfort grew. The wound on my leg was not improving, and my entire right leg began swelling up without even moving. Finally, my wound doctor told me something was wrong. The gaping wound was not healing, no matter what they tried. We made an emergency appointment with my orthopedic. Thank God for that, because the next day, another hole opened up on my leg.
The following day, I went in to see my orthopedic. He looked at the X-rays and saw multiple open wounds and said he needed to operate immediately. By that weekend, I was yet again on the operating table. With 80 new staples, I woke up again in the ICU. I was kept there for about three days as I healed.
When I woke up, I was having a blood transfusion through my IV. I had lost half a liter of blood in surgery. The doctors discovered an infection in my leg that caused the wounds to open; it was due to my catheter and foley falling out. Essentially, my bladder was creating tunnels in my leg as a means to expel urine from my body (fistulas). Overall, this resulted in seven different strains of bacteria forming in my leg and accelerated the growth of small bones around my hip implant (which was a rod). It was another miracle that I didn’t go septic and lose my entire leg—which the surgeons said was a possibility.
My doctor placed spacers and antibiotic beads in my leg to kill the strains of bacteria. He also put me on an antibiotic IV drip called Unasyn, which I received for eight consecutive weeks, every six hours.
After that surgery, I went under once more for my urologist to fix my bladder, in which they placed another catheter. After a few weeks at Sharp Memorial and being immobile, they found something in my right hip. I broke out into tears because it was a large blood clot ⏤literally, overnight, I was a thrombosis survivor. After a couple more weeks of monitoring my progress and giving me ultrasounds, Sharp Memorial allowed me to go back to the previous rehab and nursing facility.