Very Important Message From Susan- Author: Susan Helene Gottfried
January 2, 2016. It’s the date we don’t think about much. We are busy settling into the new year, busy putting our resolutions to work. Life chnaged yesterday, a day and a half ago, with the new year. It’s not changing on the second.
Except, of course, when it does.
Even though it was Saturday, my plan for the day was to grab a bike ride, throw some laundry in, get some work done. I was supposed to volunteer at the boy’s archery tournament, and he’d be shooting later that evening. A nice, easy day.
So I got on my bike. I wanted to stretch out my back, and being hunched over a bike does that for me so nicely. And it did.
Until it didn’t and I was falling to my left, to my bad side, the side that is under threat of some pretty major surgeries, one of which gives me a 50% chance of being able to walk.
Of course, that’s not how this story goes. Maybe it’s the way I fell or maybe it’s something in the anxiety of the fall, but … my leg is okay. The obnoxious thing doesn’t even have a scratch, for all that I fell on it. It’s my right eye that bore the brunt of it.
I was close enough to be able to rip off my shoes — yes, I was clipped in; someone did ask along the way — and bellow for the kids. My best friend arrived in short order and we took a tour of hospitals until we found ourselves at UPMC Presbyterian, where we were informed that the state’s best eye surgeon had been called in. I sent my best friend home to take care of his wife and kids and …
Now, a year ago, UPMC, which is Pittsburgh’s mega-hospital from hell, and Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield got divorced. I know ugly divorces. This is one of them. Most of us in the region had to pick between one of the most trusted names in insurers (BC/BS) and the UPMC system. For me, there wasn’t much of a choice: all of my doctors except my physical therapist are UPMC folk. And their insurance premiums are cheaper. I have yet to have a bad UPMC doctor. I can’t say the same for Allegheny Health Network, the Highmark partner.
The people I encountered at almost every step were better than super. They kept me calm, they remained (mostly) low-key, they hinted at the severity of what I am facing but they did not let on how dire it really is. They told me they ride their bikes, too, and sympathized with what happened. They told me jokes. They helped me confront some of my biggest fears.
The first surgery was somewhere between five and seven hours long. I have vision in my right eye, but they still need to fix a retinal tear and detachment. There are no promises of anything at this point.
And that’s what you all need to know.
I am a freelance editor. You guys know that. My income comes when I work. And I’m not sure I can work. I’m a single mom and certain things, like driving my kids to their activities, are now (at least temporarily) impossible. Family, friends, and neighbors have chipped in to help out. I hope they will be able to stick with me through this long haul, because it’s going to be a long haul.
So. This means I need YOUR help, too. Bear with me as I work my way through this. I can look at my screens, so I’m going to try to work. My desktop screen is huge; so long as my injured eye can handle the light the screen emits, I’m good to go, and I finally, two months ago, bought an amazing laptop that I can work on, as well. At least for right now, I’m here and I’m open for business.
Prayer is a powerful thing. So is laughter, and so is touch, and I am seeking all three things from everyone around me at this time. Go and email me funny stories. If we regularly correspond, shoot me a text. My phone is on vibrate all the time, so if I don’t want to be disturbed, you won’t disturb me and I’ll answer the text later. Text so far is proving to be better than e-mail, but that surprises no one who e-mails with me regularly. Twitter, Facebook… all good ways to reach me. Your good humor right now will help me heal.
Finances. Yeah, this is the scary one. I expect I’ll need to hire someone to drive me and the kids around. I’m going to call the insurance company later today to see how much of this I’m going to be on the hook for. I pray it’s not too bad. Anyone who feels the need to set up a Go Fund Me page will be a hero in my book, and I’m pledging right now that if you guys rally to my cause, any leftovers will go to help other people with medical emergencies. Maybe my much dreamed-of West of Mars Foundation will be born, although with a different focus than I’d originally envisioned. Who knows?
I stand here facing a brand-new life. I don’t know what comes next, except lots of surgeries and healing and prayer that this is going to somehow be okay in the end. So far in my life, it’s always been okay. My sister calls me a Phoenix because of this bad habit of mine, of always landing on my feet. But I hope you’ll all accompany me on this journey, that you’ll hold my hand either in real life or virtually, and that you all think about wearing a pair of safety glasses whenever you get on your bike. As soon as I’m up and riding again, I’m going to.
For now, though, it’s back to the couch until I get the kids off to school.
Welcome to 2016.