For Better or Worse ♥

It's been quiet since May over here on the blog.

On May 9th I went over the handlebars of my mountain bike while out for our weekly Wednesday morning ride. The impact was so great that it broke most of my ribs, fractured my skull, tore my ear, and caused a burst fracture in my spine.

45 minutes after the fall a rescue team carried me down the mountain in a basket to the parking lot where ambulance and emergency response were waiting to rush me to hospital. I received an emergency spinal fusion the following day to have permanent rods installed in my back to stabilize my spine.

{ photos courtesy of my riding buddy Kate }

After the surgery I spent 10 days in the neuro sciences ward at Victoria General Hospital. The nurses and doctors were like angels, it felt like a soft landing after what had just happened. The force had been so great that my injuries were similar to those of a car accident victim, I kept having to retell my story, no one could believe I'd done so much damage on my bike. I suffered a severe concussion, and for better or worse, had lost all memory of the day of the crash.

A brain injury meant no screen time — no phone, tablet, tv, or computer. Close to the end of my stay I could manage to sit in a chair with my brace on for very short bursts. Cam brought me a colouring book and I could focus just enough to fill the pages without getting a headache.

Once stable enough, I was released to continue my recovery at home. I could do very little and needed constant rests in between. I began collecting colouring books and markers. Slowly an art station began to develop on the kitchen counter. When I wasn't resting I would sit and colour — it helped to focus my mind and ward off boredom and depression. I couldn't tolerate the noise of the TV so we'd have quiet time and the girls would join me at the counter, even Cam from time to time. We started a gallery on the walls of the kitchen and soon ran out of room.

Over time I could focus more and sit for longer periods of time. I stopped colouring in books and began making my own drawings. I bought my first set of water colour paints. I couldn't drive and so my friend Cate would make endless trips to Opus and Micheal's.

In late June, an infection landed me back in hospital, only this time I was armed with a collection of my favourite art supplies. In ways it felt like a set back, there was a possibility of another surgery but I knew how it important it was to fight the infection aggressively under the watchful eye of the nurses and staff. I hated to be back but I knew I was in the right place. I avoided a second surgery (yay) and was able to go home after 5 days of observation and intravenous antibiotics.

I began walking for exercise, first to the end of our road, then a few short blocks, until soon I was walking the neighbourhood with my paints and travel notebook. I'd sit for hours sketching and painting the landscape, it felt like therapy. I joined Creative Bug and started (but didn't finish, lol) a portrait class.

And then, 3 months post-op, my brace came off. For the first time in months I could see my body again. I felt frail and didn't recognize my new shape. I'd lost muscle mass and mobility. But my body was mine again. Everyday I've been getting stronger and tiring less easily. Pain has become manageable and the more normal I feel physically the more I am aware of the fog that's left from the concussion.

I've rented a little artist studio to help me transition back to work after nearly 5 months unplugged. The first photo in this blog post is from a shoot I did in the empty space to test the light :) I've been working from a home office for over 10 years — finding this space has felt like a new beginning of sorts.

While I was offline I managed a few Instagram posts to make friends aware of what was going on. I wasn't able to get back to most of you due to limited screen time however I would like you to know how much your love and support carried me through. I am incredibly grateful for all of the heartfelt messages that poured in, the care packages and thoughtful get well cards that arrived in the mail, the friends and family that made the day to day more manageable, and to the 30 pairs of hands that lovingly stitched these healing socks for me to get well in.

If it weren't for all of you I would not have this space to come back to, this creative outlet that supports me. There are no words to express the gratitude I feel to have been given this second chance.

While it will take time for things to return to normal, I hope to return to this space a little more regularly as I find the inspiration and the energy.

Thank you for your endless love and support.


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