Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Rest of the Story

This is Part 3 in a series called "Injury Prone." For Part 1 click here, for Part 2 click here.

I was slowly coming to grips with the fact that I had broken my right wrist the first week of my second semester of my freshman year in college. I'm right-handed. This was going to be a problem. How big of a problem it would end up being hinged on my upcoming appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon.

As I killed time before my appointment, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed with anxiety. Luckily, I got a bit of a boost right before I went to the clinic.

I arrived at the clinic with a few minutes to spare. The doctor brought me into the exam room, and put my x-rays up on that wall-mounted backlit thingy.

"Wow! This is the worst break I've seen all year," he exclaimed.

"Hah! You're kidding, right?" I asked, sure he said that to every patient as a way to break the ice.

"No," he deadpanned.


He went on to tell me that I needed surgery because the bone was, basically, crushed at the joint. If I wanted it to heal properly and if I wanted to gain any movement back I would need a titanium plate put in to hold the pieces together so that they would heal properly.


Furthermore, I needed surgery, like, yesterday, because (apparently) the longer you wait after an injury the more swelling there is and the more swelling there is the more difficult the surgery.


It was here that I told him I was right-handed and played the violin. Please, sir, won't you help me be able to use my right hand/arm/wrist for the rest of my life even just a tiny bit?

I told him I was ready for surgery ASAP.

He didn't believe me.

I showed him my fingernails sans nail polish. I made him listen to my empty stomach growling wantonly for food. He had already been staring at my less-than-impressive makeup-less face for at least 45 minutes.

He agreed to schedule surgery for 4:00 PM that afternoon, which was now 5 hours away.

I requested my one phone call, and called my parents to let them know their daughter would be unconscious and her body would be cut open later that day.

Throughout this entire process I never remember feeling anxious. If anything, I was resigned to the fact that I needed surgery if I had any chance of future mobility with my hand, wrist, and forearm; and, having gone through it before, I felt calm and peaceful knowing that I would make it through again.

Later that day...

The beauty of living in the big city at a university campus with a medical research facility is that the hospital where I was to have surgery was located - literally - in my backyard. I said goodbye to my roommate and walked the 200 yards to the hospital to check in for surgery.

I proceeded to wait for 70 minutes.

My parents miraculously arrived 10 minutes later. They had taken off of work immediately after I called to tell them my confirmed health status, and they drove directly from Green Bay, WI to Minneapolis, MN in exactly 4 hours.

Don't tell the state highway patrol.

Their presence meant I wouldn't be alone when I came out of surgery - an immensely comforting thought. A short while after they arrived I was wheeled into surgery.

The Rest of the Story

You're now probably wondering how it went.

Surgery went well and I began physical therapy the next week. Because it was a joint they wanted me to begin exercises right away so that it wouldn't stiffen up or heal all wonky-like.

I had this cool zip-up plastic cast that they continually melted as the weeks went on and reformed on my arm as the swelling went down.

I religiously did my exercises and strength training.

I audio recorded all of my college lectures.

I painstakingly made my way across the frozen, icy campus every other day for my physical therapy appointments (never falling once, you'll be happy to know).

At the end of 3 months - to the surprise and pride of my doctors - I gained back 100% of my mobility, blowing away everyone's expectations.

That summer, just 2 months after my full recovery was declared, I worked as a Camp Couselor at Camp Luther, my childhood church camp in Northern WI. I'm pretty sure the pure physicality of that summer only helped to strengthen my healing (as well as the spirituality strengthened my spirit).

The next year at university I joined the worship team for City Celebration, a campus group that met monthly to praise and share Christ in greater-Minneapolis. I played my violin with this group for the next 3 years...not always well, but, hey...beggars can't be choosers.

You may recall that girl I told you about who prayed so earnestly for my recovery when I couldn't move beyond the worry.

You may remember me thinking how I knew her from somewhere, likely one of the many college social groups I visited or maybe from a class I was taking.

That girl? I never saw her again.

Make of that what you will, but now you know the rest of the story.

____________________________________________________________ Mandi

Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner:

Completing my first half marathon to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will be a community endeavor. Won't you help me change lives?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I've Never Told This Story Before

This is Part 2 of Injury Prone: Learning How to Write Left-Handed

You may recall that after I broke my wrist, I immediately fell asleep for, give or take, two days.

I blame it on the pain meds.

I still had to see a specialist to determine if the break needed surgical repair, but the first available appointment was a week later. I attempted to look pitiful at every class the following week.

On Friday morning, the day of my appointment with the surgeon, I had a funny feeling. I've been down the surgical route before and knew the rules. My appointment was as 10:00 AM. Because I had an 8:00 AM class I woke up at 7:00. I didn't eat breakfast. I didn't put on makeup. I removed my nail polish.

Just in case, I thought. Just in case he says I need to have surgery.

After class I had about 30 minutes to wait until my doctor's appointment, so I settled myself outside the university bookstore to catch up on some reading for class.

As I sat in the hallway outside the store, I couldn't get my mind off my hunger. This, in turn, led me to think about the reason for my hunger (As a rule, you're generally not allowed to eat before surgery as your metabolism can interefere with the anesthesia).

I'm usually not a worrier or one induced to panic, but this morning I couldn't keep from thinking about the worst case scenario.

Maybe it was being away from home. Maybe it was being on my own in college in a big city. Maybe my lack of panic in the past was just banked for a moment like this.

Either way, I wasn't in the best shape, and I gave up any pretense of reading.

That's when I saw her approach. A lovely gal with long, straight brown hair whose face looked SO familiar.

But where did I know her from?

I mean, this is my first year of college; I've met, literally, hundreds of new people from dozens of new places. It's hard to keep track.

She approached with a hearty, "Mandi! How are you?!?!"

Not wanting to sound like I didn't remember her, I replied with a tepid, "Hello!" and then, with the worry on my mind, proceeded to word vomit all over her greeting, telling her about my broken wrist, the broom ball ordeal, the past lethargic week, and the imminent visit with the surgeon.

I was a bit taken aback when her first response was not, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" but instead, "Can I pray for you?"

I shrugged and said, "Sure."

She took my injured wrist between her hands and began to pray. I don't remember the words, but I remember the passion and the confidence with which she said them. I know she prayed for my heart, my healing, the wisdom of my doctors, and the burden of my worry.

At the time it felt kind of strange. I mean, this was a broken wrist. Usually people pray for victims of wildfires who have lost their entire livelihood, or people pray for children starving in Africa - big things, people usually pray for big things.

But this mystery woman was praying for my wrist. In the scheme of things, a broken wrist didn't seem like such a big deal.

Regardless, she finished her heartfelt prayer, and I still couldn't place her even though I recognized her.

Fishing for a clue as to where I knew her from, as she walked away I said, "See you later..." hoping she would fill in the blank.

She didn't.

Instead she replied with - and I'll never forget these words - "In heaven if not sooner."

Want to know the rest of the story? Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!

____________________________________________________________ Mandi

Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner:

Completing my first half marathon to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will be a community endeavor. Won't you help me change lives?

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Running Out of Water Next to Largest Fresh Water Lake

____________________________________________________________ Mandi

Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner:

Completing my first half marathon to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will be a community endeavor. Won't you help me change lives?

Follow | Donate ____________________________________________________________

Friday, July 8, 2011

Injury Prone: Learning How to Write Left-Handed, Part One

I tell ya, the money I saved my parents by not needing braces or glasses as a child, I had 'em pay out in spades through ER visits, X-Rays, and the occasional surgery.

Sure, I've broken my arm, my knee, I've injured my shoulder, I've even got a couple of fingers in there for good measure (spoiler alert!)...but none of these injuries required me to become ambidextrous.

Until The Shattered Wrist of '01.

It was a cold, frozen evening my freshman year of college in Minneapolis. The beginning of the 2nd semester, classes hadn't even begun yet, but my friends and I were back in town and craving some fun social time.

A recent ice storm had left the campus covered in mortal danger (especially for an accident-prone person such as me), so, instead of trying to beat Ma Nature we joined her by planning a game of broom ball on the intramural ice rink.

Now, if you're unfamiliar with broom ball, it's the basic rules of hockey (read: insert ball into net on ice using long stick); however, instead of a puck you use a ball and instead of a hockey stick you use a broom. Did I mention players don't wear pads or skates? One just bundles up in the warmest clothes on hand and ungracefully glides across the ice on tennis shoes.

It was, maybe, 10:30 PM and my team had the ball. I was open along the boards, and right after I was given the ball I took my chance at a slap shot. Being the athletically-inclined person that I am, I immediately fell backward, bracing my fall with my arms extended behind me.

This was a mistake.

Instead of landing on my rear and, maybe, having to deal with a bruised tail bone and/or ego, I instead landed on my palms, taking the brunt of my weight on my wrists.

Having broken bones before, I instantly knew the hot, quickly swelling, throbbingly painful joint was broken.

Luckily we were close to the university's athletic center, so we carefully made our way off the ice to get help.

By this time I was crying the silent, persistent tears of one who knows she's in deep.

The hospital was a mere 1/2 mile away, and the receptionist at the athletic center asked if I wanted to walk or if I wanted an ambulance.

These were the good ol' days of me being covered by my father's insurance plan, and that, combined with the fact that all sidewalks were covered in glare ice, led me to choose option B, the ambulance. I figured the EMTs would be able to patch me up a bit before the ride, and at least this way I was sure to not break anything else. It was me; there was 45% chance of such a thing happening.

I got to the ER and, like in every other hospital in our great nation of profiteering HMOs, I filled out a mountain of paperwork and waited an hour and a half for a doctor, X-rays, etc.

Not to gross you out, but X-rays were pretty much unnecessary*. When I lifted up the sleeve of my sweatshirt, everyone could see my wrist bones (distal and radius for those playing at home) created a slight S-curve, where before they were straight. *Note: X-rays, however, were necessary for the surgeon later that week, more on this later).


The doctor put me in a temporary cast and gave me some pain pills to last me a few days. She then signed me up for the next available appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon - a full week later.

Faced with the daunting 2+ mile walk back to my dorm across ice-encrusted walkways, in severe pain and slight loopiness with medication kicking in, at 1:30 AM no less, I wondered what the heck I was going to do.

As fate would have it, I remembered a very important moment from my church group's meeting that took place the previous evening...

...The Previous Evening

My friend, Aaron, stood up in front of our Campus Crusade for Christ group and gave his testimony. This was a common way to start our meetings - share a testimony, run down items of business, worship, speaker, and prayer, etc. At the end of his testimony, Aaron said, "If you have any questions or just want to talk about what I've said or what you've heard here tonight about God, give me a call at 301-0103*...any time, any day." *not his actual phone number, but you get the idea

During the meeting I couldn't get his phone number out of my head, which was ridiculous because he lived one floor above me in the dorm. I was never going to need to call him; I could just walk up and see him. For some reason, though, I couldn't get "301-0103" out of my head; I kept repeating it and repeating it until it became a sing-song mantra of a sort.

Little did I know...

...Back at the Hospital.

My roommate, Amanda, was with me through the whole broom ball, broken wrist, ambulance chase (read: ride), ER visit fiasco. As we were getting ready to leave, we thought about how we were going to get back across campus to our dorm (NOTE: we went to the 2nd largest university in the country, hence, a "walk across campus" generally consists of miles, plural, and at least 25 minutes).

Me: To be honest, I really don't want to walk. Knowing me, I'll fall and break something...else.

Amanda: Do we know anyone with a car? (This large university is located in Minneapolis, which means the cost of parking is atrocious and not many college students bring their cars)

Me: What about John? (A friend who lived on our floor)

Amanda: Do you know his phone number?

Me: Hm, no. (He lived on our floor. We never called him, we just knocked on his door)

Amanda: *thinking*

Mandi: *thinking on narcotics*

Mandi: 301-0103, 301-0103, 301-0103...

Mandi: Hey! I know Aaron's phone number!

Amanda: Does he have a car?

Mandi: Why yes, yes he does!
In a truly blessed and foreseen-by-God moment we called Aaron - of the "any time, any day" friend variety - and he graciously drove over to the hospital in the middle of the frozen, icy night to pick us up and save us from a long, perilous journey home.

I'd say he saved Amanda more than me, because, now that the Tylenol+Codeine was kicking in, I surely would've been a handful for Amanda on the walk home.

We arrived safely home to our dorm, where I promptly fell asleep for the next 48 hours.

Like this story? There's more! Stay tuned for Part Two...
____________________________________________________________  Mandi

Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner:

Completing my first half marathon to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will be a community endeavor. Won't you help me change lives?

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mandi Runs and Mighty Life List - Press!

First of all, thank you SO MUCH for helping me get even closer to my goal of raising $3,000 for my Team Challenge half marathon! I have the bestest family and friends EVA, and I am committed to wearing your support on my race jersey in Napa, and giving you all of the goods and lowdown about my journey and the change YOU are making in the lives of Wisconsinites!

Second, I'd like to draw your attention to two neat-o items that came across my desk yesterday.
  1. This blog has been accepted to Alltop, a site co-founded by the famous Guy Kawasaki! I am so pretending to be a cool kid right now - just check out the badge to the right! Alltop has a great community of bloggers who run, and I am humbled to join them, learn from them, and be inspired by them (if you scroll down the list, you'll see my blog!). 
  2. Who has two thumbs and was featured as "Someone You Should Know" in her local community newspaper? THIS gal! I put my mad PR skillz to work, and was recently interviewed by the fine staff of WauwatosaNOW for a feature. You can read the article here, discussing my Team Challenge half marathon goal, and how I am taking strides to not only help those who suffer from Crohn's and colitis, but also live a Mighty Life each and every day!
If you'd like to know more about my Mighty Life List, you'll find a running list (wordplay intended) at the bottom of the sidebar on the right. I'll periodically post stories about the items already checked off, and if they're linked that means I've already written about them on other blogs.

Have any other ideas of things I should add to my Mighty Life Life? Leave a comment with your idea!

____________________________________________________________ Mandi

Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner:

Completing my first half marathon to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will be a community endeavor. Won't you help me change lives?

Follow | Donate ____________________________________________________________

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today is the LAST DAY to help me change lives! (with incentives)

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped me reach my Team Challenge goal of raising $3,000 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation!

Today is the LAST DAY to donate before I’m charged the remaining balance. You can help change lives (and, to be honest, keep me from impending debt) by making a donation at Every dollar helps!

I do have a couple of incentives for you…

1. Endless warm fuzzies – for helping change the lives of those who live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis every day. Click here to learn more about what IBD is and why I’m running this race.

2. Dinner for you and your family – for my TOP DONOR (currently at $150). Must live within driving distance of WI, or, if farther than 4 hours round trip, include a comfortable couch to crash on. Check out to see if you think that’s a good deal.

3. Packer Raffle – for every $10 you donate you will gain a chance to win a Packer football signed by the entire Super Bowl XLV Championship team. Not a Packer fan? Though I shudder to say this, you could sell it on EBay and kill two birds with one stone – make your money back AND make Packer fans weep in their beers.

__________________________________________________________________ Mandi

Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner:

Completing my first half marathon to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will be a community endeavor. Won't you help me change lives?

Follow | Donate __________________________________________________________________