According to Websters Dictionary-
any place or object regarded as a shrine where God makes himself present, esp the body of a person who has been sanctified or saved by grace
a building regarded as the focus of an activity, interest, or practice
I am here by the grace of God. The hands of many skilled surgeons, dozens of selfless donations of blood, hundreds of health care workers, and the love of so many. I have been deemed an “Unexpected Survivor” by the lead Trauma Surgeon at Yale. My body is a temple.
When I think of a temple, I also think of a quiet place of strength, and authenticity. A place where you can be vulnerable and seek truth. A place where you search deep within the walls of your being to find strength.
As we approach the ten month mark, many have asked me how things are going during the “rebuilding process”. I have participated in several foot races (of which I have walked), rode my bike five times, been to the gym, and also had more surgeries, more procedures, physical therapy twice a week, much PTSD therapy, and embraced unconditional love from my husband. I have also had the privilege of working with the Red Cross, and volunteering with Gaylord.
This week I return to my “quarterback”, Dr. Kaplan- who is the head trauma surgeon. We will discuss my next series of surgeries, and establish the timeline.
Per my surgeons, as long as I am able to get exercise without compromising the integrity of the healing process.. Im given the green flag.. So with every activity, I “check in”. Thankfully, they get my stubbornness and resilience, and are good at putting their foot down when necessary.
SO, I thought I would share a list with you of my upcoming surgeries as we rebuild this temple which houses my soul.
1. Removing Bone mass- As your aware, my pelvis broke into TWO clean pieces. This was the main reason why I bled out. Our pelvis not only support our major organs, but also contain blood vessels. When the pelvis is broken in half, a person becomes critical FAST.. with bleeding out and internal damage also comes metabolic acidosis, and other goodies.. Another side effect is the body tries to heal itself by creating more calcium and attempting to deposit it in the region needed. This is great, only the calcium deposits aren’t always given good signs denoting where to make themselves at home and therefore can form awful growths in places that aren’t “ideal”.
For me, those places are: My left hip bone. It was ripped through my skin (as was my right) however the front of the hip bone became the new home to calcium deposits the size of a human fist.. The other location was inside my left groin region. I have a mass of bone that is the size of a silver dollar which protrudes.. Not comfortable. Both of these bone mass locations will be removed. The hip mass will then be radiated for two months to make sure no new calcium forms. Im left with two 3.5 inch titanium screws in my pelvis and some wires.
2. Hip correction surgery. My left leg was shredded all the way above my hip. It was so badly destroyed that it could have been amputated. My leg was saved, however it lost half of the muscle along the left side from the knee up and over two feet of skin at a depth down to my bone. SO, they put a wound vac on and did multiple reparative surgeries.. As my leg healed in, my right butt cheek pulled forward into my side hip bone. Thus leaving my balance off incredibly when I walk and excessive pain. SO, the surgeons will make an incision along my hip and literally pull and reattach my butt and muscles back in place where they should be.
3. Abdominal surgery- My abdomen had the front and back tires of a freight truck roll over it. Therefore it got trashed.. What Im left with is excessive scarring both externally and internally from my intestines being damaged, taken apart, then put back together.. and some damage to my spleen and stomach. Although the skin has grown beautifully back together, it has no pores in it.. therefore it not only doesn’t breathe, but it is very tight, swollen, and fragile. The skin rips back open often and hurts. The surgeon will place balloon expanders under my breasts and “grow” the skin that wasn’t affected by inflating it with saline over a month.. he will them remove the new skin, stretch the stretched skin over it and tack it down.
4. Leg Surgery- My leg still has another foot of skin to grow. It is healing well. It is very very tight and also lacks pores. Because of this, it overheats, rips open, and I struggle to walk normally.. extending my leg straight back in a stride position is very difficult because the skin is so tight.. This is why biking is less painful because my legs are staying angled and bent. He will put expanders under the original skin, expand with saline over 1.5 months, remove all new skin (which will now provide an anchor and is rich with new vessels and dermal layers), and then tack the stretched skin over the affected area.
5. Coccyx/buttocks surgery- When I was dragged, my seat along with the pavement literally ripped a saucer size hole in the crack of my tookus. I was ripped open all the way to my coccyx bone (They said when they laid me on the OR table, they could look right up at the bones). **Gross**. Thankfully the giant hole in my butt is now flapped and healed, however my lower back and buttocks are not attached to the bones.. so he will need to make a incision along the coccyx bone, open a flap and sew me from the inside out.
6. Vena Cava Removal- We aren’t sure this one can be completed… Due to the duration of time after all surgeries are completed. I had a filter placed outside my heart when I was critical because I had so much blood given in such a fast amount of time.. I was at high risk of blood clots. The vascular surgeon said that leaving it in could be dangerous since I have Cryoglobulenemia which is a blood disorder and I might get clots lodged in the filter not allowing veinous return..
They remove this through the carotid artery.
So, thats what I have left to do before I can be released from medical care and move on… In the meantime, I am trying to maintain my “temple” as it heals.. and keep it as strong and healthy as possible in preparations for the various surgeries I have ahead.
Thank you for your love. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your prayers.
With a persevering heart,
Colleen Kelly Alexander