Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Powderpuff + Melbourne + Car Crash + Surgery + Rehabilitation = ARGH!!

Tuesday last week marked 9 months since our near fatal car accident and that anniversary was marked by me going back into hospital for more surgery.  Not quite a positive activity to mark the occasion, but one more step towards recovery.  So hard to believe so much time has passed since the accident and I am still struggling with my injuries, which are hindering my return to working on Powderpuff.
When I woke in hospital after the car accident and was told by the surgeons that I wouldn't walk for 3 months, my thought was, if I work really hard at rehab, I could be back working within 2 months.  Boy, was I wrong! But that's my usual 'go getter' attitude.  Now 9 months on as I struggle with daily tasks and pain, I can't believe how wrong I was.  What a crazy time it's been since moving to Melbourne, so how about I start from the start and fill you in on all that's been happening since the big move.....

Early April last year I closed the Powderpuff store in Adelaide and moved to Melbourne with my son Rocket so he could attend an Autistic Specific School here, that are not present in South Australia.  Rocket and I had only just settled into our new home and finished setting up the new home studio for Powderpuff, when only 7 weeks after the big move interstate we were in a car crash.

It was May 25th 2013 and we were driving home on a country road in the evening, it was dark and raining and we were travelling at 100 kph and so was the other car that T-Boned us  It hit our car right were I was sitting, in the passenger seat.  Thankfully my son whom was sitting right behind me, escaped with only a little scratch on his head and my boyfriend, whom was driving, had minor injuries from the seatbelt during impact.  I was not so lucky though.  I had to be cut out of the car and airlifted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for emergency surgery to stop the internal bleeding.   

Over the next 10 days in the Royal Melbourne Hospital, I had two more surgeries on my pelvis that had multiple fractures and my broken ankle.  Thankfully I don't remember much about my accident and time in hospital, but what I do remember was horrific.  The excruciating pain laying around broken for all those days before surgery and being slid from bed to bed for surgery and into massive X-Ray machines etc.  The result of my surgeries; my X-Rays make me look like Bionic Woman.  I have approximately 28 pins and 3 plates in my pelvis and 2 pins in my ankle, (those two are what I had removed in surgery on Tuesday), and left with some VERY long impressive scars around my pelvis area.

From the Royal Melbourne Hospital I was moved to the rehabilitation hospital at Brunswick which would be my home for the next 7 weeks.  It was just like what you see in the movies or docos when you watch people learning to walk again.  I remember the first time I was made to stand, the pain cannot be described.  Taking my first steps in a gutter frame, how being out of bed for 15 minutes would tire me out for the rest of the day.  Boasting to my boyfriend how after weeks I'd walked to my hospital room door or the table just metres away.  And when I finally walked 100 metres on my gutter frame, it took me 30 minutes.  The fastest woman in the world has run the 100 metre race in 10.62 seconds! But at least when I finished, I was also sweating. 
For the first 6 weeks after surgery I was confined to bed or a wheelchair and short times on my gutter frame.  I could not sit straight and had to lean back in a special wheelchair and bed at 60 degrees.  Unless I was laying flat or standing straight in my frame.  Tough.  Don't even get me started on the hospital food, tee hee.  Finally being able to shower on my own, having my catheter out and being able to toilet alone were all major milestones.  Independence and dignity were totally lost.  I can't even count how many people have now seen me naked!
(Picture of a gutter frame, cos I had no idea what one was before either)
The support I received (and still do) from my family, friends, Benji, hospital staff and customers since the accident has been amazing.  I was surrounded by so many flowers in hospital I couldn't even see them all, and my room's wall was covered in cards.  Friends visited from Adelaide, Sydney and all corners of Melbourne and beyond.  Surrounded by so much love, it was hard to be angry or depressed about my immobile situation, they definitely kept my spirits high.  THANK YOU and BIG LOVE to you all. 
Many have asked about whom looked after Rocket?  As many of you know, I'm a single mumma, my parents, Maureen and Peter came and lived in our home in Melbourne for 3 and a half months to care for Rocket and myself.  Amazing huh?!  I've always known how lucky Rocket and I are to have such wonderful parents/grandparents, but this just topped it off with a cherry on top.  Plus all there visits since to help me out since whilst  I'm still struggling to get back on top.  Huge love and respect to them.
So if we then fast forward to me leaving Rehab Hospital, at this stage I was only just starting to use crutches and weight bearing on my 'good' leg.  I had another 6 weeks of rehabilitation whilst still not walking to complete at home.  Still lots of visits back and forth to the hospital, at the start I figured I should've just stayed there!  But it was lovely to be back home with Rocket, I had missed him like crazy, even though my parents still brought him to visit everyday.

Still now every week I attend rehab hospital and yes, I still walk with a limp.  Everyday tasks continue to take so long to complete, my diary is always full of doctor and specialist appointments.  Weeks just roll into the next, with not much seeming to be achieved, except for hospital time and sleep.  A full recovery is expected for me, that is until the hip replacement that is forecasted for me in 15 to 20 years and the early onset arthritis....oh, and I'll probably have another arthroscopy on my knees in a few months.  The big challenges are over now though.  It'll be a quite some time that I continue on with my Hydrotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Pain Specialist, Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiotherapist, Pain Specialist Physiotherapist, Psychologist and the list goes on...
The surgery last week was just one step closer to recovery.  And I am healing better than expected, but in saying this, I have written this blog post today since I'm couch-bound in pain from my ankle and back.  I am now like an eighty year old lady, I have my good days and bad, and yes, the weather does effect my pain levels.  Just like your Nanna.
Hoping that also from writing this post finally, it is at some level putting the accident further behind me.  I so badly would love to be back working full time on Powderpuff, slowly slowly and I will get there.  There are some new designs brewing, and an upcoming photo shoot planned for hopefully end of next month.  A goal like that, is the best thing to keep me motivated and moving forward.  Health wise, I look forward to being able to run and exercise and have more energy for my son, fun, work and life.  Here's hoping all of that is in the near future.
Not surprisingly, the accident has taken it's toll on my business badly.  Happening so soon after the big move to Melbourne almost stopped it dead in it's tracks and put an end to Powderpuff.  Think it goes without saying, financially the business has taken a big hit.  Thankfully though, my business I love is still going, on a much smaller scale, but still plodding along.  I have been doing a skeleton amount of work just to keep Powderpuff running, so I will have a job to return to work. Part of that has been organising local Melbourne production companies to make the garments, this has not required a large amount of work from myself.  I did try and return to work last October and vended at Camperdown Cruise, a Rockabilly 3 day festival in country VIC, but it was too soon and my health went downhill after that.
I now know I cannot rush my recovery.  Fingers crossed though by the end of March, one year after the accident, I will be back working full-time.  Come on universe, make it happen!!!  Til then, please keep updated with what's going on at Powderpuff HQ on our Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram, user handle, powderpuffboutique.  It'd be super lovely if you know any ladies that would also like our wares, please share us with them via social media or word of mouth.  Powderpuff could sure do with some more customers to ensure it's survival into 2014 and beyond at this point.
I really could go on and on about my accident and rehabilitation, it has consumed and dominated the past 9 months.  Trying to once again move on, I'm going to leave it on this positive note...
 Paula-Jane xo


  1. Oh my - reading your story has brought me to tears - your story is so similar to mine re the accident, country road, high speed, hit by speeding driver, trapped, cut free, airlifted, pain and recovery... The memories of the horrific pain being moved from bed to bed and onto ct machines and X-ray beds. Being forced to stand, the humility of being bathed and toileted, the loss of independence, rehab, more pain, hospital food, surgeries....
    I hope that you continue to recover and improve with each passing day and that Powderpuff picks up right where you left off and grows in leaps and bounds. I am still limited physically and I get frustrated at how that holds me back creatively, but I am determined to keep moving forward.

  2. What you have undergone was such an ordeal. It's great to see that you're progressing along really well. Do you have any idea as to what happened to the orher guy? Considering this had caused you serious injuries and took a big hit on your business, you could pursue the person who caused it. Either way, keep that positive outlook, as that makes everything a tad better. Take care!

    Roman Barnes @ Johnson and Johnson Law Firm

  3. Car accidents can happen in every corner, and it can happen even if you're driving carefully and defensively. Being careful about your driving doesn't ensure the fact that the other person on the road is driving as careful as you. That's how unpredictable a car accident is. Anyway, I know you've been through an excruciating event, Paula. However, I'm 100% sure you'll come out of it well, like you always do. All the best to you! :)

    Stephanie Waters