Monday, August 23, 2021

Personal and Professional Update August 2021

While sick with Crohn’s on January 20th, I passed out and fell. I fractured my eye socket, busted my nose, broke my cheekbones from one side of my face to the other, and fractured both my upper and lower jaw. The force of the impact also fractured vertebrae in my upper spine. After an interminable stay in the hospital (alone, due to covid), spinal fusion, and facial reconstruction, my jaw was wired shut for four weeks. I was also in a huge cervical brace for months. I am still in the process of having my mouth repaired.

In addition to the face, mouth, and neck pain, I have had neuropathic "referred pain" in my hands since the accident. This pain – especially in the left hand – has caused the most severe suffering. Which is … weird: of all the actual injuries, it is my uninjured hands that hurt the worst. Since it is my damaged spine telling my brain that my hands hurt, normal pain medicines don’t really help. The maximum dose of nerve drugs like gabapentin helps some, although I can't really tell until I try to lower the dose. Then: Yikes!

Following months on disability, I went back to my job at the Good Food Institute full time in May. In June, I was told my employment was terminated. So after nearly four years in what I thought would be my last position ever, I was out a job, my ability to advance GFI's mission, secure insurance, and what I had mistakenly considered my deepest and most defining male friendship. All this while dealing with severe chronic pain.

Now I’m focusing on One Step for Animals, where we’re developing a new Portuguese campaign. I’m also volunteering for Anne's employer, the Material Innovation Initiative, as well as a friend’s new project, Plant-Based Eating Made Easy. I continue to do hours of physical therapy every day, including using a TENS unit, which I recommend for anyone with pain. 

Until now, I have not planned to talk publicly about any of this. The same had been true of the last time I almost died. I didn’t want anyone to suffer from my suffering when there was little to nothing they could do to help me or Anne. I know several of my friends are dealing with a lot in their own lives – deaths, divorce, family restructuring. I didn't want to add to their suffering. 

At this point, though, I think it is better that everyone knows about my current health status and termination, in part so no one ever mentions that organization to me ever again.

I also don’t want anyone to think I’m holding things back. To everyone I didn't keep in the loop about this from the beginning, I truly apologize.

PS:

I'm inserting this photo because one of the ways of dealing with devastating tragedies and great suffering is to remember that things won't always feel as they do now. Times have been good and will be good again.

Thanks to everyone for your friendship and support. I appreciate you more than I can say.

7 comments:

Unknown said...

Stay the course, Matt. I'm a vegan with UC and there are VERY CHALLENGING moments with my health. You are heard and understood - wishing you well.

Donna Marino said...

I am so sorry Matt. You do great work. Keeping you in my thoughts.

Kay Sievers said...

Really sorry to hear all the physical and mental trauma you've been dealing with. It really hits the fan all at once, doesn't it. Take care of yourself, Matt, and ride this out. Nothing lasts forever.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bravely sharing your story. We see you and are with you. You'll be in my thoughts.

RaeSikora said...

Matt, so so sorry you have had to deal with this....the physical pain, the mental trauma, the unexpected turn of events, life being turned upside down. I am sending love to you and your family and picturing you healing quickly and life calming down.

Vegaia said...

So sorry to hear about your tribulations, Matt. I hope you are on a fast healing path and back at what you love to do (at full strength) soon. Take care! <3 JC

rose said...

I'm 100% team Maaaaaaaattttt. Hang in there friend. Keep your head up. And let me know if I can help along the way. :)