Today, I’m giving you an update on why I haven’t posted over the last few weeks. I LOVE what I do, and I always do my best to keep you updated on what’s going on in my life, and I do my best to post regularly, usually daily. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that so many of you reached out to express concern when nearly three weeks went by without much of an update from me. Thank you so much for always thinking of me, and thank you so much for your concern, well wishes, support, and comfort during all of this. It means more to me than you know, and I appreciate you all so much.
Please be advised that this update is a bit graphic and may be upsetting to some.
If you’re upset by issues around injuries, fertility & loss, car accidents, sexual harassment, surgeries, or if you don’t want to read something negative right now, which is perfectly understandable, please take a moment to hop over to the much happier sections of my website, like my travel or adventure archives.
This will be the only place I talk about this. I don’t normally share personal stories like this, but I’m working on being more transparent about my life and letting the hundreds of readers who have reached out asking what’s going on in on what’s happened, as requested. This blog is a reflection of my life and all the things that happen in it, and sometimes it’s not all fun adventures, fine dining, and life-changing new finds, and that’s just the way it goes.
This post is pretty long, so let’s get started.
I’m going to start by saying that this has been probably the worst few weeks of my life. It’s been so chaotic and upsetting, and it just seems like it’s been one thing after another, nonstop. I have just really been going through it lately. It’s been really rough physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Hacked & Running Out of Space
It started when a couple of weeks ago, my Pinterest was hacked, and I lost nearly 10k followers, which I’d built up over the years. For reference, about half of my traffic comes through Pinterest, which is more of a search engine than a social media platform for bloggers. Thankfully, I’ve been gaining new followers quickly in the weeks since then, and my traffic is coming back up to normal levels again.
The same day I had the issue with my Pinterest account, I received a notification that the storage space on my blog, which is what you’re reading now, was nearly maxed out of the highest tiered plan my server host offers, and upgrading would cost more than our mortgage each month unless I made a drastic change to another server host service. Neither of these may seem like a big deal, but they’re huge blows to bloggers, and my loss in Pinterest followers and traffic caused me to lose on several Pinterest-based jobs that would have helped offset the cost of upgrading my server space. It really sucked, but I knew it would work itself out somehow, and although I was feeling a bit down, I got over this quickly.
Car Troubles Pt. 1
To cheer me up after the issues with Pinterest and my website, Robin took me out for lunch, and it seemed things were getting better until we left the restaurant we’d grabbed lunch at and went out to the parking lot to find that a new driver had backed into and hit my car’s bumper. Looking back on it, it wasn’t a big deal, and we spent most of our time assuring her it was okay and that she shouldn’t be upset, but inside at the time, I was so upset because I LOVE my car. I hand wash it weekly, always get the services done right on time, keep the interior spotless, and have always been an extremely careful driver without so much as a parking ticket throughout my entire life.
Aside from my wedding ring and my camera, my car, which I’d affectionately given the German name Brünhilda, was my very favorite possession. I was so disappointed she had backed into it, but again not a huge problem in the scheme of things. Her family set up the payment for repairs to the body shop in our city, and it was promptly repaired. They were such a sweet family, and the situation couldn’t have gone better, in hindsight.
They say bad things happen in 3s, and so we thought to ourselves, “phew, this is the third bad thing to happen to us, we’re in the clear!”
Soon after those incidents, I found that a major publication had stolen some of my photographs, published them in print (which is a huge, career altering deal!), and attributed them not to me but a well-known male photographer in another country. It was actually one of you who recognized my work in print and alerted me to this theft. It breaks my heart when people steal from me, especially my intellectual property, because had they given me credit, it could have been a huge boost to me in my career, and it would have benefitted all involved parties. Instead, I am left feeling dismayed and frustrated. This publication has the ability to change the lives of the photographers it works with, and the person they attributed my images to in their printing was already well-regarded in the world of travel imagery. Why would they lie while simultaneously stealing from me?
This isn’t the first, second, or even 10th time some large global publication has stolen my work and failed to credit or pay me in any way, shape, or form, which is very discouraging. I can’t say much more about this at the moment because I’ve had to hire an attorney to remedy this, which I hate doing. After all, it’s so stressful and time-consuming. By not sticking up for myself as a semi-well-known photographer and travel writer, I set the tone that it’s okay for these publications to do this to other smaller travel creators who may not be able to stand up for themselves and me. I’m not only standing up for myself in this specific instance. I’m standing up for everyone else in this profession, which is why it’s necessary and right.
Rushing Back to Michigan
A day or two after all of these things happened, my mother-in-law (MIL) told us that her husband, my father-in-law (FIL), was having chest pains, and his Apple watch had found that his heart rate was extremely irregular. My MIL can’t drive and relies on my FIL for most things, so when we heard he was being admitted to the hospital for an emergency double bypass surgery, open-heart surgery for those with extremely clogged arteries, we dropped all of our plans. We drove a full day back to Michigan to be with them and help care for MIL and my FIL after his surgery with only a couple of hours’ notice.
It turned out to be good that we came back home because once they ran more tests on him, they found that he didn’t need a double bypass, but a triple bypass, which is a very risky and difficult surgery not only to undergo but to recover from. I know some people don’t like their in-laws, but mine are truly some of the most wonderful people in the world, as evidenced by how wonderfully they raised the man who became my incredible husband. I love them as much as I love my own blood relatives, so the idea that something was so seriously wrong with one of them was terrifying. We drove straight through the day from Connecticut, barely stopping even to eat or drink.
Triple Bypass Surgery & Waiting Room Harassment
After we arrived back in Michigan late at night after a full day of driving, I barely slept from worrying so much, and I woke up the next day around 5:30 am – 6:00 am to be to the hospital first thing with my MIL my FIL underwent his surgery. Thankfully, he had an incredible surgical team who did an excellent job, and we received word a few hours later that he was doing well and that everything had gone as well as possible. My MIL went back to visit my FIL even though he wasn’t really awake from his surgery yet.
I was in the surgery waiting room when an older man, probably in his 70s or so, who was also in the waiting room, began talking to me. He told me he’d been there since 3 am because his second wife was having surgery too, and feeling sad that another person was as worried about a loved one as we were, I offered the old dude some of our food, which was dried fruits, granola bars, and some smoothie pouches we hadn’t really touched. He continued talking to me, and at first, I didn’t mind, but he just wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept telling me strange things about his family and himself, and he tried to engage me in very bizarre political conversations, and I tried to be polite yet clear that I wanted to be left alone by pretending to be on my phone.
Over the course of a couple of hours, his seemingly nonstop talking devolved even further into comments about my long hair and how he wished his wife had long hair like mine, my body, and even the pink dress I was wearing. He asked me if my husband knew how lucky he was to “have a body like that,” and I told him I wasn’t interested in talking to him anymore. I got up from my seat, trying to get better cell service in the hospital to update our family members on my FIL’s condition, and stood near the windows, when I realized he was now standing right next to me. Out of nowhere, he wrapped his arms around me in a creepy, unwanted hug and said: “This is for you and your MIL,” and he commented how I smelled “so amazing” after sticking his nose into my hair and inhaling deeply. I pulled away from him, while he tried to hang on to me, walked away, and sat down, fully ignoring him and very grossed out.
When my MIL eventually returned, this creepy perv kept talking to her like he hadn’t just aggressively grabbed a random stranger in a hospital during a pandemic and asked if she’d “gotten her hug from him he’d given me.” On the surface, it seems like just an old dude “trying to be nice,” but the way he kept looking at us and all of the very inappropriate comments he was making to me around others in the waiting room made it clear that this dude was a major creep.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, a man claiming to be a chaplain, another much older man, came around asking if I needed any emotional support or guidance. Again, this seems like a nice thing to do for someone until I realized that he was staring at my chest rather than looking me in the eyes the entire time he was speaking to me. At this point, I’d just had it. I was sick with worry about my FIL, I hadn’t slept well, I’d been through numerous other frustrating things that week, and the other guy had been a major creep too. So, I sternly asked him what he was staring at, and he finally looked me in the eyes and simply and calmly said, “I think we both know.” as he got up to leave. As he was leaving, he turned around and said, “I’ll keep an eye out for you around the hospital, and I’ll be praying for you.”
Looking back on it, I should have immediately reported both him and the other creepy guy in the waiting room who had grabbed me without my permission and made rude comments about my appearance to the hospital’s security or something. Still, I was so shocked and upset that I didn’t do anything. I feel very guilty for not saying anything at the time because I doubt that was the first or last time either of those “men” had done those things to someone. If I were to try to do something about it now, I’m not sure what the hospital could even do, let alone if anyone would care about a couple of crass comments, a “hug,” and wandering eyes. I wish I had stood up for myself and other people they might have harassed in the past.
I recently realized that this was the first time since the pandemic started nearly a year and a half ago that I’d been alone in public, and it took less than an hour of me being alone in public for me to start getting sexually harassed again. It’s one thing to compliment someone and move on, but neither of these incidents was so benign.
To be clear, my MIL hadn’t seen any of this as she was caring for her husband in the recovery ward, and I didn’t tell her at the time because I didn’t want to worry her more than she already was.
Car Troubles Pt. 2
After arguably one of the most distressing 24-36 hours of my life that felt like it had gone on for weeks, my MIL wanted me to take her home, about an hour away. I felt fine and so happy to know my FIL was doing well, and I was ready to get some food. She had said she wanted to take a nap now that she knew her husband was in stable condition, and I was thankful to be leaving the hospital too. We were about 15 minutes from her home when another car struck my car’s front passenger side, where my MIL was sitting.
My car was pushed into the opposite lane of traffic, all of my car’s airbags went off, including the knee airbags, back seat airbags, driver and passenger airbags, and even some side pannel airbags I didn’t even know were there. My car began filling with smoke and heat, and my MIL screamed that the car was on fire, and we both got out as quickly as we could. Thankfully, what we had thought was fire was the dust, heat and smoke from the airbags all going off at once, but despite there being no fire, my beloved car was visibly totaled.
The airbags had all deployed, as I mentioned, the windshield had shattered, the front end was crumpled, along with lots of other damage, and it was clear it wasn’t going to be drivable any time soon, if ever again. A major part of why we’d come back to Michigan was so that in the weeks following my FIL’s surgery, I could drive my MIL around (remember, she can’t drive) and run errands for her, but without a car, I was worried about how I could do this. In the end, my car kept us safe.
I was so upset and worried about how I would be able to help them anymore now that my car was totaled and whether or not my MIL was okay that I didn’t realize how badly I was hurt until a few moments after exiting the car. I had massive bruises on both of my shins that were already turning purple and were making it painful to walk, my wrist and arms were cut from the panels in my car blowing off as the airbags deployed, and I’d gotten a decent amount of blood on one of my favorite dresses. My abdomen, right above my uterus, where the seatbelt had tightened to keep me safe, was extremely sore and it really hurt to walk or bend forward. I couldn’t make a fist with my right hand, and if I tried to move my thumb, I couldn’t.
I called my husband to come and help us since he was at home working and not far away from the accident, and I was so distraught about the accident and in pain that I wasn’t sure what to do. He showed up shortly after, helped us clean out my car, called a tow truck, and he took both my MIL and me to the emergency room.
I had more than a dozen x-rays taken of my knee, which was very swollen from the airbags deploying, and of my wrist and arm, which I still couldn’t move without a lot of pain. They told me that I didn’t need to take a pregnancy test before my x-rays because if I had been pregnant, I wouldn’t have been far along, to begin with, because they said my stomach was flat. Furthermore, because of the traumatic injuries I’d sustained to my abdomen, they said it didn’t matter if I had been pregnant at the time of the accident, because I “wouldn’t have been pregnant for very long anyway.” after such injuries.
A few other things happened at the hospital that I’m not really ready to talk about yet, but after a time, we were discharged, and I was told to come back in a few days for a follow-up to make sure I was doing okay and that I wasn’t experiencing any internal bleeding.
Looking back on this hospital interaction, it was pretty cruel of them to talk to me or any other patient like that, even if what they said had been true. I hope that they are kinder and more gentle with people who have gone through traumatic accidents in the future. They didn’t know anything about me beyond my injuries and what had happened to me in the accident. If I had been someone who had been desperately trying to have a child and so hopeful, their coldness could have been devastating for someone who had already gone through so much.
Caring for My In-Laws
As if everything wasn’t rough enough already, all of us except for my husband got a pretty bad cold, most likely from being in and out of the hospital. My FIL got over it first. Thankfully, my MIL had a lingering cough but is doing great now, and I got sick last but got over it the quickest. Despite my injuries, I did my best to help around the house, making everything as clean and safe as possible for when my FIL was discharged, and with the help of my sister, my mother, my MIL, and my husband, we did everything we had initially set out to do and more.
We washed, rolled up, and put away rugs and anything else that could be a trip hazard for him. We cleaned out all of the unhealthy foods from their pantry and refrigerator, came up with a healthy meal plan for them to follow when he got home and went grocery shopping. We cleaned their home from top to bottom, cleaned out their cars for them, cared for their pets, took my MIL up to the hospital each morning so she could visit my FIL, and did some things around the yard for them too.
When he came home after a week in the hospital, he looked better than he had in years and was in excellent spirits. My FIL has been moving around wonderfully, eating well, and embracing his healthy new lifestyle. He seems happier than I’ve seen him in a while, probably because he’s finally getting proper blood flow. I’m so thankful for the excellent care he received during his time in the hospital and that he could catch his health issues before they got worse. One of the arterial clogs he had was nicknamed “the widowmaker” because almost no one survives having that artery clogged. If that isn’t scary enough, he had 2 other almost completely clogged arteries in his heart as well. I’m so thankful he’s doing so much better now.
We recently came home back to Connecticut, and I’m recovering physically from my injuries. We have to deal with insurance and the total loss of one of our vehicles, which is never fun. I’m trying to catch up on the work I’ve had to neglect for the past few weeks, and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, but it’s been hard because things just don’t feel the same.
This experience has made me realize that my in-laws and my own parents are getting older and that someday a surgeon, no matter how skilled, won’t be able to save them from death. It’s made me realize that our lives can drastically change at any moment, and there’s nothing we can do to stop these things from happening, which is a scary thought.
Sometimes, when I close my eyes to go to sleep at night, I can still hear the sound of the car accident and all of my airbags exploding out from my car, which startles me awake. I keep having nightmares not only of all of the things that could have gone wrong over the past few weeks but about what did go wrong, where I’m vividly reliving each piece of that nightmarish puzzle again and again, and in my restless dreams, it seems as real as it did when it first happened.
Thankfully, my wounds are healing, my bruises are fading, and my FIL & MIL are both doing well. I wrote this post to answer all of the questions I’ve received over the past few weeks and share that it’s okay to talk about them when things like this happen. I don’t often get “deep” on my blog, but the past few weeks have profoundly impacted me, and it would feel like I was lying to you if I didn’t at least share what happened with you. So, hug your loved ones and never miss a chance to tell the ones you love how much they mean to you, and always be kind to those around you because we never know what others may be going through.
I love you all, and I appreciate your support through everything that’s happened. If I had a dollar for every person who reached out to check on me, ask if everything was okay, offered support and compassion after my car accident, or encouraged me, I could go out and buy a new car right now. Thank you for always supporting me. Your love and support truly mean the world to me.