With so much instability in the world and so many folks in need, it has taken quite a bit to resolve to share, that I too am in need of help. I have not broadcast much about this situation. Faced with an additional surgery that I can in no way afford, I'm hoping anything my friends and family can offer some help with damage control through already difficult circumstances.
Trigger warning: Contains descriptions/photos of injury.
On May 7, 2020, I attempted to lower an antique fireplace mantel to the floor in order to disassemble the piece and remove it from my home. At about a 45 degree angle, the top piece of the mantel broke off under it's own weight and fell sideways onto my foot, nearly lacerating it in half. The large top piece that broke was a multiple hundred pound slab of pure marble. I suffered 3 fractures, one badly displaced, and of course a huge laceration.
My foot exploded wide open. The main artery was fully exposed but undamaged, and the stitch line ran along that artery. I had narrowly avoided major injury to that artery - ie - an amputation situation - by dumb luck.
I don't have photographs of this because I am an extremely squeamish person, and it took my nearly 6 weeks to even look down at my own foot, but the descriptions from others were not very rosy. My partner almost fainted he saw was had happened and drove me to the hospital.
6 weeks post-accident - late June
6 weeks post-accident - the lovingly referred, "Frankenfoot" - late June
The healing journey and next steps:
There is always a chance for displaced fractures to heal on their own without reset, so this is what my podiatrist chose. Surgery at the time would have resulted in an extremely expensive, multi-day hospital stay due to the laceration.
I was later told 99% of the cases this severe would have resulted in instant surgery to even sew me back together, but that because I seemed calm and not in any pain, they went ahead and stitched me up under local.
If my bone needed to be reset we could operate later, an outpatient procedure. If we didn't need to operate at all and it healed on its own, even better.
I experienced extreme swelling for a long time, given a size XL surgical boot meant for large men with big foot injuries. I couldn't move much for a few weeks, and then slowly got around on crutches through August. Nerve pain was a nightmare until I was more properly medicated. While the swelling has gone down substancially and I can now partially move my toes again - I am still swollen and use a compression sock to manage. Some swelling will be permanent, and it's unlikely the functionality in my toes will be as it was before. Down the line, I'll be dealing with some lifetime balance/stability limitations, even if "functional". And of course, additional potential surgeries down the line concerning the metal plate and screws.
Upon walking again in September, I experienced mild to sharp pain with every step. I was told this may improve, instead it has been chronic.
I was briefly able to get back to work and "function", but "functional" does not mean normal. I move slowly with limited duration and intensity. I suddenly began to experience extreme awareness of what it means to have "invisible" pain or illness despite the appearance of a casually moving, "healthy" able-bodied seeming person and has been extremely humbling.
As of November 10, enough time has passed. It has not and will not improve without going back in to operate, rebreak the bone on the displaced fracture, and install a metal plate in my foot.
Today, Nov 11. Swelling pervasive but mitigated, partial toe function.
Hoping to schedule surgery early December.
Without insurance, the surgery center requires payment in full before the operation.
God bless America that institutions can assume everyone without insurance has an extra 10k laying around to hand over on the spot.
Funds requested here will cover the cost of initial surgery, prescriptions, follow up appointments and X rays.
If I can qualify for CarePayment, I can still proceed with scheduling. Qualification granted or not, the funds to pay just aren't there.
How this will help:
The circumstances of 2020 have compounded themselves into a perfect disaster.
Covid happened at the worst time, during my career transition from modeling into wedding and portrait photography - ie a time of taking an unprecedented risk in my life. I could neither move forward into the new, or turn back to my modeling work. Covid related complications for both my old and new businesses were worsened by physical mobility limitations, shutting out most alternate options. This is now turning into multiple periods of convalesce and dependence, which include for example, inability to drive.
I have been living off a disaster relief loan secured through Covid, but that is running out. I will be incapable of replenishing loaned money spent for an uncertain duration of time, possibly years.
In September/October I took advantage of getting back to work for several weeks, but that was not remotely enough to generate enough to do much more than stop some bleeding. The unemployment, financial uncertainty, and isolation of Covid combined with the depression and helplessness of injury have damaged my mental health. The small window of time I could get back to work and "be myself" between recovery and further surgery has only partially lifted some mental and financial weight.
Other ways to help:
It has been extremely difficult to ask for help.
But. If you can -
1) Share! Please help get the word out.
2) If you know of anyone planning a wedding, elopement, please throw my name into the mix so that I have something coming in for later in 2021.
Because most weddings are planned so far in advance, I do not anticipate my injury will impact my ability to perform future work, as I expect to be on my feet again by March if we can operate in early December.
3) I can currently accept boudoir, personal branding and portrait shoots in my local studio or at nearby outdoor locations as this does not require the same physical demand as weddings or modeling.
4) I am an extremely skilled maker in diverse arenas - and can accept 2021 commissions for wall murals, painting, design and physical art installations for your home, business, or campervan/RV (scheduled appropriately as per physical demand required). I mean have you even seen my van? I have plenty of skills to make stuff totally artsy and rad (van build: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfBixSqWkqc )
5) I can also take on freelance retouching or art/painting commissions, campervan build consulting, print sales of photography/ my modeling / travel photos or surreal mixed media pieces I've created.
I know many folks do not have a lot to give right now, and I don't either. I myself would not be in a position to help a friend in a similar boat, which is why this has been so hard to make.
But if you can spare something or share - "every bit helps". And thank you for reading this if you made it this far <3
- Tiana Hunter
- Jennifer Terry
- William Sou