One Year

Last Wednesday, a year ago, I signed the papers to sell my company.

Thursday, I got on a plane to Austin for SXSW.

By Friday, my ear started hurting.

On Saturday, I visited the ER and they sent me home with lots of medicine for a bad ear infection.

That Sunday, very early in the morning, I went back to the hospital, and all hell broke loose.

The previous doctor only had seen one of the three ear infections now ripping through my head. Inner, Outer, and, most importantly, into my mastoid process.

I could tell they were freaked. They kept asking me all kinds of crazy questions while they shoved a needle full of morphine into my arm.

I don’t know, dude… I don’t know. But…


During the time between my two ER visits, I ruined three large-size hotel towels from the blood running out of my ear. Three. The call to housekeeping that day was what you might call… awkward. I am sure they still talk about the ax murderer who was in town for SXSW last year… before she just vanished.

Seeing as I never returned to the hotel. I stayed at in the hospital for 5 days, and also had emergency surgery to keep the infection from exploding my brain.

I feel so dramatic when I tell people this all was very life-threatening, but the truth is… it is a miracle I made it through. It ended up being Strep-A, which sounds benign until you attach the other things you need to know… Necrotizing. Flesh-eating. The one that killed Jim Henson.

The surgery I had in Austin was also a stop-gap to allow me to fly home, and prepare me for one, maybe two or perhaps even three more other surgeries later.

From an infection in my ear. I still can’t believe that.

My first appointment with the specialist in Denver turned into a flurry of activity as well, when tests showed *something* was moving around in my ear.

Best case scenario: Another section of the infection was erupting into my ear.

Worst case: My skull had fractured and my brain was leaking.

Brain and leaking are NOT words you want pulled together when you have just had emergency surgery in a strange city, made it home, hoping to turn the corner – only to have the door slammed in your face.

Luckily, it was the former. Only the infection pumping around at full speed inside my ear.

Which meant MASSIVE antibiotics, threat of a PICC line, and a possible immediate surgery to scrape out my mastoid process.

I spent April, May and June taking so many drugs, my regular accoutrement of medications felt very inferior.

But I did it. I managed to get rid of the infection. We let things heal for July and August, but knew the hole in my eardrum was just too big to avoid. Let’s face it, there was really nothing left.

So in September, I went back under the knife – feeling proud I managed only have ONE more surgery – to rebuild by eardrum from behind. My scar runs the full length of my ear and is nearly invisible unless you touch it. I often rub it for luck.

In some ways, that surgery was almost harder than any of it. Perhaps because I expected to bounce back quickly. I should have learned by then to never underestimate how much the ear controls your health. Your balance, your pain, your ability to navigate this world.

I was out for the count for another two months. The lack of movement made me so stiff, I got sciatica and now get ongoing massage therapy. I stretch a lot. And before you suggest yoga, people must walk before they run. I really appreciate when people say I look younger than my nearly 42 years – but I feel much, much, much older. In my bones, at least. And in my ear, which now sports a hearing aid.

This year has aged me. And taught me.

Health is the most valuable thing we possess. Without it, we have nothing.

I fear Declan will remember long periods of me sleeping. Just sleeping.

But I also know my family and friends are there for me. They support me. They love me.

And I am ready to leave this year behind.

This article has 42 comments

  1. Grace Boyle

    Oh man. So glad to hear you’re recovering/recovered and what an ordeal. Health is an interesting thing. Makes life very precious. Sorry for all that pain, I remember seeing those tweets last year. Lots of love to you!

  2. Everyfann

    What a crazy year Aimee!!!

  3. Monique Rugile

    Wow Aimee, I knew it was serious but I had no idea how severe. I am glad you made it through this last year. You are a strong woman and I’m sure you will just keep improving. Thinking of you.

  4. Camels & Chocolate

    I’m so glad that year is behind you, too! Here’s to new beginnings.

  5. Camels & Chocolate

    I’m so glad that year is behind you, too! Here’s to new beginnings.

  6. Camels & Chocolate

    I’m so glad that year is behind you, too! Here’s to new beginnings.

  7. Anonymous

    EEKS! I feel like we lived through that with you. Seems like this year is better, right??? – m

  8. Megan

    What the HELL Aimee!?!?!?!

  9. Magpie

    here’s to a much better year this year, and ever after.

  10. monstergirlee

    Well with your new bionic ear and a new year starting soon (Isn’t your birthday right about now?) I’ll keep my fingers crossed for good health!
    What a crazy year it’s been. Oof.
    Good health and happiness to you my friend!

  11. Tracy

    Oh shug, I didn’t know the particulars of the story, only the highlights. I can totally sympathize. I had an ear infection that became cellulitis in my head and I did have to get the PICC line. I’m SO SO glad that you came out of this healthy and happy. You are awesome! 😀 ♥

  12. Dana

    Oh my…I never knew that you were so sick. I am so glad that you are on the mend and able to put the year behind you. You are a warrior and knowing you this will make you even stronger. Love you!!!

  13. kristen [rage against the minivan]

    May your next year make up in fabulous what last year wreaked in awful. Cheers, friend!

  14. kimberlysl

    OMG! I had no idea… What an ordeal. But it is good to reflect and even with health problems, be thankful for the progress. I hope it is all in the past!

  15. Alli Worthington

    Oh Honey, I love you like crazy. So proud of what you have defeated this past year. So, so proud of you.

  16. zenrain

    I was just thinking about all of this yesterday, and was having a hard time convincing myself it had been one year!! So, so glad you are better 🙂 xoxo

  17. laura

    HOLY. SHIT. so so so glad you are okay and here to talk about the 1 year anniversary.

  18. Meghan @ Life Refocused

    So happy that you are here and HEALTHY. Bravo to kicking last year to the curb. xo

  19. Schmutzie

    I’m so glad to see you come out the other side, Aimee. Onward and upward!

  20. Schmutzie

    I’m so glad to see you come out the other side, Aimee. Onward and upward!

  21. Ria

    You’re alive and that’s a blessing to us all.

    We can only hope for ourselves that through pain there is both growth AND healing.

    Love to you, dear Amy!

  22. Kim Hosey

    Man, you have been THROUGH it. Props to you; and here’s to a rocking year to come.

  23. moosh in indy.

    Addie will remember my pregnancy as my 9 months of sleep.

    Dude, and I’m still recovering from your crazy “I WAS BLIND IN NEW YORK” story.

    Maybe it’s a sign you should stay in high altitude, or something, noting happened at EVO right?

    So happy you are well and happy friend.

  24. jyl (@momitforward)

    Still can’t believe we were eating lunch right before this happened. One minute you were heading to a drug store for something minor and then next, I got a text, telling me you were in the hospital.

    So glad you’ve made it through all of this and that we can still be pool jumping buddies!

    You’re awesome inside and out, Aimee!


  25. Bethany

    Aimee, it really is remarkable how it all developed – and so scary. For real, brain and leaking should ONLY be used together in the context of the zombie crawl.
    Goodbye old year, helo new one. SO glad you’re here!

  26. Erica Mueller

    Ok, so I will never ignore an ear infection again! I have always gotten them a LOT and bad too. No more ignoring for weeks at a time. Learning from Aimee!

    So sorry you had to go through that. I can’t imagine how scary it must have been.

  27. Kathleen Marie

    That is really scary! Glad you are on the mend.

  28. ZDub

    Love ya, friend.


  29. Sizzle

    I’m so glad you made it through all that. What a hell of a year! You’re one tough cookie, my friend. xo

  30. amykblum

    What you left out was all the amazing things you still managed to do during that time. I’m in awe of you and all you do!

  31. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    THANK YOU ALL for such loving support and comments. YOU ARE THE BEST.

  32. Tree

    You have truly had such a year full of many positives and many challenges. You are poised to have the best year ever right now. I will be there cheering you on all the way!

  33. Corinna

    So glad you’ve made it through. Obvs you are one tough broad and I’m glad to know you. Here’s to a better year ahead!

  34. sue at nobaddays

    It’s the tough years that teach us, for sure. Looks like 2012 is shaping up that way for me — my mom just passed away — unexpected and a very quick decline. See FB. Hoping the rest of the year doesn’t follow suit 😉 Glad it’s been a year of growth for you! Love!

  35. sue at nobaddays

    And yeah — health is everything … that and family!

  36. Lucrecer

    Oh, my friend. You truly are a strong woman and have endured so much over the past year. I am proud of you and so honored to call you my friend. Blessings to you for strong health and continued success.

  37. Justine

    Health is one of those things that you don’t really consider, while you have it, but sorely miss when you don’t 🙂 To a much happier and healthier 2012! (I know we’re already getting well into it at this stage, but anyway :))

  38. Michelle

    Holy moly cats! I was getting goose bumps reading that. I knew only bits and pieces of this but my goodness, I’m so grateful that you managed to find the issue and successfully resolved it. And yes, you do look way younger than 42. Stick with that!

  39. Caleb

    Holy crap. It’s really weird to think that I’ve only known you for the year from hell. I met you just before it started!

  40. JennyMoose

    We DO love you, and support you all the way. And you are such a music nut, Im so glad you are in stereo again. Be well, dear friend. You just go right on kicking ass over there.

  41. Mishi

    Wow. I’m in awe of you and grateful for the positive outcome. XO

  42. Andrea

    wow aimee. what a year.

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