Sunday, May 22, 2011
I don't want to say much about the accident itself except that my vehicle made contact with another vehicle while I was making a right turn. I was wearing my seat belt. The air bags did not deploy. We're 99% sure nothing was broken or fractured but I was jostled about quite seriously. Here's what went through my head.
What happened? You were in a car accident. Okay... Turn off the vehicle. [I turn off the key and take my foot off the brake. The car starts to roll slightly] Put it in park... that's good, now you can take your foot off the brake.
Okay, am I hurt? Are you? Let's see, I felt my right shoulder get wrenched pretty good. My arm was numb down to the elbow for about 30 seconds but it's OK now. My shoulder and the right side of my neck hurt. Yes, I'm hurt but not too bad, apparently.
I should go check on the other guy. Make sure he's alright. No, you shouldn't. You should stay right where you are. Are you sure? First, you are partially in a traffic lane and you would be opening your door into traffic that is already moving around you. That's just not safe. Second, you don't know the exact extent of your injuries. Right.
There's something else... Oh, I should call my wife and tell her I've been in an accident. Shouldn't you call the police first and report the accident? Yeah, right, police first. Would this be considered an emergency? Just get your phone out and dial 911 - this qualifies. [I reach back to pull my phone out of its case and my arm is stiff and sore] Yep, wrenched that pretty good. [I report the accident and request medical assistance as well]
How bad is the damage, I wonder? Don't concern yourself with that now. I'm not concerned, just curious. You should at least wait until the police arrive so it will be safe(er) for you to exit the vehicle. Okay, you're right.
Oh, wait, I still need to call the wife. [I call and inform her of the accident and describe where it hurts. The police show up so I tell her I will call her back in a few minutes.]
The officer takes my license and insurance information. He asks if I was the one who requested the ambulance and I tell him yes. He tells me to sit tight and wait for the EMT crews to arrive... which I do.
I won't bore you with the details of how I told six people my name and DOB and told four people where it hurt before we left the scene. Because I complained of neck pain, a fireman got into my back seat and held my head until the ambulance arrived. They then proceeded to wrap me in one of those rigid C-Collars (not fun, not comfortable) and helped me out onto a back board. I went from looking at the dashboard to looking at the sky. The other vehicle was obscured by a sign and the corner of a building so I was ignorant of many details when I left the scene.
Note: While the fireman was holding my head, I used my bluetooth speakerphone to call the wife back and tell her to meet me at the hospital.
The E.R. finally took me out of the C-Collar because I had no centerline pain and eventually sent me home with some Rx painkillers for my shoulder. I had already taken off Tuesday and Wednesday to finish a home improvement project (which didn't get done for obvious reasons) so I used those days to convalesce and my wife drove me to work on Thursday.
I had training Thursday morning so I clocked in, did a quick email check, and headed to the training room. I got signed in to the computer in the training room, looked over my email a bit more, and got signed into the class. As I sat there, the lower-left part of my back started tightening up. I shifted around and made a comment to myself about how terrible these chairs were.
As the instructor started the class and was having everyone introduce themselves since we were all from different areas, my back went from tight to sore to uncomfortable to downright hurting. I was fidgeting in my chair quite a bit and could find no relief. I figured I needed to stand up and possible walk for a bit. I excused myself but standing did not abate the pain. A passerby saw me exit the training room and lean against a counter and asked if I was alright... I said no.
The occupational health nurse was called, a wheelchair was brought, and I was taken to the nurse's office where I answered questions for an incident form she was filling out and awaited my wife whom I had called to come get me. As I sat there, the pain went from an 8 (out of 10) to a 6 and I thought things were clearing up... oh, they were just getting started.
The wife arrived and I got into the car. We were discussing whether to go home (65 miles away) and see the family doctor or go back to the E.R. 5 miles away. Since the pain had started to increase slightly, I suggested the E.R. might be the better course of action. Before we got out of the parking lot and onto the highway about a 1/4 mile down the road my pain threshold had gone back to an 8. By the time we got to the end of the on ramp, it was up to a 9. In very short order, it hit 10. I had a stabbing pain in the lower-left quadrant of my back and I could actually feel the muscle tightening in short, forceful spasms that cranked it up to 11.
Once the car stopped my agony abated a bit. I got wheeled into a triage room where I told 3 or 4 people my name, DOB, and where it hurt. My vitals were taken and I was wheeled to a treatment/exam room. I was back down to a 7 by this time.
The short version of the rest of this story is that my pain level moved between 6 and 10 for the next 30 minutes or so while I was examined and questioned again about my name, DOB and injury. I was writhing so much my wife was afraid I was going to fall off the gurney. I eventually received a shot of Adivan and another of Morphine and Benadryl. They were both given IM so it took another 20 minutes for them to take effect enough that I could get into a wheelchair and back to the car.
Since then I've been dealing with pain and tightness in various areas of my back as well as having my right arm randomly go numb along the inside all the way down to my index finger.
As if that wasn't enough, the mother of a close friend went into the hospital early this week. She had been experiencing some episodes of confusion and having her legs collapse out from under her which the doctors speculated might be small strokes. Sunday or Monday, she became disoriented and was not recognizing her children. They took her to the hospital and it was suspected that she'd had a brain bleed.
They performed surgery the next day and induced a coma for a couple of days after to keep her from moving about or even coughing or sneezing and mucking things up. We received a report that she had opened her eyes and glared at one of her children on Friday but that has apparently been the only sign of recovery.
We just heard that she experienced some sort of cardiac event over the weekend and the doctors are not confident she'll wake up on her own. They have her on a ventilator/respirator but can only leave it in for another couple of days before it does damage to her throat. The next step would be to perform a tracheotomy for the respirator and insert a feeding tube. They have advised the family that doing so would likely only serve to bring her unnecessary discomfort.
The family is going to speak with the doctors tomorrow and make some tough decisions.
Like I said. It's been one hell of a week.