"Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others." Ayn Rand

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.....

Probably most of you who read this already know about what's been going on in our lives over the past two weeks. For those of you who don't let me fill you in briefly, and I'll add pictures where I can.
On Saturday, November 29, we were just doing routine things around the house. It was a fairly nice day, and Richard wanted to get the Christmas decorations done. He's done it a few times, I've done it a few times. In the years that he would be extremely busy or travelling a lot, I'd do it, usually when he was away, and he'd come home to a decorated house. In the years where I've been sick, he's done the outside, and the children have done the inside. I'm still recuperating from my plantar fascia surgery that I had October 24th;

so he headed outside after lunch. I asked him again if he wanted me to come outside and help him and he again said no, that he wanted me inside with my foot iced and elevated. (Yes, actually, I do feel guilty!) I kiddingly said to him to make sure he had his cell phone in his pocket, so he would be able to call me in case he fell off the ladder. (Is that an example of tempting fate?) He put on his coat, took Mookie with him, and went out front. Not ten minutes passed before I heard a yell from outside that stopped me cold. I ran out the garage door, and there was Richard, laying on the ground face down, blood absolutely everywhere. He was quiet, but conscious. I ran inside and dialed 911, and told them I needed an ambulance. I wasn't sure how far he had fallen, but he was in front of the garage door, and the little giant ladder was in full extension, so it was at least 15 to 20 feet. I ran back in and got the first thing I could grab to put under his head, a beach towel, and when I lifted his head to put it under, I saw that he had about a 3 inch gash in his forehead, and it was gushing. I grabbed another towel, and held it against the cut, trying to stop the bleeding. He said he was ok, and didn't need to go to the hospital (he later told me he said that he did need to go to the hospital...which for Richard is rare. He is king of the "it's only a flesh wound" club.) He said his wrist hurt and his ankles hurt and his head hurt. He asked me how I knew to come out; he didn't remember calling for me. He made a joke about Mookie just laying there after it happened; we both laughed about how Mookie was no Lassie, and would never have let me know that Timmy had fallen into the well.
The ambulance came in about 10 minutes or so, although it seemed like forever. Hebron VFD responded with an ambulance, and about two minutes after that, a fire truck. They put a collar on him, then rolled him over onto a back board, loaded him up into the back of the ambulance, and away they went, lights and sirens going. I was terrified, but I'm one of those people that kind of goes on autopilot in a crisis. I went inside with the dog, put on shoes, grabbed my purse and a diet coke, and headed for the emergency room. When I got there, I went to the window, and they wouldn't let me back. The ER is all different now, and everything is locked; there isn't access unless they grant it. So I sat quietly until I couldn't stand it any more; then I'd go ask, they told me I had to wait just a bit more, and I repeated the process. In the interim, I texted the children, and Diane and Jennifer, who was up for the weekend. Max was with his cousins, and I told him that he should stay there; I would keep everyone up to date when I found out anything. Maggie and Roger came to the ER anyway, and waited with me for awhile. FINALLY, the let me back. He was laying on a stretcher, and I was taken back by how much he looked like one of those Revolutionary War soldiers, with the white bandage wrapped around his head at an angle, and the blood seeping through it. He was awake though, and in so much pain. They couldn't do anything for the pain until they saw xrays and MRIs and determined the extent of his injuries. We waited for what seemed a long time (I'm sure to Richard it seemed days); finally the ER doctor came in with some news. His wrist was broken to bits, and his head needed stitches, but so far that looked like that was it. They called an osteopath for the wrist, and the ER doctor was a surgeon. They were going to stitch his head and cast his arm right there. Dr. Handel was the surgeon, and she was both very capable and funny; the three of us were laughing at the situation we found ourselves in. She said she had one of these every Christmas, and she hoped that we were the "one"; she didn't want to break her streak. She brought in all the stuff to stitch, and said that Dr. Cuomo was on his way for the wrist. The wrist looked like it had been pushed back, and was going to need to be pulled out and repositioned; they were going to need to knock him out for that (thank God). I said I'd be fine to stay, and she commenced to stitch Richard's forehead. After the numbing shot, he said he didn't feel a thing. Fifteen stitches, about an inch and a half above his left eye. Richard lamented the end of his modeling career as she stitched.
Dr. Cuomo came in just after that; they knocked Richard out with something that only lasts about 2 minutes, and proceeded to pick up his left hand and pull and push and twist.
I watched the stitching. I was fine. Dr. Cuomo pulled and manipulated the wrist back into shape in order to cast it. I almost barfed. That's a noise I never want to hear again in my life.
Dr. Cuomo said that he would need surgery; the break was bad. Weather or not the steel was going to be on the inside or the outside would be decided once they opened up the wrist. It wasn't an emergency, so it would be scheduled for later in the week, possibly Wednesday.
Ok, we said. Ok. We'll get a prescription for painkillers and we'll go home. He's going to be sore as hell tomorrow, but he's ok.
Just then, Dr. Handel comes in. She said that they are bringing in a Neurosurgeon; the MRI is showing a subdural hematoma. A what? This is a term they talk about on House, MD and on CSI and on all the other stupid television shows we watch. This is not something that happens to us. Now they are talking about neurosurgeons and brain surgery to relieve pressure.
Dr. Pierre, the neurosurgeon comes in and tells us that the brain bleed is between the two hemispheres of the brain, which, if you have a hematoma, is the best place for you to have it. Theres a bit of room there for the blood to collect; the doctor said that Richard would stay overnight so that they could watch it. We weren't happy, but it was just something that had to be done. So we resign ourselves to it, and we wait for a room. They tell us they are going to put him in the ICU so he can be watched closely, but they don't have a bed. They are going to open the old ICU, and they are calling in two nurses just to watch Richard. Ok, we say. We wait. Richard sleeps, as he's got some pain medication (not totally working, but making him a bit more comfortable). I think we waited in that room for about two and a half hours. Richard slept. I explored as much as I could the room we were in; I took some alcohol pads and Q tips and cleaned the outside of our cell phones. I reassured Richard when he woke up, and tried to get him back to sleep. I chased down the nurses for more pain meds. Finally, about 12:45 am, they came and moved Richard out into the hallway, for what I thought was the move upstairs. Turns out they needed the room. An ambulance had come in, and they came rushing in with a lady on a stretcher, and a paramedic on top of this lady doing chest compressions; the very upset family trailed behind. We were right outside the room, and I heard everything; the efforts made to bring this lady back, the decision to stop, the family realizing what was happening. Richard was sleeping, but I felt so awful to be within earshot of such a private, personal, agonizing family event. I felt I had no place to be there, to be so close, but I couldn't go anywhere else. That poor family.
We got up to the room at 1:45 am, 5 South, and encountered the nicest nurse. She helped Richard get comfortable, and gave him morphine for his pain. She and I worked together to get him settled, and by the time I left, I knew he would be in good hands.
I went home then, and that's when the tears started to come, on the drive home. But just a little bit. One of my thoughts was for Fina; how the hell was I going to do this? Richard was my backup walker; and I was still pretty far from being able to walk her three miles daily. My head was full of questions and worry; I got home and spent some time with the pups and fell into bed.
End of day 1. This is a longer story than anticipated so I'm going to write more later :).