Thursday, December 18, 2008

17th of December, Part 3

...Part 1, Part 2...

The Hospital

Backboards suck. I was coherent, in pain, scared, could barely see, cold, strapped down, and nobody had called my parents yet. So I was also pissed.

When I'm in pain my very obnoxious, very dark, very annoying, and very twisted sense of humor shines through. This is true when I stub my toe as much as when I hit my funny bone. So multiply all the tense whiplashed muscles, lots of blood, and pieces of my body that were not in their rightful place, and I was quite venomous with the bad jokes.

I wanted off that backboard. I knew my back was fine. I could sense it in my body. When I tried to tell the poor nurses or doctors who were working on or around me, they did. not. get. it. "My back hurts, please let me off here!" "If your back hurts, it may be broken, please lie still." "NO! It hurts because I'm strapped to this godforsaken FLAT piece of wood and my spine is not FLAT! It curves! How do you not know this? Didn't you take anatomy?"

See? I was annoying. Even better:

"Hello? I'm cold. Please, a blanket or something?" "Here, here's a warm towel, is that better?" Well, it was ok, for a few minutes until the warmth was gone and it was a cold towel barely covering my knees. "Hey, I'm cold again." "Here, here's another warm towel. Is this better?" "No. I tell you what, you take those towels out of that warmer and just put me in there, ok?"

No one laughed but me. I tell you, I have a warped sense of humor.

The rest I remember parts of. Fuzzy parts here and there. I know they took X-rays sometime. I know my parents were finally called, somewhere around midnight or one am. My parents were working two jobs each at the time, both too exhausted to make the drive right then, so they came down the next morning.

Doctor, Doctor

The X-rays came back and a doctor started to tell me what was wrong with me according to that see through piece of paper. "It looks like both your ankles were broken, and..." I cut him off. "What? No, they're not! My ankles are fine!" And I proceeded to roll them both this way and that, up and down, as far as I could while being strapped down. He said, 'Well, I guess that must just be scar tissue then." "Yeah, I jumped off of a lot of fences when I was a kid. Also took dance." I was not so confident in this doctor at this point.

I asked if my shoulder was dislocated because it hurt so bad. "No, it's probably just whiplash from being pulled on by your seat belt." "But it's my right shoulder." "Yes, it was probably from your body straining against the shoulder strap of your seat belt." "But IT'S MY RIGHT SHOULDER." "Yes, it's probably from your seat belt. When it held you in place, your body strained against it, it'll be fine."

I gave up. Yes, my right shoulder has a slight permanent shift to it, a slight dislocation that even massage can only quell so much. And it was not from the seat belt that was going across my left shoulder.

My hand was smashed. My left hand. It was bloody and hurt pretty bad and sorta numb, too. They couldn't tell what was broken and since they were just an Emergency Room, they just wrapped it up in a whole lotta gauze.

My left eyelid was cut going back toward my temple. My right ear had been sliced nearly off. I had dried blood and broken glass all over me.

Another doctor came in, apparently a plastic surgeon on night call. He was there to stitch me up. To sew my ear back on. To sew my eyelid back together.

When you're at a broken & beaten point, strapped to a effing backboard, dried blood in your eyes, one eye swollen closed, and someone is leaning over you with a needle, what do you do?

I chose to scream.

It's not like I didn't warn him. I told him I know what he's doing, I know he has to do this, and I know it's not really like my eyeball, just my eyelid, but I'm going to scream anyway. And I do. And I have a damn good scream. He says knock her out.


According to the bill I got for those stitches though, I must have screamed good. He charged a thousand bucks a stitch.

I was still on that gurney or whatever the next morning when I came to. A family friend who lived in San Angelo came by to check on me, my parents had called him, he was like my other dad. My parents came in. They moved me to a hospital room. They explained their version to my parents.

Sometime in there they gave me lemonade with Barium in it (I still have a tough time choking down a glass of lemonade because of this), and sent me for another test, I guess to see if I was bleeding internally. The thing is, I'd been strapped to that board for however many hours overnight, I'd probably had a large bottle of water or two as I usually do on long trips and had not stopped for a bathroom break yet. I was planning on stopping in San Angelo, another 10 minutes down the road... but I never got there. And now a plastic cup of lemonade? My bladder was full. I told them this before we left the room.

They put me on that machine for an MRI or CAT or whatever anyway and I told them I needed to pee. So they brought me a bed pan.

Have you ever tried to pee into a bed pan? I'm not male, I can't aim like that. I was in too much pain to be too embarrassed, and I'm not proud of it at all, but I peed all over myself and that pan and whatever gurney or machine I was on.

This is another reason why they should listen to the patient.

Anyway. No internal bleeding. They kept me in the hospital for the next four days because my "blood was too low." I told them to "quit coming in to take it every other hour" and it would be fine.

My iron count was too low - I was anemic. Didn't matter to them that I'd pretty much always been and that I'd just finished my period a few days before. They pumped me full of these very toxic iron pills until my levels were to their liking before they could release me.

I slept a lot. I couldn't see anything because they'd taken my contacts out and I didn't have my glasses. Not that that mattered, I couldn't wear them anyway, the stitches on my ear and a broken nose. Oh, yes - a broken nose. From the damned airbag. I hate those things. Seat belt saved my life, an airbag broke my nose.

Anyway, yes. My body was beaten and bruised, so I slept, a lot. My parents stayed with me, I think sleeping in the chairs. I asked for peanut butter and bananas, a comfort food. The cafeteria or nurses station only had peanut butter crackers. My dad offered to scrape the peanut butter off the crackers for me. Turned out the peanut butter crackers they had were separate, so he didn't have to.

Somewhere in those days my parents went to get whatever was left of my personal stuff from the wreck. They went out to the site. My mom told me they could tell where it was from the smashed bottle of nail polish across the ground. Also the broken glass and bits of truck. They took pictures. Of the site. Of the truck. Or what was left of it.

Sunday came, they said I could go home as soon as the doctor released me. The doctor was apparently busy watching the Cowboys football game that day. I was antsy. I was feeling better enough and I wanted out of there. I'd had enough rest and wanted to go home. My body was ready.

He finally came, signed the forms, we loaded up to go. They gave my mom the iron pills I was 'supposed' to take. My body smelled like rust from that stuff. I didn't take them.

We went home. My mom took me to a couple of doctors over the next week to check the stitches and my left hand. They unwrapped it for the first time since it had been wrapped on Wednesday night of the wreck. Several days of dried blood, major bruising, and broken glass. It smelled bad and hurt worse. It was three sizes too big, purple, green, yellow, blue, and disgusting. I joked that someone had removed my hand and replaced it with a prop from a bad 'B' horror movie.

One bone broken though. In all that mess, just one broken bone. A tiny one, a metacarpal. But the rest was swollen and bruised badly. I'd had my hand on the steering wheel as I rolled, smashing it. So I got a soft cast and six weeks of showering with a plastic bag over my hand.

I slept a lot more. I couldn't drive for awhile. I relied on my family for so much.

Things changed for me that night.

Tomorrow I'll expound further.


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