My intent here is to document my trials and tribulations resulting from my little ordeal on Halloween night. This blog entry is going to be somewhat different than my regular (or more like irregular) submissions. They will still have touches of irreverent humour but rather than a one short story it will be growing journal with new entries being added hopefully every day. I say hopefully because the stress and the medications severely affect my levels of energy and concentration.
Episode 1 - October 31- As most of my irregular readers know Halloween is has been an event around our Premier Street mansioncomplex for more than twenty years. I had just completed my somewhat minimal decorating including my jack-o-lantern tribute to the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants and now I was prepping dinner before the arrival of the hordes of extorting yard apes. I had some Italian sausages grilling on the Weber on the patio outside in the pouring rain. The timer went off notifying me to turn the bangers. I put on my aging black flip flips with the built bottle opener. I stepped onto the first of two wooden steps leading from the townhouse living room to the patio deck. Whether my feet ever found the second step who knows? I remember shooting forward into the glass table and rolling to my right knocking the barbecue on rollers at least six feet.
A few seconds later, I tried to stand and my thighs responded with a shooting pain and no ability to lift.
I eventually managed to schooch up into a sitting position on the top stair in front of the open door. I sat there pondering my next while being soaked by the rain, staring at my left flip flop pinned under one of the table legs. After another attempt to stand with the same result, I knew I may have a problem. After more rain-soaked contemplation, I laid onto my back half in and half out of the house. I gradually slithered across the floor where I kept my cell phone and reached up blindly to grab it from the side table. I scrolled through the menu to the number of my next door neighbour, Pam. I touched “call” and after a couple of rings, Pam answered but she could not hear me. Unfortunately, the one place I keep my phone because it is where I normally sit watching TV happens to have a weird dead spot. I then made a few attempts to turn the side table to reach my land line phone. After a few misfires in attempting to copy the digits from one phone to the other, I finally managed to call Pam. She arrived quickly and immediately called 911. In the meantime her husband, Dennis (Yes, there are lots of us around) came and Pam instructed him to make sure the BBQ was turned off and then go out and watch for the emergency vehicles.
The paramedics arrived about 20 minutes later and began poking and prodding. They then tried standing me and kept telling me “use your good leg”. “Dude, there is no good leg!” Finally they decided it would be best to put me on a gurney and transport to the Emergency Room. I was so disappointed that no one gave me “500 mils of Ringer’s Lactate, 1000 mils of D5W or even bothered to call Dixie.” Sheesh!
When we arrived at Lion’s Gate Hospital, I was wheeled into Triage and transferred onto an ER stretcher and stuck into a curtained cubicle and left me to stare at the ceiling. About 20 minutes later, the paramedic came back and wheeled into another section “First Aid” and stuck me in another room. In the mean time, Pam arrived with a pair of shoes and a jacket in anticipation of a quick return home. How wrong were we!
After at least an hour, the doctor, the same guy who I’d seen doing paper work at his desk for the last half hour pops his head in the door does a quick poke and prod and says “perhaps we should get an x-ray” and leaves. Good call, Doc! I’m so glad we subsidized seven years of education on you!
About half an hour later the x-ray technician shows confirms that I’m the guy he’s looking for and says he’ll be back in a minute. An hour later someone else shows up to transport me to xray.
In xray they shuffle me onto transfer sling and then lift me up on an electric hoist and twirl me around onto the xray table. The technician then decides to manipulate my legs into positions incapable of a icircus contortionist and has the nerve to say “stay absolutely still” meanwhile I’m screaming in pain and this guy is absolutely oblivious to this and continues on. After a half hour of agony he announces were finished and the flying trapeze routine is reversed.
Another hour goes by before a nurse drops by and tells that no bones are broken so I’ll have to wait until the morning for an ultrasound.
I’m then told to get comfortable and go to sleep. Excellent suggestion! And how do you expect me to do that?
Sleeping would have been a wonderful idea. Now remember I was working on dinner which meant I hadn’t eaten since noon and wasn’t allowed food or drink because surgery was imminent. They were gracious enough to give an IV drip to rehydrate me and stick an oxygen tube in my nostrils. That should make it so much easier to sleep especially with severe pain, and lying on a hard stretcher staring at the ceiling.
I’m not sure if it was just because it was Halloween but the ER was full of zombies; people in hospital scrubs, stethoscopes, official looking ID badges and other medical paraphernalia wandering around blank faced taking extreme care never to make direct eye contact with a patient.
Hey and guess when they choose to use the automatic floor scrubbers in the ER?
Now what was it the nurse told me to do? Oh yeah! “Get comfortable and go to sleep”.
Episode 2 - November 1- After the above described peaceful, I was wheeled into the ultrasound diagnostics lab. Lying in the waiting area, it dawned on me that I should ask about my friend since kindergarten, Ray who had been ultrasound tech there for years. Turned he had just recently left for another gig. Damn! I could have used a friendly face!
I was wheeled into the exam room and the adventure begins. I must admit ultrasound beats x-ray hands down and no piles fifty pounds of lead on your junk and tells you it is completely safe. Great you’ve saved my nuts from radiation but you just crushed them into pudding with that damn apron. No actually, if think about it ultrasound is pretty sensual. The tech applies a cool gel and then gently strokes your thighs with a wand. (pause for indecent thought ...and I’m back)
After about ten minutes, the tech excuses himself then brings back the radiologist and a med student to examine the scan. It’s a little disconcerting when see wincing and hear oo’s and ouches coming from the doctors. As they got ready to wheel me back, I asked what the diagnosis was and I got the standard “You’re surgeon will speak to you”.
Back in the ER for another couple of hours when another nurse appears and says to me “you need to get someone to bring up your BiPAP machine” (Hey, you’re on the internet look it up!)
Obviously this means I’m in for another night, so I call Pam and ask her to bring up the unit as well as my phone charger.
About fifteen minutes later a nurse shows up with a food tray which I question because I’m on “no food or drink order” pending surgery. She takes the tray away then comes back a couple of minutes later with the tray and tells me the doctor ordered it. Even being without food or drink I was only able stomach about a third of it. The entree I believe was boneless breast of chickenish stuff.
A few minutes later, my GP, Dana Haaf, arrives with two med students, sees the tray and says “I guess they couldn’t squeeze the operation in today.” He then explains how quad muscle on right leg is 90% torn away and the left is only about 40% torn away. They will both have to be re-attached surgically and the drops the bomb. “You will be spending about six weeks here...but they have a very open airy facility.”
Pam and Dennis arrived with the machine, charger and some toiletries and I broke the news that they would have to continue to pick up my mail for a bit longer than expected. Pam was still trying to contact the Crown Prince who was out of town at a conference.
I then started to make a bunch of phone calls and send out urgent texts for a number of people to call me back ASAP.
Around 4, the hospital porters arrived to tell me that they were moving me upstairs to a surgical bed.
I was transferred into what felt like a cloud after 24 hours on the ER stretcher. Dinner was served shortly after. I couldn’t remember what it was but I know I didn’t even touch half of it.
It was here in the room that I began to perfect my skills of peeing into a cardboard bottle. It was much trickier with the little man playing hide and seek; after all his two sidekicks had already been crushed to pudding in x-ray.
The surgeon came by to explain the procedure and the near future. By this time I was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t talk and just wanted to cry.
His last bit of advice was “try and relax and get a good sleep” because the surgery was scheduled for 9:30 the next morning.
I was soon to discover that two of my ward mates were suffering from medication related dementia.
The gentleman across from me decided to have an all night argument with an imaginary friend and the lady next to him kept climbing out of bed and setting off the saying she needed to get home to feed her cats who apparently were being looked after by the guy in the next bed’s friend.
I kept telling myself “It gets better...it gets better”
Now what was the advice the surgeon gave me?
To be continued....