Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 16 & 17, 2009

The next few days here at PS are going to be kind of somber. 

The one year anniversary of my car crash is on Wednesday and I have some things I need to say. Back when the accident happened I wrote a few posts about what went on, but I was medicated and hurt and tired and I never really said what I wanted to. That day and the few days following have been on my mind lately and I'm going to write down what happened. Because I need to do it. It will help me move on.

I'm doing this for me. There are things I haven't talked about because I just couldn't say them out loud. So I'm doing it now. 

You are welcome to follow along. I wouldn't be posting it here if you weren't. It's going to be hard for me to write and also hard to read.

Part 1
Part 2



That morning I was finally able to get a little sleep, but not before I met my new nurse.

She was petite and dark, around my mother's age and she was the mother of four girls. One of them was the same age as I was and as far as she was concerned I was her daughter laying there in the hospital bed.

At first she seemed so sweet. I had really liked the nurse before her and upon first meeting this new nurse I thought I was going to like her too.

It wasn't that I didn't like her, but she smothered me. Or rather she mothered me. She was clearly a worrier and since she related to my mother and myself so much she paid extra close attention. She fretted. That is the best word I can find to describe her.

Don't get me wrong, she was so much better than having say, Nurse Hatchet, but I had been poked and examined and tucked and checked and prodded and worried over for two days and all I really wanted was to be left alone.

Not to mention that my own mom was there fretting right along with Mother Nurse. I don't grudge my mom that, because I am her daughter. But there were several times that day when I wanted to tell Mother Nurse to just get out. Like now!

That morning I had a final x-ray on my ankle. The bone hadn't moved (praise God!) so as soon as Dr.A was able he would come and cast me. By the time I had my cast it had been nearly 48 full hours that I had gone with an uncasted, broken ankle, so it was a true miracle that the bone stayed put.

Then Dr. F came back, bright eyed and bushy tailed. My most recent blood work had come back normal, so as soon as physical therapy came up to give me crutches and show me how to use them I could be transferred to a regular room. But I wasn't allowed to get out of bed until I had seen physical therapy and they had taught me how to properly hold my leg and use crutches.

Mother Nurse continued to fret, but her aid was her complete opposite. I wouldn't say she was Nurse Hatchet, but she was pretty darn close. Her bedside manner was non-existent and she clearly hated her job. I also think she resented me (or just patients in general) for just being sick. Because, you know, people in the hospital have control over why they are in the hospital.

By nature I am not a patient person and after the last two days what little I did have had worn very thin. Nurse (Almost) Hatchet very nearly found herself in a confrontation with me.

It took an eternity for physical therapy to come up to see me. Which would have been fine if it hadn't been for the bathroom issue.

You see, for my surgery and during my sedation they had inserted a catheter. Wednesday after I woke up they had planned to take it out, but since Dr. A didn't want to cast my ankle yet they left the catheter in so I didn't have to get out of bed and further injure my ankle.

It sounds awful doesn't it? Actually it was kind a welcome discomfort because I couldn't really feel it and I hurt so much just laying still I didn't really want to get up. Also I was so groggy from the sedation and medication it probably wouldn't have been safe for me to get out of bed even if I hadn't had a broken ankle.

Well, anyway, not long after receiving my cast Nurse (Almost) Hatchet came in to remove the catheter and give me a dry bath.

The bath felt so good. I hadn't bathed since Tuesday morning and I felt disgusting. So it was welcome other than Nurse (Almost) Hatchet being kind of rough with me. Like I said, she clearly hated her job.

But the problem with no more catheter was that I needed to tend to my bathroom necessities the normal way.

I had found out in the first hospital that I couldn't use a bed pan. I just could not physically make myself pee laying down. And that was before all the medication.

Something about my pain medication made it very hard for me to use the bathroom. I could tell I needed to go, but I couldn't make myself. It became quite an issue when I was home and had been medicated for several weeks because it got to a point where I thought my bladder might explode, but I could not control my muscles. (I know this is sort of an unsavory topic, but I'm sharing in the interest of full disclosure.)

So anyway, I needed to pee and my mom paged the nurse's station. Nurse (Almost) Hatchet walked in with a bed pan and as soon as I saw her I told her I couldn't use a bedpan. This obviously made her mad, and it wasn't that I wouldn't use a bedpan, I just couldn't. There was no use in trying.

She just walked out of the room.

About an hour passed and I was getting ticked. I needed to use the freaking bathroom. I understood that I couldn't walk around, but what was the big deal if I just got out of bed and used a bedside toilet? Also, where the hell was physical therapy?

I got pretty belligerent and when I was on the verge of a complete meltdown my mom finally went to the nurse's station and told them they had better figure out a way to get PT there or to get me to a toilet. And fast!

Within ten minutes PT was there. Thank goodness. They brought in a bedside toilet and the PT lady helped me to it so I could relieve myself before she started the crutches lesson.

Let me tell you that when you use a bedside toilet in the hospital they watch you do it. I don't have a shy bladder and I have no problem using public restrooms, but I wasn't in a stall. There were no walls and there were two sets (maybe three) of eyes watching me. One of them was Nurse (Almost) Hatchet and she was shooting daggers at me the whole time.

That was a really intense bathroom session.

The crutches lesson was simple enough. She adjusted them to my height and she showed me how to put my weight on the palms of my hands and not under my arms.

And wham, bam it was time to move me. I didn't even get back into the other bed for a second. Mother Nurse brought in a wheelchair and took me to my new room.

On the way there we met my friend Jessie.

She was on her way to my new room (that computer system switch sure was fast) and Mother Nurse was wheeling me behind her. I said Jessie's name, but I wasn't loud enough so Mother Nurse called to her for me.

As soon as Jessie turned around and saw me her face pretty much confirmed everything I'd been thinking. Everything my family had been hiding from me because they didn't want to upset me. And Jessie corrected her expression pretty quickly, but I still saw it and in that moment I knew.

I knew it was bad.

Jessie walked with us to the room. Mother Nurse handed me off, after many fretful pats and tucks, and I was in a regular room! It was much larger and I didn't feel so closed in and claustrophobic. That was a good thing because the visitors really started to roll in then.

I saw so many family and friends that day. I got more flowers and cards. It was wonderful, but by the time dinner came I was exhausted.

Dr. F came in to check on me again and said he was going to discharge me the next day unless something changed. That was good. 

It was time to settle in and my family was trying to decide who was going to stay with me that night.

Truthfully I was alright to stay alone, but they didn't want me to have to. But they were every bit as exhausted as I was, especially Andy and Momma, and you could see that all they wanted to do was go home and get a good night's rest before it was time to bring me home and I would need them even more.

Jessie took the decision out of their hands, bless her, when she volunteered to stay the night. She went home to change clothes and get a few personal items, so my family spent a little more time with me before they went home.

When it was time for shift change I met my night nurse. She was very sweet, about my age and very pregnant. She actually told me that it was her last shift before her leave.

The new nurse's aid was a middle aged lady who was so nice. She spent a lot of time talking with me about what had happened. By that point I had sort of come to realize that this was going to be a long recovery. Andy was beyond angry at the older man in the other car. I could see his point, but I also knew that being mad wasn't going to make me heal any faster and might even make the process longer. I knew I couldn't let myself have a bad attitude. It was what it was and all I could do was move forward which is exactly what I planned on doing. I told her all this and she listened and agreed with me. I always felt comforted when she was in the room.

Jessie got there and we settled in for the night. We slept as much as we could, but my medication schedule made that pretty difficult. I alternated between Motrin and meds in my IV every three hours.  After each IV injection I could sleep well until the Motrin dose. Then I would doze for the next three hours until I could have the stronger medication again and by the time I got it I was hurting pretty bad. But Jessie and I did the best we could until morning.


After breakfast Dr. F came in. It was still just Jessie and me because Andy was at the apartment trying to get everything ready for me to come home and my mom was driving around filling prescriptions and getting clothes for me to wear home (Andy had brought me a shirt, but forgot pants), plus a few other things that I would need.

He was ready to release me, but the tubes needed to come out of my nose first.

The nurse was there with me and Jessie had stepped out of the room. First he cut the stitches that were holding the tubes in. Then he used his long tweezers (forceps?) to pull out the left tube. The tube was about three inches long and it was  not a pleasant experience, but it wasn't unbearable. He got ready to take out the right one and I braced myself for the same kind of uncomfortable pain.

It was not the same at all. It was much, much worse. I think Dr. F knew it would be worse on the right side and that's why he did the left first because he thought I might put up a fight if he did the right first. He would have been correct.

The pain was excruciating. I'm not even sure how to describe it. Instead of pulling something out of my nose it felt more like he was jabbing around in it with a hot poker and using it to try to pull my nose off.

I yelled. Loud.

He made a little joke about me yelling and how it wasn't that bad, but then he looked at my face and I think he realized that it was actually that bad. Also I hadn't so much as uttered a complaint about pain to that point, so yeah, it really did hurt that bad.

I was clear to go home, but I had to wait on my mom. She was driving me, but she was still waiting on prescriptions to be filled. It took forever, but I appreciate that she made me wait in the hospital instead of in the car.

Finally she was there. The nurse helped me get dressed in the outfit my mom had bought. Getting dressed was really awkward. The shirt pulled over my head and it took me and two other people to keep it from touching my face. While I was getting dressed I got a look at the bruises on my body. Seeing them kind of made them hurt worse. My torso wasn't even skin colored and there were little blue spots all over my arms where they had drawn blood and put in IVs. Also I had "rug burn" on the left side of my groin and hip from the seat belt digging in before it broke. The scab was easily 4" tall and 6" long. I took a deep breath and then looked away. I needed to focus on the task at hand.

They gathered up all my flowers and balloons and the few personal belongings I had. The nurse also gave me one last smoothie for the road. (It was left over from breakfast because it took me several hours to eat my smoothies.)

Mom pulled around the car while Jessie and the nurse walked down with me. Well, the nurse pushed me in a wheel chair and Jessie walked.

Getting into the car was a real challenge, but I finally made it. My mom looked like she might throw up. This was the first time I had been in a car since the accident and she didn't want to do anything to upset me on the drive home. I think she would have gladly paid someone else to do it. Instead she just told Jessie thank you and gave her a hug, and then she got in the driver's seat and we were on our way.

I was in the back seat and I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open, so if she made any driving faux pas I didn't notice.

Once we got home I struggled over the stoop into the door (the next day Andy built a ramp to make it easier for me to get inside) and then got settled on the sofa. The place that would be my home for the next two months.

I don't remember a whole lot about the rest of the day. I know it was spent mostly getting me settled in. I was very unstable on my crutches and getting to the bathroom (the only reason I ever got up) was precarious. There was someone right next to me at all times to catch me when I inevitably stumbled, and after a while Andy just started using the rolling computer chair to wheel me to and from the toilet.

Being home was good, but also it was clearly going to be a struggle. I was so helpless and while I had so many people there to take care of me it was still hard. Just a few days before I could wash my own clothes and cook my husband dinner. All of a sudden it was a chore to just get into the bathroom, much less use it and I couldn't even sleep in my own bed.

But I was home. I was home and I was alive and I was going to heal. That's all that really mattered.


  1. Wow, you went through so much! I knew your accident had been bad, but I don't think I realized the extent of your injuries and everything you had to endure. Glad you are here :)

  2. Oh honey, you have had such a rough go. I've been in some bad car wrecks but bless your heart, nothing like that!

    Hugs for you.