Part 3 – The Hospital, Day 1

There was some relief that came with finally being at the hospital. I was pretty anxious to know what exactly was wrong. One of the first people to meet us at the hospital after Dr. Hilty was Gerald. I didn’t know if I would be seeing many people I knew there considering it was well after my normal work hours, and it was reassuring to see his familiar face. It was actually Gerald who convinced me to finally accept pain medication. Looking back I really don’t know why I had denied anything in the first place.

The pain was only increasing and I was going to have to be moved to get onto the CT table. I was given one dose of 0.5mg Dilaudid IV. Relief was almost instant. My respirations slowed, and my muscles began to relax. I hadn’t even been aware of how much I was guarding, and how clenched my entire body was. Even medicated, being rolled on to and off of the CT table was extremely painful. I was incredibly anxious for my results. I asked who would be reading the CT, and I think it was late, so they would be sent out to be read. I knew that my accident would travel to the radiology group, and I hated the thought of how and when that would happen. I was ashamed and embarrassed by the fact that I was in this position. At the same time, I very much wanted any and all of them to be the ones to read my scans. I also desperately wanted to see them myself. Doug, Cate, Greg, Marshall, Gerald, and Havey took turns in and out of the ER room. I was glad they were all still there, and the distraction was very welcomed. Dr. Hilty returned after his initial read of the CT. He said I had fractures of C1, C4, and T3. I let that absorb a little before asking him if he had looked at images of my sternum at all. I told him I was also concerned with the front of my neck. The left side of the front of my neck was sore, and my voice felt abnormally strained. He examined my neck and went back to the CT. It wasn’t long until he returned.

This was the point where I started to get really scared. He said I had also fractured C2, I had a mediastinal injury, and free air. This is where my head began to spin…mediastinal injury and free air? What, my heart, the great vessels, my trachea, esophagus? I couldn’t get any words out. He was still talking. “99% of the time I would do just fine here, but since UK is a level 1 trauma facility I would feel more comfortable with you being there.”  Now I really can’t get any words out because for the first time I started to cry. I am scared…for my life. How is this possible? I’m just a little person, on a little trail, who had a little bike accident. How could there have been that much force to cause so much damage? I don’t know how, but there was no denying the force of that impact. It is a feeling unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to forget. And that immediate sensation of “something is really wrong” was validated. Something really is wrong. I don’t want to leave. I want to stay and ask more questions, but I am taken away very quickly. I’m being put in another ambulance and my friends are saying goodbye. Regan will be at UK when I get there, and Gary will follow, but I do not want to say goodbye. The new paramedics were very nice, and they did everything they could to make me comfortable. My head is still spinning, and the pain was sharpening again. I am going to be sick. Vomiting is never enjoyable. Vomiting with a broken back and neck while strapped to a backboard in a moving vehicle is really not enjoyable.

Regan’s sweet face is the first one I see when we get to the hospital. I am glad she is there. I am given something for the pain, and zofran and phenergan, and I don’t know what else. I get taken to a room. I get sick again. I still have my cycling kit on, and the nurses need to get me out of it. One of the nurses looks at me and says, “this is expensive, isn’t it?” I laugh and reply, “yes a little”. Miraculously she and another nurse are able to remove my kit without cutting it. Thank you! Although at this point I’m thinking I will probably never wear a cycling kit again. I am taken for more CT scans. Things are getting really blurry and fuzzy. I was either told very little overnight, or I was and I simply don’t remember. I return from CT and I’m sick again. I have a roommate who, from what I can gather through the oh so private fabric curtain, also has a some kind of cervical fracture. I am not sleeping. My roommate is snoring very loudly. The snoring is actually quiet to the frequent BEEP BEEP BEEP of his monitor alerting that his O2 sat is dropping because he knocked his oxygen out of his nose. This resulted in the nurse yelling, “Mr. So-and-so!… Mr. So-and-so!… You need to lay still! Take some deep breaths!” To which he replied “Mrrrugh…gruuufff…buurrrhh…Snore….snore…snore”. This went on repeatedly for what seemed like most of the night. I couldn’t understand why if both of us had broken necks, could he be sleeping so soundly and I was wide awake. My worry is a little diminished, maybe because I wasn’t rushed off to surgery, and also maybe because of the medicine being pumped into my veins. It was still one very long night.

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