The UK emergency department was extremely busy, and crowded. I was moved into the hallway the next morning while I waited for a room to become available upstairs. I was very tired, and in and out of sleep most of the morning. Greg came to visit on his way to work, Regan was there, and Joel was there between classes. I was told it was probably going to be a long time until a room would be free. At this point I didn’t really care where I was. However, we overheard some pretty uncomfortable screaming coming from a poor man who was seemingly unsuccessfully having his leg set in a nearby room. It was quite unsettling, and I think Greg would have become another emergency patient had he not decided to take a walk to escape the screaming. It wasn’t exactly the most peaceful of settings.
A lot of this day was a blur. I was visited by one of the trauma surgeons, who informed me that my medications would be changed to Neurontin, Flexeril, and Tylenol. None of those drugs are narcotics. I remember thinking that someone must be confident that would be enough to manage my pain. I didn’t question it. At some point in the morning Dr. Jenkins called, or maybe I called her. I do not remember. I vaguely remember the conversation. She rattled off my list of fractures. She didn’t think I had free air. At this point surgery was still a very real possibility. It was questionable whether or not the T3 fracture could be stabilized conservatively with a brace. I was glad that the conservative approach was able to be considered, and I wasn’t immediately taken to surgery.
I ended up getting into a room much quicker than I expected. It was a very nice private room in the new hospital. The quiet was relaxing. I think we sent Gary home to get some rest for a while. It seemed like he hadn’t been home at all. I had more visitors, but my pain was increasing as the day went on. I remember flashes of faces of friends, but the pain was completely spiraling out of control. It was clear that Tylenol was not going to cut it. Sometime in the afternoon Barry the Brace Guy showed up. I think Kristy and Pam were there. The fitting of the CTO brace was absolutely the most painful event of this accident…of my life to this point actually. The brace has a front piece and a back piece. In order to get it fitted properly, I had to be rolled onto my side, and back onto my back several times. It was pushed onto me, taken off, molded, pressed onto my body again and again, until it fit. I have no idea what the brace felt like. All I could feel was my broken neck, my broken back and my broken chest. Uncontrollable, moan producing, nauseating, sharp pain. I was shaking, my jaw was chattering, and I was not one bit cold. I just wanted it to be over and to be asleep. Sound asleep. I remember Heather, the sweet nurse, looking down at me and apologizing. She had called 3 times for someone to order pain medicine for me. She came to check on me in the following days, even though she was not on my service, and told me she had to leave the room in tears that day. I was so grateful to her. I remember seeing Pam wiping tears away. My parents showed up later in the afternoon. And both of them held my hands and cried. I was glad they were here, but I hated that I had gotten myself in this situation that caused them pain and worry. It was a terrible feeling to see the people I love the most crying because of me.
Other than the sharpness of the pain, the rest of this day was very blurry. I had to stay in the CTO brace for hours until they could get me to x-ray. They finally brought me down around 10pm I think. Imaging was difficult, and they had to wedge the film behind my back as I sat straight upright. I was brought back to my room and at this point, the pain was mildly mitigated. The medication was finally having some effect. I was glad I had some improvement to show my parents before they went to get some rest for the night. That night I slept alright, better than I thought. I was so glad to be one more day further away from the date of the accident.