Happy St. Patricks Day ... and Celebration of Life
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
This is a repost from 2009 ... sometimes you have to look back on things and realize that for all the bad things that happen in life, good things will generally come of them! This year marks 11 years ... re-reading this post brings tears to my eyes and yet makes me so very proud of how far things have improved ....
Today is a big day in our home for a totally different reason.
7 years ago today, on a beautiful South Florida sunny Sunday, my life changed forever, as did my husband, my kids, my close friends, and our family. See, 7 years ago today, my husband and his best friend decided to take the Harleys for an afternoon cruise to Miami and back. No big deal, they’ve done it before, many times.
After the ride, we were all going to have dinner at their house (my best friend is the wife). So we head over there around 10am. Of course, hubby wears long jeans, a nice t-shirt and sneakers.
As they get ready to leave for their ride, unbeknownst to me, he tried on several different helmets to find one that fit his head comfortably. His buddy also gave him a different pair of sunglasses to wear, aviator, wrap around types, “to keep the bugs out and, you know, made for riding”. They left, without saying goodbye. One of the few times that has happened.
About a ½ hour later, the phone rings, my best friend answers. I hear her say ‘oh no’ and pretty much leave the room, as I think this is a personal call (and the look on her face was not good). I went out to the garage to see the boys and that’s when I noticed that they were gone. My best friend comes out and tells me that Hubby had an accident. She said that he obviously had a broken arm from what her hubby tells her.
I think, oh great. “Well, it’s a damn good thing that he packed an extra shirt today”. So I grab my purse, his shirt, tell the kids to sit tight, and head out to the driveway. OH. WAIT. Where am I going? How in the world am I going to drive the pickup that he had for the weekend to get the new refrigerator for the garage? I can’t drive a pickup!
That’s when I realized that I was a little freaked out. She tells me that he’s not at the hospital yet, that they were transporting him. Lets wait til one of her kids get home to watch the kids and she will give me a ride up to the hospital
Honestly, I’m not really sure how I got there. Her? Or her husband? Someone finally drove me there. I remember going into the ER thinking this is going to be a huge hassle.
A bald headed, arrogant cop is sitting at the front desk. I give him my name, tell him my husband’s name, tell him that he was in an accident and so on. He tells me to have a seat. So I do. And I wait.
Go up to him again (again, not sure how much time passed), and ask again if he knows anything.
Finally, he tells me that he was the cop at the scene “listen, he’s had a motorcycle accident. There are a lot of things they need to do to stabilize him”
ME: “but he’s only got a broken arm” and that’s when I knew that was an understatement. The cop was a complete jerk (he actually had my husband come down to the station 6 months later to give him a citation, said that he had something to give him and here we thought it was the helmet that cracked in half).
So I wait. And Wait. And Wait. Finally, they tell me I can come back, but try to warn me that he is being treated as a Trauma victim. Huh. Whoa baby. Whoa. Whoa. Whoooooaaaa.
I had to squat down and put my head between my knees, I was going to pas out when I saw him.
Even typing this, 7 years later, brings tears to my eyes, and makes me want to throw up. You know what the first thing he says to me is? “They cut my f**king jeans and shirt”. Hmmm. I guess he didn’t care about the fact that he was in a neck brace, wrapped in gauze and such from pretty much head to toe. That they had him immobilized, etc. Whew. It was hard.
It was very hard. They were still in the process of stabilizing him. Finally, at 7pm, they put him in ICU. Me, my best friend and his buddy who saw it all happen in his side mirror were there. The kids (who were 9 and 11 at the time) were still at their house with their kids.
Doctor came in and discussed the surgery that would be taking place. Severely dislocated shoulder Broken upper arm. Pretty much ripped off left hand/shattered wrist in which one of the arteries is severed.
Questionable injuries to left knee.
Questionable injury to left calf (hole, size of a quarter). Hubby is just telling the doctor to stitch up the hole in leg and send him home. He’s fine. And so on. Obviously in shock. And then you see, his baby face cheeks, full of road rash. The top of his right hand, scrapped clean and removed a layer or two of skin. His left shoulder, which he has a beautiful sunburst tattoo on, is half scrapped off (which the joke from everyone was hey, the tattoo can be redrawn!)
So finally at 9pm the doctor tells me that I should go home, he promises to call me with an update on surgery results. I go pick up the kids. Somehow or another I’m driving the pickup home. I get a call at midnight. The doctor. Only half way through surgery. Informs me that he has just now gotten the shoulder back in it’s socket. That he can put the arm back together (which in the end requires another surgery along with 8 pins and a plate the whole length of upper arm into shoulder socket and something like 40 staples later), but the hand, well, the hand and wrist. He is recommending a specialist come in. He said that he will debride it (which I had NO IDEA what that meant, other than cleaning out) the best he can but would require extensive repair work and surgery.
We were fortunate. 7 1/2 weeks in the hospital, 30 surgeries (do the math, that’s about every day and a half he was under), and 1 additional reconstructive surgery a year ago. He was out of work, sitting at home for over 3 months after he came home from the hospital.
In November of that year, he was notified that he was being let go as part of the company restructuring (they were bought by another company) which led to him being unemployed for 18 months.
COBRA insurance and the fear that he would never get a job that offered health benefits that would COVER his pre-existing problems. While in the hospital, he could not get up out of bed. He couldn’t move EITHER arm. He could not feed himself, I had to feed him. His leg (the hole) resembles a shark bite now. The quarter size opening is now bigger than a hand spread open. Skin grafts. Muscle grafts. Bone grafts. You name it, we learned all about it.
BUT good things do come of this. We learned a lot about each other. We found out that yes, we were meant to be. We discovered that I am the strong one. That I do well under stress when it comes to a loved one (trust me, I became his biggest advocate against the “vultures” who were known to others as the Trauma Team – hated those people, they were ruthless, used to dealing with patients who were comatose or could NOT communicate, caused a lot of unnecessary pain, to the point where I once stood in the door and said NO, you may not come in until he has had a pain shot.
My advice to all motorcycle riders (we don't ride anymore as hubby can't grip with left hand):
1. wear a DOT certified helmet. I don't care if your not required by law to wear one, hubby would be d.e.a.d. if he had not worn one. The DOT one he had cracked right in half, so just imagine.
2. Wear good eyewear. The glasses he wore broke in half also. BUT the lens did not break. Had he been wearing his own cheapo glasses, he could have lost an eye on top of everything else.
3. Wear long pants and closed toe shoes. I cringe when I see barefoot or flipflops. Don't you know what will happen to your feet??
Life is difficult. But man, is life ever so very good. Believe me, every day I look at hubby, I realize how GOOD life really is. I almost discovered what it would be like without him and can NOT imagine what I would be doing today.