Saturday, March 9, 2013

Page 6 - The Mire


In the mire of the healing  process , and that is what it is with such a severe injury, a mire to wade through, there are still moments when a smile or even laugh is permitted. But it is like a journey of extremes. You cannot count on anything happening aside from the routine set in place, dictated by your particular "needs".

One moment in particular that stands out in the "laugh" arena is a day probably later in my stay at the trauma unit wherein I found myself sitting up in bed with my chin having dropped down below the chin rest in my neck brace covering my face up to my nose. Along with that discomfort, since I couldn't get my chin back in it's right position, there was the issue of the washcloth that had been laying across my forehead to cool a slight fever, that had slipped down over my eyes. Picture if you will a medieval knight, sort of, with his face shield down. I sat this way alone in my room knowing that the only possible rescue was if someone walked by and happened to notice me sitting there speechless and blind except for the sliver of vision I had where I could just see people's bottom half as they passed by my door. Fortunately it was not long before the very nurse who had been assigned to me that day and set me up for "comfort" in this way, came hurriedly into the room exclaiming what a terrible nurse she was, only to find me laughing as she freed my face. This of course made her laugh both with relief and the humor we both saw without having to speak. That was Kelly, one of the many wonderful nurses I had.

These little moments I cherished. Others live in my memory because of the horror. My lungs were a constant source of concern as they battled fluid and the onset of pneumonia. Breathing was above all things, my constant adversary at the gambling table of life or death. In one particular and probable, as I look back, close call, my lungs had to be drained manually by way of needle and drain tube. This could only be done by wheeling me down to a CT scan so that the procedure could be done with precise visual input. This was explained to me again by that ever protective respiratory therapist in a rather hurried/urgent fashion. I understood that while I was being asked if I would be able to do this, I really didn't have any choice. I had to be detached from my ventilator and brought down to the CT room with a manual vent in the backup of the breathing bag which is used to manually pump air into the lungs in an emergency situation. Off we went and I was further instructed that I would need to be on my side for a period of time. Whether or not this would be comfortable seem to be a moot point. This thing had to happen, whether or not I was comfortable but it was also critical that my breathing stay as steady as possible. In the scan, on my side, there was immediate vertigo and in my panic my oxygen plummeted in the bag came out. The entire process was one of panic and vertigo and tears and ultimately I came to the conclusion that it was probably because of the position I was in the car before I was rescued. I attributed my fear to that and for that my respiratory therapist was extremely moved and apologetic. I know now, while that may be still be true, the injury I suffered also made my ability to gauge and subsequently adjust to my position in space, a sickeningly impossible task in the early days of recovery.

So this was the mire I trudge through both physically and mentally. I do not want it to be lost on any readers that I write from my own experiences for recognition… I write to help bring understanding and compassion for those others who have had to trudge the mire.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Page 5 - Reality or Something

          To say that I had "clarity" throughout my stay in the trauma unit would be only partially true. It is more accurate to say I had self-awareness. The heavy medications I was given made me hallucinate which was entirely new to my world, yet I knew what was happening. There was one moment where I looked at the solid ceiling above me and saw a sort of smoked plexiglass. There was a conference room above me and I saw beneath the table and chairs, people coming in and out, and my cat under the table looking down into the room at me, crying. All of this I knew was not actually happening. There was no conference room above me and certainly my cat was nowhere near there. But nevertheless I enjoyed the show.

There was a common theme in my hallucinations, actually the only constant like a rerun of the same show. A television set was mounted across my bed above me but I never wanted it turned on so instead I was staring into a dark mirror of sorts. In that mirror I often saw a small child on the floor to my right/left with dark hair, moving in such a way that it looked like jerky stop animation filming. But she stayed right there, sitting, standing or fussing around but never looking directly at me in the mirror. I felt comforted by her presence yet I knew she was not really there. The other image that was quite recurring was that of myself whole before the accident, sitting behind my injured self in the bed, cradling me.

None of my "hallucinations" were ever disturbing to me. The disturbing things were the things that were very real and happening night and day. The sound/vibration of the specialized hospital bed that was meant to shift my body and help prevent bed sores, was a constant annoyance. But the scariest part of the bed was being repositioned because when I was on my side and the bed tilted, my head would slowly drift down and I felt myself rolling slightly. There was no way for me to readjust my body nor did I have the strength to move my head back, though I tried. All I could do was wait until the next position shift, done every two hours. Shifting, rolling, tilting, with constant sound in either bed vibration or alarms from IVs or other monitors… This was not life as I knew it…