Home > Biking > The Upside To A Possible Head Trauma

The Upside To A Possible Head Trauma

(This is the 4th installment about my biking accident on 8/11/09.)

If there is an upside to having a head trauma (and there really isn’t), then it’s the ability to bypass everyone else in line.  The downside of this line-cutting maneuver rests on the fact that it requires a potentially traumatic injury to your brain.  Given the nature of the accident, the hospital staff surmised, or at least expected, my injuries to be life-threatening.

The EMS personnel along with the ER staff wheeled me into a large examination that could be divided into much smaller rooms by pulling a divider across the room.  They successfully transferred me to a hospital gurney, and then a team of nurses and doctors swarmed over me checking my body for injuries.

Without my glasses, everything appeared blurr.  I could barely make out the faces of the people hovering over me.  The EMS technician made sure to tell me that she had placed my belongings, collected at the scene, into a plastic bag and placed it along with the clothes she’d cut off me on the floor near my gurney.

The hospital staff kept talking to one another about what they were finding.  The spoke in technical terms that I didn’t understand.  Sometimes, they would address me, “Does that hurt?  Does this hurt?  Are you allergic to any medications?”  The presiding doctor (who never bothered to introduce himself) ordered a battery of tests (all in medical lingo that I didn’t understand).  They gently rolled me onto my side to check for potential injuries on my back.

(All I could think of was that I was naked in front of all these strangers- men and women).

Other than abrasions, I had no injuries on my backside.

I noticed a female in white clothing injecting something into my IV line.

A burning sensation rushed throughout my body, an odd feeling of darkness overtook me, and then the room started to spin.

“What’s happening to me?” I asked, slightly panicked.

(Slightly may be a bit of an understatement.)

I tried to sit up and fight back against whatever she had injected into my IV.  I couldn’t raise my head higher than an inch off the gurney.

“It’ll pass in a moment,” the woman answered.

I later learned that they had given me morphine.

(For the record, I do not like morphine.)

An x-ray technician arrived and the others departed.  I alternated between freezing and sweating as she took multiple x-rays of my body.  She kept insisting that I be still, but when you’re shivering that’s not exactly easy to do.  When she finished, another person appeared and wheeled me down the corridors for a CAT scan.

Everyone had their orders.

While taking my CAT scans, the attendants discussed their later lunch plans and a movie they’d seen recently.  I’d never heard of it.  The attendants thought a particular scan should have been ordered, and they spent a few minutes debating this among themselves.  Not getting anywhere, they asked me what the doctor had ordered.

(Seriously.  They asked me what CAT scans the doctor had wanted.)

“I don’t know,” I mumbled.

Presumably unsatisfied with my help, they called a nurse who talked to the presiding doctor who clarified his orders.  The lone male attendant took the the additional CAT scan as he gloated to the others about being right.

After the CAT scan, they wheeled me back to the exam room, and Angela was standing there waiting for me.  For the first time that morning, the nurses left me alone.  I assume they were waiting for the results of the test.

The nurses then brought an elderly gentleman into the area next to me and pulled the divider across, which gave us each the slightest semblance of privacy.  I couldn’t see him but I could hear every conversation that took place in his “room.”  Apparently, this gentleman frequented the ER (not sure if it was by choice or not) and most of the nurses seemed to know him.  Having fallen again, he had multiple cuts and bruises, but no broken bones.  I overheard the nurses talking about him. Later in the day, they would make sure that he had lunch before they discharged him.  I remember this minor detail because no one offered to get Angela or I anything to eat or drink.

(I might be a little bit bitter about that fact.)

The nurses congregated at their station which happened to be across the hall from my room.  Their station also housed the radio where EMS personnel communicated with the hospital staff about the patients they were bringing in.  Someone had set this volume to its highest level, which provided us with something to listen to as well as letting me know that I had quickly fallen down the priority chart.

“Motorcycle and car accident.  Individual not wearing a helmet.  Beginning to incubate.”

“Heroin overdose.  Non-responsive.”

“Head-on collision.  Not wearing a seatbelt.”

All in one morning.

Angela and I talked on and off while we waited.  It was hard to know what to say.  Yes, it hurts.  Yes, it’s taking forever.  I wonder how long we’ll be here.  Beyond that, we really couldn’t talk about the accident much as we didn’t know what had happened or even the extent of my injuries.  We talked about Samuel.  The fact that I had been in an accident hadn’t fazed him in the least.  He’d gotten to go to his friend’s house for the day, and whatever it took for that to happen had been fine with him.

Joe, our pastor, came by and stayed for a few minutes.  He couldn’t get over the fact that this had happened (join the club).

A nursed stopped in to check on me.  “It’s been a crazy morning.  We haven’t forgotten about you.”  She stopped and looked straight at me.  “You were very lucky.”  Then she left.

It wasn’t much, but it was something.  Yet, “lucky” could be taken in a number of ways.  Lucky to be alive.  Lucky that I wasn’t paralyzed.  Lucky that it would only take five to ten years for me to recover.  Lucky that I’d be out of here by lunch.  Lucky was a vague description.

All those thoughts swirled in my mind after the nurse left, after Joe had left, and after Angela had left to call family and update them.

(The ER either had no cell coverage or they blocked it.  She didn’t have much to say, “He’s alive and pretty banged up.  Other than that, we know nothing.”)

I stared at the white ceiling above me.

Categories: Biking
  1. February 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Hey Chris! Thanks for sharing a bit of your experience. You inspire me. I had the following thoughts as I was reading your post.

    Staring at the ceiling. . . . Sometimes that’s all you can do. How helpless. How frustrating. How upside down. One minute your living life. Next–your staring at the ceiling. I’ve done that with a broken ankle. I’ve missed some stairs in my time. And with a pastoral search committee. Nothing quite so life threatening as this–guess I’m glad to “not” be that lucky. As least, not that I’ve ever known. Still, looking at the ceiling I look for reasons, rationales, even blame. The ceiling just stares blankly back. Silent. And when I cry out, the ceiling becomes a mirror, and my own thoughts and pain come reflecting back to me. Which just compounds things. Good thing we aren’t along in these times. Good thing your wife was there. Good thing your church was praying. Good thing that, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death–God is with us. Doesn’t immediately correct the moment. Does give us hope in the midst of our humanity.

    • February 2, 2011 at 6:25 am

      Thanks for the comments. Those are some great thoughts. The ceiling does become a mirror and it’s a good thing we aren’t alone.

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