*Note – this is a long post, so grab some coffee and a bagel, because it’s going to be a while.
I’ve stared at this blinking cursor on the page for too many days, trying to put words on virtual paper…where do I even begin? I’ve had a month’s worth of blog posts happen in a very short time, so I’ll probably resort to a bulleted list at some point.
We spent Saturday together as a family – the eldest was farmed out to her best friend’s house for the night and we had the two youngest with us as we grocery shopped and spent the evening just goofing off. It was around 7:30 p.m. or so when we arrived home, and we were just settling in to watch a movie before the kids went to bed when I received a phone call from one of my brothers on my cell phone.
Two things on this:
A.) I rarely answer my cell phone if my family is together, because…well, I’m not a slave to my phone and I don’t really like talking on it; and
B.) I have five living brothers (in order of birth age: Jim, Bob, John, Joe, and Don) and they never call me unless 1) they need something, or 2) something bad has happened.
I immediately called Bob back, only to receive his voicemail. It was then I noticed that he had actually left a voicemail on MY phone, so I phoned it to see what it was he needed. I was having a hard time hearing, so I put it on the speakerphone and heard, “Why don’t you ever answer your d**n phone – I have an emergency and no one will pick up!” Normally, I’d have laughed at his message (if you knew my brother, you’d understand – almost everything is an emergency to him), but the tone in his voice was completely different this time and it left me more than a little concerned.
Then I remembered the Life Alert bracelet my brother Jim had just ordered for my mom and started to feel a bit more urgency about reaching him, because Bob is #1 on the list. I got him on my fifth try (who says persistency doesn’t pay off?). I barely got “hello” out before he yelled in my ear about not answering my phone and told me to get over to mom’s – there was an accident.
Actually, his exact words were “Mother’s been in a car accident – she was hit my a car and run over. The paramedics are there now and will be transporting her to the hospital in a few minutes – if you can’t make it to her house to follow the ambulance, then get to the hospital!”
I’m not even going to try and be flowery with my words here – I’d love nothing more than to flesh out this story and fill in every little detail, but the truth is, I can’t.
This is one of those really weird instances where time just slowed to a crawl and everything seemed to be in slow motion, interrupted by short bursts of loud and fast-paced action. Looking back, my memory of it was sort of like one of those car wrecks you see in movies, the realization that something bad is going to happen (slow-mo), the actual crash (fast), the car crashing and windshield shattering (slow-mo), the aftermath (fast), and then the sobbing and crying.
Fortunately, even though I was in shock, my husband still had a brain and was using it. He gathered the two little ones and got them into the car while I put my shoes on and we were off to the ER, with me calling my remaining brothers to let them know what little I knew. I couldn’t reach ANY of them. Suddenly, I understood Bob’s feelings of utter helplessness and frustration. I posted on Facebook for them to call me asap and that it was a 911. I highly doubt any of them saw that message, but I was suddenly getting texts and emails from friends on FB asking what was wrong. I couldn’t bring myself to update them until I had talked to my brothers.
We actually made it there before my mom’s ambulance. I went in and told them she was on the way and went outside to watch for her. The ambulance pulled up two minutes later, no lights. I might have fallen apart a little bit then. I always thought that ambulances only turned their lights off if they were transporting a deceased person. Thankfully, I was wrong. But I did have a 30-second window where the wind was knocked out of me.
I went back inside as they wheeled her in and the ER nurse took me back to be with her. She was alert and talking and I have to say that I’ve never been so glad to see her. I had been through a whole gamut of emotions in such a amount of time, but I was honestly thrilled that she looked so good. At that point, I hadn’t known what part of her had been run over, if it was her whole body, an arm, a leg…and then I saw her wrapped leg and all the blood. I’m not talking about a little bit of blood, either. The bandage was soaked through, the sheets were soaked and blood was pooling on the bed.
Let me back up a bit. My mom is a heart patient and takes a drug called Coumadin to thin her blood and keep it from clotting. They could not get the bleeding to stop – and mom is a small, frail lady – she didn’t have a lot she could give up.
When the ER Dr. finally came in (in our town, Fri and Sat nights are the WORST nights to be in the ER – it’s the only hospital in a 4 county area that has a trauma section, so we get folks from four counties spread out over three states), he was concerned about the blood loss and when he found out mom had been on Coumadin, he ordered 2 pints of plasma and 2 pints of blood to help with the blood loss and clotting, as a start. Before it was all over, she received 4 pints of plasma and 5 pints of blood in a 24-hour period.
He was concerned she’d broken something in her leg or ankle area because her foot was black and swollen – at this point, he hadn’t even unwrapped her leg to look at the damage. He ordered x-rays as the next step and prepared to call the surgeon in. She was in excruciating pain, which they were able to alleviate only after they took x-rays (nothing broken – can you believe it?!).
At this point, I should probably back up and tell you what actually happened to her (our best guess anyway, because she really doesn’t remember all the details – she said it happened so fast).
She had arrived home from grocery shopping and stopped at the garage (where she has her frozen items stored) to unload the frozen food; she went to get back into the car (which was still running), and when she had one leg in, she went to steady herself with the steering wheel and somehow (we still don’t know) it was knocked into reverse. Because she only had one leg in the car and wasn’t seated, it knocked her off balance and she fell backwards, the car then rolled in reverse over her leg and she was caught up in the wheel well and drug backwards over 30 feet, until the van hit my brother Joe’s truck, which was mercifully parked at the end of the driveway. If it hadn’t been there, she could have been drug out into a very busy two-lane highway and killed.
She pressed the Life Alert button on her wrist as it was happening and my brother Joe, who was inside the house, heard a loud crash and then the alarm for LA sounded. The voice came over the intercom and asked if there was an emergency – he was already outside with mom. He ran back in to get towels to staunch the bloodflow and he said that “dang Life Alert lady” wanted him to tell her what was going on. He said to call an ambulance…he couldn’t talk.
I have to say – I’m so thankful he was there. I don’t know if I could have done what he did. His years as an army medic paid off – he was in full combat mode and took great care of mom using his training. The hospital staff say that he probably saved her life. I’ll have to make it a point to be much nicer to him in the future.
She had scrapes and bruises all over her body, but the only serious damage is her calf, which split open like a watermelon on both sides when the car ran over it.
Once we found out there were no broken bones, we were very relieved, because in our minds, that meant that she could heal faster. I don’t know very many 78-year olds who break bones and recover fully from that. And then the surgeon came and unwrapped her leg. I lost it (inwardly – I was very calm on the outside) again. Mom had already seen it – but I hadn’t. I won’t go into all the details here, but suffice it to say that I’ve never seen anything that bad in my life, and I’ve watched a lot of medical shows and true crime shows.
We were all asked to leave the room at that point and we did so gladly – the surgeon came in and she was prepped for surgery. There wasn’t a lot they could do with her leg – but they did the best they could. She ended up with about 32 staples and some inner stitches, and there are places on her leg where she just doesn’t even have skin, but it could have been so much worse.
We are just so thankful that God spared her life and are just clinging to Romans 8:28, believing that this is part of His plan for us as a family. Mom needed to slow down and let us do more for her. This gives her no choice. Is it going to be stressful? Yes. Is it going to be painful? Without a doubt. Will there be tears? Oh, you betcha. And I’m just talking about me. I know mom will have adjustments too. 🙂
I’m doing my best to maintain a sense of humor and a positive attitude through this for mom, but I’ll be painfully honest–I sometimes fall apart once I get home. The stress of the day is hard to forget when my sweet kiddos are getting under my skin and I occasionally raise my voice when I shouldn’t, or cry for no reason.
I am not the same person I was a few days ago. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing yet.
I’ve had several friends tell me that they admire my strength. Please don’t do that. I’m not strong. I’m a weak person. God is my refuge and strength – a very present help in trouble.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You are the winner of a shiny, new…well, bit of nothing. Other than you’ve heard my story. Thanks for listening.
*If you are one of *those* people (like me), and want to see a photo from yesterday (after several days of healing), you can click here and here. For obvious reasons, I’m not posting them on my blog. I don’t want them being searched and indexed by google. 🙂