I can waste time on the interweb...this is one of the many ways I do it...
My continuing pain unfolds…once again; the reason for these posts is more for therapy for me. Thanks for reading (at least this far). It’s not exciting or adventurous; it’s just the story of a few days of my life.
Sometimes you end up places you though you would never be in life. Like the time my friend Gary and I drove from the south suburbs of Chicago to Colorado. We had to drive through Ogallala, Nebraska to get to Ft Collins (I was checking out Colorado State University for my Ph.D. work). Have you ever driven through Ogallala? It’s a horrible place with feed lots all over the place and you basically smell cow shit for 20 minutes straight while traveling at 70 mph. At first Gary and I laughed about the smell…by the end I think we were crying. The smell was unbelievable, enough to make this omnivore turn vegan.
Where am I going with this? It was now 2:30 a.m and I could not sleep at all. Strange things happen to me on hard narcotics, they may dull the pain but they “wire me up” the way a triple espresso does. Shit, imagine if I was a Mormon. I would have no idea how to deal with all the drugs that were running through my system. Anyhoo…I reached for the iPhone and typed a facebook status update since word was starting to get out with what had happened to me. I threw something up and finished it with “Appreciate life, people. Live it to its fullest everyday.” I really meant that (even though I wrote “everyday” instead of “every day”). I could not believe how close I came to serious injury or maybe even death…that made me think way too much. Luckily the night nurse came in and we laughed and joked about something. I’m not sure what…but it helped. We talked about the house I was trying to buy.
Yeah, the day I was hit by the car was the day I finally agreed on a price with the seller of my house to be. It was kind of a big deal to me. It would be my first house and I spent a fair amount of time looking for it. I physically went to around 50 houses before I found one I decided on. This deal needed to go through so while I was in the ER I called my Realtor to let her know what happened…it may have been a strange time to call but things seem to move quickly (and painfully slow) when you buy a house. This “house purchase” story was the same story I gave EVERY nurse, nursing assistant, food person, janitor, x-ray tech…anyone who came near me at the hospital. It was a crutch I used to help get through me through the four nights I spent there. I’m pretty sure they had a pool going at the hospital of “How long until cycling-dude brings up his house purchase”. Whoever guessed five seconds probably won a lot of money. As of today, it looks like I’ll get the house and I’ll close at the end of this week. I’ll believe it once it finally happens. My signature will be a bitch to sign without a functional right hand…but it will be worth it.
I finally had the wherewithal to ask how long I’d be there. The nurse said that the orthopedic surgeon would be in sometime in the morning to let me know. I just laid there and tried to sleep. I could press my magical pain killer button every ten minutes or so to get drugs via IV. I hit the thing every five to be sure. I also asked for a bolus injection every few hours. The nurse came in at 4:00 a.m. to check vitals. I woke up again and swore I slept 4 hours. I’ll have it be known that not once in the 4 days I was in the hospital I slept four hours in a row…hell…I never slept more than two hours in a row.
Morning came, “food” came (I never once complained about the food) I tried to sleep some more. The day started with the first of many visitors; the first a M.D. who I work with in the WWAMI program at WSU-Spokane (my department and program where I work). Seeing George was very good, he is a co-worker and in the medical field and he assured me everything was going to be okay. Eventually the ortho came and he said I may get out tomorrow if the physical therapist signed off. He felt as though everything would heal okay. No surgery needed. (phew). Of course, he said this in a very odd way “there is a 75% chance you won’t need surgery”. I laid in bed the rest of the day while people visited me. I was, as Allison’s parents said “In rare form” with my one-liners and little quips. I was trying to make the best of the situation and when people were around I talked as much as the dope would allow me…I knew I needed to keep my spirits up. Late at night…well…to be honest it was tough. I was in a lot of pain, worse than the previous night. TV, the phone, or the internet could not assuage my worries. I started to collect fluid in my lungs and my O2 levels were going down. Most likely I had bruised lungs and pneumonia was starting to be a concern. They brought in some contraption for me to do breathing exercises with. I was told to get my O2 levels up or I’d have to go on O2. I was given a challenge…I won that challenge over the course of the next three days and nights. Eventually I slept…for and hour or so…here and there. How many times do my vitals need to be checked? I just kept pressing the button…
By this point my ribs started hurting a lot. The doc said I most likely had torn the inter-costal muscles/cartilage? Hell, I’m not sure exactly. But it still hurts a lot right now! Yawning still hurts as does laughter.
I woke up for day number two with hope. That hope ended as quickly as David Caruso’s movie career did. I was in even *MORE* pain. The PT came in early in the morning with her assistant. They seemed like nice ladies…but they were evil. The type of pain that was inflicted on me was worse than anything I had experienced by people in the medical profession and this includes the crazy ass Austrian doctor that set my broken clavicle back in DeKalb, IL…way back in the day (mountain bike crash). My first PT session was sitting up and hanging my broken leg over the bed as well as bending my elbows. The elbow bending thing hurt a lot. I felt as though every stitch was going to pop, my range of motion was shot in both arms. Practicing my arm ROM was very pleasant activity compared to dropping my leg down. All the blood in my body decided to pool in my foot. All of it. Ouch. I sat there for maybe 30 seconds, or maybe a minute, but it felt like hours. After this I was allowed to go horizontal again and it was a good 10 or 15 minutes before the leg felt “normal”…whatever normal was. The weekend was here, which I had no concept of, and that meant I needed to be moved off the floor I was on. The guy who wheeled me down to the ortho floor was really cool. We talked bikes, the neighborhood I possibly was moving to (he lives there) and we also conversed about the fbc in Spokane which he is pretty active with. Seemed like a nice guy.
There I was in a new room with a roommate. This is where I entered Dante’s unwritten tenth circle of hell. My new roommate was an elderly retired Catholic priest.
I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic school from preschool through 8th grade. I loved the education I received there and looking back on it I’m glad I was sent there for those years. I’d be full of crap if I said I was a practicing Catholic but if you put a gun to my head I’d say I was Catholic before anything else. I was raised to respect priests but also to respect people. I’ve also worked in a nursing home that was run by the little sisters of the poor (read: nuns) and my mother worked there for years. What I came away from that job was that older religious people have a strange sense of entitlement. My mother could tell more stories about this…but she’ll deny it (and I know she read this…SORRY MOM!). There was the one time the old blind priest tried to (or successfully) cop a feel on my mom. Come on dude! That’s my mom! Another old priest there told me about the Charles Dickens’s classic “a tale of two titties”. Really dude? (I was 16 and found no humor in that joke). Now in all fairness, I will say that I was an altar boy and never ONCE felt uncomfortable in any situation. The Catholic Church has a black eye (well-deserved I might add) with these awful cases of molestation AND I will say that my new roommate lambasted the last two popes with how they handled this situation. Digression over…back to my story…
My new roommate had a lot of visitors and I was immediately told by one of his visitor’s that I could not use my phone for at least 30 minutes since they were expecting a phone call on it. It turned out that his sister just died. Hell (should I use that word when talking about priests?), I actually felt sorry for the guy. Well, I was wrong. He was an asshole. He may be a man of God, but his god sucks…he was an ass. I would turn my TV on and he would then turn his TV ALL THE WAY UP. He chastised all the nurses and nurses aids. The TV and lights came on at 3:00 a.m. I was pissed. I turned to my twitter account to vent. Here are a few selections (you can find more out there if you’d like) It gives you and idea of the hell I was going through:
Father dumbass update: he complains how he can’t sleep well. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and he’s on his (minimum) 5th cup of coffee today. 2:37 PM Apr 18th
In the past hour the good priest has hit the nurses call button 8 fucking times. EIGHT! not once for a medical emergency (or an alter boy) 5:52 AM Apr 18th
You may be a priest. But that does not mean you can be an asshole to the nurses and their aids. Quit being a prick padre. 9:51 PM Apr 17th
The catholic priest I’m sharing my hospital room with is snoring so very loudly. I wonder if he is dreaming of one of his sermons. 7:11 PM Apr 17th
That afternoon I also had my second PT session of the day. Allison and her parents were there for it. The therapist brought in a walker with an armrest on it (for my cycling friends, the arm rest looks like an aerobar). I can’t use crutches since my wrist is broken so I get to use a walker with wheels attached to the front. This will be my mode of transportation for 7 more weeks. Great. The session this afternoon would be getting up on one leg and using the walker to walk/roll/shuffle/hop from my bed to the door and then to a chair where would sit for 30 minutes before crawling back in bed. I got up, and shit, the pain was unbelievable. I had not stood up for over 48 hours. I’ve never been that horizontal for so long. The foot swelled up, turned purple, and throbbed so bad I could feel it pulsing in my temples…this was only after moving maybe a foot or two. The therapist decided that maybe a walk of 5 feet would be good. Hell no. I was going to the door and back. That was the original goal and we were sticking with it. The pain was absolutely searing, with ever hop I swore I could feel my broken fibula move. I’m pretty sure I had a few tears rolling out of my eyes. I can’t honestly remember if they were from the pain or the fact emotionally I was having a tough time realizing how messed up I was. I made it back to the recliner chair and sat (and pressed the fuck out of my pain killing button). The PT let me know right then and there that I would not be getting out of the hospital until Monday at the earliest…I was bummed I was supposed to be on “the first page” of results at the Tour of Walla Walla time trial today and hanging on for dear life in that criterium that night. I was in NO WAY supposed to be using a walker to walk to a door and back. The first major wave of depression hit that evening. Later, Allison admitted to me that seeing me during that PT session was extremely hard for her to visualize and comprehend. She said it was “just not fair”. None of this was. I tried to stay positive and not lose what little sense of humor I had. I got no sleep that night thanks to the priest.
My fever was worsening during the night. It was a low grade fever but a fever nonetheless. I needed to continue to do my breathing exercises to keep my lungs functioning. I figured since I could not sleep I might as well work on that. I set a goal…get my O2 levels up…I was happy to say by Sunday that goal was achieved and the fever died down. Of course the chills and sweat never stopped which never really helped the abrasions on my back or my ass. I was sticking to the sheets at all times. Ugh…nasty. FINALLY, after begging nurse after nurse, doctor after doctor someone finally realized how torn up I was on my back and ass. I landed on a pile of rocks and had a lot of abrasions. This nurse (who was fantastic) took care of me, cleaned my back and dressed my wounds. I also had about 15 or 20 mosquito bites since the accident took place near some stagnant water and those bite were killing me. Did I mention I was miserable? I had two more sessions of PT and the therapist said I could most likely leave Monday. Finally some “good” news…well…what could be considered good news…I got some rest that night since I had the room to myself. Excited with the prospects of going home…
Monday came and the physician’s assistant for my doc came in to re-splint my leg. I had a fair amount of abrasions and lacerations on the leg and most were covered up before the splint went on…except for the big one on my calf. My body decided it really liked the cotton ball like stuff that the wrapped my leg in. So much that the wound thought it would be a great idea to use it as a matrix to heal. It took the PA and a nurse more than 15 minutes to separate the cast from my skin/wound. It hurt like hell. But they succeeded. I got the okay to be discharged around 1:30…I did not leave until 5:00. My poor uncle was there for over three hours before we finally got the okay to leave. It was frustrating to say the least, but I was finally on my way home where Allison set up a bed for me in the back room (to keep the dog and cats away from me for one night). I was happy, well, as happy as I could be considering the wonderful situation I was in, to get out of there. I felt every bump on 195. There are 2308 in case you need to know.
I have not mentioned much about my elbows, but they were healing up very well. They removed the drains (yeah, I had drains in both since there was a fair amount of gunk leaking from both elbows the first two days) and they were looking very good. A positive sign!
Other random things…I listened to 6 Beastie Boys’ albums on full blast to deal with the priest. I had many flowers delivered, a lot of phone calls from people, family, friends, and co-workers. Many people stopped by too to see me. A ton of e-mails, facebook messages, and text messages too. Thanks to all of you who contacted me while I was in the hospital. I truly appreciated it. Every single message meant a lot and helped me through a very tough situation that as I have said too many people “I would not wish on my worst enemy”.
Enough venting for now…this will continue again…my story is not over…
Thanks for reading.
Oh yeah, I miss my bike, but I miss walking even more.