The Phone Call That Changed It All.

That is the face of my sweet 6 week old baby boy

That is the face of my sweet 6 week old baby boy

Victor and I just after we got married preparing for a 25th anniversay party for my parents.

Victor and I just after we got married preparing for a 25th anniversay party for my parents.

“There must be some mistake.”

“Have the police not called you Mrs. Ouellette?”

“No! No one called me except the hospital to say my husband had been admitted.”

“Well, I can’t tell you much more than that myself, he is pretty bad.”

“How bad? Surgery for what? Can’t you tell me anything?”

“Mrs. Ouellette, he has lost a lot of blood, he has major trauma to most of his body, they are taking him to surgery to try to stabilize him and find out the extent of his injuries. Mrs. Ouellette, do you have someone who can come and be with you right now?”

“No, I am coming, I’ll be there.”

“He is going to be in surgery a long time, if he survives surgery; why don’t you come in the morning?”

I hung up; did she really think I could just sit at home and wait to see if he survived surgery?

I couldn’t breath; I was walking around the house in a daze wondering what I do next, get the baby up? What will I do with a new born baby at the hospital? Why was Victor in Abbotsford? Where is my dad? I was shaking so badly it took me 4 tries to get my mom and dad’s number right and when I did the line was busy. I was pacing, crying, I just kept thinking No, it must be a mistake, it has to be a mistake. Finally my mom’s line was free and it only rang once, “Mom? Has dad called you?”

“Carrie, I just got off the phone with your dad, your brother is on his way to get you now, I’ve talked to Roy and Barb (my mom and dad’s neighbors They had been so supportive when I was pregnant the first time and now after having Kris they were so happy for me) and they are up and ready to take Kristofer.”

“It will be faster if I just drive there”

“Carrie, you are in no shape to drive, Mark is on his way, just get Kristofer ready to go, throw some diapers and formula in a bag and Mark will be there in 10 minutes.” My mind was racing as I threw formula, bottles, diapers and a few pairs of sleepers and t-shirts in Kristofer’s diaper bag then I went in to get Kristofer. I watched him sleeping, sucking his thumb. He was born sucking his thumb; he had even been sucking it when they did the ultrasound. He looked so peaceful, I hated to wake him but he snuggled into my neck when I picked him up and wrapped him in a warm blanket, I just kept thinking “No, there has to be some mistake, my dad would have called me if Victor was in an accident.”

Barb and Roy were up and waiting for Kristofer, they said not to worry they would keep him as long as necessary and I handed them my sleeping sweetheart. God how I hated to leave him; but I told myself I wouldn’t be long; it would only be until morning, then we’d get Victor transferred to Chilliwack hospital so he’d be closer.

Mom was ready to go and Mark drove the three of us to the hospital.

Me: “Why didn’t dad call sooner? Did he say what happened?”

Mom: “He sounded like he was in shock when I was talking to him, he thought he was calling you when he called the house and I had a hard time getting anything out of him. He is a real mess from the sounds of it over the phone.”

Me: “Were they all in an accident? Where’s Ken, are they both at the hospital?”

“Your dad said he’d meet us there, I don’t know if Ken is still there or not.”

When we got to the hospital my dad and Ken were sitting in the waiting room and both looked white and traumatized.

I asked what happened and they said they had gone to the Holy Smoke Pub; (a popular hang out for bikers in an old church) shot some pool and decided to eat some supper before heading home. Dad said he didn’t think Victor drank that much.

When they got to the border Victor was in front and cleared first, he yelled something about “See you guys at home.” And he laid on the throttle and disappeared. Ken was next to clear and then my dad bringing up the rear. Ken was a fair amount ahead of my dad but hadn’t caught sight of Victor yet when he heard a horrible grinding of metal and sparks lit up the sky in front of him. Ken rushed to the freeway and was confused by what he saw, Victor would have been heading east to go home but the accident was obviously in the west bound lanes, there was a big old Parissiene parked off to the side with a woman getting out of it but no other vehicles, but Victor was no where to be seen and there was a black lump laying on the road, Ken then noticed a semi tractor trailer barreling down the highway obviously unaware of the accident ahead; he managed to flag him down before he ran over Victor.

It took many months to figure out what exactly happened that night, but between the police report, the experts calculations, tire marks etc and then finally Victor’s recollections. Victor was heading onto the freeway and was speeding, I forget what they calculated but it was up around 100 mph, there is a long merge lane and according to Victor he was trying to merge but a car was refusing to pull into the left lane and was keeping pace beside Victor so instead of backing off he accelerated and he thought he hit the car and that is what caused the accident. In actual fact the police and highways department’s report stated there was gravel in the corner on the merge lane, anyone who rides motorcycle knows gravel in a corner will cause the motorcycle to go out of control and slide sideways. Victor hit the gravel at a high rate of speed he lost control of his bike and slide into the concrete abutment that divides the merge lane from the highway. Hitting the abutment catapulted Victor and his bike into the air. Victor landed right on the center line of the west bound traffic and was run over by a woman driving an old Pontiac Parisienne (s) his bike landed several yards east of him in the west bound lane. So he landed in front of the lady and his bike landed behind her. She stated that she saw the sparks but didn’t know where they came from and then what looked like a big green garbage bag fell from the sky, she didn’t know where it came from and didn’t have time to react and drove right over it. Ken stopped traffic, including the semi that was in line to drive over Victor, there happened to be a doctor in the traffic that night and he happened to have plasma and was able to hook Victor up to intravenous immediately which is no doubt what saved his life because when he got to the hospital his blood pressure was 0.

My brother drove my dad home and Ken rode his bike home and Mom stayed with me to wait for word on Victor. Nine hours later the surgeon appeared through the double doors of the OR looking like a character off of the movie MASH. His shoulders were slumped, he was pale, and he was covered in bright red blood, it was splattered on his face, his booties, and all over his green surgical outfit. You could tell the blood had been spurting at him and I kept looking at the bright red blood blotches and splatters thinking, “that is Victor’s blood he must be dead, no one can lose that much blood.” I prayed he wasn’t Victor’s surgeon but he walked up to me and asked, “Mrs. Ouellette? Can you follow me please?”

“How is he?……. Is he……alive?”

The doctor tried to give me a smile that ended up looking more like a grimace, “He is stable at the moment, critical by stable, we almost lost him several times and had to bring him back. I was able to stop the bleeding, I think; there is such major trauma to all his vital organs, his pelvis is crushed and all his organs were pushed up into the chest cavity. I was able to reattached his heel and his leg but he will need more surgery to set his pelvis.”

“But he’s going to live, right?”

”The next 36 hours will determine a lot, if he goes into renal failure we will have to send him to VGH (Vancouver General Hospital) they are the only ones equipped to deal with this kind of trauma. But for now he is stable.”

“Can I see him?”

“The nurse will come and get you as soon as they have him in post op. now if you will excuse me I am exhausted and.” He looked down at his gown and shoes as if he just realized he was covered in blood, “I want to clean up.”

After an eternity a nurse came out and said I could see Victor now, she took me aside and said, “Now I want you to be prepared, he isn’t going to look like himself, he has tubes running out of him every where, we need you to stay calm.” I nodded my head. “he is hooked up to a lot of different machines, there’s a lot of beeping etc.” I nodded again. “You can touch him, just be careful not to pull out any of his lines.” “I nodded and said,”Ok, can I see him now?”

“OK, come with me, now brace yourself, if you feel faint or anything let me know.”

We walked through the doors and there he was, I was so relieved, he looked great to me, he looked just like my Victor, “Hey Sunshine, I’m here, you had a motorcycle accident.” And I kissed his forehead and grabbed his hand. He had a breathing tube so he couldn’t talk but I could tell he recognized me but was confused. I told him as much as I knew and then said to rest. His eyes kept closing and he was fighting to stay awake, I told him to just sleep and I’d be there when he woke up. “I love you Sunshine, I’m going to go home to change, I’ve been here all night, I’ll check on Kristofer and then I’ll be back OK?” and he nodded and tried to smile.

The nurse seemed surprised at my calmness, “You did really well.” I thought he didn’t look that bad, from the way she had talked I didn’t know what to expect but his arms weren’t broken, his face was fine, there wasn’t a scratch on him; I had expected horrible road rash (when a motorcycle rider has an accident they usually lose a lot of skin etc from rolling on the pavement). I told her I had a new born baby at home and I wanted to go home and change and maybe sleep for a few hours and asked if Victor would be ok.

She told me they were monitoring him, he was stable but critical and if his organs started to fail they would be shipping him to VGH but it was safe for me to leave for a while and if anything changed they would call me.

I went home and I can’t remember to be honest with you if I saw Kris or not or where I saw him, I know I tried but couldn’t sleep, I packed more of Kristofer’s things, and I went back to the hospital within about 4 or 5 hours. When I got back they were getting him ready to send him to VGH, Vancouver General Hospital, which is an hour and half from Chilliwack but felt like across the country to me. I asked the doctor if I could ride in the ambulance and he had said no. I was beside myself and crying when the one of the ambulance attendants came up and said that they were preparing Victor for travel and once the paperwork etc was done they would be on their way. He looked at mom and me and said, “Are you his wife.” And I said I was. He said, “I’ll come and get you when we are ready to go.” I was confused, it sounded like he meant I could ride along so I said the doctor told me I couldn’t ride in the ambulance. The attendant said, “Do you want to ride along?” and through my tears I said I did. He said, “it’s my ambulance, I say who rides and who doesn’t, but we can only take one.” And looked at my mom, she said that was Ok she would call my dad and she would drive. He was so nice, I wish I could remember his name, he patted my arm and said not to worry and just wait there, he’d come and get me when it was time to leave. He said, “Just make sure you are ready to go when I say because once we have him loaded we aren’t messing around”.

I calmed down then and mom said she would call dad and they would both drive down, he could bring my car and she would drive theirs and that way I’d have a car in Vancouver and she would ride home with my dad.

True to his word the ambulance attendant came and got me when Victor was ready. He put me in the passenger seat and told me, “You are going to ride up front with me and my partner is going to be in the back with Victor. We are going Code Red that means lights and sirens all the way. I need you to stay in your seat no matter what happens, my partner has to be able to do his job and if Victor goes into cardiac arrest or something we can’t have you getting in the way, let us do our jobs ok?” I nodded. Once they had Victor in the back the driver said, “We are going to have the lights on but I won’t use the sirens unless I have to and I’ll warn you before I put them on ok?” and he smiled, “It’ll be ok.” I guess I must have looked scared to death. When I think about it I was only 26, and my whole world had just been turned upside down, I was terrified.

Posted by Carrie the Lady Witha Truck

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