We were at VGH in 20 minutes; we went through every intersection with lights and sirens going, every time he put on the sirens he warned me, I felt very much like Victor and I were in capable hands.
We talked a bit on the way down about how Victor and I had just had a baby who was only 6 weeks old. I remember we were laughing about something.
When we got to the hospital he told me to wait for him he’d be right back. When he came back he told me to stick close to him. They unloaded Victor and all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity (just like on medical shows like ER) doctors and nurses every where and they whisked Victor down a hallway, I stuck beside my ambulance attendant and a nurse tried to block my way. “You can’t come in here. You’ll have to wait out there.” The ambulance attendant said, “This is his wife, she’s ok” the nurse gave him a look that said, “You know it’s against the rules” or maybe more like “I don’t need an hysterical wife on my hands”; and he took her aside. I couldn’t hear what he said but she let me through until we got to another area and then he said I’d have to stay there; someone would get me after they admitted Victor and examined him. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that ambulance attendant paved the way for me and opened doors usually closed to the family of patients in the trauma unit; he gave me credibility.
It was hours before I got to talk to any of the doctors but finally they called me into a little room (they have these little almost cubicles with a door on them to give privacy, that is where they usually give you the bad news) inside the trauma unit. The prognosis sounded pretty good, they said that his physical condition was a big plus in his favor. He had been going to the gym regularly and was in good shape, and weighed almost 200 lbs and they said that was really going to help in his recovery.
They said that barring him getting an infection they didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be out within a week or so and go into a ward. They said that the key was getting him out of there within 10 days; that every day past 10 days in the trauma unit his odds of surviving dropped drastically.
I was very niave and had no idea what an infection meant or how life threatening an infection can be.
I was taken in to see him and was shocked by what I saw when I walked through the double doors of the trauma unit. In every sense of the word it was a MASH unit, it was a huge sterile room, to the right was the nurses station and on three sides were patients, only a few feet apart, all hooked up to monitors, and respirators, there was a constant beep, beep, beep, coming from each bed, and whoosh of air for each respirator. All the patients were naked except for a small white hand towel covering their private parts, there were curtains to go around each bed but every one was pulled back. I tried not to look at the other people, wanting to give them their privacy and afraid of what I might see. (I was told the trauma unit was designed after an army medical MASH unit because it was the most efficient and successful way of dealing with severly injured people. They said the first hour after a traumatic injury was crucial to whether a person survived or not.) I hated hospitals at the best of times and usually cried just entering one; this was testing me big time.
They took me to Victor and he basically looked the same, without blankets covering him I could see the tire tread marks across his abdomen. They said they had given him something for pain so he was groggy but they said he had quite the personality and with his attitude he should have a speedy recovery. Figures, he had won them over within the first few hours, typical of Victor and my spirits were uplifted.
“Hey, sunshine, how are you doing? I’ve been waiting to see you a long time; do you know where you are sweetie?”
He shook his head. “You had a motorcycle accident, you are in VGH, but you’re going to be ok.” When I said motorcycle accident he looked surprised, he was trying to talk but the breathing tube down his throat stopped him, he tried writing on a chalk board but was too groggy. “it’s Ok honey, just rest; I’ll be here when you wake up”.
They told me that they were going to set his pelvis the next day and they were also going to remove his gall bladder and spleen because they were too damaged.
To be totally honest I don’t recall what happened next or in what order things happened, I only know things went downhill fast and furiously.
I am sure it was because of the ambulance attendant saying something to the nurses when I arrived but I was given preferential treatment right from the start, where as other families would have to wait for hours in the waiting room and only be allowed in for certain times and length of time I was allowed in 24/7 for as long as I wanted.
Victor took a turn for the worst and my mom ended up getting a hotel for her and I for two days; I had slept in the hospital for a couple of nights. I didn’t see Kris for almost a week when I finally was able to go home.
My best girlfriend Teri took it upon herself to organize baby sitting for Kristofer and when I got home she handed me a list of who was taking him on what days; what a saint she was. She was a single mom and paid our mortgage one month too and she also found someone who donated to us a beautiful crib and baby clothes, he was the best dressed baby for the 1st 2 years of his life, whoever donated the clothes must have had money, I had never seen such beautiful baby outfits.
My dad took care of Kris when he wasn’t working, he just couldn’t stand seeing Victor that way, he had a very hard time dealing with the accident. My dad was a tough prison guard who’d seen it all and I’d never seen him like that. He thought he was better off taking care of Kris which was great because at least he was with family.
The hospital guaranteed me that they could keep Victor alive for 3 hours; meaning I had time to get home and back to the hospital. Some times they couldn’t guarantee me that and it was on those days I stayed at the hospital until they could get him stable enough for me to leave. Of course this was before cell phones and it was an hour and half home if traffic was good.
I always stayed amazingly calm, I don’t think I ever cried in there, my parents pointed out that I had developed a habit of twisting a piece of my hair around and around my finger, but I never let my emotions show. I think I was afraid if I did I would lose control and they wouldn’t allow me the access I had.
Some of the nurses told me I should be home with my baby that Victor didn’t know I was there anyway. I figured I had a life time with Kristofer and maybe only hours with Victor, the father of my baby; Victor needed me now and Kristofer was going to need his daddy. They insisted he didn’t know I was there, but I knew he knew. I would sit beside his bed and talk to him about all the things we would do when he got well, how we would take Kristofer fishing, and we’d get Victor workout stuff for at home, I would ramble on and on about anything I thought would give him hope.
I brought in his pillow from home and pictures of me and Kris and Kris with his daddy and taped them to the pole that went the length of his bed; as much for the nursing staff as for Victor. I wanted them to know the person; that this wasn’t just another patient, another piece of meat laying naked on a gurney, this man was a daddy, my husband, a good person that had to live and go home to his family. I really started something, before I knew it other patients had cards, pictures and such taped to their beds also.
They started alternating Victor’s nurses often because some of the nurses got too emotionally attached and they were afraid they wouldn’t do their job effectively. I was afraid there wasn’t enough consistency in care that way, sure they had his chart but they wouldn’t have the hands on experience of caring for him day to day so I started keeping track of his blood count, temperature, and heart rate so I could tell if an infection was brewing.
I had started a journal after the first week he was in the hospital because I wanted to keep it for Victor to read so he wouldn’t miss any part of Kristofer’s life.
The journal became so much more than I had initially anticipated it would be. I would keep track of my weight (even at times like this my weight was a major concern for me), I kept track of Victor’s vital signs and what was happening with him day to day, I wrote about Kristofer and any little thing that happened with him each day, I started to keep track of how much wine I was drinking because I thought I was developing a problem, and it was my sounding board, it was where I poured out my heart, my fears and anger.
Posted by Carrie the Lady Witha Truck