a real-life adventure
Read Part XIII here.
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Through the next half hour of strain and tears, I grimaced, whined and blubbered while wondering why things were so different this time around. Why were these people all so mean? Why couldn't they see I was in pain?
The pre-diagnosis of "just fine" enabled me to hobble out of the lab on my own, tightly clutching the back of my flimsy gown so as to not provide any peep shows on my way back to my room. As I entered the hallway, my eyes immediately fell upon the familiar face of my friend and co-worker Karin. Her arm was around Taz, and the two of them were across the hallway from Raz, chatting away until Karin's eyes met mine. I watched the color drain from her face and her eyes well up with tears.
My purse was slung over Taz's shoulder. He must have gone through my address book and called Karin, perhaps the first local name he could find, her surname beginning with B. I felt a degree of relief, knowing my kids were not alone.
Taz noticed Karin's expression, and his head whipped over in my direction. With bright eyes and a cheerful voice, he called out, "Mom!!!" My heart soared as he darted down the hallway toward me.
The tear-inducing, magical moment padded the impact of his miniature body as he crashed into me and threw his arms around my waist. I pulled him in closer and nearly doubled over in pain. But then I saw Raz's face.
Her smile turned to horror as she took in her first full view of me. My future football/soccer/baseball player was not fazed by my appearance. Raz, however, drank in every owie as if she could relieve my pain by taking it upon herself. She wailed once again, and Karin reached over to try to calm her. A nurse appeared out of nowhere, pried Taz from me and ushered me down the hall. I heard Karin offering to take the kids to eat as soon as Raz was done with her x-rays. I wondered if the hospital staff would allow Raz to go.
I spent the next couple of hours attempting to doze. Unfortunately, the foreign environment, hallway noise and my diminishing tolerance for pain combined to make the sleep restless and unsatisfying. The television in my room was blocked by a curtain, but I could hear the Rockies game in progress. Every once in a while I tried to pay attention, but not being there prodded remorse and regret.
The accident had occurred at almost exactly 1 p.m., straight up. It was five hours later and an hour into the game by the time I finally met the doctor.
He diagnosed several lacerations on my scalp, three cracked ribs and a dislocated shoulder. In addition, he said, I likely would have "a black eye" the next morning.
He removed a number of glass shards, stitched my head without cutting a single strand of hair, placed a brace on my ribs, directed an aid to clean me up and had all but patted me on the back to send me home when he experienced a slight change of heart.
"I'm going to have our trauma surgeon take a look at your x-rays, just to be sure. But I'm sure he will allow you to go home tonight," he said. "Take a long, hot bath, relax for a couple of days, and then no running, no stairs, no heavy lifting, nothing strenuous for six weeks."
Up to that point, I didn't know staying the night had been an option tempting anyone's mind. From the beginning, I'd thought I'd be able to see at least part of the game with my children from the comfort of our living room. I thought I owed them that. That and a large pepperoni pizza. Just for waiting so patiently for so long, if indeed they were.
An hour later, I met the trauma surgeon. Upon first inspection, he removed the rib brace, which had provided the only physical comfort I'd felt since before the accident.
"That's what causes people with rib injuries to develop pneumonia," the surgeon explained, shaking his head in disbelief. "Your lungs need to expand, and braces will only limit your breathing.
"I know you'll be uncomfortable sleeping with all that dirt on you, but I'll have one of our techs help you shower in the morning. Not too hot, though. No heat and no cold for a couple of days."
With that, he handed a nurse a couple of in-hospital prescriptions and was off into the crowded caverns of other patients to see.
For the third time that day, I really cried. Who would take care of my children? Could they stay in my room with me? How would I take care of them from a hospital bed? Why couldn't I take a shower before morning? And what about all the confusion ─ brace, no brace; warm bath, no bath ─ both of these men were physicians, and yet they were dispensing contradictory instructions.
An hour or so later, well beyond visiting hours, I was wheeled into a private room equipped with a window seat and chair. A few minutes later, Karin brought my fed kids in, and a nurse brought extra blankets and pillows. The kids wasted no time launching a barrage of questions.
"Mom, did you know you can race wheelchairs in the hallway?" Raz bubbled.
"And wheely beds!" Taz added.
"Do they have ice cream here?" Raz asked.
"What's this thing for?" Taz queried as he studied a plastic breathing apparatus that would measure the inflation of my lungs.
"Mom, can we go get a movie?" Raz asked as she played with a new-found remote control.
"Oh, man! Do you think we can watch the game?" Taz pleaded as he snatched the remote out of Raz's hands. She summarily picked up a pillow and whacked him with it. He pounced on her and soon had her giggling "Uncle!" with his relentless tickle attack.
I didn't need to ask if my kids were okay.
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Copyright 2013 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson