0.01% of hospital stay

glenroseBeing a pedestrian hit by a car means multiple injuries and critical condition, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Well, okay, 99.9% of it is, but there are a few bright humorous moments.

I know I’m lying on the ground in the middle of the road. “Where are my kids? Where are my kids?” I open my eyes and see my son bending over me.

“It’s okay, Mom. We’re right here.”

“Where’s my purse? Where’s my purse.”

I can’t see my daughter, but I hear her say, “It’s okay, Mom. I have it right here.”

So, you see, I have my priorities in the right order.

In the emergency room, I say, “I wear contacts.”

A nice young intern hovers over me. “It’s okay, we took them out.” He holds a contact lens case a couple of inches from my eyes. “See, I have them right here.” Maybe he’s not so nice after all. Or, maybe I’ve been babbling a little too much?

Weeks later I’m transferred from the trauma unit to the rehabilitation hospital. I lie in bed with casts from the top of my legs to the tips of my toes. My right arm has been so badly dislocated that it’s useless.

physioA nurse comes in to tell me I’ll be going to physio and occupational therapy. Physio first. I’m taken to a room that looks like something out of the Spanish inquisition. Weird contraptions on the walls, with belts and straps and hooks that menace the helpless patient.

“Mrs. Jones, what are you doing here?” says a bright young thing I recognize as a former junior high student.

“Sandra, what are you doing here?”

“I’m your physiotherapist.”

I look again at the instruments of torture. “Oh, God, I hoped you liked me.” Turns out we get along just fine.

One evening the tall skinny nurse’s aide who is my favorite staff member offers to give me a shower.

shower“How can we do that?” I ask gesturing to my casts. Not a problem for her. She wraps both my legs in green garbage bags, wheels me on a gurney to the shower room, proceeds with a shampoo, and sprays the top half of my body. Never has a shower felt so good.

She dries me off, combs my hair, and removes the garbage bags. No problem with the first one, but when she pulls the second one off, she’s left holding the bag and my cast. We stare at my leg. She quickly slides the cast back on. We don’t tell a soul, but we hardly dare look at each other after that afraid we’ll burst into laughter.

And one last … what shall I call it…? … incident. I’ve progressed to walking casts, and am sitting on the edge of my bed window washer 2naked. I’ve given myself a sponge bath and am about to get dressed. I hear a sound behind me. I turn to see a young window washer grinning from ear to ear. There’s not a heck of a lot I can do. I smile and wave. He turns beet red.

And for the 99.9% of bad bits. They do not need to be relived.

15 comments on “0.01% of hospital stay

  1. So well written Darlene! Amazing how we remember the wonderful, and funny bits and the terrible parts just fade away. My grandma, who would be 119 years old if she had lived past 94, used to say, “Life is just one long story” and the longer I live the more I understand what she meant. Keep writing, Karen

  2. Wait. Did this just happen?!!! So sorry if it did. Or if it happened in the past, I am hoping you are up and doing well and just looking back at a terrible accident in your life. Healing thoughts to you if it just happened.

    • Darlene, this happened a number of years ago, but it’s the sort of thing you never forget and of course I have some leftovers – arthritis and joints that don’t function completely, but hey, it could have been worse.

  3. Amen, sistah! Last month my partner and I were riding our scooter and were hit head-on by a car. I’ve had a similar hospital experience (in a developing country no less), and understand the long long recovery time.
    I love the way you framed it with the 99.9% vs 0.01% – very nice. This stuff can’t really be sugar-coated. I’ve been wondering how to write about the – incident (!) – yet…as I don’t like to dwell on negative things.

    A friend of mind who was through something similar had the following advice to offer:
    The top 3 factors contributing to recovery:
    1 – Attitude
    2 – Attitude
    3 – Attitude

    Happy recovery! 🙂

    • I agree completely with your friend. I was lucky. My roommate in the rehab hospital was amazing. I’ll have to write about her too. Your accident sounds pretty dreadful. Where were you and how are you now?

    • Thank you, Mike. This happened a number of years ago and it took a long time to fully recover (as much as one can after that type of trauma). I would not want to relive that experience.

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