11 miles from home: Chapter 4: Trauma and Morphine
Left Knee -right angle
Right Knee aka Franken-leg
Right knee - right view
Right Leg - top view
My Titanium Femur
An example x-ray
Not Quite Bionic, and not quite 6 million dollars
Papa Roach - Scars
A Blurry Reality
Here's where things kinda get weird. The lines tend to blur a bit... but is reality what we see and experience or is it what others tell us or what they experience? To the best of my knowledge, this is what happened and how it happened to me. Now granted, I was under the influence of the IV cocktail ... my world was a little askew, but it all sure has hell felt real...
In a Flash....
I felt as though I was in a M*A*S*H medical helicopter. Over the whirling of the helicopter blades I could hear the sound of other wounded people crying out for help (even though mentally I knew I was the only injured person in the chopper).
We touched down on the helipad. Even though I knew it was still daylight, I remember it being pitch black except red lights. These red lights, I swore were everywhere I looked, to the left, to the right, forward and seemed for miles all around. I could hear the sound of cannons. I swear I could see campfire lights, and nurses dressed in civil war type uniforms care for injured troops... that is until a beautiful young nurse in a red polo shirt came up to the heli-team and started asking me questions ... the usual stuff my name, social security number, other basic info. She asked the Bayflight team all the treatment and vital info as we (at least I think) spiraled down into the hospital trauma floor.
On the trauma floor two great giant golden doors opened and we were greeted by another nurse in a red polo shirt who seemed to act more like a hostess in a diner, back guiding us where to go. From what I remember I was parked in an area behind a waist high wall in sorta a parking lot fashion. Looking around I could miles on tents, campfires, and I could hear the sound of marching drums in the distance, above the cries of others... I could swear I could see a pagoda on top of a far away mountain... out lined in the darkness.
A woman comes to my hospital stretcher and as she talks to me... suddenly everything snaps back into focus. I'm in a hospital trauma unit.... she tells me that she is a hospital Chaplain. She asks me if there is anyone she can call to tell them what happened and if there is anyone I want here with me. I rattle off my parents phone number (granted they are 1500 miles away from where I live) and I asked her to try and contact my girlfriend through her email address since I do not have her phone number memorized. I also give the chaplain my ex-wife's phone number... who is out of the country visiting her family in Sophia, Bulgaria. The Chaplain then asks me who I would rather have immediately here with me... she runs through the list of names... and she looks at me with the warmest, most comforting smile I have ever seen in quite some time. She says to me, "I know exactly who to try to get a hold of ... your eyes lit up when I mentioned your girlfriend's name. I will get her here one way or another." I could only reply, "She's my Baby Girl... she my world."
A nurse then came in and started to clean out the road rash and gravel from my knees. Another nurse entered and asked if I had a Living Will... I said, "No, but if it comes down to it... just go right ahead and pull the plug... Hell if I'm able, let me do it myself." she looked at me and said "I don't blame you, I feel the same way." I responded with the whole "quality of life speech and how people are willing to mercifully put down there pets if means to humanely end their suffering, but how they will selfishly keep a "loved one" alive no matter how much suffering they are going through.... proof once again people care more for their pet's well being... than what is best fore a family member. A quick agreement of general contingents around the room followed. I could feel the burning sensation of having my knees cleaned-out... my eyes roll back and I fell deep into the pain... I thought as much morphine as I was on by now... I should floating on a cloud of painlessness.
Next thing I remember a transporter comes in to shuffle me off to the CT scan, MRI and X-ray. As I am being pushed through the hallway... again I start to see the distance fire light, hear the faraway war drums and cannonballs being hurled in different direction... the orderly pushing me looks like some temple warrior guard type thing. !!! BOOM !!! through the radiology doors I go. The radiology tech has me injected with a dye, disclaiming this may hurt a bit.... I just laugh and say, "obviously you haven't heard about the day I am having... I really don't think a pin-prick into my veins is going to be that painful at this point." ... well I could have been a little wrong.. it did burn... I a swear I could feel it course through my blood stream. Suddenly I am it the noisy tube... hearing over the PA, >click< "alright James, don't move until I tell you." >click< .. I don't remember the CT or the X-ray.... but the x-ray tech rolled in later to redo the pics of my femur two other time... neither time was very enjoyable, nor done very smoothly.
I opened my eyes and !!!BANG!!! I'm back in my trauma unit parking spot. I see a shadowy outline of a tall, lean figure ... hair in a ponytail.. and her purse being tossed onto a chair... the figure move quickly towards me... suddenly her face brightens, its clear and as radiant as an angel. The feeling of comfort and the sudden knowing that everything is going to be alright washes over me... the kiss tells me that this angel is my angel... my girlfriend... she is here... I feel her hand touch my face..... tears stream from first my left eye. I am snapped back to darkness, campfires, and civil war nurses run around me.. aiding those in pain around me... I hear announcements over a PA... but I can only see one bright light ... I can see only her face.
I really have on idea of time or exactly how much morphine has been added to added to my IV. But it seemed like every 5 minutes more was given to me. I was floating around on fluffy marshmallow clouds that felt as warm as a box full of puppies. But with my girl here with me in the trauma unit... I could finally feel myself relax and sink deep into the deep. I have very little memory of jokes I made to the nurses, doctors, the Chaplain or the other techs and countless whatwhoseits that were jumping in and out of my trauma parking spot, but I know from what I was told... I was on fire... which is my natural defense mechanism. I had many serious talks in between with my girl.... I remember her never leaving my side the whole time, and asking the medical professionals many questions... while I was looking at the pagoda in the distance, campfires and the bodies be moved around on the stretchers... through the smoke of cannon fodder.
Two doctors came over and started to prep me to begin to start stitching up my left knee. By now I am really feeling high of pain meds. The older (and grumpier) male doctor inspects my left knee and orders up the sutures need. He puts the local antithetic into the open wound and I about jump out of bed from the burning sensation. The doctor begins to sew me up... at first I don't feel a daaaaamn thing. That is until he moves further up my knee and then BANG! ZOOM! and all I can say is "WOW! Doc... really WOW!" He looks at me stunned and says, "you can feel that?" and I say yes... but he continues for what must be an eternity but was like 2 or 3 more stitches at that ponit... I get through it.
The younger female doctor (she was attractive from what I remember ... but I was pretty high) just happens to lift up the sheet over my right knee. Her eye light up. "oh my god, you can see straight to the bone on this knee!" She orders sutures and staples and the nurse next to her promise that the doctor is much more gentler than the old guy. She hits the wound with the antithetic and I about shoot through the fiber wood drop ceiling. "Holy! Wow!" the doctor goes," you can feel that?" I'm all like, "Does a one legged duck swim in a circle?" My girl tells me to be nice.... I tell her wait til one day when you get sewed and stapled shut and then we'll talk about being nice. This doctor was gentle and smooth except for the last stitch or two and the same with the staples- the last few about made me scream. I actually ask the nurse if she had a bullet I could bite down on.
About this time nurses were wheeling a young woman into the parking spot next to me for some stitching. I heard her talking about what happened to her. She ran her car into a city light pole and it crash onto her car... OUCH!
I faded to black once again with samurai warriors, firelight flickers, civil war soldiers lying about the cold damp ground, and the sound of drums, rumbling in the distances between the sound of pain coming from others.
I was assigned and transported to a room in the trauma ward. The guy who was transporting me was a nice, humorous gent. We went up or down the elevator to whatever level. I was like telling him thank you for not slamming me into any walls or doorways and he is all like, "man no problem, I'm a professional and this is what I do ... keeping you safe." suddenly we hit a dip in the floor... and we all laugh. He turns and I am in my new room.
With my girl holding my hand and comforting me. The nurses switch my leg to a different traction devise and hook me up with more morphine. I ask for food and water, and then the nurse tells me that I can't because I am scheduled for surgery in the afternoon.
The surgery is to put a titanium rod into my left femur, which is broken in the center of the bone. I also find out that I have broken my right humerus, just below the shoulder. The doctors have already decided not to cast my arm. Luckily it was a clean break and it will heal by wearing an immobilizer sling.
After a few basic vital sign readings, my girl and I get a little time just to talk... even though I don't really remember what either one of us said, but I'm sure it was a mixture of instruction of things that need done, and sincere mushiness... and then after she left... I faded back to some place in time that combine the night camp of futile lords, injured old timey foot soldiers under the dark mountain with a pagoda over looking the summit