For only the second time in 12 years, there will be no issue of WritersWeekly this week. We are only posting a News From the Home Office column this week.
Our daughter and her boyfriend were in a head-on collision on Monday night. They are expected to recover but we have been in the hospital with them all week. I have changed their names below for their own privacy.
I got the phone call from A. on Monday night, around 10:15. She yelled, “MOM! We were in a really bad accident!”
I instantly panicked, but tried to remain outwardly calm so she would. I asked, “Are you okay?!”
She yelled back, “My face is bleeding everywhere and I think M has a broken leg!”
I asked, “What hospital are they taking you to?” She didn’t seem to understand my question so I asked it slower and louder. She then asked the paramedic, and told me. I knew she was in good hands so I told her we’d be right there and that we loved her. I got off the phone and panicked a bit more before calming myself down. Richard, who knew what was happening by hearing my side of the conversation, was already packing a bag and alerting the older kids to take the little ones for the night.
On the way to the hospital, about 45 minutes away, the sheriff called me on my cell and told me none of the injuries were life threatening. That was the most wonderful phone call I’ve ever had in my life. When A said her face was bleeding, I’d instantly thought, ‘head injury!!!’ Of course, he also didn’t tell me about the blood or broken leg so I also knew the phone call was a comfort call but I focused on the “not life threatening” part.
He also said the dog was okay. I’d completely forgotten about Jax, M’s dog! They agreed to transport the dog to the hospital but one of us had to get him out of the ambulance.
I knew I had to get in contact with M’s mother in Georgia somehow but didn’t have her number. I got on Facebook and sent an urgent message to M’s roommate. He called me in less than five minutes. His mom knows M’s mom and, just a couple of minutes later, I was on the phone with M’s mom. I kept her updated with phone calls, texts, and even pictures the rest of the evening. Thank heaven for social networking and wifi!!! If you are a parent, you can probably imagine how terrified M’s mother was, being so far away while her child was being hospitalized.
We beat the ambulance to the hospital. Just after we pulled into the parking lot, three ambulances arrived. The first one held the young man who caused the accident (more on that later). The second one had A, M, and Jax. I took Jax and gave him to Richard, who immediately drove him to M’s house so his roommate could take care of him. M was on a gurney and didn’t look good at all. A was sitting up with blood all over the lower half of her face and her arm in a sling. I don’t why but I instantly knew she would be okay because she was sitting up, and not on a gurney. I was very worried about M, however. He is part of our family and I think of him as one of our children. I also knew he only had us to comfort him at that time. He has no family in Maine.
They made me enter the hospital through the regular E.R. doors and I had to sit and wait for A and M to be assigned rooms. It’s a really small hospital and I was the only person in there. A few minutes later, another family arrived. I asked if they were there for the car accident. They said yes. I asked if their loved one was okay. One woman said, “I think so.”
I asked, “Do you have any idea what happened?”
The woman said, “My nephew was dialing his phone.”
At that moment, a nurse came to get me. I went to A’s room first. She was sitting up in bed, all alone, with an IV line in her arm. She still had the wrapping on her arm from the paramedics and she still had quite a bit of blood on her face. The airbag had punched her in the nose. That’s where all the blood came from. Aside from a scratch on her nose and a fat lip, that’s all that was on her face. I knew from the big lump coming up in the bandage on her arm that something in her arm was broken. She was really frightened by that so I reminded her, “YOU are alive. Your ARM can be fixed.”
Her whole body was shaking violently and she was crying. She was very worried about M because he’d had chest pain in the ambulance. I crossed the hall to find M’s room. While A had been left completely alone, M’s room was full of people rushing around. They had a sonogram on his abdomen, looking for internal injuries, they were hooking him up to an EKG, and looking at his neck and back and everything else. It looked like a scene out of a movie and I was absolutely terrified. He was alert and I talked to him from the doorway. I told him we loved him and that he was going to be just fine. I could see terror in his eyes, not knowing what was wrong. His chest hurt and he couldn’t breathe right. He was hurting so badly and was so frightened that I started crying. They rushed him out for a CT Scan shortly after that but I did get to get close enough to kiss the top of his head and half-hug him around all the tubes and machines. I can tell you….I have never been so frightened in my entire life. I thought M might “expire” at any moment because of the flurry of activity around him. I wiped away my tears, walked quickly back to A’s room and, of course, lied through my teeth. I said, “He’s doing just fine, honey. You know, they’re taking his temperature and stuff like that.” She sat back, very relieved. I had made the right decision. She stopped shaking a few minutes after that.
M was gone for awhile and I was able to sit with A until they took her for xrays. Richard arrived around that time. I went by to check on the young man who’d hit them. He had a broken arm and his family apologized to me over and over and over about what happened. The young man finally looked up at me and said, “I am so, so sorry.” He then looked back down at his lap.
I replied, “It was a hard lesson to learn but you are all alive and I am so thankful for that.” I admit I was relieved that he was a man about it and admitted to everyone, including the sheriff at the scene, what he’d done to cause the accident. He was apparently dialing his mom’s number to tell her he was on his way home. He crossed all the way over the center line and was all the way in the oncoming lane when the accident occurred. He was ticketed for the accident.
The sheriff came in later and said it was “headlight to headlight head-on collision.” Both cars were going about 45-50 mph. M was driving our van when it occurred. You may be wondering why he didn’t do something to avoid it. He tried but could not. If he’d veered left to go around the car, he’d have been in oncoming traffic. There was a guardrail to the right and, if they’d gone over the guardrail, they’d have been in frozen ocean water. He had no choice but to hit the brakes. A later said it all happened in a split second and she didn’t even have time to think about it, nor even to scream. The E.R. said his foot and ankle were broken (and the ankle dislocated) because his foot was hitting the brake so hard when the collision occurred.
M’s CT scan results finally came back after about 45 minutes. He had four broken ribs and bleeding behind his sternum. He had also been taken to x-ray and he had a broken foot and a broken ankle. In addition, he had bruises and cuts all over his abdomen and chest from the seat belt and air bag. When we found out M was going to survive, I started crying all over again, with my face turned away from M, of course. A few minutes later, I found his phone in his jacket and told him it was time to call his mom.
A had a badly broken wrist (the doctor said it’s in “many small pieces”) and bruises and cuts from the seat belt and airbag as well. All the knuckles on her right had were skinned. Her right knee is also banged up, but not broken. They put A’s arm in a splint and she cried and yelped when they had to force her to straighten her fingers. She was officially “discharged” and they told her she’d need to see the orthopedist within 24-48 hours.
She was able to walk to M’s room and see him for the first time since the ambulance ride. I had my wits about me enough to get this beautiful picture.
A few minutes later, the doctor came in and said he was done with M and that M needed to be moved to the I.C.U. because they needed to keep an eye on his heart (because of the bleeding behind the sternum) and on his lungs (making sure his broken ribs wouldn’t puncture them).
He then turned to A and said, “You, however, have blood in your urine.” Since she’d already been discharged, they had to readmit her, cut off her outer shirt because it had metal buttons (she had on an undershirt as well and they’d already cut off her jacket), and take her for a CT scan. I was back in panic mode so Richard accompanied A to her CT Scan while I went with M to the I.C.U. The only laugh I managed to squeeze out that night was when M’s male nurse in the I.C.U. thought I was M’s girlfriend.
Almost two hours later, A and Richard were able to get to the I.C.U. They didn’t find any internal injuries. After things calmed down was when they told us about the accident. A said after the wreck, she didn’t realize her wrist was broken and she used that hand to open her door. She raced around the back of the van and got to M, who’d had to force the door open because of the damage. A helped him hobble to the curb. M was concerned another car was going to come around the bend and hit the accident. A then called 9-1-1. The other guy had gotten out of his car first. He had not called 9-1-1. He’d called his mother. (Yeah, my eyes rolled when I heard that, too.) He then said over and over again to A and M how sorry he was. A said she responded, “It’s okay. Accidents happen.”
A police car showed up in less than 2 minutes. He’d been sitting, looking for speeders, only a couple miles up the road.
The dog, Jax, remained in the van until a police officer was able to coax him out. He is half Boxer, half Pit Bull and he is the sweetest dog on earth. When he’s at our house, he starts shaking violently with fear when one of our cats walks in the room. He is very well trained, even holding his own leash in his mouth when he goes for a walk (he walks himself). Anyway, they got him out of the van and he went immediately to M and put his paw on M’s leg. When they put M on the gurney, Jax followed M and even jumped up in the ambulance. The paramedic had been a vet tech at one point and checked Jax out on the ride to the hospital. (M’s roommate took him to the vet the next day just as a precaution and Jax will be fine. They put him on pain meds, just in case he’s got bruising he can’t tell us about). Jax had been sitting behind the driver’s seat when the impact occurred and likely just got bumped against that.
At some point, one of the emergency responders fell out of one of the ambulances, and had to be taken to the hospital, too. That’s why three ambulances arrived at the hospital after the accident.
M was released from the I.C.U. a day early because he was not having any heart or lung problems (those should have shown up within the first 48 hours) and the hospital needed his bed. Apparently, they were full. We assured them M would have 24-hour care in our home since we work at home. A stayed with M the entire time in the I.C.U. The nurses set her up with a cot and her orthopedist even came to see her in there each day. Of course, A and M have the same orthopedist now.
A had a bad reaction to the pain meds she was on and was vomiting yesterday morning. (She said that was the worst part of the ordeal so far – being in so much pain AND vomiting.)
We brought them home last night and I picked up Jax and brought him here because M wanted his doggie here with him. 🙂
Everyone in the family has been assigned specific duties because A & M have a long recovery ahead of them….M most of all. M’s family is driving up from Georgia today, driving all the way through, and should be here tomorrow. They are SO excited about seeing M and, of course, we are so happy they were able to get away and head up here. Frank’s girlfriend is coming this weekend to help us out as well. Last night, I taught A how to bathe someone with a broken foot (I had to teach myself last May when Richard broke his). And, last night, I taught myself how to bathe somebody with a broken arm when I bathed A. Richard will be doing all the cooking and other kitchen duties. I get laundry duty and I’ll be doing the nursing stuff (meds, ice packs, and personal things I won’t mention here).
Also, the van was in my name and I’ve been dealing with the insurance companies. Good news is the other guy did have good insurance so M won’t have to worry about a thing during his recovery. Bad news is, he’s a chef and he works on his feet all day. He won’t be able to do that for several months and he is very depressed about that. A may not get to graduate because she must be able to demonstrate specific skills in her culinary classes to do so – skills that require use of her hand. She’s double majoring, and is supposed to graduate in three months but her education may get delayed by a year if she is forced to withdraw for medical reasons. That likely won’t happen if she does not need surgery and if she can teach herself to do the skills with a cast on her right arm. She can’t take notes or even type her papers now unless she hunts and pecks with one hand. Zach is installing voice recognition software on her computer today. Good news is, next week is Winter Break here in Maine so she has a week to rest.
I’ll post another update next week but, for now, I have to get back to answering emails.
***I do have one HUGE favor to ask all of you.***
Please do not send any good wishes by email. It is not that we don’t appreciate it (we really, really do – please say a prayer instead?), it is just that I am frantically busy right now and if I need to respond to a few thousand personal emails, I won’t be able to get everything done that I need to get done. I’m also running on almost no sleep and I have laryngitis from a bad cold I’ve had for a week. I know I sound like a whiner but please, oh please, if you love me, don’t email me this week. 😉
Big hugs to all!
Angela and Richard