Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trip - 4E (224 kms/2+ hrs) ACCIDENT

Although written in 2012, this event was November 2011 with a recollection 
(forgotten, vague, remembered) of time which I've been told until Day 42.

Day 0 (Nov. 7, 2011) - Recollection is hard when you rely on others to fill in blanks.

What was told to me.....
With shutdown cancelled at work, and after talking to a coworker in Fredericton, I take the opportunity to ride there (about 4 hrs) to attend a meeting I know very little about.  I leave work, and am going down Hwy.11 a little before 08:00 to Bathurst.  Here I take the right fork onto Hwy.8 south.  I continue to Miramichi, where you'd think that the highway number would continue straight, but here you have to exit the road to continue on the SAME Highway 8. The traffic usually slows to a crawl here by the Douglastown Mall, and it's usually start/stop traffic through the many lights of the city.

What was told to me.....
After crossing Miramichi River, traffic speeds up and I'm headed to the next community Blackville.  Almost to a minor airstrip at Dunphy, is where all shit hits the fan at the following location!

For some reason, I was passing cars (standard when I'm in a passing area, and a slower car is ahead).  I've been told there was one cop car in the traffic.  I was going down a fair sized hill and easing to the left, before the road straightened out. Then, something happened - I left the highway near a barn/trailer on the right. This time though, I ended up in a major accident.  NO ONE was harmed except ME.  No other vehicles were involved in the accident, but luckily, two girls were nearby to help in whatever way they could (thank you, thank you, thank you). The police car that was in the traffic responded, along with another one later.

Police called an ambulance (thanks for making a quick request).  My full-faced helmet was still on, so someone removed that to allow better breathing, and eventually I was transported by ambulance north to the Miramichi hospital.

What was told to me.....
I stayed at the Miramichi hospital till I was stabilized enough for transportation south to Moncton (even though my wife was told here OR Saint John at this point).

After arriving in Moncton, and when doctors were ready, I went through surgeies after major problems positioning me - mainly due to front and rear torso problems....
My fractured back was repaired with 8 pins inserted to upper/lower points, which then allowed access to my front torso.
I needed 4 tubes inserted at the side of my chest to extract buildups of liquid in my lungs.
Then it was time to correct multiple cracked/broken ribs, sternum and problem with my heart - which happened naturally by themselves.
Although the doctors had problems, I eventually came out of surgery 6 hours later in an induced coma,

During initial recovery, it was discovered that I had right-side paralysis due to a clot in my lower right leg. Warfarin was prescribed - which I would be on for 13 months.

After surgery, I spent time in ICU in 2 places - beside the nurses station in the "serious bed", and later in general ICU.  Sometime later, I recovered enough to be moved to the recovery area and begin treatment.

Physio therapy involved strapping me to a hanging device to turn my body into different positions to get my body as much "back to normal" as possible. Over many weeks, I slowly progressed into more involvement and able to do more.

Day 42 (Dec.19, 2011).... I was awake and could remember! (mostly)
This was a HUGE day when I woke, and I looked around and knew my head was screwed on the right way! I could think and remember and knew I was in a hospital (which one, I wasn't sure).  I looked around, and saw someone else in the room.

I had 2 different supports on my legs, (although my legs could move slightly), but I learned later that I was confined to the bed for now. After closer inspection, I saw 4 holes in both sides of my upper outer chest, and learned later they were for drainage of my chest.  I learned when I looked in a mirror, there was obvious marks in the front of my throat for when a tracheotomy was used for me to breath. Forty-two days is a long time to wait to be aware, but I was glad to be here and thinking and remembering!

I asked to use a phone, and when one was brought to me and getting the basics of where I was, I called my mother in-law. She told me that my wife was not there, and I should call her cell phone and not telling me much.
I called, and she answered!!!
I gave her the rundown where I was, but she already knew, since she was coming to see me regularly every day. To my surprise, she told me she would see me in about 5 minutes!!!  WOW ..... she was on a bus on her way to the hospital.....AGAIN!  She had been doing that for the last 41 days (little did I know).
Knowing and remembering much at this point was new to me, so seeing my wife (first time since the accident), was very overwhelming!!

After this, I got used to my wife and son visiting me regularly (since he lived in Moncton) over the many weeks ahead.  I learned answers to many questions I naturally had at this point, and I looked forward to their visits.

I learned that I had to go through many further weeks of enough rehab with different people in 3 different sections with 5 people.
I had been going through physio rehab since my body was able.
I started speech rehab with a gal in her office - who would help me with speaking and understanding.
I would continue with personal rehab with 2 girls who helped me take care of myself (making meals, bathing and learning to become independent).

It took a few weeks to progress carefully from wheelchair, to crutches, and finally to my own feet.
Then to the adjoining gym section with a female who helped me do multiple exercises (on a bench, walking up/down small stairs, and stationary bike). Then a male who also helped me within the gym section near the end, and would take me out of rehab periodically and play hockey with me by passing the puck up/down the hallways (which was great).

Day 69 - After being used to my daily visits by my wife, eventually she had to leave. That was today since much had to be done to get our house back together (after I learned that it was in the same location as I remembered - although I thought different before).  It was a long time for her parents to look after our 3 dogs (and I'm very thankful), but it was a sign I was getting better. Thankfully my son continued to visit me!

The rehab continued daily, but there came a time that I would be released after many days of improving.

Day 79 (Jan.25) - The time was here....I was being checked out today after the hospital staff met and discussed my case.  So after getting the news, I was able to pack my things and went to the front desk to have my wrist bands removed (that warned the front desk if I was trying to escape).
I waited in the TV room with my son for two guys from my normal worksite to arrive (thanks Roger & Armel). They arrived around 1 pm,  I was anxiously waiting, and soon it was time to leave.

Since my strap was removed, I was amazed that I could open the door without hearing a warning buzz for the staff!!  I left the rehab center, walked to the elevators, and went down to the main lobby!  Here, I was more amazed when I walked through the main door to freedom!!!  It felt GREAT to be out after such a long time.  After walking to the car away from the hospital, we hopped in, and driven home! It was GREAT to see/experience the outdoors and the trip  I appreciated the outdoors more than I thought - even though it was the middle of winter.  Once in Miramichi though, I needed to sleep in the rear seat for about an hour till after Bathurst. Every minute of the day I really, really appreciated, and was very thankful to Roger and Armel for coming to pick me up.

Finally, we arrived at home, and the guys helped me to bring my things inside, and again it was great to see my wife!  We said goodbye to the guys who were so nice to pick us up in Moncton and drive us home.  And great that I could now be home with my son and wife!

I soon got used to my dogs (no, I didn't live by the water in an older/smaller house somewhere upriver), and thankfully family and friends were around to make the transition back to "normal" as I could expect.  "Normal" gets closer after 486 days that I write this, and there won't be any motorcycling for me (since it was totaled and later, I phoned and gave the parts away to Blue Rock Towing in Blackville).  I have many many many appointments with Therapists and Physio nearby, and Doctors near and far, that continues to this day.  But, there's one last thing I would like to have, and that is my license to drive by myself!! I just need to jump a bunch more hoops through many more appointments, then one day I could show up at your place!

There's one thing that's stood by me all this time, and that is my family - and more importantly the ones closest to me (my wife & son).

(Read final followup here)


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your last blog, and very glad you wrote one up, so everyone who's ever read it in the past knows where you went.

It will be sad to not be reading your VFR blog anymore, but you could always start a new one??!!

Of course, I'd enjoy your new blog, no matter what topic you chose.

Sure glad we still have our brother!!!

T said...

Thanks for commenting.
Nice suggestion for follow up that I'll consider.
...and can't get rid of me that soon.