Saturday, August 23, 2008

At the hospital

The super-nice EMTs put me on a sling and then onto a gurney. They carried me up the ramp off the bike path to the road. One of the guys told me they'd take my bike to Firehouse 22. I tried to commit the number to memory but I didn't care much about seeing the bike again anytime soon.

When I did see it again, maybe Thursday of the following week, it looked fine. I think the EMTs, several of whom were riders, knocked an STI lever back into place. Otherwise, I took the punishment, not my bike.

Repair to the bike: $10 for handlebar tape. Repair to me: As yet untold thousands. Thank God for Medicare and the Veteran's Administration.

The EMT put an IV in me and cut off my socks, shorts and jersey. I got my helmet and Oakleys off. Everything went in a bag for safekeeping at the hospital. Maybe at that point they started giving me painkillers. I don't remember our arrival at the ER...or not clearly.

Tamar called while I was in the ambulance. She had not listened to my voice mail message so when I said, "I'm in an ambulance; I've broken my leg," that was the first she'd heard. She said she'd see me at the hospital.

I passed through the ER, the pre-op room, the operating room and the post-op room before being deposited in my own room, my home for the next eight days. From that day, I remember the ER and perhaps the pre-op room. That's all.

In the ambulance, fearing that the pain in my leg was so severe that I would not notice pain around my head or neck, the EMT put a collar around my neck. He also put an oxygen mask on my face. Wearing the two devices, I could not turn my head much. Flat on the gurney, I could only see ceilings, a square of stainless steel in the ambulance or acoustic tile in the hospital.

In the ER, maybe a dozen or 15 people worked on me. I could see no one's face. All that activity, and I wouldn't recognize more than one or two individuals today. On the way from one room to the next, perhaps to the operating room, as I rode on the gurney the walls of what seemed to be round hallways rolled around me.

When given the choice, Tamar and I opted for the complete anesthetic. I could have stayed somewhat conscious for the surgery, but we decided against it, I'm happy to say.

The drugs make you accepting and warm. Hey, whatever. As the days passed in the hospital, I tried to minimize my use of the painkillers. I was stupid. I quickly got afraid of the pain that I was making sure I'd feel. Gosh, I was hurt badly. The pain and my fear of it slowed my healing, I'm sure. If I had it to do over again...

More soon. Thanks for walking along next to my gurney....


jthurber80 said...

Drugs can be wonderful. It took me a month before I started listening to my doctor and pre-took my painkillers (lateral acetabular fracture to the right pelvis with a snapped off iliac crest). On codeine for six months (lots of it!) followed by enough ibuprofen to kill a horse. Had absolutely no desire to continue taking the codeine when I stopped, either -- if you use it for pain it has little or not addictive effect.

Loss of memory can be a very handy thing. "Oh, I was hurt?" you might ask. You won't remember the pain, which is a very good thing.

Femur repairs are generally excellent with no long term consequences. You'll be biking again VERY shortly but stay away from rocks (which is why most older riders avoid downhill mountain bike riding, especially on dry creek beds) and take lots of calcium to help healing, preferably in the form of ice cream -- most valuable for all of us but particularly when osteoporosis rears its ugly head.

Khal said...

One thing I read about bicycling is that since it is non-load bearing (the bike is bearing the load), cycling is not a useful antidote to osteoporosis. So I keep reminding myself to run more, but my fifty four year old bones don't like running as much as they used to a few decades back when I used to run joyously almost every day.

On the other hand, my work building is an eighth of a mile long with my labs all dispersed in it and our dogs revolt if we don't walk them a couple miles every day.

My wife Meena was told she has the bone density of someone half her age. Ahh, genetics...