Thursday, November 4, 2010
Even though I spent six weeks in the hospital healing a broken neck and recovering from double pneumonia plus a second 6 weeks in grueling rehabilitation, I didn’t see much of what was always my close knit family. Oddly, even my own mother never came to the ICU. After my accident it seemed as though my family were drifting away. If memory serves me correctly I may have been graced with the presence of my grown son once. Of course I had no idea at the time that the needle had taken him and he was chasing the dragon for some time now. I have two sisters, Linda and Mary, who I rarely caught a glimpse of although they did bring mom to visit a couple of times. However, my mom changed her phone number while was in rehab and no one told me until the staff couldn't reach her. Also, my niece Kim, who is only 4 years younger than me and used to be like another sister and didn’t even come to visit ONE time. She also has two boys who are my great nephews I haven’t seen her or them since my accident 5 ½ years ago.
Eric was there almost daily and the sight of him was like an angel appearing since I couldn’t summon a nurse because of the tracheotomy which left me mute and my paralyzed hands. I was a smoker for 25 years before becoming ill with the pneumonia and the spinal cord injury (SCI) left me without a cough reflex so the nurses and respiratory therapists had to use a machine to suction the phlegm from my lungs so I could breathe more easily. Many hours were spent with me desperately trying to get ANY passing person’s attention by weakly lifting a fist a few inches off the bed and urgently waving it with all my might while drowning in my own mucous.
After leaving the hospital, I did my 6 more weeks in a rehabilitation center where the daily routine kept me fairly sane. However, a few terrifying experiences set me back a bit. One nurses’ aide dropped me out of my wheelchair one morning and my head hit the sink. No permanent damage was done but it was another blow to my fragile neck. The other incident happened while I practicing driving my wheelchair. My hand got stuck on the throttle while I was leaning to get something from my table and I fell forward hand still pressed firmly on throttle and struck the wall with the top of my head so hard it cracked the paint. My upper body in my lap and head still pressing ever tighter against the wall and yelping as loud as my compromised lungs would allow me I eventually got the attention of the nurses outside of my room. I was finally rescued and the doctor said no harm could be done to my neck with all the pins and screws in it but I often wonder if some vital early healing was not negated by the experience.