wounded, out of the hospital and standing upright
as opposed to the 6 hours or so I spent in the hospital, on my back, crying, being delusional, forgetting words and vomitting on myself. concusssion isn't fun.
please be warned, the following account of yesterday might be quite graphic and personal. it is good to get it out, though...
Yesterday one of the scariest things happened to me. I hit a pot hole while going 15mph down a hill. I knew before the bike even tipped what was going to happen.
I flew over the handle bars and saw the ground rushing towards my face. I don't think I'll ever be able to shake that image from my mind again. I of course hit the ground fast and hard but like all the terrible clichés time moved as slowly as it could. Yet, at the same time it was over before it started. I heard someone scream "Oh my..." and a guy yelling "I'll call an ambulance!".
I'm getting ahead of myself. Before this, I felt the front of my helmet hit the ground, then I lifted my head back because I was terrified of wrecking my face (oh, vanity). So I slide the rest of the way on my top lip and my hands and elbows. Shortly before I came to a stop my bike apparently flipped over and hit my back. I say apparently because I think by that point all I could think was "Oh shit".
I was silent the whole time and didn't scream or yell. The first thing I instinctively did was bring my battered and bleeding hands to my mouth. They filled with blood as my lip poured out. People were yelling at me to stay still "Don't Move. It's okay!" Screw that I thought, I'm spread out in the middle of the road I'm not staying like this.
So I sat up. Then I gradually started to feel dizzy and apparently was saying sorry before anything else. That is typical of me. Then I worried about my teeth. I was reassured they were still there.
A Chinese Christian lady came over and crouched down with us. I only looked at her once because I was so embarrassed. But she kept stroking my back and telling me it was okay and that these things happened to everyone and they are a part of life. Then she asked me if I mind if she prayed even though I might not be Christian. I shook my head. She prayed.
I was torn by her presence. One part of me wanted to embrace her warmth and accept her gracious help. The other part of me, the anti-social part wanted her to stop touching me. Looking back on the whole thing I am very grateful to her. She didn't have to do any of that... I was a complete stranger.
A bit further up the road, the same guy who called the paramedics was warning the cars that were trying to come over the crest of the hill. I was still in the middle of the road and no-one wanted to move me. I realised I only had one shoe on.
I'm going to go back to a moment that only just resurfaced in my memory... right after I crashed I remember looking up, almost in a completely surreal calm and watched my water bottle roll down the hill. It seemed to be rolling really slowly and eventually it got to the other side of the street and disappeared under a car. I thought "Fuck, now I'm going to have to replace that $4 bottle." It's really quite weird that all happened right after taking a bad crash.
The paramedics came and walked me over to sit on the bench at the bus stop across the way. Everything seemed far too calm and quiet. It seemed like there was no traffic or people around and we were the only people in the world. Even at the time that struck me as slightly odd. They checked my vitals and joints and it was all okay. At this point I was coherent and gave them nothing to worry about. Then I finally let the shock and panic set in. A strong panic attack came where I couldn't see anything, or breath or even speak. They checked my pulse which was weak and my blood pressure dropped to 90/60. They took me in to hospital (which, strangely enough was only a few blocks from where I crashed).
They gave me some much welcome oxygen and I started to feel calmer and better. I thought I was going to be just fine at this point. Then I got the shakes and I couldn't see again. When the doctor finally came to see me I couldn't focus on him and I couldn't talk. I couldn't remember the names of my regular medications or even what the word was for Astma. It was one of the scariest and most frustrating things to ever happen to me.
I could see images of what I wanted to say, but I couldn't find the words. I couldn't even remember the name of the street I live on. I could see the building and the street but couldn't remember the name. When I tried to picture the street signs they went blurry. I was terrified at what was happening to my brain at this point.
Suddenly, there seemed to be 3 or 4 nurses and a doctor around me. I had a collar on and I was being stuck with needles all over the place. Then I was turned onto my side, my neck and back were being felt and before I knew it my knickers and trousers were being pulled down and I had a finger in my arse. By this point I was crying. I felt so humiliated but I couldn't do anything about it and realised it was really for my own good. I kept quiet. The doctor asked me to squeeze my bum muscles around his finger. And then it was over.
I was left with one trainee nurse and one nurse. The trainee was still stabbing me with IV needles trying to get a vein. He didn't manage it. He put his hand on my shoulder, said sorry, looked me in the eyes and said he hoped I get better. The way my vision was tunnelled I could only see his dark messy hair and blue eyes. He looked so young.
The other nurse looked at my right hand and said "That one's had enough abuse for one day." I actually laughed at this. She got the IV in on the first try in my left hand. Later on I vaguely remember more needles... 5 vials of blood for tests and one tetanus injection. All are bruises today.
I spent the rest of the afternoon hazily waiting to have xrays and ct scans. At the time I didn't realise this was why I was waiting.
I was crying about not being able to remember certain words. I couldn't remember certain friends or their names and it was really terrifying. Matthew tried to help me by telling me Malloreigh's name but it didn't SOUND anything like a name or even I word so I was convinced that wasn't it.
Then he mentioned Hannah (Kit)[because I'd mentioned getting an email from her in the morning]. It was a relief. I could remember who she was and that calmed me down. I clung on to her name and drifted in and out of sleep under the bright strip lights of the hospital.
There were some false alarms with me feeling like I was going to vomit. Really, it was just me holding it in. I hate throwing up in front of people. The doctor came back at one point and stitched up my lip. Shit, that was painful. I see why he didn't freeze it because he'd have had to inject it as many times as he had to put the needle through for the stitches. But it was one of the most painful things.
I eventually got wheeled to xray and promptly almost vomited. I held it in once more (no thanks to some sickly burps). Xray wasn't ready for me so I went for my CT scan.
The women doing the CT scans were so nice. I of course had to remove all of my piercings. It was better I did it because they had no experience in this and didn't want to do it wrong. At this point I was lucid enough to help them, even though I had the world's shakiest hands. They thought it was amazing that I could removed them while being so ill and strapped down. I just chuckled that it's years of practice. Some of those piercings hadn't been out for 10 years or so. It's quite weird without them.
Being in the CT machine and being moved back and forth I was desperately fighting an urge to vomit. When one of the girls told me the machine is brand new and worth 2.5million$ I held on for all my worth. Soon after having my brain and spine scanned I was taken to xray.
Again two really lovely technicians. I was feeling more lucid at this point, but more nauseous and generally ill as well. We had a laugh as we all struggled to get my bra off without moving more than my arms. They thought it was too nice to cut, I didn't really care at this point. I just wanted it all over. One of the xray technicians was English and they both kept asking me questions about where I was from and what I was doing. They were being so welcoming and friendly. But, I felt so nauseous and tired I just wanted to go home and be quiet and not be moved around anymore.
When the xray of my chest, abdomen and hands was finished I was wheeled back to the ER. The porter wheeling me was friendly enough (EVERYONE) kept asking about my tattoos. But, he was a bit of nut case in how he wheeled my bed around. (Remember after he wheeled me up to xray I almost threw up). With all I could muster I said "I'm going to be sick."
"What? You feel sick?"
"No, I'm GOING to be sick."
"Oh, okay.... *saunter* Nurse... she says she feels sick."
The nurses were two steps away and it wasn't going to hold anymore. I went to sit up and got yelled to lie back down (I still had a collar on and my scans weren't cleared). But, it was coming. So I lay back down and vomited straight into the air. It all went on my face and pooled in my eye sockets. I was mortified. I threw up a few more times but luckily my nurse was there with her suction machine.
I kept saying sorry to the nurses and they looked at me with blank faces and said "Sorry?! For What?!" I guess they were trying to tell me I had nothing to be sorry for.
They slid me off the bed for what seemed like the hundreth time that day and Matthew helped mop me up. The nurse had to cut my lovely Sunn t-shirt off me and replace it with a gown.
After all this I was suddenly thinking very clearly. It was if the vomitting needed to happen to clear the foggy part of the concussion. It was all very strange. Around this time the doctor came and removed the neck brace and sat my bed up.
I saw the ER for the first time; 6 hours after entering it. It wasn't at all how I expected, much much nicer. I got up and walked around as soon as I was strong enough and it almost felt like I hadn't been as ill as I had and that none of it really happened.
The main thing I can remember about the whole thing is that I was SO damn thirsty but they couldn't let me drink incase there was internal bleeding. I haven't stopped drinking since I left the hospital.
Today, I am a mess of cuts and bruises. Miraculously the worst thing is two stitches in my top lip. My knuckles are raw and bruised, I have some road rash on my right elbow and some massive bruises on my legs. I can barely turn my head and I can't life my arms above my chest. But, most of all, I am really thankful I was wearing my helmet. I was told so many times yesterday by so many paramedics, nurses and doctors that I was "lucky" I was wearing it and things could have been so, so much worse. So, there's the moral if you need one.
For now, I am here, at home, resting and hoping this unbelievable stiffness goes away fast. I hope my lip stops being swollen and the split heals nicely. After I am healed I hope I can get on my bike again without too much fear.
It is almost ironic to be posting this story after my last entry of just a few days ago with a photo of my bike. The nice basket is completely wrecked, but all else is mostly in tact. I think.