Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't Poke Mama Bear

You never know how lucky you are... until you know how lucky you are. If you're REALLY lucky, you get to appreciate how lucky you are and not just how lucky you were. You know? No. Okay.

We get home to a dark, quiet home. The kids are at my folks place. The place it kind of messy. I quickly rearrange some furniture so that the "reclining" chair is in front of the TV and ease him into it. His face suddenly drops even more than it has been in the last day or so.

"I just caught my reflection in the (powered-off) TV". I've been rubbing his head constantly for two days, as it's one of the few things I can do that doesn't hurt, so his hair is standing straight up like a 20 year old punk kid with an unlimited supply of Axe hair gel. It's kinda funny (all he's missing is the horrible white sunglasses), but the massive brace attached to his head, neck & back, and the hideous hospital gown (shirts don't fit very well over the contraption) leave him understandably less than amused.

I look him right in the eyes "It could be a lot worse." He shoots me the fuck-off-with-your-glass-half-full-bullshit look. I shoot him back the who-the-fuck-do-you-think-your-(um)-"talking"-to look (we have a lot of conversations without words - the word "fuck" is in most of them, oddly). "It could be a lot worse." His expression softens a little, and he kind of agrees. Though small, it's a significant concession.
He took a header from his bike into a tree on a local back trail. He was training hard, so pushing the limits. I remarked that for the number of years he's been doing this, and how hard he pushes himself, it's actually pretty impressive that this was our first Emerg trip. But it was a lulu.

He was riding with a good friend in the health industry - who doesn't mess around - who called paramedics. The paramedics didn't mess around & immobilized him. Strapped him to a board. He was stuck on that board for hours until a doctor "cleared" him. Not messing around. Lots of checks & observations. Can you feel this? Pull that; Push here; Grab my hand. Not messing around. Then an x-ray. Yay! No fractures! Except, you know, the neck area picture is a little fuzzy, but it's probably okay.


"Well, there's nothing showing and I can't say 100% that it's clear, but all his reflexes, & muscle responses & sensations point to nothing being wrong."

"What do we need to do to be 100%?"

"Trauma assessment downtown."


"Well, they might not take him.They're often very busy. Auto accidents are a priority."

(I might have had an external filter that made that sound a lot nicer coming out.)

"I could try."

"Please." Max was not terribly impressed. He just wanted to go home. To go for further assessment meant back on the board (protocol), and not off until ANOTHER doctor re-clears him, hours later.

"Good News! They'll take him!"

"Excellent. Thank you."

Turns out he has fractured two vertebrae in his neck - C6 & C7. Despite a rather scary-sounding "fragment" within C7, he has (so far) dodged surgery, but will be in a back-neck brace - a CTO (cervical thoracic orthosis) - for four-to-six weeks. Obviously, I'd prefer to have been wrong.
So we're home. Recovery will be one day at a time. But I'm constantly reminded of the scary fact that an inch one way or the other; a turn of his head or twist of his body in another direction; a few feet per second more (or less?) and things could have been much different. Is that glass-half-full? Positive thinking? Optimistic? If you know me, you'll already know I'm not exactly Pollyanna (I don't even know who that is. She sounds like a tool). I just that can't even begin to process any other of those alternatives (except, you know, LESS pain & suffering on his part), so we'll be content with this one for the time being.

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