Thursday, December 26, 2013

Waking Up

In order to go to the hospital to be with me, Dad parked his truck at our cousins' and Mom and Nick would pick him up and drive together. He parked in the driveway and got out of the truck just as a helicopter soared above him, he paused to look at it and thought, "that's my daughter in there..."
Nick and Mom stayed behind to pick up my belongings, the small meals that I bought at Walmart and the bag of clothes cut off of me. Nick drove, my mom couldn't drive.
They got to the hospital and directly to the emergency room where they couldn't find my name. So they sent my family to a emergency waiting room where my parents' Bible study leader showed up to offer some support and prayer. The hospital people told them that they were taking me directly into surgery because I did have a ruptured spleen (I knew I had heard correctly), my doctor didn't want to wait for any further results, he wanted to remove the spleen right away.
They were sent to the surgery waiting room and given no more information.
Prayers were being sent up on my behalf at a high rate that even I can't imagine right now and you will find out how they were all answered.
In the mean time.. Matt had told April the details of the accident via Rachelle once they were parked at a gas station. April disciplined herself to not freak out, she realized she would need to be strong for me because I would be counting on her. Her dad called to pray with her but all she said to anything he had to say was, "ok."
They started on the road again with Matt driving, things were quiet as they prayed and thought and then April finally spoke up, "She's my buddy..."
"Yeah, I know."
"Andrea's, like, you know..." She tried to imagine the perfect description.
"I know." Matt said again.
"She's like my kid and my mom and my sister all wrapped up into one."
But she didn't let the fear trickle in, she straightened her shoulders, "but she's counting on me to be strong, I know she's expecting me to pray for her, she'll be counting on me right now, so I'm not going to fall apart. I'm going to be strong."
They made it to their apartment where April checked out the explosion of prayers on Facebook then sent out a prayer email to those who do not have Facebook. Once this was all done she felt the need to call my sister again, "I wanted to call back, I want you to know I feel a lot of peace and I know she's going to be alright. You know me, you know Andrea, I'm going to fight for her. I'm going to trust the Lord."
Rachelle said, "I felt the same exact way."
Even though I didn't know this was transpiring at the time, it's still a comfort to hear all the prayers that were going on on my behalf. It's humbling to see the body of Christ rally together to be strong for me when I was under and not with it to even imagine to have faith.
My three other brothers were in line to see Catching Fire when Jeff heard, through various phone calls and texts he eventually found out that it was a serious accident. They couldn't really do much so they stuck around the line to see the movie. Nick joined them just before the movie started.
My last brother, or I should say the oldest brother, was at work (he teaches at a college) when he found out. He stuck around for a while until he broke down and cried, he couldn't take the emotional stress of having his little older sister in the emergency room so he left work and went straight to the hospital.

The Doctors called it "ding-dong"ing my brain. It's where I hit so hard that my brain rattles against both sides of the skull like a bell. It's amazing that I woke up at the scene of the accident and that I suffered zero brain damage and wasn't in a coma.
There was a blood clot in my left shoulder, Rachelle got wind of this and posted it on a Facebook chat where all my close friends were praying for it to dissolve. It dissolved.
I had broken three ribs, rib 1, 4 and 5. Rib #1 is supposedly very tough and takes a heavy impact to break, let's scratch that off the list of things to do.
The bent, broke, charged forth and punctured my lung. Blood and other glamorous stuff decided to start flowing in the area around my lung.
3 must be my happy number because I also broke my pelvis in three different places, this hurts, let me tell you. The doctors were already lining me up for surgery in a bigger hospital in the city next to us.
They also thought that I had a broken back, this was not the case and this was good news because, as you know, back injuries can cause paralysis.
The real treat was the spleen. They said it was ruptured, as you know, and took me into surgery to take it out right away. Rachelle's prayer team was on this one, they prayed for it to be spared. When the Dr. went in he noticed that it wasn't ruptured but only lacerated. He was able to "salvage" it by putting a dissolvable mesh around it. This isn't the first or the last miracle that happened.

I woke up. The drugs were heavy and, honestly, I barely remember a thing. I had so much hardware, a girdle-type belt that was bright orange kept my ribs still (every single nurse that saw it commented on how they'd never seen a girdle that color), I had a catheter, a chest tube to drain the liquid around my lung,  drainage tube to drain any excess liquid around my spleen, oxygen tube, a stomach tube to pump my stomach (such a thing went through my nose, down my throat and into my stomach. Yuck), a red, glowing thing on my finger to measure heart-beat, an I.V. and a blood transfusion. This means somebody else's blood was inside my body. This means I am eternally bonded to a stranger somewhere. I can't say I was more with it after the surgery than I was when I woke up at the crash site, though I remembered what had happened. My parents explained that I had had surgery on my spleen. Despite the fact that it was already over, this scared me, I couldn't see the incision as it had a bandage over it and then the giant girdle but it was about a 7-8 inch line over the top of my belly from my belly button to my ribs. Today, four weeks later, I look at the scar and freak out at the thought that somebody took a knife to my belly and sliced it open.
I asked, almost right away, if the others (the ones that hit me) were ok. I had to know if I was responsible for someone else's death.
Thankfully, no one had been hurt. There were parents and a 7 year old girl. My heart lurched at the thought of a kid being killed on my account but they had only suffered mild bruises from the seat belts and sowhat.
The three oldest brothers came in to see me, Nick said he was surprised at how swollen I looked. Jeff said he was taken aback at my speech, I sounded like a low-key whale or Chewbacca.
Brad looked the most shaken up out of the three, I recognized the emotion even in my drugged state.
They all said hi and that they loved me and held my hands before leaving.
I remember one thing I wanted to know right away was if they all went to the movie, I couldn't stand the idea of the movie tickets going to waste. They had and that relieved me.
I remember feeling warm and telling everyone with cool hands that it was ok to touch my feet or face or hands. I was out of surgery at 1 in the morning and fell asleep quickly after that.
The next morning my mom came back while dad went to work. I was still so out of it I don't remember anything that went on besides the undeniable, unquenchable thirst that wracked my body the entire day.
They didn't want me to drink at all because I was expected to go into surgery--eventually.
I had to wait for a CCU bedroom to open up in the other hospital so that I could go there after surgery, we were also waiting on the Dr. from the other hospital to look at the xrays to decide if I even needed surgery after all. While this was being decided my good spiritual family was praying that I wouldn't have to have surgery done.
So, no water, no food. My mouth was parched and I felt like I would soon start to murder in order to have just one taste of water.
I called my sister and started crying once I heard her voice. She told me one of the best pieces of news, my favorite atheist, one that I preach to and care about and have great faith that he will come to Christ, prayed on my behalf. He prayed to God when he found out about the accident.
This delighted my heart. I told everyone I thought to tell, in fact I was quite the chatter box when I was drugged up, murmuring away like a Chewbacca whale. I also asked everyone for water. They had a little sponge that they dipped in water to cool off and wet down my mouth. I would suck on it sometimes like the desperate cheater that I was. I finally complained so much that the nurse gave me a few pieces of ice. It was like heaven.
Have you ever heard of the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man? The Rich Man went to hell and there he said, "have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. " 
Well, I wasn't in hell or anything, but I knew what it was like to wish for just a drop of water.

Friday night was also the night I was supposed to go to see Trans Siberian Orchestra with my brothers and some friends. I think it completely economical of myself to inquire if anyone could sell my ticket for me. They did sell it to a friend of a friend that was going. I was relieved, once again.
On their way to the concert all five of my brothers and our two friends/co-workers came to visit me. Now only family was allowed in the CCU and only 2 visitors at a time so they had to send them in a couple at a time. I remember seeing Nate, our friend, and I held his hand and said, "Nate, you are my brother and I love you, don't take it personally."
Nate, the good champ, only laughed and said, "it's ok, I love you too."
Everyone thought it a good joke but they don't realize I was of a correct mind to assure him that there wasn't any underlying meaning. See how smart I can be while drugged?
My mom and dad's Bible study leader came back that day, I said hello and was very happy to see him. I held his hand and talked with him and, well, said a bit too much about his handsome son, we'll just leave it at that. <_<
April had decided that she must travel here to be with me. She wanted to be sure she had agreement from Matt before she talked to me so that she could give me a resounding "yes" when I asked her if she was coming. Because, after the 10 years that we've been friends, she knew I would be asking that.
I also could not stop talking about Mike enough. I resolved that I would find him, somehow. Somehow I would find him and thank him for being there.

The next day was exciting. 
Again, don't expect me to get anything in order. But my cousins came calling, I have third cousins and their parents, second cousins once removed. Now, one of my third cousins is not affectionate. I call him Prezzie as a nickname. He stood at my side and held my hand while I dozed off. This was one of the most touching moments, as I explained he's not affectionate. They gave me a little tiny stuffed husky and I named him Prezzie to remember the moment forever.
I also had a bit of a problem. It was either the night of Friday or the morning of Saturday that I felt in excruciating pain. It was my ribs. I was thrashing about and screaming and crying in pain. I couldn't stand it. It hurt, it burned, it pinched, I wanted to just die. The world's awesomest nurse, Liz, was there, I remember being glad, in the midst of the pain, that it was her and not one of the cranky nurses, that was there during this trying time.
They finally sedated me. Then gave me the blood transfusions I mentioned earlier. My vitals had dropped rapidly during that time which was a bit of a scare but I came out of it for the better.
That pain. It was not good.`
April called me and we had a chat. Of course I asked her if she was going to come and she said yes. I was shocked. You need to understand: I've visited her about every year for 10 years. She's visited me 3 times (not by express choice, but these are just facts). So I was amazed. I asked her 30 times if she was serious and begged her to come for my surgery, which the Drs were saying would occur on Monday.
She said she would see what she could do.
Then my brother in law called. The most brilliant, happy thing happened. He asked for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and was filled with the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues!
This was so wonderful, I told him I was so happy and proud of him.

My hero returned.
That night I was lying in bed, drifting in and out of a sleeping state. I would feel like I'd gotten hours of sleep and wake up and ask my dad, "how long was that?" and he'd say, "twenty minutes."
It was frustrating to wake up thinking it ought to be a new day but know it wasn't even midnight.
So, there I was, just chilling, when the most beautiful sight graced my glazed-over eyes.
Mike. Mike, the fireman that crawled into my car and talked me through everything, Mike who stayed by my side, who stayed under the tarp with me while my car was being chomped to pieces, Mike who promised to sign the cast I never received. Mike. Mike came to see me.
He brought a friend who had been at the accident but had helped the people I had hit.
I was beside myself with joy. I held his hand and just kept telling him thank you and such things. This was one of the most meaningful things through this whole ordeal, being reunited with Mike. I don't know that I cried, but I ought to have because it makes me teary-eyed just thinking about it. I will always remember Mike as I will always remember this time in my life.
It was 5 the next morning when I woke up. My parents weren't there, yet, because they were obviously getting a good night's sleep. I called my sister because I felt lonely and she told me about Will's baptism story. She encouraged me in the Lord, talked to me about healing. I joked to her about my ribs popping when I breathed. You see, her kids call me "Aunt Poppy" so I told her that I truly was Aunt Poppy, now.
April had found a good plane fare for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. She would miss out on my surgery on Monday but I was ok with the arrangements.
Somewhere around this time the nurse announced I could drink water. I rejoiced. And I drank. And drank. And drank.

That day, the day before my surgery, they told me that I would not need surgery after-all! They said it would be too tedious to try to move the bones just a tiny millimeter in order to get it perfectly lined up. They believe the bone would heal fine on its own. My Orthopedics Dr. was very concerned but he was certain it would be ok as long as I put ZERO weight on it.
Also, my parent's pastor returned for another visit! And who did he bring with him but none other than the handsome son I had so druggingly raved about!
I was very glad to see their plaid-clad selves. We had a good jaw over the accident and joked a bit before they left.
The next day, the day I was supposed to have my surgery, they moved me out of the CCU and into a regular room! At this point I probably had half the hardware I started out with, but still a decent amount, enough to brag about.
But moving to that room was a happy, refreshing moment, I felt relieved and free.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Accident

It's been quite a while since my last blog but the latest happenings in my life have called for an update.

Monday, November 18th, I did something I've never done before, I had my wisdom teeth removed. This was a bit of a painful, new experience but I was glad it was going to be over with in a matter of days. I was excited to get it done at the beginning of the week because Hunger Games: Catching Fire came out that Thursday and I was determined to see it opening night. In fact, I had already purchased the tickets for myself, my friend and four of my brothers. That Friday I was going to see Trans Siberian Orchestra with the brothers and some other friends. The following Saturday was going to be a birthday party for me, thrown by me, a Nertz Tournament, all guests were going to bring delicious things to eat and we were going to have a fabulous card party just before my actual birthday the following weeks. This was going to be a fabulous weekend.

So on Thursday the 21st I went to my second check-up with my surgeon at which they instructed me how to clean out my teeth and such. I could start using my jaw a little more so I went to Walmart and bought two little, frozen meals that I thought would be easy to eat, I also went to Walgreens to buy some very special mouth sore stuff that cost $9.00 per tube because I had chewed on my cheeks while they were swollen and that was the worst pain out of the lot. At Walmart I also bought a nightguard to keep from clenching my jaw at night. These would ensure a smoother recovery. Gas was at an all-time low at, I believe $2.93 per gallon! I had just enough money to fill 'er up. I was very pleased with my budgeting at this point and started my drive home happy and looking forward to the movie premier which I would be getting ready for when I got home. At that point it was about 5 o'clock, my brothers would be getting in line already, I still tired a little easily and had to time my pain meds with my meals and to when I went to the movies and also had to time another medication to after I got there so that my brothers could drive me home (it was a night-time muscle relaxant that I had to take around 7-8 and I couldn't be driving after that so I was intending to take it at the theater).

The details were coming together, I drove West as the sun was, I believe, all the way set, if not for a little gray on the horizon. I turned right down a short street that would take me to the so-familiar highway that I drive on multiple times a day. I have to turn left on this highway after crossing some train tracks.
On this particular highway, there is a right-turn lane to turn on my road and then a left-turn lane to turn on my road. The right turn lane (coming from my left) was full of cars with bright lights. To my right there was a truck afar off and another person in the turn lane. I don't remember this part very clearly, I don't remember how long I stopped, how long I waited, what I thought, how safe I thought it was or if I was distracted, I only remember pulling out to make my left turn either thinking I had time or not seeing the car to the left at all, but a car did come from the left so fast my only thought was a jam of thoughts, really, "not safe", "too soon", "no!", "not the car". I tried to drive to the right and step on the gas to avoid the collision but the collision happened. I blacked out.

My mom and brother, Nick, were at home when my mom received a call.
"Are you Andrea's parents?"
"She's been in an accident."
"Where?" My mom practically croaked the word and my brother could hear what was being said, he stood from his seat. They gave her the place of the crash and she said, "I'll be right there," and threw her phone down on the floor, grabbed her boots on, my brother gave her a coat because he had enough sense to know it would be freezing, and they went directly to the car. My crash happened within 5 miles of my house, it only took about 4 minutes to get there. My mom walked up to a person who looked like he was in charge a grabbed the shirt collar and said, "I am the mother, is she alive??"
"Is she conscious??"
"Yes. She's talking."
They told them I had some broken ribs and possibly a broken back.
But they wouldn't let them see me.

I woke to chaos. Firefighters were all around me, I could not remember what day it was or where I was or what had happened. In fact, these instances which I will recount to you will very likely be out of order.
There was one firefighter whose name I will never forget and whose voice and service will always be stamped on my heart, he was the one that spoke with me and stayed by me the entire time. He told me I had been in an accident, my parents were there and that I was going to have a birthday soon. I was confused because I thought it was still the middle of November, possibly the 15th, or so. How could my birthday be so soon?
I noticed that my legs were smashed together and pointed in to the right, I didn't feel much pain.
I was still barely waking up when I heard Mike, the firefighter, ask, "what are you doing?" I realized I had been praying in tongues, "praying!" I said. In fact, I don't remember when I started to pray but it was probably my first thought of action when I realized what was happening.
Mike told me that they were getting the jaws of life to get me out of the car. He continued to ask me questions like what my name was, things I don't remember him asking.
I think I started to hyperventilate at one point because Mike said, "how about you try praying again."
And I did, I prayed in tongues and I felt better as they draped a tarp around me and Mike and cut my car into pieces around me.

Nick called Dad. He didn't want Dad to be driving worried so he toned it down, not telling him all the details. Dad started to come down the same road I had come from thinking I had just been in a little fender-bender. That was, until he saw the three firetrucks around my broken car.
April was in MI, driving home from Bible study in the rain when her husband got a call from my sister. He became very quiet and serious and mentioned April driving. April realized something bad must have happened to me and looked for a place to pull over, as she was exiting the freeway her husband told her that I had been in a car accident with some broken ribs and a possible broken back.

The next part was excruciating.
They had to pull me out onto a flat board. They started by fastening something to me then slowly pulled me out, straight on my back, I screamed in pain and asked for Mike, "I'm right here," he said. Mike had become my closest friend at that point and I didn't want him to leave my side for anything. He told me I might get a cast on something (I think they thought my leg was broken) and said he would come and sign it and I made him promise me that he would. And then I believe I told him he had to come to my birthday party.
The next bit was the most embarrassing moment of my virgin life. Having about six firemen standing around my stretched-out body, they started with the scissors to cut away at my favorite jeans. Is it funny or strange that I was more worried about being naked than my body being broken?
Then they cut through my favorite sweater, the one I posted a picture of on this very blog. The one I wore constantly and loved and was basically an extension of my body. Cut off without a thought because, let's face it, life is more important than cloth.
There I was, naked in front of all these men who didn't think a thing of it, thank God, they were only concerned with saving my life and I am very grateful for that, only I was still prude enough to be mortified about my uncovered state.
They started to move me and my mom pushed through the officials and went straight up to my face and said, "Andrea, we're here."
"Mommy." Was the initial word. Mom kissed my face before they could yank her away. I told her to call April to tell her to pray. They assured me everyone has been called. It eased my mind to know they were there and that everyone was going to be praying for me.

Mike explained that I was going to be life-flighted to our local hospital and that he couldn't go with me. I felt like Pippin being taken away from Merry by Gandalf the White. I was then slid into what felt like a sardine box and flown into the hospital. I started to become unaware of my surroundings as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I remember being wheeled through the hospital and people talking, at one point I heard (or thought I heard) a nurse say "ruptured spleen." I raised my head and looked around me and said, "ruptured spleen???"
They eased me back down and said no one said that but I bet they were lying.
And then lights out.