The rest of the story goes like this:
2. Lots of meds.
3. Hazy memories (see #2).
4. Feeling a little better every day.
5. Waiting five days for surgery #2.
6. Rinse and repeat #s 2 through 4, except fast forward speed this time.
7. Going home.
There are a couple of things that stand out.
First, at some point, I woke up in a dark room (which I now know was a room in the trauma ICU. Which, I have to say, just seems so wrong. What the aitch ee double hockey sticks was I doing in the trauma ICU? Really, OHSU, we have to have a talk about this whole ‘trauma’ label. I think it should be reserved for multiple body part injuries. Not your basic broken neck.)
A woman in scrubs leaned over the bed and said, “We’re going to turn you now.”
The last thing I remembered before that was Dr. Ching telling me not to let anyone move me. So I waved my hands in universal sign language for ‘NO’, then used the scribbling in the air sign for ‘can I please have something to write on?’ I needed to use sign language because I still had the breathing tube in. (Mmmm. That’s some kind of fun.)
The nurse handed me a little dry erase board and I wrote, “I’d rather have a HAPU (acronym for hospital-acquired pressure ulcer, or bedsore, which is what the turning is intended to prevent) than neural deficits.” See? Throw around a little jargon and you sound like you know what you’re talking about, even if you don’t.
Because I had completely forgotten the part where I went into the OR and they put the breathing tube down my nose and then I apparently had twotythree hours of surgery during which my neck was stabilized so turning me was both safe and completely appropriate.
But I definitely think I should get Brownie points for following Dr. Ching’s instructions, don’t you?
The other thing I remember is that, every once in a while, I’d swim up from the depths of sedation to the surface of dim awareness, and a very good-looking man with dreadlocks would appear over my bed in the dark room. He had the most comforting voice I’ve ever heard. I swear when he spoke to me, I just knew everything was going to be OK. The light in the room eventually looked just-before-dawnish and he put on a cap over his dreadlocks.
I felt sad that I couldn’t see them anymore.
Really. In the midst of being intubated and on a ventilator and an arterial line and umpteen IVs and a catheter and a hard cervical collar and not able to talk and being all alone in the ICU, I felt sad about his dreadlocks going away.
I love how distractible I am sometimes.