May 26, 2009

St. Louis: Part 1 - The Story

This week's theme for Heads or Tails Tuesday is 'Starts with A'. How fitting - here's the story of my Dad's recent accident. It will be the first in a 3 part series, the backbone of the story. Later I'll post about how crazy it was, and about the silver linings that came out of my emergency trip to St. Louis.

It all started with a text message on a Friday night. 'Can you call me?' from my Stepmom. At first I thought maybe it was news about the impending divorce between her father and I. I called, and she explained she'd gotten a call from St. Louis. At that point, all I knew was that my father had been hit by a car and that he was injured.

Calling the hospital was like a game of hide and seek. I was transferred, put on hold, and called back as I desperately sought any information about the state of my father. I didn't get upset, not yet. The night went on, full of text messages, e-mails, phone calls. I felt so removed, so far away from the situation and wished I was there. At the movies, I switched my phone to vibrate then held it in my hand throughout the entire movie. And I waited.

I finally got the call at about 2:30 AM, which is 5:30 AM in St. Louis. After hours and hours of little to no information, the floodgates opened. Dad had been hit by a car as he crossed the street on his way to a concert that evening. He had two broken wrists, one badly, a possible concussion, and road rash. I heard words like shattered. Badly bruised nerve. Compound fracture (that means his bone was sticking out through his skin). Road rash. Cast. Physical therapy. Best case scenario. I finally fell asleep after that conversation, but I was a mess the next day.

Anxiety came and went. I didn't know what to do. I knew in my heart that I wanted to be there with Dad, but wasn't sure how it would even be possible. If you've been around here for any length of time, you know that I have zero monies. I went to see my sister, we talked. I probably talked on the phone with her more times that day than ever! Around 1 AM that night we finally had plane tickets to go to St. Louis the next day. I can't thank our friend enough for paying for the tickets, we'll pay her back, but without her help I don't think we would have been able to go.

We arrived in St. Louis on Sunday evening and rented a car overnight. We drove to the hospital to get Dad's house keys. At that point, he was still in bad shape. He had quite back road rash on his nose and upper lip and on one leg. His right arm was in a cast from just below the elbow up over his hand, limiting his use of fingers. His left hand was in a splint, plaster under elastic. His fingers were swollen to twice their normal size, and were purple. There were iodine stains on a few of his nails and his skin from the surgery.

Despite his appearance, it was a relief to see him. To talk to him. To know we were there. The next day, we headed back to the hospital. Dad was still in pain, but being managed by oral pain meds instead of the morphine drip. He was eager to get out of the hospital room, and to get a new pair of glasses. Since he'd been at the hospital (2.5 days) he hadn't been able to even watch TV because his glasses were lost somewhere between the accident and the ER.

That day we went to get him new glasses. When we got back to the hospital we spoke to the doctor and we found out that we needn't have worried about one of the decisions we thought we'd have to make. The doctor told us that Dad would not be discharged from the hospital unless he had 24 hour care. That meant a live-in nurse at home (expensive and most likely not covered by insurance) or moving to an extended care facility. There was a facility connected with the hospital. It was basically a nursing home with a separate floor for people who are recovering from injuries, surgeries etc. I could tell that Dad was a little disappointed, but it made sense.

Dad's mood improved immediately once he had his glasses and could see again! We stopped at his apartment on the way home so he could get more clothes and some things. We arrived at the extended care facility and Dad got his own room. We unpacked his things and hung out there. The next several days were a mix of spending a lot of time just hanging out with Dad, watching him learn how to do more and more with only one hand and watching his physical therapy. He called himself 'half-handed' instead of one handed since the positioning of the cast limited the movement of his fingers on the right hand.

I'll just lump everything else together instead of day by day. The physical therapy went extremely well. He got more and more motion and the swelling went down every day. His fingers went from swollen to knuckles swollen. My sister and I flew home early Thursday morning. On Monday, the physical therapists decided that Dad had recovered enough to go home, only a week and a couple days after the accident! He had a doctor appointment on Wednesday, 1.5 weeks after, and they took off his cast and sling and gave him light thermoplastic casts on both arms which he can remove for bathing if needed.

I can't stress enough how much I want to THANK everyone out there who sent positive thoughts and prayers our way. The situation has turned out really well compared to how it could have been. I am not glad that Dad got hurt, but in a way I'm thankful for that trip. You can read more about that in parts 2 & 3, coming soon!

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Hootin' Anni said...

How dreadful for you all. I'm sure happy to read that all ended well tho. That was scary. I can feel your emotions and anxieties there.

parentingBYdummies said...

Glad to see things are looking up. Just popped over from SITS to say hello:)

Robyn Jones said...

How awful for is really hard to have to deal with family emergancies when family is so far away....I am glad everything is looking better...

Anna said...

That must have been really scary. I'm glad to hear that your dad seems to be recovering well. Sorry to hear he had to go through that, though.

Kori said...

Thanks for the update; you have all been in my thoughts ans this? This is sweet.

Megan R. said...

holy cow! I am sooooo glad he is ok!!