I carefully navigate around the side of Joey’s bed, then promptly kiss him on the head and tell him I love him. Through the heavy sedation Joey manages to tell me he loves me too. He dozes back to sleep, but not before I see the look of sheer terror lingering in his beautiful hazel eyes. I briefly assess his condition. Oxygen on, catheter in place, and a chest tube draining the blood from his pneumothorax. Glass is embedded in his body, but they will get to that. Worse things can happen, and indeed have. I am a nurse and thinking it’s not such a good thing to be right now. But I am grateful Joey is alive. I turn to leave his room and see my sister sleeping awkwardly in a chair. She is snoring loudly, the patient in the next bed is moaning, and monitors are beping. My normal urge to silence them isn’t even there. I walk briskly down the ccorridor to ICU Trauma.
At 3:30 am that very morning the shrill sound of the phone awakened me. My husband, a volunteer fireman, is on the other end. He tells me to come right away. Our son and nephew are entrapped in a car just minutes from our home. Groggy from sleep I drop the phone, change in to yesterdays clothes, and stumble to my car barefoot,as fear throbs through my veins. Arriving at the scene I see metaland glass mangled in a heap around a pole. My nephew Joey has been cut out of the car and lies on a stretcher as I rush to his side. His eyes are wide with terror as I carress his forehead, and try to reassure him that everything will be okay. But he knows better. Joey pleads with me to go help his cousin because he is making wierd, gurgling sounds. I swallow the lump in my throat and realize that Ben might be severely injured. But there is no time to collapse, as my body shudders. Ben has been removed from the wreck and is intubated at the scene. A trauma team is waiting for him, as I buckle up, and the blades of the chopper whirl off into the night. The magnitude of the situation is completely overwhelming. Ben might die. I quietly go into shock.
Dr. Thompson gently confirms my fears. Ben has a traumatic brain injury, multiple pelvec fractures, and both lungs have collapsed. His femur is broken requiring a rod and screws, but he is not stable enough for the surgery. And even more devastating he is in a coma on a ventilator. Time would apparently tell. My husband looks like I feel. Broken.
My journey back from the edge of denial and depression is humbling. I discovered that people are mostly good ! Every day really does matter. So don’t count the days, but make the days count. It was truly enlightening for me to discover how powerful and giving the human soul is. Joey and Ben have since recovered. And I appreciate the scar across Ben’s eyebrow, as much as I do a gorgeous sunset. Both proof that we are alive. I found I am a much stronger person than I ever thought. We weathered this horrific storm, and I came out of it appreciating life more than I would have, had the accident never occurred. I could of missed the pain, but I would of missed the dance. Life !!
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