Friday, March 29, 2013

Fun times at the ER with Superman and his collarbone

For a change I'm going to post something other than random conversations with my preschooler....

Although, come to think of it, we did have a very cute exchange yesterday on the way home from her school as we stopped at a red light.
B: Mommy, why that car don't have a top? (pointing to a white Mustang convertable)
M: That's called a convertible. You can take the top off when it's nice outside and then put the otp on when it's cold.
B: Can you take the top off our car now?
I wish!

But I digress....

This post is about the glories of a 2 athlete family. Michael and I met when we raced for the same mountain bike team and we share a love of cycling and pretty much anything that will get us outdoors and moving.

Consequently, as our family has grown we have had to learn to juggle training schedules. While there was something of a learning curve to figuring out how to squeeze two people running or riding or swimming or weigh lifting into the limited weekly spare time that comes with children, work and life, we have finally come to a point where we are both able to get sufficient time at our activity of choice, though no longer together as we once did. What this translates to is a lot of trading off days/nights of exercise.

Last night was Michael's night to ride. He headed off for a 6:00 group ride that goes out to Stone Mountain Park. I knew that after the group finished, he would likely stay on at the park with a handful of others to get in a few more laps for extra miles and would be home sometime between 8:30-9.

At 7:40 Brenna was playing happily in the shower when my phone rang. It's Michael's ringtone. Hearing your spouse's ringtone when you know they are supposed to be out putting the hurt on all the other riders in town is never a good thing, but my first thought was that he had flatted and needed a ride home. I answer the phone with a cheerful "Hey!" and am already planning how I'm going to get B into her jammies and then into the car to make the drive over to the park.

I was completely unprepared for the rest of the conversation. In response to my 'Hey' an unfamiliar male voice said "Uh, hi. Is this Rebecca?"
Me: Yes? [confusion and worry...]
Voice: Hi. I'm a friend of Michael's and we're at Stone Mountain Park.
Me: Uh huh.... [worry is setting in]
Voice: He fell off his bike..... But he's ok.
Me: [panic. can't breathe...but wait, if he's ok why is this person calling me??] Uh huh....
Brenna: Mommy! I'm ready to get out (of the shower).
Voice: They are going to take him to the hospital...
Brenna: Mommy!!! I want to get out
Me: Brenna sweetie, you need to wait a minute.
Me: [breathe! must remember to breathe! not good. bad. hospital. bad.] "Wha...Is he ok?....Wa...I....uh...."
Brenna: I want to get out!! Mommy!
Me: Brenna, you're going to have to wait!
Voice: Here, he wants to talk to you....
[lots of background noise. Voices. noise]

Then Michael gets on the phone. He sounds terrible. Marginally coherent but conscious. However, this is not reassuring. I try to ask what happened but all I get is "Got too close to the edge." Huh? WTF is that supposed to mean?! Edge of what? The world?
He says they are taking him to Grady (Hospital). And then he hangs up. 

Of all the calls you can get as the spouse of an athlete, the one you don't want to get at 8:00 pm (or any time for that matter) is the one saying an ambulance is taking your barely coherent significant other to the city's primary Trauma 1 hospital. Not cool. Grady is where you want to go if you've been shot...or are dying.

But first things first. I need to find someone to take Brenna. I call the parents of her best friend Emma. They are wonderful and despite the fact that Emma's dad, John, is single parenting while Emma's mom, Catherine, is in Florida taking care of her dad who is in the hospital, they agree to take Brenna for the evening. I tell Brenna that she is going to get to have a sleep-over with Emma.

B: Right now?!
M: Yes! Right now! Won't that be fun?!
B: Yes!!! Maybe the Snack Fairy will come to Emma's house and bring her some snack too!
(I doubt that since I'm the snack fairy and I'm pretty sure I won't be sneaking into Emma's house after I'm done at the ER to deliver dry cereal and water in a fancy gift bag, but who am I to ruin her excitement?)
M: Maybe! Do you want to take your Hello Kitty pillow?
B; I need to take a lot of toys. (as she starts to grab everything within reach)
M: No, Emma has lots of toys. Let's take your pillow. And do you want to take Mimi and Boo (stuffed monkey and bear)?
B: No. I don't need them.
(I pack them anyway.)

By 8:05 I have Brenna in her jammies and in the car. Of course, it didn't occur to me to think ahead and pack clothes for her to go to school in but we did have 3 stuffed animals and her pillow.

On our way over to Emma's house (5 min drive), my phone rings again. It's Michael. He now slurs at me that they are taking him to Atlanta Medical Center...which I've never heard of but am somewhat relieved that they seem to think that a hospital that does not provide Level 1 trauma service is acceptable.

By 8:15 Brenna is happily playing with Emma. Emma's dad only looks slightly panicked at the thought of getting two 3-yr olds to bed, and I have mapped out the hospital and discovered that it is all of 2 miles from the house. Who knew?!

By 8:30 I am at the hospital. Michael is not. His ambulance is still somewhere en route. I settle in to wait. 20 minutes later Michael calls again and says he's in room 13. I get my "visitor badge" (aka, an envelope sticky label with my name handwritten on it...This is a high class institution!), and head back to room 13 where I find this...

He has broken his collarbone.
yep. that's broken
An injury that is all too common in cycling but that does not make it any less painful.

And I finally get the whole story...or at least what he remembers of it.

Some crashes are the product of a confluence of events that fit together to make a really cool story: Like, I was riding along and suddenly there was this enormous wild animal that ran out into the road and tried to tear my leg off but I was able to fight it off by my quick thinking, great bike handling skills, and squirting a 7-month old chocolate peppermint gel into its eye whereby it fled the scene but kicked a giant boulder into the road which I was almost able to avoid except for the young mother pushing her quadruplets across the road in one of those 4 seat long strollers whom I had to avoid and I ended up crashing spectacularly and breaking my collarbone.

Yeah, this isn't one of those stories.

He did, indeed decide to stay after the group finished their laps to ride additional laps with a couple other guys. They were on the inner loop and had just past the road with the big hill that connects the outer loop to the inner one (for those of you who are familiar with the park). Michael decided to do a hard effort and got into his aerobars and took off.

He had a gap on the other guys, but has been battling the tail end of a chest cold and started to cough. While coughing he took his eyes off the road and dipped his head a bit. This small motion caused him to veer off the straight line and when he looked up he was flying directly toward the curb of the road.

He slammed into the curb at 25+ mph and supermanned over the front end of his bike...
flew through the air, and crash landed into a wooded embankment whereby he tumbled ass over teakettle for another 20 yards over rocks and sticks and through brambles and underbrush until finally coming to a rest in a rocky creek. The tumbling probably only took seconds but he says that time slowed down and he felt like he would never stop rolling.

During the tumble his helmet strap broke and his helmet flew off his head. Luckily prior to coming off his helmet seems to have done it's job (at least it appears that way based on the scrapes, dents and giant crack evident in it now) and protected his head from the worst of the impact. Though, I hazard to say he is suffering from a mild concussion now.

He says his first thought once he realized he was still alive was that he needed to get out of the wet creek and back on his bike. Then he moved and pain shot through his shoulder. He reached up to the spot where the pain was the worst and immediately knew his collarbone was broken.

The rest of events are fuzzy for him. He remembers the guys he was riding with came to help him and collected his bike and helmet. His helmet landed some 20 feet away from him. He remembers the guys helping him out of the creek and the ambulance. He remembers being carried on a backboard back up the embankment and to the ambulance. I'm not entirely sure he remembers speaking to me to tell me he was going to Grady.

We spent 5 hrs in the ER and finally left around 1:00 am.
We then headed out to find a 24 hr pharmacy to get the prescribed painkillers. As an aside, we went to the 24 hr pharmacy over near Emory University where, apparently, packs of university girls feel they need to buy make-up at 2:00 am. Another thing to file in the annals of "Who knew?"

Then it was back home for some adventures in showering with a broken collarbone. He finally got in bed around 3:30 am and the painkillers did their trick and knocked Michael out for a couple hours.

So, for the next 6 weeks or so, Michael will be playing the role of invalid and I will be Florence Nightingale...Or Nurse Ratched, depending on your point of view.

Fun times.

No comments:

Post a Comment