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The Accident Part 5
|Rating:; Genre=Fiction; Pages=11; Characters=21,258;|
The air coming in from the window made the hair on her fair skin stand on end. Her large eyes fluttered in her sleep as the soothing wash of air drifted over her exposed skin. She smiled as she opened her eyes, emerging from a pleasant dream that would be forgotten within minutes of waking. The room was brightly lit from the rising sun streaming through the open window, reflected off the fountain outside and making swirling patterns of light on the ceiling. Beth stared peacefully at the soothing dance of photons for nearly a minute until she started to become aware of her situation.
When she tried to look down to see where she has at, she noticed that she couldn't move her neck down! It could rotate from side to side but not forward or backward. She could feel the smooth, padded straps that ran under her chin and below her chin. A slight pull from the straps told her that there must be some sort of weight on the end to keep her neck straight.
There were more straps on her arm, and she could see a cast on her right arm which was supended above her chest. The casting material was red, and it included the thumb. The rest of the arm was being pulled every which-way by various slings and ropes which ran to the foot of the bed, out of sight.
Chapter 6 -- Diary
Hi, my name's Beth. I am an 18 year old girl from Oregon, in the United States. I like to play sports, and am part of an adult intramural volleyball league. I'm pretty good at it, or at least I was before this damned accident happened! Now I don't even know if I'll even be able to walk normally anymore! Anyway, I've decided to keep this journal so that other people in my situation will (hopefully) help other people deal with their injuries. I've always believed that it is best to know all that there is to know, so as to be better prepared for any occurrence.
It's Sunday morning now, I just slept for like the last twelve hours or so. I can see sunlight coming into the room from a skylight over my bed. I can't move my head much though due to some kind of restraint. I am dictating this diary to a tape machine since I cannot move my arms enough to write. I am in a hospital room somewhere, I haven't bothered to ask where yet. Yesterday I got into really bad car accident though the other driver was unscathed. I am now in a full body cast, with traction on my right leg, a big cast that connects to my hip on my left, and my right arm and shoulder are in a cast. I can't move any part of my body without causing a hell of a lot of pain. The only part that wasn't hurt bad is my face and left arm, which only has a broken pinkie finger. My head is in something too, the nurse said that it's called cervical traction. It doesn't seem to do much, just pull on my neck, but I suppose the doctors know what they're doing.
Right now it's about nineteen o'clock, and I'm starting to get bored. I can't watch TV because I can't move my head enough to look at it. Nurses have been coming in every half hour or so to check on me, it seems like I can't get any privacy. There's another bed in the room, but there's no one in it. I asked the nurse what I could do to alleviate the boredom, and she said that I could listen to a radio with headphones, if I had one. My parents are in Rome for the next three weeks, though they said they might come home to see me. They just don't seem to care about me. I told the nurse to call a friend to ask her to bring my minidisk player and some headphones. She got here by mid-afternoon, and left about a half-hour after that. She seemed really uncomfortable being in the same room with me, I bet she was scared of what it would be like to be in my place. It's not really that bad yet, it's weird not being able to move, but the boredom is really getting to me. I asked the nurse about my friend Ember, and she said that Ember was okay, and I would be able to see her tomorrow.
Well, it's eight o'clock. The nurse woke me up "bright and early" at seven to give me a bath, not that there is that much to clean what with most of my body in a cast, but they insisted anyway. She was very talkative and cheery, and started by asking me how I'd slept. I told her that I had slept fine, the sleeping pills had worked wonders. Then she pulled down the top of the sheet, to my belly button, and started to wash my left arm (the uncasted one) with a wet washcloth. After she had washed and dried that arm she washed the fingers of my right arm, which was suspended over my chest with a cast. Then she carefully lifted my head and put a washbasin under it. She then washed my hair and face and neck.
Next she moved down to my feet, the left side only needed the toes washed, but the right took a while. She had to wash really carefully around the traction pins, and she had to redress the stitches. Next came an unpleasant part, she had to wash my private parts. Now I'm going to write about this because I think it is important for the overall experience of being in a cast. I felt really, really embarrassed. No one had seen me naked before, not even at school since I didn't take showers, and now all of a sudden this stranger was TOUCHING them! I closed my eyes and hoped it would be done fast. She was indeed done quickly, all she did was rub the skin and hair with the washcloth, and that was it! Boy was I relieved when I opened my eyes to see her smiling and saying that all her patients behaved the same way the first time a stranger had to wash them.
Boy am I happy! I bet you're asking "How can a girl in so much pain ever be happy?" Well, I tell you I am. About an hour ago I heard someone open the door to my room. Since I still can't move my head, I could only listen to the sounds. I heard wheels squeaking and I assumed that a nurse was pushing in a cart with some awful torture device to test out on me, but I was wrong.
There was a lot of commotion, and I heard a couple nurses walking over to the bed next to me and start to get it ready for a patient. With the luck I have, I thought I was going to get some loser in for an ulcer who hates his life and wouldn't stop talking, but so far the patient hadn't said a word yet. The nurses soon left the room after making sure my roommate was all right. Not long after that I spoke up because I hate the unknown.
I said with a little humor, "Hi, my name's Beth, sorry if I don't get up, but I'm a little occupied at the moment."
"Hi Beth." was the reply
Wow! I couldn't believe it! It was Ember, my best friend! How had she gotten into the same room as me? She must have requested it or something. Anyway, we talked for a while about stuff. I learned that she was in a contraption that held her head immobile, called a halo or something. She said that it wasn't uncomfortable, but that it was hard to do things like stand up since she was "top heavy" now. I told her all about my "accessories" and she listened politely to me.
I also told her how sorry I was that this had happened to us. She said that it wasn't a problem, and that I shouldn't blame myself. It sure seemed like she wasn't mad, I know I am still mad at myself for causing the accident and all. It almost seems like she isn't sad or anything even though she'll have to be in that halo contraption for the next dozen weeks!
Well, about an hour ago my cervical traction was removed. And I must say that I am disappointed with the results. Dr. Nick came in, and said that he was going to remove the traction, I was happy. Then he pulled something out from behind his back and strapped it to my neck. I tried to protest this act, saying that I was under the impression I was getting out of the cervical stuff. He just laughed and said that my neck was injured and needed support, but that the traction was no longer necessary. What he put on, he explained, was a soft foam collar. He assured me that it would be much more comfortable, but I would still not be able to sit up because of the cast. Boy was I disappointed. And I thought I would be able to be normal again. Ember and I talked for most of the day, it seems that she can't sit up either because of her halo, and she can't walk because she has a cast on her foot from a tendon injury or something from a few days ago.
It's now been a week since the accident. My parents called this morning, and I said I was fine. They said that they had decided to stay in Italy for another month, and that I could go live with Ember if I wanted to. I gotta say, this sucks. I hate my parents.
Nafai, my boyfriend, also made it in today to visit me, and he brought flowers. I think he is just trying to make up for not coming sooner, but he said that hospitals make him queasy. Yeah, I believe that. We ended on a sour note when I brought that up. I think this relationship is over.
Tuesday, Week Two
Today the doctor came in and said that I didn't have to wear the cervical collar any more. Boy am I glad! I was beginning to think that I would never get to look down again in my life! And I must say that I was shocked when I saw the predicament I am in! That was the first time that I have gotten a good look at all the casting stuff that got put on me! I've got a cast that runs from the tip of my left foot all the way up to my thumb on my right arm! I can't move any part of my body except for my left arm, the one with only a broken finger.
Monday, Week Six
Sorry for not writing for a while. But life has been incredibly dull and boring. All that Ember and I do is watch TV and talk. They told Ember that she would be discharged tomorrow because her neck had healed enough for her to walk, and her tendon injury in her leg was healed enough for her to walk on it (in the cast). What am I going to do? I still have at least another month in here. And all alone too. :(
Well, Ember's gone. We said our good-bye's and she left in good spirits. She looked rather odd walking around; hobbling on her one casted leg, and not being able to bend her neck or her back because of the halo. I suppressed a laugh, but she caught on to me, and laughed as well. I am sure going to miss her, the new roommate I have is some old guy with a tube in his throat. Which means he won't talk, but his respirator is very annoying and will undoubtedly keep me awake at night.
Horray! I got off some of my torture devices today! The doctor came in bright and early and told me that they were going to take me out of traction. I was glad, but afraid of what would come afterwards. They wheeled me down the hall to an examination room. There they gave me a local anesthetic and the doctor just pulled the pins out and sewed up the skin. Then they wrapped my leg in stockinette and padding, and applied a red fiberglass cast that ran from the tips of my toes to just below my crotch. I could even feel them touching my vagina when they applied the cast, but I was used to having strange people touch me there by now. They also removed the splint from my finger, and now it's all better. I still have a hip spica cast on, and my right arm is still held up over my chest, but now I also have a long leg cast on my right leg. I was wheeled back to my room and I got to meet my new roommate.
The previous roommate had died or recovered or something that night, because he was gone when I woke up. This new roommate was one hell of a good looking guy. He was in his early twenties, and he was wearing a halo, just like Ember is. I talked to him for over three hours straight. He said that he had been in a skydiving accident that morning. His chute had not opened correctly and he had hit the ground wrong. He also asked all about me, which I found very flattering. He's asleep right now, and I think I am in love with him. How strange the twists of fate are.
Monday, Week 10
Today was quite a day for me. I learned that I was going to be released from the hospital in a few days, and that many of my casts were going to be removed today.
Bright and early again, Dr. Nick came in and told me "Today is a big day for you." I wondered what was going to happen, but Dr. Nick said he was going to surprise me. I was wheeled into an examination room that had a shop-vac looking thing in it. He said that he was going to cut off some of my casts. I was so happy, until he started the machine. It made a horrid sound and I could see the blade spinning or something at the end of the hose. He assured me that it was safe, and I believed him because I trusted him. He first asked if I would like to keep the cast. I thought this was an odd question, who would want to relive such awful memories? But as I thought more about it, I decided to keep the cast.
He started by making a single cut from my wrist all the way down my arm and down my side all the way to my toes. Then he made another similar cut down the other side of the leg, and the other side of my waist. He then took a pair of scissors and cut through the underlying padding that was against my skin. I could feel the scissors touching parts of my leg that I forgot had nerves in them. After a few minutes, he and a nurse grabbed the top half of the cast and lifted it off me. Most of the padding was stuck to the cast, which left me completely naked! I was really uncomfortable with this until I remembered that Dr. Nick had applied the original cast to my naked body when the accident first happened. I was then carefully lifted out of the bottom of the cast while it was pulled out from underneath me.
The first thing the nurse did was start washing off my body. There was tons of dead skin that had accumulated over the last couple of weeks, and I looked awful! It was just about then that I realized that my breasts were exposed for everyone to see. I moved my left arm to cover them, but the nurse said that she had to wash them to prevent infection. I grudgingly complied. I tried to move my right arm, but another nurse was holding it because it was so weak.
After I was thoroughly washed, Dr. Nick said that I needed to have another cast put on, a thumb spica cast. I knew the routine now, first stockinette was applied, then padding, then the casting tape. The cast went from the tip of my thumb to well past my elbow. The nurse called it a long arm thumb spica cast. After the cast had set, a big metal contraption was brought into my view. I asked politely what it was, and they said it was called an airplane splint. It was placed on my right hand side, part of it rested on my side from my hip to my armpit, that part was strapped to my body with velcro straps. This piece had an arm that went out from the body. This part was strapped to my upper arm, and to my now-casted wrist. After it was all secured, I tried to move my arm but found that it was securely held in place.
Another cast needed to be put on my leg. Before the procedure I had a long leg cast on my right leg, now they were putting a short cast on my left leg that only went from my toes to below my knee. While the nurse was doing this, a hospital gown was placed over me to try to salvage part of my modesty or something like that.
Today was the hardest day of my life. I spent six hours in the physical therapy department working to strengthen my muscles. Six weeks without moving my back or leg is a long time, and the muscles had entropied quite a bit. I started the day by meeting the physical therapist, Jenny. Jenny told me a little about herself, that she was only 25, and was new at being a therapist. I assured her that I was okay with that, and would try to help out as much as I could. We started by having her massage my leg and back muscles. I couldn't use the pool because I still had casts on my legs. I had to start by simply sitting up, which was anything but simple. It took over an hour! Once I was sitting up, I could relax. It felt funny to be sitting there with one leg in a cast and my arm held out away from me. The next step was to do a few assisted sit-ups, while Jenny held me, I pulled myself up and down, just trying to get some strength back into my lower back. After that we spent a while working on my leg, we worked on my left knee since it is the only part that is uncasted. I had to do leg lifts and stuff like that. At the end of the day Jenny complimented me on my hard work.
This morning I was talking to my roommate, the one I mentioned earlier. His name is John by the way. Anyway, we were talking and he said that he was doing good in PT also, he also said that he had arranged for us to have the same time slot in the PT department so we could help each other out. He was right, and that morning he even pushed me in my wheelchair down to the rehab room. I think that I really am in love with him, and he seems to share those feelings. In PT he was doing exercises for his upper back to strengthen his neck, even though he was still in his halo. I was doing more strengthening exercises and I even got to ride a bike, sort of. It was a motorized bike, and only my left leg was strapped to it, but it helped my knee and thigh muscles a lot, I can feel the pain!
I talked to Dr. Nick again today, and he said that I would be released in two days, if I was strong enough to walk. Now that I have a specific goal, I am sure that I will reach it.
I have progressed greatly over the last week. I can't stand yet, because my right leg still has a cast on it at an angle so that I can't put any weight on it. And I can't use crutches because of the shoulder splint. But I am doing much better in all the exercises. I talked to Dr. Nick today, and he said that I would be released anyway, in a wheelchair. He also said that Ember was coming by today to have her halo removed, and that I was invited to watch the procedure. I was overjoyed, it would be very interesting to see a halo removed.
After lunch, John said that he would wheel me down to the room Ember was in so I could watch the procedure. The doctor explained that first he was going to remove the halo, then he was going to have the orthotist make a brace for her to wear. He started the procedure by putting Ember in cervical traction. Then he removed the halo jacket from Ember, she was wearing a stockinette undergarment so she wasn't naked like I was when I got my casts removed. Then the doctor removed the pins from her head by just pulling them out. Then he sewed up around the holes with a needle and thread. Then his job was done, and the orthotist stepped in.
The orthotist started by placing a hard plastic cervical collar around Ember's neck, then he adjusted a few screws and straps to get a tight fit. Then he slowly remove the traction from her neck and let her neck settle onto the hard collar. He asked her all kinds of questions about the comfortability, and she said it was quite comfortable. He left the room satisfied. We got to talk for a while, and she asked if I would like to come live with her in her new apartment she had just rented. I asked her if she was sure that she really wanted to take care of me for the next few weeks while I was still dependent on others, but she really wanted to have me live with her. How could I refuse?
Today I got released from the hospital. I said goodbye to John, and said that I would call every day to see how he was doing. He said that he was getting out in a few days anyway and that we could see each other after that. I got a nice shiny electric wheelchair with the money my parents sent me. When I came out and into the parking lot, I saw Ember standing next to a van with a driver and wheelchair lift. Ember saw the surprised look on my face and said "I've been talking to your rich Uncle Ed, he bought you this van!" I was overjoyed! I had been wondering about how I was going to get around town.
We piled into the van, and the driver took us to our new apartment. It was near the hospital, and had a nice deck that overlooked some medical buildings. I saw as soon as we got out that the house had many enhancements for the wheelchair-bound such as ramps and enlarged doorways and hallways. Ember showed me to my room, which had all my clothes and furniture from my old room at my parents house. I was so happy to have a friend such as Ember. That night we stayed up late and watched cool movies.
This morning I had a great shock. The doorbell rang at around noon. I waited for Ember to get up and get it since I was still confined to my wheelchair, but she was in the shower so I had to get it myself. Boy was I surprised when I opened the door and saw John standing there! He was still wearing his halo, but he had been released from the hospital. Just then Ember came running down the hall wearing only a towel to cover herself. She said "Hi Beth, I hope you don't mind but I asked John to move in with us." and with that she ran back down the hall to her room. I was speechless, I couldn't believe that my boyfriend was moving in with me, and I didn't even know about it! He asked where he should put his stuff, and I coyly suggested my room. He readily agreed.
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