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Thursday, September 10, 2009

How I spent my Summer anti-vacation

Alright, as some of you are aware, I've had something of a situation this summer; here, for most of you all, the details of the mess, as memory serves.

On July 2nd, I was biking to work, as is my habit, when I'm forced off my regular path, as some dickhead has parked his truck in the bike path. It didn't divert me off course all that much, but just enough to put me at the wrong place, at the wrong time. That is my last memory of the incident; everything else, all the details till I awoke I have had to gather or deduce from various sources.

I was forced to ride the road for a bit, just so I could connect to the other, more efficient path to work. I never made it. A delivery van, starting his shift had just park and the driver, not paying attention to traffic, opened his door right in front of me and I had no chance to react; I just smashed into the door, the impact flipped me over it (to give some perspective, I was riding a road bike at about 20 km/h, and the truck was one of those big cube vehicles, so a big damn door), and on the way down, I slid down the door and I hit the top with the base of my skull, which knocked me out.

Fortunately, the driver recognized his fuck-up right away and called emergency services, admitting his fault (to no actual consequence), which allowed me to be picked up within minutes and brought to one of the two hospitals that could deal with the injury.

I arrived at the emergency room conscious, which was a good thing; however, I rapidly went aggressive, incoherent and obviously disturbed, which may not sound good, but it got the response put into high gear. I was sent to get my head scanned, which revealed that quite an amount of liquids were filling up my skull, putting pressure on my brain. I was sent right away to the operating room, where liquid was drained.

The next day, things had not improved; a second operation became necessary, as the liquids were still filling up, so a craniotomy was performed and two pieces the size of the palm of my hand were removed, to provide some relief to the brain. They tried twice to keep me conscious, but my condition was too problematic for that, so I was put under a medically induced coma to allow my brain to cope and focus exclusively on healing.

My time under wrap wasn't an easy one, as they had to basically keep me paralyzed, using the largest dose they could administer, which at time wasn't enough. If I were to awaken even slightly, I would try to rip the machinery off (at one point, they came in to put more machines on me, but ended up struggling as every single spot was already taken, about 15 pieces of equipment I think). The situation also had some physical effects, as my body swelled and changed color, and my eyes turned purple; according to my father, I looked like a pumpkin with plums for eyes. It was enough to make me at time unrecognizable, and some visitors refused to see me due to that condition.

After two weeks, I was allowed to return to consciousness, except that "me" wasn't back from where ever I had gone. I had no short term memory, made up answers based on who was asking me the question and ripped off the equipment (I pulled the feeding tube out of my nose four times); due to my open skull and unstable behavior, I was imposed a watcher and I was restrained (even if I managed to slip out of them one night, with no one knowing how I did it), all for my own safety.

After about a week of this, I just switched gears and just... woke up. Its wasn't a gradual change over days, it was a complete switch over night and I was back in control, if rather confused as to where I was and why. I woke up still tied to several machines, as for one thing, I had caught a severe pneumonia while on the respirator (because a severe brain trauma wasn't enough already), with a couple of abscesses in my right lung. A lung that also collapsed when they took my off the respirator.

Anyways, my stay at the hospital was an exercise in boredom, frustration, and to a degree, hate, as many of the nurses used to work in hospices, and the behavior really showed. Also, being surrounded by really old folks all the time, its not a great way to heal serenely. I did not stay in all that long really, but it sure felt that way. The neurosurgeon that was in charge of my case (and who operated on me) was very keen on getting me back on my feel as soon as possible and pushed to get an operation spot to put my skull back together. Having done that however, I got to live through some of the more aggravating pain I experienced while conscious, but fortunately, it only lasted a few days, so there's that at least.

A few days later began phase two and I was transferred to a rehabilitation institute, to get my body back at home. Given my situation I was predicted a four weeks stay...

In actuality, it lasted only 3 weeks. For that matter, the doctor who met with my family and my girlfriend (who spent all of July by my side and came pretty much every day in August) during the first week that I was 50-50 on pulling through, and if I survived, it could take up to a year to recover. I spent 7 weeks at the hospital, where I wasn't allowed to get out of bed without the help of two nurses, three weeks at the rehab center, where I did what I had pretty much figured out would be the case, I got rapidly back on my feet and didn't need the rest of the care (yesterday at the meeting, I was estimated at being at over 80% capacity on all levels); I left that place yesterday and today, I visited the new centers where I'll pretty much got and use the gym, till I can return to work, sometime in October or November.

Do I keep any scars from this? Well, yes, two very visible curves on my head, which will remain in view since I shave. Otherwise, my jaw is still retrained, due to the surgery also, but I'm also trying to work on that. Otherwise, the most complication for myself have been financial, as I have not received compensation yet, but I'm also working on that. My girlfriend has an urgent need for some professional help, but that looks like its going to happen too. Otherwise, nothing. no loss of memory, capabilities either physical, mental, emotional, whatever.

I kicked this off due to great support from friends and family, excellent professional care, and being in good shape, with a body/mind combo that fought tooth and nails against everything that was thrown at it. And that's how you win.

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