He has a pretty bad skull fracture, and we're checking for bleeding on his brain.
The sentence echoed and I think to myself how Dr. Steele has kind eyes. It occured to me that we may not actually be going home that evening. Besides having Elliot, neither of us had ever stayed overnight in the hospital. And of course, that was an excruciatingly painful but a just as excruciatingly joyful experience and I was the patient.
Brian had a seizure on his way in so he's been intubated to help him rest.
Skull Fracture. Intubated. Skull Fracture. Intubated. Skull Fracture. Intubated.
Sandwiched between Brian's parents with Elliot on my lap, the words seemed to be turned on repeat in my mind. Dr. Steele kept making eye contact with them and I wondered if I look painfully young and they as if they can handle the news better. He rushed off saying he will let us know when he hears the results of the CT and if Brian will need to be rushed to the OR for a thoracic injury.
Liz Crawford, who is one of the trauma PAs we know on the floor came in. It was lovely to see a familiar face, but the surreal feeling wouldn't leave. Are we really in the ED that I've floated to countless times as family members? As Brian's family members?? Liz was the sweetest, offering to call Brian's boss for us and let her know he wouldn't be at work on Tuesday as scheduled. She casually mentioned a fracture in one of his lower neck vertebrae, C7. She explained further about the intubation, that a seizure, being one of the brain's only defense mechanisms after trauma, is quite normal and keeping him sedated would help his brain from repeating as well as help it to begin to heal.
A woman from admitting came and I thought how macabre it was that they would come and ask billing information in the middle of a trauma, but I also knew it was better now than later. I didn't have his card but since Brian works at Southwest it was fine, she could look it up, she said.
I foolishly asked what floor he would go to from the ED and was told the Intensive Care Unit. I think at that moment the gravity of the situation sunk it a little, though I still felt this steely sort of peace.
Someone came in and asked us to move back a little since they were going to bring Brian back from the CT. They wheeled the gurney in and though I had been prepared for the intubation, nothing could have prepared me for the swollen, bruised and bloody appearance of his face or actually seeing the tube in his mouth. The left side of his face was unrecognizable. The eye was purple with bruising and the size of a tennis ball. A cut on his cheekbone oozed blood down the side of his face, as well as an open sore above his ear. The face was swollen as well, and his ear, which was black and blue as well, pressed into the puffiness strangely. A trauma collar was on and I felt a little sick to my stomach but not emotional. I felt very much the voyeur when I took pictures of Brian, but I knew he as a nurse would want to see them, when he wakes up.
Dad and Mom Wilson had a hard time seeing their little boy that way. I felt distant and far away, yet very present.
We're going to be okay. We're going to be okay. Please, God, keep Brian safe. Please bless Brian with peace and healing and comfort. Please God, let us be okay.
I tried and tried getting a hold of my mom, who was in the middle of a mother daughter tea at church. Come on, Mom, you know I wouldn't call and interrupt unless it was really important. Mom, pick up! I ended up texting her and my sister Sam and that got their attention, it felt good for them to know what was going on, knowing that they would be praying like crazy. I also posted on facebook, though the information I had was spotty at best, I know the power of prayer and I wanted as many people to be praying as possible. Trenton and Rachel got there shortly after and Trenton cried a little when he hugged me, saying
I'm so sorry, Rosa
I just hugged him back and said it was an accident, though I still didn't know exactly what had happened, or what in the world Brian was doing up int he tree anyway! He gave me Brian's phone and wallet which I put in the diaper bag, thinking.
He'll want these when he wakes up.
Dr. Steele came back and we were told that Brian had some facial fractures in addition to the skull fractures. He also had some bleeding around his brain but they were just going to keep him sedated and do another CT at noon and another at 4pm to make sure it wasn't spreading.
We called our good nurse friend, Carmelle down to the ED from wherever she was working, CVICU, I think, to let her know what was going on. Brian's her cousin and it really rattled her to see him and hear about his accident. Ignorance really is bliss, I suppose. They had been joking the night before that "everyone" should go to the beach that day unless we wanted to go visit Carmelle at work.
Don't come see me in the ER, whatever you do! She had said, and there we were.
It was almost exactly 10:00 in the morning, and I remember thinking that Brian was right, when he had said, see you at ten, we just didn't know where. Also, Brian wasn't seeing me, but I was certainly seeing him.
People went in and out around noon they did the CT and then were going to transfer Brian to the ICU, so I left him to go see Elliot, who was in the waiting room with Grandpa Phil and Uncle Trenton and his wee cousin, Henry. He was standing up on the back of a chair playing with wall toys set there for that purpose, unaware of the calamity that had befallen his little family or how very much his sweet little world was going to be turned upside down. I nursed him and the gang went out to lunch, taking Elliot along.
I went up to the ICU and the waiting room there was half full of other people displaced from their ordinary lives for the waiting twilight zone of the hospital. I ate my sandwich and plugged my cell phone in, thinking it might be a long day and as it's wont to die on a regular day, one full of texts, face book messages and calls I knew it would need every ounce of power.
I found myself totally alone for the first time that day and couldn't do much more than pray, and pray and pray. As word got out and spread, my phone buzzed almost constantly with encouragement and prayers, kind words and scripture. The love and kindness in people's prayers was tangible to me, and I felt HIS peace surround me with a lovely strength. Seriously, prayer works.
The details blur, but later in the day, Liz came and found me, saying that the bleeding on Brian's brain had spread, which was definitely not what she wanted to say, but thought they would be able to manage it medically and hopefully avoid surgery.
As I sat with Brian in his quiet room, I tried talking to him and telling him I was there, but my attempts fell flat: he wasn't there, and it felt awkward.
Towards the afternoon, Brian wasn't responding as well to the Neuro checks the Nurse was doing hourly. (Maybe it was every 4? I don't remember for sure.) In any case, one side was diminished and they alerted the doctor.
I then met one of the Neurosurgeons working that day, Dr. Nemecek, and he asked when the accident happened and ordered a stat CT, something with the timeline not adding up and wanting a more recent scan. As it turned out, he was in the OR to do a case when the results came back.
The bleeding had spread again.
The Trauma PA came then and her usually unflappable demeanor was a little spooked. She said Brian was one of her favorite nurses on the floor, and she wasn't going to lose him if she could help it. Dr. Nemecek was in surgery, but she had pages out to any other local Neurosurgeons if anyone else could come in and do it before Nemecek finished his case. The OR was prepped, anesthesia ready, just missing a doctor. She even said if she thought it would make anything happen any faster that she'd transfer him.
I knew it wasn't good then, and I could only nod and offer to do whatever I could, which was very little besides hold things together.
Brian's a really good nurse. I'm treating him like he's my brother. I want him in that OR now.
I trust you, and your judgement. Do whatever you need to. And thank you. Thank you for your wonderful care, I remember saying.
The waiting room had filled and emptied of people stopping in to see us and offer what they could. I went down with Brian to sign the consent as the doctor was free to do the surgery. He met me at the desk, as cool as a cucumber- though would a Neurosurgeon ever get too hyper, probably not, I hypothesized. He explained what he was doing and a possible list of side affects and adverse reactions and what ifs and maybes including and not limited to death. I signed it, knowing it was our best option, knowing that Brian's life was (and is) solely in God's hand and somehow, we were going to be okay, no matter what.
No Matter What.
Of course, that's easy to say now, six weeks later, when everything has gone as good as humanly possible. But the peace I felt in the middle of one of my worst nightmares cannot be denied. That day was one of the "worst" scenarios I could have concocted but I never felt out of "control" (though I wasn't in control in the first place) nor did I feel as afraid or worried as I thought I would be in that situation. I felt tucked gently and closely to the Father's side and upheld by prayer through it all. It sounds strange, but believe me: Prayer works.
I waited with a dear sister friend. I can't remember what we talked about, just that her eyes reflected love and caring to me and she was there with me, I think I tried to eat something. The doctor came back, before we even had a chance to head down to the surgical waiting area and I felt so dumb making him track me down.
I was able to evacuate the hematoma off the dura of Brian's brain. I never saw his actual brain, so that's good. We'll keep a close eye on the blood clots, sometimes they can shift after surgery and we may have to go in and remove it again if that's the case, but again, things are stable for now. He's resting now and sporting a half shave. His hair will grow back: mine won't. He says, with a large hand on his bald head, and easy smile. With a whisk of white lab coat, he's gone.
I looked over at Katie and said, I just shook the hand that was in my husbands head minutes ago.
It was a very strange moment and as much as I tried not envisioning Brian's scalp being lifted and his dura exposed to the world, the marvelous brain, swollen and jostled, but synapses still firing and ideas, memories, plans, dreams, life itself beaming underneath, I couldn't not do it. Obviously I was unsuccessful since I've typed it here.
We spent the rest of the day taking turns visiting Brian, updating family and friends and hanging out in the waiting room.
My sweet sweet friend Julie came over to sleep the night in case the 11 o'clock CT showed more bleeding- I wanted to be there when he went to surgery if he needed to, but didn't want to leave baby Elliot home with just Uncle Troy (who can sleep through everything.)
When I got home I felt emotionally drained, sick to my stomach and bone weary. I could hardly believe I had really left my husband at the hospital under the competent, kind and skilled care of a perfect stranger. It seemed I had been gone a month not just 12 hours, as if my comforting house should have changed as much as my life and I myself had.
After I had showered off the days grime and stress, we sat chatting in the living room when I got the call.
Rosa? This is Annie, from the Hospital? We got the results back from the last CT. Everything remained stable! You get some rest, and we'll take care of Brian for you, sweetie.