This post follows directly from Part One…
We left off downloading in the gondola, my arm in agony, no splint, just the sling…
They stopped the gondola to allow me to get out while it wasn’t moving.
The paramedics asked me to get onto the stretcher and were a little short with me when I said I would rather not lie down.
The pain of moving my arm was too much, I couldn’t go through it again.
I sat on the stretcher and waited for the back to be raised before putting my feet up. They complied…phew!
Still lying back and turning my body caused another scream to erupt from my throat, followed by more heavy breathing to try to relax the muscles that spasmed to try to protect the arm.
The female paramedic waited until I was composed and then they started toward the ambulance.
She asked me questions, but I’m not sure what they were.
They hoisted the stretcher into the ambulance.
My first time in one and I did look around with a moment of wonder…”so this is what it’s like inside…”
I was disappointed I wouldn’t get to appreciate the experience.
My throat was so dry, from the screaming, the breathing, and the terror. I asked for water.
She told me she couldn’t give me water because I’d likely have to have surgery.
The male paramedic was in the front seat radioing ahead; I wasn’t paying attention to his words, but was aware of his proximity in the vehicle.
He came back to join us, and then started to cut off the sling.
He cut through my t-shirt for some reason, I don’t remember why.
Then he came at me with the same splint-type stuff that the first aid guy had.
“NO!” Was all I could think, “Please. God. NO!”
The first-aid guy was still hanging around and was now sitting in the “jump seat” in the ambulance saying something like “well, it will help me to learn.”
I’m pretty sure sounds escaped my throat, and I tried to pull away as the paramedic came toward me.
The guy tried to put the splint on me, I screamed at the first movement of my arm just as I’d done with the first-aid guy.
The pain was too much.
As I had been saying over and over, I told him that my arm had to stay in the one position it was in, it was the ONLY position that wasn’t blinding pain.
He didn’t listen of course because he knew best, he was the paramedic and I was just the hysterical patient.
I hated this guy.
The guy yelled at me “stop screaming, start breathing, and listen to me. I have to do this, I have to put it in a splint so you are going to have to start breathing and stop screaming.”
He literally yelled at me. I wished for his death.
Before he tried again, I begged, “Please can we just go to the hospital, it’s only 5 minutes away, please, no splint, please.”
“No, we have to do this, we cannot move until it’s done.”
“Then please, don’t move my arm, it has to be in this position,” I begged, fear gripped me.
He did whatever he wanted to do and he got the splint on me while I screamed, primal, guttural, uncontrollable screams and he yelled at me some more.
I’ve never hated anyone more in my life.
He seemed completely uncaring. Though I’m sure he is brilliant at his job and likely one of the best. And perhaps that is part and parcel for a paramedic? I guess they’ve seen it all and no longer notice the pain they cause; they’re just doing their duty. Perhaps total emotional detachment is a requirement?
The thought flashed across my mind that I could never do this job, or nursing, or any field where emotional detachment was required. I’m just not wired that way. I care. I feel. I emote. I empathize.
Once the splint was on and another sling secured, the female gave me some happy gas to suck on. She explained how it worked.
I breathed in deeply and out, in and out, in and out, blackness swam in front of my face and I felt as though I was going to pass out. Panicked, I spat the mouthpiece out.
She gave it back to me, “Breathe Ali, breathe more slowly, breathe normally.” She told me.
I took it back and started to breathe more normally through the mouthpiece. The wash of the gas did make the pain feel less intense.
For the first time in over an hour, I felt some relief from pain. I sucked harder, steadier, and allowed the relief.
She warned me as the first-aid guy left and the ambulance was secured for movement that the ambulance was old and the suspension was bad so the ride would be bumpy.
Happy gas made me not care a wit. So long as we were on our way to hospital I was ready to be done with this part of the adventure.
The ride was quick. About five minutes, maybe four.
Sirens? I don’t remember? Lights? Probably, but I wouldn’t know.
We arrived in emergency.
The female paramedic put the gas bottle on my lap – she wasn’t going to take it away… oh thank the heavens!
I liked her, maybe even loved her at this moment.
They wheeled me in and talked briefly with a nurse. Straight ahead was a free bed, so that became mine for the duration.
I had to sit straight and turn to get off the stretcher – screamed as I did so, every movement agony – then had to manoeuver myself onto the other bed, and you guessed it… screamed some more.
This bed was already upright so I could sit and I was relieved.
The hospital nurse offered pillows to support me, I was so protective of my arm I declined at first, then asked for a pillow after all but asked her to be very gentle in putting it under my arm. She did, and she was.
They also substituted the small gas tank for an enormous one attached to the hospital bed. I continued to suck in the gas, the new nurse told me to suck that bottle dry!
Oh how I loved the gas, and the new nurse.
There was kindness in her eyes and a gentle touch of her hand. Finally, someone wasn’t going to move me unnecessarily.
I sat in the bed, alone now, for around 15 minutes while the paramedics filled out their paperwork at the emergency desk then left through the backdoors back to their ambulance.
Sucking on my gas bottle, which I was starting to truly love, I watched the comings and goings of emergency. It was all pretty mellow.
A nurse came in and asked me some of the same questions as I felt I’d been answering for hours.
Name, address, phone, who is my doctor, when did I last eat, was there anyone they could call for me, what happened, what hurts, is my shoulder dislocated?
I answered all of the questions as best I could.
“Water?” I asked, “Could I have some water please? I’m so thirsty.”
The nurse shook her head, no. “I’m sorry,” she said, “we have to wait for x-rays to see if you need surgery.”
There was that word again. Surgery.
“We will get fluids into you though,” she told me. And leaving the room briefly, she returned to put a drip in my hand. Gah. I don’t enjoy those!
She asked if I needed anything, and I requested my phone out of my bag, then she left me for a little while.
I started texting people. My family of friends first, then my work colleagues, then my work. I copied and pasted the same text mostly, “I’m in hospital, broken arm, probably need surgery. I’m very scared.”
That’s how I felt.
To admit I was scared in a text was a testament to the lack of defences I had. I was wide open, raw, and feeling alone.
Responses started almost immediately and that did make me feel a little more centred.
Plus the gas, which I had not stopped sucking on since it was put in my mouth, in fact, I continued to breathe that gas for the next 8 hours.
More nurses came and asked similar or same questions.
Then a doctor.
It was my friend’s doctor so that made me feel safer, though my own doctor would have been better. I wondered briefly if I could request my doctor, do people do that? I didn’t know and I didn’t have the energy to ask, so I tried to focus on the doctor I had.
He told me I would be going to x-ray soon.
I’d been relatively pain free since being propped on the bed and since having the gas so the thought of moving for an x-ray made me feel scared.
There was concern that my shoulder was dislocated and my wrist broken along with the arm so they decided not to make me walk to x-ray.
I was wheeled in the bed, along with my gas bottle that I continued to suck on.
There were two ladies in the room. They started out with one x-ray of the arm where it was.
Then they tried to move me.
It was getting old, even for me, but there was no controlling it.
The pain was so intense; screaming was the only response available to me.
They persisted for a few more x-rays of the elbow itself, and my wrist, and another angle on the elbow.
I screamed and deep breathed and sucked that gas as hard as I could while breaking a sweat trying to stay in position for them.
Each time the pain hit my body tensed in a muscle spasm that would not release. Tensed to a point where my mind had to pour all of its focus into releasing the tension. It was hard to do and caused so much additional pain as I tried to release one section of my body at a time. Each release caused a jerking motion; each jerking motion caused enormous pain.
There was no relief from it until the tension subsided.
I felt as though I’d run a marathon, or climbed – and fell down – a mountain. I was exhausted.
My mind grasped at ways to explain what I was feeling and what each movement was doing in my arm.
They started to move my arm in another direction, “Please stop,” I begged, “it feels like all of my bones are moving around in there, all of them are bumping and grinding against each other. Please.”
Yahtzee dice rattling in the cup right before a roll is exactly how it felt with every movement of my arm. Like all the bones in my arm had become tiny little pieces being shaken around in a cup to be rolled on a board.
One of the x-ray ladies put her hand on my wrapped elbow as they moved my arm from an upright position back across my body as I screamed in agony.
“I felt it,” she said, “she’s right the bones are all moving in there.”
Relief flooded me, she felt it, and she got it!
Someone understood. A single tear leaked out of my eye. I remember it because it tickled my ear before it rolled down my neck. It wasn’t like a regular tear involved in crying, it was more like relief springing from one eye in the form of a single drop of water.
Blackness swam in front of my eyes with the relief; maybe I could fall into unconsciousness now that someone understood. I tested myself but something inside me refused to let go that much.
“OK, that’s enough. I’m not moving her anymore.” She said. And the other x-ray technician agreed.
The older lady stroked my forehead and said, “You’re ok, no more for now, no more, you can relax.” I liked her.
They took me back to emergency and I was quiet for an hour or so. I may have even dozed off a few times for a few minutes only to be jolted back to reality by pain when my body relaxed and a micro-movement in my arm happened, or I stopped breathing the gas.
Nurses popped in occasionally to see how I was.
One of them took pity on me and brought me some ice chips to suck on; I felt so grateful.
Then the doctor came and told me that my elbow was dislocated along with the broken bone in my arm. He couldn’t see any break in my wrist or shoulder but would need more x-rays.
My body tensed at the thought of more x-rays and he noticed.
“We are going to fix the dislocation first before we do more x-rays and this should make you more comfortable and in less pain. You will need surgery also for the bone; we’ll try to arrange that with Lion’s Gate Hospital.” He told me.
I asked how they would fix the dislocation. I’d seen the movies with a shoulder dislocation and the thought of someone slamming my arm back into place had me almost passing out in fear.
They were going to knock me out to do it.
Thank the heavens! I wanted to be knocked out so badly.
It was then that he also told me that a dislocation is one of the worst pains there is, and it was no wonder I was screaming with every movement. He told me I was very brave to have made it this far.
The nurse who came in with him agreed, and also told me how well I’d been doing considering all of the handling I’d had since the accident.
They left me alone again for a while, maybe an hour or so, time no longer made any sense to me, and that could have been the welcomed and loved happy gas!
At around 3pm one of my colleagues had finished work and offered to come up to the hospital to see me and help me if need be. She offered to take my keys and feed Greyson.
Thank all that is holy.
When she arrived she was surprised at how I looked.
Always good to have a friend give it to you straight!
She headed out again to feed Greyson and pick up my spare keys. I wasn’t sure if I would be staying overnight or not just yet, it had been discussed as a possibility earlier in the day but not mentioned since.
While she was gone, a nurse came and cut through the rest of my t-shirt. I remember thinking, damn, because it was one of my favourites. She put little pads on my chest, and side, to connect me to a monitor for while I was under for the dislocation fix.
Then I was wheeled into a small room with doors off emergency. It looked like a mini-operating room.
The anesthetist arrived to ask me questions about any allergies. None that I’m aware. Then he explained that he was going to get the anesthetics that would put me under and would be back shortly.
Then the anesthetist returned and put some fluids into the drip thingy (technical term!) in my hand.
I remember watching the clock on the wall as he did this and tried to grasp the time. He left the room and I was alone again.
I closed my eyes for a brief second and when I opened them the nurse was beside me.
“When will it be done?” I asked.
She laughed and replied, “Oh you’re done.”
I looked down at my arm and realised I was now in a new splint with a new bandage that felt more secure than the other one, and in fact…
…it felt more than just more secure, it felt less painful.
There was relief through my body, relief from the pain and tension that my body had conjured to protect from the pain.
Gratitude washed over me. I felt giddy with it.
“Did I snore?” I asked, lightheaded with relief.
Again she laughed before responding, “No, but you did scream the house down!”
Really? Wow. Who knew you could scream while unconscious? I didn’t.
I asked about my friend and the nurse said she’d go and get her.
I tentatively lifted my arm up off my stomach. No screaming to be had now.
It hurt, it still hurt a lot, but the pain was different now, not as jarring, and my bones did not feel as though they were in the Yahtzee cup.
I was so happy.
My friend came back in and commented on how much better I looked; apparently the “ashen” pallor had left me.
Then she said, “I could hear you screaming from the waiting room. I’ve never heard anything like it, I was terrified for you. You screamed so much.”
Wow again. I didn’t remember a thing. I wish they’d knocked me out sooner.
My friend told me that my cat was fed and she’d stay until I was discharged.
Then the nurse came and got me to take me to x-ray. My friend went to wait in my cubicle where they would return me.
X-ray was still painful and uncomfortable and I still broke a sweat, but no screaming this time. I was still sucking on the gas with every breath.
They got enough pictures to see that my wrist was definitely not broken, and my shoulder was fine. They got a good shot of the Ulna bone which was very broken, clean through at a zig-zag, lightning bolt angle.
The doctor made arrangements for me to have surgery the next day at Lion’s Gate Hospital and then he wrote me a prescription for Tylenol 3 and said I could go home.
I texted another friend and asked if he was working the next day. Yes, but didn’t start till 12 near the hospital where I needed to go. I asked if he could give me a ride. His response was snarky and I was a little shocked. I told him I could make other arrangements, although to be honest I wasn’t sure who else I could ask on a work day to take me from our town to Vancouver, about 90 minutes away. He said he would do it. Phew.
The nurse came back and helped me dress in the vest I brought in with me. My t-shirt was one open piece of material now.
Dressing hurt, moving my arm still hurt – a lot, but now I cried out and breathed heavy. I was no longer screaming in agony.
This was an improvement.
My friend took me home with a stop at the drug store to get the prescription filled.
One thing that I’m so grateful for in this ordeal is the ability to “tap” for purchases. It meant I could give my credit card to trusted friends over the next few days and ask them to purchase things for me using “tap”. I never carry cash so this was a huge relief to be able to do this.
Then we headed home.
I was going to have to get out of my clothes that were still covered in twigs, leaves, dirt, and debris from my fall. I was a mess from head to toe.
I also needed to get out of my bra.
My friend and colleague was about to see more of me than she’d bargained for, and I’m so grateful she didn’t make it weird.
Though it was exactly that.
We got into the elevator at my building and saw a guy who lived on my floor. I’d said hello once or twice to him and seen him over our 5 years living in the same building, but we’d never had an actual conversation. He commented on how I looked and offered to help in any way I needed if I needed it. I thanked him and thought nothing more of it.
Once inside, I needed to get out of my clothes immediately. They felt like live ants all over my body.
I kicked off my shoes and my friend helped me get my socks off. Then the stretchy work out pants I was wearing. I needed out of the bra desperately.
She helped me out of the vest, which was painful to move my arm and I cried out a few times. Then standing before her in nothing but my bra and knickers I asked her to help me remove my bra.
First we got a stretchy tank top half way up my body in readiness, then she undid me. I wasn’t able to pull up my tank on my own, so my lovely friend and co-worker had to help gently pull up the tank and feed my arm through straps while my free falling breasts occasionally brushed her arm.
If I hadn’t been in pain, I’d have had the giggles big time.
We then pulled on a skirt that was all I could think to wear that would be easy for me to go to the bathroom and to get off when I was ready for bed.
She offered to stay, but I needed some time alone. I’d been surrounded by too many people already. And I knew that she had to work the next day, my couch is comfy but not super comfy, and she needed to get back to her boyfriend and life too.
When we walked to the door there was a note sticking out, the neighbor had left his name, number and schedule for the week ahead! Amazing!
We marveled at this kindness for a few minutes , then I thanked her, hugged her, and sent her on her way with a smile that said “I’m OK”.
Nope. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
I sat and watched TV, and ate some leftovers that she had heated for me before she left. I wasn’t really hungry though so had only a few mouthfuls.
Lion’s Gate Hospital called me at around 9pm to confirm my surgery appointment for the next morning. I had to be there by 9am.
I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink beyond midnight due to the surgery the next morning.
Eventually, I went to bed.
Sleep eluded me, but I felt more relaxed propped up in bed than on the couch. I watched movies, back-to-back, movies that I love and have saved on my PVR.
I locked Greyson out of the bedroom for the night, though I set up a little bed on the couch for him. I was worried he would try to step on my arm, or snuggle into me and jostle my arm, so he had to stay out. I felt bad and he cried at the door for a while before quietening down.
Occasionally I would doze off for a few moments, maybe 20 minutes total at a time, when this happened the whole sickening incident those first few moments of the fall, the image of the break, the sound, the feeling, the shock, the acknowledgement, all played relentlessly through my brain jolting me awake.
Jolting my arm and causing a new wave of pain. I counted the minutes until I could take the next dose of pills. They were not helping for longer than about an hour at a time and I had to wait 4 hours between doses.
Yes, the pain was less intense than when there was a full dislocation, and for that I was grateful. But I was now riding pain that was well beyond a regular pain threshold every minute of every hour.
It also started to feel with every new jolt that my bones were again starting to move around, grind against each other, maybe bump into each other and the pain was intensifying each time.
When it came up to 3am I realised I had to take another dose of pills but wasn’t supposed to eat or drink after midnight?
I didn’t know what to do, so I called the hospital where I was having surgery. They didn’t know the answer! The person I spoke with suggested I call the nurses hotline on 811.
I always forget about this amazing service: 811, the nurses’ hotline. They are amazing and helpful and compassionate too. Gratitude and love to the beautiful people who work those phones.
They told me to definitely take the pills with the smallest sip of water I could take to swallow them. They said that I absolutely needed to be comfortable throughout the night and they wanted me to continue to take the pills.
I nearly cried in relief.
While the pills didn’t work for the full amount of time, or at full strength, they did work for at least an hour and likely dulled the pain the rest of the time. I did not want to be without them.
All told, since the accident, I’d had a few bites of pasta, and maybe a total of 2 hours sleep broken up into 20 minute chunks.
By 6am I was bleary eyed and feeling weaker than wet paper.
However, I got up and had my first of many sponge baths. I still had dirt on me from the fall and felt grotty.
It was slow going and every movement of my left shoulder reverberated through my arm causing me to cry out and stop still to breathe through the tension that had returned. Looking back I guess sometime during the night when I jolted awake, I set some of the relocated bones in my elbow back out of place and we had the rattle of the Yahtzee cup with a few less dice happening once again.
Determined to not smell bad though, I cleaned off what I could and changed my underwear.
My tank top stayed on and in place, I cleaned around it. I could not put a bra on if I tried and will likely not be able to wear one for the next few months.
During my long night of awake, I thought about what to wear to the hospital. There is the vanity once more! I pulled on some stretchy loose pants that were nice and could be dressed up for a night out even, then a cardigan over my one good arm and over the shoulder of the bad arm, along with a scarf for modesty. No bra = loose breasts and nipples!
I texted the friend who was picking me up and asked him to bring one of the pillows from his couch to rest my arm on. These pillows were thin and soft and would be better than my puffy ones. He agreed.
… Part three: Lion’s Gate coming soon …
Warm smiles and Love,