Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Road Less Traveled

It's been ten days since my brother's (whom I call Dooder, a pet name from our childhood)  motorcycle accident. This is his tenth day in the TBICU at UAB.  I am just now where I can talk about it without bursting into tears.  I never thought about writing about it, until our mother encouraged me to read the blog of another family at TBICU.

So, here goes...but first, a little background:

On April 1st, off-duty police detective and fellow Sentinels club member, Steve Head was tragically killed on Alabama highway 25 between Leeds and Vandiver.  As a Sentinel "brother" and friend,  Dooder, took this death hard. 

On April 14th, Leeds resident and friend Micheal Isbell was also tragically killed on the same stretch of Alabama highway. This was especially rough for me, as I had known Micheal and his wife, Kim, since they were children. 

So in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 22, when my mother called to tell me that Dooder was in a motorcycle accident, I didn't hear another word that she said. My heart stopped.

He was riding to the home of a friend, on a small, winding road in Odenville. The friend recounts coming around a curve to find deer standing in the road. He swerved to avoid them, but Dooder could not. He struck a telephone pole on the side of the road and went sailing out into the adjacent field. When the friend reached him, he was unconscious. While during a quick triage, Dooder suddenly exclaimed "Dude, stop touching me."

He had a broken left shoulder or collarbone, left hand, and nine ribs, also on his left. They were concerned with fluid around his spleen and one of his ribs nicked his left lung.

Half asleep and groggy from being awakened at 1:27 a.m. I was trying to wrap my head around what I was hearing. Then I heard him laughing with someone in the background, and my tension eased a little. But little did I know what lay ahead.

I asked if I should come to the hospital, but mother said if they needed me, they would call me.  Fifteen minutes later, the phone rang again. "He has a brain bleed!" my mother had said, "They are sending us to UAB because it's a trauma center. They said it's the best place for him."  Mother assured me that they would call me if they needed me, but I could no longer sleep. I sat up in bed, turned on the tv and got on Facebook.

Please pray for my little brother (Dooder). He hit some deer on his motorcycle. Being transferred from Trinity to UAB as we speak. He is talking but they are concerned about some bleeding on his brain. What is going on with these acursed motorcycles?

When I finally settled back in bed a few hours later, my mother called to tell me that UAB had decided to put in a chest tube to relieve the fluid building in his chest cavity. Because the proceedure was so painful, he agreed to be put to sleep. Before showering, I posted on Facebook once again.

(Dooder) admitted to trauma unit. He has a punctured lung so they knocked him out for a chest tube and intubation. Shoulder not broken but collar bone and hand are. Still no update on brain bleed but they did a scan before they moved him to the unit.There was also concern over his spleen. Thank you to all for your continued prayers. Going to hospital now. More updates to come.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was somewhat prepared for what I saw. My step-father, The Chief, filled me in on his condition and explained that he was a little bruised and was hooked up to several machines. He said that they said he could hear me, but wouldn't be able to respond.

It was every bit as bad as I had expected, but surprisingly not as bad as I had prepared myself for. There was a tube in his mouth and one in his nose. Several leads bloomed from out of the top of his gown. His hands were restrained by Velcro cuffs, connected to a tether underneath him. His head,  perched above a cervical collar, showed no signs of bruising or blood. Protocol for this unit is that all visitors must wear disposable gowns and gloves.  So I suited up and tiptoed to the side of his bed.The room was somewhat dark and Dooder appeared to be sleeping quietly.  Machines hummed softly in the background.

I leaned in really close and whispered, "Hey baby, I'm here."  His eyes flew open! That startled me, given I was told that he couldn't repond. I jumped back, unsure of what to do. Monitors started beeping and flashing. His heart rate went up. The Chief spoke to him, soothing him, calming him back down. I went to the right side of the bed and spoke to him again, while Chief spoke to him on the left. His eyes were open and they searched the room for me. The C-collar held his head firmly, so his whole body moved as he tried to make eye contact with me. "I'm here baby, please don't move" I said. He mouthed the word "Joy," over and over. He thrashed in the bed, pulling against his restraints while bringing his knees up to his chest and kicking them out again. 

The two nurses ran in and began shouting commands to him. I had to leave.  I thought I could take it, but I couldn't, and felt I was going to break down. The older sister is supposed to be the strong one. The protector. Not the sniffling mess that I was about to become.  I cried all the way back to the waiting room.

The nurse said that he had not reacted to anyone that saw him that day, like he had reacted to me. Mother said that it was because I was his "partner in crime" and if anyone would get him out of this perdicament, it would be me.

Friends came and went throughout the day. I tried to get on Facebook to update everyone, but the public connection was slow. As I did this, I began to observe the families around me.  A large family on one side of the room, appeared to be having a simultaneous reunion. Everyone and their brother , and his kids appeared to be there. Several toddlers ran amongst the rest of the visitors, drooling and grinning, like happly little puppies. I thought I heard "gun shot wound" in the midst of their converstaion, but I could have been wrong.

Another family, met quietly a little closer to us. One of the gentlemen appeared to be someone familiar to me and I couldn't help but stare while I tried to place him. Several times, he caught me staring. I later realized he had been a popular sports writer and his face was familiar to me because of his guest appearances on a Friday night local sports show. His wife had been hit by a drunk driver at 5:30 in the morning.

Another quiet family was also in the waiting room, but they were not there for long.

Finally, I got connected. I triend to update my Facebook again. My wall was filled with prayers and well wishes. Each post so heartfelt, I began to cry all over again.

Just heard about Dooder! Praying for him and you and your entire family! Please keep us posted and if I can do anything please don't hesitate to call!
Oh Joy....I am so sorry to read this. Praying that he will be okay. Praying for strength for you as his big Sis and praying for all of your family as you are facing this horrible situation.

((hugs))) & prayers for you & your family ♥

praying for Jason and your family.

The Fourth Man in The Fire.Believing For a Miracle!In the Name of Jesus.Love You!!!

Praying for you and Dooder... Let me know if you need anything!!! Hugs

When I could compose myself, I posted:

Finally got connected here at UAB. Brother sedated and intubated because chest tune is so painful. I went to see him but he became really aggitated when I spoke to him. He opened his eyes and tried to say my name.The nurse said he hasnt reacted that wayto anyone else. He has to be this way for at least the next two days. Its gonna be a long 2days. We've had a rough few weeks with 2 friends loosing their lives in bike-related accidents. The family appreciate all the prayers and support. It means more than words can express.

The next time I went to see Dooder, I stood in the hall and kind of peeked in. I didn't want to aggitate him any more. His buddies had come up and took turns going back to see him. He blinked his "yes's and no's" to their questions.  He kept signaling with his hands to flip him. I watch from the hall.

Finally, it was time to go home. I felt bad leaving, but I knew he was in good hands.

No comments: