Lessons learned.

15 05 2018

My sister asked me the other day if I had written about my son’s ATV accident yet. I said that I had thought about it, but hadn’t really and truly sat down to hash out my thoughts and emotions after that crazy experience. It takes time to process, anytime there’s a trauma involved with someone you love.

All in all, his injuries weren’t THAT serious…. I work with docs who work in the ER and so upon getting the call (while coming home from an amazing weekend in Spokane) learning that Nick had a pneumothorax after the quad rolled on him, my brain automatically heard one of my docs say “OK, that’s really no big deal” in my brain. A punctured or torn lung…. I mean yeah, that’s scary shit, but in some weird way, my autopilot kicked in and I just focused on driving home, knowing it’d be ok. I’m not generally a crier either so no tears were shed. I just drove, intent on getting home to see my boy.

I arrived at the hospital to see my son in the trauma bay, a bit doped up still from the ketamine and morphine he was given during the chest tube insertion. He informed me that he had been “trippin’ balls in another dimension” and we took silly selfies while he laid there in a collar, hooked up to all sorts of machines.

The days that followed were a roller coaster. We had hoped he’d be discharged within two to three days, but unfortunately, after the first chest tube (which I swear to god was the size of a garden hose) was removed, his lung collapsed again, leading to another chest tube being inserted. Nick’s usual upbeat and sarcastic demeanor was crushed as we learned it may be days before he would get home, with a small possibility of a thoracic surgery if it didn’t heal… that meant a trip to Kelowna. So fingers and toes crossed, we waited.

Oh right. We waited. We waited for the nurse to come in to talk to us. We waited for x ray to call so Nick could get yet one more to see how his lung was doing. We waited for the doctor to come and see us. We waited for x ray results. We waited. And waited. And waited. Day in. Day out. We waited.

We filled the time by chatting, by being silent, by stealing tidbits of sleep here and there (Nick in a bed that was a foot too short for his 6’3″ frame and me crooked up against the wall, curled up in a horribly uncomfortable chair). We waited and listened to Nick’s neighbour cough and hack and snort and fart all hours of the day, we heard him having loud conversations in Italian with his wife, that sounded suspiciously like balls-to-the-wall full-on arguments, but as they were interspersed with bouts of laughter, we all figured it was just a typical Italian conversation. (We christened him Luigi and spent a lot of time giggling at the cacophony of sounds emanating from various orifices of the old feller in the next not-very-soundproof-room). We waited with Nick’s lovely, wonderful girlfriend, who filled up the room with her sweet love and tender devotion for him. There were nights where she and I didn’t get home until 10 or 11. Indeed, we put in a few long 8-10 hour days, making sure that he had some semblance of company to keep him from being bored to tears.

In doing all this, this bedside waiting, I learned something. I learned that no matter who tells you in their heartfelt and earnest loving way to “Please let me know if you need anything”, when you are in the thick of dealing with any sort of crisis, you don’t really have the ability to reach out, you don’t have the foresight, and you don’t really think of it.

I had a lovely friend show up one day with chips and treats and hugs galore, and while Nick was sleeping, we sat and chatted. And this very thing came up…. How lonely we were…. how alone we felt. You see, she lost her mom a couple years ago and so she really and truly knows what it’s like and right then and there I realized that I too was (not so much guilty as it is no crime, but more of an honest human reaction) not present for her during her time of deep and soulful need. I should have just shown up while she was at her mother’s bedside. Shown up with tea or soup, or silly magazines, or even just a hug. I remember feeling nervous that I would be intruding on them during that terrible time, I worried that I didn’t have the right to be there. I didn’t want to bother them. I didn’t want to step on toes.

But what we went through opened my eyes. Even though it was a small blip in the grand scheme of things, my heart opened up in a new and delicious way. My lesson gleaned from this was to learn how to be a bit more present for those I love in this world.

So. Don’t wait for the call if you know someone is sick or hurt or grieving. Show up. Show up with a juicy new book. Bring a laptop with a movie downloaded on it. Show up for five minutes with your smile and if you don’t bring anything, just bring at least seven or eight hugs. Because hugs are the best.  Bring a sandwich. The patient and loved ones might be hungry and not willing to leave in case they miss the doctor. And besides, hospital food really, really sucks. Send a text or call if you can’t be there. It matters so much. So so much. Your smile, your presence can will be the difference of making a crappy day a little brighter. You might be the silver lining to an otherwise really bad day.

Because you are. You are a bright silver lining.

We all are.

xoxo

 

 

 

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