Tuesday, July 19, 2011

very bad awful night (or, beginning drivers), part one

He was in the pediatric intensive care, although he was old enough and would have qualified for the Neuro ICU. He was sixteen and had just been t-boned. The car had been hit on the driver's side as he pulled out in front of an oncoming car. His friend Ethan was yelling at him to stop. He couldn't hear Ethan yelling because the music was too loud and he was smoking, not paying attention. It was near sunset and the day was overcast. In my mind's eye I see it as rainy with poor visibility but I know that it was not like that because while he was getting hit I was preparing to go to the Pizza Shop and pick up a few pizzas for the boys who were at the house visiting. Pulling onto Scott Boulevard I saw the line of cars and knew there was a wreck ahead so instead, checked the rear view mirror before making a U-turn, heading back the other direction, taking an alternate route. The roads were dry.
After picking up the Pizzas and returning the way I would have gone in the first place (down Chapel Hill to Scott), I saw a car being towed. One of the vehicles from the crash. For a brief moment I thought of Chuck and wondered if possibly he could have been involved but pushed that thought to the back of my mind refusing to consider the possibility. I am the queen of denial and anyway, the vehicle being towed was large and heavy.
Returning to the house I was met by a group of rambunctious boys, wrestling and running up and down the stairs. We were again in a duplex as I had just sold a house and was making plans on moving into another. The living room-kitchen-dining area was one room essentially, separated by a bar area. I sat the pizza boxes on the bar and was in the process of setting up the drinks for the kids (a group of fourteen year old boys) when Dylan told me that the hospital had called. "The hospital?" I remember asking him. "Yeah, the University Hospital's Emergency Room". Again, it didn't occur to me that anything was wrong. Dylan didn't mention Chuck and was laughing, as if it was a joke, with his friends. 
To put it into perspective, the ER, at that time, frequently called me to work. The manager  liked me. She liked my experience and knew I would often work, so it was not unusual to pick up the phone and return the call, preparing to say that no, I would not work...The call did not turn out that way. "We have your son here," is what the voice on the other end of the phone said. "Excuse me and just a moment.." said while holding a hand over the receiver and questioning Dylan about just who had called and about what. Dylan's eyes were wide with the "I didn't know it was so important" look. Fear and upset blended into one as I grabbed my purse and headed out the door for the hospital telling the boys to behave themselves. Big mistake. There was something in me which thought, hm, maybe I should take these three extra boys home, they all live in the same neighborhood. That thought was quickly pushed aside as I got in my car and drove away.
How did I get to the hospital and where did I park? It is all a blur, what I do remember was being led back to the trauma area where Chuck was on a gurney having just returned from Cat Scan. The nurse gave me the low down on his condition after I asked, "What happened?" with the understood follow-up question of "and what are they/you doing, going to do?" in other words. What was the plan. He had suffered a closed head injury and they were wanting to keep him for observation, he was in a neck brace until his spine was cleared. He would be sent to the pediatric intensive care unit. While we were talking Chuck would interrupt with "I'm sorry Mama." followed by a "What happened and where am I?". He would be reminded until he forgot again a minute later and would start in with the "Where am I's and I'm sorry's". He did this so often that the nurse and I looked at each other across the gurney and smiled. "It will clear up" she told me and I nodded. (to be continued).

No comments:

Post a Comment