#100 - Diary of an accident (Watt Thoughts) (revised version 12/25/2003)
Before going to Florida for two weeks I had left my car at the college and used a state car while in Florida. In addition I decided to make a CD of documents I had been scanning for several weeks as I thought I needed to back them up before I left. It was like I thought the hard drive may crash or other damage to my computer while I was gone.
The first two weeks of December 2002 I spent in Jacksonville Florida attending Cisco Networking Academy training to learn how to teach the first course of CCNP (Certified Cisco Network Programmer). This was a very difficult course, but after staying up late many nights studying, I passed the written final with a 100 and the lab final and completing it in just over half the time allowed to do the final. I learned a huge amount about networking in the class. The class was at Florida Community College at Jacksonville. I enjoyed my rides on the miniature aerial-track mass transit car (basically a miniature subway above ground) across the river each day and I did go out to eat each night.
Friday morning it rained in Jacksonville and before leaving I took pictures of Treaty Oak (a very large oak tree) that was less than a block from my motel and I went to museum and bought my nephew's Christmas present. Coming home I chose to take US 1 (motel was on it and I live about a half mile from it) as a more scenic and relaxing tip. I stopped in Waycross Georgia for lunch and went through a new Lowes that was having Grand Opening sale and in same parking l9ot. I bought a metallic reflective sign to put the house number on, to place by the street to make my house easier to locate. Unfortunately I did not complete the last item until this summer.
After getting to the house I changed clothes, realized I was home before 5 for a change, and went to Northland Cable's office to get Turner South (for Braves games) and ESPN2 (to record Saturday's GSU playoff game, which I had tickets to) and report problems with my service. The lady there told me there was a Christmas special that would save me $15 if I gave a toy for Empty stocking Fund worth $10. I was not real interested in saving the $5, but she was adamant I go to Dollar store and buy the toy. It was just before 5 and I said I would be after 5 but she said she would wait for me. I bought a toy brought it back right after 5 (they were closed, but she let me in like she said she would) and she wrote up order and talked to repairmen and said they would be out shortly.
Now all the previous is a prelude to the story but important. Notice I remembered details of then. Secondly one action may have saved my life in the parts coming up.
I went home, got out the Christmas lights to put up and saw Shari for first time in a week as she passed thru and went to get items for supper. I went out to start putting up lights. I noticed immediately that ladder sunk about an inch in wet ground (it had rained that morning in Swainsboro also). I made sure as I went up it that there was space on eave for it to still sink and not fall. I worked my way across to middle of house as it started getting darker (remember this is December about 6 pm)
The men form the cable office arrived and started working on the poles by road. I took them in house to see how TV was at about ¼ way across house. I distinctly remember hearing them calling numbers from poles to each other ads the metered the cable.
I moved the ladder onto sidewalk in middle of house and told myself I would quit after this spot as it was getting too dark. I could reach outlet from here and would finish job on Saturday. I went back up on ladder here but I have no recollection if I climbed to the top or not.
This paragraph is based on the facts and what I was told later, but not my memory. The ladder then fell (actually it slid out of under me by the evidence on facial board I found several months later). I apparently reached out with my right arm to catch myself as I sprained my wrist, pulled upper arm muscles and broke that shoulder. The left leg apparently stayed in the rung as I had a terrible bruise at rung height on it for months, but no break as x-rays were clean.
The cable men said they hear a crash and Ginny, our German Shepherd, flew by them form across the street to me. The cable men ran over looked at me and called the ambulance. They then ran over to my neighbor's house, the Shuman's who is police chief, and banged on his door. They told Johnny "He fall, he dead, he sleeping, he snoring" all in short sentences. Johnny realized it was me and came over, heard me gurgling, said a prayer that my neck was not broken, and turned me over.
Johnny then asked me "Where is Shari" which I remember him asking and I answered a "Gone".
Now back to part I do not remember. The ambulance then drove by house and stopped just beyond drive and came back. (That number sign I bought would have helped them, although my mailbox was well labeled). Johnny sent his son JR to find and tell Shari. The ambulance crew requested helicopter from Augusta to meet them at hospital. Shari took her mom home on road just below us and told her mom Dwight has done a great job on lights (which was actually ambulance, as I had not gotten finished to plug). JR stopped her as she started up to her house after leaving her mom's and said I had an accident. She asked if I was electrocuted (remember I did not get electricity to lights)..
As the ambulance prepare to leave Shari rode with Johnny in police chief car to hospital. They beat the ambulance there. Shari saw and heard them preparing for ambulance (fire truck and police are called to be there when helicopter comes in) and told Johnny someone must have had a bad accident. I was x-rayed and stabilized at hospital.
I then remember a nurse saying "You must wait, let his wife speak to him first". I recall her as tall, but then she would probably have been tall to me lying on the stretcher even if she was only 5 foot tall. I have no memory of ambulance, helicopter, Shari speaking, but yet I seem to recall being content when she said that as if I knew what was happening so I must have had a little consciousness.
Shari and her brother told each other that if I had my camera there I would have wanted to take pictures of all the lights and pout it on website. I have no memory of the helicopter ride.
That night or the next morning they did a CT scan on me and I do not remember it. I do remember each time I woke up in hospital that I was dreaming I was doing the lab Cisco final again and the details of it each time. I remember hearing pieces if a football game on Saturday on TV in background which I thought was the GSU game and that they lost (I do not know if it was really on in my room but they did lose). My plans had been if they won to go to Chattanooga Friday to see them in Championship game and then to charlotte Sunday following to NFL game with my friend Robert to see former GSU great, Adrian Peterson, play in NFL.
I remember Bengy, my minister, stopping by some time and the doctors seeing me numerous times. I knew I belonged in hospital, but no memory of questioning why. I thought I had broke my arm and leg as leg hurt worse and arm was strapped to my chest although pain was not bad. Knew my eye was shut and cut but did not touch area as was scarred of how bad. I kept moving my toes and fingers as I was concerned if I was paralyzed. I do recall breathing easily and thinking I had broken bottom of eye socket and they had fixed sinuses.
The catheter was uncomfortable and very hard to get used to. I complained about it multiple times. My biggest complaint was my pillow. It was just a little one and not much use. I use two pillows normally. I do not remember any separate days in the hospital and did not realize how long I was there.
Sunday morning (I think) they asked Shari questions for brain surgery and about past seizures. I remember suddenly forcing myself wider awake and telling them I better answer these as she does not know answer. Told them I had seizures one year when I was in elementary school and that they did checks on me, found no reason and they quit. I remember them telling me reason for brain surgery and that it would not hurt me and I agreed too do it. They said they were going to take me to get a CT exam and I told them I did not know how I would react as I can be claustrophobic (I thought it was a tube). Nurse said it was no problem as I had already had a full one and this was just head. I have no recall of CT scans. I do not remember leaving to get scan, going to surgery and back to room. (In March I had a CT scan and when I heard it wind up, I remembered sound suddenly and the light pattern).
After the surgery I thought I was returning to room. I remember thinking I needed to say something unusual so first people would know I was ok. (Why I thought that I do not know). I knew I had just had brain surgery, they had told me to get a bone fragment out of my brain, but I thought I had already had surgery to fix eye socket, which I though was bottom not top. I did not realize only one surgery and that I had shattered top of eye socket not bottom.
I had a nurse initially that had connections with Emanuel County and I remember her telling Shari she would take care of me and to go rest. I also had a nurse named Tammy who watched me part of time. I remember one nurse, I don't remember who, telling me I was lucky as her previous patient had done same thing a few weeks before and was paralyzed and that if I had hit the back of my head I would have died instantly. She told me that to tell me how lucky I was that I was not worse off. I had one other nurse who watched who was named Karen, who reminded me of Karen Mountain (a colleague of mine) so I remembered her name
The nurse asked me as I came to from surgery who were the people in the room with me. I knew it was Shari and my neighbor Deidra, but I thought they were standing by door, later they told me they were by my bed, and I did recognize both. Keep in mind the thought I was having as I came out of anesthesia. I identified Shari as "she is a hag". The nurse said ok. Who is the other person? I said "she is a worse hag". Why I called them both hags I have no idea as I have never thought of that of them or really never called anyone I remember that. Shari had no problem with it. Deidra will never let me live it down. Her husband Johnny says if I am ever put to sleep again, he will tell me as I come to what to say. I had normal conversations after that.
I remember various people visiting me. As far as I know I remember all visitors. I remember my cousin Judy and her daughter visiting and Kay and her daughter visiting and us having a good visit. However both Kay and Judy both later said they had doubts after having seen me of having their teenage daughters see the shape I was in. I had a neat visit with Ennis and Lei who had a hard time finding me as the hospital had me listed as Arthur and they only knew me as Dwight. I remember Dr. Brooks visiting several times and Dr. Thomas checking on me and the orthopedic surgeons checking on me before I left hospital. I understood them to tell me I broke arm, not shoulder, but at follow-up I saw x-ray and it was shoulder.
Wednesday before we left Coach Schofill and Dr. Blankenship, Baptist pastor, promised supper would be waiting at house when I got home from Baptist Wednesday night supper. Took longer than we expected to be released and it was late when we got in, and the supper was in the oven waiting.
I only clearly remember one meal, which was French toast for breakfast on one day and Shari eating the eggs I did not want. French toast is my favorite breakfast. I vaguely remember country fried steak one night, no memory of quality and that is one of my favorite suppers.
The nurses were good to me. On two days they got Cokes for me. First time was a Caffeine Free Coke and second time orderly went across hospital to get real Classic Coke for me. Nurses brought me a paper one day to read at my request. I remember looking at it, but Kay says I said I could not read it, but was making up stories to match pictures.
I continuously kept dreaming of the lab practical Cisco CCNP 1 final test. It was the hardest class I have taken and apparently was beat in my head, maybe literally.
I really appreciate all four ministers who visited and one who sent another minister instead. Bengy Varnell from my church (Methodist), Dr. Blankenship from First Baptist, Franklin Sasser from Twin City Baptist and Clarence Thompson who is a Methodist minister and president of my Kiwanis club. Nita Crump-Howard, assistant minister at my church sent the Twin city pastor.
I really have no memory of night or day there. I do not remember changing rooms (from ICU to normal room) or ever leaving bed other than last day when physical therapy showed me problem of one eye. They had me walk into a corner wall, they were beside me and was a good way to show me perception was shot. I have no memory of going to surgery or the CT scans. I thought I remembered coming back to room after surgery, but I was already in room.
Removal of the catheter stung, but did not hurt like I thought it would. However after they removed it, apparently I had finally figured out how to use it as I wet the bed.
When I was taken to hospital they cut off all my clothes, including my Shooting Education jacket, but they did not cut the logo. Shari said when they gave her my clothes she knew loss of that jacket would upset me. Normally when working in yard I do not wear it, but I guess I thought light putting up would not hurt me or clothes. Somewhere in process I lost my running shoes, but I had already planned to get new ones in a few months so it was a minor loss, and some friends probably cheered I had lost them. For weeks I thought I had lost my cell phone in the accident but it turned out I had put it in truck to go get the cable upgrade and had not removed it.
Dr. Headley, local surgeon, removed the staples from my head with only minor stings as pain after Wilder, a physician assistant friend if mine said there were too many for him to remove and that I had 50-60 in my head. I had dreaded the removal, but again very little pain.
God truly blest me thru this episode. The people were there to hear me fall and to get help. Johnny responded quickly to stop me from possibly choking. The ambulance crew knew I needed to go to Augusta ASAP. I had very little pain at any point, only taking Tylenol or aspirin after I left hospital. They gave me a prescription for Tylenol-3 (with codeine) but I never filled it. Many prayers were answered.
I was back at church on December 24 for Christmas Eve service. Many were amazed I was there. A couple of young people kept staring at my staples and shaved head, but how often do spaceship looking people arrive at Christmas Eve services? The first Sunday in January I was back at normal church task, and taught Sunday School. By the end of January I was again driving and went back to work. In the meantime I started teaching on-line classes and Heart of Georgia technical College gave me credit fo time I worked at home. American Door and Drawer and Ogeechee Steel sent drivers to take me to them to do work for them. Lots of others provided me rides around town to various functions and my brother-in-law took me to see my aunt in the hospital in South Carolina. Several people took me back to hospital for checkups including Jerry Fletcher and Phil.
In October I had follow-up surgery that reopened my eye to about 50% and where it became fully functional. I also regained use of my forehead muscles. Through time it should improve. I had to stay awake for the surgery (they make you sit up several times and open eyes so they can see if the balance of teh height of your eyes are right) and only pain was putting IV in my hand. I was again very lucky on very little pain. My current minister, Wayne DeFore, was there to see me in and out of surgery.
I have written this to document what I went through. Also my dad commented after I went through it he wished he had written his experience from surgery in 1991. One very distinct thing on him then was that when they took him from normal room to ICU, that with the lights on devices and stuff he was convinced he was traveling through Las Vegas.
I did put up the Christmas lights this year, although Johnny watched me do it and suggested better place for ladder. The only nervous place I had was when I had to put it on sidewalk at same place as I fell in 2002.
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