A plastic surgeon was called in to see her and gave instructions to the nurse regards bathing and dressing the wound and gave us an appointment for follow-up in two days, at which point they would do a skin graft.
We had arrived in the emergency room at 8:30pm and finally left at 5:30am. The care was attentive and thorough and Mom was grateful and said so to each person who helped her. But as the hours wore on her patience wore out. She just wanted to go home and became increasingly frustrated. She had never had stitches in her life and was frightened. Add to that the fact that the doctor could not properly “freeze” the compromised leg and said that she would certainly feel the sutures as they were administered, which sadly she did. She was a trouper though, squeezing my hand and bearing up the best she could. When she cried or called out, she would apologize to the doctor who told her, “Mrs. McGrath you have every reason to express your pain and many people could not bear up what you are going through, so yell away.” Bless his heart.
After she was stitched, they came to transfer her to another part of the emergency department as this one was closing down given the lateness of the hour and the fairly slow night in the waiting room. The orderly who was wheeling her received an emergency call. He started to run down the hall and, turning to me over his shoulder, said, "Stay with your Mom, I will be right back." In seconds he came running back towards us toting a large white cooler marked “Human Blood” and ran through the large heavy doors right in front of us marked “Trauma”.
Strangely enough I had not even noticed we were in front of the trauma ward as I had been chatting with Mom, trying to keep her mind off the stitches, the possible infection, and her mounting panic around the even slight possibility that she should wind up back in the hospital for an extended stay as she had done in November.
Suddenly the trauma doors swung open and my heart jumped into my mouth. There were people on stretchers, blood everywhere, police rushing about, doctors suiting up, nurses running in, voices calling out and the flash of metal, sharp against the bright overhead lights. My mouth was dry and open, my eyes wide. My heart was beating like it wanted to escape me. Suddenly a nurse, shocked that we were standing there, pulled a bloody gloved hand across a curtain. All that was left were the sounds. Sounds like I had never heard in my life. And it seemed ... well, it seemed like TV. I had never been that close to anything like that and I was overwhelmed with the reality of it.
As our orderly returned, rushing us away from what we should not have seen, I sputtered out, "Is ... everyone ... okay?” He said with sadness, "It's not good.” “Was it a car accident?” “Yes ... it’s bad." As we rounded the corner, I began to wonder if I had even seen what I know I had seen. It happened so fast. Maybe it wasn't real. After all I had horrible insomnia the night before and after all it was well after 2am at this point and I was punchy. But I was reminded that it was all too real as people were still running by us towards the trauma room and I could still hear the ching of their I.D. tags which were opening the heavy doors, admitting them to that horrific scene.
As we walked quickly on, the pounding in my ears was abating and it was just starting to seem like a bad dream when we came upon the "Family Quiet Room", which was filled with crying frantic family and friends who were waiting for word about the accident.
The accident that was bad.
They were waiting to find out about their loved ones who were receiving all that care from the people with the chinging I.D. tags. They were waiting and praying for good news from the event our orderly had described as...
It doesn’t look good.
We walked by them in what seemed like slow-motion, offering weak smiles and glances of hope. Some of them looked back and my eyes locked with their visible panic. As our silence thickened, our orderly Gregory stopped abruptly and turned to us. He looked my Mom in the face, smiled a broad smile and said, “Mrs. McGrath, aren’t you lucky!” My mother, kind of shocked by this odd chirpy statement amidst this scene, faltered a little but said, “Yes ... yes, I am ... I know I am.” He continued, “I work here every day and I see all sorts of horrible things. But what stays with me is the kindness, the humanness. I don’t know exactly what is going to happen to the people in that room, but I know they are receiving the strength of skill and the best of the human spirit and that is all any of us can do. That is why we are here, Mrs. McGrath. You are here having your own trauma and I am not belittling that one bit. But you are here with your daughter who loves you and who you love. Terrible things happen. But it’s love. To love and be loved and to know it. That is what I am grateful for every day I wake up, every day I get to work here, and every night I lay my head on the pillow.”
He wheeled us into my Mom’s E.R. room, “You are lucky. Good luck, Mrs. McGrath,” and he left.
All the way home that morning I thought of those people we had seen. I don’t know what happened to them and I pray that they pulled through. But thanks to Gregory I was reminded that they were loved. That they too were lucky.
Barbara: What a story, Deb. My heart was pounding the whole time I was reading it. We haven’t had a chance yet to talk about that night with any real detail and I thank you for sharing this.
There’s nothing so soul-shifting as sudden accident. How everyone is forced to stop in their tracks and cling to the pulsing heart of things, which is the heart of everything: love love love. My heart goes out to those people and the shock they faced that awful night and must probably continue to face now. I also hope and wish for a healthy recovery for your dear Mom, Deb. Love.