July 6th, 2009 Conclusion
After what seemed like hours of riding, not even able to see his face, we finally make the turn into the hospital. I breathe a sigh of relief, that we are at a MUCH better facility now, and that I can see and touch my love again. Even as weak as he was, I could see the relief on his face when his eyes found mine. I took his good hand, kissed him, and told him I loved him. Again. I couldn’t say it enough. Each time I was terrified would be the last. We were once again placed in the hallway, but only for a moment. This place was more packed than URMC had been, but also faster on their feet, and more….for lack of a better term, caring. Once in a room, a dr came in almost immediately. The nurse was called away, they had multiple traumas coming in, by ambulance and Life-Flight, and were swamped. I had to take over the pumping of the bp cuff, the doc needed both hands. He asked what happened, so while he unwrapped and examined Josh’s arm, I told him everything I knew. What ACTUALLY happened was still unknown to me. And I squeezed that bubble. Every 3 seconds or so. “Watch the guage on the wall,” doc had said. “Keep it above 200 at ALL times.” And so I did. He replaced the bandages again, fresh ones as crimson as the previous within only a matter of seconds. I honestly didn’t know how he hadn’t just run out already. SO much of it. All over the house, me, him, puddles on both ambulance floors, a puddle three foot in diameter in the previous er…and one fast approaching that size in this one. Not to mention the 2 bath towels and countless bandages already long disposed of. Josh had now been bleeding for over two hours. He turned to me when his work was completed, and gave me news I already knew. Surgery. Soon. Possibly multiple. Depends on exactly how much damage. Surgeon on the way to look and talk to me. At this point, I am numb, but terrified. We are not ACTUALLY married, and NO family has arrived yet. Not that I don’t have it under control, I do. Just, he OBVIOUSLY needs blood. What if I don’t match? They were on their way. Tim had been treated and released, to my surprise. He and Bridgette had gone home. Kim, and ‘Nana & Ernest’ were on their way. Along with Kathy, Joey, Puglsy, and another uncle of Josh’s, Brian, who was in from Tennessee at the time. I’m glad they’re on the way, but not ready to have that damn many of them questioning me all at once. I just wanna stay with him, and let the docs do the talking. After the doc leaves, Josh turns to me and says “Baby?” “Yes angel?” “Don’t let them cut my shorts off. These are my favorite ones.” I sigh and giggle. “Okay. They will not cut your favorite shorts.” Then, “I love you my princess.” I tell him, again, “I love you sweetheart.” Even though he seems a tiny bit more alert, I’m still afraid it could be the last time. A short time, that seemed like forever, later, another doc walked in. The surgeon. The SAME surgeon who did my daughters surgery. Another small sigh of relief. That man is GOOD. More bandages discarded. This time I brave a slightly closer look when he begins poking around. I am shocked at what I see. EVERYTHING. All that stuff we’re not supposed to see, but is always there. Nerves. Veins. Tendons. Muscles. And that artery. Oh how it gushes when the pressure begins to drop, just before a squeeze of the bubble. I return myself to a sitting position quickly. Dont wanna see anymore. He replaces the bandages again, and turns to me. “I won’t know the full extent of the damage until I have him in surgery, but as you can tell, there is an extreme amount of tissue and nerve damage. I don’t want to scare either of you, but loss of function of the hand is a likely possibility.” I felt what little strength Josh had left run right out of him through the hand I was holding. “But I will do my very best to prevent such loss.” “Thank you doctor” I say. “Please take as good care of him as you did my little one, PLEASE.” The doctor then leaves, and i am left again to keep this man alive. His mom and grandmother show up, and a nurse comes in to take over, so I kiss him fiercely, tell him I love him, and step out of the room. I stop for a minute, lean back against the wall, and take my first deep breath in about 3 hours. When I got to the waiting room, the rest of the family circled me in a hug, and held me there. I kinda needed it. I had a few moments away from him to be weak, and lean on someone, so I did. We all went outside for a smoke. After I had fully updated everyone on how he was and what the surgeon said, they all talked around me while I just stood with my head leaned back against the wall and smoked. Burning questions, now that I have had a chance to think. Will he use his hand again, will he be able to accept it if he can’t? I have been away long enough. I flick my smoke, and leave everyone else standing. Back to the desk. “Can I go back with my husband please?” “Not while others are back there.” Two visitors at a time and all that. Well FUCK THAT i say!! Just at that moment, Kim and Nana come from the back. “Ok. They’re back. Now can I go?” As she was reaching to buzz me back, a code went out. Multiple traumas inbound. Life-flight. “Sorry ma’am, no one in the hallways with traumas coming in.” FUCK THAT SHIT!! I’ll be in my chair in his room before the chopper hits the roof.” “Nope. Sorry. Can’t do it. ER on lockdown.” Ohhh she almost needed the ER herself just then. Instead, I rejoined the family out in the hallway. And spent the next HOUR waiting to be told how and where my husband was. No one seemed to know anymore. Just as we were all about to take the roof off, a very nice nurse on her lunch break walked by. I told them let me handle it. They’re a little hot-headed at times, as am I, but I control it better. Within moments I was told he had already been taken to surgery, and we were on our way upstairs, those of us left. All had gone home but myself, Kim, Brian, Nana, & Ernest. Said nice nurse even stopped on the way up & bought us a soda each, since we were all broke. We arrived upstairs, and she showed us to a large, almost deserted waiting room. Good. We all sat down, watched the Michael Jackson dies coverage, and waited for an update. There should have been a nurse at the station there, but wasn’t. There was a screen above the desk showing updates on surgical patients, but by number, not name. No one had given me a number. Still no help. I was going crazy sitting there waiting, so I told them I’d be back, and went in search of information. All I found on my walk was empty halls, and endless doors saying No Unauthorized Entry. No help. I turn a corner, and finally….a set of double doors, with the big PUSH HERE button on the wall. So I push and walk through. Still I see no one. But I hear a voice. A blessedly familiar voice. I follow the sound, and there, behind the curtain, is just the person I was looking for. Before he saw me coming, I heard “I want to see my wife, dammit!” I knew by the tone in his voice, someones life was about to be hell. So I stepped through the curtain quickly. His face went from deathly pale to pure bliss when his eyes met mine. I went to him, and hugged him as tight as I thought he could stand. I asked the nurse when he was going in for surgery. “About to knock him out now Miss.” Josh looked at me with eyes that spoke volumes to me of how terrified he was, so I asked if I could stay until he was out. “Sure. He’s been asking for you since we brought him up. You can stay til we take him back.” Just “thank you” and a sigh. Not enough time to even worry with a seat. Just as I was about to settle in, the doctor came in. He shook my hand, promised to take care of him, and nodded to the nurse. Josh’s eyes grew to about the size of golf balls. He doesnt like needles, and is terrified if he’s put to sleep, he’ll never wake up. So I lean over him, so as to fill his entire field of vision, take his hand in mine, and proceed to repeat to him over and again, I love you. More than the moon. The stars. The universe. And all that’s in it….before I can finish, he is sleeping soundly. I place a kiss on his nose, and one on each eye, then head back to the waiting room, after watching them wheel him away. The nurse had directed me to a private waiting room, where we could feel more confortable, so I returned to the others, and led them there. For 3 hours we waited. Watched tv. I damn near paced a groove in the carpet. At some point, it was mentioned that Nana and Ernest would leave for home when surgery was over. Kim speaks up, “Thelma (that’s me) can go home for the night” and I stopped her cold. “Thelma ain’t goin NO fuckin where. I will go home when HE goes home.” I was tired as hell, still covered in blood, and totally mentally drained. But no way was my husband waking up without me there, whether after surgery or in the am. No. HELL no. Finally, after 3 hours 15 minutes of waiting there, the surgeon came in. “The damage has been fully repaired. Nerve was taken from elsewhere in the arm to piece the cut one back together, and a metal tube placed around it, to prevent stress and further damage until it heals. All veins and arteries repaired.” “Will he ever use it again? And can I PLEASE see him?” “We won’t know how the arm will work until some healing occurs, and yes, you may.” Everyone stood to follow, but the doctor said softly to me, “Just you for now. He requested so before surgery.” So I smirked, told them to wait, and went to my love. He was barely conscious when I reached him, but smiled enough to show he knew I was there. That’s all I needed. He was soon moved from recovery to Intensive Care, and finally we could all be with him at once. When he finally came around enough that they all saw he was going to be ok, they decided to go home. I was so glad they had been there with me, but could not wait until they were gone. Josh too. We had been separated enough in the past 7 hours or so. It was OUR time. He gave me the scrub pants they had given him to wear so I could at least get out of my bloody jeans for the night. He then expressed his craving for a cigarette. “If I don’t smoke soon I will tear someone’s fucking head off” I believe were his exact words. They weren’t letting him leave the unit obviously, so I thought for a second. I got it. “I’ll be right back.” I went into the bathroom, turned the shower to hot, full blast, came out, and closed the door. Went out and told the nurse I was going to help him get cleaned up a bit, as well as myself. We went into the bathroom, locked the door, turned on the exhaust fan, and got our smoke on. Brilliant. Afterwards, I did get a rag and clean the blood off both us. Gave the smell time to be gone, and helped us both feel a little better. Then back to bed for him. Just the few minutes up had wiped him out. He was still so weak from the loss of so much of his life force. And he was starting to hurt. I could see it in his eyes. No morphine drip since recovery. So I go back out to the nurse, and ask if he can have something for pain. She agrees to call the doctor and find out. I heard our phone ringing as I was crossing back to our room. Kim. Calling to say they made it home, no doubt. And check on Josh. I hear total freak-out in his voice when I walk in. He hands me the phone, turns away, and cries. “Hello?” Kim. *sigh* “Hey. Don’t say anything. Just let me finish first.” “Ok.” “First of all, everyone’s fine, so don’t worry. Now. When we pulled in the driveway at home, there stood Roger. Behind the house. In the shadows. With a steel pipe in his hand.” Now just let me pause here for a moment. I stopped breathing when I heard Roger. I had completely forgotten about THAT trash. I was hoping his ass was already locked up. Josh was STILL crying, so I’m trying to comfort him as well. Boy does it never end?? On the phone, “I told Ernest to call 911, told Mommy(Nana) to stay in the car, and I got out to go talk to him. When I walked up I told him to drop the pipe, and lets go for a walk. Thank fuck he did! I asked him why did he come back here tonight. His answer was “To finish what I started.” She stopped then, and neither of us knew what to say. Had they been even a moment later arriving home, he may have gotten inside, and finished Tim, Bridgette, AND my unborn nephew off in their bed as they slept. Such a SCARY thought as I sat there holding Josh’s hand, giving him my very best ‘It’ll all be ok darlin’ look, trying desperately not to break, and listened as she finished the story. “Just as we reached the end of the street, the police came. They put him against the car, and searched him. On him they found not only the knife he used to cut the boys, still covered in their blood, but two others. One of them terribly rusty. They cuffed him, read him his rights, and took him away.” SHE, Kim, who RARELY showed emotion unless it was pure rage, was crying by this point. I asked to speak to Nana. I couldn’t fix her on the phone, and him here, so I told Nana, and she took home from there. *sigh* I climb into bed with my baby, on the good side…he turns to me, lays his head on my chest, and cries. Like a baby. I let him. He’s earned EVERY tear. I even sob a few times myself. Some time later, the nurse comes in with something for pain. And something to help him sleep. That he will need. She asks about his pain level, 1-10, 14 was his answer, poor thing, and, well, there was no examining his arm. It was bandaged to three times its normal size, and they had some huge, ugly, PINK of all colors, foam kind of brace thing on it. It made sense, to absorb impact if he were to bump it or something, but a totally hideous thing, nonetheless. She writes on his chart, replaces it, and leaves. Now that we’re alone, he’s not taking this so well. I suspected as much. The closest he had ever experienced to a father had come oh so eerily close to taking his life. Possibly took away his left arm. He was hurting. In EVERY possible way. Who could blame him. My whole reason for staying the night. I’m the only one who can comfort him in these situations. He would’ve been hysterical with anyone else, and everyone knew it. With me, not a word. Just cried with his head on my chest, and I rubbed his head until the meds kicked in and he slept. I then finally closed my eyes, took a deep breath, kissed his head, and slept a broken night. Broken by him waking in pain. Broken by my own nightmares. Roger finished what he started. Josh never made it to the ER. Josh never used his hand again. So many horrible dreams, until darkness finally dragged me in, and I did sleep, and hoped upon hope that tomorrow would be better….