Saturday, April 25, 2009
An Unhappy Landing
Today was a day of record setting warmth here in southern New England. Temperatures hovered around eighty five degrees Fahrenheit. Trees are exploding with pink and white blooms, and the grass has sprung up, new and sparkling in a an amazing shade of green.
Rigby was panting, and I was drenched, as we walked around our usual route today. That little dog was in such a hurry to get to her water bowl when we got home, that she dragged me into the kitchen without waiting for me to take her leash and harness off. Even though it’s still April, today really felt like the first day of summer.
Today is also an anniversary of sorts. It was one year ago today that Mac fell off the scaffolding while he was roofing. I got his phone call around four o’clock while I was still at work. He sounded like his calm, normal self, but his first words were that he had some bad news for me… He needed me to take him to the hospital because he couldn’t drive… or walk.
Just outside my office door in the common area, some of the girls were setting out wine glasses. It was our custom to have a glass before closing up on Friday afternoons. I shut off my computer and grabbed my handbag. “I can’t stay…I need to go. Mac just fell off a roof and I have to take him to the hospital”, I babbled as I ran out the door, leaving my co-workers looking shocked and concerned.
I could see the white van in the driveway as I drove up the street toward the house. As always, there were about six ladders of varying size strapped to the roof. I saw Bart and Nash, Mac’s friends and co-workers, their arms linked, forming a chair, and Mac in the middle, being carried. I pulled up beside the van and jumped out to open the passenger side door so they could slide him in. All three of them were laughing and joking as they made their way over to my car. This was to be expected of tough guy roofers. Questions roiled about in my mind at that moment, foremost among them, “Why didn’t they take him straight to the hospital…better yet, why didn’t someone call an ambulance?” But, I already knew the answers. Mac didn’t want them to. He didn’t want anyone making a big deal over him. The staging had buckled, and the plank he was standing on gave way and he fell, landing squarely on his hip with a sickening crunch. His first thought was, "I hope my legs still work". They did, thank God, but he found that although he could move them, he couldn't walk. He was in excruciating pain. This had happened in the early afternoon. He didn't want to be a bother, so he sat and waited until the other guys had finished the job. That's Mac for you.
We started out toward the hospital which was about thirty minutes away. I was balancing trying to drive fast with trying to avoid sharp turns and bumps, because my husband’s yelling and moaning corresponded directly with the smoothness of the ride. I realized that he must have broken bones at the very least. He was never one to complain much, but he was obviously in terrible pain now.
About a mile away from the hospital, I grabbed my cell phone and called the emergency room desk. “ I’m bringing my husband into the emergency room”, I said to the nurse who picked up the phone. “We’re a few minutes away, and I need someone to meet us in the parking lot. He fell off some scaffolding and he can’t walk.”
“Sorry”, came the reply, “You’ll have to call an ambulance, we can’t come out into the parking lot. It’s against regulations.”
“Call an ambulance from the hospital parking lot? What?!” I was incredulous. No one was going to help us. I’d be damned if I was going to call an ambulance to get us from the parking lot to the front desk. And you wonder why your health insurance premiums are so high, my fellow Americans?
I pulled my car right up to the door of the emergency entrance, parked in the “no parking” zone and flicked on my flashers. I jumped out and ran up to the automatic doors, bolting inside. I told the first four people I saw that my husband was injured, he couldn’t walk and I was going to carry him in myself if someone didn’t come and help me. From behind the desk, the nurse in charge pointed out a fleet of wheelchairs in a corner, and I grabbed one and headed for the door with it. A young nurse took pity on me, and looking back over her shoulder toward the desk, muttered, “I’ll help you”, as she turned on her heel and followed me out. Somehow, the two of us wrangled him into the wheelchair.
Then began a long night of x-rays, examinations, scans and waiting… lots of waiting. At one point during the wait, I was astonished when a woman about my age, carrying a clipboard, entered the cubicle we were in. She announced that she had come to collect the one hundred and fifty dollar emergency room deductible on our health insurance. This was possibly the rudest thing I had ever experienced. Here we were, in the middle of a crisis, my husband obviously in pain, I'm distraught, and they want the money now. I was beyond irritated, but the woman’s kind demeanor and obvious empathy for our situation quickly softened my attitude. She was only doing her job, after all. As I wrote out the check, she talked about her children and asked about ours. Her gentle smile and soft spoken words were a comfort to me. She left after telling me that she would pray for a good outcome for my husband.
After many hours, a doctor came in and announced that Mac would be admitted to the hospital. His pelvis was fractured in four places, front and back. Unfortunately, since it was Friday, a orthopedist would not be able to see him until Monday at the earliest, but at this point, they expected Mac would be hospitalized for probably six weeks. Physical therapy would be required after that, of course.
Thus began the lost spring of 2008. The rest to follow...