Friday, April 30, 2004

So, let's cut to the chase me droogies. Yes, I am alive.

On Monday April 26th I was travelling north on Texas 281 from Boerne, driving my 1997 Nissan Altima GXE. Monday evening I was to get together with Fedaykin and Rentz in Dallas. I left Boerne about 9:00, later stopping in Marble Falls for a bite to eat. Later, 2:00pm, I stopped at a picnic area outside of Hamilton for some munchies and then travelled further north. So there I was driving 70 mph down 281, a scenic two-lane highway in Texas hill country. (Yes, many Texas two-lane highways have a speed limit of 70, something you don't see in California.)

If I recall correctly there was a car a few hundred yards ahead of me also travelling north. It passed a white Pontiac that was slowing down. As I approached the Pontiac, it had stopped to turn into a driveway. Being a cautious driver I slowed a bit. 65mph? Suddenly the Pontiac started pulling in front of me, no less than five or six car lengths ahead. I slammed on the brakes and yelled knowing that I would hit. I think I swerved a bit. (ABS help!) There was no time for a full swerve off the road. Just before impact I closed my eyes.

When I opened my eyes I was still yelling, and gasping. (I did not blackout.) The airbags had deployed and airbag smoke was in the air. Looking around I realized that there was something wrong with my right knee and my left hand. Also my nose stung. Broken? I was able to roll down the window to let out the airbag smoke. People stopped and helped out in no time. I yelled out to call 911 and got a response that they had been called already. At first a man was there asking me about my condition. I asked about my nose... there was some blood. (Airbag wacked my nose but didn't break.) He said that I had good color... I was a bit disoriented, but not in major shock.

A lady then came and spoke with me, asking were I was going and other basic questions, and gave me some sips of coke. Somebody else got my wallet and cellphone from the passenger footwell, since everything had slid from the passenger seat upon impact, and I put it in my shirt pocket. (On long drives it's more comfortable to have empty pockets.) Texans are great people in my book!

I heard that the other driver was an older lady (70+... 83 as it turns out). She had broken her left arm, no doubt due to hitting the driver side door upon impact. My car hit the front passenger side when she turned in front of me.

While waiting for EMS I noticed the place under my dash where my knee hit... I broke the plastic and my knee in the process. My other knee didn't suffer the same fate, since it was my right leg that slammed on the brakes. (A break due to braking.) My hood was crumpled and a long horizontal crack was at the base of the windshield. Various plastic bits from the shift lever had come loose on impact. I never got a look at the Altima's front end, nor the back seat. My car was facing to the east, perpendicular to the road and onto the shoulder. Her car was some 25 feet to my left in a similar position, maybe pointing north and east.

The fire department and ambulance came pretty fast. An EMT (Diane) checked me out and placed a neck brace on me. Amazingly the doors opened without problems. Power was still on in the car, which is why I was able to roll down the window. Though we couldn't remove the key due to steering wheel lock. *Ding-ding! Ding-ding!* A few people, including a fireman in the passenger seat, carefully removed me on to a back board and then stretcher and into the ambulance. Ouch the knee! In the ambulance the EMTs did all the usual stuff (IV, vitals), wrapped my hand, and splinted my leg.

They delivered me to Hamilton General. Over time they took full body X-rays, CAT scanned for internal injuries, and more IVs. This took forever! For much of this time Diane, the EMT, stayed with me. The nurses asked a bunch of questions: name, age, address, medical things.

A state trooper came to get my story, leaving his card. I heard him talk to the lady in the Pontiac, who was also in the ER. Though the trooper did not ask her what happened. (She wasn't very lucid.) She was later air-lifted to another hospital due to her age and condition. At some point the trooper asked somebody if she had her seatbelt on. (More on that later.)

No broken neck, spine, nor internal injuries. Good! Finally the neck brace and back board were removed. Fricken uncomfortable they were. Fracture in the left hand and chip/fracture in the left wrist. Broken right kneecap, split horizontally in two. Through out this time I was lucid, just in pain. I never went into shock.

Hamilton General being a small hospital couldn't do anything about the knee, so they transferred me to Hillcrest Hospital in Waco. Finally they called my father and told him what was up. I spoke with him for a bit. I told him about the accident, the transfer, and operation. More than likely he wouldn't get to Waco until after my operation, 4 hours. His wife Catherine and my mother Jean, who was visiting Texas, would of course be coming. I was with them the previous four days.

The transfer to Waco was with Diane the EMT. I chatted with her the whole way. An hour later I was brought into Hillcrest. At Hillcrest they asked more questions... okay, the same questions. They took even more X-rays since Hamilton didn't send all of them (body, neck, spine). And CAT scans of wrist and knee since X-rays couldn't fully resolve details. Oh yeah, they finally gave me some meds to take off the edge of pain.

With the on-call orthopedic surgeon, Doctor Boeham, we discussed options. One option was to send me to KC and have my knee operated on there. I opted to get it done ASAP. Let's start healing! So they put me under and I woke up seemingly minutes later... a "cast" on the hand and a "cast" on the leg with an incision on the kneecap and wires wiring it all together plus some bone bits removed. (Cast = ace bandage, splint for the hand, vecro immobilizer for the leg.)

I remember little of Tuesday morning due to aesthetic. I stayed all of Tuesday in the hospital. My father went to Hamilton to get my stuff from the car.

I was released on Wednesday. A rental car was loaded up with my stuff from my Nissan and I was wedged in with my immobile leg. Wednesday night my mom and I made it to Denton.

Thursday we made it to KC (9am-5:30pm). Thursday night was in my own bed and my mom on a sleeping mat in the living room.

So here it is Friday and I'm online and able to move around with a walker. No bending of my right knee though I can put weight on the leg. Only a few fingers and thumb available on the left hand.

Well I need to see a KC orthopedic Doctor next Wednesday to remove the sutures/staples from my knee. Daily changing of bandages on knee. In 6 weeks I'll probably have the casts off. My mom will probably stay for two weeks or so. Work with lady's insurance company on paying for a new car and medical.

Oh yes, my guess on the old lady in the Pontiac? She slowed down and stopped heading south on 281 across from her driveway. Having seen a car go by she didn't look for on coming traffic or looked too far down the freeway. Texas 281 just beyond Hamilton isn't a very busy road. She unfastened her seatbelt since she had to open her gate. In her usual habit mode after unfastening her seatbelt, she turned into her short driveway to the gate. There was very little I could do except to swerve a tad bit and slam on the breaks.

I would like to thank:
* Airbags, seatbelts, crumple zones, and ABS.
* Well made digital cameras, cellphones, and laptops... none of which broke.
* Cellphones and 911.
* All the good Samaritans who stopped to help.
* The EMTs in Hamilton.
* The nurses and doctors at Hamilton General.
* The nurses and doctors at Hillcrest in Waco, especially Doctor Darren Boeham the orthopedic surgeon.
* Everybody who called me on Tuesday in the hospital. (Sister Kim, Stoichic, Retina, and O'Reilly-ites.)
* Oh yes, and Todd the occupational therapist.
* Charlie, the Progressive rep in TX.
* My Ampedout friends for sending a card, balloons and flowers; and for their concern and well wishes.
* Strangers who helped me up stairs in Denton.
* Megan my friendly neighbor.

* Stoichic for getting the word out.
* My dad for coming to Waco and greasing the wheels and running around.
* And finally my mother for using her retirement and vacation time to help her son out in Texas and KC.

No comments: