Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Vicious Cycle

MapGuy has been riding his bike the 26km round trip to and from work lately. He usually starts doing it in Spring when the weather is fining up and lasts until the scorching Perth summer mornings where we bake at 35 degrees before 8am, and the lure of an airconditioned train becomes too much.

When he leaves work he activates an app called Glypmse, a GPS tracker, that allows me to see where he is. On the bus, on the train, on a cycle path, crossing the park down the road, or about to walk in the front door. It's great because I can do the little dance that is "shit, the house looks horrible let's hide some crap before Dad gets home". Or start dinner. Or count down the metres until there is an adult to talk to or handball children to. Whatever works on the day.

A few weeks ago mid way through his ride it stopped working and I was quietly freaking out that he'd had a crash. As is the way, as soon as I shared my worry with a friend, he rode up the driveway making me look like I was a bit of a dick. But I do worry when he's riding because have you seen Perth drivers? Shocking stuff. No one knows how to merge, use roundabouts or watch for cyclists (or motorcyclists). It's one of my biggest fears and the morbid movie reel that is my mind has played me a few scenarios that would easily slot in to the plot line of Grey's Anatomy.

Yesterday MG sent me the Glympse as usual as I was figuring out what to cook for dinner. Tricky was playing cars in his room and Bobbin was on the couch "reading" Room on the Broom (for the millionth time). Then my phone rang and MG's smiling face flashed up on the screen.

"Yellooooo" I said.

No one replied and I could hear traffic noises so I thought he'd somehow butt dialed me.

"Hello?" I asked again to be sure.

"Hi, my name's Richard, I'm here with your husband, he's come off his bike. He's OK, he's awake now, but he's bleeding a lot and an ambulance is coming. We're at the corner of [gigantic road] and [major road], do you know where that is?". Of course I did, I had the app, showing me he was not moving at the intersection. My stomach lurched.

Richard, who neither of us had met before, was a good man to have around in an emergency. He and his wife/partner/female person in the car whose name I've forgotten, had seen MG come off (the front wheel fell off as he came down a kerb) and pulled over to help, then used his phone to contact me.

I took the kids straight to my neighbours house, much to their delight, and as they got out of the car (yeah, I drove two doors down - I thought it was quicker than walking them down and running back) she asked if they'd eaten. No. She took them by the hand, told me she'd make them dinner, bath them and put them in her kids PJs. What a legend. I pulled out and headed to the scene, absolutely petrified about what I'd see when I got there.

I arrived at the same time as the ambulance and couldn't see MG, but I could see his bike in two pieces. Richard and the woman (I can't believe I forgot her name!) came straight up to me and took me to the sign he was sitting next to. There was blood pouring out of his mouth and he had bloodied knees and a few scrapes on his arms. Next to him was his helmet with big crack in it, the plastic pushed in to the underlying foam. That could have been his skull. Dear lord, that could have been his skull!

The ambos were looking him over and I got the first look at his mouth. Teeth going in every direction, some half missing. Another man who had stopped, Jeff, started looking for MG's teeth on the road, but we were told not to bother because they'd been broken off, not come out whole. At this point I found out that MG had hit the back of Jeff's car as he went over the handlebars.

While I was sitting with MG, Richard and the woman (her name started with a vowel, dammit!) loaded up the broken bike in to the back of the car, which took quite a bit of manoeuvring because I had a leaf blower and a pram in there. They came back and stayed with me until they were sure I was OK, letting me know that they thought he'd briefly lost consciousness - so important to know! Such lovely people.

At some point as MG sat on the grass, he was bitten on the leg by a bug. Because smashing your face in to the ground isn't enough for this family. You have to hit a car and get bitten, too. Go hard or go home.

MG went off in the ambulance and Jeff made sure I was OK and told me not to worry about the damage to his car - but we swapped business cards anyway (and a lovely email checking up on MG was in my inbox the next morning). I dropped the bike home, grabbed Tricky's ventolin and some spare clothes and dropped them at the neighbour's house, then drove to the hospital. On the way I called my parents to pick up the kids for a sleep over, and MG's sister, Kitty. She works with people with brain injuries so it was a double whammy of letting his family know and getting some advice with what to ask the hospital.

At the hospital, they wouldn't let me see him. He'd been placed in 'fast track' which is for people who aren't badly hurt and will be shoved out the door soon, and they don't like visitors back there. That seemed like a good sign, but I was concerned they didn't know he'd been knocked out.

Kitty arrived to keep me company and we were finally allowed through, about an hour after he'd arrived. He was holding a spew bag to catch all the blood that was still coming from his mouth. When the doctor came in he said he'd stitch him up and he could go because the xray showed no fracture of the jaw.

I told the doctor that MG had been knocked out and sure enough, they weren't aware. Because of course MG can't remember it. I was really concerned though that they would have just sent him away after an hour when he's had a bike crash and hit his head. A bruise was forming over his entire forehead as we stood by, so it was obvious he'd hit hard, plus his helmet really showed the force of the hit. I looked back at Kitty and she gave me the universal "you said the right thing" micro nod.

He was transferred to the main emergency department and had neurological obs taken every hour which made me feel so much better. He remained alert, so with each set of obs they became less and less concerned about a possible bleed in his brain and the need for a CT.

The game plan changed a few times as the night progressed. For a while the maxillofacial surgeons were going take a look at him under general anaesthetic, but then they decided that a dentist would be the better option.

But he had to be stitched up before anything else happened. He had a chunk of skin hanging from his chin, part of his top lip hanging off, and the inside of his bottom lip was deeply lacerated from the top all the way to the gum.

The main doctor numbed him up and started suturing his chin. I'm so in to gory stuff - I watch real life medical shows, autopsy shows, and always watch any procedure I have done. I'm fascinated by it and have never felt squeamish... until then.

I was holding MG's hand, trying to be the loving, supportive wife and the room started to go black. I couldn't hear and vomit was rising up in my throat. I turned to Kitty... "I'm going to faint" and I stepped to the bottom of the bed and sat down. On the filthy floor. I was helped in to a chair and told to put my head between my legs, then proceeded to throw my guts up in to a bag. Niiiice.

The other doctor, Dr Anthony - awesome guy - sutured up the rest of MG's face while I sat just outside his cubicle drinking sugar water and being told I looked green. I was listening in to some of it, hearing the doc say how it was an impressive injury and that MG was doing well.

I rejoined the bedside party after all the gory stuff was over and was so disappointed I had to miss it. The mouth wound was epic and I only got to see it once. Boo. It's all about me, obviously.

Kitty and I had been cracking awful jokes the whole time, because joking about inappropriate things at inappropriate times is a talent we both possess. It reached a new low when, almost crying with laughter, we high fived after a particularly hilarious tooth fairy gag over him as he lay, still bleeding, in the bed. Ahhh, stress does great things. Nothing was safe - grills, Harrison Ford scars, Indiana Jones whips, Smashmouth, and even "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth". We are terrible, terrible people, and will no doubt go to hell.

Some morphine, a failed albeit valiant attempt at a splint made from a scalpel packet, and some paperwork later, MG was discharged with instructions to see the dentist the next day.

He got an emergency appointment in the city and the dentist was a bit excited he got to do something cool instead of just a boring old filling. The xrays showed that four teeth were smashed - two could be built up, one was exposing the nerve and needed a root canal started, and the other was too damaged will have to be extracted once the area heals a little.

For now he has had two teeth capped, one temporarily capped, and one of his front teeth just smoothed off at half height, and they're braced together for support. He never had braces as a teen because he had perfectly straight teeth - but now he has them to stop the bastards falling out.

He says it wasn't too painful, that his mouth is still quite numb, but when the dentist had to lean on the stitches and use a bit of oomph, you could see it was agony.

Because I'm horrible, I went and bought MG a really inappropriate present while the main drilling bits were being done. I presented it to him saying it was the only bike he was allowed to ride from now on.

His teeth won't be fully fixed until next year, likely February, because of all the time needed for the bone to re grow around the roots where they have shifted, and for some stability to hopefully return. If it doesn't, he'll have two implants instead of one.

He's swollen. He can't eat anything but puree for a while, and looks exactly how you'd expect someone to look when they stop a fall with their face. But we don't care. He doesn't have a brain injury, he doesn't have two broken arms, he doesn't have a broken neck. He's alive. A smashed up mouth is nothing compared to the what ifs that have been running through our heads.

Now to prepare for the pain of the dental bills.

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