I so often see families out riding bikes together, the kids in their helmets that are required by law here, and the parents cruising along helmetless. I don't understand that. Why are your children's brains more valuable than your own? Asphalt and cement can crack any skull, not just those of children. Who will take care of your children if you crash without a helmet? Wear a helmet. This is the helmet that is allowing my husband to be here at home doped up on pain meds rather than lying in an ICU or morgue somewhere. Wear a helmet.
Our shitastical day started yesterday just before noon. My friend was walking down the hall toward my office, so we could go have lunch. My phone rang. I answered it and heard something along the lines of this, "Ann, this is Jon. J.C. and I were out riding, and he lost control of his bike. He was unconscious for a while, but he is awake now. The ambulance is here. He doesn't know where he is or what happened, and I think he may have shattered his cheekbone, and wah wah wah wah wah wah." His voice turned into the Charlie Brown teacher. I don't even know what else he said to me. I yelled, "WHERE ARE YOU?" I half heard the directions and ran out of my office. I ran through the lobby of my building and out the door. I knew my car was parked a million miles away, and time felt so critical. I saw a car pull up, likely someone picking up a friend from my building for lunch. As the guy waiting opened the door to get in, I ran over and said, "Can you give me a ride to my car? My husband was in an accident, and I need to get to my car." I don't think I gave them a chance to answer before I jumped in the back seat and gave them directions to where I was parked. And no, I have no idea who these men were who I just carjacked. I got to my car, thanked the kind strangers, raced off campus, and then couldn't remember if he had said "turn left, then right" or "right, then left". I opted for left and then noticed another of his biking buddies at the intersection that would have been "right, then left". He was stationed there waiting for me. It felt like an eternity to make a U-turn. I got to him and just pointed ahead like, "That's where I'm supposed to go?" He somberly nodded yes. I drove along the unfamiliar road, wondering if I was supposed to turn off somewhere, hoping I would find them. When I came upon two fire trucks and ambulance at the scene, it wasn't hard to know I had found them.
As I got out of my car, one EMT and Jon walked toward me to intercept me before I got to the ambulance. They warned me that there was a lot of blood but that the EMT's were cleaning him up. They told me he was talking and joking but was still disoriented and asking the same questions over and over. His face was a bloody mess (literally a bloody mess... not using "bloody" like Brit slang), but he said, "Hi Hon... so I guess this is really happening, huh?" His biking buddies said they would drive my car to the hospital, so I could ride in the ambulance with him. I was thankful to not have to drive any more. My legs were pretty shakey.
The ER visit was a blur of wondering whether he had broken his cheekbone, eye socket, and/or jaw, his neck in a neck brace, waiting for pain meds and the results of CT scans of the head and neck, lots of spitting blood out of his mouth, x-rays of the face, shoulder, and elbow, stitches in the arm and eye lid, and a whole lot of time spent getting wounds cleaned. I sat there nauseous and shell-shocked. It was hard to look at him. Actually, it still is.
When he went for x-rays, I went to the cafeteria to get some lunch. I was hoping food would help settle my stomach. Also, I knew I needed to call his parents, so I had to catch my breath to get my head wrapped around that. I ate some pizza and then made the phone call. I had gotten his dad's cell phone number because I knew I would have an easier time talking to his dad than his mom. I'm a mom. I knew I couldn't talk to the mom. In my head, the phone call was going to go something like this, "Hi John. J.C. is OK, but he had a bike accident, and we're at the hospital. He has a concussion, but he is awake and alert and talking. He landed on his face, but they are cleaning it up now." There was no way to give the news without worrying them, but my goal was to minimize the worry. Instead, the phone call went something like this, "John... <sniff, sniff>, It's... uh... J.C.... <sob, sob> we're in the ER. It's his face. He has a concussion. It was a bike wreck. <choke, choke, sob, sob>." So much for not making them worry. He got the general gist which was, "Get here now" and asked which hospital. I hung up and realized I should warn them about his face. I called back and said, "Please warn his mom that his face looks really awful. She needs to know that before she sees him." Then, I hung up and realized that I was pretty sure I never even told them he was conscious. I texted them this, "Sorry so choked up on the phone. He is awake and talking. Was disoriented at first but seems on track now. He is going to be totally fine... Just quite injured but no major head injury or anything like that."
I really should not be the communicator during traumatic times. My hands were trembling so much when we first got there that I could hardly type on my phone. My email to my boss and JC's boss to tell them we would be out the rest of the afternoon was this: "At hospital w jc. Bad bike wreck. Concussion... Face mangled." Nice. I'm sure they loved receiving that one. The one to my mom was no better. It had the subject line "Please get kids" with this text, "Nina bus. Addie any time. At hospital with jc. Bad bike wreck concussion maybe shattered cheek bone. Maybe jaw issues. Can't talk now."
Be glad if you aren't on the receiving end of my emails during a crisis.
He was discharged around 3:30 with stitches, lots of gauze and tegaderm all over his right side, and instructions about concussions, but no broken bones. He has all his teeth as well. After dropping off prescriptions, we were able to get home in time to meet Nina at the bus stop. We knew Nina was going to be the one to have the hardest time with the news, and she was the one I had to tell first. She was a wreck. She has been crying anytime someone mentions him or something reminds her of him. It is tough. She is a sensitive soul. Then she and I went to pick up Addie and told her the news. The girls didn't want to see him, but I felt like they needed to. They needed to know he was basically OK. He held a towel up over the right side of his face to talk to them. They both burst into tears again. Addie said she never wanted to look at him again.
Yesterday was truly awful. Neither of us slept much last night, but today has been better. The pain meds are managing his pain well, so he is up and moving around. Nina and Elise are both having fun on Girl Scout trips, so they haven't had to see how much additional swelling he has today.
Addison has been bombarding me with questions... "Where is the shirt that the ambulance people cut off of him?", "Was daddy having fun when he was flying through the air but then not fun when he landed on his face?", "Why did daddy sit up in the ambulance? When you are in an ambulance, you are supposed to lie down." She has that awesome curiosity that only 3-5 year olds have. Sadly, any time she asked one of these questions, Nina would start crying again.
Although JC has no memory of the accident, we have pieced together what happened. He was coming fast down a hill on a neighborhood street. He planned to bunny hop the curb at the end of the street to get on the greenway. He pulled the bike up too soon though, and his back wheel hit the curb hard and fast. The back wheel bounced off the curb and sent him flying through the air. He landed on the greenway face first and slid along the asphalt about 20 feet. He was unconscious when his friend got to him and bleeding profusely. Jon immediately called 911 but didn't know what street they were on. He ran to a house and banged on the door to find out the name of the street. While he was there, JC woke up, started moaning, and sat up. By the time I got there, he was already in the ambulance, so I didn't see the pool of blood on the greenway. Apparently after we left, the fire men used their hazmat equipment to clean it up.
I really have not recovered yet. I'm not sure when I will. I still feel traumatized by the whole thing. JC seems to be handling the emotional side of this better than I am, and the pain meds are effective in managing his pain. He is doing OK. I am not. I'll get there, but this really shook me to the core.
I have not shared any photos in the post because if you are squeamish or sensitive, you may not want to see them. I have a hard time looking at them, but I'm his wife. I will post some after the jump though for those who would like to see them.
Final words... wear a helmet. Period. Always. On anything with wheels.
Click continue only if you would like to see photos.
J.C. has no memory of this photo being taken, but he found it on his phone. As far as we can tell, it must be a self portrait taken shortly after the crash. The only other guy who could have taken it is in the background of the picture on the phone with 911.
This was taken in the ER shortly after we arrived.
This was when he was discharged, after he had been all cleaned up. This is the best he has looked.
And this gruesome image was from this morning.