Accident Diary - life changed dramatically September 29th, 2017 (Slideshow at the bottom)

Friday 9/29 – Drove Lyft, on and off, all day. Love this job. Between helping people and some great conversations, it’s seldom dull. Biggest issue is finding time to pee! Anyway, I picked up Diana about 745p from her girls crafting night. Headed home and, just a mile from the house, we round a curve and BAM! our life changes in a split second. We spin about 270 degrees and stop on the opposite side of the road about a foot from the edge of a fifteen foot drop to grade. Our attacker continued much further and flew down, onto the tracks. Our Prius’ airbags and seat belts did their job but will never again. Nor will it do anything else, on its own, again. Diana stays conscious, thank-whoever-was-in-charge-that-day, and I check there is no obvious blood draining from her body. I stand out the door and view the scene. I see the Prius, front half crunched in, has obviously seen its last hurrah (but did its job to specs). I can also see the roof of a SUV sitting below me on the RR tracks. Several men rush down the hill with a fire extinguisher. I never see fire, or it being used, as I return to my seat because my back, neck and knee are beginning to realize the adrenaline is withdrawing.

Diana is not very aware of her situation. Dazed, maybe a concussion, we talk – waiting for the EMTs. Diana asks, “Where are we?"

I answer, “Just north of Jtown“.

“OK”, she answers. In a minute she asks, “Where are we“?

I answer, “County road seventeen and fifty”.

“OK”. A few seconds pass and Diana asks, “Where are we?“

I answer, “In the car”. This is repeated many more times for, probably, fifteen minutes.

Bright, flashing lights begin to appear. An extremely efficient, professional group of EMTs appear, too. EMT Clair gave off an air of confidence that helped both Diana and I not freak out, at least to the level we were ready to. Angel on earth, she is. We both are now feeling pains that could be in the spine so on go the neck braces. Man, those cut into the skin! We didn’t notice for a few hours as other pains possess us. I could take a step out as they supported me to the board. Amazing, really, as I think I out massed them both, together. Diana wasn’t so easy. Again, the rescue team excelled. Using a soft cloth from our car, they reached in through the partially gapped door and covered her face and hair with it as the Jaws-of-Life (or some such device) pry the door open wide enough to get Diana through. The process shatters the window, pieces nearly everywhere including in the eye of a Trooper standing on the OPPOSITE side of the car. A quick wash did seem to clear it away, fortunately.

The door gap wasn't so wide that they could carry her out completely. They pulled her through and up but her left leg was useless and the broken rips and sternum produced screams “to high heaven” as they pull her through the gap and onto her own board. Gotta add, hearing my wife expelling such wails (and expletives) is not helpful to my “mind-space”. I trusted our Angel. She gave-off confidence in her ability to do minimal harm, while providing maximum help, that I only sobbed quietly while I was loaded next to m’Bebe already in the ambulance. The ride to Medical Center of the Rockies (MCR) was long but we were away from scene, in good hands, and pain, while extreme, didn’t feel life threatening. The driver had to stop for a while so an EMT could get a line in my arm. Eventually it happened and I’d be nursing the three inch bruise it produced if I didn’t have so many other, much greater, pains to distract me. Adding insult to injury, it was never used.

In the ER it was a tale of two tragedies. We were in separate rooms. Understandable. We both were x-ray’d most everywhere and then CT scanned head to nearly toes because of the back pain we both felt. Diana had three cracked ribs and a cracked sternum but no other bone or head injuries identified. Noel, too, was apparently clear from head or spine injuries but has a left tibia crack and divot at the top (knee) end. A two-inch gash on the right shin and the four-inch-wide seat belt bruise seemed at least as painful as the knee. Both were untreated which still seems odd. No dressing for the shin; no cold pack for the bruising on the stomach or other bruises that were forming. No discussion of these spots either except to ask if I’d had a recent tetanus shot (I had). I attributed the lack of attention to a busy night but still can’t forgive when, after lying in the room for several hours, I was asked, “Is your ride here yet?”. I was flabbergasted! This was the first indication I was leaving soon, or at all. It was nearly midnight, my back and neck still killing me; my shin and gut hurt and my knee was the only part addressed or even rightfully discussed. I was flummoxed. I didn’t do anything as a response. My left leg was immobilized, I was given crutches and thirty seconds of instruction and sat in a wheelchair with a script for a pain reliever and instructions to get an orthopedic appointment. Remember, it’s Friday night, late and I obviously can’t drive nor have a car, now, anyway. The hospital pharmacy opens at 9a. I’m pained in about five places and given inadequate time or instruction to cope.

Diana, I’m very happy to report, fared much better. Just five doors away I now slowly, carefully hobbled to her room and promptly vomited. Exhausted from the 30ft crutch challenge and already increasing pains of knee, stomach and shin, the dam broke and not for the last time this night. Concern I’d been released so couldn’t just give me more drugs, a quick-thinking nurse checked the computer and the apparently inept team from my room hadn’t closed me out yet. She got me the anti-nausea pill and all settled for awhile. I collapsed into a provided wheelchair.

Everything there was so much better. Diana was being given a few different drugs, finding one that worked. She was being talked to and questioned about her pains. She shortly later was admitted and the ER people pushed her and I to her room on the fourth floor. That team invited me to stay with her all the way. They helped make that happen.

The Trama floor personnel, where Diana (and I, as a spectator) went were even nicer, if possible. They immediately made up the couch as a bed, for me, and gently as possible transferred Diana to her new home (for the next four days). Diana, even more than most of us, I think, wants to know what’s happening now and what is coming up. The crew regularly kept a board with information of names of nurse on duty, CNAs, various medication times, day and date, room number, attending doctor and sundry items that gave Diana orientation.

Saturday 9/30 – Much of the above took place, technically, on Friday but we did try to sleep so our day started after that. Our plans for today, to say the least, have been compromised. A walk at Chupunga Park, the newest Lego Movie, an evening with friends with Diana crafting…gonna be awhile until any of this is possible again.

Lots of adjusting to the hospital stay. I’m just hanging out on the couch in Diana’s room or in the wheelchair I came up from the ER in. My wonderful son brought things up from home for both Diana and I. Clothes (hers were cut away), my pain & daily meds, phone chargers (I’ve been shutting it off when I can), and MtDew for my caffeine addiction. He’s trying to retrieve things from our crunched car but meeting roadblock after roadblock. I’m too lethargic to care – yet. Harry's been such a help. He's missing a wedding in Springs that his new wife is in to help us. Sad.

Sunday 10/1 – Diana's x-ray this morning is worse. Atelectasis is evident. This is caused by her shallow breathing because of the rib & sternum pain. She has a “blowy thing” (Incentive Spirometer) to help strengthen the lungs & fill out the collapsing parts. This device becomes a constant companion for many weeks. She must, and does, use it regularly but progress is slow. And painful. PT and OT for Diana is good but when her “little brother”, Mark, shows she gets a big workout. She trusts him and she’ll allow herself to be pushed by him unlike the “waifs” that she thinks can’t handle her. Good stuff.

Monday 10/2 – I leave the hospital for the first time this morning for an Orthopedic appointment. New brace is better, marginally, and a CT scan is needed for a better assessment. Surgery probable but I'll resist for a couple months, at least, as I've a wonderful lady that is much worse off than I am and needs my help. It'll be OK someday. Harry shuttles me to the doctor. Such help we'd never have managed without. Diana's shows good progress with her lung issures. Still on O2 but continued Insentive Spirometer and Pickle use is helping with healing.

Tuesday 10/3 – Going home! A complicated day, logistically, but after a couple of trips by Harry and Ali all the "stuff" is transferred and so are Diana and I. Yay, team Hali! Good and scary to be home. Diana is still on 2 liters/hour of O2 and we had to wait for the Oxygen company to come, after 8p, to get her off the portable tank and on to the home unit. Long day and I am afraid it won't be a very restful night. It is a very painful and very long process for either of us to get to the bathroom, especially so because there are no nurses to assist. Getting on and off a toilet with broken knees and Diana with cracked ribs and sternum is beyond intelligible words. Plenty of screams and expletives, though.

Wednesday 10/4 – Brother-in-law Mark’s 50th Bday Surprise Party was tonight. I got him a very cool, gag gift. We, obviously, couldn't go. Sounds like it was roaring good time. Sad.

Thursday 10/5 – Time, as I mentioned, moves so fast - and slow. It takes so long to do anything so before you know it a couple of hours have past. Breakfast prep (so simple) takes forever. And time passes so slowly as I hear, all too often, Diana's whimpers or outright cries of pain that I can't do anything to mitigate. Heart retching and necessary, now, all because of a thoughtless drunk that is, now, a three time DUI loser. I try to ignore "that person" and focus on our needs for recovery but, sometimes, especially when I see Diana's struggles, bitterness wells up. Nearly all will say it's understandable. I know it's not helpful but...

Friday 10/6 – A day of anger, fueled, of course, by pain. Started with a knock on the door and a certified letter to sign for. It was a notification from “Lee’s Towing “, the place the Prius was towed to. On Saturday, my son Harry had called them to clean it out for us. They answered and he was told he'd need a POA to access the car. He diligently found a form and a Notary in the hospital (no simple task!) and headed to the storage yard in Milliken. They were CLOSED! No mention of that when he said he'd be coming just their CYA BS. It seems they take the car, charge $30 a day to store a car we can't access and don't even think it's important to say so. It gets better. After receiving the letter today I called to discuss the situation. First, I'm told the letter was sent, “because it is required by the state”. Next, I'm told I could disregard the letter, it is just required to be sent. This surprised me so I moved forward with why that was so. The lady said the insurance would take care of the charges. I described, in detail now, about the accident, how my wife and I are incapacitated and I don't understand how they'd have the responsible party's insurance info but if so could they share it with me (my heart skipped a beat – we couldn't find this insurance information). She then gives me my insurance info. Obviously not useful and not the responsible person's insurance information. I proceed to ask how to settle this, now, with them. This lady seems befuddled at this point and a lady, identifying herself as “the owner “ takes the phone. She pretends, at least, to have no idea what had transpired so far so I start at the beginning and explain about not being able to gain access last weekend, how the accident happened and about the drunk driver that is responsible for it all. I acknowledge they have expenses and offer to mail my title to them. She says she'd settle for some specific amount around $350 and the title. I reiterate our problems, not least of all financial, and I offer $100 and the title to end this. She answers, “You can keep your f**king hundred and we'll see you in court”, and slams the phone down in my ear - thus my day begins.

I have a similarly frustrating conversation with my insurance company about paying the towing bill. I'd filled out a claim, on-line, which is great, with all the info I knew. I later receive a phone call wanting me to reiterate everything I put on the form, item by item. I refused and told them to read it and then call me with any specific questions remaining and hung up. Jeez!

The day did end well as three angels stopped in with food for the week and whisked the laundry away. They cleaned the kitchen, did dishes, vacuumed and, amazingly, put away the pile of stuff from the Prius that had taken over our couch and dining room. So much help!

Saturday 10/7 – One of the first Facebook items I see today is a “Live Feed” at the morning launch at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We have motel reservations for there tonight and for next Saturday. Canceled just in time to not be charged. I won’t discuss, just now, the disappointment.

Demolition Derby at Island Grove this afternoon. Gave those tickets to a friend. I hope they enjoy it. “Sigh”.

Shower seat arrived today from Amazon Prime. Reacher, too (yay!). Now gotta ask someone to assemble it. I could – almost, I think, but if I fail it could be painful. Sucks to NEED SO MUCH HELP. Not in my personality… It's interesting how relatively quickly time passes. Pains make everything take so much longer. Plus exhausting just doing simple tasks and exercises given us by PT. Lots of sleep, too. 12 hours a day, or more, total. Just wasting my life away.

Tonight my son, Harry, and his wonderful wife, Ali are going to “The Great American Beer Festival” in Denver. I think it would be great to go, too, but the thought of seeing people that I fear might go out and drive when they shouldn’t is devistating. This feeling may wain with time but, for now, I won’t put myself in a place that this image floods my thoughts. I trust my son to be careful and try to never nag him to, “be careful”. Tonight I had to reiterate to him, several times, to, “be careful with his alcohol”. Sad.

On the bright side (dim, narrow, Tea candle, almost out flame), I finally got to discuss my towing claim with my insurance company. This was largely in hopes of collecting from my Towing Endorsement on the Prius for the tow to Lee’s Towing and Asshats. We’ll see on that BUT I was advised they will check state databases, via VIN and plate number, for auto insurance on the vehicle that crashed us. Hopeful.

Full disclosure, an earlier call from the insurance company was a source of my Saturday angst. I'd filed the claim on line and after a minute or so into the conversation I asked, “What is the purpose of this call”? The answer was, essentially, to read to me the entries I’d entered the day before. I went ballistic. I CANNOT STAND this kind of redundancy. I filled out the form completely. If you detect omissions or ambiguity, ask about that but don’t do your job with me on the line!

Sunday 10/8 – Quieter day expected. No visits expected. Broncos are on their Bye week. Naps, of course, as sleeping is the best release from pain – until it isn’t. “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” and “Ask Me Another One” are over so multiple renditions of “Chicken Attack” on YouTube are about all that remains to lighten the day.

Monday 10/9 – Harry again to the rescue! We'd placed an order at Walmart, using their phone app, that he picked up for us on the way to get me. (A great service at Walmart - load into the car and everything.) He brings it all in and I can, slowly, help put the cold stuff away. We have a few minutes so he attends to my "Harry-do" list. Improve the shower chair stability; fix a cabinet door; a loose carpet edge in the kitchen. Then off to my CT scan in Greeley. His new truck is fantastic but a bit of a challenge to get into for a gimp. It would have been easier if today didn't include the seasons first snow! No simple dusting, either. It gave at least five inches overnight so the running board was wet and muddy. I made it in and out - again slowly - several time without actual incident, if you don't count anxiety. Scan was uneventfully, thankfully, and the next stop is one I've been dreading all weekend. Lee's Towing. I'll simply say it went well, surprisingly (the bitch from the phone call last week wasn't there). They even tried to give the Prius' plates to us but the front one, along with the rest of the front of the car, was missing. Back home to check on my m'Bebe and, I'm happy to report, did fine without my assistance. Now Harry addresses a bigger job at home. Last night it was in the mid twenties and I've been rather distracted the week prior to this cold snap. Harry did all the disconnecting and winterizing I couldn't. Another save! We leave my wonderful wife, again, to pick up a rental car for the plethora of appointments coming this week. Well, OK, we did stop for lunch - the first meal "out", for me, for over a week. I so appreciate the good food we've been given but this tastes like freedom.

Tuesday 10/10 – On our own, it seems. Got a rental car with big front doors. Loading us in with bum knees and oxygen and walkers took over half an hour. Probably good it was sub-freezing as I broke a sweat early in the process. We had back-to-back appointment at 750a with our GP. Our GP, of a decade plus, retired recently so we saw a doctor we'd never seen before. Not the best time to "break-in" a new guy! We were happily surprised as he was attentive to our wide variety of injuries. He dealt with us together and separately. He gave us benchmarks to hope for and treated wounds in a straightforward, confidence building manner. It was as good of an experience as we could have hoped for. Granted out expectations were low and anxiety ridden but I know he is the right doctor for us in a delicate time. We made a Walmart stop (probably a mistake) as it was so exhausting. I got to ride one of their electric carts, though. It's not as fun as it looks. We drove through to mail a letter to the Victim's Assistance group, too. Got handicapped placard ('til Oct/2020 - I promise not to abuse it, unless it's raining...or really cold...or I'm in a hurry...or). Diana's PT in PM. First drive on expressway & Diana screamed when car cut in front (not really all that close, really) - I cried. The things that drunk took away are being remeasured daily, hourly. When we got home we napped for nearly three hours!

Wednesday 10/11 – Diana, nearly two weeks into this "adventure" (stiff upper lip and all, ya'know?) is finally interested in her computer. Somehow the trackball she likes to use has disappeared so we go to her offices and ask a co-worker to bring her's from her office out to us. So many came out to see her. They kinda needed to see she was actually alive, we think. Diana had OT in the afternoon and it was encouraging. Diana really needs to stand & walk (with walker OK) more. Friend Mary picked up our laundry - again. Such a help!

Thursday 10/12 – Today, and starting yesterday somewhat, we feel the light at the end of the tunnel might not be a train lumbering at us. Very tired from X-rays, then PA visit, then more X-rays. I pushed Diana in a wheelchair from hospital to office building and back. My leg is "barking". Friend Judy brings two trays of white lasagna and cleans the kitchen! Wow! Then Diana had PT. No "counting flowers on the wall..." for us - yet.

Friday 10/13 – friggatrisksaidekaphobia? As good of an excuse as any. One suckin' day! Yesterday was, finally, looking up. Last night and into today is miserable. Legs back to pain levels of 10-12 days ago. Vicodin not touching it. Lack of sleep certainly isn't either.

Another great visit from Beth and Hayley! More wonderful food, kitchen cleanup and vacuuming (until the belt broke...And Hayley, of course, took it along to fix it. Wow! Just wow!) Hayley brought Diana's recent tie-dyed projects over - all washed out and dried. That's another project we just couldn't get finished. They look fantastic, too. We could get used to these Friday night delights (lol).

Saturday 10/14 – We slept over 11 hours last night without much restlessness. I expect a nap today, too. This pain stuff sure knocks one for a loop. So very thankful that our refrigerator is full and that the microwave works just fine. Here's to great friends and family that have kept us as comfortable as possible, under the circumstances! Diana has started to do some crafting for the first time since THAT night. That does both are hearts good to see this desire returning. This, too, was the first day we saw no one except each other.

Sunday 10/15 – Shower Day! So much work we just can't do it often. We don't smell each others stink so the rest of you will have to suck it up! Sorry.

Monday 10/16 – Most of this won't make sense; I apologize in advance. We both, concurrently, saw our Orthopedic Surgeon this morning. The bottom line is neither of will need surgery soon. I'd dreamed this would be a day of good news (and I'm hoping for even more). People often say to us, "You're lucky you're not dead". It's hard to feel lucky with regards to our present circumstances. It sucks and not an iota of fault is ours. I say that to say this: "Today I feel lucky". Relieved is perhaps a better description but, today only, I'm going with lucky!

As to the nonsense? Well, someday, not many years off I'll need a knee replacement. We know it'll be at least three more months until Diana's ribs and sternum will heal. It'll be as long for her knee to work well and probably another month until she graduates from walker to cane. A month more will pass before we know if her "on fire" leg will reduce it's pain or further testing is needed. I can walk, in a straight line (twisting is problematic), without an aid. It makes no sense to celebrate but these goals now seem real and achievable. That's all the luck I have.

Tuesday 10/17 – Today's chore is cathartic and gut retching. The District Attorney's office, that will be prosecuting the criminal that changed our life, has sent each of us a form to advise them of our losses (financial and otherwise) and our wishes for her sentencing. I'll probably muse over this the next several days as putting feelings and desires into words, for and about strangers, requires a great deal of thought. My response will be simple when compared to Diana's, I think. This doesn't need to be in for many days but, I think, I feel that the sooner I get these done the better the outcome and sooner it'll be behind us. I'm generally a patient sort but this mess is pushing my limits.

Physical therapy again today for Diana. She is doing the work and her knee and general stability is getting better little by little. Her leg/nerve pain is getting worse, though. An occasional pain spike makes it even worse than the somewhat lower, yet constant, pain in her upper right thigh. There is nothing but time for this. The hope is as the inflammation continues to wain the pressure on the nerve, and therefore the pain, will disappear. Time...time. So frustrating for me to just sit and watch, helpless. It is so hard to judge when she'll be able to get out and about or, especially, back to work. We discovered today that paperwork from the doctor "certifying" her time off is lost. I sit in the middle of three possible places that messed this up. Doctor, Weld HR or Sunlife (the processing company for FMLA). We've a few days to sort it out before the error becomes "sticky". It's just another step that adds stress to the recovery process. I try to insulate Diana from these issues but, alas, I don't always remember or otherwise succeed. (Sigh)

Wednesday 10/18 – I worked outside today! Been beautiful weather so I WALKED around (with leg brace) and moved some things around to make a path for a clothes washer we will get in a few days (this one broke a few days before THAT day). Nice to be useful, somewhat, again. Diana had her last OT visit that included a looonnnnggg walk. O2 didn't plummet, either, so looking up (but still feels like so little progress).

Thursday 10/19 – Last night (early this morning, actually) we both got another scare. We set an alarm for spacing the pain relievers and one is at one AM. Diana nearly always shuffles (via walker, of course) to the bathroom during this interruption and I lie awake listening for her to come and go. I didn't stay awake, apparently, and when I woke with a start about fifteen minutes later I ran to the bathroom and she was gone! I checked rooms along the way - nothing. I come back to the bedside to get my phone...she's in bed asleep. A minor heart attack in the making, of my own making, really. However, I learn later that she did, in fact have her own problem during that bathroom trip. She's getting enough better that she moved too fast and fell, or partially so, along the hallway. She recovered but probably set back the knee's recovery a few days. I'll be more diligent - I promise.

More wonderful people stopped by today, of course. PT Gresilda (no, not of SAO) that pushes Diana to walk outside. We discussed various cane styles, too. Diana isn't ready for that leap, yet, but may be in a week or two. Gotta try to keep ahead of these things to keep costs down and recovery up. Mary, the sweetest lady ever and a co-worker of Diana's when she worked in Windsor, dropped in after work and picked up a weeks worth of laundry - now for the third time - and will have it back, folded and such, in just a couple of days. So much help! It's nearly unbelievable. So many people doing so many wonderful things for us that is surely aiding our recovery.

Friday 10/20 – Horrible night. Haven't been able to sleep even with sleep meds and Vicodin but last night was the worst for awhile. The bruising on both shins is really becoming a "distraction". It doesn't cause weakness, per se, but is soooooo tiring to walk much. Diana and I have been side-by-side, literarily, and nearly continuously, for three weeks today. We were separated on the ride home from the hospital for a couple hours (because we couldn't both fit in the car together with legs extended) and I've gone to the mail box while she is attended by her Physical Therapist. All this togetherness has not gotten on our nerves except for just a couple minor misunderstandings. I think this is remarkable (and wonderfully reinforcing).

The morning brought a wonderful surprise, however. We didn't know, until an incoming email from our wonderful friend, Mary, that she'd dropped our laundry off to our porch earlier that morning! She'd just picked it up last evening. So amazing...

It's really not fair that the colorful bruises we both had have almost disappeared. That is, the color has; the pain associated with them, however, lingers on. I prefer the "badge of horror" while experiencing the effect. Two of "Angels" stopped in with MORE FOOD! Yum! Also, they loaded the dishwasher for me and vacuumed the carpets (and they'd brought the repaired vacuum cleaner -Wow!) I can do these things, probably, but it still takes forever and the knee and lower legs do respond negatively to the activity.

Saturday 10/21 – Slept better, the both of us. Not straight through but with interruption therefore we got about eight hours in while lying in bed for twelve. Noon time constitutional for the mail (one package - Whee!) and then a day of napping and TV...and so it goes (-K. Vonnegut)

"Worrying means you suffer twice"