Thursday, June 26, 2008

One tough old guy

As requested, an update on my Dad.

I saw him the day of the accident, and the Wednesday he got home from the hospital (6 days later), then I saw him again the following Sunday. Quite the difference between the visits. When he got home, he could walk, if barely. His feet were really swollen, and his knee was very inflated as well. His hands were casted up pretty well by that point, the right hand already in a cast that should last a while, the left hand in a more temporary one, to facilitate removal of stitches when the time comes. He again winds up being fairly lucky, in that he has some mobility in his fingers, even though the breaks are limiting his strength with them for now. For example, he can cradle a cup of coffee, and manipulate the straw into his mouth, but he can't pick up the cup on his own. I felt bad when we saw him on Wednesday: Archer carelessly crashed into his leg; the look of pain on his face injured me. I stayed for a few hours, enough to make sure he was doing alright, and see that he could make it up the stairs, which was hard, but he managed it.

Sunday I brought the whole family down to see him. McGuire had been worried about his grandpa, and I think he was a bit jealous that Archer got to go down there with me and he didn't. Allison got her weekend plans ruined due to my recent inability to schedule anything, but she was a good sport and a good daughter-in-law and came down too. We visited for a pretty short time, mostly just to take my Dad off Joanne's hands for a while and have lunch with him. His mobility was dramatically improved in just a few days. He could walk a lot easier, and it seemed like he had a much better feel for how to deal with having a few weakened fingers instead of two hands. We took him out to the 99, and he was able to feed himself really well. He needed his food cut for him, but I had to have that done for me with only one broken arm. To me, as nice as it was to have a really nice visit, the actual best part was that after Archer had one minor freakout over the seating situation, his behavior was as good as possible, for days! He had been a huge pain all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, but after getting calmed down, he was a little angel until Tuesday night. It was pretty nice while it lasted.

One thing that has always impressed me about my father is that he is so into toys. His motorcycles, his police scanners, his PDAs, his laptops, his satellite radio; he just really likes the new, shiny technology. While so many people from his generation seemed wholly terrified of the battery-operated devils, he is always picking them up, learning how to use them and seeing if they "stick". With his hands so beat up, using the computer will be really hard for him, as would reading or most things needing manual dexterity. So what does he do to combat the boredom? Picks up the new DS package that comes with Guitar Hero On Tour bundled! While he was at the store, he got Mario Kart DS and Brain Age, too. I recommended a few turn-based games that might work better with the casts, but I think Guitar Hero might be the perfect thing for his situation: it has a strap to connect the DS to your hand, and the frets will be great exercise for his fingers, keeping them strong while he heals. I have no idea if he can play Mario Kart with the casts, the game is pretty thumb-intensive on both hands. Either way, I just think it is the coolest thing to have a 60 year old Dad who buys himself a DS! I can't wait to exchange Friend Codes with him and kick his butt at a Mario Kart race.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Near death

What an interesting weekend this Father's Day was... I refer mainly to the Thursday, June 12th when my Dad got into what should have been a fatal motorcycle accident; but there was also the visit to the East Coast by my sister and her family from Colorado. To think that I went into June thinking that seeing my nephews and nieces would be the big excitement...

I guess I should start with Thursday's fun, while it is still mostly fresh in my mind. I was sitting at my desk at work, around 4pm, when I got a double ring on my phone. This indicates an external call, usually Allison; but on this day, it was Joanne. When the first thing someone says is "He's alright, but," you usually know that something bad is coming. She goes on to tell me that my Dad has been in a motorcycle accident, and broken both of his arms. I think I got a few details then, enough to convince me that I didn't need to leave work early, but also enough to convince me that I needed to get to the hospital to see him that night. I think I have a habit of expecting the worst, and it has served me well, once you get past the extra stress I put on myself until I get the truth. This was really no different, I stopped at home after work to get some food and see my kids, who I knew were worried about their Grandpa Bob. They took a lot longer than I wanted to wait, but they really wanted to make cards for my Dad, so I had to wait. Eventually, I headed down the to hospital, roughly an hour away in New London.

I get to the hospital (after driving past the exit, no kidding, 3 times) around 9pm, I think. I get a good spot, and see Joanne walking outside. She takes me to his room, and I'm wholly relieved to see that my Dad only looks tired and in pain, not destroyed. He told me that he broke one of his right hand bones, and his left forearm. They had also done X-Rays on his neck and a CAT scan on his chest. When I got there, he was just about to have his right hand splinted up, which caused him a fairly high amount of pain, and he went into some shock, sweating and getting close to passing out. Joanne and Anita were freaked out, but I think I was able to keep them calm while getting a cool washcloth for my Dad's forehead. The ER doc suggested that my Dad try to walk around a bit, so the nurse came in to help him get ready to try. Keep in mind, his left arm (the worse break) was neither splinted nor in a sling. I tried to tell him that he should just tell them he couldn't do it, but he felt like he had to try, probably because the nurse was pretty cute. Thankfully, he realized that he would not be able to stand up before he tried to support his weight. The imbicile ER doc came back to say that the neck X-ray looked good, so my Dad could go home that night. Riiiight, he can't stand, has two broken arms, and is doped up on morphine, but he can go home tonight. I had made my mind up to stop that from happening, but the orthopedic specialist determined that his left arm would need surgery.

We tried to keep Dad fed and watered before midnight, since it sounded like he would be going into the OR in the morning, and he needed to fast after midnight. I left around 12:30am, since he was supposed to get a room on the surgical floor shortly, but I guess that didn't work either. His morning surgery wound up happening at 8:30pm, and the 1-1.5 hour operation lasted until 2:30am. I felt awful about the whole surgical angle, since I had forgotten to metion to Carrie that Dad was having a metal plate put into his left arm, and when she found out in the morning, there was nothing for me to tell her, since I was waiting for information, too; information that was not there.

My Dad told me about the accident: he was driving down 184, when a woman in the other direction decided to make a left turn across his lane, not giving him enough time to stop. He hit the brakes, and the bike began to skid; he knew that he was not going to stop in time. He had the smarts to recognize his predicament and just before impact he stood up on the bike to get the height needed to clear the car. The bike hit the passenger side of the car with enough force to bend the frame of a 900 lb Harley and total both the car and the bike, throwing my Dad over the roof of the car. He had the sense to be wearing his helmet, so landing on his head didn't kill him. He had the instincts to stand up, letting him slow down more gradually in the air and on the road instead of against the side of the car. He had the reflexes to get his hand in front of his face, which broke his hand, but kept his face intact. He had the luck to not detach his retina, going blind; he had the luck to fall in such a way that his neck wasn't broken.

I think I have only been this scared for a loved one twice before, since Archer is such a fearless kid, but even with the potential head trauma in my little boy proving harmless, I don't think I've been this relieved over a terrible situation before. I'm not ready to lose my parents. Thanks for not dying Dad. I love you.