Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Blogoff Post: Blood

This is blogoff post #7 - blogging to raise money for Courtney's 3 day walk for breast cancer. We started with 17? bloggers, now we're down to 8 as each week we blog on a one-word topic and then vote for each others' posts. Like the concept? Support the cause. Give if you can - a donation, a comment.

They say the first time's the hardest. Well, I never really found out. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I just couldn't think about inflicting pain.

I was a teenager at an agricultural school. That education was such a waste on me. Much to my mother's disappointment, I didn't meet the son of a rich grazier (do they exist anymore?) and I couldn't bring myself to give an iron injection to a piglet. I couldn't stick a needle into an animal. I couldn't even jab a pin into my own finger to draw blood for testing. I have no idea how junkies do it. At least my mother didn't have to worry about me getting into drugs. And if it comes down to it, and I have to give my partner insulin injections because he can't do it, I don't know how I'll do it. I guess I'll have no option.

So at the age of 20, I was working for a pizza place delivering pizzas. One household ordered their second lot of pizzas for the night and that phone call changed my life. After delivering the pizzas, I drove back to the store. A familiar road, so familiar I barely remember that drive. But I woke up two days later in intensive care.

The nurses kept asking me if I knew what day it was. I thought the constant questions were stupid. There was a digital clock in plain sight with both the date and the time. I didn't realise they were testing to see if I had brain damage. There was no brain damage, but I had a broken femur, a broken pelvis, broken ribs and a hole in my tongue. I was 'lucky' to be alive everyone kept telling me. With my leg in traction, and barely able to move, I didn't feel lucky.

I'm alive because numerous kind souls gave a part of themselves to my recovery: their blood. A fantastic gift only surpassed by the selflessness of organ donation. I'm also alive because of the magnificent efforts of the emergency department where I spent five hours while they tried to find a hospital to admit me, and for the wonderful dedication of the nursing staff.

I ended up in a ward of 24 old senile women. They gave me the best bed in the house, where I had a view of Sydney Harbour. At 2am I would watch the red light on the bridge go off, and I'd block out the demented mutterings of my fellow patients with my earphones blasting Aussie pub rock. Every morning I asked the nurse if they had transferred me to the psychiatric hospital, because I truly thought that I was going insane, and that my ward mates already were. They would joke and laugh at me and assure me I was still in the normal hospital.

I craved normality. I craved my friends. I just wanted to get up and walk out of the place. My orthopaedic surgeon told me I didn't have a leg to stand on. Haha! My shoulder turned into a pin cushion as I surrendered daily for the nurses to take blood tests. I dropped my practical subjects in my degree, and finished the bare minimum of subjects by correspondence, the lectures sent to me on tape. I didn't want to defer my course because of the actions of a drunk driver. Because that's what put me there. A drunk guy had driven straight through the red light as I was travelling through the intersection. Ploughed straight into the driver's door of my mum's car with such force that my car spun around, and ended up resting against the traffic light with his car hitting the left side.

For that little adventure, I think he lost his licence for three months. I couldn't walk unaided for four months. I spent four insane weeks in the hospital before I was allowed to go home, and started the gruelling task of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. I had a pin and plate in my leg that had to be removed again twelve months later.

That was nearly half my lifetime ago. And it taught me several things. Life is short. You don't know what is going to happen any day of your life. And nurses are the most incredible and amazing workers in this world.


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Evey said...

Wow! Isnt it crazy how those drunk drivers tend to always get off easy. It pisses me off. Glad you were ok though.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm boiling mad at the fact that he only got 3 months. Calm down, Courtney...calm down...

Okay. Wow. What a scary experience. At least you weren't awake for the fear of being in your car and seeing, hearing all the craziness that occurs at the scene of an accident.

Do you rememeber any of it, even now?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Are freakin' serious!? And he only got three months suspension? Seems it would only be fair that he'd not get his license until you AT LEAST could walk again.

I'm not going to kinda gives me relief that you have no memory of the accident or of being hit.

Diane said...

No, I don't remember any of it even now which is a good thing. The cops gave me photos from the accident and they're scary enough.

The story is worse in a way. The guy who did it was so drunk, he wasn't injured at all, and he tried to run away after the accident. I was lucky there were witnesses who went after him. He then sent my mother after a legal wrangle $5 a fortnight to pay for the car (it was her car he'd totalled, mine was off the road for repairs) for ages.

One of the first conscious thoughts I had when I woke up in hospital and had been told what had happened was for my poor mother. My biological father had been killed when I was two and a half, by a drunk driver when he was riding a motor bike. He had died from an embolism after breaking his leg. And here I was in hospital, with a broken leg, caused by a drunk driver, only three years younger when he had died....

Anonymous said...

That is an incredible experience.

Life is short. I've been working on making the most of it, more and more these days.