….for those who have kindly inquired about lack of posts.
On November 22nd I heard the sentence through the phone that every parent dreads to hear. “Are you James’ mum?…He has been in an accident. You need to come quickly…” Our son, 19 was involved in a serious accident. We were on the scene in 6 minutes and held him until the ambulance and helicopter arrived and supported him while his condition was stabilised enough for him to be airlifted to hospital. Every minute waiting in the family room of Intensive Care was a torment that no human should endure, yet every moment waiting, ironically meant there was a greater chance that he had survived.
After six hours, 3 surgeons in their blue surgical slippers, caps and gowns, wet circles from their underarms and their backs wet with sweat, walked along the hallway with only glass windows between them and our fear filled questions. “Is he alive? Is he ok?” I uttered desperately. “James has survived. He is in a coma, but unfortunately we couldn’t save his leg. We are very sorry.” I knew his femoral artery had been severed and as his twisted thigh swelled on the hot bitumen, his chances of survival lessened. His words came from an ashen yet conscious head; Ketamine induced hallucinations of Wookies and flying, and pain and heat. I was sure that spinal injuries had not been sustained. “He will be in a coma for a couple of days , and the next 2-3 days will be important for him.” “…..Please keep the shade on me, the sun is in my eyes….” “Thank you so much for saving his life.” “……he just turned in front of me….” “thank you, thank you so much for spending so long saving his life” “…mum, please phone Ed because I don’t think I will be at work tomorrow…..” “Here is a list of motels which are close.” “…..You can come into ICU 24 hours a day, but you need to get some sleep now……”
‘Please stand clear of the closing doors’ was the next sound we heard as we went into the elevator downstairs to find a motel to attempt to sleep, after seeing our son clinging to life with the assistance of doctors, pumps and prayer.
Tubes and machines sustained his life whilst he was in intensive care. He could not speak because he was intubated but tried to write questions in drug and sleep induced hieroglyphics. Tears from nurses trickled as he gave ‘thumbs-up’ to them when they asked him something or did something to help him to survive. Temperatures and infection crippled optimism yet did not extinguish it.
Eight weeks and 56 bags of red blood cells later, his first attempts at standing using a rollator were accompanied by the ricocheting of “James is up…James is up” from the nurses along the hallway and then into the other rooms of the ward. “He is such an inspiration”…”He has such a wonderful attitude”…”He has put the wind up my ass. Here I am a whinging bastard and your kid just says he has been dealt a new deck of cards.” The words helped during this excruciating time.
Three months of ‘Please stand clear of the closing doors’ echoed amongst the thoughts of medical terms, treatment plans, what can I find for lunch, ‘when will we be home?’.
Three months in hospital, with 20 operations, and such generous support from friends; and my family was amazing. Mum made lunches and brought them up to the hospital and my sister rode a bike then caught a bus for hours to give me a break on week-ends from my 14 hour a day vigil.
Lawrence was wonderful and sat for hours with James, and waited patiently in the hallway when his friends visited. Although Lawrence was deeply affected he ensured Max had meals every night and they had company for each other.
James’ friends came and although their own grief and shock was palpable in the beginning, they all kept visiting with food, girly magazines and laughter. There was a constant stream of beautiful girls – his friends who will never realise how important their visits were.
James was discharged 2 weeks ago and will be returning next week for a bone graft. Although overjoyed that we were home, I felt paralysed and felt a sense of displacement and grief that I had not allowed to creep in before. Those who wanted me to ‘cheer up’ did not realise that I wanted to just be left alone to stare and deal with this change in my own way. I needed to be in my own little pothole to deal with the change in my life.
I am feeling more settled now and have recommenced my swimming and walking, and have started to tackle the things which have overwhelmed me upon first returning home. I have started to catch up with my own friends and have this yearning to create…and although I tried to read during this time, I could not focus on the words; I could only be with my own thoughts of how best to care for James. It is time for me now to reconnect with that yearning to express and create. The form of that expression is unknown to me at present, but I suppose this writing is the beginning.
Over the coming weeks I will share more of the thoughts and experiences of the past months which passed through the monotone announcement in the lifts; ‘Please stand clear of the closing doors’.