~Friday, August 15, 2008

Crash, Part II

I was later told about the accident: Scott was approaching the intersection in front of City Hall. He passed by a scooter dealership where some of his friends worked. He waved and honked. He turned his attention back to the road, rounded a corner, and hit the gas when he saw the light switch from green to yellow.

A lady, who had just moved to the city from the suburbs of Louisiana, was paused at the same intersection from the opposite direction, waiting to turn left into the shopping center. She punched the gas when she saw the light switch from green to yellow.

Never having to share the road with motorcycles and scooters before, she panicked when she saw Scott approach the intersection. She slammed on her brakes and completely blocked his lane.

Scott tried to dodge the car. He swerved to the left to try to pass behind her. However, he turned with such ferocity that he laid his bike down and slid into her passenger door, then her back passenger door, and then came to a halt underneath her car. Knocked unconscious from the blow, he was trapped under the trunk of her car.

The lady got out of her car and began screaming. She thought he was dead. I'm not sure who called 911, but when they arrived he was still unconscious and trapped underneath the car. Paramedics began filling out paperwork under John Doe and searched his pockets for his wallet.

"Scott! Scott!" they called when they later learned his name. Scott regained consciousness. The paramedics asked if there was anyone they'd like to call for him and he kept shouting my name. That's when I came into the story.


I brushed back the faded blue curtain surrounding Trauma 1 at the hospital. Scott made eye contact with me and his lower lip began to quiver as his eyes welled up. The neck brace had been removed, but he was bleeding over most of his body. His legs had silver dollar-sized lacerations over his knees, shins, ankles, and feet, as if he was losing a long battle with AIDS. His left elbow was torn open to the bone and had bloody tissue sticking out like an open Kleenex box. Skin hung off his left hand like a handkerchief had been sewn to him.

I ran to his right side.

"It's okay, Scott. you can cry if you want." Just annunciating the action was enough to make him stop. Health care techs swarmed me, making sure they got all his information for that inevitable bill. Meanwhile another technician was placing a lead disk underneath Scott for all the X-Rays they were taking of his chest and arm. Scott was busy pushing buttons on his phone to call his boss. Unbelievably, there was a signal in Trauma 1, but nowhere else in the emergency room.

I had already called his father and he was on his way to the city. I didn't even have to ask; he automatically asked which hospital we were at. His mother, however, asked me to call her back once I learned how severe his injuries were so she could decide whether to make the trip intown or not. I opened my mouth to say, If it were my mother, she'd want to be here no matter how severely I was hurt, but thought better of it. Actually I had already called my mother and she offered to drive intown to meet us, and Scott isn't even her child.

All the necessary phone calls had been made, and Scott's investigating police officer handed me Scott's ticket after passing judgment, and there was still no doctor. We were at the city hospital– the one that accepts patients without health insurance, so the subpar level of care is expected. Outside sat a homeless man in paper scrubs sheltering himself in a bus stop. The waiting room was filled with crazies, which made me really grateful when they ushered me straight past them behind the locked doors of the actual ER. I thought back to my hospital visit this year. My doctor and insurance sent me to the private one where a nurse personally escorted us from the car to the exact room where I needed to be. We navigated the marbled floors of my hospital without having to dodge the occasional pile of puke. The nurse for my procedure was warm and comforting and made the experience really easy for me. The differences between the two hospitals were astounding and I couldn't believe someone I loved was subjected to this.

Scott began complaining loudly about the pain and a male nurse added another clear injection into Scott's IV.

When the doctor did arrive, he greeted us with broken English. "Let us look at the hand," he said as he swung a stool underneath him.

"You're the best doctor here, right?" I asked him, smiling.

He looked at me and then looked back to Scott's hand wordlessly.

"You're supposed to say 'yes,'" I continued, finishing the joke for him. "A 'hell yeah' would even be better," I mumbled. The murse laughed.

"I no like to brag," responded the doctor.

I conveniently stepped out in front of the faded blue curtain to meet Scott's father. Watching Scott's innards ooze out his arm was a little much for me. When we stepped back inside a few short minutes later, the doctor was already gone and Scott was officially discharged. The murse returned with Scott's own set of paper scrubs because all of his clothes were cut off at the accident scene. The only thing that remained on him was a pair of Hanes boxers I bought him the previous weekend at Wal-Mart.

There were no discharge orders, no instructions on when or how to change his bandages. The wounds on his legs were untreated. I held a handful of prescriptions not knowing what they were for and which one we would choose to fill— we didn't have enough money to fill all of them. Scott asked for an antibiotic to take for all his open lacerations, but they told him he didn't need one.

I laid out the blanket reserved for my shedding dog on the passenger seat of my still new car. It was concerning that Scott couldn't hold his head up on his own and that the doctor never came back in to look at it. I took him home and laid him on the couch before I went to find an all-night pharmacy. The pharmacist told me Scott had received prescriptions for pain, a muscle relaxer, and an anti-inflammatory something or other. I counted out the $30 Scott's dad gave me and chose to fill the pain pill.

I received a call from Scott. I was at the third place I went to to find an open pharmacy. I thought he was just growing impatient.

"I just went to the bathroom and it's all blood! I don't want to die!" he cried panicking.

I asked the pharmacist about the amount of blood in his urine and told him about the accident. "Do I need to take him back to the ER?" I asked.

The pharmasist didn't seem that surprised that Scott was pissing blood, so I took that as a good sign. Just to be sure, I called the ER that just released us.

"Ma'am, we do not dispense medical advice over the phone, and we do not connect calls to doctors. If you feel he needs to come in, then just bring him."

"You're serious? We just left there less than a half-hour ago. His information hasn't even been filed yet!"

I called my mother, who has no medical experience whatsoever, but is a practical person. "Wait and see if he does it again. If there's blood in the next batch, then take him." Sounded good to me.

I set up camp in the living room. I knew Scott would be too injured to sleep in the bed and that the back of the couch would at least cradle him somewhat. I set out his pain pills and the entire contents of my first aid kit on the coffee table next to two glasses of water: one tap and one sparkling. I grabbed the itchy Wal-Mart sheets of my college days and put those on the couch for Scott to ooze and bleed on. Then I grabbed my favorite pink velveteen blanket and laid it on the floor with my pillow. I needed to be near him in case he woke up in the middle of the night and needed something. It felt like summer camp to me.

He bled through his bandages before bedtime. As we unwrapped his bandage on his hand, we saw that the doctor didn't even cut off the flag of skin flapping from the side of his hand. Scott asked me to grab the kitchen scissors and cut the skin off, but I shied away. The whole scene was just a little too gross. So Scott, freshly home from the hospital, sat on our living room sofa with the kitchen scissors used to cut open packs of chicken and cut his own skin off. I was thoroughly disgusted at our medical system.

To be continued...

Thank you to those that donated. You will each be hearing individually from me shortly. With your help, I was able to fill the rest of the prescriptions and get him a follow up appointment with a real doctor. You don't know how important that was. Thank you for helping me see the good in the world (I know it's there; it's just tough to see right now). I told Scott a little bit about it without giving away too much information and he is forever grateful for the kindness that people he never met are showing him. I am not touching a cent of it, it's all for him and helping him get well and back on his feet. He is facing about $10,000 in debts over Monday. It's amazing how quickly your life can change. Thank you.


kissashark said...

That soudns awful, I can't believe they treated him and you like that....horrible.

How is it Scott's fault if she wa blocking the intersection? I don't get that thinking....oh well.

I hope he is recovering and things start to look up for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, sarah! You both are in my thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Can't you take monetary help from your parents at a time like this, given that they are so rich? You could ask them to loan it to you, perhaps?

M said...

oh my god, I've just read up on all this. I'm so sorry. I hope that everything turns out okay. You're both in my thoughts :(

Lulu said...

Oh god. That is terrible.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and Scott.

thenextfish said...

God that's awful. The US medical system has a lot to answer for.

Anonymous said...

Hoping to donate once I have money coming in again (Sept 1). In the meanwhile, my pastor suggested that you try contacting Catholic Social Services - apparently they are really really good at helping people get medical help (and you don't have to be Catholic). My whole church is praying for you and Scott.

dont eat the token said...


I hope he is mending quickly!!!!

Anonymous said...

Goes to show how fkd up the health care system is in The USA.

Hope he pulls through okay :o)

Chickpea said...

I just read this tonight and Iam so sorry and I hope that Scott is improving. I'm short on money right now, but I will be sending you something Friday when my tuition refund comes in. I hope it's not too late.

You both are in my thoughts.

Name: Rae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rae said...

This is why I'm glad I'm Canadian. Thank God for Health Care - my taxes put to good use! I wish you and Scott all the best as you try to get back on your feet. Start looking/googling organizations that help people in your situations. Don't be afraid to reach out to family. Regardless of your Dad's reaction to you living "in sin" - family comes around in times of need.

Ariel said...

This is America?! For someone who lives in Europe - currently in the UK - such treatment is unthinkable. Where is human dignity in all that? Where? Here, no money doesn't deny you the right to medical care, because medical care is a right. And if you have no job, then you don't pay for your meds. Simple. Hang in there... xxx


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