The Accident

An attempt to record the events of Friday August 1st, 2008 and following.

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Approximately 11 A.M. Friday, August 1, 2008, I was south bound on US 24, known locally as Telegraph. I approached the intersection of US 24 and Dunbar Rd. where the highway changes from two lanes to one and the speed limit increases from 45 to 55 MPH. There were no vehicles in front of me and the traffic signal had just changed to green, so I did not have to slow down or stop and proceeded to accelerate.

At the same time I began to accelerate, the vehicle facing north, a pickup truck, started to make a left turn in front of me. Something, or Someone, told me "Don't hit the truck". I hit the brakes and cranked the steering wheel to the right. My van was equipped with anti lock brakes, so there was no chance of pulling off any fancy maneuvers. But, somehow, the collision with the pickup truck was avoided. Instead, my van managed to turn just enough to get by the truck, but there was not enough time to avoid the telephone pole on the south west corner of the intersection. My van hit the pole just left of center.

Remarkably, I was still conscious. The airbag deployed upon impact with the pole. This, combined with having a very firm grip on the steering wheel, is how I believe my arm was broken. My knee cap was shattered because the dash console was pushed back and down onto my legs. The powder from the airbag aggravated my asthma so my breathing was very labored.

I'm not sure if my wife, Kim, or the kids, Caitlyn and Noah, lost consciousness, though I don't think so. Kim Admits to closing her eyes tight when she realized we were in danger. Noah was crying after the impact and responded when Kim called his name. Caitlyn did not respond when Kim called her name. I tried to turn my head to look at Caitlyn but I couldn't turn far enough. But I could see her in my peripheral vision and tell she was sitting upright, though I couldn't see if her eyes were open or not. I called her name once in a normal tone of voice and got no response. The second time I called her name I invoked the power and authority of the "daddy" voice and she finally responded. I believe she was in shock.

My wife, Kim, sustained multiple bruises, a cracked sternum and four broken ribs due to the seatbelt. She also suffers a broken metacarpal, that's the bone between the knuckle and the wrist, of the right ring finger. She sustained the last injury because her arm was on the armrest of the passenger door and when she realized we were going to crash, she tensed and grasped the door handle well.

Caitlyn and Noah both sustained bruises from the seatbelt. Though Noah's was very minor, Caitlyn's were worse and led the doctors to think she may have serious internal injuries as well.

One of the witnesses was an Emergency Medical Technician. He called 911 and was assessing the scene within a minute. The response time for the rest of the crew was very fast. They had called for four ambulance initially because not only did the pickup truck start to turn left in front of me, it continued to make the turn and collide with the vehicle that was behind me.

I was flown from the scene to St. Vincent's Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. Kim and Noah went to Mercy Memorial Hospital in Monroe in the same ambulance. Caitlyn was taken to Mercy Memorial in another ambulance and was later flown to Toledo's Children's Hospital because the doctors in Monroe suspected internal injuries. One of the other drivers was also taken to Mercy Memorial Hospital. I don't know which driver or how serious the injuries.

I remained conscious for quite a long time. I did pass out eventually though. It was in the trauma room after they had asked their questions, made their assessments, taken x-rays of my knees and feet and were about to take an x-ray of my arm. One of the nurses or techs said, "We need to hold your arm up to take the x-ray.", and proceeded to lift the arm into position. At that point, the pain hit me and I passed out. I woke up a week later to the nurses talking to my mom about a tracheotomy. Apparently the doctors had doubts about me being able to breathe on my own once they took me off of the ventilator. Finally around four in the afternoon on Friday August 8th, they took me into an operating room to remove the breathing tube. They chose to do it in the operating room just in case I was not able to breathe on my own and they had to go ahead with the tracheotomy. I am so very thankful that the procedure wasn't needed.

I was quite surprised and a bit upset that I had been kept in a medical coma for a week. When they took me back to my room after removing the tube, my mom was waiting for me and she told me about Kim and the kids. Noah was able to go home with my dad, Papa Ray, the same day as the accident. Caitlyn was released the following Sunday, August 3rd. And Kim was able to go home the following Wednesday, August 6th. I remained in the ICU of St. Vincent's until Wednesday August 13th when I was strong enough to move to a rehab facility.

I was asked what I wanted in a rehab facility. I said, "I don't know. I've never had to use one before". I thought about it for a minute or two then told them that I wanted something close to home and a private room if possible. The first place they called was Mercy Nursing and Rehab Center right here in Monroe and they just happened to have a private room opening the day I was to be discharged from St. Vincent's.

I arrived at Mercy Nursing and Rehab Center on Wednesday, August 13th. I began therapy on Friday, August 15th. I started off barely tolerating half an hour at a time. But in less than a week I was up to the full two hours. Therapy was divided between physical and occupational. Physical concentrated on my legs, building strength in the right leg and doing isometrics in the left. Occupational therapy worked on several things including balance, stamina, coordination, and upper body strength. I was determined to take full advantage of the therapists and the therapy facilities while I had the chance. So even though I was only scheduled for therapy five days a week, I would go down to the therapy room every day the therapists were there. I would also push myself to do more. If the therapist wanted two sets of twenty of an exercise, I would do two sets of twenty five.

I was scheduled to be released from Mercy Nursing and Rehab Center on Sunday September 7th. But, due to poor planning on their part, I was finally discharged and able to come home on Monday, September 8th, my son's birthday.

Now I have a visiting nurse two times a week. And physical and occupational therapy both come to my home three days a week.

As for our injuries; Noah's is completely healed. Caitlyn still has some bruising on her left side, though it doesn't show on the outside. Kim still has a few bruises and the ribs take a very long time to mend. But of more concern is the metacarpal. Her latest x-ray, Friday September 5th, showed the bone was still separated with no change. Her doctor was not concerned and still maintains that surgery will not be needed to correct the bone.

However, I have to return to the operating table on Friday, September 26th. The orthopedic doctor had x-rays done when I saw him on Wednesday, September 3rd and he said that one of the screws in my knee was too long. He wants to remove at least that one before I can start working on bending the knee again. On the other hand, or to be more accurate - on the other arm, the doctor removed the cast from my right arm and also removed the stitches from where he put in the plates. The only restriction on the arm is no rotation at the wrist. I can do hand shakes, albeit gently, bend the wrist forward and back, and basically full range of motion for the arm.

So now we are all home and things are slowly returning to normal. The kids are back to school and adjusting to the schedule. Kim and I are left to convalesce for a while. Kim's doctor has her off work till mid October, and my doctor has me off work until at least January.

*Update*Well it's now January. The 10th to be precise. Kim did not end up needing surgery and has been back to work for a couple of months and she is just about fully recovered. She still has a bit of weakness in her wrist, but that will improve with time. The kids are fully recovered and enjoying their normal activities at school and with friends.

As for me, well, I began outpatient therapy in October. My hand wrist and arm are at about 85%. It's the strengthening I need as well. The knee is another story. The doctor says therapy for four more weeks then come back and see him. The therapist and the case manager for my insurance company feel like this going to be a 'wash, rinse, repeat' cycle that could go on for quite a while. The progress on the knee is very frustrating. I am able to bend the knee comfortably to about 70 to 75 degrees. We can get it to around 80 degrees with much pushing. That sounds pretty good until you realize the normal range of motion for your knee to bend is somewhere around 160 degrees. So I'm at about 50% with the knee. The real frustrating part is the very very slow progress. So far, there have been a couple of real noticeable improvements of about 5 or 6 degrees. The rest have been only one or two degrees at a time. I'm not expecting it to be perfect. I just don't know how much longer my employer will hold my position. And the longer it takes to be able to perform my job, the more likely it is that I won't have a job when I *am* able.

There are options available, but the doctor doesn't feel they are necessary. To be honest, I'm not thrilled about them either. Those options are open, or closed manipulation. In both cases I would be knocked out, then in closed manipulation they would just bend the knee relentlessly and after the procedure I would have therapy daily. In open manipulation the only difference is the surgeon would open the knee again and remove some of the scar tissue first. The other possibility is looking for a second opinion, but I'm not sure if the insurance company will give us trouble if we decide to look.

I *do* have positive things to report for me. The doctor and therapist discharged me for my hand wrist and arm. As I mentioned above, I just need to work on some strengthening exercises. But even better is I was cleared to drive the family car! I was so glad to be able to get behind the wheel again. Not because Kim is a bad driver, not at all. But because I was so tired of being a passenger!

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