What Does One Say to Paramedics that Save Your Life?
Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m posting excerpts from Because I Can.
This is from Chapter 9: California Again
Six months after the accident, Jerry and I flew to California for a Healthy Homecoming Celebration at the hospital I had been in. I also met with many of the medical personnel that had taken care of me… here is a glimpse of when I met the paramedics who saved my life.
Margery took Jerry and I in through the ER. “Remember coming in here?” She asked.
“No, not at all.” I said.
“This is where Dr. Hinika met your stretcher when the paramedics wheeled you in from the helicopter,” she continued. “One look at you had him calling for additional doctors.”
It was odd realizing my hospital arrival was like an episode from a TV show. The past few months, I’d been so focused on recovering that I had never stopped to think about what happened when I arrived at the hospital.
We finished our ER tour and headed towards Margery’s office. Jerry stopped as Margery opened the door. “I remember this room—it’s where I heard how severely you were injured.” It was hard to imagine what he went through that day, but I tried to understand a tiny portion of the emotional trauma he faced.
Margery gave us a minute or two, then she opened another door into the hallway where the paramedics were waiting. I watched the nine uniformed men file into the room, wondering how I could adequately express thanks to them.
“Thank you,” I began.
“Thank you for serving in a job like this.”
“Thank you for being at work on May 20th.”
“You’re welcome. It’s so good to see you,” one of them said.
Another said. “I’m so amazed at how well you walk.”
“Each of you is a part of that. I’m able to walk because you rescued me.” I wasn’t sure where to start with all the questions I had. “I doubt if you were all in the motorhome, so let’s start there. Who was in the motorhome?”
Seven of the paramedics looked around the room and pointed at two of them. “These two, Jose and Craig were with you.”
I stood to shake their hands. “Thank you for taking care of me. What did you see and what was going on when you came in the motorhome?”
Jose, a gentle bear of a man that I loved instantly, said, “There was debris everywhere. I removed a piece or two and asked your name. I checked your vitals and started an IV.”
“I removed all the loose debris I could and helped evaluate your condition,” Craig chimed in. Motioning around the room, he continued, “I also talked to the others that were outside cutting away the debris.”
I tried to envision the scene as they described it.
“It was a crumpled mess of wood, metal and plastic.”
“The back corner of the truck was almost at your knees,” another one said. “The truck was hardly dented. It had no loose pieces and couldn’t be moved, so we had to cut away the pieces of motorhome debris that were pinning you.”
Information flowed through the room—coming freely from them or in response to a question Jerry or I asked.
When I needed a break from the gory details. I pulled out a photo album a friend had suggested I bring along. “Here’s a glimpse into my life before the accident,” I said.
The men took turns looking through the album—pictures and stories of me playing with the boys, working at our garden center and having fun on our trip. And running.
“You were a runner?” Craig was looking at pictures of me crossing a finish line at a race.
“Yes, I was,” I said.
A few of the men said how sorry they were that my legs were injured and that I couldn’t run anymore.
I teared up. It was so meaningful to have them recognize that loss.
“I’m sorry you can’t run, but I’m so happy you can walk.” Jose said. “When I saw your leg after we freed you, I didn’t think they’d be able to save it, no matter how soon the helicopter got you to the hospital. After we slid you out through the hole these guys had cut in the side of the motorhome, I climbed out the window as you were taken to the helicopter a few hundred feet away. I ran over as they loaded you and saw that your skin color had faded even more. I assumed the concern I had about your mangled leg wouldn’t matter. It seemed highly unlikely that you’d arrive at the hospital alive.”
I again realized how clueless I was about all that happened that day.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Other excerpts from Because I Can: The Prologue
Chapter 1: The Accident
Chapter 2: 50% Chance of Death Chapter 3: Waking Up Chapter 4: Paranoid and Anxious Chapter 5: Questions Chapter 6: Flying Home Chapter 7: Back on my Feet Chapter 8: Walk On Chapter 10: A Hurricane and My Obituary Chapter 11: Mentors and Counselors Chapter 12: Educating this Mennonite Girl from Small Town America Chapter 13: Quitting God Chapter 14: Surgery Again Chapter 15: Doubts about Miracles and Prayers Chapter 16: Embracing Life Again Chapter 17: Running Again Epilogue: One Step at a Time… Because I Can!