I know it has been awhile since I blogged. I found myself at a place where I just wanted to feel better and I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it anymore. I think rehashing the emotions and the details kept me hurting. It was hard enough to live through the constant reminders of how this accident affected everyone around me; but, now I feel like I owe it to myself to finish what I started. The details will be vague and the order of events might be off, because my defense mechanism has allowed me to forget some of the patticulars which was something I was afraid would happen. Funny how the mind protects itself against what it knows you can or can’t handle. As strong as I thought I was, I knew I was kidding myself.
Because we had stayed late in ICU on Monday, we were unable to get registered at the Ronald McDonald House. We ended up going home again to sleep and when we arrived at ICU in the morning, Hayley was breathing all on her own. The second attempt to take her off the breathing tube was a success. Even with the breathing tube gone, Hayley still had a tube down her nose into her stomach. It was imperative that nothing get digested while her intestines were healing. She also still had a central line, catheter, monitor wires attached to her chest, two drains from her surgery site, (one on the left side of her abdomen and one on the right) and inflation devices attached to her legs to prevent blood clots. She still looked small and helpless to me; that was until she opened her mouth.
She was so confused and irritated. The drugs had done their job and she had no idea the extent of her injuries or even that she had laid unconscious for over 4 days. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t just get up, and the tubes and wires were pissing her off to no end. My daughter was back with a vengeance. It was really hard not to laugh or smile even though she was so upset. We spent a little while trying to explain what had happened to her and what she had been through…then she would cry. I craved to understand what was going through her mind, but on some level I did feel her pain, along with my own.
She settled back down, under the influence of pain medication, giving us a chance to talk to the doctor’s. The goal for the day was to get her out of ICU and into Pediatrics. They said she was doing better than anyone planned and her prognosis quickly changed from weeks of rehab, to no rehab at all. There would be another surgery planned for 6 months to a year for more reconstruction, but overall my baby took this accident like a champ!
Jason and I were on cloud nine and I made a decision to go home and get Danica to stay with us for the rest of the week. It had been tearing at my heart everyday to have one child in ICU and one child hours away. I needed my children with me. It was a selfish move, but all in all, I think it was the right one. Round trip was less than 4 hours and when we got back mid-afternoon we checked into Ronald McDonald House, and headed over to be with Hayley, as a family.
By this time she had been moved to Pediatrics and had just started to settle in. Unbeknownst to me, I was about to witness a mini-miracle. Hayley had been placed in a broken bed and needed to be moved to another bed. They placed the bed right up next to the broken one and with almost no help, Hayley scooted herself over to the new bed. I couldn’t have been more surprised or proud to see her maneuver herself so soon after surgery, without the help of abdominal muscles.
Jason and Danica had left to take a walk and I was alone with Hayley. We had conversation I knew she would never remember, but she showed me her emotions. This has always been a tough thing for Hayley to do. She is a wall-builder, hiding herself behind tall walls and only letting few people know what she is really thinking. I enjoyed that precious moment with her, my daughter, my baby. She talked about the accident and to my surprise she remembered every single detail. It hurt to know that she was able to recall seeing Jessica hit the airbag and how it felt to not be able to move after the impact. All the details were fresh and clear in her mind and of course I worried that she may eventually experience post-traumatic stress disorder. I set that worry aside and gratefully never had to worry about it again.
Hayley was still fretting about the tubes; she was only starting to get her voice back although it was still very hoarse. She had asked me to help her get her nose cleared, she felt like something was in there. Of course, I had to explain the tube was there and was giving her that sensation. She was convinced that she had a booger or something and asked me to get a q-tip. When I stepped into the hall to get a nurse, I hear behind me, “Mom, I made an oopsie.” Turning around I saw Hayley with a mischievous look on her face and the tube pulled completely out of her nose. Talk about disgusting! She would eventually pull the tube out two more times during the night.
Earlier that day Hayley had been hooked up to a morphine pump with a button for her to administer the doses herself. Morphine had a funny effect on her; she had hallucinations of things that weren’t there. By this time it was late in the evening and we were all tired and headed back to RM to sleep. In retrospect, I should have known it was going to be a hard night for her. I will always wished I had stayed because she suffered with nightmares that night and wanted her parents…one complaint about Inova nurses is that they did not try to contact us. We didn’t know until that she needed us. Needless to say, we never left her side again.
Daytime was mine, and Jason took night shift. Now that Hayley was in Peds, she was allowed to have visitors. Jessica and Stephanie were the first. Hayley was still in the process of getting the drugs that were used in ICU out of her system as well as being on a morphine pump; while Jessica was on some pain meds herself. Watching these two interact was almost like watching a Cheech and Chong movie. As humorous as it was on the outside; on the inside Stephanie and I were thinking something different. Grateful…Blessed…and all the synonyms for those two words. I watched Stephanie cry seeing the two girls together as an unspoken connection flowed between us.
Dr. McCracken took care of Hayley while she was in Peds. He was a very happy person with large hopeful eyes; I will never forget his mile-wide smile when he would come into the room. Today they took the dressing off her incision. I had spent a lot of time thinking about what this scar would look like, where it would be located and how big it would be. I worried about how it would affect Hayley and her perspective of herself. I should have known, I worry too much for nothing, because when the bandage was removed, Hayley simply stated, “Mom, I look like Frankenstein!” We all had a chuckle over that one, but I have to say she was pretty accurate in her description. Her
8 inch incision cut straight down her belly, through her belly button to her pubic area and was closed with 36 staples and she also had a burn from the seatbelt that was around 2 feet long in a curve from hip to hip. Her scar has been described as looking like an anchor and covers pretty much her whole abdominal area.
6 days since the accident would be the first time she was allowed to take a drink of water. There was much concern about her intestines waking up and functioning again, so it was a slow process. First they needed to hear bowels sounds, which meant they were waiting for Hayley to fart. Yea, I said fart and when she finally did pass gas, for the first time in her life she was applauded.
Little by little the tubes and wires were removed. No more central line, just an IV for the pain meds and fluids, no more stomach tube, no more monitor wires and today the catheter would come out. First though was the daunting task of walking for the first time since surgery. They removed the inflation gadgets off her legs and helped her up. She didn’t have to go too far to get settled in a chair not more than two feet from the bed, but she did it. On her trip to the chair, I saw for the first time the bruises on her back located on top of where her kidneys are. The bruises were so purple they were almost black and were about the size of an open hand. I imagined it was from the force of impact, since nothing directly hit her in that location. It would be weeks before those bruises would fade away.
Since Hayley was successful at getting out of bed and walking, the catheter was removed. This meant every time she had to pee, she had to get up and she hated it! She was still peeing out the massive amount of fluids that were pumped into her, which meant several trips to the bathroom. Getting up for Hayley was hard; she was unable to sit up on her own. Funny how people take that for granted. Hayley eventually found a way to adapt, but that wouldn’t be until after she was released from the hospital.
Hayley had several visitors that day, including her teacher and his son and a couple other classmates. I could see how badly Hayley yearned for things to get back to normal immediately. That desire and the support, love and prayers accelerated Hayley’s recovery at an unbelievable pace.
The morphine pump was removed and oral pain relief was given. First they tried Percocet, which didn’t work well with Hayley and then they tried Vicodin. This worked better with Hayley. I can proudly say Hayley didn’t lean on her pain meds and only took them when she needed to. She stopped all pain meds within two weeks of returning home. Strong as an ox, she is.
They started talking about sending her home, but first they had to see that fluid coming from her surgery site had stopped. They removed the drain from her left side, which was also attached to a vacuum, but left the one attached to a bulb on the right. They also removed all limits on her diet and she was able to eat what she liked and what she liked was fruit! Unfortunately fruit did not like her digestive system and she spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Another adjustment for Hayley has been bowel control….I’ll just leave it at that.
Day by day, Hayley got better, felt stronger and inspired me…day by day.
They said she could go home. 9 days after the accident, 2 surgeries later, thousands of prayers and tears and she gets to go home.
First they took out the last drain and then she took a shower to beat all showers, since it was the first one since the accident. I am sure she felt renewed. I on the other hand was an emotional mess. My worries seemed to outweigh my blessings at the moment, but that has been my way my whole life. I worried about the ride, the stairs, the drugs, the incision, her school, my school, Dani’s school, my job, the bills…and the list went on and on.
I barely got her home and the flood of visitors began. I didn’t mind, she seemed to need the normalcy.
The first days home were tough. Hayley was set up in my room, so I could be at her beck and call and it was the closest room to the bathroom. We did all we could to make sure she was comfortable during her recovery.
She recovered quickly but went through a lot along the way.
Physically Hayley will never be the same, but she is here. The prayers and support given to the family during this time was priceless to me and to her.
Since the accident, Hayley turned 18 and graduated high school as well as gained a fabulous boyfriend whom I partially credit for her speedy recovery. I made it through my semester at Shepherd and managed to make the Dean’s list. Danica finished her semester with all A’s and B’s and Jason got a job.
I could say things are back to normal, but that would be a lie. Personally, I will never be the same. I look at life now grateful for each moment I get to spend with the people I care about because I recognize that at any moment they could be gone forever. I make a point everyday to show love, not just say it. I look at the faces of my daughters, with the gentle curves of their features and I see perfection in what God has made for me. And above all else, I am rebuilding my relationship with Him.
Thank you for reading and thank you for the tremendous support.