The hospital is a lonely place.
You’re stripped naked. Literally. And put in a gown that every time you stand up your ass hangs out. Does anybody know why this is a necessary element of American health care? Then again, I personally did not mind so much.
You’re encouraged to rest. However, in my 5 day, 4 night stay, I was woken up every night to take my vitals. Okay - I appreciate this. But, I was also woken up between 6:30 and 7 am every morning to have blood drawn for a blood test. Can’t they wait until at least 8am?!? Shift change happens at 7am. So by 7:30 am your RN comes in, wakes me up again, has me sit up, and listens to my belly and back, and then says good night. One morning I was woken up at 8:30 with a tray of breakfast that I didn’t order. “Calmly and politely” I “asked” them to let me freakin sleep. And then they give me crap for being asleep at noon, saying they need to change my sheets.
But seriously. Very rapidly my life went from riding all over California on a motorcycle having a great time to lying in a bed in a hospital in San Diego, surrounded by hurt, sick, and dying people, wondering if I was going into surgery, thinking about the fact that I almost bled to death internally, and wondering what was going to happen. My planning went from months and years in advance to minutes as I was suddenly more concerned with food and water than I was with the balance in my checking account.
I was humbled. Broken (as my rib screams “literally!”). And alone. The only thing I wanted was companionship and love. I called Shay to let her know on Thursday, and being the woman who loves me that she is, she freaked out. Not the exact response that I was looking for, and I hung up discouraged. I called my mom to let her know what was going on, and she too freaked out - insisted on coming down, and hit complete panic mode. Also - not the response I was looking for. I felt like the jerk that went out and hurt himself and sent several women close to him into a panicked frenzy. I called Jared (next on the list of importance), and asked him to pick up the bike from the side of the freeway. No questions asked other than where is is and what does it look like. He hung up with a “hope you feel better.” And I did. Something was going from worse to better, and I hadn’t inconvenienced anybody. He was happy to take care of something that I was unable to do.
And then there is Melanie. I’m sure everybody reading is going… huh? Who’s Melanie? Melanie is a long time friend from Forest Home in 2002 - and we dated for a few months fall of 02. Easiest break up ever - she was going to Costa Rica, I was going to Colorado, and neither of us wanted to deal with a cross continent relationship. No worries, still a good friend, we’ve been in touch last couple of years, and with my being in Cali we thought it would be fun to hang out and go surfing or something.
I had two days off from the river. Woke up in the back of my truck Wednesday morning the 3rd, decided I wanted to go for a ride. Called Mel, said I’m riding south, call me if you ain’t doing anything. Otherwise I had no idea where I would end up. Forest Home was on the radar. Jared was on the radar. I didn’t know and didn’t care. While filling up in Santa Clarita, phone rang, it was Mel, she said come down and we’ll go surf. I’m like, sweet! So I ride down to San Diego, hang out for the afternoon, and we decide to go goof off for the night. We take a ride up to Harrah’s Rincon, about 30 mins north of where she’s living in San Diego. We make it there, have a blast, and leave around 2am. By the time we get back to the freeway, I’m pretty exhausted and don’t think it’s the best idea to continue riding. Okay. Lets crash. First hotel - sold out. Second was the same (what the heck?!? Wednesday night in a suburb of San Diego???) We finally decide to ride south to the next major exit. We would never make it.
As we were pulling onto the freeway on the on-ramp, the rear wheel lost traction and the bike began laying down to the right. If any of you have ever seen a motorcycle race, this happens all the time, and quite often the bike catches and flings the rider off to the other side as it abruptly regains traction. I anticipated this, regained control, and then something that I will never understand caused the bike to fish tail to the right. I didn’t have a chance with this one, and laid it down to the left.
This is where things get fuzzy.
I knew I creamed my head on the asphalt. I knew Mel was on the back. I knew I was lying in the middle of the freeway lane. I knew my bike was… uh… somewhere. First things first. Roll out of the highway. Uh oh. Chest and abdomen hurts like hell. Doesn’t matter. A big rig will hurt more. Find Melanie. She’s standing over me. Good to know she’s OK. Legs work. Arms work. Head’s fuzzy. No pain in head, neck, or back. Good. Move off highway more, assess condition. Sharp pain on left side chest, pain while breathing. Prognosis - cracked rib/internal damage, or I just got the wind knocked the #%@! out of me. Either way, I can walk. By this time (30 seconds into the ordeal) a motorist who had seen it happen had stopped. I stand up, pick up the bike and park it. Question is: do I go to the hospital or not? No health insurance, and motorcycle insurance is: Liability, uninsured motorist, and Comp. No Collision. Thus, I got no coverage and no money. The good Samaritan gives us a ride down to Mel’s house which quite frankly hurt. I’m laying in the back passing in and out of consciousness, and we finally make it home. Mel gets me into a bed and we discover my several strawberries - nothing major, just 3 small scrapes on hands, one on knee, and one below eye. Pop a vicatin, and I’m out.
And then I wake up, and it’s hard to breathe. And when I do, it hurts. Hospital.
I walk in, tell them what happened, what’s wrong, and that I have no health insurance and no private sources of wealth and really just won’t be able to pay the bill. The check me in, find blood in my urine (it’s quite difficult to pee in a dixie cup. It’s already tough enough to hit a toilet from two feet), run a cat scan, and discover that I have a ruptured spleen.
Welcome to the Sharp Memorial Hotel and Casino. Almost.
And now we return to my confinement. Mel was there. Every moment she could be there, she was. She brought me In-N-Out. She brought me a can of dip. But most importantly she filled the hospital room with her presence and her smile. She never was upset at me - even though I crashed the bike she was riding on. She was hurting because I was hurting. And she rode through those first few crappy days with me.
I’m still processing that experience and trying to figure out what the heck was going on in my mind at that time. All those people that I know love me either were not there or I had felt that they were upset with me for being in the hospital. Furthermore, I felt that Shay had not even thought of coming out to see me (little did I know that she had bought a plane ticket and wanted it to be a surprise so she had to sell the surprise by convincing me that there was no chance I would be seeing her - not even an “I wish I could be there”).
I experienced some very strange feelings that completely overwhelmed me in that period. I was convinced that Shay did not care about me. I was further convinced that Melanie was the only woman that cared about me. All this influenced by the sudden change in my life and location of my bed. Now, I know these things are not true (Shay not caring and Mel being the “only” woman that cares about me). But I have rambled on for a while and must bring this volume to a temporary close. What did I expereince? What does this say about my needs, my fears, my love languages? About the hospital setting? About any traumatic setting? I feel as though I have learned so much about life, love, myself, and God in the past 9 days but I have no idea what it is.
I guess there are benefits to rehab other than physical healing.