25 May 2011

Life Changes--Wear a Helmet


On May 9, 2011 my husband left our house to go on a bicycle ride with our dog. It's something he does all the time. He holds the leash and the dog, a black Labrador named Winston, runs alongside him. He does not wear a helmet. My last words to John were, "Come back in one piece." Said jokingly, not realizing how prophetic those words would be.

At 6:45pm I received a call on my cell phone from an EMT telling me my husband fell off his bike and wasn't able to give them his name, then asking if I could please come down. I hopped in the car and drove less than a half a mile. The EMT's told me he probably had a concussion and were taking him to the nearest hospital. I followed after dropping the dog off at home (who was uninjured) and picking up my oldest daughter.

By the time I made it to the hospital--about a ten minute drive--I was told my husband had fractured his skull and had blood on his brain. The medi-flight helicopter was already on its way. I hopped back in the car and drove downtown to one of the best brain trauma hospitals in the country. By the time I got there, John's condition had deteriorated. He had trouble breathing and had to be put on a ventilator. Emergency surgery was performed to remove part of his skull to allow the brain to swell.

John is a police officer--a sergeant with a nearby community who worked the 3pm-11pm shift. As word spread and his fellow officers heard the news, they started appearing at the hospital. When the trauma surgeon came out to the waiting room to update us, John's entire shift suddenly appeared behind the surgeon. My first thought that these were John's warriors, ready to do battle for their friend and co-worker. They were like angels, materializing from nowhere. These warriors filled the waiting room, sitting with me until 4am when I finally got to see John. They have been by my side ever since. If I'm at the hospital late, a cruiser appears and an on-duty officer waits with me until I'm ready to leave then escorts me to my car. They appear at my front door and cut my grass. They call and text me every day. They sit by John's side if I can't be there.

John spent nine days in a drug induced coma and fourteen days in neuro ICU. He contracted a nasty case of pneumonia and pancreatitis that threatened his already teetering condition.

He has far exceeded the doctors' expectations. His nurses call him a miracle. He is awake. He is talking. He's moving all of his limbs and following simple commands. There is no way to know what the future holds for him. He could recover 100% and return to the career he loved so much. He could have mental disabilities. I prefer to believe he will return to us 100% the John that left on that fateful bike ride. I see him in there struggling to break free. He is a fighter, strong-willed and stubborn--all traits that will help him recover.

Yesterday he hugged me for the first time since May 9th and he whispered in my ear, "We will be okay."
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