“Thank you for calling the American Diabetes Association. This is Melissa how my I help you?”
“Is this Melissa Sutton?”
“Yes, it is” I say distractedly, wondering what new task this phone call will entail. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m so ready for the weekend.
“Mrs. Sutton, your husband asked me to call you. I am a social worker with Akron General Medical Center in the ER.” She has my full attention now.
“Your husband is awake and alert but you need to get down here quickly but safely.”
I lose all feeling in my limbs and my heart plummets. Oh. My. God.
Luckily a co-worker from the Akron office (I was in Cleveland) was seated at the computer right by desk and when I asked her if she could tell me how to get to the hospital she said that she would take me there. So I told my boss my husband had been in a car accident and that I needed to leave and followed my co-worker to the parking lot. She made sure I had her cell phone number in case I got lost and then led the way. Not before asking if I needed her to actually go into the ER with me. I had only met her once before, this was not here problem, the woman had said “awake & alert”, he would be fine I told her no thank you.
On the way down I think I made some phone calls but it is all pretty sketchy. I know I did get a call from one of the other guys (who was in the car with Rich, en route to the cabin for camping) wives and even though she sounded quite panicked she really didn’t know much so I cranked the music & tried stay calm. The next call was from one of the Revs I used to work with at the church and she was definitely panicked & insisted that I not go to the ER alone. Shit. Shit. Shit. She had gotten news of the accident because initially my husband was so disoriented that he couldn’t remember that I had a new job or how to reach me. She said it did not sound good. I called my co-worker and asked her if she would mind coming in with me, explained why & she said no problem.
We got there, I felt low but was actually super high, but opted to not bolus for it since I had no idea what I was about to see or hear. After making sure that I was okay with some blood the social worker took me back to the trauma room where the first thing my dear husband said to me was that he was sorry. Sorry for getting in the accident and more so for not telling me that he loved he me when I left for work that morning. It was like a scene from "ER" with one doctor stitching up his hand and arm while another worked on his head. There were several large 'pads' on the floor beneath his head, stained pink from his blood. At first glance I thought there was no way they would be able to close the gashes on his elbow or head, but they did. Somehow I was able to stay in the room while they stitched him up; I found a strength I never knew I had. The suturing as they call it took hours and totaled about 50 stitches.
I was back & forth to the waiting room of the ER to make phone calls and give updates to the friends who had been in the car with him, my sister who came to be with me and the minister who came to lend support. None of the other 3 guys who were in the car with Rich were seriously hurt. Thank God. I couldn’t imagine having to tell him that his childhood friend was in worse shape than he was. They all had blood on their clothing which I later found out was from Rich. This assembled crew would not leave until they had seen Rich and were assured that he was okay, relatively speaking.Finally around 10 pm we were taken up to a room. He was in so much pain and bandaged up like a mummy. After making sure he was settled I headed for home because he was so worried about critters there. I was in a sort of fog and got lost on the way home. The animals were happy to see me but the house felt so incredibly empty.
The next 3 days were a bit stressful. No broken bones or serious concussion, just some gruesome lacerations, soreness and serious pain. He was lucky it hadn't been worse. Over the next few weeks I would hear this phrase repeated often. "He was lucky." While part of me knew he was very lucky, another part of me kept thinking that luck would have meant none of this happening. Saturday was the worst. Several family and friends had said that would come visit him that day so I didn't call anyone to come be with me at the hospital while I was with Rich. It was a very long day since no one came until that evening. The pain meds were making Rich nauseous and there was an awful projectile vomiting incident that scared me. My mom had offered to come just to be with me, and at first I declined, telling her there was no need for her to drive 3.5 hours, but after this I asked her to come. She said she was planning on coming even though I said I would be okay.
It was such a relief when I saw my parents walk into the hospital room the next morning. This was all so foreign and scary to me. They stayed the day and with her background as an RN my mom made sure I asked the right questions and knew what was going on. My dad watched some game with Rich, keeping his mind off the pain.
Finally on Monday he was released and we went home. We both exhausted as hospitals are not very conducive for sleep for patients and sleep was elusive for me as you might imagine. Rich did not go to work the rest of the week, but I had to since it was days before Cleveland America's Walk for Diabetes and there was tons to do. Family & friends pitched in with food, support, dog walking and visiting Rich while I was at work. Cards and wishes of speedy recovery poured in from friends, family & the church family. Diabetes was basically ignored but in turn was quite vocal about it with skyrocketing blood sugars and quite a few lows at the hospital.
The healing has slowly but surely happened. We took the last stitch out last Sunday and there are almost no scabs now. He will have some decent scars on his head, I'm sure. The real magnitude of the whole thing hit me more in bits & pieces. Terrifying thoughts that I could have lost my husband, my life would come out of nowhere. Tears spilling down my cheeks on the way to work for no good reason and break-downs over nothing in particular.
A not so subtle reminder of how precious life is and how kind humans have the capacity to be.