Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What really happened!

On Monday, April 25, I fell out of the back of Jim's truck. Although that may not sound like a big deal, let me rush to assure you that falling from a height of about four feet onto an asphalt parking lot and landing full force on my left hock, with only minimal fall interference from the left hand and arm, can be a very big deal indeed.

Jim hovered over me for several minutes, asking if I needed an ambulance, while I struggled to assess just how badly I was damaged, and whether I did need an ambulance or not. After a few minutes, with a light Oregon rain falling on me, I told him that I thought I was okay, and that I just needed some help to get into the truck. I didn't feel able to actually get up onto my feet, so I crawled the length of the truck to the front door, where I used the door to pull myself up, and Jim helped me haul myself up into the seat. As he climbed into the driver's seat, he continued to worry that we should call 9-1-1, while I reassured him that I thought a broken bone would hurt a lot worse than I seemed to be hurting. We drove home, I dragged myself up the stairs to our bedroom, climbed painfully into bed, took some heavy-duty drugs, and slipped into an uncomfortable sleep.

From then until Friday morning, I managed - with lots of rest and drugs - to get around the house, eat the occasional meal, watch some t.v. in the family room with Jim, and even do my laundry. Although I was in pain, it seemed better each day, and I was a little more mobile each day. Briana even brought Addison and Drew over for a visit on Thursday, and we had quite a nice time. I was pretty sure that things were healing and I was lucky to be doing so well after a nasty fall.

Friday morning around 7:00 a.m. I made my way downstairs to find my Jim apparently still groggy from sleep and not making much sense. After trying to get him to respond, I made the decision to call 9-1-1 -  the best decision I've ever made. When the EMTs arrived, they told me that they thought he was having a stroke and should go immediately to the hospital. After arguing with Jim for a while, I called his son Mike, and Jim finally agreed to go. He left in the ambulance, and I followed about 30 minutes later in my car.

When I arrived at the ER at the VA Hospital, I parked and struggled to get out of the car. Finally, I grabbed my lower leg and bent it enough to get my foot past the doorsill. I heard a couple of popping sounds, and my whole field of vision went white as I experienced the worst pain I've ever felt. After several minutes, I attempted to put my foot on the ground and stand up. When I did, it felt as if there were nothing under my foot, and I almost passed out from the pain. After hanging by my arms between my car and the one parked next to me, I was able to flag down a very nice man who grabbed a wheelchair and wheeled me to the VA Emergency room. Mike and Christina were already there waiting for Jim to come back from an MRI. I saw him for just a few minutes, and Christina wheeled me across the Skybridge to the ER at Oregon Health & Science University. After waiting what seemed an interminable time, I was x-rayed and told that I had broken the neck of my left femur. Apparently it had been broken when I fell of the truck, but wasn't displaced until I bent my leg, at which time I completed the circuit. The treatment: a full hip replacement.

I saw Jim again briefly that afternoon, and early Saturday morning I was wheeled into the operating room for a four-hour surgery.

For the past few days, I've been recovering from surgery and visiting Jim each day, thanks to the cooperation of the two hospitals and the strong arms of Mike to push me in a wheelchair. Jim has been in and out of the neurology ward and ICU, and we've been told variously that he's had three strokes - or maybe two strokes - that he's had a heart attack and that there either is or isn't a blood clot in his heart that may or may not be feeding clots to his brain. He has traveled in and out of coherence, and has been happy to see us or unable to recognize us. It's all been very frustrating, but he's being cared for by lots of good, well-qualified people.

Tonight I am in a short-term care facility about 7 miles from Jim, where I will spend the next couple of weeks learning how to take care of myself without dislocating my new titanium hip. Jim is resting well and will be returned to the neuro ward from ICU as soon as a bed opens for him - hopefully tomorrow. I will be able to visit him each day, by utilizing medical transportation. Each time we are able to spend a few minutes together it's revitalizing for both of us. And each day I am thankful all over again that I told Jim I didn't need to go to the hospital when I fell; he would have been home all alone at a critical time on Friday.

We have been blessed with the love and care of so many of our family and friends who have visited, run errands, sat with us during difficult times, retrieved things from our house, bought clothes (mine had to be cut off of me), and who have just generally provided loving support during what has been a difficult 10 days. We hope that we're both on the road to full recovery, but recognize that there are still some unknown waters ahead. Together, and surrounded by love, we will face them!


  1. That is kind of an amazing story. I'm glad you are both recovering and hope everything continues to go well. Keep us posted!

  2. "...a difficult 10 days" to say the least! My best wishes to both of you for complete and speedy recoveries.

  3. "... a difficult 10 days" to say the least!! My best wishes and hopes to both of you for complete and speedy recoveries.

  4. Amazing story, Cheryle. May the recovery for both of you be swift and complete.