Amy Austin | September 15, 2005

Got 13 staples in my head yesterday after I hydro-planed off the road and into a tree in someone's yard. (These NC "country" roads can be deceptively treacherous -- even though they are paved, they are far from smooth, and all that pitted roughness results in *lots* of water accumulation on them! I should have slowed down a bit...) Needless to say, Ed's car is toast. That was around 12:30 yesterday, and "Ophelia" was just some scattered heavy showers. Nonetheless, businesses were closed all over Jacksonville and New Bern (I went to both to try to find an open Cingular store, so I could change my number to make Ed's calls from Iraq free), and I shoulda' just stayed home!

As I spent the remainder of the day in the ER, the wind and rain picked up quite a bit -- unbeknownst to me, of course, as I went from X-ray to MRI in my neck brace. By the time I was released (around 18:30), Jacksonville's residents supposedly had a 19:00 curfew, and the KEY volunteer (USMC spousal "club") said that she couldn't come get me. I had to call my new boss (guess I hadn't mentioned that I am working a few hours a day as a cashier at a little country diner/restaurant up the road...) to see if she could take me home. She wanted me to stay the night!, but my poor puppies had been in their kennel for going on 12 hours!!! And besides that, I wouldn't be able to stand it, staying there against my will, when I had already been discharged to go home! So she had another old guy from work drive them out to get me, stopping by the pharmacy for my all-important pain meds (my ribcage feels like it was used by a NW lumberjack in a log-rolling contest!), and what would normally be about a 25/30-minute drive home took a bit over an hour! There were trees blown down and leaves littering *everywhere*, and we hit a few of those seemingly innocent road puddles with a slight skid every now and then, too!

Well, it was just a bit after 20:00 when I finally got to my house, and I could see by the neighborhood enveloped in black that the power was out -- don't know for exactly how long, but it wasn't fresh, because it was pretty damn warm in the house, and the fridge felt less than cold, too (I hope all the food I *just* bought will be okay!), so I'm guessing a few hours already! I was pretty lucky that I had decided to keep a spare house key in my truck for just such moments as this... when I got to the door, I realized that my keys were with the car! Had to put a Walgreen's bag over my head to keep the fresh staples dry (can't wash it until later tonight, and boy, do I feel GROSS!) while I rummaged in my truck for the key -- a task made quite difficult by the wind! I thanked my boss, lit one candle in a jar, took my drugs and ate my spaghetti dinner that she had brought and left with me while the wind blew rain down like mad outside! I tried to let the poor, cooped-up dogs run around for a bit (as much as I could stand it, anyway -- I really just wanted them to BE STILL! ;-D), and then we all lay around quietly in the dark, waiting for the power to come back on. Until about 13:40 today.

So here I am, with my half-Pippi hairdo (you'd probably laugh if you could see it -- the very sweet black nurse that was helping wash the clotted mats out of my hair swept as much as she could out of the way and braided it into a looped pigtail on the left side of my head. There's still a scattered spray of messy hair on the other side, and -- of course -- not all of the blood could be neatly rinsed out of it! So I think that with my bruised face/neck/chin and my clumpy hair, I must look a lot like something out of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video... or at least Lori's Lego version! ;-DDD Needless to say, I *won't* be venturing out of the house anytime soon (so I *really* hope that all the food in the fridge is good, too!), and I have to be careful not to leave blood wherever I put my head -- it's kind of like having just colored your hair! ;-D

Hopefully, Ophelia let most everyone else off a little bit luckier, with just a power outage! When I called to report it this morning, the recording said some number over 46,000 residents were currently without power -- and that's just with *my* power company, Progress Energy! I know Jones-Onslow had to have had quite a number as well!! The recording also said that about 900 electrical technicians were out and about trying to get power back up for everyone in about 5 or 6 counties. Purchase of a generator (not during hurricane season!) is next on our homeowners shopping list!

The sun is just starting to peek out as I write this, so I guess it's pretty much over. Not a HUGE hurricane, Ophelia -- only a Class I (thankfully!), and nowhere near Katrina -- but I know *I* sure won't forget her... the bitch! ;-DDD

Scott Horowitz | September 15, 2005
The important question, will the head wound hurt your chances of guessing goos correctly?

Amy Austin | September 15, 2005
You're so stupid, Scott.

I don't know -- I guess we'll see, won't we. ;-)

Scott Horowitz | September 15, 2005
thanks.... I wanted to get a laugh out of you... in all seriousness, how're you feeling?

Amy Austin | September 15, 2005
Well, I'm pretty good, all things considered (better than last night, anyway!)... and you didn't get an outright laugh, but will a silent chuckle do ya'?

Scott Horowitz | September 15, 2005
that works ;)

Amy Austin | September 15, 2005
Okay, actually, I just went and had my first look in the mirror today and discovered why they couldn't seem to understand why my right ear hurt so bad! It didn't appear cut or abraded to them (although it *was* bloody!), because my actual lobe separated by about an 1/8" at the bottom! I guess they couldn't tell this by looking at it. By all rights, it should probably have gotten a stitch, but oh well.

Scott Horowitz | September 15, 2005
I just find it amusing they named the hurricane "Ophelia" has a good literary reference (which is appropropriate for a hurricane)

Lori Lancaster | September 15, 2005
[hidden by request]

Amy Austin | September 16, 2005
Thanks, Lori...

Yes, Scott -- I couldn't stop thinking of Hamlet myself, but my vision of Ophelia is that peaceful repose in the water, holding a bouquet of forget-me-nots. Hmm... at least the flower part is correct!

Just took my first shower in almost 48 hours and washed this mess on my head -- I think I have a more definitive opinion of the smell of blood now... it's gross. SO glad I'm not in E's line of work -- I'm pretty sure that I could not hack it without some kind of mind-altering help (sedative, adrenaline, I don't know...) -- it's hard enough to handle your own blood and guts, let alone somebody else's!

Aaron Shurtleff | September 16, 2005
I have to admit, I was thinking the same question as Scott when I was reading through your ordeal. I figured if you were well enough to write about it, you were probably going to pull through OK. I guess I'm just an ass. A crass ass. :)

In all seriousness, damn that sucks. Good fortune, speedy recovery, warm fuzzies and all that kind of thing!

And the ear lobe information was just too much. Yuck! :P

Denise Sawicki | September 16, 2005
Darrell got staples in the head once and it didn't look like fun! But you look so cheerful in your picture...

John E Gunter | September 16, 2005
I'd say something about crass asses, but I'm supposed to behave so...

Anyway, hope you're feeling better Amy. Having lived in Florida, I know well how easy a car can hydro-plane. Although it's hard to do, you need to remember to not put your foot on the brake as soon as you feel the car go into the skid.

That only makes it worst. Course, when you have a car in front of you hit the brakes as they go through that puddle, it's kind of hard not to do it yourself, but...

Well, hope things get better for you soon. Keep the dogs company and take it easy for the next few days.


Michael Paul Cote | September 16, 2005
Glad that you are ok all in all. If it makes you feel any better about the ear thingy, when I had my car accident (many moons ago) I was in the emergency room for over three hours before anyone thought to roll me over and check my back. Findings: massive internal bleeding, ruptured spleen and a kidney ripped off the artery. I laid like that for 3 hours! But again, glad to know that you are going to pull through. And for Scott's benefit, I think it would take a bit more than a blow to the head to effect your goo abilities. lol

Amy Austin | September 16, 2005
Thanks, everybody... including the crass asses!

Yeah, Michael, those ER people can be so... well, they can be any combination of things -- they're humans, too (though they may forget it sometimes!). Since my husband is an emergency provider, he doesn't like it when I talk bad about them, but my previous experience in the ER (what I once would have called "my last") was pretty bad: really jaded, callous, and rude people. I was unconscious when admitted that time (hit a tree on my bike -- but I think I had actually passed out first -- long story), and I lay on a stab board with a neck brace for who knows how long... long enough that I woke up on it anyway! I was getting wheeled down a hallway when I woke up, and it freaked me out that I was in that situation. But I stayed calm, thinking that "these people will take care of me..." -- until they left me in a room for so long that I was crying and screaming for them to come and get me off of that goddamn board! I mean, my back and the back of my head felt as though somebody had slammed me onto a concrete slab and then just left me there to die! I must have cried for someone for like half an hour, and then they acted all like I was a whiny nuisance. (And so for this reason, this time, I begged them not to "forget" about me and leave me on that board for too long! They got me off of it as quickly as possible, which was great!)

That same trip, the nurse who stitched up my *other* ear that had some minor lacerations on the lobe was a real BITCH -- she gave me a local shot and then just started stitching away! I was screaming at her, and she was all like, "oh, just calm down" and I was like, "well, why don't you WAIT for the fucking local to take effect before you start sticking me with your goddamn needle!" What's the point of a local, if you're not going to let it take effect?! That bitch gave me six stitches total, only one of which was not felt! Since I had arrived unconscious, they also gave me a Foley (a catheter -- which I was pretty unhappy to discover upon awakening!), and -- of course -- I wanted to pee like normal as soon as I was able to, and so I didn't use the foley while awake. When I told them I had to go, they were just like, "oh, well go then!" And I was like, "No, somebody get this thing out of me and show me where the bathroom is!" (I had an as-yet-undiscovered broken toe, too -- so you can imagine how stable I was for walking... talk about looking like a zombie!) So they finally relented to my demands to remove the foley, and when they did, I asked the nurse where the bathroom was -- possibly the same one who stitched up my ear later (I'm not being totally chronological here...) -- and she was all like, "oh, you don't have to go... it just feels like it when they remove the foley" -- as if I hadn't been holding it since I'd been awake already and didn't know any better! I was like, "NO, I HAVE TO GO!" She was even looking at the contents of the bag and saying that she'd be real surprised if I really did have to go, because of how much was in it! (I guess she forgot about all the IV fluids being pumped into me...) I wish I had dragged her into the bathroom with me when I finally did get to go -- it was the best and longest piss I ever took and sounded like Niagara Falls! I just would have loved for her to know what an idiot she was.

This recent experience was in complete opposition to all that -- everyone was VERY nice to me and treated me with complete courtesy and regard for my feelings. Because of this, I won't hold it against them that they missed a stitch in my earlobe. ;-D (And that *is* awful what they missed on you, Michael... sounds really painful, too!) Yeah, I think I'll make it... ;-D

John -- Believe it or not, it's second nature for me *not* to hit the brakes when hydro-planing (I've managed to correct out of it several times in Florida!)... for me, the problem is more in over-correcting with the steering wheel, as I did this time. This is the second time that I've put myself off the road in the opposite direction I was traveling in because of an overcorrection in steering. No brakes, though -- got that part beat!

Oh, and Denise -- I am trying to stay cheerful, but I don't think you'll be seeing any pictures of what I look like right now! ;-D

Scott Hardie | September 24, 2005
I missed the wave of well-wishing, Amy, but I'm glad you're doing better, and I hope the earlobe and toe heal quickly. Between this, Ed's departure and the accelerated move to a new house, you've been through a hell of a hard time lately. For your sake I'm glad you're a tough woman. :-)

My last ER experience five years ago was also frustrating, but at least I wasn't in pain like you or Mike. Still awake in the middle of the night, I had the sudden onset of very pronounced symptoms of a heart attack, except for the chest pain (which I figured was imminent). Like most guys, I only go to the hospital when it's really bad, and this was really bad. But the nurses acted like I had a hangnail, and took forever filling out my chart and testing my blood pressure while I sat there trying not to panic. Then came the time to insert a needle, but I was so fat they couldn't make out any veins: It took eight doctors 45 minutes to get one in, with lots of misses and broken blood vessels along the way. By this time, my heart attack symptoms had all disappeared, and instead I had acute nausea from hearing about needles and veins for so long, and I almost fainted. In the end, it was diagnosed as a "caffeine overdose" and I was sent home well into the morning feeling just fine. What a waste of time.

Amy Austin | September 24, 2005
Yeah, ERs are definitely ranked *really low* on my list of favorite places in the world... right around the same neighborhood as slaughterhouses and gulags (I'm guessing that it would fall somewhere right above this, since I've never visited either of those two, but imagine them to be pretty horrible places).

Thanks, Scott, and you're right -- it's not been a fun couple of months around here... I have other "issues" that I haven't even been writing about (mostly just misbehaving puppies and money), and I feel so worn out and alone. However... I guess either I wasn't very clear or you just read through my earlier posts too quickly: the toe has been healed for ten years now -- that was a most horrible prior ER visit that I was compare/contrasting to my recent trip, where everyone was just terrific (except for the missed earlobe, in which I regret to say that it appears I may be retaining a permanent -- but thankfully small -- notch when it's done... it didn't stay stuck and really should have had a stitch or two :-( ). And besides that, it's really the fact that I'm still having significant back pain that has me quite worried...

I don't feel so "tough" lately, either -- more like on the verge of a breakdown -- but thanks... I'll try harder to live up to that rep... ;-D

Scott Hardie | September 29, 2005
Oops... I was reading too fast. Well, I'm glad you have one less thing to worry about then, I suppose. :-) Feel better.

Gee, they always make ERs look so glamourous on television...

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