Survival Of The Non-Fittest #3: No Nice Comfy Life Back!

Those early days during the first week after Molly crashed her car were filled with people telling me my life would never be the same, and that it was very, very serious.

I was desperate to find a ray of sunshine, some glimmer of hope, something to smile about in the middle of all of the chaos.  Something, anything I could be optimistic about, but the medical people we had around us at the time, the people who were right in front of us and who we had to look to for expertise and guidance, well, I guess they felt the need to practice tough love and no hope.  It didn’t help my state of mind or Molly’s, and it felt terrible.

It would also not be the last time that the medical people would try to stop and cure Molly and I of thinking there might be anything to be optimistic about. I appreciate however that these folks did not want us to kid ourselves or to cling to what they called ‘false hopes’. Anyway you cut it though, hope is still hope.

I really didn’t understand any of it. I heard what everyone was saying to me … but there was a part of me that was shut down.  Looking back, I think it was some kind of survival mechanism in me that took over. Plus, though I didn’t know it at the time, I was deep in shock.  In fact, I didn’t realize that I was in shock and STILL in shock, until 7 years later.

So nothing people were telling me really sank all the way in.  Without realizing it I did my best to deflect, and I had no idea or training for how to process personal tragedy on this level, let alone move through it.

I know it may sound strange but I was still hoping that somehow it was all a bad dream, and that I was going to wake up at any minute and I have my nice comfy life back.

Nope. No nice comfy life back.

We were about 3 or 4 days after Molly’s accident now, and there was a conversation about moving her to Stanford Hospital. Stanford was closer to home and they had a rehab ward there.

Meanwhile the doctors put a Halo on Molly. A Halo holds the head in place and is supposed to keep the head from turning and lock it into place.  Kind of like a cast over a broken leg or arm, but in this case it is a metal halo cage with metal straps and metal bars that they attached to Molly’s head with four POINTED screws. They just screwed the pointed screw tips right into her skull without any anesthesia, and every time that halo was jostled or bumped (which happened a lot) those pointed screws would bite painfully into her skull.

To make matters worse, they put the halo on crooked. We noticed it right away and pointed it out. It was misaligned but the doctors and other people at this particular hospital said it was fine and not to worry.

It wasn’t fine though. The mis-alignment had Molly’s head cocked to the side, and instead of her nose lining up with her belly button so that she faced straight, it was lined up about 2 inches to the side of her belly button.

Oh, and fyi, remembering all of this again makes me want to break stuff!

By the end of that first week, Molly was moved to the Stanford Hospital rehab ward, crooked halo and all.  She ended up being the only one in rehab with a spinal cord injury.  She also ended up being the last spinal cord injury that Stanford would bring into their rehab ward, as they soon realized that they were not set up for spinal cord injury patients and that other facilities in the bay area were better equipped.

We were glad she was at Stanford however. Molly was now about 2 miles from home which was much more easily accessible to me and to all of our friends, and away from the chaos of the intensive care trauma ward that we were so glad to get out of.

Here is a picture of Molly with Halo. We got someone at Stanford to listen, and they agreed and re-aligned it correctly!! She also decorated the dangerous ends of the metal bars with rubber balls after one of the Stanford nurses almost got impaled. Seriously!!

Molly with decorated 'halo'