Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Flying By Hoyer Lift

If you are lucky enough to have never dealt with a Hoyer Lift consider yourself blessed.  It’s a crane used to get immobile people into and out of beds and chairs. Here’s  the company literature on the subject of this very useful tool:

They roll you from side to side in bed and put what amounts to a huge IKEA bag under you with six loops all round it.  Then they bring the lift into your room and attach loops to hooks on the machine. 

Sosa a nurse’s aide got me out of bed and into my wheelchair all by himself. He’s prettty smart and very compassionate like everyone at Health South. And efficient: 

So there you hang like a sack of potatoes and I love it! It’s like flying. The bag holds you distributing your weight evenly and you are up in the air smiling like a big fat newborn.  Getting photobombed (I told you these people are amazing). Hilarious. 

After Physical Therapy they rolled me back to my room in the wheelchair and left me to have lunch sitting up with a promise of a return later to Hoyer me back to bed.  Which was great for a change but after half an hour I felt myself slipping forward in the chair. Hmm.  That’s not right. As you can see below my feet are in no position to support me yet. 

Well, with my left foot not on the support and my right leg broken in two places there was no way to stop the slide. My emergency button was out of reach - duh! - and the door was closed but I started yelling. “Help! Room 508! Help! Someone? Help! Anyone!” After scrambling a bit and trying to gain time by wiggling I reached the button and caught it as it fell toward the floor.  Help arrived. Lots of help. They righted the tilting ship that was Conchscooter in his wheelchair and a party ensued. 

You lovely people.  Lots of laughs. Back to bed. Bring on the Hoyer Lift I say! 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Awaiting Torture

This whole business of nearly dying and being resuscitated is a bit new to me. Mostly it has, as you would expect with me, brought on a lot of heavy thinking about life and the meaning of fear and love and obligation and use of time. More prosaically it means rehab. 

First it meant a mundane ambulance transfer out of Jackson South to the rehab at Health South.  A rough ride on my still torn pelvis it was too. No luxury there. 

It was done late at night so I saw nothing of the world outside.  The EMT monitoring me used to live in the Lower Keys which created an instant bond. We Are Everywhere. Moving out of the hospital meant no more trauma alerts and while it is medically supervised you are presumed to have basic health status: ie breath and not be anywhere near ready to pop off.  Gone are the IVs and monitors reduced to four checks daily of blood pressure on a rolling device.  Very nice.

A long way from ICU where I lay bleeding out one end as they poured blood in the other. I arrived around ten pm Friday and as such have not yet seen the gym known to some inmates as the torture chamber. I am a little apprehensive as they say Physical Therapy is torture.  Not exercise, but making your body do what it feels it cannot do. For my part I want to walk and shit in the toilet. I hope I am ready for what is to come. 
Thanks for demanding I keep up this page.  I shall do my best to be coherent and spell checked as I type on my phone on my back through the haze of all these experiences. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Off To Rehab

Today is the day I supposedly am sent forth by Cigna Insurance to a rehab facility of their choice for several months struggle with Physical Therapy. 

Every step on this arduous journey involves a voyage into the unknown for me who has never been in the hospital before. Sean my six foot eight inch Physical Therapist has explained the process and it is a fearsome mountain to climb to regain use of my lower body. Without him I’d not have taken the first steps. 

In hospital one lives a different life cut off from concerns about hurricanes and political scandals and economic indicators and pop stars fighting. Did he have a bowel movement? That’s a big one. Taking a shit indicates all is well with the world, never mind 160 mph winds in the Philippines. 

While the administrators decide where to send me I prepare to leave Jackson South for places unknown. And regimens unknown and all I can think is how soon will I be shitting on a toilet not in the sheets? It’s a much bigger deal than you realize.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Slow Recovery

Slowly I move forward toward the sunlit uplands people walk and play and eat and drink with a second thought. For the time being I am a mass of chemicals and proportions and numbers my blood oxydation is fine without tubes now. Physical Therapy has me sitting up two hours a day. A team of dedicated nurses wipe my bottom and inspect my wet stools (“No blood! “Fabiola shouted triumphantly as though I’d laid an egg). I am no longer shy of exposing my testicles for cleaning to a pair of unerotic cheerful cleaning hands.  “Swelling has gone down Mr Michael!” announces Maria like the cheerleader she should be. 

She likes to shave but we have to send to the OR got the blades as there are none in intensive care. My wife is not simply permitted to go out and buy blades. They have to be approved. Maria worried I would like cut of the shave. I was happy to have clean sheets and clean cheeks. Mauricio the blood tech was enchanted ‘Oh to have a girlfriend who would do that ‘ he murmured over and over again. Maria ignored him. My wife held him back  

But in the end we are obstacles to time off. Mirta was eager to go get her hair done for her weekend off. Fabiola had a concert ...”If I don’t see you...” the implicit sub-text being better not to see you else you will still be a useless lump of metamorphosing beetle helpless on your back when time off is over. Anything is better than that. Father John from St Richards came by radiating disapproval and lack of love all Irish pink flesh and stern upper lip. I confessed my paltry sins but got him to accidentally slip me some ice water melt which tasted heavenly after I got Last Rites and all was forgiven: he looked at me like something a starving polar bear would discard. 

The boys send photos of Rusty I pore over like a distant lover seeking portents of future harmony. Webb Chiles writes me unsentimental letters from his sailing base in South Carolina riding out Hurricane Florence. He drinks my share of the guns and tonics we would share were I there with him. Humor I enjoy as he drinks and now I can’t 

My world is circumscribed by my blood pressure and my needles to which I am no longer the least bit phobic. “Need blood? Go for it,” I offer jocularly. Need to stick a basket in a vein to catch errant clots? My groin is your groin. No pain too much no humiliation too great.” 

I no longer much care about politics or the world or insurance companies.  I long for my breathing tube to be removed from my nose allowing a to return to eating and drinking normally. Nothing extravagant but I crave cereal with milk and fresh fruits and Gatorade with electrolytes and long cold cups of water. And sweet yoghurt.  That is the extent of my world these days. Maybe Monday the goddamn tube goes. Maybe Monday I order breakfast for lunch. A Red Letter Day that would be. Indeed.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


The first thing they tell you is everything will take longer than you expect. A week in the hospital feels like forever but it’s nothing. I am still shitting in the bed no chance of even a bed pan. 
They roll me and pull out turd covered sheets as needed. So humiliating for a 60 year old adult. 

Fortunately the other party is 100 percent at fault according to the Highway Patrol. But it takes time and money to repair a pelvic bone and a femur. 

A little at a time as Chris lovely Philippine male nurse puts it. He is excited to get a much desired Tesla on Friday to help save the environment for his kids as he puts it. 

My wife shared the room at first though now KWPD has put her up in a hotel to help her sleep. 

And so it goes at Jackson south. Great people but damn am am I tired of being here! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Spectacular Afteroon.

I sent a letter to my colleagues this weekend explaining why I won’t be back at work for several weeks:  

I was lying on my back unable to move staring at the lovely blue sky and white clouds and all I could think was “How does the tunnel of white light appear?” I never lost consciousness as I approached the white Sedan which suddenly and inexplicably pulled into Highway One as I approached at a steady 45 mph. I was in a line of cars and trucks driving to Key West and as I live on Spanish Main I had barely started my commute as I pulled abreast of the intersection at the Square Grouper at the group speed driving the limit of 45 mph. 
I knew I was going to hit the car with my Burgman 200 scooter and all I could do was try to slow down as much as possible in the few feet remaining. The scooter stopped and I levitated. All I could see was a kaleidoscope of white car as I spun around my legs flung so wide I split my
Pelvis in three places. I broke my right thigh in two places and I caused minor cracks in
My left shoulder and right knee. 

I lay there unable to move never mind get up. I felt like I was morphing into Kafka’s beetle as I prepared to meet my Maker. Civilians crowded around as we waited for Rescue and I shouted out to call my wife and I yelled her number as loud as I could. She could hear me in the background yelling to tell her I loved her as the stranger told her of my condition. She understood I thought it was curtains. 
Then I started to worry about shift coverage. I kid you not. I did the same yelling to get someone to
call dispatch and tell them I wouldn’t be in. I hate being relieved late and it was all I could think as I lay on the hot asphalt. 
My right leg felt funny like it was raised in the air on a spring and I couldn’t move it. I asked the stranger leaning over me if my leg was in the air and he looked puzzled. and shook his head. I was suddenly afraid I had half amputated it....
Then I relaxed nothing left to do, and as the awfulness of my situation sank in I started to feel alone, I was feeling colder so I knew I was losing blood ( a lot it later turned out)and simply put I didn’t want to die alone but no one would take my hand - too much blood they said and recoiled. So there I lay in a circle of strangers waving my bloody hand feebly in the air waiting for the for the Grim Reeper to you come and get me. I wondered idly what he journey to the afterlife might be like. For a traveler like me all journeys hold at least some interest. 
Then the first responders showed up and everything became efficient. I was conscious breathing and alert. They put me on a backboard and wondered out loud about my internal
Bleeding status. I got my bag and my phone and is what I do best: remember the moment:Image
I don’t usually take selfies but the seemed special suddenly. The ambulance ride was agony as from
The waist down I was a jumbled painful wreck. Getting into the air ambulance was terrifying as the stretcher felt it was being canted to the left as they slid my 280 pounds into the tiny cabin. Image
The cabin was tiny and I could count he dimples in the plastic roof liner a foot above me hear. The shock was wearing off and the pain was replacing it. Dull throbbing insistent pain as though my waist had been run over by a road roller. That flight from Summerland to Jackson South was the longest flight of my adventurous life. God bless the sheriff for offering it and saving us from
predatory bills. Image
Soon enough I was in care. My blood was too thin from al the blood loss for immediate surgery but they did a CAT scan and found -miraculously- no Internal bleeding. The surgeon eased my pain by drilling through flesh and bone in my thigh, which hurt like an unmentionable and stretched the bones back into place which gave immediate relief. Image

They have fixed my femur in a six hour operation and Tuesday I get my pelvis repaired. And then weeks of hobbling and rehab I’m told as I look for a replacement scooter. 
All best wishes 
Michael Beattie 
Comm 2 Bravo Nights.