vrijdag, januari 27, 2006

Update February 26th: for everybody who doesn't know: i'm back at work, and as far as we know i hardly have any consequences of the crash described below... Lucky me!

January 18th 2006 around 18:30 i had a car accident. For my own recollection i jot down what happened.

I was driving home in my little Fiat Cinquecento on a small dark road between Moordrecht and Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel, parallel to the freeway. It was dark, but i had a clear view. Far away i saw a car in front of me (red lights) and a car driving in my direction (white lights). The red lights changed lanes (from right to left) and back again and disappeared. I concluded it overtoke something, maybe a tractor. I assumed i would see it when i would be near it. A little later, i wasn't keeping time, the car coming my way closed in and i was a little blinded by it's lights.

After this, i have no recollection of what happened. My memory picked up from the time i was transported to the hospital. From pieces of information others provided, the next puzzle is put together:

- at some point in time (maybe while the other car was next to me, maybe later) i came aware of a trailer or the container. They were parked on may lane, blocking it. It had no lights, so i saw it really late. From the 12 meters of brake marks, the police calculate i was driving between about 60 kilometers an hour. Again: i do not recollect seeing this, braking or hitting the trailer. By the way: in 1 second, at 60 kilomters an hour, you travel 16.67 meters.

- the police received a call of my accident at 18:37

- when the police arrived, they saw 3 cars with Dutch numberplates. The policeman recalls everybody at the seen speaking English (weird huh :-)?!)

- i have been reported to talk (English) to the English people, and (Dutch :-)) to the policeman. Also present was the driver of the truck that parked the trailer and container. I have also been speaking with him, i was told. I like the idea he was there, as he now saw my face totally covered with blood, so he better realized what had happened

- at some point they put a hard plank underneath me, and made me leigh down on it. As they did not know whether i had broken my neck or bake, they used stuff to ensure my neck would not move while being transported.

- lateron something sprang to my mind: was it the right mobile number of my wife i had given to the police. And this made me understand i apparently gave this mobile number to the police :-)

- at the hospital they made a large number of photo's and scans to see whether my neck or back was broken. I met my wife when being returned from this photo session. The fact my face was still covered with blood made her unsure on my status

- as soon as it turned out my neck and back were not broken, they started to stitch the wounds on my forehead and knees

- the next couple of (36) hours they measured several things, and noticed the level of oxygen in my blood kept falling, pointing to an internal bleeding. By pressing certain bodyparts they try to see what might be damaged, but this method did not disclose what was wrong. So they made me drink a bottle of stuff that would show my soft organs on the x-rays. Based on the X-ray they estimated there was about half a liter of blood in the sack around my lungs. This had to come out, so they inserted a 'drain'. This was my 1st. It is inserted after local anestesia. The next couple of days about 300 ml blood exited my body through the drain. The oxygen level leveled and it was assumed the interal bleeding had stopped by itself. If this wouldn't have happened, they would have had to open me to close the gap.

- the same X-ray showed i had 3 broken ribs.

- the guy that picked up my wrecked car told my insurance agent he was afraid of asking how the person was doing that had been inside that car. After hearing i was doing o.k., he told that my head would be on the back seat when i had crashed into the trailer just a little harder. And the policeman that was the first to assist me after the crash and visited a few days later said: "You don't know how glad i am to see you alive"...

- i was told the driver that had parked his trailer on my lane, was given a fine, as it was clearly dangerous to do so, without any signals, lights etc

On January 24th i was released from the hospital. The next couple of days walking will be slow (my knees are pretty hurt) and my ribcage is pretty sore.

Considering the damage to my car, the blow my body must have taken and the relative minimal damage to my body, i think i'm very lucky. So any angels that helped: thanks!!! And thanks to everybody that expressed sympathy by sending emails, cards, flowers and/or fruit-baskets!


That's it. But this is just my story. My wife told a friend how SHE experienced the whole situation. I guess i'd rather be the patient here, than having it the other wat around. Here's how my wife experienced it:

"hmm, the shock and fear factor don't come at the beginning, strangely enough. You don't really have the time at that moment, you're just being dragged into the flow and you'll have to go with it.

when I arrived in the ER around 20:30h, Raoul was still strapped down to one of those emergency boards, you know, head and neck fixed, hips strapped down so he couldn't move a muscle. They had two IV's running, they'd washed at least a bit of blood away and there were all kinds of electrodes on him as they'd made a heart-image (how do you call that) already.
His clothes were all cut away / open, the knees weren't bleeding that much anymore, they'd already taken care of that as well and he was just back from his first session of MRI's, X-rays and such and we had to wait for the results until they would release him from his uncomfortable position (to protect his neck and back).

He talked to me, which was a good sign, and he was complaining about his feet, because his heels were on the edge of the board so it was not pleasant for him, but I just thought: I don't care, it's a good sign that you feel them at all and your back and neck are of more importance so sorry, but the heels will have to wait... :-)

Then the results came back and they said he was okay so far and they were cutting him loose, which was a relief already. They moved him on his side to manually check his back and neck, and that also was good.

Then of course he was telling about the pain in his chest which gave me at least a bit of worries, but he was breathing on his own, so basically, I was relieved at that point.

It took a long while before they were finished with everything, from the stitching to the plenty more rounds of X-rays and heart-movies they made) though, and at one point (where the stitching began) I almost fainted. Around midnight he was transferred to a real bed (wow, they do that lift and carry somebody over from one bed to another quickly!) and they brought him to a private room. I stayed a while longer and made him a sandwich, since he hadn't had dinner that evening and he couldn't have anything in the ER until they were satisfied there wasn't anything else amiss on the inside.

I had my neighbor with me, his wife stayed with the kids, and he drove me to the hospital and brought me back home that night.That was a good thing, I wasn't alone.
I did start shaking when he left and I was all alone in the house, with the kids fast asleep.
I turned the computer on to email school that the kids wouldn't be in in time the next morning. Luckily a very close friend of ours just happened to send me an email around 00:30 that night, so I immediately replied that he had to call me, and I got the chance to talk to somebody. That was good, cause I really needed that, and I didn't want to wake anybody up but I really had to talk to somebody. And he was there.

Well, basically there was nothing I could do anymore at that moment and they were going to wake Raoul and check his vitals every other hour or so, so they told me to keep the phone with me, so I left it next to me in bed.
I didn't sleep much that night. I think I only fell asleep when it was 5 in the morning or so.

At 08:30 in the morning Raoul's boss rang and woke me up that way. It scared me to death, because I thought it was the hospital. But, the guy I spoke with in the middle of the night also knows Raoul's boss, so that's how they already figured out something was wrong.. news travels fast.... I told him the whole story, then hang up and rang the hospital to hear Raoul made it through the night alright and they told me he was in the shower! I couldn't believe what I was hearing!

So... made breakfast for the kiddies, brought them to school, started making some phone calls and around 10:30 I was back in the hospital with some clothes and stuff and found Raoul sitting up on the bed. So his head looked better with most of the blood washed out of his hair.. I was SO glad he was sort of okay and we just sat there, for an hour or so, holding hands. They called us the lovebirds, LOL. I made sure he had his lunch, then I went back to arrange some things, do some quick grocery
shopping and such and picked up the kids from school, went to buy Raoul flowers and we were back at the hospital for the regular visiting hour at 16:00h. The kids were SO happy and relieved to see him, they were really shocked of course. But it did them well, that visit. My parents came to the house to cook dinner, so I had lots of help,
lucky me. And right after dinner we visited Raoul again in the evening.

Anyway, it was the next day that scared me the most. In the morning they told him to get out of bed and start trying to walk (his knees were badly swollen, and so were his ankles) but in the afternoon he was back in bed, because he was still having a fever and certain levels in his blood were dropping, they did this CAT-scan and
discovered the internal bleeding. Then I went with him when they put that drain in, and he was of course not feeling too hot then, and I was just plain scared. It gives you this uncontrolled feeling, like the patient survived the crash but due to complications died anyway...
Because I couldn't really show my feelings at home ( I wanted to remain calm for the kids) I spent a while crying in the car on the parking lot when I had to leave that evening.
The next day I did call in the morning and they told me he was doing fine, but I couldn't really believe them until I saw him myself that afternoon. So that was not fun at all.

Luckily the drain did its work though, and the bleeding stopped and they didn't have to do surgery, so again, he was lucky and all turned out ok.

Every night at home was hectic cause the phone didn't stop ringing. Raoul has LOTS of colleagues and such and we have family and friends and they all were calling to see how he was doing. So again, you go with the flow and hardly have time to think about stuff. On Monday, they removed the drain, and on Tuesday, one week after the accident, I got to take him home.

Basically then, when the hectic days are over and you're settling down at home, making him comfortable and arranging stuff like insurance(sue the bad guys here, I mean, we are going to claim all the damage that's been done to us, right) and seeing the wreck he's made of his little car... that's when there's time for dealing with the shock and fear.

I lay awake the first night, watching over him, still afraid the bleeding might return... I just had to hear him breath ... Realization how close you came to losing him sinks in, I mean, you've been telling the tale over and over, and told everybody how lucky he's been, but then it's time for yourself to deal with it. It all comes in
small parts. Another night, the whole movie played by me from the beginning, especially that first evening in the ER, as earlier that week, I didn't have the time to think about that, so it all came back to me in small pieces...

Another thing I found hard to do, while I'm not holding a grudge or anything, but the man who had put the container and trailer there on the road where he wasn't supposed to... he called, and it was hard to listen to him, when he spoke of how hard his weekend had been. I can understand that, but hey, ours was worse, right?

That's what I mean with the shock and fear factor don't come at the beginning... does that make sense?"

6 opmerkingen:

  1. Oh my god Raoul... sweetheart you really did yourself in! In one very selfish way i am incredibly glad i am hearing about it after it has happened, because i'd be sick with worry for you! It sounds absolutely horrible, but all i can think is how goddamn relieved i am that you came through it in one piece. It could have been so much worse and i am so glad, *so* glad it wasn't.
    I hope you're taking this opportunity to rest up and watch lots of Battlestar Galactica while the kids fetch and carry things for you, right? :P
    Take care of yourself, i hope everything heals really quickly.

  2. Ruud Peeters9:39 p.m.

    Raoul, what do i read now on your webblog. You got an accident and a big one to. Hope your are doing fine. I think you're not working yet, ore do you. And do the kids help you a lot.
    how are your ribs, now? feeling sure.
    Lots of grretz from Wijchen, mail you as soon as possible.

  3. It's unbelievable!
    I've seen some video's of crash tests with a Smart, but you tried it yourself with a Cinquecento!
    Don't you ever read the pay-ofs that say: don't trie this at home?
    So happy to read you're still there to tell us the story! Now go buy yourself a car with a big nose...

  4. pheral9:59 p.m.

    ok, lol, i give up. i sent you a reply to let you know i resent the emails to corine, and now yours bounced back!! Lmao. Yeesh, i'm going to bed... :P

  5. Ruud Peeters7:25 a.m.

    Raoul, what do i read now on your webblog. You got an accident and a big one to. Hope your are doing fine. I think you're not working yet, ore do you. And do the kids help you a lot.
    how are your ribs, now? feeling sure.
    Lots of grretz from Wijchen, mail you as soon as possible.

  6. pheral7:25 a.m.

    ok, lol, i give up. i sent you a reply to let you know i resent the emails to corine, and now yours bounced back!! Lmao. Yeesh, i'm going to bed... :P