Well, if you hadn’t heard, I was in a car accident early Saturday morning, which is why I have been silent on the blog. Here is a quick rundown of what happened.
I spent the day Friday with the youth from my church at their annual youth conference. I had been one of the speakers to the group and then late Friday evening met with just the kids in my ward. Because my daughter had recently gotten home from her spinal surgery, I decided to drive home Friday night and be there to help out with her, since my wife had been doing the caring pretty much solo.
At 12:20 a.m. Saturday (I know the time because I had just looked at the clock and figured out how long it would be before I was home) with rain falling, I hit a big patch of standing water on the left lane of southbound I-17 just a few miles south of Cordes Junction. I hydroplaned, couldn’t correct the spin, went into a total spin, crossing the right lane and hitting the dirt on the right side of the road and going into a multiple roll.
The car came to rest on the roof with me dangling from my seatbealt. I got the seatbelt unbuckled and crawled through the driver’s side window (which had busted out during the roll over.) I was a little off the freeway and it took about 10 minutes for someone to finally stop. All I know about the guy that stopped is that his name is Patrick and he was driving a rental. I don’t know where he is from or anything else. But I am extremely grateful that he stopped, called 911, let me sit in his car while we waited for emergency response and let me use his phone so I could call my wife and tell her that I was ok, but it was going to be a long night. Turned out to be longer than I had thought.
The emergency response was a crew from the town of Mayer. Real salt of the earth, and very good at what they do. I don’t remember my paramedic’s name, but his family has a place in Linden – and we talked about Show Low and hunting in the White Mountains as I was strapped to a backboard, immobilized by the neck brace, riding in an ambulance to John C. Lincoln Deer Valley. I had a pretty sore “lower quadrant” (left lower ribs/abdominal area) but the pain subsided by the time we got to Phoenix.
Once at JCL Deer Valley, I got a CAT scan and the doctor told me that I had a lacerated spleen and they were going to transport me to a Trauma center (John C. Lincoln North Mountain) to have it taken care of. So, I had the second ambulance ride of my life.
Sidebar: So I was obviously a little shaken up right after the crash, but I didn’t have a scratch on me – literally, not a mark, which was a common notation the next few hours. Also, for the record, I did not fall asleep – I was loudly singing “Free Falling” by Tom Petty which was being played on 96.9 FM (rich irony, I know) and had a half-finished soda the balance of which ended up on my sleeve. Also, I was going the speed limit and I was NOT on an electronic device. In fact, both my cell phone an d my blackberry were lost in the accident – I’m assuming thrown out into the desert during the rolling since they were both on my console. End sidebar
As I was rolled into the Trauma center, I could sense a real change in the way things were being handled. There was real urgency in the air. The rest of my clothes came off (except my dark socks, which really bothered me for some reason), I was being asked a dozen questions by a dozen different people, both arms and wrists were being poked, prodded and taped and then I see someone standing off to the side who says something and everything goes quiet – it was like being in the presence of a general. He was the trauma surgeon, Dr. Sam Casano. I ended any ambiguity in what was going on in my mind when he said, we’re going in to take out your spleen and fix anything else we find. He asked a couple questions, and then the background noise started again and then the memory stops.
“Hey Sean. How do you feel?” It was my wife – what a site for sore eyes! I felt pretty good – a little groggy, but very comfortable, but as I tried to say something, I realized that I probably didn’t feel all that great. I tried to swallow, but my mouth was so parched and I felt like I had a pencil stuck down my throat. Oh, it hurt!
But I was happy to see my wife. She said that surgery was over and that everything went swimmingly. It was mid-morning and I realized for the first time that my life had just changed – pretty dramatically in the short term (trips canceled, meetings by phone rather than in person, etc.) and to some degree in the long term (I now carry a card which tells emergency folks that I don’t have a spleen). But I was alive, already recovering and realizing that I was both blessed and lucky.
I have a wonderful wife – who drew the short straw when she agreed to marry me. And with my recovering daughter, her life was already complicated enough before having to deal with an invalid husband. I have kids who love me no matter what – which I need to take advantage of because it isn’t always going to be this way.
And I have a big bunch of absolutely wonderful friends. From the phone calls, notes, emails, facebook comments, card, flowers, visits, prayers, to conspiring with me to get a blackberry activated without my wife knowing (our secret is safe Jack and team) and the outpouring of help with Julie, the kids, the house, scouring the accident site for lost and important items – I feel like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and it literally brings tears to my eyes.
Thank you. To each of you. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the thoughtfulness, generosity and kindness.
So now I’m home, sporting a shining set of staples going about 7 inches up my stomach and less a spleen. I know I need to take it easy, and I will (I can’t drive until next week, so I’m a prisoner anyway). However, I have a LOT to catch up on with news and events and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking – so I’ll be back in blogging mode.
The first question is, how in the world is my having an accident considered news? I don’t see it, but others apparently see it differently. Here and here. And it was all started by Greg Patterson at espressopundit. Paul Giblin at the Arizona Guardian actually called me, and his story was so detailed, I’ll post it next in its entirety.