23 May 2016

The Hospital

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Wooden Roses

 

Some memories are crystal clear and some are a bit sketchy. These are things that I remember . . .

 

When I opened my eyes for the first time, I remember seeing my father, my brother and his wife. “It’s finally over,” was the first thing that I said to my father.

My mother was in Dallas taking care of my brother’s children.  She flew up as soon as childcare was arranged for my nephews and my niece.   She stayed with us for several months and took care of my children during my recovery.  I don’t know what I would have done without her.

 

The children were initially released to the Urbana brother-in-law on the night of the shooting.  In the beginning, he refused to bring the children to the hospital.   My brother was insistent that they come see their mother. They had already lost one parent and for their own mental health, they needed to be assured that their mother was still alive — to see her, touch her and know that she was going to be okay. I remember the children’s first visit . . . it’s very vague but I remember a feeling of peace when they finally arrived.

 

I received the most beautiful bright pink wooden roses while I was in ICU. I still have these and they sit on the shelving behind my desk at home.

 

I thought I was in ICU for about a day and a half. My mother later told me that I was there for closer to a week.

 

The first surgery was a vein graft, which was the critical one that saved my life. By the time that I arrived at the hospital, I had lost a tremendous amount of blood. My mother recalls being told that I had lost about two-thirds of the blood in my body. I was dangerously close to bleeding out and was given transfusions for days to replenish.

 

When I awoke from this initial surgery, my inner right calf was sliced open with an  incision of approximately six inches in length. This left the raw flesh openly exposed and Doctors explained that this limb-saving procedure was called a Fasciotomy.  My leg had been so full of fluid that they were afraid the skin would tear and this procedure was necessary to ease the tightness and relieve the pressure.

 

The wound on the outside of my right thigh was so extensive that a “wound vac” was used to help remove the fluid build up. This apparatus is basically a sponge that is placed in an open wound with a tube attached.  The tube flows to a fluid collection tank which was was placed at the end of my bed. When the “wound vac” is turned on, negative pressure is applied . . . we commonly refer to this as suction.  The purpose is to stimulate healing and to remove excess fluid and infectious materials.

 

The sponge had to be changed approximate once a day. It was during these cleanings / dressings that I remember the worst pain.  In an effort to try to get a head of the pain, I would pump the morphine button as fast and as frequently as possible but, most times the medication wasn’t successful at providing sufficient relief. My mother would sometimes leave the room because she could hardly bear to hear my screams and see the tears brought on by the agony.

 

There was an external bar attached to my outer right thigh via two screws affixed to my femur. This attachment was called and External Fixator and it’s purpose was to keep my leg and bones in place until I was strong enough for a follow up surgery. Eventually a titanium rod was inserted to repair and stabilize my leg.

 

My left foot was also badly damaged and had pins to support the toes that were shattered by the initial bullet.  When these pins were finally removed, I joked that they reminded me of shish kabob skewers.  (Never forget the importance of maintaining a sense of humor!)

 

My leg was so damaged that there was talk of amputation. There was additional discussions about bone grafts, uneven legs and whether or not I would have a severe limp.   Some of my bestest girlfriends were making dibs on my shoe collection as I was known for wearing heels with every outfit.  Perhaps this threat was the extra motivation that I needed because in the end, I got to keep every pair of my beloved shoes.  Furthermore, none of these other fears ever materialized . . .  I was a medical miracle.

 

After two weeks, I moved to rehab. The hospital was in the process of remodeling this floor; and, at the time of my stay, it felt like a dungeon. I strapped my mangled leg twice daily to a contraption that would slowly bend my leg at increasing degrees for the purpose of improving my range of motion. I had no weight bearing provisions on either of my lower limbs and, so I had to learn how to use a board to slide from the bed to a wheelchair and from a wheelchair into a car. I was terrified of falling. I hated dry shampoo and was ecstatic when I was allowed to have a traditional shower. I sincerely appreciated all those who came to visit me, pray with me, love me and shed tears with me when I was at my most vulnerable.  My children’s visits were especially precious.

 

There was a period of time where I was taking 35 pills a day. In addition and to help manage the pain, I had a morphine pump that was often times at the maximum dosage (mentioned above).  This was later replaced by an oxycodone patch.

 

I know that I worked from the hospital – regularly meeting with key employees, signing checks, reviewing rent rolls, approving work orders and doing whatever was necessary to keep the family business going. Whereas I know that I did these things, I remember very little about what was necessary to keep GPA alive and running.

 

There were so many visitors, flowers and cards. I don’t remember a lot of the specifics and I know many were turned away. I put all the cards that I received in a scrapbook. There are hundreds. Thank you to everyone that kept me in your continuous thoughts and prayer . . .

 

After 30 days, I was released and finally able to return to my home.  We had Gabe’s visitation two days after  with the funeral on the following.

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2 Responses to “The Hospital”

  1. Reply Name. Karen Loschen says:

    Stephanie. I traveled around the state with you when your son was on Finke’s travel basketball team. I am Auggie’s Mimi. I just want you to know I am so thankful your recovery has progressed. You were always in my thoughts and prayers and I am so thankful the worst and physical pain is behind you. God bless you for the strength to come back to your family. It is so good to see you are able to talk about it. May your healing continue inward and outward. Karen

    • Reply Stephanie Bond says:

      Karen –

      Of course I remember you and I sincerely thank you for your comments. I have totally lost touch with your family and would love to reconnect with them. The kids are so grown up now! I encourage you to keep reading my blog as I share our journey to recovery, share the backstory of Gabes mental illness and discuss my experience with a failed system. Wishing you and your all the best and much love! Steph

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