Sunday, August 16, 2009

St@rFlight & BFN#9, Part 1.5: Rescue Photos

At one point while we were still in the water and I knew my family was semi-near with the boat, I almost asked Trina to tell them to take pictures. Later, in the hospital, when I told Trina this she looked at me like I was insane. What can I say? I like documentation and THIS was certainly worth documenting. Luckily for me, my family agrees. Both my sister and stepmom took photos during the rescue. Too bad no one picked up my super awesome camera to do it with. :) Here are a few my stepmom took. I don't have copies of my sisters' yet. I may post them later.

To the right of the Sheriff's boat you can see Trina holding me to her chest. She was amazing out there. Truly my hero.

A rescuer standing at the side door of the St@rFlight helicopter.

Mr. Swimmer being lowered into the water.

Below the yellow boat is Mr. Swimmer's yellow helmet. He has me now & Trina is out of the water and safely on the Sheriff's boat.

In the bottom right corner you can see me trying to shield my face from the helicopter's spray. 

Above the red stripe on the boat, my stretcher & legs are just visible.

Mr. Swimmer & more rescuers walking me up the hill the to the waiting helicopter.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

St@r Flight & BFN #9, Part 1: The wreck

It's been approximately forever since my last blog. So much has happened that every time I think about writing, I get overwhelmed. The short version is this. Trina & I were in a jet ski accident. She came out of it with a concussion and some bruising. I was a little worse for wear. I broke some bones and had some minor internal damage. After a 6 day stay in the hospital, Im at home recuperating. Unfortunately, the day we got home we found out Trina wasn't pregnant. Nothing like adding a little insult to injury... For those of you who like all the gory details and have nothing but time on your hands, the very very long version is below. Enjoy. :)

July 25th was our 2nd Annual Lake Day to celebrate mine and my sister's birthdays. We rented a pontoon boat, 2 jet skis, each brought food for our pot luck picnic lunch and a good time was had by all. The day was going great. After Trina and I ate our lunch we went out on separate jet skis for the first time. She was pretty nervous going solo so I was trying to stay kind of close and keep her in my line of sight. This is where my memory gets a little fuzzy. I remember being out in front and thinking I'd probably left her behind. I looked over my shoulder to see where see was and saw a flash of red. The next thing I knew I was under water and there were bubbles swirling around me like a tornado. I very calmly thought "Hmmm, I have no idea which way is up. Oh well, if I do nothing I'll eventually float..." So I did nothing. When my head broke the surface of the water, I went to take in a big breath of air. Nothing happened. My lungs were ignoring me. I started to panic, but I told myself I probably just got the wind knocked out of me. It takes a second to breath normally after that. That's when I heard Trina. I couldn't really make out her words, but I knew she was scared. She seemed really far away. I wanted to get her attention so she'd come over to me and I could calm her down. I opened my mouth and out came "ican'tbreathe*gasp*ican'tbreathe"  Hmmm, THAT'S not gonna calm her down. Apparently my brain and my mouth weren't really communicating. She made her way over to me and I did my best to repair the damage I'd done. "it'sok*gasp*i'mfine*gasp*" She looked at me incredulously. "You're NOT fine! You can't breathe! Oh my god, don't die!" I did my best to assure her I wasn't dying, that I only got the wind knocked out of me. I didn't think my soft voice and nasty habit of  gasping every 3rd word was helping my case and frankly, talking was exhausting, so I just closed my eyes and focused on breathing.

As I laid there, just letting my life jacket hold me up I realized the gentle rocking caused by the waves was making my hip click. That couldn't be good. I started doing a mental inventory of myself. I could breath a little better, but my chest was killing me. The left side of my face felt funny. Kind of tingly. I touched it with my fingers and it didn't hurt, I looked at my hand, no blood. Oh well, should be fine. Occasionally I'd apologize to Trina for scaring her or tell her everything was going to be ok or lift my head to kiss her cheek or forehead, but it never had the desired effect. She'd just tell me to quit apologizing or remind me not to die. 
In the meantime, a pontoon boat was headed our way. The guys onboard had seen the crash out of the corner of their eyes and when we didn't get back on, they figured something was wrong. They threw Trina a rope and asked if we were ok. She told them about my chest pain & difficulty breathing. One guy radioed for help while the other put their ladder down and asked if we thought we could get on the boat. I told Trina there was no way I could make it up a ladder. They told us to stay put and assured us that help was on the way. I closed my eyes and just let the jacket hold me. It was painful and exhausting holding my head up and trying to stay more vertical.

A big Sherif's boat came but only had one woman officer and no backboard. She was very nice and apologized to us for having to stay in the water a while longer until more help could come. I was thinking, thank god I don't have to get out yet. I knew in my heart that when they pulled me out and I had to deal with gravity I was in BIG trouble. I must've looked unconscious because the Sherif kept quietly asking Trina how I was doing or loudly telling me I needed to stay awake. I'd tell them I was fine without ever lifting up or opening my eyes. In hindsight I'm not sure how reassuring that was to them. Unbeknownst to me, Trina was now holding onto a rope from the Sherif's boat with one hand and my lifevest with the other. The gentlemen on the pontoon boat were helping set up a perimeter to keep us shielded from other boats and such. The lake started getting really choppy and the sherif's boat was bucking up and down. I remember thinking we were going to get sucked under. I was having a hard time floating limp and being mentally "checked out" due to the fact that water kept splashing over my face. Trina ended up dropping the rope and positioning me in front of her laying my head back on her shoulder. I told her I loved her and checked out again. 

I vaguely remember the sherif talking to another boat about a helicopter. It didn't click that they had called St@rFlight. I didn't really think I was in that bad a shape. Apparently I was the only one under that impression. Someone told me to cover my face to block the spray the blades would cause. I'm not sure if I opened my eyes or not, but it must not have looked like it registered because they started instructing Trina to block both my face and hers. 

The next thing I knew there was a man in the water with me. He introduced himself to me and told me he was my rescue swimmer. It took me a minute to realize that Trina was gone and this man was holding me up by the shoulders on my life vest. He asked me how I was doing and I told him I'd been better. He asked a lot of questions and I answered them to the best of my ability. I told him about the pain in my chest and hip. Breathing was really starting to be a challenge. He started quietly relaying my answers and asking about a floating backboard. I thought "who is he talking to? He's not yelling to the boats behind us...  Ah, a mike in his helmet." I was really getting slow on the uptake. I started wondering how the electronics worked in the water and other silly things. He seemed to be arguing with someone but I wasn't really concerned. As long as I stayed limp and off in lala land the pain wasn't unbearable. He told me the helicopter was coming back to drop off a floating backboard and that they'd have me out of the water soon. I'm sure he meant it in a comforting way, but I was REALLY not looking forward to dry land. 

Things started happening pretty fast after that. The helicopter came back and I was choked by the water it sprayed in my face. That was the first time I realized I was unable to cough or clear my throat or even blow my nose. Somehow the the floating backboard they dropped made it's way to us. I'm sure someone else must've been in the water for at least that short time because my guy never let me go. He started giving me instructions so I had to "wake up" and pay attention. He told me to drape my arms over & hold onto what looked like a big red pillow. Having that thing pull my arms up and press against my chest was excruciating. I barely heard anything else he said, I couldn't breathe through the pain. I felt the back board come up behind me. He told me he was going underwater but that he'd be right back. I felt straps looping around my ankles, hips and chest. Starting at the bottom then moving up, he tightened them in small increments. I thought "Oh shit, here it comes". The closer my legs came together  & the more pressure those straps put on my hips and chest, the worse the pain got. I was panting shallow and fast through gritted teeth trying to get oxygen. I knew I was hyperventilating and tried to slow my breathing. It worked somewhat. Mr. Swimmer came back above the water and asked me how I was doing. I'm not sure what my response was. He went on to explained that they were going to hoist me onto a boat and it would take me to land where I'd get on the helicopter. I was getting ON the helicopter? For some reason it never occurred to me that the helicopter was there for more than just dropping off my guy and the backboard. I didn't bother to ask any questions because I knew he had a job to do and I didn't want to make it harder on him. My eyes were squeezed shut and I was desperately trying to find my happy place so I'm not sure how we made it over to the boat. I looked up and saw "Fire and Rescue" painted on the side. I thought "Huh, I wonder when this boat got here, I thought he was talking about the Sherif's boat". There were lots of guys talking over each other so I couldn't understand what they were saying, not that I was really trying. Mr. Swimmer told me to hold onto the red pillow thingy and not let go, that they were going to lift me up. As soon as they started I had lightening bolts of pain shooting through my chest and hip. I couldn't deal. As they hoisted me up and I was bumped and shifted around I became aware that someone was saying "f*ckf*ckf*ckf*ck" over and over. Oh wait, that was me. I stopped and tried to breath, I couldn't. I said "icantbreathe*gasp*ican'tbreathe". A man told the others that my head was lower than my feet and that I needed to be moved. More shifting, more pain, but breathing did become a little easier. The boat took off. The waves were jarring me making me hurt all over. I found that I was moaning and making little "huh" sounds every time I exhaled. I didn't make any effort to stop though, I was too worn out. Someone held a hat over my eyes so I wasn't staring into the sun. I asked him his name. He looked down at me surprised but told me. I thanked him by name and shut my eyes again. Then someone was holding my hand, it felt nice. I looked up to see it was Mr. Swimmer. He apologized for the bumpy ride and promised the helicopter would be much more smooth. He said he'd give me pain meds as soon as we were airborne. I was really beginning to like this guy. The boat came to a stop and I was lifted up. More bumping, swaying and pain. 

I opened my eyes for a second to see myself sliding into the back of a helicopter. I had the odd thought that I'd never seen a door at the back of a helicopter. Mr. Swimmer was right, the ride was smooth. He sat next to me and checked me over as best as he could with me being strapped down and wearing a life vest. Another man was asking me questions about where I hurt. I told him about my chest and hip and denied back, neck or belly pain. He put a neck brace on me, then taped an oxygen mask to the brace so that it was about an inch off my face. I had a claustrophobic moment and had to talk myself out of panicking. I wanted to ask about my wife and if my family knew where I was going, but stopped myself. These guys were busy trying to help me and probably didn't know the answers anyway. It was hard not to babble, but I managed to just focus on breathing and only speaking when spoken to. Mr. Swimmer gave me a shot of Fent@nyl for the pain. It burned like fire which distracted me from the pain in my chest and hip, but didn't do much else. I closed my eyes and tried unsuccessfully to drift away. I don't know how long the trip was, but just when the pain from being jostled and moved around started to wear off, the helicopter landed. 

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Hospital