You Could Be Paralyzed for Life…..


What a day… what a day… and what a day!  August 31, 2015. The entire day and most of the evening I was at the clinic and then the hospital, ‘Whaaaaat?’ Yeah, and I am still wondering what happened and it is now 1:35 A. M.

The day was a whirlwind of disheartening news but instead of getting depressed over the news I embraced it with a joy in my heart.  I was ready to receive another invaluable lesson from my Lord.  After all, He taught me humility and had me gleefully reading His precious word.

A series of scary events took place yesterday when I went to the clinic to have my elbow checked.  It, after two months, was still hurting and the pain had spread. I went in yesterday morning because I was unsure of how things worked down here in comparison to Minnesota.  I wanted to be home when Steph returned from school at 3:00.

They took X-Rays of the arm and neck because the tiring pain now encompassed the shoulder and neck areas. I lay-down on the examining table an hour ago while awaiting the doctor’s return.  I realized this would be an all-day inconvenience. A few minutes after lying down the doctor returned.

“Sorry about the wait, but after seeing the results of the X-Ray I wanted to consult with the radiologists and another doctor.”   Dr. Brady stuck out his hand to me so I could pull myself up and asked, “How long have you had this pain?”

Long story short – he had arranged for an ambulance and had his assistant put a neck brace on me.  While the nurse fixed me up with the brace the doctor tried to explain the spine and the vertebrae using his fingers as an example while pointing to a picture.

The doctor said, “One of your vertebrae is broken – your C-2 and moving your neck or head or bending over wrong could paralyze you for life. How did you get here today?”

“I drove.  The car is parked on the upper level in the Handicap space.  I won’t get a ticket, will I?” Then I thought about those words and how cheap and ridiculous the question was.  I never had a fear of dying; I never gave it a thought and after what I already went through being partially paralyzed, I never worried about being totally incapacitated.  Life is much like a Poker Game in that  you just have to play the cards you’re dealt.

He asked which hospital I’d like to go to and of course I didn’t care because I was unfamiliar with either.

He told me, “The waiting time is shorter at Cox ER.’

“That will be fine,” I replied.

I was taken to Cox Hospital – ER. There was a team of nurses and a doctor awaiting my arrival.They treated me gingerly because they did not want me to move my head.  Instead of having me roll over from the stretcher onto the hospital bed they got a blanket under me and lifted me to the bed where they cut my shirt off with a scissors.  They didn’t know which movement could paralyze.

They wheeled me to different rooms for the CT scans and MRI’s.

The nurse at the CT scan was not about to treat me with kid gloves, “I know you’re not supposed to move, but do you think you can roll over to this mark and raise your arm to this point,” she pointed to a red line.

I finished that and was wheeled back to the ER.  Within minutes another nurse with a more respectful and kind disposition came in and allowed me to go to the bathroom – well kind of, she gave me a bottle to piss in.  Being it was more difficult to pee in a bottle than just to aim at the large target of the toilet bowl, I questioned (to myself only) how they could think that holding and going in a tiny bottle required less movement?  Oh well, I whispered to myself.  I called for a nurse when I had finished.  There were at least five at the nurse’s station at any given time.

I was concerned and wondered (also to myself) if my uneven walk was preventable all those years ago?

Then things rapidly changed.  It was now 8:30 in the evening and the doctor didn’t want to be there, that was obvious.  It was his time to go home I could tell by the gleam in his eye and the signature bag under his arm.  I made a phenomenal recovery.   He  told me he didn’t think the fracture came from the fall, but that I might have been born with it. Whaaat?

Shouldn’t they be sure of something like that before worrying the patient (In this case myself) anyway he said to wear the neck brace except for shower time until I see the neurologist. The doctor gave me the neurologist’s name, address and phone number and told me to call the him in the morning to set-up an appointment.  He prescribed some pain pills, and out into the night he hurried.

Twelve hours and an ambulance and taxi ride later… I was on my way home.  I followed my compass to lead me back to the main highway because I was somewhat disoriented. The uncomfortable neck brace was worn all the way home but I couldn’t see me wearing it too much longer.

My neighbor, Betty, from downstairs came up to my place because I text her asking if she would pick up my prescription for me?  It was close to 10:00 and I didn’t feel like searching for someplace. When I stopped by her place on my way upstairs she told me that if there were anything I needed to let her know. She was her usual, helpful self and said, “Absolutely!”

We talked until the wee small hours of the morning when she returned from Walgreen’s.  Betty always puts me in a good mood and had me laughing before long.  And she tells me I crack her up, ha-ha, there are certain people in the world that just seem to fit.  She is a registered nurse at Cox hospital by-the-way, but works with the Preemies.  She was feeling bad for recommending that clinic but said that her sister works there and another sister both give it real high marks.

She hid her mouth behind her hand, chuckled, and then apologized saying, “I know it isn’t funny but I can’t help remembering that you went for your elbow but come back in a neck brace. How did they even get that on an x-ray?”

“Well I told them, honestly, that the pain now goes from the elbow to the shoulder and neck area and I have no grasping power with my left hand either so they also took x-rays of the shoulder and neck.”

All these problems because I tried to carry a piece of furniture down the stairs way back in the middle of June, big mistake. I stepped wrong and was automatically doing backward somersaults (unintentionally) and unable to stop until my head put a large hole in the wall at stair’s end and the left elbow also slammed against it.  The nightstand fell on top of me…my head eventually got over the pain but the elbow only got worse.

I am nearly pain-free now and have decided not to call the neurologist or to wear the brace because it seems like once the doctors convince you that something is wrong you get recommended to this one and that one and it drags on forever.  And there is also the cost…for something unneeded it is quite ridiculous.

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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