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... engulfed me. I saw the vision of the smashed vehicle in the center of the road and could only hear my mother's hysterical crying while Claudia and my cousin comforted her. Was it fear? Was it shock, or was it those emotions that deluged me, still yet to come out? Reality settled in for a while when a policeman and Claudia ordered me to drive my mother, Katie and me home because my mother was too emotional to drive. As we departed, Claudia instructed me to pack my mother a bag. I wondered why, but dutifully put my mother in the car as she insisted that I drove as close to the helicopter landing sight as possible so she could see that my grandmother was safely on board.
My mother managed to calm when we reached home, but her tears didn't stop. Katie and I made a couple of telephone calls upon my mother's instructions, but I felt that she was in a daze and moving through the motions like a robot. The ride to the hospital seemed like hours and yet no one seemed to be able to voice their fears. My mind was full of confusing thoughts. I wondered who was at fault for the accident and how it happened. 'B' was just at my house.
Should one of us have gone to Beall's with her? Maybe this horrible nightmare wouldn't have happened at all if any one of us had accepted her invitation to go to shopping with her! Or what if all four of us had gone and were crushed in grandmother's car together? We arrived at St. Joseph's hospital and Sister Pat, the hospital's Patient's Advocate who was awaiting our arrival, escorted us into a family waiting room. As more family members appeared and telephone calls came in from family members all over the country, I began to feel my emotions release and tears streamed down my cheeks. The trauma doctor made appearances to announce the seriousness of my grandmother's injuries, which were extensive. He reappeared often and when he was too busy Sister Pat would relay the doctor's message. The outlook for my grandmother's survival was not good. Sister Pat said that the next 24 hours were crucial.
The facts of her condition were provided and each time Sister Pat or the doctor entered the family room I saw fear in everyone's eyes. My grandmother was bleeding to death from internal injuries they could not locate. Seventeen pints of blood were administered as she lay unconscious from her injuries of nine broken ribs, a collapsed lung, double pelvis fracture, a fractured mandible... I screamed inside my frantic brain. No! This can't be! She was just at my house only hours ago! One moment I was filled with grief as it felt as though my heart had fallen to my knees. The next moment I was laden with fear and anger.
Oh my God, please don't let her die, and the next moment my thoughts diverted to God, how could you let this awful thing happen to my grandmother, why not someone else? After hours of waiting to hear something, anything positive, we were told that we could see her. My mother and I were escorted by Sister Pat and, with my Aunt Elise, we entered the trauma room. Sister Pat warned us that my grandmother was very swollen and barely recognizable but no soothing words prepared me for that moment. The smell of medicine was overwhelming. The temperature felt as if I stepped into a freezer. The sounds of doctor's and nurse's voices lurked at me intrusively.
This can't be my grandmother, only the hair looks like hers. Her face and earlobes were so swollen that for a moment I was sure they had brought us to the wrong room. But then a glance at her auburn-colored hair brought me back to the realities that were almost impossible to face. This was "B" and she is going to die! My mother's legs gave way as we departed the room but Aunt Elise and Sister Pat braced her until we were back with our other family members. At midnight, we were informed that they were taking "B" to the Intensive Care Unit. There would be a waiting room for us there. Most of us went home at 2 a.m.
but my mother stayed the night on a couch along with my Uncle Richard. I felt guilty leaving my mother there and I was afraid to leave the hospital. I felt that by leaving I was sure to lose 'B' forever. During the long ride home I would jump with fear each time my mother's cellular telephone rang, fearful of more heartbreaking news. Those 24 hours of waiting to hear that "B" would survive, turned into days, weeks and months of good and bad reports. One day she suffered kidney failure while the next they couldn't get her off the respirator.
This was followed by liver scares and too high of a heart rate. My sister and I went to the hospital almost daily to see our grandmother while she lay in her unconscious state, and through two months of ICU all the way through her rehabilitation stage at the second hospital she was in. I missed my mother while she abandoned her job and everything else to become my grandmother's "patient advocate" for three months. I understood why she stayed, even though I missed her at home. I had many thoughts of what I would have done if the accident had happened to my mother, and I know that I would not have left her side either. Throughout the many months of my grandmother's slow and painful recovery I observed the horrific tragedy and the effects of trauma on my family.
The love that so many family members and friends extended to us made me focus on how precious life is. I spent many hours in the ICU waiting room where I observed other grief-stricken families of victims of automobile accidents. I watched with pride as my mother diverted her grief to helping others deal with their grief. It seemed that tragedy made all of us stronger. She told me, "when they first walk through that door, they have the look of a scared lost child, and they desperately need someone to help them find their way, just like we did the first day." It occurs to me now that she was right. Life should be about the important things.
Family, love and caring about other people's feelings are more precious than society's whims and economic fantasies. I will always allow time for assisting other people and I know that the impact of my family's traumatic experience will always be with me. It changed my life forever, and ironically, good did come out of bad. Bibliography: No bibliography required, requirement was to develop character, create dialog, and show irony..
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