The emergency room

R and I got to the emergency room sometime after 10:00 P.M. We checked in at the reception desk and were told to have a seat, that we would be called. I decided to pace. R grabbed a spot against the wall and watched me.

I don’t know how long we waited before we were called. It was at this point that time took on a tenuous quality. I would be tired and bored out of my skull, but still tense and scared; time seemed to stand still, but whole days would pass almost unnoticed. Finally we were called into the emergency room and led to a small room with small, utilitarian couches on either side.

R and I waited alone, again for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a few minutes. Two women entered the room, and sat opposite us. One introduced herself as a doctor, I am sure the other woman introduced herself as well but I cannot recall any detail about her. My attention was fixed on the doctor.

The doctor laid out Annette’s injuries and their extent before me. I listened calmly, digesting the information as quickly as I could. When she finished I asked her, “So the only thing we can do is wait and see if she wakes up?” The doctor shook her head in the affirmative and looked at me. R wasn’t reacting either.

The doctor quickly got a confused look on her face and asked me if I understood what she had told me. I said I did and explained what I was told back to the doctor. The doctor was not convinced, and asked me again if I understood. I explained again, this time in terms emphasizing that I understood how dire Annette’s situation was. Apparently we reacted a little too calmly to the information.

Annette suffered what was described as catastrophic brain injuries and was in a coma. I was told that she was not breathing at the scene of the accident, nor had she been responsive in any way. Apparently there was a person at the Starbucks near the scene of the incident who was quickly able to run out and administer CPR to Annette. This allowed the emergency room doctor to put her on a respirator and thereby save her life. However, the nature of the injuries to her head were such that we were unsure whether she would live through that first night or if she would come out of the coma. All we could do is wait and see.

The doctor and I made small talk for a while before H showed up, again I cannot say how long that took. When H came in the room I told her to sit down. The doctor told her the same things she had told R and me before. H’s reaction was more emotional than mine; closer, I suspect, to what the doctor was expecting from R and me.

The doctor finally asked if we wanted to see Annette. H and I both said yes; I cannot recall if R went to see her sister. It felt horrible. When I heard the facts of the incident I was honestly expecting a scene out of “Red Asphalt.” I was expecting a bloody, maimed mess.

I was amazed to see that she was all in one piece and actually very well physically (apart from some lacerations on her right shoulder, a broken fibula,  and minor abrasions scattered on her body). There was some blood in her scalp, but otherwise it was hard to tell that she had been run over by a car. After a little while we were told that they would be moving Annette into the ICU and that we would have to leave the emergency room.

I left to call my wife and tell her to come to the hospital. I told her I was going to call my sister, mother, and father next. She said she would call my sister. My sister ended up calling my mother.

I called my father, waking him up, and told him the news. He said he would get to the hospital as soon as he could. The problem for him was that he lives in New Mexico, a twelve hour drive; plus, he had no idea how long it might take him to catch a plane.

Within an hour, Annette was moved to ICU, my wife, mother, sister were at the hospital, and we all began the long, dreary process of waiting.

About Leo

Leo Barrera Expert at dealing with conflict. Grim, determined, a little chaotic, a threat to good order. Veteran. Chicano. Husband. Father. Writer. Photographer. Gardener.
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