As the police drive me to the hospital, I’m checking off “Ride in backseat of police car” from my bucket list.
Using my Notes App was the only way I could communicate with everyone involved: Once we arrived, I was given a mask, then a nurse typed into Notes: “we need to put neck brace on you.” I can’t remember if a reason was elaborated upon at that point or later.
After I read it, I give thumbs up affirmation! Shortly thereafter, I would spend the next four hours hard pressed.
Let me tell you, that was uncomfortable, but then things were made so; they transferred me from a wheelchair onto a surfboard. I was instructed to not move. Now they affirm, or reaffirm, spinal prevention measures. Which connects nicely to the fact that I had a 300 lb power wheelchair on my back.
I couldn’t move my anything from neck down, excluding my arms. I kept a steady text flow with my wife, who was en route to my chair. I also requested, and found, miracles do happen, an emergency in-person interpreter! Shortly thereafter my iPhone switched from being useful to paperweight mode, yeah the batteries died!
While I was immobilized, I noticed something unique: my hands and arms were jerking and moving involuntarily. I have experienced this before, but not to the extent happening at the time. Ranging from mild to moderate jitteriness. Normally, my ataxia is more evident in my legs, walk, gait and other areas, but not so often as my hands and arms. This is something I call Ataxic Shock. I’ll explore this later
Anyways, I was still in pain, still strapped onto a surfboard, and still in a neck brace. I had no idea of length of time. For arguments sake, lets say 45 minutes had passed since I arrived and immobilized. Finally, a doctor appeared in my field of vision. The Doctor, I’m assuming such, started conversing immediately. Without preamble, and probably interrupting questions, I signed “I am Deaf” and “Interpreter.”
If I could have seen the Doctor, the reaction would have been understanding. They instantly left my field of vision, returning just as quick, with an iPad installed on the top of a pole. The iPad was turned on, with a bespectacled woman in the middle. She was, from my DeafBlind-on-a-surfboard-cannot-move vantage point, attempting to communicate with me.
I caught on pretty quick; realizing the Doctor had, once I self-identified as Deaf, had run to get the Video Relay Interpreter (VRI) service that is now mandatory for all hospitals in BC. This was my first time using VRI.
To be honest; I could see it was a woman, and she was wearing glasses, and I did catch a few of her signs, but her hands kept vanishing off screen. In doing so, I was not able to follow her, it felt disconnected. Regardless if I was in a neck brace, on a surfboard, DeafBlind and ataxic, I could not use the VRI service.
Kudos to the Doctor, who went beyond their role as a doctor! They spent considerable amount of time moving, repositioning, and even lifting the whole gizmo above the bed. All in vain, as nothing worked, I could not see the interpreter clearly, nor could she see me! I found this out when I had enough, grabbed the stand and pulled it as close to me as possible, then I repeated my reply. But I was too close to the camera, she couldn’t see me.
Shortly after that grab, my wife came into the room! Ahh communication! Tactile! Two minutes later, the interpreter also joined the fray. Perfect! The Video Relay Interpreter was dismissed with a click, swished away to a closet to recharge; ready to help another DeafBlind person who comes to ER with fingers cleaved off! (True story, happened to two different DeafBlind persons…)
Getting back on track, The Doctor ordered an MRI scan of my spinal cord and X-rays of my foot.
I was psyched, after returning to my room, to hear the news that “You have a broken phalange,” or even “your right metatarsal bones are crushed.” I was positive! I had 300 pounds balancing on that phalange! There was no way it was NOT broken!
And yet, The Doctor popped in my room, and informed me that I suffered no broken bones! I was elated, yet somewhat crestfallen!
Neck brace was removed, and the surfboard was yanked out from under, like a pulling the tablecloth off the table, without knocking over wineglasses! I was discharged shortly thereafter, told me to go home, rest, write a thousand lines as punishment…
I will not drive on unpaved ”sidewalk” beside a ditch… I will not drive on unpaved “sidewalk” beside a ditch… I will not drive on unpaved…
I hope this series of blogs make up the difference!
Stay tuned for Part 5: After the Dust settled…
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