Back from Billings, in the Belly of the Bird

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 Fabulous nurses and the pilot. Getting Tired Now –, entry from my journal of September 25, 2006.

It’s Monday and I had high expectations for what the day would bring, news that would send us home if not in one piece in several pieces held together with the potential of wholeness. Today, I walked in to find a giant machine here. “Heart murmur, testing.” “Look is that a tear? Oh my God, please don’t let his heart have a rip in it. I just don’t want more bad.
I’m nearing the edge of what I can endure with equanimity. Today he had a swallow test, did he pass? I don’t know. He talks some but makes marginal sense. I show him cards from family and he doesn’t know what they are. I want the tube out, I want him to pass the test.The nurse in charge couldn’t tell me when he gets to go home, she said we wouldn’t know until about five minutes before it happened. Nice, how can you make any plans at all?
I don’t even know when to fly Faye in. Information would be good. This is frustrating and exhausting.

So now, two days later, we are finally getting kicked to the curb with not a lot of notice. September 27th we head home. Finding a way to get Terry from Montana to Olympia was an exercise in fear, frustration and ultimately, jubilation.  When the doctors began to make rehab noises, I started the hunt a week ago. Our lovely insurance company refused to pay to transport him anywhere but the closest rehab facility: Denver, Colorado. Home is Washington State, thousands of miles away and Denver was not an option for us, a bit difficult to just drop in and find friends to visit Terry and all that.

Loading onto the plane

Loading onto the plane

The only answer for us was a life flight home on a small plane. I began to investigate flights and it was all I could do not to faint at the cost. Five grand, which insurance didn’t cover and I had to find somewhere. Second Mortgages are the pot of expensive gold at the end of the rainbow, thank you Leprechauns, where ever you are.

PIECE OF ADVICE TO EVERYONE; GET A POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR YOUR LOVED ONES, MEDICAL AND THE OTHER KIND TOO.  IF YOU HAVE TO GET MONEY OR MAKE DECISIONS AND THE OTHER HALF HAS BEEN THE PRIMARY SIGNATORY ON ACCOUNTS WITHOUT THAT POA, YOU ARE DEAD IN THE WATER AND YOU CANNOT ACCESS FUNDS YOU NEED, OR TALK TO BANKS, ATTORNEYS OR ANYTHING WITHOUT PULLING ALL OF YOUR HAIR OUT AND THEIRS TOO.

Have I mentioned how annoying insurance companies are? Their goal seems to be to play with the lives of paper doll people and steam roll the real people flat in their quest to make sure investors have pots of money to spend.

Our case is not regular rehab. We have to have minders with Terry 24-7, because he is not mentally connecting to the world and he’s becoming more mobile every day as his bones heal. What happens when he has a working body, no balance and no judgment or way to know what’s real? He’s still very  physically crippled with all those broken ribs and lungs perforated in a few places, recovering from pneumonia, a broken neck, eye socket and arm, he is still learning to walk and eat and all the things we do without thinking, so  the type of rehabilitation available in a hospital setting is the next step.

On our way

On our way

The Emily Gamelan Pavilion  houses the St Peter Hospital rehab facility a few miles from our home, and he is booked there for the next step but getting him there in a hospital bed,  casts and bandages is the next mountain to climb. Enter the magnificent male nurses who joined us and the pilot on the life flight.

Nurses tending to Terry

Nurses tending to Terry

It was a crisp, cold morning when he was moved by ambulance to the plane. The nurses who were flying with us were the same two that flew him in to Billings from the accident. They were grinning ear to ear and so happy to see him. They had been pretty convinced he wouldn’t make it and seeing him beat the odds lifted us all, all the way home.  Terry was quiet, he was sedated for the flight and slept through most of it. I  loved it. I got to sit right behind the pilot in the plane and take in the view which was bathed in sunshine all the way home.

How often do normal pedestrian people see this view off the wing of a plane?

How often do normal pedestrian people see this view off the wing of a plane?

Don Bowman, Terry’s biker bud who was with him when they got in the accident is also a fire fighter. He had gotten permission from the fire department in Tumwater, two towns over, to have transport from Terry’s own fire department meet the plane at the local small airport.  I stepped out of the plane and burst into tears when I saw an entire group  with the rig walking out to meet us. Ear to ear grins were on every face and Terry recognized each and every one of them and said hello to them as they loaded him for the ride. It was wonderful and I didn’t even try to stop the tears rolling down my face. I realized later I lost an earring on the tarmac and I think its a fitting offering to the gods of  homecoming.  There were hurdles to get over and too much too accomplish, but seeing Torin and our  home and having Terry back in more or less one piece mended a big hole in the center of me.

Mt Rainier means we are home.

Mt Rainier means we are home.

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