On this very day ten years ago – February 22, 2008, I took this picture on the way out of the ATV park where we were meeting friends for the weekend.
I was following Dave, who had flipped his 4-wheeler. The ambulance took him to the nearest hospital – Lake Placid, I think, and they said they simply could not handle such a case. So they set forth to find the best place for him while I whined, “Why not West Palm Beach?” When they said, “No,” I said, “Okay, then Ft. Myers.” I could not imagine not having the support of friends and family, and I hadn’t even a clue yet of what he was in store for.
Tampa General Hospital was where he would go and when I asked, “Why,” they said, “Because there, they have the best brain trauma unit.” I tried to keep it together for Dave’s sake, and it was hard. Our friend Patti, a nurse, stayed on the phone with me and was a huge help.
According to the hospital records, it was 10:07 p.m. when Dave arrived at Tampa General. At 2:47 a.m., it was decided that he would go to OR and at 3:11 a.m., the hospital tried to contact me to let me know. Awakened by the call a little too late, I tried calling back almost immediately. I was transferred to a nurse who transferred me to the coroner.
The coroner then put a priest on the phone who generically started a comforting spiel. “No, wait,” I cried, “for crying out loud, what happened,” I demanded. “Well, we are checking on that,” the priest said, and then explained how they did not exactly know where my husband was at the moment. He was soft-spoken and gentle. The more gentle he was, the more I wanted to reach through the phone and scream in his face. I was the most terrified and shocked I have ever been in my whole life.
I did not want to hear this person, or any person, say one more word unless it was to say that Dave was okay. They tried to assure me that they had every reason to believe he was, because there was no evidence suggesting he was not, and that they would get to the bottom of it and call me right back. I hung up the phone and called my friend Debbie in the middle of the night.
“What’s wrong,” she said, answering her phone at three-thirty in the morning, and I proceeded to tell her all that had happened. My call-waiting beeped and it was the hospital. They had found Dave. He was in the operating room and was expected to be there for some time. They must have been on their way to the OR, and were in “limbo,” they told me, when I had called. Mistakenly, I was put through to the coroner and the priest just happened to be there.
The next day it dawned on me that I had two trucks, two 4-wheeler’s and a 30-foot RV to get back home, over two hours away. I thought, “I’ll call our son,” and then, “oh my God, I have to tell the kids.”