Friday, August 3, 2012

Not allowed to die.

This time, surgery will be at St. Francis Hospital - not at St. John's Hospital.  It's still a hospital, though.  It still feels like a hospital, looks like a hospital...smells like a hospital.  It's a hospital.  And the hospital houses the special people called "doctors", "nurses", "x-ray techs", "surgeons", and "med-techs" who will be saving my son's life.  They will save his life.  They will.

His dad gets to where we are as we are accompanying Mikey down a hall.  He is just about to go to surgery.  He is not scared this time as he was last time.  I guess Mikey has not had too much time to think about it.  He knows he's in trouble.  Or was.  Or is.  Hell, I don't know.  He looks like he is in pain, but, once again, he does not look like he's near death.  What is it with this boy and death?  Or, is it Death?  Is Death trying to take my son??  Why?!? 

Morbid, morbid thoughts.  I have been talking to the doctor.  I think he is going to be the one to be operating on my son's stomach.  It is his stomach and not his chest, I guess.  So, the surgeon (surgeons are doctors, right?) is telling me that the hose up his nose is to drain his stomach since the bullet went through it. 

Oh, I see.

The bullet (bullet...the bullet...he's talking about a BULLET and my son in the same passed through the upper part of Mikey's stomach and then fragmented throughout his body.

Fragmented. exploded?  What made it do that?  Did his stomach shatter it?  How?  Why didn't I pay more attention in physics class?  How does a bullet pass through soft tissue and fragment? *sigh*  I'm not doing very well in my head.  I must look fine, though ("fine" is a relative word) because the doctor keeps telling me about what he's going to do inside of my son's body.  Just like he's talking about a machine.  I guess our bodies are like machines...that's what I've heard, anyway.

So, he's going to cut him from sternum to above his pubic bone (stem to stern?), then he's going to repair his stomach; then he's going to "explore" to see what other damage there might be, and remove any bullet pieces in his body.  But he won't be able to get them all.  He wants to patch his stomach and make sure there are no other wounds - no other bleeding other organs that are damaged and in need of repair.

Very matter-of-fact.  Like he's talking about someone else and not my only son.  My daughters' big brother.  The one I asked for.  "Please, God, let my first child be a boy so my other kids can look up to him."  I did, I asked for a son.  God gave me a son.  Then, he gave me two girls.  It was a selfish request on my part.  I am the oldest girl in my family - on my mom's side.  The oldest girl of nearly all girls.  I hated it, and always wished for a big brother.  I did not want my first child to grow up like me - I wanted a boy first.  And I got him.  And he has nearly died twice within 12 months.  Punishment for something?  I don't know.  But, I'm going there.  I hate it when I go places like that.  It doesn't help a situation to go places like that in my head.  But I have a son and two daughters.  My daughters love their big brother.  He's not allowed to die. 

"After I'm done with my part of the surgery, the bone guy will come in and fix his arm."

So, I guess I missed all the details about what he was going to do in my son's body.  But I learned that there would be another surgeon there.  So, at least two surgeons.  To save my son.  To make him whole again.

Sickening Snap

I hang up the phone and finally go see my son.  There isn't all that much blood. At least, there isn't as much as I expect there to be. His arm seems to be giving him the most discomfort.  That's ok with me for now, since my full attention is the wound in his chest.  Maybe not his chest - maybe it's his stomach.  It's right on the cusp of being either his abdomen or his chest.  Either way, what's catching my eye is the fact that there's a bit of plastic-looking stuff on him.

I'll be the first to admit that I "know too much" when it comes to medicine.  I know way more than the average person off the street, but I am definitely no doctor.  Maybe I've watched too many M*A*S*H, Emergency! and Adam-12 episodes (see that?  I just dated myself!).  Therefore, I know a "sucking chest wound" when I see one - and what I'm seeing has me worried.  Not only does he have a patch on his body, but he has a hose up his nose, and his arm is bandaged up so big that the bandages make his arm at least twice as big as it really is.  The most blood I see is on his arm; rather, it is through the bandages on his arm.  And the blood is bright red, even though the shooting (shooting?  SHOOTING??) happened over 3 hours ago.

Mikey is explaining that it doesn't really hurt to get shot.  Not at first.  His guess is that it happens so fast, the brain cannot process the fact that a bullet has passed into your body - things have to be registered and then accepted for the pain to begin.  In his case, that was after everything was done and the robbers (invaders?  attempted murderers?) were long gone.

It's strange to listen to him.  He is very calmly describing how the first shot went through his arm, the second shot went through his chest and the third shot went through his back and out his left side - and he didn't feel any of it - he just felt the pressure as the bullet(s) hit and passed into and out of his body.  "Mom, when he shot me the last time, I knew I'd been shot because I heard it and I felt my body kind of jerk quickly.  I remember thinking, 'Yep, I got shot'."  Is this a surreal conversation or what?  But I've come into this conversation at the end.  Right now, I'm listening to the aftermath of whatever happened.  What I really want  know is,  HOW THE HELL DID YOU END UP SHOT??  But, I don't yell that out loud.  I do that in my brain as I listen - I don't want to interrupt him.  Besides, I'm pretty preoccupied.

First of all, I'm worried about his chest/abdominal wound.  Second, I keep watching him move his right arm from across his chest to above and then over his head, and then back down to across his chest again. The arm is quite well-bandaged, and yet the blood keeps oozing out onto the thick bandages.  It appears that the flow has merely been slowed down, not stopped completely.  What really sickens me, though, is the way the arm kind of movs in two places - not as a single unit, but as a leader and a follower.

Explanations are tough, here.

He can not move the arm by its own power.  When he wants to move it, he begins the movement at his right shoulder, but then he extends his left hand to grab the fingers of his right hand and "help" his injured limb to complete the journey to wherever it's going - either over his head or down to his chest.  I understand that this must have something to do with the pain he's surely feeling.   The sickening part is that at the apex of the arc, the arm kind of "snaps" (I use this term very lightly here, it is not a physical sound).  The part of his forearm that is being "helped" by his left hand, travels first.  As that part moves beyond the top of the arc, the rest of his arm seems momentarily suspended; suddenly, it yields to gravity and the pull of the left hand, and decides to follow the path of the front of the arm.  So, for a second, it looks like his arm is broken completely in half, with half of the arm going one way, and the other half about to continue in the original path until the muscle and skin makes this impossible.  That's the point it seems to "snap".

Later, I will be informed by one of his surgeons (yes, one of his surgeons - he will have more than one surgeon this day) that the bullet has passed through the radius and pulverized it, leaving the much smaller ulna intact.  If the bandage had not been there, it would have looked like the arm really was broken in half - and each half would move in a different direction.  I never do get to see that, though, thank God.  I'm queasy just looking at the bandaged arm - like I said, I'm no doctor.  I do not make my living by patching people back together.  I am looking not at an arm - I'm looking at my son's arm.  That makes all the difference in the world.

And I still don't know what brought him here or who wanted him dead.  Indeed, whoever did this, did want him dead.  Even Mikey knows this - and he will tell me all about it as soon as he is able.  I just wish he'd quit moving his arm up and down, back and forth, behind his head and to his chest - and back again. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wrong Hospital

"For me?"  I ask somewhat taken aback.
"Yes, you can use that phone over on the far wall.  It'll ring in a minute for you."

It rings.  For me.  In the emergency room.  That's crazy. 

"Is Mike there, yet?"
"What?"  (Oh no, here we go again...)

All I said was 'Hello' and already this conversation wasn't making any sense.

"Who is this?"

There is some hesitation on the other end of the line.

"It's Michelle."

Michelle?  I don't think Mikey's ever mentioned someone named Michelle.  Maybe I'm just a bit vengeful, but by golly if I could not have access to my own son when I am in person in the emergency room, this Michelle character is going to have to tell me who she is before I let her talk to my son lying bleeding on a gurney.  Maybe she had something to do with this.  I've never heard him - or any of his friends - mention anyone by the name of "Michelle".  But, maybe I didn't hear her right.

"Michelle who?"  I ask.

No;  no, no, no!  Look, I'm not one of those moms who has to know every little detail of my grown kids' lives, but because I have never heard him mention a Michelle ever, and because he is actively bleeding in this emergency room, and because I have no idea who shot him, why he was shot, or how he could be in a situation to even be shot...without a full name, she will not be talking to Mikey.  I have decided.

"Well, ok Michelle, he's over on the other side of the room, and I just got here myself and haven't had a chance to talk to him, but his sisters are here..."
"No, Mike is on the way there -"

Mike is on the way?  What is this girl talking about?  I am not in any kind of mood to play games with these people who don't want to tell me who they are, and then say weird things to me.

"He went to the wrong hospital, but he's on his way."

Wait a minute.  Mike is on his way?  He got lost?  This is not Mikey's friend...this is Mike's new wife.  Oh geez...she didn't want to tell me her last name because it's the same as mine now.  Seriously?  My son could be dying not 10 feet away from me and we're going to go there?  How shallow and hateful does she think I am?  Why would she think that I would care that she would be giving me information?  Wow.  Just wow.

"Michelle!  Oh my god, don't do that to me!  You're talking about Mike not Mikey!  What do you mean he went to the wrong hospital?"

And the conversation goes from there.  I don't know whether to be glad or mad or what.  So, I am relieved.  Relieved because finally the conversation makes sense - sort of.  At least it's understandable. I thank her and tell her to tell Mike we are in the emergency room and that he should just say that he talked to me and I told him to come.  I don't want him to have to go through what I did.  And, apparently, he's been trying to get hold of me, and my cell phone wouldn't ring - which explains why I got the phone call in the emergency it doesn't, really, but I'm finding that as long as I don't try to think too hard, things will go better inside my head.  I need something to go better somewhere.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"It's for you..."

I am so confused.  April is mad.  Tabby is confused.  I guess we were all madly confused.  WHY aren't we being ushered back immediately?  WHY do they keep asking me who called?  WHY have I been given no information about my son??  I STILL don't know if he's even here or not because no one has confirmed that he is here, yet!

A thought occurs to me:  Mikey must be dead.  I've never been directly involved with the death of a relative in a hospital setting.  In any setting, as a matter of fact.  The nurses are being too weird with me.  They are not really looking directly at me.  They are conferring with each other in whispers; they are pointing at me; they are whispering some more.  Oh my son must be dead.

My terrible thoughts are interrupted.
"You are Mike's mom?  Who are they, his sisters?"
"How old is this one?" (She is indicating Tabby.)
"She is 13."

Information Desk nurse confers with Intake Desk nurse in hushed tones, but the girls and I can hear her, "She's only 13; should we let her go back?"

Before they are finished, April and Tabitha both turn to me and ask questions simultaneously:

"Are they saying Tabby can't go back?"
"Mom!  I'm going back, aren't I?"

But before I can answer, the two nurses make up their minds, "Well, I guess she can, the mom's here."

Good...because they would not have wanted to deal with April for sure.  I don't know what I would have done, but April was ready to fight with someone.  That would not have been pretty...there was a guard standing, it would not have been pretty;  I'm not sure for which party, though.  Glad I didn't have to find out.

So, we were all motioned to follow Intake Desk nurse to the back.  We went like little ducklings following their mamma duck.

We turned left down a white hall (everything was white back there...white and clean) and past a couple of empty beds to the right of us.  There is a room at the end of this hallway.  I'm pretty sure that is where Mikey is.  As we get to that room, we are pulled past it.

"Ok, I have to tell you something."


That's my brain screaming at me.  I KNEW something had been wrong!  I KNEW they had been acting funny up front.  My son is DEAD!  A glance inside the room shows me a body covered up with a blue sheet on a's Mikey!  I recognize the soles of his feet!  Oh My son is lying dead on that gurney in that room and this nurse is choosing to tell me this away from the people in the emergency room waiting room....oh no, oh, no, oh, no...he had sounded so alive 30 minutes ago.  His feet have dried blood on them...

The nurse is talking, "You are going to see a lot of blood in there...your son has been shot multiple times..."


My daughters are not going to put up with this tomfoolery any more.  They hear this piece of information from Nurse Obvious, and spin around and run into the room to see their brother.  I am left outside for the rest of the speech about how much blood he has lost, how much blood I am going to see, etc, etc.  Duh.  I understand what happens when a person is punctured multiple times with an object or objects coming at them at a high velocity.  Finally, she is done with her speech about that red body fluid, and I am released to go into the room.  As I walk in, another nurse comes up behind me.

"We need some information from you about your son's medical history and any possible allergies..."  Michael is conscious, he is over the age of consent, and at any other time, I would not be allowed to know about anything to do with his medical history.  And now you are going to ask me this?  I have just been on a roller coaster ride of emotions, and now you are going to get coherent information out of me?  Do you really think so?  Honestly?

"Of course," I hear myself say, "I can give you that information."

Because my brain has just flooded my body with relief.  My son is alive, and they want to know how to keep him that way during the surgery that is imminent.  Of course I am going to cooperate.  I will tell you everything you want to know, starting with how long I was in labor if you want me to go that far back.

Before I can go into any sort of detail, though, I hear, "You're wanted on the phone."  Oh, of course I can wait to give you this information.  I will wait for you to take this call.  I'll just wait for you right over here at my son's bedside - where I belong.

"The phone call is for you."  She is looking at me.  A phone call?  For me?  In the Emergency Dept of St. Francis Hospital? 


While you were robbing the donut shop on Admiral and Garnett,
          I was sleeping.

While you were running and being sought by the police,
           I was turning over and getting comfy.

When you were shooting at the police,
           My cell phone woke me up.

"Why is 21st and Garnett closed? I thought I'd call you so you could go to
                                         work another way."

 As I was searching KOTV, KJRH, and KTUL to see why 21st and Garnett was closed,
          You were cornered in my neighborhood.

 As I read about your exploits online,
          Police were closing in on you.

 As I listened to the helicopter overhead and posted on FB: "Hello Boss? I can't come to work until the police say I can: Think they'll believe me?"
          You were raising the gun to your head.

 As I looked for updates and rearranged my schedule thinking that I might not have to go to work for a while,
          You were lying dead in the street.

When I got the text from my daughter telling me that you were dead,
          I was getting in the car to drive to work.

                                21st and Garnett was open.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Did you receive a call from us?

We arrive at the hospital and park by the emergency entrance. That's where I assume he is. I just cannot believe that the hospital hasn't called me. Why did the hospital call "Mike's roommate's mom" but not me? Is Mikey that out of it? No, he can't be. He was conscious and coherent in the background. And when he had said, "I've been shot...I'm gonna die," I heard unmistakably in his tone that he was joking. That is what I'm clinging to, actually; he is OK enough to joke about this - he must be ok. [No, I wasn't thinking about his "steel balls" joke not even a year previously; he had been "hours away" from death at that time...I'm glad I hadn't remembered that tidbit of information at that moment.]

The girls and I walk inside the doors. There is a semi-circular desk right there at the entryway with the word, "information" in big letters right on the front of it. There is a nurse and a guard sitting there.

"I'm here to see my son. He's been shot and I was told he was here." They both look up, startled.

"Who are you?"

"I'm his mother. These are his sisters."

"Did you receive a call from us?"

Something is not right, here. How come they didn't look at their list (there is a clipboard of names on the desk), see his name and take us back? Why are they looking at each other with those weird expressions? Why would they ask me if I had received a call? Even though I'm STILL not really believing all that is happening, I don't think that in the emergency room, the first question after, "Who are you?" should be "Did you receive a call from us?" What is going on?

I tell them that Mike's roommate's mom called me on her cell phone to tell me about my son. (In retrospect, I'm sure that sounded strange. I didn't say, "Sheri", or "Cindy", or "Marvella", but "Mike's roommate's mom" - you know what? I still don't know her name!) When I say this, the nurse leaves the desk, and hurries to a row of intake windows to the left. She confers quickly with another nurse and that nurse looks up at us with the same weird, startled look. Somebody had better start talking to me. Nurse number one looks at us and motions us to the window.

"Now, who did you say called you?" Really? REALLY?!

Oh No!

Oh No! Oh NO! That's him! That's definitely Mikey's voice; what am I gonna do? What am I gonna DO?!

"Ok. Ok. What hospital did you say? St. Francis? Ok. Ok. I'll get there. Tell him I'll get there." I hang up.


So, that's how my girls learn about their brother. In a nice, calm, rational manner. The house phone rings. My recent graduate answers it. You guessed it - the dryer is on the way.

"Get dressed; April, you have to stay for the dryer. Tabby can stay here, too. I'm going to St. Francis, where Mikey is."

(Both girls together) "NO! I'm coming!"

Of course they're coming. What was I thinking? I have no idea what to think. I'm still stuck on, "Your son's been shot several times. You should come." "What??!??!"

"Ok, both of you get dressed. You're coming with me. I'll call grandma and grandpa to wait for the dryer. Hurry!"

Yep, my parents are still in town because of April's graduation 2 days before. This is good. I dial their cell phone number. My dad answers. Can you say, "instant replay"?

Me: "Dad. You and mom have to come now. The dryer is on the way and Mikey's been shot. We have to go to the hospital right now. Please can you just get here in 5 minutes??"

Dad: "What?"

He thinks he's put the phone to his bad ear. He puts mom on the phone. I repeat myself. Mom says, "What?" It's like PeeWee's Playhouse. "The word of the day is 'what'. Whenever you hear anyone say 'what', scream real loud!" And I want to. But I can't. I explain that they need to please come. Please. Now. I have to get to Mikey. Please. That is all I can say to them. After an eternally long 5 minutes, they understand and will be at my house within 10 minutes. Good. Because I still need to get dressed. Instead of doing that, however, I call my good friend, Charity.


"Charity, this is Melissa. Mikey's been shot and he's at St. Francis hospital. WHERE IN THE HELL IS ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL???"

That's right. I have forgotten the location of the hospital. I need someone with a calm voice to tell me how to get to the hospital. Now, I know very well where that hospital is. Everyone in Tulsa knows where the pink hospital on the hill is. I could have driven there practically with my eyes closed any other day of the week. Not today. She understands at once. (She does NOT say "what". I do not have to "scream real loud".) She tells me how to get there, and then asks me if Mike is still in town. Mike? Mike? Oh, Mike! My ex-husband. Mikey's dad.

"MIKE! He's still here! I have to call him!"

Can someone be rationally hysterical? I think maybe I was. I knew what I had to do. I'd logically thought out everything. I needed everyone to get dressed. I needed to inform everyone about where I was going, figure out how to get there and explain why things were urgent. I even needed to get someone here for the dryer delivery. Why think about the dryer? Because I had to. The phone call for the delivery had come in as my mind was in the process of shifting into "emergency" mode. It had become part of my emergency. What if my parents had not been available? I honestly don't know what I would have done. Everything was of equal importance in my mind at that time. Everything was an emergency. That sounds strange, but there were no number one priorities. Everything was equally important. I'm just glad my parents were around to help me solve the delivery problem. It would have taken me longer to get to the hospital because I would have had to take the time to sort out priorities; I was not in any condition to do that - obviously.

I hang up from Charity and call Mike. He says, "What?! Wait a minute. He was WHAT?" The word of the day.

I finally make him understand that he does NOT have time to take a shower (I had woken him up), that he needs to get to St. Francis hospital. Yes, he remembered St Francis hospital. No, he didn't need directions; he still knew where it was. He would go there right away. He would probably be there before I got there because he wouldn't have to wait for someone to show up to accept delivery of a dryer. Ok. Good. I go to the bedroom to get dressed.

The delivery van and my parents show up at the same moment about 5 minutes after my conversation with Mike. The van blocks me in - naturally. The desperation and panic must have immediately shown on my face. Mom says, "Take the car. Just go." The girls and I jump into my parents car. It's been 15 minutes.