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.