It is kind of crazy to think that the 1stday/night/day of Shawn’s accident that I was up for about 36 hours. Considering I can barely make it til 11 at night it just shows how amazing our brains are to release the endorphins necessary at times when excess attention and energy is needed. I can’t say I ever gave the brain much thought before that day and how that one organ controls everything about not only who we are but also how we move and talk and act and overall function in daily life. When I was a teenager and trying to sleep in til noon on the weekends my mom would bang around in the kitchen because she hated that my brother and I were still sleeping. Little did she know that the teenage years are a very crucial time for our brains and they are kind of in a way working overtime to free up more space for adulthood. All the memories and skills we needed as babies to young children are basically stored away so that all the memories we will have and all the new skills we will need getting older have more readily accessible space. I read a book once calling this the time our brains free up valuable real estate. So luckily for me my brain kicked into overdrive and gave me the mental and physical strength I needed to be by Shawn’s side, maybe not by his side since that time was limited, but at the hospital so I was close by.
It was probably sometime after 7 that the first of Shawn’s family was able to join me at the hospital. They live over 3 hours away so I am sure that was the hardest drive they have ever had to make not knowing what was happening with him. I remember leaving that ICU room shortly after they told me he was not going to make it and called his sisters and brother who were enroute. I was crying and I was hoping they were close because I needed them there for Shawn and for me. When I passed on what the doctors had told me, I could hear his sister Kathy screaming and crying in the background as I passed on what I was being told. It wasn’t much after that they arrived at the hospital and right away they kicked into nurse-mode, both of his sisters are nurses. It was such a godsend to have them there with my for those first few weeks because they were able to dissect all the medical jargon and helped me to understand what exactly was going on with tests, infections, medications etc. In those first few hours all I could focus on was him being stabilized that I honestly thought that if he could just make it the night then he was out of danger. I even called my superior at work and explained that Shawn had been in a car accident and it would probably be about a week that I would need off, I didn’t return for 6 weeks. So when the Thoracic surgeon came him around midnight, this man pretty much saved his life on the operating table, and said that he believed that Shawn would survive you can imagine the relief and pure happiness that I felt at that moment. However, there was a big but…they hadn’t to this point been able to stabilize him enough to move him so that he could make it to x-ray so that they could get a CAT scan done. There was still an unknown and that was what type of injury there was to the brain. Hmmm, never really thought about that so I still wasn’t too concerned because he did say that he would survive so how bad could it be?? It was sometime around 1am before they were able to move Shawn and get him to X-ray. The team of doctors and nurses that escorted him down for his CAT scan was probably close to 6 of them. This is an indication of how serious the threat of something really bad still happening if that many medical staff needs to escort you. Shawn’s sisters were great in reading the situation and knowing because he had 3 nurses on him only in the ICU that it meant that he was still very critical and as days passed when he went down to 2 then 1, we got more and more comfortable with the fact he was improving. Little things like this are what kept me going in the early days knowing that he was getting “better”. So the team of staff passed by us while we waited in the private family room we were given. I am not certain how long he was gone but we convinced ourselves that if they made eye contact with us on the way back with Shawn that it was a good thing and the CAT scan wasn’t so bad but if they didn’t make eye contact that it was not going to be good news at all. They didn’t make eye contact. Looking back it was kind of silly for us to access the situation like that but at the time every little comment or behaviour seemed like a sign that some good or bad news was coming our way. There wasn’t much they could tell us right after the CAT scan since the results needed to be analyzed by a doctor, so we spent a bit more time by Shawn’s bedside before the ICU nurses assigned to him “firmly” suggested we get some rest. I was 4 weeks pregnant so for that reason only I thought it best if I rest, or at least close my eyes for a bit. At this point it was just Karen and Kathy (Shawn’s sisters) and myself and none of us had any plans on leaving the hospital. They offered a hospital room with one bed and then they told us the other 2 could crash on the couches in one of the OR waiting rooms that were empty since the OR was closed for the night. I knew there was no way I could be alone so Karen took the bed and Kathy and I headed to the waiting area. The “couches” were pretty uncomfortable and not really cushioned but had that hard plastic material plus we were located directly above the ER ambulance entrance so it was a pretty noisy night, not that it mattered because it wasn’t like we were going to sleep anyways. I think we closed our eyes for maybe an hour before we were woken up by one of the neuro surgeons in charge of Shawn’s care. His report of the CAT scan was fairly brief and he would explain more when he saw us later that day in the afternoon when he made his rounds. He did tell us that the scan showed 2 small brain bleeds, so I thought to myself, that doesn’t sound so bad…right??