Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Sassy Butterfly

Oh man, I fly out at 7:00 am tomorrow morning for the last immunotherapy shot of the year. 2013 has been, very possibly, the most busy twelve months of my life. Certainly, I have never flown so much.

This trip snuck up on me. Since Friday, our world has been turned upside down. My 81 year old grandmother, one of my best friends (she lives here in Seattle), was in a horrible car accident on Thursday. The hospital couldn't track down the family because my parents were getting a new supply of venom - no cell phones, no contact information. No one could get a hold of my aunt either (turns out she has been very ill with pneumonia). Randomly, a social worker at Harborview Medical Center called an old phone number for Courtney, my sister-in-law (it was in my grandma's old cell phone), and when the woman answered she knew how to get a hold of Kaal & Courtney. The whole story is insane, and impossible to explain without putting your mind into a spin.

The main point is that my grandma was in a horrible car accident. The medical team couldn't get anyone from the family for almost 24 hours. At the scene they had to immediately intubate her. She has a broken collar bone, a lacerated kidney, head lacerations, a split ear (needing several sutures), a deflated aorta, deep bruising on her left hand (causing an inability for her to use it - which is problematic because she's left handed) and several broken vertebrae. Courtney called Dan and I on Friday night, and we immediately ushered ourselves out of the second Hunger Games movie. It was surreal. It was the first time I actively told Dan that he could be erratic with his driving and that I wouldn't care if he got a ticket. My grams is one of the lights of my life, we talk on the phone for hours all the time, I love spending time with her, I admire her, I feel so fortunate to have her in my life. She's a sassy, naughty, hilarious, fiercely independent, kind, often bordering inappropriate (in the best way), little social butterfly. She is my girl, and the thought of her being in a hospital bed with no one to hold her hand makes me ill.

By the time the social worker got a hold of anyone in our family, the doctors had already been forced to make an executive decision for a 8-9 hour spinal surgery. When Dan and I arrived, Grams was still in surgery, so we waited, and waited. We were fortunate enough to be able to see her after she was transferred into her Surgical ICU room. In the meantime, Kaal (my brother), hopped on the first ferry out of Friday Harbor and headed to join us. For the next 24 hours, the only people in our family that we could reach were the four grandchildren. Within the next several hours, our cousins Chris and Matt had driven over from Ellensburg. After checking in on Grandma, the boys drove an hour to find my aunt (that's how we found out that she was sick, explaining the inability to reach her). They also helped track down the impounded car. I've never been more proud of my cousins, and brother.

It was difficult seeing my grandmother in such a battered state, but surprisingly, I held it together. I keep fielding compliments from Dan about my capabilities during this crazy whirlwind, which makes me feel pretty damn good. Truthfully, I'm just as surprised as everyone else. :) I'm a self proclaimed wuss when it comes to blood, broken bones, etc., so I'm very excited to learn that I am actually quite good in emergencies. I've been very fortunate that my only experience with hospitals has been as a patient - and as you all know, it has been extensive. I guess it would make sense that I would know a good deal about the necessary questions to ask, and how to handle things.

Happily, my parents came back to the states on Sunday morning at 1:00 am. I guess I should have mentioned this earlier, but this is my only grandparent. It's my mother's mother. They are intensely close. In fact, the women in our family are a very tight knit group. My mom is relieved to be back, to see her mother, and of course to be able to take care of all the finite details. I feel awful about my grandma's accident, and her pain, but I also feel terrible that my mother is just getting back from a stressful trip and to hit the ground running is a huge strain on her. She's handling it famously, though, I do have to throw that out there. Grams is still intubated, still in the Surgical ICU at Harborview. She has a long, long road ahead of her, and guaranteed we will be with her either in spirit, or just beside her as she heals.

It's nice to have mom and dad home, and safe, and I appreciate that they can be around to help Grams while I'm gone in NYC. I'm looking forward to getting back Wednesday night, and heading back to Harborview on either Thursday or Friday. (Depends on when I can convince Dan to agree I'm rested enough.) I've already decided to pack my Kindle with a billion books loaded on it, and my little notebook computer (just in case I need to handle things); I'm going to post up in a chair in her room. I'm bringing distractions so that I don't bother Grammie. With the breathing tube, she keeps getting agitated and trying to talk, which in turn causes coughing fits. My goal is to just chill, and be there. I remember really enjoying quiet company when I was in the hospital. Sometimes, it's just nice to know you're not alone.

Spring 2012


  1. Jess, sorry about your Grandma!!! She is lucky to have all of you there with her!!!Safe travels to you & speedy recovery to your Grandmother!!! Love you...L

  2. Aw jess what a shame - sending you all my love and best wishes. She sounds a fiesty old girl and I'm sure she'll be up and about in no time - probably bossing you around ha ha. Good luck with the shots. It will feel so good to say goodbye to 2013 as 2014 is the year for us!

    Big hugs

  3. You, your family, and Grams are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank God the hospital staff was able to locate all of you, and lucky Grams and family to have you want to help and be with her so said it best when you said sometimes it's just enough knowing someone is there with you. Hospitals are very cold and lonely places; however, they are also where miracles happen and where faith, love, and prayer help us feel secure and help us make our loved ones secure. Love you much and miss you even more! Winnie

  4. Oh wow, I can't imagine how I'd react if I faced a situation like this. Sorry to hear about your grandma's accident but I'm glad that she's still with us. And you're right, it'll be a long road to recovery but with the proper care and support, I know she can make it through. I'll be keeping your grandma and the rest of your family in my thoughts.

  5. Really sad to hear about this. A car accident is terrible and is the kind of stuff that no one should have to suffer through. Good thing you are around to give her solace. Praying that she gets out of this much stronger, and that she'll get therapy that will not put her through so much strain.

    Vonda @ Amber Care


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