Saturday, 17 May 2003, 0830
I finally got home, sore and exhausted. The ride home was great; it was nice to see the outside again and watch as the sun rose over the city as I approached it, passenger to my step-father who came to give me the lift. As soon as I managed to get in the house, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of relief. I spoke briefly to my mother who was still not feeling well herself, victim to a flu-like illness, and then excused myself to bed. I sent out a quick e-mail to a few people and then very carefully removed my stained clothing and gingerly crawled into bed. I fell asleep as soon as the pain faded as much as it would as I got into a comfortable position.
Saturday, 17 May 2003, 1820
Rested and more alert than in the morning, I sat down and talked with my mother and step-father about everything that had happened since the night before. It all still felt like a dream; an afterimage of something that seemed so real, yet now was questionably real. The club-style arm bands, bandages and head-to-toe pain were my only reality check. I called and talked to a few people, including Chris, to talk about what had happened. Dinner at Cracker Barrel was very tasty and then I sat and watched television with my family. This proved an excellent distraction as it had in the hours before when I was still alone, with only my thoughts to occupy me.
Sunday, 18 May 2003, 0316
Even as I sit here now, crawling around the internet, typing noticeably slower and less-accurate than usual, it all seems so far away already. So many thoughts occupy my mind: the near future, my future in general and alternate possibilities of what could have happened. I will be ok, no matter what happens in the coming days. I will figure something out and will let this be as much of a learning experience as I can.
Friday, 16 May 2003, 2140
I hop offline, get some clothes on, say goodbye to everyone here and head out the door, on my way to visit Chris and watch the Queer as Folk episode from the week prior. I was not going to stay there very long as he was already pretty tired from his day of work. I got in my car and headed to I-4 West. The drive was pretty standard. There were a few people on the road, but it seemed most of the Friday night partiers had already arrived at their destinations or had failed to get underway yet. I got off at Anderson Street and proceeded down it. Traffic picked up a bit, but I continued driving behind the minivan I had been behind since exiting I-4. At one point, Anderson Street ends and veers to the right around Lake Ivanhoe, subsequently changing names to Lake Ivanhoe Road.
Friday, 16 May 2003, 2200
I am driving around the lake. I see the sidewalk where exercisers often traverse. I glance ahead to the leaders of my pack of moving vehicles, the two motorcyclists that had passed me on the Anderson Street stretch between Mills Avenue and Bumby Avenue.
Friday, 16 May 2003, 2205
I look around, confused. Everything is blurry, but I do not realise yet I am not wearing my glasses. There is someone shouting at me from outside the window. I open the door and ask what is going on. I thought I recognised the person I was talking to; this must be a dream. Things get a little clearer in my head. They tell me to get out of the car. I look back over at the steering wheel and notice a t-shirt over it. I grab at it, no wait, that is not a t-shirt. I turn out the few people at my door and say, "What the hell is going on here? Why is my airbag... what the fuck is going on? Where am I?" Smoke fills the air.
At the direction of the people there, I exited my vehicle and sat down on the ground. People were asking if I was okay and asking what happened. Another man approached with a British accent and claimed he was an off-duty fire-fighter. He asked me how I was doing and about what happened. "I do not know," is all I am able to mutter as I look over at my car. I realise my glasses are absent and get up to move to the car. "No, it's smoking, don't go back in there," someone says. "I need my glasses." I find the frames in the driver seat and one of the lenses next to it, which I pop back in and sit back down.
I look around and see I am still on Lake Ivanhoe Road, but not quite. From where I sat, I saw that somehow I crossed over the opposite lane of traffic, hopped the curb and crashed into a tree. It looks bad, too. The driver's side of the engine compartment is all tree. Some people ask me if I want to use their mobile telephone's to call family or friends, but I decline. How am I supposed to call and tell anyone what happened when I do not even know? Another person asks me if I was drinking and I reply that I had not, nor had I done any drugs or anything like that. He got close and said, "Well if you got anything like that in your car, you had better get rid of it now, before anyone gets here." I hear someone else comment about if that tree had not been there, I would have likely driven into the lake.
The Orlando Fire Department engine arrives first and their personnel descend upon me. While it is true I am having difficulty moving for a reason which I do not fully comprehend, I tell the firemen I do not think an ambulance ride to the hospital is necessary. They manage to talk me into it, despite my fears of going without medical insurance. "You can work that out later. All that is important now is your well-being," the lead fireman tells me after I refuse medical attention due to the cost. I tell one of the firemen to find the mobile telephone in the car, which he does. I ask about the smoke and I am told that it just the exhaust of the airbags, which both deployed as they should (despite the SRS light always having been on). They also tell me that the Orlando Police Department was on their way and they would take care of my car's towing. They said the police would meet me at the hospital and tell me more then.
The EMS paramedics take over from there, placing me in a secure neck device, then down on a flat panel to prevent any further possible spinal or neck injury and then strap, secure and tape all that and myself to a gurney. Up goes the gurney and then into the ambulance. There is a panel of drawers to my right and four round white lights on the ceiling. The outline of a male sitting to the left, securing the gurney to the floor and a woman above me is asking medical questions. I hear the back doors shut and then feel we have begun moving. Blood pressure is checked, along with some other vital statistics. "How are you feeling?" "Nervous." I hear the woman above me radioing in to the hospital my name and information. The man to the left is talking to me, asking some more questions and tries to start an IV. I have no idea how long it took to get to the hospital or which route we took. The ceiling of the ambulance switched to the view of the sky and the side of building, along with several people over me asking questions. Corridor ceiling, florescent lighting, fire suppression nozzle. A cute, younger Asian male with glasses comes up to my right and performs various tests. I ask for his name: Dale. I talk to so many people I can hardly see. The pain I had not felt before is strong, especially on the back of my head which I cannot move at all due to my secure transport. In fact, all I can move are my arms and hands and that is difficult to do.
After the slew of questions and initial tests, I am told a room would be opening shortly and that I had to wait until then. I listened to a conversation between a very inebriated man and a police officer. Seems there was an altercation and this man was injured. After medical attention, his next stop was the Orange County Jail. I was thankfully moved (by one of my cute EMT's) down the corridor away from the rambling antics of the drunk until my room, ER 34, became available.
After moving into my room, I was transferred from the gurney to the bed, but still secured to the backboard. "We are going to move you to a bed now. It will feel like you are flying," someone says to me. "One, two, three," and then I did in fact feel like I was flying sideways and to the right. There were medical personnel everywhere, asking questions and taking readings from the instruments I was now plugged into. I was asked to sign some documents, which is easier said than done when you are completely strapped to a wooden board. Two female police officers arrived, but waited until the initial observation and tests were completed before leaving me a pamphlet and explaining where my car had been taken. They tell me a case number had been created and that I could contact the department for a copy of the report. A woman, who I would later find out to be my primary nurse, entered and told me that the doctor had been made aware of my situation and had ordered a full series of X-Rays and a CAT scan. "We are going to get your X-Rays taken as soon as possible, so we can get you out of all of this."
Friday, 16 May 2003, 2330
A younger African-American man, wearing a most wonderfully intoxicating cologne (I would later find out to be a Calvin Kline product) comes into my room and tells me I am off to get some X-Rays. Finally. It seems like I had been lying there, staring at the ceiling, wondering what had happened for hours. He notices my earring, but says he will try to take the first X-Ray without my removing it. This proves to be a failure, so I take it out and ask for some tape so that I do not lose the silver sphere or ring portion. The first X-Rays are taken, processed and then hand-delivered to the doctor, who will give the authorisation or denial to have me removed from my hard-backed, head-encasing prison. After a few minutes he returns with the good news and then begins removing everything from me. I go to stand up for the first time and realise how much pain I am really in. Everything is stiff and hurting. My chest, which I heard everyone talking about and looking at earlier, is really sore. I notice my knees are bloody and swollen slightly. My arms feel like I have hundred-pound weights attached to them. I stand in various positions and continue to have radiation shot at me for several more angles of X-Ray images. "Hell of a way to spend a Friday night, eh?" the X-Ray technician quips.
Saturday, 17 May 2003, 0100
I am taken down a few corridors to the CAT scan room. Moving from my bed to the CAT scanner platform is difficult, but manageable with the assistance of the CAT operator, a larger, inquisitive and middle-aged woman with a wonderful personality. After laying there watching the sensor components spinning around me as the platform moves back and forth, the scan is completed and return to my bed. The operator says she thinks the scan looks good, but that the images will be transferred by computer to the radiologist for his analysis. This should take about an hour, she says as she wheels my bed back to my room. When I get there, she shows me I have a television available to watch. I turn it on and scan through the channels until I land on TNT ("We Know Drama") showing one of my favourite movies, The Game. As I watch the movie, I am able to stop thinking about everything that has been going on for the last few hours and just sit.
Saturday, 17 Mary 2003, 0310
With The Game nearing completion, my primary nurse enters and reports that both my X-Ray's and CAT scan came back fine. She sighs and then informs me that the doctor would still like to perform some more tests, starts an IV on my right hand, draws blood and then asks if I could submit some urine, which I do. The nurse talks about how she wishes the doctor would have ordered these tests earlier to reduce my stay time. As far as I am concerned, as long as I am no longer confined to that wooden stretcher and head mount, they can take as long as they need. Besides, I would really rather not have to call home and get a ride from the hospital at this hour.
The nurse returns with the test results and goes over them with me, showing me where things are off in my blood and urine and explaining exactly what it means and what I will have to do to correct it. She says that the doctor is still concerned that there is no apparent explanation for the loss of consciousness I experienced while driving. "She ordered yet a few more tests for you, sorry," she says with a smirk. I had been giving her a hard time all night, which she really enjoyed and played along well with. Humour had been one of the few things keeping me sane.
Saturday, 17 May 2003, 0337
A woman who reminds me of the CAT scan operator enters with a large machine she explains to be an EKG scanner. The doctor wants to make sure my heart is functioning normally. I lift my shirt and she removes the sticky sensor pads the EMT crew had placed upon me during my transport from the scene to the hospital. She notes my sunburn and the large gash across my chest, running from under my right nipple, diagonally and increasing in intensity to my left shoulder. She makes a comment, similar to some I had heard all night, about the markings showing the value of seat belts. After trying as carefully as possible to remove the sensor pads, she places twelve more of her own and explains how they work. The EKG takes only a few minutes and was interesting to watch the results on the screen. The built-in laser printer spit out the results which the operator says look good, but like with everything else, the doctor will make the final determination.
Shortly after this, Dale (from earlier when I had just arrived at the ER) returns to take a tri-phase blood pressure and pulse analysis, a test my nurse had explained would be coming. Some movie called Frantic was now on TNT as I lay, sat-up and then stood, each time a blood pressure/pulse measurement being taken. While these tests are being done, I make small-talk asking if "anything interesting" had come into the ER since my arrival and he told me about some of the other patients he had seen tonight (nothing specific, of course). He tells me the test looks pretty good, although it is somewhat inconclusive given the trauma I had experienced. He leaves and I switch the television to Conan O'Brien.
Saturday, 17 May 2003, 0430
I finally manage to doze off just a bit, when a nurse from earlier comes in and makes a bunch of noise replacing supplies in my room. The sound of the door opening itself was enough to bring me out the very light and momentary sleep I had entered. I spoke with her for a few minutes as she worked and then again tried to get some rest. I was in pain. I drank some water and nodded off for a little bit more.
Saturday, 17 May 2003, 0545
My nurse says that although she had been fairly busy earlier with real emergencies, my doctor would be fully reviewing my case and would be making some recommendations shortly, after taking an analysis of all the data collected so far. She did not anticipate any more tests and suggested trying to sleep some more until she returned with more information. The news was now on my television, still tuned into the local NBC affiliate on which I had been watching the Conan O'Brien show. I think I may have managed to catch a few minutes of sleep here and there, but I was almost too exhausted and preoccupied to sleep here anymore. I wanted to be the hell out of the hospital.
Saturday, 17 May 2003, 0700
I get copies of some of my paperwork, test results and a prescription to take care of the small bacterial infection one of the tests revealed. Even though a direct causal effect was determined as to the cause of my unconsciousness, I was going to be released. The popular theory that I had simply exerted myself that day without enough food and/or water seemed to be the most plausible and, by the results of some of the tests, appeared to at least have contributed to the incident. She wishes me luck, gives me a can of Gatorade and some Motrin pills for the pain. I should be in pain for two weeks or so. The deep cuts may leave a mark for a while.
Saturday, 17 May 2003, 0730
The call home: I tell my mother to not get too excited, but that I was in an accident the night before and needed a ride back home. I explain to my step-father, Ross, where the hospital is that I am at and he says he will be on his way shortly. Several mothers with babies enter the main emergency room entrance, seeking medical attention. One man, holding his head back with bloody towels enters and his wife assists him in filling out the entrance forms.
Saturday, 17 May 2003, 0800
Ross arrives in his truck and I say goodbye to the front desk clerk, who had been my only source of conversation during my wait in the lobby. I walk past the mallard ducks that hang out at the front door every morning, according to the clerk, and manage into the truck, finally bound for home.