As I said in my previous blog entry, when I arrived at the ER at Vall d’Hebron, on the evening of Sunday, March 6 they pumped me full of painkillers to keep me comfortable while they ran tests, took x-rays, and prepped me for surgery. From this point on, and up to my surgery my memory is pretty shoddy. While all this is happening to me, my parents are now learning about my injury (Via Facebook, of all places), coordinating and preparing to catch a flight to Spain. Knowing very little about the severity of my injury, or how long they would need to be with me in Spain. Their biggest fear was whether I was even going to be alive.
I went into surgery the next day, March 7, and it took much longer than the surgeons expected to rebuild, and repair the damage done to my neck. To do the surgery they had to get to my spinal cord through the front left side of my neck, as the majority of the damage was done to the front side of my vertebrae. The shattered pieces of bone from my busted c4 had migrated further into my neck than they expected. At that point they also found that there were small fractures in my C3 and C5 vertebrae. In order to cement my c4 back together, and prevent other complications down the road, they needed to be sure that they found and removed all of the fragments. They bolted a plate to C3 and C5 to support my broken neck and after cementing C4 back together they placed a titanium cage around it to support the work that they had done.
I woke up in the dimly lit Intensive Care unit that was filled with beeps and alarms of the various machines I was hooked up to. Immediately I had thoughts in my head that I was going to be left to do this on my own. That my family was not going to get there for days, or at all, or not even learn I was in an accident, and I would be forgotten in Spain.... I had heard some pretty scary stories from friends about the health care given to Americans in European hospitals. Plus, I had visions of being left in a cold damp dungeon, with crazy patients, and unsanitary conditions like you see in horror movies...I could hear the evil laugh of a mad scientist. Luckily, that was far from reality!
Because of John and Tania Burke of Trek/Trek Travel, Ingrid and Penny (two of my co-workers), and a Facebook post trying to reach my parents, my mom and dad arrived at Barcelona’s Airport within 12 hours of finding out about my accident. Moments after I woke up (and had all those nightmarish thoughts) my parents entered the room, their smiles immediately put me at ease. It was that moment that I knew I'd be ok no matter what the prognosis was. The love and support that they have always given me wouldn't stop there. Little did I know that from that day forward our love and friendship would grow exponentially stronger.
We didn't realize at the time, that the next 4 weeks would be the hardest weeks we've ever had to endure together. Our patience would be tested, our hearts would be broken and repaired many times over. And most of all we would learn that just because I was the one injured didn't mean I was the only one that got hurt………..
In the next few weeks this blog will be a combination of stories from myself, and my family. All to include entries from my father's Journal during our time in Spain. Reflections from my mother about staying in contact with friends and family in the states and a neurosurgeon (He came highly recommended and was a huge help in making sure that we had all of our facts straight), and also my sister's side of the story because she was our primary point of contact here in the states. She assisted in helping to plan my med-flight home, and where I would be for my rehab. Without all my family this story would not be complete.