The following is my attempt at a written account of an accident in my family. This is pretty long, so if you only want to read the heart of this, scroll down to the bolded bits. It should still make sense.
Just a few days ago I was put in a situation I never thought would happen. Not to my family anyway. I’ve seen so many medical tragedies over the past few years, and somehow none of them prepared me for this.
I woke up late, as usual. I was in no rush to get up and stayed in bed playing with Jamie when I heard a loud thud, like something heavy falling to the ground. The screaming came next. I jumped out of bed and pressed my ear against the door, listening so that I could evaluate the situation. My first thought was that my grandpa had fallen. But something was wrong. Perhaps he hit his head… I threw the door open and ran downstairs. If that had been the case, my grandpa wouldn’t be the one screaming. On my way down I heard my step-dad shout, “I’ll call 911!” He rushed past me and scrambled around the room, searching for the phone and probably not even noticing that I had come down. My grandpa was standing by the door leading to the basement. I could see he was leaning forward on his walker as far as he could to see downstairs, all the while crying and screaming my grandmother’s name.
I’m sure this is the part where I practically went numb. Slowly I walked up next to my grandpa and looked down, knowing what I’d see. My grandmother was sprawled at the bottom of the stairs with her eyes closed. The pained moaning sounds she was making were the only sign that she was at least semi conscious. Very gently I put a hand on my grandpa’s arm and asked, “Can I go down there?” He stopped screaming for a moment and nodded, moving his walker just enough so that I could get past.
When I was halfway down the steps he started up again, this time saying, “Don’t touch her! Don’t let her fall asleep!” I took a deep breath and stepped over my grandma so that I could kneel over her. I had always been the calm one in emergency situations, and this was no exception, but the jolt of fear I felt when I saw the blood pouring out from her head was obvious.
I called to her for a few minutes, begging her to wake up. My voice started off calm, but each time I called to her the panic grew just a little more. Eventually she opened her eyes and looked around, but she was clearly dazed and not all there. When her eyes fell on me I smiled and could only say, “Hi!” in a cheerful voice when my step-dad rushed in. I was a little reassured now that she was awake, and it didn’t take long before she was talking to my step-dad.
“What happened?” She asked him, looking clearly confused at all the commotion.
“You fell down the stairs. It’s alright, you’re perfectly fine.” He was trying to hide how scared he was from her, but she could tell. My grandma, like most of my family, works in the medical profession. He knew he wasn’t going to get away with skimping on the details.“You hit your head, but I’m going to stop the bleeding now. Don’t try to get up.”
My grandma shook her head in what seemed to be disbelief. “Oh my god.”
I had moved off to the side and was watching them in silence when my step-dad turned to me. “Go get me a towel. And a phone! Call your mother. Tell her to come home…but don’t tell her why.”
That didn’t sound right to me, but I quickly rushed upstairs and stopped at the bathroom first. I hesitated and stared at the towels, not sure which one he wanted. There were three of them, mine, my mother’s and his. I had a brief thought that they would yell at me if I took one of theirs and grabbed my towel and practically threw it down the stairs at him. It was calming to have something to do, and I noticed my hands shook less when I dialed the numbers to call my mother at her job.
What happened after I called my mother is a bit of a blur. I remember standing around, completely unsure of what I could do to help. My grandpa noticed my dazed look and asked me to go outside and wait for the ambulance. I started and ran out, a little ashamed that I didn’t think of it myself. We live in a very remote area. The chances of them finding us without a landmark, or me, to show them where we were was very slim. I was disoriented. Time didn’t make sense. Looking back it wasn’t very long at all, but at the time it felt like I was standing there forever. I actually got the mail because my hands were starting to shake. I needed something to hold at the very least.
I heard the sirens before I saw them, and that made me angry. It was like the sound was teasing me. I started to think, “What if they don’t get here in time?” when two cars farther up the road pulled over and an ambulance rushed up. They didn’t look like they were going to slow down, but at the last-minute the driver saw me and pulled over sharply. They looked lost, and asked me if this was the place. I nodded and pointed to the garage, trying not to think of what would have happened if I hadn’t been out there.
Things spiraled quickly from there. Two more trucks showed up and the paramedics got to work immediately. At this point there was nothing for any of us to do except stay out-of-the-way and let them help her. I wasn’t the only one feeling useless. Whenever I was asked to do anything I did it with energy. I had to be helpful. I had to do something. At one point I searched her bags intensely, looking for her medicine even though they didn’t need it right that second. Despite all this, I was at least reassured that my grandmother was probably not going to die.. She kept asking us to get her insurance, and was able to tell them exactly where it hurt. From my small understanding of how serious injuries work, feeling pain is a good thing.
So many paramedics had come. I don’t remember faces. The only thing that’s clear is the image of around six or seven people picking my grandma up and putting her on a stretcher, assuring her that their job was to get her safely to the hospital. We were told briefly that they were taking her to the landing zone, so she could be flown to whichever hospital was best suited to take her. When we asked, the best they could tell us was it probably would be our local hospital. This was a relief to me oddly enough as I don’t have a good opinion of that place.
Wow, look at that wall of text. If you read the entire thing, congratulations. I know people don’t usually like posts this long. I know there are shorter ways to get my point across (see bolded paragraph below for point) but writing this was important to me. You’ll notice that this just kind of…stops. I’m sorry. It wasn’t easy for me to write, so the quality suffered. I tried to write this to the best of my ability but…this was not an experience I enjoyed reliving, even through something as innocent as this. Someday though I will finish this. My grandma is perfectly fine. Somehow the woman got out of that with no broken bones, a few stitches and some aches and pains. I’ve decided she’s immortal.
I keep thinking, what if I had been alone? I am certified in CPR, and technically I could have done everything my step-dad did. But if he hadn’t been there, would I have remembered what to do? It’s easy to say, “Of course! I’d do CPR then fly her to the hospital like Superman!” But does anyone really know how they’d react in a situation like that? This is never something I thought would happen to someone close to me. It’s was if my was family was immortal and tragic accidents only happen to strangers. Not anymore apparently.