Tag Archives: Bernie

A Single Moment. A Single Year.

My niece Makenzie sent her Giraffe to the hospital to help speed her dad’s recovery. For those unaware, it has been scientifically proven that giraffes speed recovery. Anyone who says different is a quack or a charlatan.

A few short hours from now will mark the 1 year anniversary marking the moment when my mom called to inform me that my older brother Bernie had been in a car accident. While information would be scarce, I’d soon learn that he had been rushed from the Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe, to Hamilton General – a move that told me his injuries were significant and possibly life threatening. I’d eventually learn that he had been hit by a distracted driver; T-boned to be precise. The car would roll – several times I’m told – coming to rest on the front lawn of someone who likely just finished dinner. The Jaws-of-Life would be required to extricate him from the car.

In the days that followed I spent much of my time in Hamilton with my family; chatting while we could with Bernie. He was on a lot of pain killers for obvious reasons; so he was in and out of consciousness. Additionally, he soon would be intubated and wouldn’t be able to communicate verbally1. I learned of his injuries, monitored various tubes, and asked numerous questions about the set of machines-o-science2 that were feeding him drugs and other things necessary to repair himself.

Eventually he would have surgery to fix what needed to be fixed. Eventually he would be moved back to Norfolk County Hospital to begin the long and painful process of rehabilitation. We would spend Christmas at the hospital – a fantastic Christmas in fact. Family and friends would visit, helping Bernie (and all of us) get through the seemingly endless minutes and hours of his recovery.

The seemingly endless hours spent horizontally were replaced with some vertical (albeit bedridden) time. The angle of inclination would grow until he was able to sit. A wheel chair soon became his mode of transportation. After some time in rehabilitation, he’d be able to put weight on his left side – testing the reconstructive efforts of the surgeons and his own resolve. Eventually he’d get about with a cane; comparing features of his cane with that of my Granny‘s.

It’s amazing what can happen in a single moment. A dropped cigarette, a text message, or any number of other innocuous things that can completely alter the course of someone’s life.

It’s even more amazing what can happen in one year: a span of time filled with an infinite collection of moments. Some moments filled with pain; some moments filled with so much joy that it’s almost too much to take. In a year since my brother’s accident I’ve seen a lot of amazing things. I’ve been able to travel and teach and do all of the things that I love to do. I’ve seen friends get married and have babies. I’ve known many who have lost loved ones. I’ve seen other friends conquer mountains and raise money for people they’ve never met. I’ve watched students graduate, and I’ve witnessed moments of transformation from not understanding to understanding. And for all of this I am thankful.

But as I sit here and write this I know that the moment that started the past 365 days could have led to a very different outcome. For this reason, and above all else, I am so thankful to be able to say that my entire family is present and accounted for this year.

1 Although we could communicate using ASL, as Bernie had learned it when he was younger. This was a very positive sign that his brain was going to be just fine.

2 I’m a nerd. Sue me.

And The Award Goes To…

A foot of onion rings. I feel sick. But they were so tasty. Ok, half of them were.

Yesterday Bernie had surgery; part of the long journey on the road back to health. The surgery was for his pelvis, and based on what I’ve heard, it went well. Aidan and I dropped by last night to see how he was doing and to keep Becky company. Of course, her dad was already there with her, and our friend Erin arrived shortly after we did. So really, it was another rocking night in the ICU Lounge at Hamilton General Hospital.

We didn’t stay in the lounge long, however, as it was rather crowded and Becky and I both needed to eat. So we found a pub nearby for onion rings and various other pub fare. And when I say onion rings, I clearly mean a stack of onion rings that was eleventy-billion feet high. Okay, 1 foot high, but given my stomach it might as well have been eleventy-billion feet high. Verdict: so damn delicious. Sadly I couldn’t finish them all (big surprise), but the good news is that I now have leftover onion rings. Granted, leftover onion rings have a tendency to be not nearly as good as the fresh variety, so whether or not I eat them is another story. For now they sit in my fridge tempting me with their onion-y goodness.

When we returned to the hospital, Bernie was still sedated – probably a good thing given the surgery and all. Aidan and I sat with him for a while, trying to check out his fancy new scar. Clearly it was all bandaged up so I have nothing to report other than that he’ll have a fancy new scar. I should point out that my Harry Potter scar is still way cooler, but I’ll let him have the ‘biggest scar’ award. I’m all about the giving. Ha! I’m such an ass.

Since only 2 people are allowed in the room at any one time to visit, we’ve been playing musical visitors. Whenever I leave the room, I either sit in the lounge or wander the halls looking for things that make me smile or giggle. It’s my way of coping I guess. That, or I’m a heartless bastard; I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Anyway, I now offer to you dear readers, several of the things that I’ve found while wandering the halls of the Hamilton General Hospital that made me smile.

No slipping in my brothers room. Good advice for someone with a crushed pelvis.
This room intrigues me.
This room made me giggle
If I understand this sign correctly, this is where you go if you've lost your heart.
It seems odd that these are offered at the hospital (Heath fail) but that doesn't mean I don't want one ;)
Mmm, Stat lab.
A note for daddy. This makes me smile.

What I Learned Today

Thumbs up. Way up.

Aidan and I headed back to Hamilton General Hospital today to hang with Bernie and Becky, on this Bernie’s second full day of recovery. For those that might have missed the news, Bernie was sent there yesterday following a rather nasty car accident that involved another driver t-boning him as he was driving home from work.

Anyway, apart from the wires that attach to the machines that go bing, and the other various tubes feeding Bernie a wonderful concoction of pain killers and antibiotics, he looks good.


Yes, he has some bruising on his shoulder (nasty bruising at that), and on his arms. And yes, there are some screws and such that are being used to put his pelvis back where it belongs – in sexy town – and not north of it. And yes, he’s wearing a god awful hideous polka-dotted hospital gown. But he looks good. Especially good for having just been smashed by a car. How many people can say that?

Anyway, today I learned that beyond his shattered pelvis, his punctured/collapsed lung, his broken collar-bone, and his fractured skull, he also has a number of broken ribs. Specifically – 1 through 5 in the front, and 7 through 10 in the back. That’s right folks, of the 12 sets of ribs in the human body (assuming the information I found on the all-knowing all-powerful Google is correct – because I’m no rib-expert unless they are covered in BBQ sauce), he’s broken 9 of them (or 75% for you fellow math nerds out there).

I also learned (or re-learned) that he is one tough bastard. Not because he was hit by a car and managed to survive, but because he’s doing so and still managing to smile and crack jokes between the obvious pain that he must be in. That is incredible to me. Abso-freaking-lutely incredible.

Beyond all of this, I also learned that my brother knows sign-language. I had no idea that he had this in his back pocket. In fact, I discovered through sign that he learned it in the same place I did; at Robarts in London. Of course, we don’t remember enough to have a fluid conversation but we can sign the alphabet which is more than enough to communicate. And in true Bernie form, he took the opportunity to crack jokes through sign. Clearly, even though the next few days/weeks/months will be difficult, I also know that he’s going to be fine. I mean, he was smashed by a car and he’s managing to use sign-language to communicate – something he learned in grade 4 and hasn’t used in I have no idea how many years. That’s beyond amazing; it’s a double order of amazing, sprinkled with incredible, and covered with awesome sauce.

Anyway, I’d like to thank everyone who has sent words of encouragement. I’ve passed along the comments you’ve left on the blog/facebook/twitter to Bernie. He lit up at the mention of your names; so please keep sending your comments. I’ll keep passing them along. If you have any pictures/e-cards/etc. that you want to pass along you can also send them to consumedbywanderlust [dot] wordpress [at] gmail [dot] com.

As usual, I shall keep you updated as he continues his recovery.