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.
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.
Last night around 9:30pm I received a phone call from my mom. When the phone rang, I was just sitting down to a late dinner prepared for me by Dom (which was absolutely delicious, and also already delayed by me as I had spent some time on the phone chatting with my friend Matt). Anyway, when the phone rang I half considered not answering. I figured my mom was calling about my Christmas list – but then I remembered that I had already emailed that to her – so I picked up.
Hi Dan, I’m just calling to let you know that Bernie [my brother] was in a car accident. Becky [his wife] is on the way to the hospital.
Unfortunately my mom really didn’t have too many details. I was left knowing only that he was taken to the Simcoe hospital, and Becky was on her way. My mom informed me that she would keep me posted, and asked that I tell my brother Aidan (whom she tried to reach but couldn’t).
As the event unfolded, I ended up speaking/texting Becky, and my brother Sandy. He was headed to the Hamilton General Hospital (as they decided to move him from Simcoe to HGH for better care). This made me a bit anxious because it made the event a bit more real, and seem a lot more serious. Of course, not having information made my mind race; something I try to control because I find it anything but helpful. Up until that point I think I just kept thinking it’s nothing. Sadly that was an understatement.
Between texts/phone calls with Sandy, my mom, and Becky, I learned that Bernie had been t-boned by a distracted driver at a t-intersection. The road Bernie was driving did not have any stop signs or lights. The other driver however did have a stop sign. From what I understand, she/he was smoking and dropped their cigarette. When they bent over to pick it up, they took their eyes off the road and slammed right into my brother. Unfortunately they hit the driver side head on. This sent my brother’s car into a roll. I’m not sure exactly how many times it rolled, but more than once is too many times in my books.
I still don’t know who called the police/ambulance, etc., but someone did (thank you to whomever that was). I don’t know who used the Jaws-Of-Life to cut the roof off of the car (but thank you to whomever that was). I don’t know who pulled my brother from the car (but thank you to whomever did). I also don’t know who took care of him and got him to the hospital (but thank you to whomever that was). I also don’t know all of the people who worked on him, took care of him, and kept him with us (but again, than you to whomever you were). And I have no idea of all of the people who will help him through the next few days, weeks, and months of his recovery (but a big thank you in advance for all that you are going to do).
All I know is that Bernie is still with us. He is banged up pretty bad, but it’s nothing that he can’t get through. I know this for several reasons. First, he’s a Gillis, and we are notoriously bull-headed. And if that isn’t enough, we are also Ennis‘ (on my mom’s side). If you think Gillis’ are bull-headed, you’ve never met an Ennis. So yeah, we are doubly bull-headed. Second, I’ve seen him deal with so much more and come out the other end with a smile on his face. I’m speaking of course about the month that he and Becky spent last year watching over their daughter, my niece, Haley, as she battled with the flesh-eating disease, sepsis, collapsed lungs, cardiac arrests, etc. And third, he has a family that will kick him in the ass if he thinks about slacking off or giving up (which of course I know he won’t do because of the first reason I’ve provided).
Of course, I also know the next few days, weeks, and months are going to be a challenge on many levels. But he will get through this. We all will. Because that’s what Awesome does. And he is, if nothing else, Awesome. And so are we.
Anyway, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has already shown their love and support, those of you who have sent messages, and words of encouragement. Please continue to do so – they mean so much to all of us.
For now, I’m just happy to let you know that my brother is stable. While his pelvis has been shattered, while he has a collapsed and perforated lung, a fractured skull, a lot of bruising, and a broken collarbone, he is by no means broken. He simply has a rather large boo-boo. But nothing that he can’t and that we can’t handle.