Always Take Knitting
We got there in late morning, and had been trying to reach Cody by phone without success (those of you with good, continuous cell phone coverage in your area just wouldn't understand, but we live in an area where taking 10 steps during a successful call can cause it to cut out; gotta love those mountains anyway). We went up to mid-mountain in the gondola and kept watching for him. We also got to watch some of the competitors doing practice runs. We couldn't figure why we hadn't seen him yet, but then, he probably wouldn't know we had arrived till he got to the top and got service... no biggie.
We started to get hungry, and went over to the lodge and got tacos to share, but kept watching. I pulled out my Hiking Scarf and did a few inches. We weren't really worried yet, but then realized that it was getting close to 1:00 PM, when the competition was scheduled to start, and he still hadn't turned up. Nikki tried calling again, but just got voice mail. Then, her phone rang, and I could tell right away she was talking to someone she didn't know and something was wrong. A friend of Cody's told her he had broken his hip and was down at the bottom of the mountain, where Tahoe Forest Hospital maintains a fully-rigged urgent care clinic at the Northstar base lodge. We rushed over to the gondola, holding onto each other, and waited out the agonizingly slow ride down the hill, hoping we could get to see him before he was transported by ambulance to the main hospital in Truckee.
We were too late... the ambulance had just left. So off we hike to find our car in the boonie parking, and rush to the hospital. We knew that surgery lay ahead for him, and just wanted him to be able to see us and know we would be there waiting before he went in. When we got to the front desk at emergency, it turned out one of his riding buddies, Monica, was there, helping the clerk complete his admission paperwork.
Then, I got to go into the patient ward and it was emotional for both of us. Cody kept apologizing, and I had to say "Yeah, right, like you went out today and deliberately said 'I'm going to get all busted up'". That made him laugh but he was obviously in pain, even with the morphine they had given him before the ride over. The ER doc, Dr. Dodd, came in and at least I am pretty much able to stay calm and focused in these situations and ask the right questions. Dr. Dodd showed me the x-ray, with the explanation that Cody had broken his femur, not his hip, and in four places. This didn't look like the largest bone in your body at all, more like kids' blocks scattered around inside his leg! It took a lot to keep it together at that point. The doc sent Cody out for another x-ray of his lower leg. I stayed and asked some questions. He was explaining how they would insert a rod into the leg, and screws to hold the bone in proper alignment while it healed, and that since Cody was young and totally fit and in good health, he had a good chance of full recovery. I was thankful I had just watched an extreme sports video called "Motorheads" with my youngest son, Jesse, where someone had had to have the same operation, and I could visualize what the doctor was describing and feel somewhat optimistic.
Nikki and I each got to see Cody again on his way to surgery. She was pretty overwhelmed to see him suffering and only stayed with him a few minutes and then called me back in. I wanted to make sure he was positive about the upcoming surgery. I was a nurse long years ago, and my biggest fear is that it is somewhat SCIENTIFICALLY unpredictable when something goes wrong with a young, healthy person during surgery, and I have felt for years that attitude and motivation have everything to do with likelihood of success. He was convinced that the doctors at Tahoe Forest are expert with ortho issues, since they get so many of them each year. He is a very positive person overall, and was only a little worried, making comments from the subconscious about money and slow recovery. We agreed that we would all help him get through it and he would be ok at the other end. We got to tell him that we loved him and would be there when he came out of recovery. I have to brag about this son of mine a little; he was maintaining a cheerful attitude, and making a point to look at each hospital personnel's name tag and address them by name and thank them through this entire ordeal! He even joked with the nurse pushing his gurney to surgery, when another doctor wished him good luck, saying "Well, I guess he can't say 'Break a leg, can he!'".
Then, we got to wait. Nikki was pretty stressed out, so we went to the shopping center a quarter mile away to get magazines to read while we waited. She definitely needed some other pictures in her mind than the one of her big brother laid out on the stretcher in pain and facing surgery. We also stopped at Payless Shoe Source to get her a pair of cheap tennies, since all she had was either heavy snow boots or flimsy sandals.
Sitting in the surgery waiting room is one of the hardest things a person who likes to be in control can ever do. If I hadn't had knitting to pull out, I sure would have been more anxious. I wasn't able to stay focused enough to read much, and probably added another several inches to my scarf. It was good that this pattern doesn't require too much concentration.
We were very relieved when Dr. Dodd came into the waiting room to tell us that the surgery was very successful and that Cody was doing well in recovery. We would still have to wait another hour or so before he would be in his room and we could see him. I kept knitting. Just before 6:00 PM, a nurse came to tell us we could go up to visit him. It was a great relief to see him looking alert and doing his breathing exercises when we walked in. He was still able to say he was "fantastic" when the nurses asked. I was able to get a smile out of Sampson (Cody's roommate, who, with his girlfriend, Heidi, had brought flowers), by saying that we wanted to hear him singing, then we would all really believe he was all right.
The hospital is planning to discharge him late today, and we will be bringing him home with us, where he will be doing some knitting of bones. He can expect to be on crutches for the next two months, although his doctor assured me that he will probably be ready to return to his sedentary job in about two weeks. He is facing lots of therapy, too, and some psychological issues about what limitations he might have down the line, but we agreed that we would all be riding together again next November. Being motivated is probably 90% of recovery. Updates to follow....