Sunday, January 27, 2013

Of Magic, Memories, and You

Of Magic, Memories, and You

            Coming up at the end of this month is an anniversary I’d rather forget yet I also find much joy. 15 years ago I received the phone call that no one wishes to receive. My husband had an accident.
My beloved husband and best friend had been visiting his brother while he worked. His brother is a general contractor my husband is a Respiratory Therapist. His brother asked him do a simple thing as a favor so they could go to lunch quicker, all he needed to do was removed a lit exit sign. Not an incredibly hard job nor an overly unsafe one as long as safety guidelines were followed, and they were.
The power lines were traced back to the circuit breaker and disconnected and the light went out. No power to the sign. Still a nonconducting fiberglass ladder, insulated wire cutters and rubber soled shoes were used. My husband claimed the ladder and cut the wire confident there was no power. As he cut the wire so much power was running to the line that the new pair wire cutters he was using exploded! Pieces embedded themselves a half an inch deep cement ceiling just above his head.
My husband climbed down the ladder calling out for help, telling everybody, “I’ve just been electrocuted. My wife is going to kill me!” He had that right! He has a heart condition I told him to stay away from electricity that very morning! He sat down at the bottom of the ladder and again reiterated that he had been electrocuted. Within 30 seconds of the shock he was in full arrest and CPR was started by workers on the job site. Paramedics were called as he crashed and arrived within five minutes. Paramedics took over CPR and transported him to a hospital that was just around the corner. CPR was continued by doctors at the hospital ER. It took a total of 40 minutes of CPR to get his heart going again. He had taken 277 volts triple phase!
It is a miracle to survive CPR being done for over 10 minutes. It is almost unheard of to survive without major brain damage when CPR is done for over 10 minutes. When I finally saw my husband he was showing all signs of being brain-dead with the no hope of recovery.
24 hours after the accident the doctor said my husband was fighting life-support and actually hurting self and the nurses. There was nothing more they could do. They said his brain was dead but his body did not know it yet. They requested my permission to take off life support 12 hours later. I told the doctors my husband is in God’s hands and His Will be done. 36 hours after the accident they took him off of life support to let his body die.
This is where things get interesting. Instead of dying he woke up! When I was finally allowed into the room he was sitting up in a chair telling the nurses about his complicated medical history and asking if he had been electrocuted! So much for him being dead! So much for being told he would be nothing but a vegetable, a brain-dead shell of a person wasting away in a long term care facility!
The accident happened on a Saturday afternoon, he came out of his coma on Monday morning. He was moved out of ICU on Wednesday and discharged from the hospital completely on Friday. 30 days after the accident he was back at work saving lives!
As miraculous as all this was there was and still is some neurological damage. Fine motor skills had to be redeveloped, particularly fine control of the hands. He also had to learn, as did I how to deal with a near constant feeling of agitation along with short-term memory loss.
Part of his therapy for recovery was finding a way to improve fine motor skills. Doctors asked me he had any hobbies. I told them he enjoyed woodworking, he still does. They said a quick and emphatic no to woodworking because of power tools. Lack of control of the hands and power tools combined, bad combination until he retained fine motor control. So I got to thinking what other hobbies had he done or what had he stated interest in doing.
I then remembered he had always stated interest in drawing, cartoons to be exact. I also remember what he said about his own attempts to draw even stick figures. His words not mine, “They look like a crayon was given to a three-year-old.” I decided he had to try his hand at drawing.
I went out and got him the book, “Drawing For Dummies”, a good set of colored pencils and a high quality sketchpad. I brought these into him at the hospital and suggested he get to try. He looked at me as if I was crazy but gamely said, “What do I draw?” I then remembered in our daughter’s bag of things to do that day I had packed a Disney coloring book! I pulled out the coloring book and suggested he try to draw one of the characters. Once we got home I purchased a collection of Disney coloring books for him. It took about three months but he went from childish stick figures with shaky lines to beautiful adaptations of classic Disney characters.
Ariel drawn .by my Pan daMan, after his accident

While he was drawing these beautiful Disney pictures he remembered more and more of the beautiful times they had spent at Disneyland and how we had fallen in love there. This led to us purchasing our first Disneyland Annual Passports.
Trips to Disneyland also played a major part in his healing and still do to this day. Part of the permanent damage caused by the electrocution is a constant feeling of agitation and anger. Frequent trips to Disneyland give him a chance to unwind and remember to laugh. Being in the crowds has helped him learn to deal with impatience and know his limits.
Pocahontas drawn by my Pan daMan after his accident.

It is impossible to walk under the sign that says, “Here you leave the world Today, and enter the world of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy.” and hang onto the stress and pressures of normal daily life. Disneyland has become the safe haven for us individually, as well as a couple and the family.
I hope by sharing this I can encourage someone struggling to remember miracles happen and no matter what is going on in life take time to be creative, attempt to new skill, be brave and remember in doing so and most of all take time to laugh.
Drawn by me. Yes I would sit and draw with him.


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