So I arrived at St. Francis Hospital on the Thursday and was transferred to the burns unit, being lucky to get one of the few beds they have. I was sharing a room with a Hispanic guy who didn’t speak much English…Espanola was to keep following me it seemed, our shared TV was tuned to the Spanish channels. But at least Kerry finally got to go home and see our cat Leo. Fortunately we had arranged for friends to house sit while we were away, little did they know 10 days would turn into 2 months. Lucky for us since it was one less thing we had to worry about. Kerry told me later Leo seemed quite nonplussed to see her, that’s cats for you.
The day after I arrived at St. Francis they asked if I’d like to have a bath or shower. I stared in disbelief, one of the little milestones I’d envisioned was to have a shower. I hadn’t had a decent wash since the accident; the occasional bed bath, a face wash, a shave, but a shower…now we’re talking. My left armpit hadn’t seen water for nearly 2 months. It was bliss to finally stand under hot running water, a little unsteady on my feet perhaps but bliss nevertheless.
The last remaining operation was to close my arm, which could only be done once they were sure all the dead tissue had been debrieded, to avoid future infections. To confirm this I was sent for a full body scan to highlight any dead tissue. The only areas that showed up were my bicep/brachioradialis muscles so surgery was scheduled for the Monday morning to remove the remaining dead tissue and finally close my arm. At last the surgeries would be over…another milestone reached.
The surgery went well and after 3 or so hours I awoke to begin the next phase in my recovery. In total I’d undergone 15 surgeries in 7 weeks, spanning Columbia, Miami and San Francisco…seems hard to believe. Now all I had to do was focus on healing and getting mobile again. After 7 weeks in bed and surgeries to both my legs they were a little stiff to say the least, but I was able to start to get up and walk around, with IV in tow.
It was great to see friends again, it was a bit easier to come visit now that I was back in the Bay Area. Most were quite surprised to see how well I looked, all things considered, and I continued to do well over the next few days to the extent that the doctor felt I should be OK to move to rehab. Kaiser’s intensive rehab facility was in Vallejo and he recommended I stay for a month, as an in-patient – definitely not what I had in mind I can assure you.
So after a week in the burns unit I was transferred to intensive rehab in Vallejo. Another ambulance ride and another hospital room, except this time I was sharing with 3 other people. Oh how the mighty had fallen, I’d gone from my own private room with a view to sharing with 3 and a view of a construction site. I just wanted to go home and I implored my wife to sneak me out while no one was looking.
I was determined not to spend any longer than I needed in Vallejo. Whilst the intensive rehab program is first-rate, they deal with recovering stroke victims, after nearly two months away I really wanted to be home. Luckily the rehab program allowed for “weekend passes”, or time off for good behaviour as I called it. Patients were allowed home Saturday afternoon for the night as a prelude to returning home full-time. After being examined by the doctors Kerry convinced everyone I was doing well enough to be let home and so 2 months since the accident I finally got to go home, and whist I returned again that Sunday I was finally discharged 2 days later and got to go home for good.