The paramedics arrived a short while after my fall, after a call was made to 911. They loaded me gently into the ambulance and prepared to ship me to the Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff for further examination.
I parted ways with most of the folks who had been my biking companions for the last six days at this point. I clearly remember Sally making an extra effort to say a face-to-face goodbye. (Apologies to the others if I missed their efforts.) Not sure how I responded. The others had also decided that they would not continue with the rest of the ride. Ben took them to a place where they could change for their journeys home that evening. I had been scheduled to fly home with Bob and KP very late that same night on the same flight as them. They were trying to figure out how to help me out. KP rode with me in the ambulance to the hospital.
There was a lot of waiting involved in the hospital in Banff. I remember chatting with Bob while on a gurney in a corridor as he stood by my side. By this time, since the ride was over, I was resigned to whatever was going to happen to me as a part of the process of possible recovery. Bob told me that I was in such a confused state of mind after the accident that for a while I had insisted on continuing with the ride.
The X-rays and other tests revealed that I had broken a bunch of ribs. Nothing else major seemed to be broken. My spine seemed to be intact. But they were not sure if I had a pneumothorax (collapsed lung). All the damage was on the left side on which I had fallen. I also had a ghastly amount of road rash on the left hand, but strangely enough, I did not feel pain from the ugly looking bruises. The fact that flesh had been gouged out of my side and shoulder by gravel did not seem to make a difference. And my ribs did not hurt that much as long as I was lying down. I suspect they may also have had me shot up with painkillers at that point.
Because of the ambiguity of the tests regarding the collapsed lung, and the absence of an operating CT Scan machine in Banff over the weekend to further clarify the findings, they decided to get me to the regional trauma center at Foothills Medical Center in Calgary. This trauma center served all of the province of Alberta and had a reputation as a top-notch facility.
I was carted off to an ambulance once again, to be shipped off to Calgary. Bob and KP had come up with a plan. Both were coming to the hospital, but KP was also going to delay his departure from Calgary in order to stay with me for a few more days. He did this despite the fact that he had other travel constraints and family considerations to deal with. Some people are too good.
KP rode in the front of the ambulance with me. He wrote this to include in my blog.
“Since you were not able, I felt I had to take some notes for your blog. Here are some things from the last couple of hours:
The first EMT Andrew said he was a champion cyclist himself who held local records. He was thinking of going Pro but that was when everyone was doping. He decided not to.
Your ambulance driver was Leanne. She is normally a EMT for the air ambulance in the Northwest Territories and Kunuvit. They fly out to small communities of 100 to 2000 people. She works there for 4 weeks, on call 24 hours, then comes to Calgary for 4 weeks. Her partner is a pilot for Weather.
There was an airshow by the Snowflowers as we were driving. They had 7 planes doing 2 loops while we watched.
As I waited in the hospital waiting area, they brought in a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit. He had a chain around his waist and his wrists were chained to his waist. He also had another chain limiting his stride.”
Some of the conversations in the ambulance must have drifted back my way occasionally, but I do not remember them. I do remember the paramedic talking to me and giving me updates every once in a while.
Things went slowly at the Foothills Medical Center that evening. They eventually did have the CT Scan of the whole body done. The investigation was more thorough than in Banff. There was confirmation about the five broken ribs and the pneumothorax. They confirmed that there were no other broken bones (but they actually did end up missing one relatively minor one). The doctor in the emergency room thought I needed a chest tube to help get rid of the pnuemothorax (which is really air in the sac around the lung), but the doctor from the trauma center later arrived and told me that my case was not serious enough to warrant this kind of intervention. Although I was prepared to go through any required procedure at that point, I later realized that it was a good thing I did not have to go through this particular one.
One of the consequences of the diagnosis of a pnuemothorax was that I would not be able to fly anywhere for a few weeks.
At some point during the evening, Bob departed from the hospital to catch his flight home.
I ended up in the McCaig Tower of the hospital, in Unit 44 for surgery/trauma. I was in a room on a high floor with three other patients, next to the nurses area. KP spent some time with me before he departed to the hotel room he had found nearby. Some time later I was moved to a room at the end of the hall, and to a bed next to a nice big window. There was another patient with me in the room. It was a quiet location. The bed was extremely comfortable.
It was already a new day by the time I was officially admitted to the hospital. I was still wearing the biking shorts I had fallen in when I fell asleep under the warmed blankets.
Meanwhile, there was already some planning underway at home to try to rescue me from Calgary.
Next post in this series here.