Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Daddy Goes to the ER

There are a lot of things in life that I'm scared of. Tarantulas, scorpions, and armed robbers immediately come to mind.

But, on Sunday morning, I saw the most terrifying sight I'd ever seen - Geof lying on his side on the bathroom floor in a scarlet pool of his own blood. This was no dream. It was a real-life nightmare that I hope I never relive again.

At about 4 a.m., I was awakened by the sound of a loud crash. I bolted out of bed and immediately headed for the stairway, thinking Stella the cat had probably knocked something over downstairs.

As soon as I made it to the landing, I realized there were no lights on downstairs, which struck me as odd. I knew Geof hadn't been in bed when I heard the crash. If he wasn't in bed or downstairs, where was he?

I started calling his name and heard a noise coming from our bedroom. I noticed the bathroom double doors were shut. That was my first sign something was wrong. We only close those doors, when we're showering or getting ready in the morning. They stay open at night.

I opened the doors and called out into the dark bathroom, "Geof?" He responded with some mumbling. When I asked him why he was lying on the floor, he said, "I was so tired. I had to lie down." He was not making much sense, and that made my level of concern rise.

He then warned me that the floor was "wet." "Wet?" I said. "Why is it wet?" He replied in a wavering voice, "I think it's blood."

My adrenaline was pumping hard now. I walked over to the light switch, flicked it on and looked in horror at what I saw. Geof, lying between the bathtub and the potty closet, with a wide circle of blood all around his head.

"Oh God! Oh God!" I yelled in a voice filled with terror.

Mom, who was visiting from Cincinnati for the Labor Day holiday, shared my scared reaction and rushed to the linen closet in the hall for clean towels.

We had no idea exactly what had happened or where the blood was coming from, and Geof clearly was in no state to tell us.

We managed to get him upright and seated on the tub, so we could examine his head. There was so much blood matted in his hair that it was hard to figure out where it was coming from.

After some very gentle wiping with a towel, I could see a large gash in the back of his head. I knew this was not good.

Trying to remain calm, we moved him to the bed where we dressed him in warm clothes to try and stop his shivering, and prepared him for a ride to Wake Med's emergency room. His motor skills were slow, and it was obvious he didn't remember anything that had just happened to him.

On the way to the hospital, I tried to focus on driving and not having a total mental breakdown. I knew that would not be good for Geof or the Wonder Twins.

Mom sat in the backseat with Geof, helping him hold a towel and an ice pack against his throbbing head.

Pieces of the morning started coming back to him slowly. He remembered having a stomach ache. He remembered feeling a little dizzy as he got up to go to the bathroom. He didn't remember anything after that.

After what seemed like an eternity, we entered the ER and were sent into a triage station. A nurse listened to our story of what happened, at least what we could piece together at that point, and said Geof would need a CT Scan. She then wrapped his bleeding head in pads and gauze like you'd see in some type of movie about a WWII hospital.

After Geof's scan, he was given a "room" in the ER where we sat waiting for a doctor to tell us what would happen next.

Dr. Berry started his shift at 7 a.m., and Geof was his first patient. He said Geof would need another CT Scan, because the technicians had done the first one improperly. There was a dark spot on the scan, and Dr. Berry couldn't tell if it was blood... or something else.

Something else? I could feel my blood pressure rising.

Shortly after Geof returned from the second scan, nurses came by to do an EKG test, blood tests and hook him up to an IV. They also cleaned the wound with saline, which from Geof's expression really hurt.

Once he had the test results he needed, Dr. Berry briefed us again. He said the scan and the other tests had come back clear - no "something else" to worry about. Just the two-inch long wound in the back of Geof's head that was so deep it almost reached the bone.

He felt Geof had experienced a "vasovagal" reaction. Medical texts define it this way: "A reflex of the involuntary nervous system that causes the heart to slow down and that, at the same time, affects the nerves to the blood vessels in the legs permitting those vessels to dilate. As a result, the heart puts out less blood, the blood pressure drops, and what blood is circulating tends to go into the legs rather than to the head. The brain is deprived of oxygen and a fainting episode occurs."

In layman's terms, Dr. Berry compared it to locking your legs during a wedding and passing out, or fainting at the sight of blood. He said there is no way to predict or prevent it. He just recommended good hydration and slow movements the next time Geof's stomach got upset.

Following his explanation, Dr. Berry brought in a resident from UNC and began the tedious task of stitching up Geof's wide wound.

First came shots of the numbing agent lidocaine inside and outside the cut. I held Geof's hand and urged him to use some of the same techniques we'd learned in our childbirth class for contractions to bear the pain of the injections.

He was such a trooper. By breathing deeply and focusing on staying relaxed, he survived the shots without making noise or shedding a tear.

After determining the area of the wound was sufficiently numb, the doctors put five stitches inside the cut and at least nine stitches on the outside of his scalp. A thick layer of antibiotic oitment made his hair stiff and sticky around the line of blue stitches.

At 11:30 a.m., Geof's head was repaired, and we were finally discharged.

He spent the afternoon on the couch, taking the maximum amount of Advil and trying to get some rest.

Every day since then, he's felt better and required fewer pain relief pills. The throbbing is going away, and the concussion seems to be fading.

I have assumed the role of prego nurse maid. I spent an hour Monday sloughing the dried blood from Geof's matted hair and cautiously cleaning the area where the stitches are. He's scheduled to get them out on Sunday. He's thoroughly looking forward to washing his hair for the first time in a week. :)

We are extremely thankful for the many kind thoughts and prayers that our friends and family sent our way throughout this terrifying time. We are so grateful that Geof is okay and did not seriously hurt himself.

The Wonder Twins are also doing fine. The shock and trauma of the weekend did not affect them in any way. In fact, we went to the doctor this morning, and their heartbeats and my vital signs are just where they should be.

The girls are extremely proud of their daddy for being so brave, but they hope the next time they have to rush to the hospital is for their births, not another accident!


  1. It is great you guys have a blog to share this story. A lot of people are concerned and want to make sure all FOUR of you are OK. Scary moments, but I am glad he is doing well and we hope to see all of you very soon. - ADAM Owens

  2. Sorry to hear about this incident. I actually only know Geof from Twitter but I've enjoyed seeing your updates on the upcoming bundles of joy! My prayers are with you and your family, glad to hear Geof is recovering and the wonder-twins are ok. -Spencer

  3. I was logging on to checkyour blog and tell you I missed you guys at kickball this week. I played prego cheerleader for the double header. However, it looks like you've had bigger things going on! Heal fast, Geoff.