Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hi again


The picture is one from the top of the sale on a sailboat.

My nephew Chris Schwindt wrote on his blog about his accident in July 2005 where he fell off a trail into a lake. This got me to thinking about my car/train accident in 1992.

I may have told you parts of it in this blog before but not the whole story.

So here is the entire story.

On April 1, 1992 I was driving from work in Canby to my home in Stayton. I took a different route that day, a route I sometime took to see different scenery. (I tell you this story about the day of the accident even though I don't remember any part of this day nor any other day till about five weeks later; I get this information from friends and family so much so that I felt I know what happened that day and the days after).

As I approached the train track I did not speed up nor did I slow down. I simply passed three cars waiting for the train to pass. I drove around those three cars and around the railroad arm that was down. I hit the 52nd car of the train, a tanker car filled with a dangerous liquid. I had hit the train car near the middle not the exact middle. I had hit it in the middle the tanker would it would have exploded the car with a big crater resulting from the blast. But I did not cause the tanker to explode.

The train dragged me over five miles not knowing my car was under the train. The train pulled over to a sidetrack and the fire crew alerted the train engineer of my situation.

Two rescue crews arrived, one from Aurora, near where my train was located. The other crew was Canby fire department. An off-duty EMT saw the wreck happen at the intersection in Canby. He traveled along a road that paralleled the train track. He radioed the crew from Canby to come to my aid.

As a side-note, on a TV program in Seattle, I found out the Canby crew had videotaped the rescue. On the videotape you can hear them talking to me and ME answering the questions. I was pinned in my car as they tried to get me out.

Around 11:00 pm my wife appeared at the hospital. She told me the only way she recognized me was from my hands and my long fingers.

I was in Emanuel Hospital for two weeks. I remember none of it. My wife created her own medical team of doctors at Salem Hospital. Her doctor there told her she could move me when she saw me sitting up and talking. She, of course, wanted me to be talking to her and she fully expected that to happen as visitation was limited to immediate family. But she stopped by to see me only to find me sitting up and talking to a fellow-Rotary member who was there to visit me. He was a minister so he could get into see me as a minister.

My wife then told the hospital in Portland to move to Salem Hospital. She was also upset at a doctor in Portland who wanted to put a steel plate between my chest and ribs to let my ribs heal. She talked to the doctors in Salem and others who told her not to let them do that.

My wife had them transport me from Portland to Salem in an ambulance. I was not breathing on my own so a nurse had to inflate a bag in my tracheotomy to let me breathe. I was surprised there was not an automatic one.

Once I arrived at Salem Hospital for long stay there.

I got the Last Rites of Catholic Church twice after my accident. Once the night off the accident by Fr. Heuberger, a Parrish priest at a nearby Church. The second time was in Salem on Easter Sunday. All of a sudden I became unresponsive that day. No one ever explained to me what happened that day. All I know was that I got the Last Rites of the Church again on that day.

About 10 days before I left Salem Hospital I started remembering things. It was during those last few days there the doctor told me what was wrong with me. He said he told me many times before that but obviously I did not remember. This time I did remember. He told me to start at my head.

Did my left eye hurt? No, I said. I fractured it the doctor told me.

Did my jaw hurt. No, but I suspect something is wrong because my teeth were wired shut. My broke my jaw in seven different places and that was why my teeth were wired shut.

He asked about my ribs, which I told him still really hurt. He told me I broke 16 ribs, many in more than one location.

I was still traveling by wheelchair, much to my dismay as I felt I could walk. The doctor told me stand on my left leg only and tell him if that hurt. I said no. I broke my left pelvis.

Next he told me to sit on the bed and he would push on my right leg and tell him if that hurt. I told him. The doctor told me I broke my right pelvis in a weight-bearing area and until that healed I would be in a wheelchair.

Within a week he walked in to tell me I would be released. He called my recovery a "miracle" as he had no explanation of how well I recovered.

But my time in a hospital was not over as I was heading to the Rehab Unit of Salem Hospital, located at the old Salem General Hospital grounds.

My time where I greatly disliked...actually I hated it. I slept very little during my time there. I was sleeping only four to five hours a night.

Every morning a slip of paper appeared under my door, my schedule for the coming day.

I ate in the cafeteria there only one time as I had to drink my meals. Drinking my meals while others ate their meals was just too hard on me. I was still using a wheelchair there.

I had three goals during my time in rehab. One, to get of the wheelchair; two, to get out of rehab; and three to get wires off my teeth. As it turned out my goals happened in just that order. I was happy about that.

By the time I got out of Rehab I lost 40 pounds.

I was so weak when I got home I was so weak I had trouble walking to our mailbox just about 50 feet from our front door.

I still had to walk with a cane. I got to come home for a one weekend during my stay there. I went to Church with my family. Friends came up to me to tell me I looked like a ghost.

I had to use a cane because the doctors at Rehab did not want me hit by other walkers. He took me a local mall and walked without a cane in a large crowd. No one got out of his way and he was walking in the crowd. He then took a cane and walked in the crowd. It was like a parting of the waters to see him walk in the crowd. People got out of his way and gave him a large path. He gave me the cane and told me to walk with it. He was indeed right. No one came near me when I walked with a cane.

I did have three videotapes of TV programs I appeared in. I gave them to bridge players in Eugene. I don't know if I ever got those back as I cannot find them here. I appeared on Good Evening in Portland, on RealTV and KIRO in Seattle.

This is most of the story of my car/train accident from April 1 1992.


No comments:

Post a Comment