On January 6, 2006, after spending the early morning with me after my night shift at the hospital, Bill-boy was heading in to Friends University for a basketball practice. He was the JV head coach and assistant varsity there at the time. Before he had left the house, we discussed setting up doctor and dentist appointments for him. He had only recently become "insured" as of January 1st, thanks to my work's insurance plan. After he left home, I called to set up those routine "haven't seen a doctor or a dentist in awhile" appointments. After getting dates set, I tried to call Billy back to let him know when he was supposed to go in. I called and he didn't answer. I thought, "That's weird...Maybe he's on another line." Called again a few minutes later and still no answer and I thought, "He's probably already at practice and won't answer his phone. I'll call him back later." No biggie, right? WRONG! Well, I settled in to bed to get a few hours sleep (I came off a 12+ hour shift a few hours earlier and was dog-tired). I dozed off, but miraculously heard my cell phone ring. It was Stubby (Billy's dad) saying that Billy had been in an accident and that I needed to get to Via Christi Hospital NOW. Talk about an eye-opener! The only thing the State Trooper had told him was that Billy had been in an accident on Kellogg and 135th and that he was unconscious but his vitals were okay at this time.
Now I'm thinking that this is just a bad dream.
Stubby assures me that this is not a dream and tells me to get to the hospital. I jump out of bed, throw on the scrubs that I wore the night before, get in my car and drive the longest 30 minutes of my life downtown to the hospital, calling my mom on the way. From here on out, everything was a blur. They had already moved Billy from the Trauma Unit and into the SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit). When I was allowed into his room, I was met by some 12 year old Doogie Howser Medical Student stitching up my husband's face. Not a great first impression. As a nurse, my eyes filtered the room and found other alarming signs (beside ol' Doogie), such as an ET tube with ventilator attached, Miami-J neck collar, limb restraints, Propofol IV drip and a badly beaten and bruised husband.
Allow me to backtrack just a bit and try to explain how the accident occurred. Billy was stopped at the sign on 135th St (facing south) at US-54, AKA Kellogg, getting ready to turn left (east) through both lanes of traffic. A Kellogg west-bound moving semi-truck was approaching his intersection and was signaling to turn at 135th. The semi slowed and started making his wide turn. Billy thought the other lanes were clear and proceeded to advance the 2 lanes across Kellogg....until his advance was halted. You see, the turning semi-truck had blocked the view of the OTHER SEMI in the lane next to it. That semi TRUCKED Billy's little green Mustang going about 65 mph, and neither driver ever saw it coming.
Wichita Police Department, Wichita Fire Department, Kansas Highway Patrol, and Sedgwick County EMS all responded and were able to put out the fire that started in the Mustang, get Billy extricated, immobilized and to the hospital as a Level I trauma. FYI - sometimes patients with traumatic head injuries are also combative (unbeknownst to them, of course) and need to be sedated/restrained for their safety and for their caregiver's safety. Due to Billy's aggressiveness in the ER, they had to restrain, sedate, paralyze and intubate him. I think everyone in the room breathed a little easier after that! Plus, they needed him still for all the xrays and CT scans.
So, like I said before, they had already moved him upstairs to his room by the time I arrived to the hospital. The surgical residents and attending came to talk to me. They said Billy had sustained an intraparenchymal hemorrhage (brain bleed) in the accident, as evidenced by the CT scan taken in the ER. They wanted to place a "bolt" in his head by drilling through his skull so they could measure intracranial pressure (an increased pressure might also be causing some of the combativeness). I consented for the procedure. His pressures remained stable throughout his time in the SICU until Billy broke free of his HARD LEATHER RESTRAINTS and ripped the device out of his skull. . After that little episode, they decided they didn't need the monitor in after all.To make a very long story shorter, we were able to take Billy home a little over a week later. He was still very disoriented and said some GOOFY stuff (we wrote down some of the crazy things he said while in the hospital and after he got home just so we could poke fun at him later when he was fully recovered). It took a little while, but he made a full recovery and we're so thankful that he is still around to be the wonderful husband and loving father that he is today....even IF Ryno still calls him "Scatter Platter" when he says some off-the-wall random comment!
He may be a nutty fruitcake, but that's part of his charm!
He still likes to play video games.....
And rock Guitar Hero with family and friends until his fingers bleed.
I guess I can live with that.
Because without him, there would never have been a "Santa Claus with the Quads" picture for us......Or any babies at all.
I'm so thankful the Lord had other plans for Billy Joe Graf that day 3 years ago. And WHAT A SET OF PLANS THEY WERE!!!
Since his accident, Billy has said he can't be killed because he's Superman. It's hard to argue against when you've see him walk away from that kind of accident with no more than a few small scars on his left cheek.
Billy, you ARE my Superman and I thank God everyday for allowing me another day to put up with all your shenanigans! I can't imagine my life without you.