Along for the ride:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Dentist-part II (circa 1989)

August 25th, 1989 - A warm Friday afternoon. 
I was working with my CPA in the home office; monthly accounting for our small business. My 4-year old daughter was napping in the next room. I answered the phone to hear that there had been an accident at our work-shop; my husband and his brother were both hurt. They had been crushed by stone slabs that had shifted whilst unloading them from an ocean-container.
I grabbed my daughter, told the CPA to call and cancel my next appointment and was work-shop bound in minutes. 
The ambulance had just left when I pulled up but the sheriff and firefighters were still there and told me it was going to our local Kaiser E.R. The Sheriff reminded me to drive carefully as I followed in their wake.
At the hospital I was brought straight back to see my husband and brother-in-law. Our El Salvadorian employee who had picked up some French whilst working for us had ridden along in the ambulance to translate as best he could. He then took over baby-sitting in the waiting room so I could concentrate on what was going on.
My husband who is above all an Artist had his right hand lying on a pillow next to his wrist; the bone had been crushed and the tendons had contracted. Portable X-rays had been called for. He also had scrape marks all down his chest but said that didn't hurt. Brother-in-law had a fractured left wrist.
There were a lot of people busily working away with bags of fluids hung and tetanus shots going in. The Doctors wanted to know what their patients had had to eat recently and we had everyone laughing as we described the interminable lunch menu of salad, roast beef, cauliflower, cheese, wine, coffee and dessert. 
It turned out that the E.R. doc could speak some French, then the hand specialist showed up and he had just completed training with the best hand surgeon in Lyons France; my Artist-hubby's home town. Things were definitely going our way.
I remember that Dorothy, the E.R. Nurse, called attention to the fact that French Artist was complaining of the cold despite warmed blankets and that she kept hanging more fluids but his pressure was lowering anyway.
They called for a surgeon to do an exploratory stomach-tap but said it was precautionary and not expected to show much. Minutes later; after a fountain of blood rose up everyone hauled ass for the elevator to the Operating Room.
The end of the story is that French Artist survived; hand back on and working quite well considering. He recently had X-rays for other stuff and showed up 2-dozen staples all through his insides where they put him back together to stop the bleeding.
The reason this is a Dentist story is because during that long night waiting for the surgeons to complete their magic I got a tooth-ache; the first and only time in my life. I took pills but the throbbing in my jaw was hot and painful.
I owned a cell-phone the size of a car battery. I had won it. I used it to call the office of my Dentist. I say "My Dentist" but he really had only seen me once before. I left a message saying I was at the hospital with my husband and I had a tooth ache, which was just one thing too many for me to handle. 
Early the next morning my phone rang. "My Dentist" drove to the hospital and treated my tooth-ache in the front seat of his car in the E.R. parking lot. He gave me a hug and said he would be praying for us.
That little man made a big impact. He did what he could to help a stranger. There were other people who came through for us in many ways that make me remember that event in positive more than negative ways.


  1. That is some story. How amazing though, that out of all the turmoil and fortunate circumstances coming together that night to protect you all, the one small act of generosity by that dentist shines so brilliantly in your memory.

    I proves as a reminder to us that one small act of kindness can indeed change a world. Bless him, and bless all those skilled professionals who saved your French Artist that night.

  2. It still pains me deeply to recall that accident, in spite of the wonderful way in which it all worked out. At the time it happened, I had yet to have the health menaces to my own French husband's life. Thus, I suspect I was far less useful in a crisis than I would be now. For that I will always be sorry. I know that you pulled everyone's chestnuts out of the fire, as you have always done.

    I remember two things from that era--the rods and brushes traversing the French Artist's arm and the pain that coursed through my body upon beholding them and the day that la petite told me from her bath that she did not want to speak French anymore. She preferred English--after a long visit from her grandmother. Gawd she was cute! I love children who make declarations!

    I am very happy that you have launched your blog so that these stories can see the light of day. You have led a very interesting life and I'm pleased to have gone along for the ride, even in a cameo role.

    A Tidings of Magpies would be quite impressed to hear of the RN who saved the day when the French Artist's blood pressure was sinking and she pointed the way to the internal bleeding that he was suffering. Another attentive RN saves the day!