A good friend had been over all day helping Leo move a wall in our basement; and although our friend had to leave for the night, Leo was driven and wanted to get the ceiling torn out.
I was up in the living room trying to finish up a project for the day when I heard a loud crash, and “NENA!!!” Canela and I immediately ran downstairs, turned the corner into the room he had been working in and saw him laying on the ground, holding his right elbow. Canela immediately jumps on him, causing him to scream out.
“I think I dislocated my elbow”.
I carefully stepped around the broken bits of drywall that he was laying on and saw a dislocated elbow for the first time in my life.
My sister is an over-night nurse at a local ER, so as soon as I could get my thoughts together, I ran back upstairs to get my phone to call her.
She didn’t answer, but I quickly fired out a text and found out that she wasn’t on that night.
My mind was racing…
Should I move him?
Should we call an ambulance?
Can we afford an ambulance?
I asked “Do you think I can get you up?”
“Carefully, please. I am in a lot of pain.”
I ran back upstairs to get my shoes so I wouldn’t step on any nails in the drywall rubble.
I’m grateful that I am strong and that Leo is light, as I got him on his feet ok, and then helped him get upstairs.
I quickly ran back down because we had taken out the windows of our split-level basement so the guys could easily put the new drywall in through that space instead of winding down all the stairs and tight corners to get into the basement.
We don’t live in the ghetto, but leaving a hole in our house with recording equipment and a myriad of expensive instruments didn’t sit well with me.
I tried to put the windows in myself, but I was shaking and couldn’t concentrate.
“NENA! What are you doing? We need to go!!!”
“I need to put these windows in!”
“NO! I am in so much pain, we need to get to the ER.”
I carefully get Leo into the car, start on our way to the ER and then call my neighbor. No answer. Call again. No answer.
I call my boss, who lives just 5 minutes away.
He says he can come.
The neighbor calls back to see if everything is ok.
While I’m on the phone with her, I miss the turn for the ER, and have to make a u-turn up the road a bit. Leo is getting more and more frustrated with me.
I swear he felt every single bump on the road in the 3 miles from our house to the hospital. I tried to drive carefully, yet quickly. It wasn’t easy… he would wince each time there was even the slightest variance in the road.
We arrived, and immediately the staff recognized me as Leslie’s sister. We look a lot alike, and I’d been there the year before for a few nights with a friend.
They got us into a room, and immediately gave Leo some drugs to ease his pain. The results of the x-ray showed that it, indeed, was dislocated… and that they’d need to “reduce” it. I guess “relocation” wasn’t the correct word. Imagine that. Lol!
They explained that the best way to do this is to give him a drug that would knock him out for 7 minutes. They started telling me all the risks… his heart could stop, he could stop breathing, etc. I quickly texted my sister: how often did people die in the process of getting their arm relocated?
“Don’t worry about that. If anything happens, we know what to do.” her text said. “But I would recommend you not be in there when they do the procedure. It’s not an easily-forgettable sound”.
We signed the papers, and the guys all came in to do the procedure. I told Leo that Leslie recommended I step out of the room.
“You’re not going to be in here?!?” He asked with a panicked look in his eyes.
“Ok. I guess I’ll be here.” I put my hand on his left arm, and stood by his side. As they pumped the milky white liquid into his arm, he looked into my eyes.
“No importa lo que pasa. Te amo. Tu eres mi mejor aventura. Te amo con todo mi corazon.”
And he slumped down. The doctors checked to make sure he was out, got into place and quickly slid his elbow back into place… without a sound.
As he started waking up, he was speaking… at first I wasn’t sure if he was speaking in tongues, as I couldn’t understand a word.
And then, he started making sense, in English.
“Our bodies are so fragile, our lives are so fragile. We are so fragile. We have to let Jesus take the wheel. JESUS, take the wheel! Jesus take the wheel!”
The entire staff in the room started cracking up. This Colombian man was quoting a Carrie Underwood song as he was coming out of anesthesia. I wish I would’ve recorded it!
My dad showed up shortly afterwards and was with us while they put Leo back together. The nurse recommended that we get in touch with an orthopedic surgeon a.s.a.p. They gave Leo good drugs, and we were on our way home.
The next morning, we called around and were able to get in to OrthoNeuro the very next day, 8am. We took it easy all day, and then I had to go to work later (ie. run a rehearsal for the International Festival) that evening. The band all took time to pray for Leo’s healing and strength; and our rehearsal was the best yet.
We arrived at the Orthopedic surgeon’s office, hopeful that he would say there were just torn ligaments/muscles, and that surgery wouldn’t be necessary. However, that’s not what ended up happening.
Shortly after the surgeon entered and introduced himself, he said something like “Well, this is one of the worst cases I’ve seen. You did the tri-fecta of bone breakage in your elbow. You need surgery. Tomorrow.”
Leo almost passed out on the table he was sitting on. He laid down right away and the surgeon explained that his radial head was broken, amongst other things. The surgery would try to put whatever bone pieces back together using screws, and we would see how that would work.
We expressed the importance of Leo’s elbow as a guitar player. The surgeon confirmed that even with the surgery, it could take a year to fully recover. We drove home in silence, praying in our hearts that it wouldn’t take that long.