The Journey through My Dad’s Traumatic Brain Injury: The Beginning

You’re probably thinking “MaiMai you’re still alive!” yes, I’m alive and barely doing well. A lot has happened in my life recently, as a matter of fact, there has been a dramatic change in my life. Before I was almost always complaining about my life that it was boring, and I needed more excitement. Right now, I cannot even complain about my life if I want to.

On Sunday morning May 13th, 2018 two days after I have come back home I received a phone call from a relative telling me that I needed to get hold of my mom and tell her to call my dad’s cell phone immediately. My mom and younger sister A had taken younger sister B to work and was going to stop by the Hmong store to get ingredients to make Pho. Well, younger sister A had changed her cell phone number without me, being the only one, not knowing. Frustrated, I decided to call my dad’s cell phone. An aunt picked up and I could hear all the noises in the background. She broke the message to me. A tree had fallen and hit my dad. Somehow, I was able to process all the information without going into shock. In fact, as soon as she told me that I asked immediately where my dad was being taken. She replied Charlotte which is an hour drive towards the east. That was not how I wanted to start my summer.

I immediately went after my older sister and younger brother B, who were at the laundry mat, after calling and leaving a message for younger brother A. I told my older sister and she took off to go to the Hmong culture park (more like an empty lot of land where the Hmong new year is held each year). However, she didn’t make it that far as she came back to finish the laundry and told me to go back home and that my mom and younger sister A was going to finish paying at the Hmong store.

Once we all got home we tried to figure out who was going to Charlotte and who was staying home since we all wanted to go. After a few minutes of discussing, my mom, younger sister A, and I left for Charlotte after calling our uncle to let him know. Mind you, that none of us has ever driven to Charlotte except for my dad and younger brother A. Well we made it safely to the hospital and here is where more trouble begins.

At the front desk, I gave the patient representative my dad’s name and he was nowhere to be found. After a few minutes, it was getting busier and the representative asked us to move aside for a moment. By this time my uncle, aunt, and two cousins had also arrived. Now, the address was sent to us by the aunt who picked up my dad’s phone and address was given to her by the EMT’s. So, there was no way we were in the wrong place. I started to call all the hospitals that were within an hour from home. Younger sister A called the aunt back, and the aunt called the hospital. We finally thought we found our dad only to immediately know that the patient was female, and we’re back to square one.

Frustrated and angry, younger sister A and younger cousin A called the president of the organization, we were pushing for them to tell us where exactly our dad is and why no one thought to follow our dad to the hospital. Now, having taken an EMT course I know that the plane cannot carry that much weight or any other additional passengers. However, someone could have driven to Charlotte so that when my family and I got we would not have run into any problems locating my dad. Of course, since my dad was only volunteering not part of the organization and not their relative no followed him to Charlotte.

By this time my older sister has heard of the news that our dad could not be located at the hospital and was calling Catawba EMT. Meanwhile, members of the organization and some other people that were there on Sunday morning volunteering showed up. They went up to the front desk and got visitor passes, my mom told them that it wasn’t the right room, but they insisted. So, they went up only to came back down. Just as I hanged up, my younger sister A came up to me and said, “Hey so that aunt sent us dad’s license so maybe we can just show it to them.” Frustrated I just glanced at her, but then I realized something. If that aunt had my dad’s wallet with her all along there was no way the EMT could have put in his information into the system, he was an unidentified patient.

I told her to get in line with me and the patient representative we talked to earlier, waved at us to go to him. All along I thought they no longer care about, but since we were persistence about staying at the hospital until our dad was found and more people kept showing up it looks like he’s been making phone calls around the hospital. By this time my older sister had called and talked to the Catawba chief paramedic. Once again, the patient representative asked me for all the details and I finally told him that there was no way my dad would be in their system because he has no identification on him and we didn’t know that. One patient that flew in had match my dad’s physical description, the time frame and events led to the injury matched. So, the patient representative and I rushed to identify the patient after my sister showed him the picture of my dad’s driver license that was sent by the aunt, whom I talked to earlier.

Well, we didn’t make it in time to identify the patient since he was already taken to the CT Scan room, but the patient representative got a good glimpse of him. So, he told me that we’re going back to get visitor passes and he’ll take us the STICU (Surgical Trauma Intensive Care) waiting room.

By the time we got back to the lobby, Catawba EMT had called to let the front desk know and most everyone had gotten visitor passes. Everyone that was not family went their own way, but I told my family which also consisted of my uncle, aunt, and two younger cousins that we’re going with the representative. After a long wait, my mom and I were the first two to see my dad. I can still remember his condition. His head was so swollen and they shaved his head. They wrapped up his hands in mitts so that he doesn’t start to pull on any of the tubes and IV fluid lines. I couldn’t even look at my dad for so long because the tears just kept coming. I spent most of my time in the room looking out the window just to wipe away the tears until the ER doctor came in. By this time younger brother A had arrived at the hospital all the way from Boone and was with everyone else in the waiting room.

Of course, we let all the visitors saw my dad so that we can get rid of them and sent them home. I didn’t feel like looking at their faces. I didn’t want to see them. I felt so angry and disgusted because my dad has done a lot for that organization, he has helped most of the people in the organization and within the Hmong community. The least they could have done was sent one person to Charlotte with my dad’s identification so that when we got there we wouldn’t be stuck in the lobby for three hours. When they told us over the phone that EMT has my dad’s information and identification, I couldn’t even think twice about not being able to locate my dad. I was upset, so upset when I learned that EMT didn’t even get hold of my dad’s identification.

From the moment I saw my dad laying in the hospital bed, I knew that I took granted of my life before that event took place. I thought my life before was hard, complicated, and boring now it’s even going to be harder. If anything, I was grateful for the patient representative that helped us.

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2 thoughts on “The Journey through My Dad’s Traumatic Brain Injury: The Beginning

  1. Sorry for the late response. I’m glad you are writing again and providing an update. What you have gone through is frustrating and painful. It took 3 long hours for them to finally locate your father. It’s pathetic how no one followed your father to ensure that he’s located and treated well. The least anyone from the organization could do was followed your father, called relatives, and made sure that a good friend/relative was with him before leaving. Very irresponsible of them!

    Please take your time to rest and recover. Overall, I’m just glad you found your father. May he make a full and speedy recovery. In addition, best wishes to you too MaiMai. 🙂

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