Motorsai Accident in Isaan, ICU…
I see me when I look at you. When I see your broken teeth and deeply cut lip, your mangled chin… your shaved head with exposed brain just beneath the thin white gauze and tape… I see me. I see me when I look at your body covered in hair… typical hairy farang like me. Your wild looks when you wake up from your 20 second sleeps. It looks to me as if it's myself there in the hospital bed.
I was with you at the bars… I left when you did, though only seconds before. We were going home the same way, you live only blocks from my house and yet I didn't wait… didn't even think you were drunk considering you drink more often than me and I felt fine. And who is to say if it would have mattered if you were plastered blind… from the stories I heard from those at the scene the driver of the other motorsai was at fault. I sincerely doubt anyone could have avoided it.
Today as I went to get my laundry so I have clothes to wear to work tomorrow I saw the spot in the street where you flew into the 3 Thai teens on a motorbike with no lights on at 2 in the morning. The white paint outline of where your motorsai lie… and the outline of the other motorsai. I thought the paint was an outline of your body, but the girl told me it
was to show the motorsai position. I saw me in the street there, bleeding and unconscious… I remembered it as if I was you… because it was me too.
The laundry girl said she heard the sound of you all crashing that night. She came outside like everyone else and she thought it was me she said… and I was thinking the same thing. Your 1/8 inch thin plastic red helmet with no face-guard was lying over there (30 feet from the crash… A boy's head hit the curb there. A girl sat there with a huge laceration to her head and cried that she didn't want to go to the hospital. She later went and got 20 stitches in her head.
Two Thai men tried to lift you into the pickup truck and almost dropped you because you were so heavy. You were unconscious. Your Thai made helmet wasn't enough to keep your brain from serious injury.
In the hospital ICU the first image I had of you was with your swollen, black like a tire, right eyelid, cut lip and chin, broken teeth, bruised body… My girlfriend said later she thought it was me at first look. I know she must have, because it WAS me. I was there with you.
No difference that I didn't have the accident. The accident happened inside me too. I've never experienced any trauma like this with a friend. I was the last to see the Scott that everyone knew. I fear that you won't be the same one as time unfolds. A blood clot. Brain surgery to remove pieces of bone in your brain. Moderate brain swelling. Brain tissue removed in the area of communication… Dirty ICU rooms with mosquitoes, blood stained concrete floors. Someone's pet dog in the open room connecting to the ICU.
Four died that night during the 14 hours I was there in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). The first one to die was a child – perhaps 11 years old. A boy. His legs and arms were suntanned dark and didn't even have a blemish from my view… and yet he had a neck brace on to keep him still… I never did see him move at all. After he had been there for a couple hours the heart rate monitor went "0"… the nurse checked.
They started CPR in earnest – using heart compressions to keep his heart pumping the oxygen rich blood to the brain and body. I watched as a male nurse or doctor started the CPR and the numbers leapt up to 120 beats per minute as he worked steadily and tirelessly. He stopped after 5 minutes to check if the boy's heart would beat on it's own. It didn't. Another round, this time moving himself on top of the bed, kneeling by the boy's shoulders. 5 minutes on – 120 beats per minute. Check – 0 beats per minute. Again.
By this time the boy's mother was there and crying as she watched them try in vain to keep her boy alive. The nurses must have tried 5 or 6 five minute sessions and still the heart rate monitor went to "0" as soon as their efforts ceased. They then tried electro shock with the chest zappers. Again, no pulse. And there were 4 nurses over the boy, giving their all – and nothing. The mom, perhaps 45 years old in her high fashion short white t-shirt, tight white pants and a lot of gold on her neck, fingers, ears. She wept hard and yet she didn't wail.
The only wail I heard that night was from a boy of about 16 that needed to peak under the green sheet at the person already dead. When he did, he burst into tears and crying and an older boy, his brother maybe, put him in a one arm headlock and they walked away with the boy wailing out a couple times. It was an older man, the one under the sheet – I'm guessing it was the boy's father.
So the nurses had gone through their procedure and the young boy's heart was not responding. They injected things into him – hoping it would start the heart – and it did not. They pumped more – and always the same zero on the screen. There was a doctor there now and the doctor took the pulse, listened in the stethoscope… and looked at the monitors and pronounced the boy dead… there was one thing though – the child was STILL BREATHING on his own!
The boy went on breathing for over a half hour WITHOUT any kind of support system. I was really clue-less that this could happen – but there it was… he was breathing not 4 meters from me – clearly visible from the rhythmic rise and fall of the sheet that covered his chest – and the monitor which read about 15 breaths per minute.
The boy's sister and farang husband came in and looked and cried and held the boy's arm and all cried together. Very surreal considering the boy was still breathing.
The family left and they removed the boy after an hour. They washed up the bed, changed linens. The body guys came and took the boy onto their cart.
The next one to fill that slot – I'll call slot number 2 – was a guy that had either just been shot, knifed, or had an accident. But the only thing I could see was just profuse amounts of blood coming from his mouth, and head. He was hooked up to a bag of blood but it was a small bag. When I went in the lunch room I was only 1.5 meters away from him and I could see the fresh blood streaming down his neck. There was a large spot on the sheets under his head and getting bigger every minute. The guy made no move and when the monitor went "0" nobody knew. The monitor either didn't give the beep – or, they didn't have him hooked up to it. There was one there beside him, but an older model that didn't have large enough numbers for me to read from 4 meters away and so I never knew if it was even on. A nurse walked by, put her hand on the guys leg for a few seconds and said, oh – die. She made a joke to the other nurses and they laughed – presumably because the guy was cold and he must have died a little while ago but nobody noticed. The doctor came by and said, "die". There was no family there or effort to give him CPR – the doctor just came over and said – die. They wrote down the time and did some paperwork.
And Scott you were awake in spurts all night. You never slept more than a few seconds or minutes at a time. When you woke up you would grab your head, open your eyes wide, look confused and twist in the bed… twisting apart the catheter tubes, ripping out the Intravenous lines, and pulling off the heart rate monitors. Sometimes you were hot and sometimes cold. The nurses decided to give you the cold air conditioner and wrap you in blankets. My girlfriend and I asked them to lower your bed to 180 degrees so you could sleep better – your head had raised higher than legs for 11 hours or so before that. They changed it and you slept for not seconds but minutes.
When we asked you questions you'd respond yeah, yeah. Always yeah. Never no. Until about 3 am on 2/5 you said – no.
You grew more frustrated at not understanding what was going on during the night. But finally you snored a few times and I thought- good for you.
It was 7 am before we left you. Mickey was right behind us. My girlfriend and I went home to sleep and the night replayed in my mind a few times before I was able to sleep.
And today. It's a new day. And new problems for you. Mickey told me that you had to have surgery to have a shunt put in your head to relieve some of the pressure. Apparently your brain was swelling. Not good. I arrived this evening and found out they did actual SURGERY on your brain – removing pieces of bone and even a part of your brain – in the lobe dealing with communication. I'm fighting for you Scott. For your family. Your friends. Your girlfriends. But what am I fighting with? Just hoping really that you're on the other side of the curve now – and it will be good progress from here.
I think the risk of infection is high now. Your brain is actually without part of the skull if I understood Mickey correctly. There was a flap that was removed and is being kept alive somewhere frozen in anti-biotic solution to be re-attached later. Your brain is essentially just beneath the white gauze pad and see through tape. Is that good practice?
I wish you were back in the USA for this… at least in Bangkok. Even my Thai teacher friend Sai decided to go to BKK for her brain surgery to remove a large, non-cancerous tumor. Not like you had the time to choose though.
And I'm waiting for my turn now. I think it's my turn. I've escaped SO MUCH. I've always been the lucky one. I've had the most fun of anyone I know. I've done some crazy things and maybe now it's my time… that's what I mean, I am there with you Scott… I'm right in that same spot… and it's just a matter of time. It's a matter of things catching up… statistics… the numbers – it won't be long now…
And yet, there was an accident inside me too and I will be more cautious about many things. That too is what I mean, it's like it was me that had the accident but my accident is all mental… but traumatic too…
The feeling today is deep – there has been change in the way "I" am… what I believe… what I do… what I see as important… what is not…
Your parents and sister will get here tomorrow night. All of us from school will continue to visit the hospital when not in class.
Hold on Scott, and come back stronger than before. I think you can get through this…Just keep hanging in there brother…
This is damned depressing.
I have to admit that the one thing that scares me more than anything in Thailand is being involved in a serious accident.