A week ago today Grandpa Merritt had a fight with the ATV and LOST - he hit a big bump the wrong way and went airborne and then the bike turned upside down and landed on top of him.
Merritts shoulder after he lost the battle with the ATV!!!
It was the day before we were heading back home and Ed and I and dad (plus two friends Patty and Gary from Boise) all decided on a trip to see the 'footprint' in the rock. We figured we could ride the ATV's over and eat our lunch and then head back and be back to the trailer in a couple of hours. Gary was leading on their ATV that is made for two riders. Dad was in the middle on my four wheeler and Ed and I were sharing his bike since Dad's bike had died the day before.
We stopped at the petroglyphs on our way. Gary took the wrong path so we meandered through the desert for a few miles until we found the right road again - but that was okay - I took pictures of the pretty cactus
Here Edward and Gary and Patty are looking at the Petroglyphs
Once we got to the canyon we stopped and hiked down to the footprint in the rock, maybe 100 yds. It is an amazing sight - it looks so natural, like someone had stepped in the mud, except the mud is solid stone. They said there is a smaller footprint (like that of a woman) farther up the canyon. We had lunch and relaxed and then headed back to the trailers.
We followed a paved road back to the highway, crossed the highway and headed up the ATV trail that runs along side of Hiway 95. We were just a few miles from the trailers and were driving at about 15 miles an hour because the road is so dusty, up and downy, and that is the speed limit.
Again - Gary and Patty were leading, dad was in the middle and Ed and I in the rear. As we drove down into a wash and then back up again we had to brake because it was a steep little wash. As we came out of the wash I saw what I thought was a turned over car. Then I realized that it was a turned over ATV. THEN I REALIZED IT WAS MY DAD'S ATV!!
That is one of the scariest things I ever remember seeing. Ed hit the brakes and we scrambled off of the bike and ran to dad. I could hear him moaning...
Ed and I each took one end of the ATV and lifted it off of dad, rolling it onto its side. Dad was as white as a ghost, laying partially on his side and partially on his back - I don't remember what was said - just 'are you alright' ...and he said I think so - let me lay here.
I pulled off my jacket and pushed the edge of it under his cheek as he was lying on the rocks and sand. We couldn't see any blood and we wouldn't let him get up. Ed went over to the ATV and rolled it twice more to get it on its wheels - all by himself. Talk about adrenaline!
Two women in a truck had pulled off the road and they came running over - they had seen it happen. They said all of sudden he went airborne and then the whole bike rolled and came down on top of him.
I think they are the ones that suggested calling 911. Of course dad said no, I will be fine, just let me lay here for a minute. Edward walked away and pulled out his cell phone and I could here him telling them that there had been an ATV accident at mile marker 99.
We tried to make dad comfortable but would not let him sit up or get up as he wanted to. He kept saying I can move my legs and toes and fingers and hands. I am okay.
We pulled his cell phone and sunglasses out of his pocket. I sat them on the ground next to his hat saying something like we will put all of your stuff here in a pile so we don't lose any of it. He looked at the hat and said "that's not my hat" - i said yes it is. Ed bought it for you. He said, "no its not! I don't have a hat like that". I said yes it is. He was about to argue some more with me but just then Patty and Gary arrived, not having realized that no one was following them for about a mile up the road. They had stopped and waited and finally came back to investigate.
Patty said she thought dad had had a heart attack or something - laying out on the ground. The bike looked fine. (and it was other than crushed handlebars which Edward pulled back into place the next day).
We told them that the ambulence was on its way and just then a police car came up and the officer came over and kept me busy answering questions about dad's name, age, SS number, address...what had happened etc.
Dad mentioned to me that the only thing that was missing was his lower dentures. So we all started looking for them. The two ladies, the officer, Ed and I and Patty and Gary. WE figured they should show up pretty well against the rocks and dirt but we couldn't see them anywhere.
It was about two pm when the ambulence showed up (after a long 6-8 minutes - which isn't too bad really) and the two paramedics again had to get all of his information as they checked dad out. They checked the neck and spine very closely. All of this time dad is saying I am fine. Finally they said I think your spine is fine, but we want to take you to the hospital for a closer check. Dad said he didn't think that was necessary and then the police officer asked me some more questions and when I got back to dad, he was saying "Susan, do you think I should go to the hospital? I thought don't ask me! Just then though they helped him to sit up and he groaned in pain. They laid him back down and I said 'it sounds like it might be a good idea.' When asked where the pain was dad reached up to his left neck area. They immediately decided to put him on the c-spine board.
While they were doing that, another ambulence, two more patrol cars and an EMT truck all showed up too - I think this was the most exciting thing happening in the whole county at the moment and so they all had to come "help". It was wild- and you know how much dad dislikes extra attention!
We had everyone looking for dads denture at this point and finally dad whispered to me "I think I didn't put it in this morning". No wonder we couldn't find his teeth - they were back at the trailer!
I tried to take a couple of pictures when they had dad on the stretcher and he said NO PICTURES!!! and I ignored him as any dutiful daughter would. But when I downloaded my pictures they were no good. Evidently the dial setting had turned on my camera and the light washed everything out. All you can see are the bluejeans on the legs of the paramedics!! and a slight edge of the stretcher. Next time I will listen to my father!
It was decided that I would ride in the front seat of the ambulence over to Blythe California which is the nearest hospital. Dad said the ride in back was rough and noisy - I thought ambulences would have the best shocks available!!! Ed rode my ATV 9the one
We got to the hospital and everyone was very helpful and friendly. The sherriff showed up and I again gave him all of dad's information. I have dad's social security number memorized now!!
They brought in a portable x-ray machine and took x-rays of his neck and chest. They checked him over a little bit and then we waited for the results. Then they decided they needed to do a CT scan of his neck....by this time he had been strapped to the c-spine board for about four hours and it was really hurting his head. Evidently the collar holding his head in place was digging into a scrape on the back of his head. He said it felt like his head was laying on a knife edge. The technician had to repeat the CT scans three times because dad would start to spasm from his inability to stop the pain. It was a miserable experience for him. Even after they brought him back to the ER stall he was still hurting so badly. His arm would start to spasm and then it would move through his whole chest. We asked the doctor and the nurse to put a little padding or something at the back of his head and they said they didn't dare do anything until they knew that he didn't have a broken spine. Finally Ed gave dad a blessing - after that dad was able to relax and sleep for a while -
Then it took another couple of hours before they got the CT scans read and it was decided that he didn't have a broken back. At that point the doctor came in and removed the neck brace and literally picked up the side of the c-spine board and shook dad off of it. I am sure that had to hurt dad's shoulder but he was so relieved to have the pressure off of the back of his head that he didn't complain.
I wasn't impressed a whole lot with the doctor. I thought the nurses were fantastic - I think the doctor would have released him then and there if we hadn't gone and told the nurse that even though he didn't have a broken back his shoulder still HURT!!! We also mentioned to the doctor that he had several deep lacerations on his head that no one had bothered to look at that might need stitches. He walked over and looked at the one on the top of his head and said that it had already scabbed over and he didn't want to clean it for fear that it would break open again and then he would have to have stitches. Dad's whole head was covered with dust from the ATV ride and dirt from the accident. I guess they weren't worried about germs from dirt!
So we waited and waited for them to xray his shoulder. There were several other people also requiring x-rays and the poor technician was working as fast as he could. They rolled dad's bed into the x-ray room and the tech let ed and I go in with him. Then he had dad stand up (after laying flat on his back for six and a half hours at this point!) and stand in front of the x-ray machine for four x-rays - each time I expected dad to fall over - he wasn't all that stable on his feet. But dad did fine. Then the technician showed dad where the restroom was and then headed out the door. I decided that dad could be wheeled back to his room rather than sticking him back in the bed. So I went and found a wheelchair and Ed and I got him and his IV back to the room in good shape. I think the xray technician wondered what had happened to his patient when he went back to get him!
Finally the doctor came in and said - you have a broken collar bone. Dad immediately said "doctor, that can't be right. I have never had a broken bone in my whole life!" The doctor didn't say a word, he just held up the x-ray!!! And there it was in black and white. Dad didn't argue after that.
They can't do much for a broken collarbone! They put his arm in a sling and gave him some pain meds - He was released at 9 pm -
We got him into the truck and headed back to Arizona where we put him to bed for the night.
We stayed in Quartzsite an extra day as he had to go back to see a doctor for a follow up visit. We found out that there had been 3 ATV rollovers brought into that hospital in two days !! One guy had a broken jaw and broken ribs, one guy had a broken collarbone and a broken wrist - dad got off easy with just the broken collarbone. ;-) The doctor told him that he had badly sprained his neck muscles and probably every muscle in his body and that the collarbone would take a good two weeks to start feeling better. The muscle aches all over his body hurt him the most the first few days. Both of his shoulders are covered with bruises - from both the ATV hitting him and him hitting the rocky ground. Not fun!!
Saturday morning we headed home - Sunday night we got here - 700 miles later! It was a long trip for dad. And its been a long week of recovery for him too. I don't think he has ever felt so helpless. It's amazing what you can't do without two good arms. Getting out of bed has been the most difficult thing so far. He has been at home taking care of himself with lots of visits from family and friends wanting to help more.