On 2 April 2015 I enjoyed lunch with my manager Sachin at Hunter’s. We were celebrating me having been employed with PwC for six months. Some more colleagues joined afterwards then I went home to Brunswick West for an early start to the Easter break.
I showered then went back out to catch a tram to North Melbourne. From Hope Street I saw the pedestrian crossing light to cross Melville Road was green so I ran for it. I didn’t need to but I enjoy running.
As I headed east a driver facing west turned north into Melville Road. They hit me on the pedestrian crossing. I was thrown into the car’s bonnet then face-down onto Melville Road.
I looked at the road. I curled my left hand to keep my wedding ring off the asphalt concrete.
The car remained in the intersection. Traffic was reported blocked at 3:47 PM.
An ambulance arrived beside me.
I was on a stretcher in the ambulance. The paramedic asked for my wallet and iPhone then asked for my name, address, date of birth, allergies and prior medical conditions, comparing my responses to the information I was carrying.
I asked the paramedic for his name. He answered “Tom” then explained with concern that I had asked him this question several times already.
A police officer arrived with what looked like a flash card. He told Tom that the driver was shaken up and I told him that I hoped she was OK.
Tom injected me with a cannula. He gave me 10 mg of metoclopramide to suppress nausea and vomiting followed by 5 mg of morphine. The second paramedic drove us to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
At some point I had been fitted with a neck brace. Tom explained that I had a considerable head wound and that I would be immobilised until my neck and spine health could be determined. He also thanked me many times for being a blood donor and kept me laughing until we reached the hospital.
We arrived in emergency and I was wheeled through corridors. I could see only the roof and what was reflected in the mirrors at each junction. The paramedic who had been driving appeared at my shoulder and with a concerned voice called out “Tom! You didn’t tell me this guy was a redhead! I’ve taken him to the good hospital!”
I met a lot of doctors and nurses in emergency. They each began by asking for my name, where I was and what day it was. I recounted my story to several of them but was unable to explain whether I had passed out or was only experiencing short-term memory loss. I gave them the details of my wife Cass as my next of kin.
Melville Road traffic was reported clear at 5:05 PM.
A doctor examined my vertebrae and tested the strength of my hands, feet and buttocks. She rubbed a jelly over my chest and scanned my ribs with an ultrasound transducer then took down my pants and scanned my pelvis. She ordered CT scans of my brain, chest and spine and an X-ray of my pelvis.
A nurse wheeled me to a room with a curtain to wait for my tests. I requested to urinate and was given a headless cardboard slug. With an immobile torso and braced neck I blindly worked my penis into the bottle and hoped I’d positioned everything correctly. When I was finished I spent a minute slowly laying the bottle down, curious about its spillable design.
A patient liaison introduced herself and completed a TAC claim for me. She informed me that in my circumstances TAC typically pays for the ambulance, medical treatment, rehabilitation services and even income assistance. Unfortunately I could not claim for unprescribed glasses (later I learned that the Ray-Bans I had been wearing were destroyed).
I asked her for my iPhone and had many missed messages including two from Cass: “My phone can’t find you 🙎” and “🙍”. I responded with my room number and that I was OK. I soon realised that the hospital had not contacted her yet so I phoned her but had insufficient reception for a voice call. Fortunately the hospital Wi-Fi enabled me to contact her via FaceTime Audio.
I wanted to cry but Cass already was. She had coincidentally walked from her work to the hospital that afternoon before taking a tram home and wondering where I was. Without reception or Wi-Fi my iPhone had been unable to tell her. I warned her that my blood and neck brace made me look much worse than I actually was.
She arrived soon after and stood beside me so I could see her. She had peach hair and had cried her makeup away. I told her what I could remember and started crying when I described how grateful I was that myself and others have paramedics like the two that helped me.
Another doctor offered me additional pain relief which I declined but Cass helped me realise that I was being silly. I had two cuts across my forehead, injuries to my head, shoulder and the back of my rib cage, grazed knuckles and right shoulder, a chipped tooth and it hurt to breathe. My masculine self-assessment for my pain level out of ten had been two.
I took 5 mg of oxycodone, 400 mg of ibuprofen and 1 g of paracetamol then we talked and watched Carlton play Richmond while we waited for my tests.
The first tests were the CT scans. I was wheeled up to the machine then lifted onto it by three nurses. The machine was a trendy donut of white matte plastic with dancing, thin red lasers and a male voice. I lay still while it scanned my brain then was slid through for my chest and spine.
A doctor connected my cannula to a device which injected a contrast agent for my chest scan. A second after receiving this chemical I felt like my blood had been microwaved and (as I had been cautioned) like I had lost control of my bladder.
Three nurses returned me to the bed then wheeled me to the X-ray machine. Compared to the Mac-like CT scanner this machine was a PC. It appeared to be constructed from beige plumbing with a yellow handle attached as an afterthought. It photographed my pelvis silently then I was returned to Cass.
Two nurses replaced the neck brace I had received in the ambulance with one that felt more expensive but I didn’t find it any more comfortable. We waited for the initial results which the doctors found to be good news then waited again for the radiologist’s assessment. At some point I fell asleep.
A surgical doctor confirmed that I was unbroken and would also not require stitches. My neck brace could be removed. However, since I could not recall whether I had passed out on the road she recommended that I stay the night.
I was wheeled to trauma’s short-stay ward and allowed to walk myself to a bed. It was 12:15 AM on Good Friday. I hadn’t eaten since lunch and asked the nurse if he had anything vegan. He returned with a ham and cheese sandwich and an egg sandwich. I accepted and ate the latter.
Cass left to stay with her parents and I slept my first night in a hospital.
I woke and watched Sunrise until a doctor arrived. She asked the now-usual questions then showed me pictures of a cup, some keys and a bird. She told me that if I could remember them in an hour I would be allowed to leave. I sincerely replied that I would fail this test on a good day but I would try.
Breakfast was vegetarian: porridge, toast and fruit followed by hot cross buns and coffee. A doctor from the previous day returned and I passed the cup-keys-bird test. Cass arrived and soon after I collected my prescription for oxycodone and we walked out of the hospital to a taxi.
I was back home:
Please create a Medical ID for yourself on your iPhone. I hadn’t. I was lucky to be conscious when the paramedic needed this information.
And please don’t drive. Your skill and focus is insufficient for the immense responsibility of steering more than a tonne of vehicle at speed through populated areas. You are lucky if you haven’t harmed anyone yet.