Day 2… Dial 112 for Emergency

Day 2 started off pretty well, at least much better than day 1 went.  We went to get our BSN numbers in the center of town which is a super cute area – those are our social security numbers.  Josh already has his but the kids and I needed ours.  We can’t get health insurance or even a cell phone without one.  So we filled out all the forms and Josh updated his number to reflect our new address.  In a few weeks we’ll be official residents of the Netherlands.

I dropped off Josh at the train (since he obviously didn’t have his bike which he takes every day to/from the train – yes, he’s now Dutch Josh… bye bye Spanish Josh) and the kids at school.  My mission was to find a hardware store looking for ceiling anchors.  But instead I found a huge grocery store.  They even had crescent rolls (they aren’t Pillsbury, but I’ll take them!)!  Yay!!  There was also a small electronics store so I got a new phone so that I could get our Vonage VOIP up and running again.  I can’t find my drill but I did end up finding a commercial hardware store (on my list is to find the every day hardware store but that’s for another day).  All in good time I suppose!

Overall, the day went well though.  I’ve learned to recognize that things take longer when you first move to a new country.  All things you know you have to relearn.  It’s all for another entry – I’ll get to it.  But let me tell you how our day ended instead.

Day 2 in the Netherlands ended with a call to 112 (Europe’s answer to 911).  Yes, I had to call the ambulance, for the first time in my life.  And as luck would have it, I had to do it while living abroad. Yeah this is not how I expected day 2 to end, with a trip to the emergency room.

What happened?  Well most probably know at this point from our Facebook updates, but here’s the long story.

Since this was a week of moving, the whole house has been a disaster.  Boxes everywhere.  Toys everywhere and the room that was the biggest disaster was Liam’s.  This is partially my fault.  I was trying to get Aidan’s room taken care of so that I could slowly move some things back into it but needed space to work.  I had the boys put everything in Liam’s room as a holding “tank”.  We had cleared some of it up, but Liam was enjoying the idea of having ALL the toys in his room and had taken out EVERY SINGLE TOY and they were on his floor.  It’s a novelty as in our past 2 apartments we had playrooms so that there were very few toys in the bedrooms – primarily because the bedrooms were so small.

But in this house there is no playroom or extra bedroom.  The majority of toys will eventually reside in the kids’ rooms once we get all our furniture from the US.  Anyways, I was yelling at Liam to clean things up and Josh intervened.  I wasn’t in the room but I heard Liam upset and Josh getting upset as well (which is very rare for Josh).  Then I heard a scream and it wasn’t from Liam.  It was from Josh.

It wasn’t a scream of anger.  It was a scream of pain.  I ran to Liam’s room and saw Josh laying on the floor in agony.  I could tell immediately something was wrong.  I asked him if he needed an ambulance. I honestly don’t know why I asked this question – I’ve never asked it before.  But something about the way he was laying on the floor and the look on his face told me something was really wrong.  He said he did and that he thought that there was a bone protruding from his leg.

That was enough for me.  I’m not my mother’s daughter for sure – things like this make me nauseous, even in an emergency situation.  I’m not proud of it.  The kids were screaming, beyond hysterical. They knew something was terribly wrong.  In order to stay focused I ran outside and called 112.  I’m beyond thankful that they spoke English.  While I could have navigated this in Spanish, I’m so thankful I did not have to do it.  It took a minute or two to be transferred to the right town and right emergency venue (fire, ambulance, police) and to take the information but finally they were on their way.

In the meantime, I had to take care of the kids… and Josh.  And to take care of Josh, I needed to remove the hysterical children from the scene.  Let me remind you, we’ve lived here for TWO DAYS.  We know NO ONE.  I met the next door neighbor briefly yesterday and he seemed like a nice guy.  So I crossed my fingers, grabbed the kids and ran next door.  His wife answered and went to introduce herself – barely giving her a moment to speak I said “my husband has fallen and thinks he has a bone protruding from his leg.  I’ve called an ambulance but I can’t let the kids see what might happen next. Can I please leave them with you until I can better assess the situation?”  And I shoved the kids at her.

Thankfully she took them, asked their names and said to go take care of what I needed to take care of and she would watch them.  I’m forever in her debt on this one.  And what a way to meet the neighbor. First her husband when I couldn’t open the front door yesterday and now this.  Welcome to the neighborhood, right???

I ran upstairs to check on Josh.  He was gray and he was cold.  He’s never ever ever cold.  Ever.  That alone scared me.  I had texted my mom, a nurse, on my way up the stairs, to find out what I needed to do while I waited for the EMTs to arrive.  Admittedly, I felt nauseous when I was with Josh.  The ambulance couldn’t get there soon enough.  The idea that he had a bone sticking out of his leg (I did not look close enough to confirm and he often wears baggy jeans so I couldn’t see anything) was enough to make me want to pass out alongside him and then the EMTs would have their hands full.

Josh was in pain like nothing I had ever seen before.  I felt helpless.  I didn’t know what to do.  So I just tried to calm him down.  I kept telling him it would be ok.  It reminded me of when I was having Aidan and he kept telling me the same thing over and over and over again – to the point of annoyance. Looking back, he was probably in the same boat, not knowing what to say or how to handle the situation.

The ambulance took forever.  I’m going to say it was at least 10 minutes before it got here.  Too long in my book.  If he’d had a heart attack he would have been dead.  He was likely going into shock right before the EMTs got here based on how I described him to my mom when I eventually spoke with her. That’s not a good thing.

When the EMTs arrived, I have to say, they were amazing.  They were calming and even humorous at times.  They explained every single detail to me as they were working on Josh.  I went downstairs to not just give them room to work (Liam’s room is not that big) but also because I couldn’t stomach what they needed to do.  Again, feeling like I let Josh down in his time of need.  I could hear him screaming upstairs when they touched his leg.

I did what I do best.  I organized.  Stupid and silly I know.  But I needed to do something.  I grabbed all the ipads and jackets.  I grabbed some new pants for Josh (they cut his jeans off) as well as some sneakers.  I knew we were going to the hospital from here and I knew that it was going to be a late night for the kids.  I put everything in the car so we would be ready to go as soon as I knew what the situation was.  It was busy work, but it kept me going.

Eventually the EMT came downstairs and told me that there was not a bone protruding from his leg, but instead, he had dislocated his kneecap and they were going to relocate it before going to the hospital.  They were going to give Josh a sedative, essentially a horse tranquilizer, and some meds that were going to give him amnesia.  They said he was going to scream when they relocated it but that he would not remember it.  Just thinking back to this moment makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

And scream his did. A gut wrenching scream.  It brought tears to my eyes knowing he was in so much pain.  I’m so glad the kids were not here to witness any of this.  Eventually the EMT came downstairs and told me it was ok to be with Josh and that they were waiting on another EMT and police to come in order to help get Josh down the stairs to go to the hospital.  As is typical in the Netherlands, the staircases is incredibly steep, almost vertical and just two guys were not going to be able to get Josh on a stretcher down them.

I went to Josh and he was in tears.  He was drugged.  Oh was he drugged.  And as promised, he didn’t remember any of what had just happened.  But he was so worried… about our anniversary.  Yes, that was at the forefront of his mind.  Not his knee or the kids or the move.  Our anniversary.  Even in sickness, he’s still the most selfless person I know.  And I promised him I don’t care about our anniversary, just him getting better (which is still the case).  I layed next to him and just held his hand as we waited for the police to come.

Our next door neighbor arrived to let us know that the kids were doing well and to check on Josh. She seems pretty easy going and very likable. I think we will get along great with them once we get ourselves situated.  She offered to hold on to the kids while Josh and I went to the hospital but I felt like we had asked enough of her.

Josh left for the hospital and seemed to be in much better spirits (thank you horse tranqs) which made me feel better.  And while I knew this likely wasn’t over, I felt good knowing that there was no bone protruding from his leg and that his knee had been relocated.  The only thing we ha to hope for was that there were no broken bones.

The kids and I followed shortly thereafter.  Thankfully the EMT gave me good directions for once we arrived at the hospital, telling me to head towards the forest when I arrived and that was where the emergency room was.  This is where my lack of Dutch is really bad – in Spain, emergency is emergencia. Pretty easy to figure out.  In Dutch, it’s noodgevallen.  Yeah, I would never have gotten that but he was right about the forest.

We made it into the hospital and we must have been the only Americans that night because they immediately knew who we belonged with and said Josh was out getting an x-ray and would be back shortly.  The kids were tired and impatient.  I can’t blame them.  But they also needed to learn to buck up in an emergency and rise to the occasion when someone needs us.  The doctor came in to talk to us and said that based on the x-ray they saw a small fracture behind his knee and would need to do a CT scan to see in more detail how bad the damage was.

We didn’t have to wait long, thankfully, and Josh was off for his scan.  We wouldn’t get the results until Monday when he saw the orthopedist but at least we were able to complete more of the process of our end goal of getting Josh better.  He was given a soft cast / brace that goes the entire length of his leg and we were sent home.  The whole thing from start to finish was about 3 hours but I think it was one of the longest nights’ of our lives.

Today Josh and I went to the orthopedist to get his results and long term prognosis.  Unfortunately it looks like there are bone fragments floating around behind his knee, the knee wasn’t perfectly re-aligned and the tendons, as a result, are also not aligned.  So it looks like surgery is in his future.  Likely in the next few weeks.  He’s to keep the brace on and limit his movements.

Of course, this wasn’t the news we were hoping to hear.  But in the end, all that matters is that he’s going to be ok.  It’s going to take some time for his recovery and it certainly isn’t the way we were hoping to start off our new lives in the Netherlands.  However, looking to the silver lining (and really, what else can we do), we’ve at least learned how to navigate the medical system here a whole lot earlier than we planned.

There will be more to come on this as we get closer to Josh’s surgery.  But for now, all is ok and a week later, he’s doing pretty well considering.  He’s mobile though in spurts and he went back to work after taking just one day off to recover so I’d say he’s feeling better.  I know he’s bummed out about the surgery and I’m going to say there won’t be any ski vacation this year (yay for me as I don’t like to ski), but he is looking forward to just getting back on track again.  The selfish part of me looks forward to when he can put on his own socks, jeans and sneakers and can get himself to work on his own.  But to know he’s going to be ok, I’d put his socks on him for the rest of his life – I’m just so thankful that it wasn’t worse than what it could have been.

So that’s day 2… I’m curious to see what the future holds here, hopefully all positives from here on out as I think we’ve already paid our dues!!!

Besos,
Julie

2 thoughts on “Day 2… Dial 112 for Emergency

  1. Pingback: “Celebrating” One Year in the Netherlands | The Expat Chronicles

  2. Pingback: Our New Moving Tradition – The ER | The Expat Chronicles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s