We celebrated Mother’s Day on Saturday May 10, 2008 at “Mark’s” favorite restaurant! Jer and his girlfriend, Danielle, joined us. Jon was at Grove City studying for finals, but we certainly thought of him while we were enjoying our crab fest!
On Sunday, May 11—Mother’s Day—Mark decided to do his long cycle run for the triathlon he had been training for which was to be held at Mt. Gretna on May 24. Since it was “my” day, I decided to spend the afternoon at Starbucks writing a speech, “What’s Humor Got to do with It” for a group of oncology nurses. The weather was picture perfect, except for a slight wind that picked up around 12:45 p.m. I remember the exact time because my cell phone was on the table when they called out my “name”—green tea latte, tall, extra foam. I grabbed my green indulgence, along with a cobbler muffin and started to pull out the chair when my cell phone rang.
“Mrs. Pombo this is Hershey Trauma Center, we have your husband…” That’s all I received of the message when Verizon dropped my call.
My body fell limp, the latte spewed across two tables and landed on the floor, and the muffin went flying…final destination unknown. I let out a guttural scream, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo. Please God let him be okay.”
I clutched my laptop and ran out of Starbucks. An elderly woman grabbed the back of my sweater and said, “Can I help you? I don’t think you should be driving.” I stared at her, but nothing came out of my mouth. Instinct took over and I drove to Hershey Trauma Center. The tree-lined drive is gorgeous in the spring. Twelve years ago I received my cancer treatment at Hershey Medical Center and actually looked forward to the travel time in the car. But this was different; I didn’t remember the trees or even walking through the entrance of the hospital.
When I approached the receptionist and asked about my husband, she greeted me warmly and said, “Please take a seat; I’ll call the chaplain.”
“Whaaaaaaaaaaaat. Why do I need a chaplain? My husband is hurt and I need to be with him,” I explained.
The sound in her voice made me realize, things were far worse than I had imagined. ”Is he alive? Please just tell me that?” I pleaded.
When I turned around, there was a young man with a blue name badge that read, “Hospital Chaplain.” He spoke softly with a southern accent, “Mrs. Pombo, your husband is en route. Why don’t you wait here for a moment while I check on his status?”
The next few minutes stretched into hours as I realized just how desperately I loved this “triathlon” man of mine. My world collapsed between the time I heard “trauma center” and “I’ll check on your husband.”
When I walked into the trauma ER, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. The image of my strong hubby laying lifeless on the gurney is seared into my frontal lobe. A part of me wants to erase it, but the other part wants to remember what I almost lost.
It seems like a lifetime since the accident. Kindness has poured in from unexpected places: a marine corporal who almost lost his leg brought my husband his “therapy” dog for a day; a neighbor brought over a meal; UPS sent so many floral arrangements and fruit bouquets, I can now open up shop. And my “boys” have been the greatest blessing of all. Jer—the teacher—has been over every evening and even gave Mark a shower—helping him upstairs (it took 45 minutes in his walker). Jon has answered phones, cooked meals, washed dishes, and stayed up the entire first night to make sure his dad was okay, while I finally got some much-needed rest.
The clicking of Mark’s walker is now a familiar sound, and when it stops I run to see if he’s okay. When Mark sleeps…I rest. When he’s awake, I run errands and do laundry. When he screams out in pain, I grab the pain pills and say, “How much?”
Each morning, I cringe as I watch Mark give himself the Lovenox injection in his stomach to prevent blood clots.” I ask, “Does it hurt?” His face tells me the truth I don’t want to hear.
I have been on the receiving end of caregiving many times and I have to admit it’s so much more difficult being the caregiver than the patient. Mark’s official diagnosis is a comminuted right intertrochanteric fracture with intramedullary rod and nail. It’s the medical term for a broken hip.
A pothole in the road caused my husband’s bike to flip and throw him 20 feet in the air where he landed on his right hip. Fifteen minutes later, he was found by two other cyclists, one of whom was an orthopedic surgeon and the other was a trauma care nurse. They provided emergency care and put Mark’s bike in the car with a note, “We wish you well and pray it’s not what we think it is.”
Last night Mark called “Michael and Lisa” to personally thank them for saving his life, but together we praise God for the divine physician who heals all our wounds and makes us whole again.
Mark will be off work for six weeks and possibly longer. His triathlon days have come to a bittersweet end, but right now he’s thankful to be hanging up his bike.
He’ll be joining me in my aqua aerobics class—one more thing we’ll have in common.
Together we say, “What a difference a day can make!”