A patient’s perspective – Colleen Prentice, trauma survivor
Friday night 31 March 2017 at about 7.30pm (my) life turned upside down, literally! 20 minutes northeast from our home we lost control and our utility hit a tree. Daughter Hani was uninjured but I sustained severe traumatic injuries from the impact. I lost my left arm, broke all ribs, smashed my pelvis, lost my spleen, part of my pancreas, some of my bowel and my right leg and foot suffered nerve damage and is still partly numb.
My whānau including my husband, two sons, daughter and daughter in law with our 3 mokopuna, and my 3 sisters and brother gathered together with my extended whānau and were thrust into all night and daily vigils of karakia and a lava flow of aroha for about 4 weeks while I was sedated and survived!
I survived! Despite numerous cardiac arrests, dangerously high heart rate episodes and losing blood like a sieve on the first night; my husband said at least 100 units! A tracheotomy, ileostomy, stomach skin graft, gastroscopy, multiple theatre procedures, MRI and CT scans, a stint in radiology to successfully unblock my nose tube, 141 days nil by mouth aka no food and about 7 months in Waikato Hospital and I’m alive and healing thanks to Dr Grant Christey, Dr Jamie Crichton, nurses Jenny Dorrian and Bronwyn Denize; my trauma team and many, many others!
Little did we know however that we would have to call on the hospital’s compassion when on 11 June 2017 my husband Boof, Ian Murray Prentice, died suddenly of a heart attack in Sydney where he had been working since October 2016. Even now as I write this, I cry. As a neuropsychologist asked me, “two huge hits in as many months, how did you cope?” Looking back I didn’t cope, I survived, from one day to the next, with my whānau close beside me and the wonderful compassion from the hospital staff where nothing was impossible.
Huge setbacks were followed by small but significant gains.
As every step of the way as soon as I could understand, I knew what was happening medically from the information I was told. My requests were, where possible, actioned. For instance, when moving wards we requested a hui with my trauma team so we could have our queries answered and collaboratively plan the next few months of recovery. This took place the following week and similar hui continued until I was discharged in October 2017.
It is now May 2018 and I have a prosthetic arm to continue to make friends with, an Ileostomy which will be reversed at the end of this month and various gadgets which make one handed life easier.