Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Note to Laurie

Dear Laurie Whoever-you-are,

Thanks so much for your comment to the “Wounds” blog entry yesterday. [To see Laurie's comment, just click on the little tiny phrase '2 comments' (or however many there are) at the very end of the blog entry.] We have no idea of who you are—no last name, no e-mail address, no phone--so this is the only way to contact you. Brooke and I have been talking about your comment—I’ve just read it to him over the phone, since I’m at home and he’s in his room at South Davis—and we’re composing this note on the phone to you.

He’s doing most of the talking:

Thank you so, so much for the information about the accident and your wonderful thoughts. Even now, more than a year later, I’m still trying to reconstruct in my head how the accident actually happened, and your comment helps enormously. We would love to talk to you on the phone or meet you in person if that’s possible, just to understand what happened more fully and because you’ve said so many touching things about both of us. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble for you or too disturbing, could you give Peggy a call (801-824-9160) or e-mail her ( Peggy has tried to find the location of the accident—something about tire marks on the asphalt—but still doesn’t know exactly where it occurred. And if you happen to know the other runner you mention—we didn’t know there was anybody who actually saw the accident happen--we’d love to meet her too. The same goes for anybody else who might see this on the blog who was around on the scene at the time.

Laurie, your comment is quite moving. There are a few things to note—one is about the other rider. Someone else has also said that the other rider was rather arrogant, but at that point all he could have known was that his carbon-fiber bike had been broken in half while Brooke’s bike was intact. He couldn’t have known how serious Brooke’s injuries were. Later, after the flight nurse came along, someone told me, he said he wished he could share half Brooke’s injuries, an impossible generosity that would surely erase any earlier hint of arrogance.

Your comment also points to some strange things about the way we do health care under HIPAA: for example, that the hospital would tell you no one had identified Brooke but later, after I’d learned about the accident and come in to the emergency room, they wouldn’t give you any information because you weren’t a relative. This is of course a strenuous interpretation of what HIPAA requires; the more appropriate interpretation, it seems to me, would be to ask the patient or, since he wasn’t in a position to be asked, his surrogate (me), whether we’d want to release information about him, including perhaps his identity and his condition, to you or other non-relatives (we would have been happy to do so, if we had just been asked). I always find the assumption in the way HIPAA is interpreted that patients want total privacy rather than release of information to relevant (and not just related) others problematic.

Back to your account of the accident. Yes, Brooke says, he did have San Francisco 49er gloves. Red. They were new, and I never saw them.

It might seem strange to be so interested in what actually happened at the accident, now 14 months ago, since it can’t change anything about the outcome, but somehow understanding it—just as an accident, nothing more--is part of learning to live with it. We’re both grateful to you, and Brooke is especially so, for writing. Thanks.

1 comment:

Lorraine Seal said...

I can understand your excitement at hearing that Laurie was on the scene and is able to shed more light on what happened. It makes perfect sense to want to reconstruct events and to want to know exactly where it happened. There's something elemental about our need to piece together the narrative of our lives as vividly as possible, particularly when the events are so fundamentally life changing as your accident.

Laurie's comments are moving; I hope the person she mentions who actually saw the accident can be found too.

On a personal note, I think of your remark, Peggy, of the hope the lengthening days bring. Not long ago, in December, we drove to the gym along dark roads and then, coming into town, saw the clock in the square illuminated to show the time: 5 pm. Last night, as I worked away on the cross trainer at a little past 6, through the gym windows the horizon was still blazing brilliant gold. And I noticed the other day bird song in the early light and throughout the day. So even though it's still cold and the days frequently grey, the days are stretching out.

I hope Brooke's wound heals quickly so he can get around in his chair soon.