I’ll Be Back In 30 Minutes – A Segway Story

It all started way back in October, 2018…..

“1SG Parker, we are looking forward to your transferring to the new Desert Sage Medical Home for you and your family’s Primary Care Management. We will be opening just after the first of the year.”, said a voice on the other end of his phone.

“Absolutely! Having a Military Treatment Facility on the west side is going to be awesome. And, it’s only half a mile from my house!”, replied Travis.

He hung up and immediately called his fellow retired Brother In Arms, John.

“Dude, have you heard about this place? That would be cool if you were there when you go back to work. You could be my Doc again.” exclaimed Travis

“As flattering as it is, that you would want to continue our retirement with me as your doctor, I’m tired of looking at your feet. They’re really gross.”, John replied. “And besides that, even though it is nearby, I would only be seeing retired scruffs like you, Spouses, and Family members. I can’t tell them to ‘Suck It Up, Get back to work” like I would with the active guys.” , John pauses, “Want to go shoot some birds?”

And so they did. And they had a great time.

Fast forward to February, 2019.

“Ok 1SG Parker, we will see you at your appointment next week.”, said the receptionist from Desert Sage.

They had finally opened and Travis was one of the first patients. So he went to his appointment.

It was a sunny day, a very windy day. And in West Texas, that means lots of dust in the air. Travis decided to ride his Segway. He would be on the sidewalk the whole way and only had to cross one street. Not risky at all, except for the wind.

He arrived without incident. The staff gave him a tour of the brand new facility. He and his doctor talked about a great number of things. One of those things…Travis’s blood pressure. He would need to get it checked daily for a week.

Every morning for a week, he went to the clinic while he was out driving his wife, Jae, to her appointments. On Friday, the final day, he spent the morning grooming his beard, and it was on point! As the sun had been up for a few hours, the morning had grown into a beautiful, clear, warm day. Travis decided to ride his Segway once again.

Now, about this Segway. Travis received his Segway from Segs4Vets, an organization that helps disabled Service Members with mobility issues. Segs4Vets is a nonprofit organization with wonderful people that have hearts of gold and that really help give some freedoms back to those who served. Through donations, they are able to grant Segways to those that are selected. Travis received his in 2014, after an IED destroyed part of his foot while deployed to Afghanstan in 2011. He had multiple surgeries on his foot, but every step he took was painful. Segs4Vets enabled him to be more mobile and active, and spend more time with his family.

As he left the house, he kissed his beautiful wife and told her that he loved her, as he does every time they parted ways. She told him to be careful and that she loved him as well, just as she always did. He would be back in 30 min

Travis rode along the sidewalk at a brisk 12 miles per hour in the gorgeous sunlight. He decided to use a different route. Still using all sidewalk, just along a different road. He noticed ahead about 30 yards that the sidewalk was uneven. The sun was still rising in the sky behind him, so the were no shadows and he was unable to correctly judge the actual height difference of the two pieces of sidewalk. When Travis got close, he immediately realized his error in judgement.

The Segway hit the three inch concrete slab at about nine miles per hour, by best estimations. Travis had tried to slow but was unable to in time. The Segway is only designed to traverse a one to two inch obstacle, but at a much slower speed.

He had balled up the best he could and covered his head with his hand and arm as he, against all instruction and better judgement, was not wearing his helmet. And then everything stopped.

He now found himself on the ground unable to breathe. The feeling was more than just the air getting knocked out. He was seeing stars but knew it wasn’t from hitting his head. He had his wits about him still, well sort of. This was somewhat familiar territory for Travis. His first thought, “Jae is going to be Pissed!” Then quickly he re-focused on the task at hand, re-establishing breathing.

He made it to his hands and knees, calmed himself using the techniques he had learned throughout his many tours of combat. Some training just never leaves you.

After what seemed like a lifetime, but was actually about 30 seconds, he was finally able to exhale, and then inhale. He was only able to get half of a breath before his chest muscles and lungs went back into spasm. At least he had some fresh oxygen. This cycle would happen two more times before being able to control his breathing.

Travis made it to his feet and was starting to breathe “normally” again. He did a quick self assessment as a car stopped and asked if he was OK. He gave them a thumbs up and a “thank you” salute. The Segway was fine. His knee hurt but his pants were not torn. His hands were not scuffed. His quilt lined flannel had protected his arms and back from anything superficial. Most of the pain came from his left elbow and the right side of his chest. And that was for good reason.

After collecting his ball cap and the Segway from the ground, he chuckled to himself, “My glasses are still on my face!” He got back on his Segway and continued to the DRs office.

He was greeted with smiles and a cheery staff. Pleasantries were given. Travis said, “I’m here for my blood pressure check, but I think it’s going to be a little higher than usual.” He explained what happened and when the nurse saw blood on the back of his head, the smiles all went away and he was rushed into an exam room.

They did their assessment. Pain was starting to creep in as the adrenaline and endorphins started to diminish. One of the lighter moments during the assessment was when his blood pressure was actually lower than usual. Potententally due to his focus on controlling this breathing, heart rate and for a short time, the pain.

The doctor wanted Travis to take an ambulance to the hospital to get X-rays and be evaluated there. There was definite swelling on the right side and his left elbow ground like two stones being rubbed together. True to form, Travis declined. He HAD to take his wife to therapy. So he asked his doctor to put an order in for him to get X-rays at the hospital and call him if there was anything wrong.

Travis’s wife is recovering from a ruptured aneurysm and a subsequent spinal cord injury that occurred last year. Now he is retired and her sole caregiver. The last thing either of them wanted (or needed) is to have something happen to Travis.

Travis gets on his Segway and goes home to tell his wife, the same wife that had called already saying, “That’s a long 30 minutes. Are you OK?” When he got there, he told her the happenings of the past hour. Although not mad, she was not happy. And neither was he. He was more than irate at himself for disappointing her and letting her down.

It was a long drive to her physical therapy.

He helped her into the therapy clinic and by this time he was having a hard time breathing and his elbow is really grinding and in extreme pain. He was having difficulty just getting the wheelchair out of the car for Jae.

The old Sergeant knows what is wrong. He’s known the whole time but wouldn’t admit it. He finally decided that he needed to go to the ER. and not just get X-rays.

Jae contacted her sister, Deborah and asked if she was free to pick her up. Travis was going to do what he should have done in the first place, go to the emergency room.

As he got into the car, pain shot from his right side. He was now taking really shallow breaths. It was at this time, he realized he wasn’t going to make it to the military hospital without calling 911. Conveniently, he was right across the street from the hospital. The same hospital that his wife spent the last two months of her 127 day hospitalization. He texted her, and let her know the change of plans, and off he went.

The admitting desk got him back to a bed quickly. He was put in a hospital gown and put on oxygen immediately. His oxygen was down to 84%. The nurse started an IV and injected some pain meds. After the exam by the doctor, she ordered X-rays of the chest, whole left arm, and right knee. (His knee had been scraped by the fall and scuffed up, even though there was no blood or rips to his pants leg). Also ordered were CT scans of his head, chest, abdomen, and Pelvic area. She was concerned about internal injuries.

After Jae finished with her therapy, Deborah, the angel, came to pick her up and they went to visit Travis in the ER. He was given some more pain meds, his oxygen had improved to 92%, and was doing his best to not move and just relax.

Jennifer and Deborah decided they were going to go visit the Rehabilitation floor. It had been awhile since Jae had seen everyone that worked with her during her recovery. Travis was in good hands right where he was.

The doctor finally gave him the news. News that he had already deduced. He had two broken ribs on his right side, the fifth and sixth ribs. He also had a fractured left Radius (the big forearm bone) at the crown, just at the elbow. He was put in a splint, given a prescription, and then instructions to follow up with orthopedics. All in all, a nice four hour visit.

And that was that. He was discharged.

He also went to the therapy floor to visit the friends he had made during Jae’s stay. It was good for him to see them. And then off he went to the pharmacy to get his meds.

That evening, Travis and Jae watched some TV and discussed the coming days. Travis is not willing to let this injury stop his care for her. He would rest for the weekend and then conduct some tests to see if he was able to get her wheelchair in and out of the car without inducing more pain. If not, he would have to figure out a new plan.

The next day was filled with resting. He slept until noon. She worked on her computer and did some embroidering. After he woke, Travis discovered that moving required the use of his core. Every time he tightened his core to sit down, stand up, move, lift, or push, his ribs reminded him to just take the damn truck to the doctor next time. Bending over was worse than any of his prior back issues. And then there was that cast/sling thing on his arm. So he took some meds, grabbed a Diet Coke, and started writing. And write he did. And here we are…at this very point in time.

And his beard…It’s STILL on point!!!


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