Turning on the light made my stomach churn. He's kneeling at the toilet with blood all over his face and arms, on the floor and toilet; I think he might be in shock. I try to assess the severity of his injury, decide whether calling 911 would be appropriate, and ask if there's anyone I should call that could take him to the hospital if needed. (I don't know how to drive a stick shift and don't think an emergency would be a good time to learn.) He replies with the name of a coworker/friend that lives about half an hour's drive from us. I call his cell phone; his wife answers and tells me to remain calm, suggests I hang up, call 911, and call them back afterward if we need anything.
Vogon vehemently objects to calling 911 and suggests I call his mother, a career nurse. I call them and reach his father, who tells me pretty much what I already know about head injuries. (I used to regularly recertify in Emergency First Aid and CPR through the Red Cross.) Since he seems coherent and is not bleeding from the nose, Vogon's dad advises me to keep an eye on him for half an hour or so, call 911 if his situation takes a turn for the worse, and get him checked out by a doctor just to be safe.
After I get off the phone with him, I continue wiping up with Soft Scrub because I'm afraid the flooring will be stained if I don't clean up straightaway and wet another washcloth for Vogon to wipe himself up with. His friend calls me back and asks to talk to him, confirming that he is coherent. She offers to give me and/or the midget a ride if we need it, keep an eye on Vogon and check his pupils. I do that and notice his left pupil is slightly more dilated; as he cleans up, his injury looks like a roughly 6 cm gash at his hairline above his left eye, which explains the mess -- scalp wounds bleed a lot.
I think techno1992 would be closer than the friend we'd already talked with to give Vogon a ride since I didn't think he was good to drive and kept objecting when I offered to call 911. I call his cell phone and leave a voice mail before checking back in with Vogon. I find him lying down on the bathmat, where he recognizes that he shouldn't fall asleep and asks me to draw a bath so he could clean up. I draw a very shallow bath after showing him in a hand mirror what he looks like. He grimaces and apologizes for me having to see that, gets in and cleans himself up a bit. While he's in the tub, he asks for his his shorts (on the floor next to the tub) and for me to make sure his license and phone are in them so he could drive himself to the hospital.
I don't think it's good idea, but he repeats yet again that it would be a waste to call 911 since it "was just stupid, falling and busting [his] head in the bathroom" and the ER is just up the street. (It's a five to ten-minute drive, depending on traffic.) He gets out, dries off, and applies pressure to the wound with a clean washcloth while I retrieve a shirt from the closet for him, try to ignore my nagging inner voice, and give him a kiss before he leaves.
I hear a muffled thump a few seconds after he walks out and my heart leaps. I open the door to find he'd seen a roach and stepped on it (false alarm), then decide to follow him out to watch him go down the stairs and remind him to please keep me apprised of the situation. I hear the car start around 0240 and start a load of towels and washcloths in the washer. He calls about ten minutes later to say he's arrived in one piece and will call me back as needed.
At 0257, he calls to report that he's inside the hospital. I ask if he's been triaged yet, he replies positively and says that when he pulled up outside the ER door, he was asked if he'd like his car parked for him, joking that the dripping blood must have prompted it. He complains that his blood sugar is dropping and he needs something to eat. I ask if he's got any change for a snack machine (he says yes, then realizes it's in the car) then advise him to let a nurse know that he's got low blood sugar, which he said he'd already done.
Vogon's sent for a CT scan just after 0300. He says it may be worse than it looked to him and I reply, "Yeah, we don't f*ck around with head injuries." He changes the subject: "It's funny, you know who makes this machine?" I reply with the correct answer and he cackles, which gives me hope that it's not too bad if he can be laughing at this hour of the morning. (He's later told it came back negative.)
I'm loading the now-clean towels into the dryer when he calls again and says he's just starting to feel shock and shivering hard. We talk about when I should call back his folks and his friend to let them know how he's doing. He says he's given the hospital my contact information so they can call me if needed, which is sweet since I wouldn't have any say if he couldn't consent to treatment.
I sit down in the living room and drowse in and out while the washer and dryer run, then sit down at the computer to dump all this out of my head so I can fall asleep without dwelling on it.
I'm about to get up to fold the now-dry towels when Vogon calls shortly after 0400 to report they're stitching him up. I _really_ underestimated the length of his wound, which turned out to be 13 cm. I tell him that I spotted where he caught his head; it looks like he caught the corner of the wall separating the toilet from the shower just above knee height and dented the metal bit that covers drywall corner joints. We joke that he has a hard head and he says they seem to think that he's drunk because he's not feeling pain around the wound (he thinks it's probably nerve damage) and that I somehow inflicted the wound. (That's even less likely if you know us. Between his reflexes and training, he'd have my arm down before I could land a blow if I tried to hit him and we have a zero-tolerance policy for violent or abusive behavior.)
He returns after dawn and I hear him say he'd gotten 39 stitches before I fall back asleep. I doze off on the couch after feeding Laurel breakfast, then wake up to my phone ringing. It's techno1992 returning my call, so I fill him in on what's happened, then call the friends I'd called last night to do the same and leave a message on Vogon's folks' answering machine. While I'm talking to his friend, he comes out of the study for some ice and I stifle a giggle at the gauze wrapped around his head like a turban. He's curled up in the study resting now and Biko's been in there with him most of the morning keeping an eye on him so I'm going to doze on the couch again until Laurel's ready for lunch.
ETA 01 Jun: photos of the wall and his stitches are up at http://www.flickr.com/photos/oddharmonic/sets/72157606069916462/.