You know, most of us learn our lessons the hard way. We believe we’re invincible…nothing bad is ever going to happen to us or those we love.
However, when we learn about something tragic happening to someone we know, our hearts go out to them and we say, “I can’t even imagine if that had happened to me or someone I love”.
That experience changes our perception…it taints our innocence.
We’re a little more careful for awhile…we watch our children more closely and cautiously.
But eventually, we all go back to believing that nothing bad can touch us.
That’s the state of mind Tim and I had been in for quite awhile.
Until last Saturday…
Tim took the kids to his parent’s house to watch the World Cup with his family, while I stayed behind to finish the laundry and get some housecleaning done.
Around 3:00 pm, Tim called, made a little bit of small talk and then finally said, “Look, Garrett fell when Mike was holding him so I’m here at the hospital just to make sure he’s okay…”
I don’t even need to describe in detail how I felt right at that moment. I’m sure you can imagine…the hair on the back of my neck stood up on end, my heart felt like it was in my throat…
“What?!” I cried out, trying not to sound too alarmed. “Is he okay? What happened?”
Before launching into exactly what happened, Tim repeated, “He’s okay. Really, he is. We just thought it would be a good idea to bring him to the hospital because his head hit the pavement pretty hard and I thought I heard a cracking sound.”
Now, I didn’t bother trying to hide the fear that had gripped every bone in my body.
“You heard a cracking sound?! Oh My God, are you absolutely SURE he’s okay?” I practically screamed into the phone.
“Yes,” he said. “He wasn’t bleeding, he didn’t lose consciousness but I did start getting nervous on the ride over because Garrett was really sleepy and I couldn’t get him to stay awake”.
“You keep telling me he’s fine yet everything you’re saying is making me more concerned,” I explained.
Just then, I could hear someone talking to Tim and he asked me to hold on.
Finally, when Tim got back on the phone, he said, “They want to do a scan on him just to be sure he’s okay. Let me call you back.”
I spent that entire time pacing the house, praying that Garrett was really going to be fine.
Tim called shortly thereafter with the news….Garrett had a linear skull fracture from the top of his head extending down to his left ear, with a slightly depressed fracture on the top of his head.
Apparently, Mike, Tim’s older brother, had been lifting Garrett up onto his shoulders (and he’s a tall guy, at least 6’1”).
Garrett accidentally kicked Mike’s sunglasses so, instinctively, Mike reached up with one hand to catch the glasses and it was right then that Garrett lost his balance….
…and fell backwards off of Mike’s shoulders, hitting his head directly on the concrete below.
In my head, I was screaming, “How many times have I told you how dangerous that is?!” but I refrained, knowing that Tim already felt horrible about what had happened.
Tim explained that the doctor wanted to keep Garrett overnight, simply as a cautionary measure.
Then he said, “Oh but they want to transfer him to another hospital where they have a pediatric neurosurgeon on site in case his condition suddenly worsens and he needs surgery.”
My voice shaking, I said, “It sounds more serious than you’re letting on.”
He asked, “Would it help if you could talk to him?” and he put Garrett on the phone, who cried upon hearing my voice.
We ended the phone call by deciding that I would pack some overnight things and head to the hospital where they would be transferred, while Tim’s parents kept the other kids at their home.
When I arrived at the hospital, this was what I saw…
My poor little baby in a hospital crib, completely miserable.
When his eyes reached me, he broke down into tears…crying, “Mommy, mommy…I want YOU…”
They had put a neck brace on him because right before transporting him they decided to do an X-ray and it was determined that he might have fractured one of the vertebrae in his neck, as well.
He wasn’t allowed to move so all I could do was lean over to give him hugs and kisses, while assuring him that he was going to be fine.
The first night was extremely rough for the little guy. He was uncomfortable and couldn’t find a good position to rest in. He would doze off and then suddenly wake up screaming, desperately attempting to pry the neck brace away from himself.
It didn’t help that the night nurse had to keep checking on him every hour to look at his pupils and take his blood pressure…a necessary evil, I suppose.
The next day, the neurologist and his team came over to check on him, promptly removing the dreaded neck brace because there ended up being no damage to any of the vertebrae in his neck.
The doctor strongly recommended having Garrett stay another night at the hospital because of where the fracture ended above his left ear. While they explained their concern in medical terms, from what I could gather, there are a series of fragile bones located in that area that could possibly cause a puncture in the membrane encasing the brain if any of them were to be jarred again.
There was no evidence at that point of any fluid leaking from his ears or his nose but they felt more comfortable keeping a close eye on him, much to my relief.
The next day, he was much more comfortable without the neck brace. Once he woke up, he was in a cheery mood, flirting with all the nurses and singing Disney songs loudly.
On Monday, he was finally given the green light to leave but with strict orders…no swimming or climbing activities for at least 6-8 weeks. The doctor said, “Basically, nothing that would require his feet to leave solid ground.”
Had I mentioned yet that taking all 4 kids to the pool was going to be my saving grace this summer? While I was thankful that Garrett was going to be fine, my heart sank upon hearing this.
He put on his Buzz Lightyear costume and said goodbye to the nurses and doctors…
…and buzzed right out of the PICU.
So, word to the wise…don’t carry your kids on your shoulders or let anyone else carry your kids in that manner.
When I think of how much worse things could’ve been…if he had landed on a different area of his head or neck or had sustained brain damage…it still makes me shudder.
We are SO so so very lucky that he’s alive and well.
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