Monday, October 9, 2017

Life’s Terrifying Moments

There are moments in a parent’s life that test their coping skills. In general, they aren’t good moments. They aren’t watching your child make a touchdown or bring home a 100% on a science test. No, they are generally moments where someone gets hurt.

They are awful moments.

They are scary moments.

They are moments that make you want to lock your children away in the house so they can’t get injured.

I had one of those moments last week.

On Friday, my youngest and I had a half day, so we were hanging out at home enjoying our freedom (well, he was enjoying his freedom, I was working online). It was a rainy day, so it was perfect weather to stay inside.

At one point, my youngest decided he was going to go see if a friend could play. I told him I didn’t really want him riding his bike on the wet streets, but he assured me he wouldn’t be gone long. Since the friend’s house wasn’t far, I relented, then I went back to work.

My phone rang a while later. It was the friend’s stepdad telling me I needed to pick up my son. He’d run into the camper trailer and had bumped his head.

I didn’t think much of it. I assumed it was an injury that I’d put some ice on and all would be well. I debated walking over, but then decided since it was raining and I probably had to bring the bike home that I would drive.

Nothing prepared me for what I saw.

There was definitely a bump on my baby’s head, but it was about the size of a softball. I did the one thing a parent isn’t supposed to do in this situation: I freaked. As you can imagine, that scared my youngest and he instantly went into panic mode. I wrapped him in a hug, trying to calm him down, but my heart was in my throat and the only thought running through my head was: “Get to the hospital. NOW!”

I hurried my boys into the car, then ran by the house so my oldest could grab my purse. I needed the insurance card. As soon as possible, I was down the road on my way to the emergency room. We couldn’t get there fast enough. The rain increased, coming down steadily, so I didn’t want to speed and hydroplane. I swear I hit every red light, and there aren’t a ton on the route I took.

The entire time I was driving, my son was slowly losing his mind. He was absolutely hysterical, screaming and crying that he didn’t want to get stitches. He asked me multiple times if he was bleeding, and he was slightly on his nose. At first, I told him he was, but it wasn’t serious, then when he kept asking, I told him no. Concern caused goosebumps to form on my skin. Something wasn’t right. That increased my desire to get to the hospital.

There was a moment of silence that was then followed by sheer terror. I was holding my child’s hand, and he grabbed my arm and squeezed as tightly as he could. That was followed by panic that he was going to have to have surgery and him telling me he was scared.

I did another thing a parent isn’t supposed to do in this situation: I told him I was scared too. And I was petrified. Nothing about the situation was normal. Again and again he asked if he was bleeding. Over and over I kept saying that everything was going to be fine—the words were there to comfort both him and me, but they didn’t do much.

Finally, I made it to the hospital. Holding my son’s arm, we headed into the emergency room. We went to the admissions desk, and the process was too slow. My child continued to scream and cry. He was also shaking from the cold and shock. I wrapped my arms around him to comfort and warm him, but also because I didn’t want to let go.

A nurse collected us and took us to a room. She was calm and kind. She commented that she had no doubt he had a concussion, and I motioned at her to be quiet. The diagnosis upset my child. He didn’t want to be hurt. He answered all the questions the nurse asked. He knew his name, my name, his brother’s name, and his dad’s name. And then he asked about 800 more times if he was bleeding. Then came the concern about why he was missing two teeth (they had fallen out naturally weeks before).

He was taken in for a CAT scan to ensure that there was no bleeding on the brain or that his skull wasn’t fractured. An ice bag was placed on his head. My oldest and I stood next to the bed, holding on to each other as tight as we could. Both of us were fighting back the urge to cry.

It didn’t take long for everyone to calm down once we got to the hospital, but fear and worry hung thick in the air. The scans came back negative: no bleeding on the brain and no skull fracture. But the concussion diagnosis stuck.

My son at the hospital. He was wet because he fell in a puddle after running into the trailer.

We stayed in the emergency room for several hours. The nurses kept him under observation for a bit because his stomach was upset and they had given him some medication. Part of that—I don’t doubt—was for my peace of mind. As long as we were at the hospital, if something happened, I knew my son was in good hands.

Eventually, my youngest was ready. He wanted to be at home in his surroundings. We headed out, a lump in my throat and fear prickling my skin. I had been fighting back the urge to break down the entire time we were in the emergency room. I had to hang on a bit longer.

As soon as we got home, the dogs got to work making sure my youngest was comfortable and under constant surveillance.

No parent ever wants to see their child get hurt, and it’s heartbreaking when they do. I don’t know how I kept it together to get him to the hospital (and, honestly, I didn’t do that great of a job remaining calm), but I guess we all do what we have to do to get them the help they need.

I’m so thankful that kids are resilient and bounce back quickly. After a long, terrifying, and sleepless night (for me; my son slept soundly), the next day was full of hope. My son wasn’t completely healed, but he was on the road to being himself. 

My youngest on Saturday morning.  

We’re lucky that we have a Concussion Management Center in town, and my son already has an appointment to see the doctor. I’m amazed and grateful for the care he received and will continue to receive, and I’m positive he’ll make a full recovery.

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