Monday, September 03, 2007

36 Hours

hours earlier on the steps of the churchIt's the phone call no one wants to ever get. The one that shoots fear and adrenaline through your sleepy body at 3:30 in the morning. "This is Suburban Hospital Emergency Room. Your son has been in an auto accident. He appears to have no major injuries but he is not responding the way he should so we are going to do a CAT scan."

I was up, dressed and there within minutes and spent the next 15 hours by his side. It's the same emergency room I have taken almost every one of my children to over the years for stitches or once, a broken bone. Everyone but Chris. He has gone 22.5 years without the need for an ER visit. This was the first life-threatening situation I have experienced, but even beginning with the phone call, for some reason I was calm and confident that he would be OK. I have always trusted my inner knowing and at no time did I feel despair or worry. Well, OK, for about 5 minutes I was scared, but really, even then I had to chide myself because I just knew, really knew that everything would be OK. The whole experience was very surreal - tragedy, yet not. Are we really this lucky? Why was it our turn for a miracle? I am still trying to absorb it all. This is my diary of sorts, my journal, so read along if you wish, but I write this for me, to help me sort it all out, to help me understand the last 36 hours.

what I saw when I arrived - cellphone photoMy nephew got married Saturday afternoon at 3. The extended family is so large that only cousins over 21 were invited to go. Chris just made the cut-off. It was a beautiful day, beautiful bride, beautiful ceremony, a beautiful life. After the reception ended, the bride & groom and other "youngsters" continued the celebration at a nearby hotel. Chris had already planned to have a friend, his designated driver, pick him up so I went to bed tired and unworried.

When I got to the hospital he had already had his CAT scan. It showed a small concussion with a slight brain bleed. They would watch him and repeat the scan in 12 hours. Being Irish, Chris can hold a lot of alcohol. They couldn't tell whether his lack of response was due to the brain injury or his alcohol level. Not to mention that since he was a baby, he could sleep through anything. I spoke with the police officer and paramedic who responded to the accident. The driver was awake and alert as well and actually had called 911 when she saw that Chris was in trouble. The police and ambulance had arrived within 2 minutes. The officer told me they were lucky to be alive. It was the airbags and seatbelts that saved them. She had run off the road along a curve, crashing head-on into a utility pole. Her Volkswagon Jetta absorbed most of the impact. She suffered a broken nose and was able to be discharged with 3 hours. Chris escaped with just a few minor cuts but required intense monitoring for the next 12 hours. "75 of every 100 people who would have suffered a serious head injury in a crash are spared that fate because they wore seat belts and had air bags." 'Spared the fate'? I'd rather call it 'given the miracle.'

If I had seen them bring him in on the backboard, watch the trauma team surround him, watched them cut away his clothing, check his vitals and hook him up to monitors, I may have panicked. But by the time I arrived everything was under control and all we could do was wait and watch. They said that Labor Day is the busiest weekend in an ER. Because the ICU was also full as a result of the night before, Chris spent most of the day in the ER where I witnessed the ebb and flow of medical emergencies over a 12 hour period while I waited for Chris to wake up. When he finally awakened around noon the trauma nurse (angel) asked the standard questions: What's your name? What year is it? What month is it? Chris knew his name, but missed the year (2005? 2008?, ummm 2007?) and she let him slide when he said August since September had just appeared on the calendar. A couple of hours later he was fully awake and all of my fears were set aside when we talked. I told him what had happened, answered his questions, listened to him as the awareness of his situation sunk in. It was during that conversation that I realized I had my son back. That he would be whole and able and well...himself.

My children and husband came and went all afternoon. Each daughter arrived separately, tears overflowing as they saw their brother lying there so helpless and vunerable. The driver and her parents also came back later that afternoon - she needed to see and to know that her best friend was OK. I am truly thankful to the ER staff for allowing my large family unlimited access. At one point in the afternoon there were 6 of us in his small room that opened directly onto the nurses station - all 4 sisters, Dad and me.

36 hours have passed now and Chris is home here with us, sleeping peacefully. The whole right side of his body is sore, maybe there was a side airbag. The DR said he would be sore from muscles he didn't even know he had. Chris is determined to go to his classes at the University of MD School of Business tomorrow, but I will drive him until I know he is OK. He won't be waiting tables this week. He'll probably go back to his apartment tomorrow night, but maybe not, because after only living there 3 weeks, it isn't "home" yet. And you and I both know that a young man who has teetered on the edge of death or just escaped some life-altering injury needs the comfort, attention and security of home. And a mom, who once saw and heard her tiny son take his first breath, a mom who was often known to watch her sleeping infant - you know, to make sure he was still breathing - a mom who has just spent the last 36 hours watching the rise and fall of that same chest, noting every breath, needs the comfort and security that comes with having her son nearby.

37 comments:

BookGirl said...

Lesley, although I've followed and admired your work over the years, I've never posted a comment on your site.

The news that a loved one escaped harm is well worth cheering about, 'though. All good wishes and thoughts for your son's quick recovery.

Clara

Sharon said...

Yes he is where he needs to be. Nothing ever happens before it is time. That's what I live by. It was time for your miracle. You and yours will be in my thoughts and prayers.

cindy o. said...

Oh Lesley, thank God that he's OK and that he has all of you by his side. Sending you my love and prayers for a speedy recovery. xo

Catherine said...

oh my goodness, so glad that your son is home safe and on the mend!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Leslie, I can only imagine what it's like to sit by a child's bedside (no matter how old...he's your child). You will all be in my prayers.
Paula

smarcoux said...

He had an angel by his side looking out after him ... until you could arrive ...
thoughts are with you now.

Sandy

Denise said...

Thank God for his recovery! How frightening it must have been for you. Will be praying for you all.

Lorri Scott said...

Lesley,

Interesting that you KNEW everything would be okay. Continue following your intuition. That phone call is the nightmare all parents fear and to hear this one turned out to be a miracle is great, positive news. Seat belts and airbags, yes they're important.

thanks for posting,
Lorri

claudine hellmuth said...

OMG Lesley! sending you hugs and strength!

Plain Jane said...

OMG indeed. I read every word, practically holding my breath. I'm so glad he and his friend are fine. I, too, have had 'that' phone call, and rush to the hosptial, and I will never forget it. Give your handsome son a gentle hug from me too.

Cathy Wegner said...

Thank God your son is going fine. I have a 30 year old son and he is so precious to me. He was in a minor accident and had a concussion and it took 10 years off of my life. I pray for his speedy recovery.

Becky said...

lesley-
i stopped by your site as i am taking your class at the foundry in october...the photo of your son in the hospital is a sure reminder of just how fragile life is and how we should not take one single moment of it for granted. so glad to hear he is on the mend.
becky

Deborah said...

You've written such a lovely, thoughtful, honest post about the scary event. Thank you so much for sharing and for reminding us that things can change in a second, and that seatbealts are important and that being a mom is one of the most important jobs in the world. Clearly, you do the job with great love!

Diana said...

Lesley.. Thank God your dear son is alive and doing well. My heart sank reading your post and seeing the photo of your handsome son laying in the hospital bed. My son is about the same age as your son and he, too, was traveling this past weekend. I am so very grateful for his safety and to know your son is on the mend. Thank you for sharing.

Natalya said...

keeping fingers crossed for speedy recovery. had to come out of lurkdom to tell you that my thoughts are with you.

Barb said...

Lesley, I cannot imagine anything more frightening than having a child in an accident. I'm so glad that he's doing well and that you got through it with so much confidence in his recovery. You're a good mother. Thank you for reminding me to not just hug my son before he went to school this morning, but to tell him how precious he is to me.

Cheryl said...

Dear Les--
I've been on the receiving end of one of those phone calls and know the depth of fear, hopeful prayers and relief that accompanies such an event. You are in my thoughts.
Cheryl

Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Thank you for your honest and brave post. Your intuition is an amazing blessing! I pray that he heals quickly, and that your family is comforted by the bonds of love that you all share.

nina said...

yes, i've had those phone calls as well. not from a doctor, but from a state trooper, and one from robin, the big brother, reporting lots of blood from a bicycle head injury to roy, and to come quickly. those times are horrid. be so so glad he escaped injury - and i am hoping with gritted teeth that the young woman behind the wheel will be fully responsible for her actions. and that her parents will be as well. i love you, lesley - you are a wonderful mother, and i know how happy chris is to have you there by his beautiful side. xo

Pamela Taylor said...

Lesley, how terrifying....and how miraculous. No matter how self-sufficient they are, no matter how long they have been gone from home, no matter their age or degree of indpendence.....we are still the mom.

enjoy taking care of your son...you both will benefit so much from this time together.

I am so thankful he is ok.

Jacky said...

Lesley it must of been such a jolt seeing your lovely sone lying there all wired up.
Hope he's getting better now.

lk said...

Oh Lesley!!! We are sending prayers and white light for you and your son.

DubiQuilts - Debbi said...

I am behind in reading blogs. I am glad to heard your son is home safe and in the healing hands of his family.

J a n e said...

wow...
I hear of so many accidents on Maryland roads lately- and well- it always makes me sit right up and take notice- (I worry about my Dad driving All the time.)

I am So glad he is okay.

My thoughts are with you.

xoxoxox
J a n e

Lynda said...

I'm sorry to hear about your son being in an accident. My prayers and best wishes go out to him and to your family.

Lynda

Loretta said...

(((((((((((Lesley)))))))

It is indeed the call every parent dreads. My son is a year younger than yours and whenever he is home, I can't sleep until I hear his car pull in the driveway.

My prayers for all of you. I'd keep him close by also, just to quell my own fears.

I am so glad that it was not more serious and that you are all together.

I need orange said...

Yikes.

SO glad that he is doing so well.

What a harrowing time. SO glad that it all looks up from here.

-- Vicki in Michigan

Linda said...

Lesley...I don't think I've ever posted a comment here either. I'm so glad your son is alright. Yes, miracles still happen. Praise God! I took your picture at Quilt Festival in Houston a few years ago and it may still be on your web site...not sure. It was at the Journal Quilts.

Julie H said...

Oh Leslie, what a beautiful boy. I thank God he was spared. Hugs to you.

suze said...

Lesley, I am glad to hear that your son is going to be alright.My brother had a bad accident and he was in a coma for months and a body cast for a year. Yes, I believe in miracles. I didn't realize that you live in my home state.

Lynnette April Over The Moon said...

Lesley, OMG!!!! Some one was watching over Chris!!! I know the feeling as my youngest daughter Jennifer was in a head on collision. She was pronounced dead twice, sounds silly but not to the life flight nurses or the Drs. Then days later she was sort of talking, a week in intensive care and several days later she was able to come home , then rehab. Then her older sister was thrown through the windsheild of her car in a snow storm as a diesel merged over her. She wasn't as lucky as Jenny. Emily had brain damage and it took years for her brain to work it all out!!
You and your family are in my prayers!!! I understand your calm as a mother we seem to know they will recover and that we just recieved a miricle. As you take care of Chris, take care of your self too!! Your handsome son will up and around in no time. It wasn't Chris or his friends time. God Bless Your Family.

Jan said...

Lesley, I haven't stopped by your blog in a while. I'm glad to hear that your son is on the mend. Take care of yourself!

sonja said...

continued healing to your son from a long time appreciater of your art.
aloha, Sonja

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

OH LESLEY... HOW SCARY!!!! I am so very thankful your son is ok. It is definitely a wake-up call at how fleeting life can be.

wishing him a very speedy recovery!!!

-Tracie

Cynthia Thornton said...

Lesley,
What a miracle! I'm pretty new at being a mom, but I can feel how anxious and terrified you must have been! I hope your son recovers soon.

Sarah Ann Smith said...

Lesley...I've not been blogging or reading blogs much due to a thousand things and deadlines and whatnot, but mostly because my 13 year old son spent 3 weeks in the hospital. On the way down a steep rise to a right hand turn to a major road, on his bike, his breaks failed. He hit a Jeep going 35 mph at top speed.... fortunately he only sustained a severely broken leg (and ended up with 2 transfusions), but I sure hear ya.

Fortunately, my son has learned way too much very quickly, but I think he now realizes that he is not immortal, and helmets are necessary, and brakes should be tested BEFORE going down the hill!

So glad your son will be OK, too...

And my hair is going to catch up with you soon enough... hope mine looks as good! Cheers, Sarah

NormaJ said...

Thanksgiving will be a poignant time in your familys life this year. You will be forever thankful that this critical accident was as harmless as it turned out to be but even more
thought provoking for everyone involved around your son. For this didn.t just happen to him alone. I am so happy to hear that he survived his ordeal and is heading back to his life path again.