Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Right of Passage for a Mother of all Boys

Thursday October 9th was a night of many firsts for our family.It was the first time that Quincy got to go to a Blazer's game with Tyler and also the first trip I took Braxton to the Emergency Room. To say it was an eventful night would have been an understatement. 

It all began with Tyler coming home from work and quietly telling me that he got some free tickets to the Blazer's game for that night. At first I was excited thinking up ways that I could find a last minute sitter so we could go. It was then that he told me he wanted to take Quincy. I'll admit I was a little bummed out, but he tried to explain his reasoning by telling me it was a pre-season game and he'd rather go to a season game with me. He said it would be great to take Quincy to his first NBA game, that they would be able to bond together. I was kinda thinking, "well that's all fine and dandy, but the other two are gonna be sad they don't get to go." Of course, after Tyler told Quincy about their plans, the other two were sad. I tried to help them get over it by promising them their own special treat while Dad and Quincy were at the game. This seemed to console them. 

Because the game was at 7:00, Tyler agreed they would take the max into downtown Portland to avoid traffic and parking, which allowed the little boys and I to have the car. We dropped them off around 6:30 and headed over to Goodwill. My plan was to let them pick out new books and then get a treat and watch movies at home. Everything was going well at first. 

We got to Goodwill and immediately headed to the children's book section. Braxton instantly found a spider-man book he wanted and Zayden found a touch and feel animal book. They selected some other books and I put them in the large part of the basket to look through them while I browsed around the rest of the store before we would head out. We were at the end of an aisle and I had turned back over my shoulder to glance at something when out of my peripheral vision I saw someone passing by and moved the cart about 6 inches towards me to stay out of their way. Little did I realize that Braxton had stood up more or less the same time I was moving the cart and the action of me moving it caused him to lose his balance and fall over the edge of the cart and hit his head on the hard floor. 

By the time I realized all this he was in mid air and I couldn't get around the cart fast enough to break his fall or catch him. He, of course, started to scream and cry. I scooped him up as fast as I could and held him in my arms, shushing him and hugging him, all the while he cried and screamed. Through his cries he said, "Mom, I feel Funny! I feel funny". To the best of my knowledge I think he was trying to tell me he was spinning or dizzy. We drew a small crowd and I was sort of embarrassed. An employee asked if we were okay and wanted to file a compliant. All I wanted was for him to calm down and politely declined any paperwork.

At this point my main objective was to get him home. He was scared and shaken up and I knew he just needed to be able to calm down. We paid for the books and left to go home. Once there I put him in pajamas and turned on a movie and laid him over my lap. I made sure he didn't go to sleep, but wanted him to be able to relax. At first he seemed to be better. Then after 25 minutes he started whining, and I asked him what was wrong. He told me his tummy hurt and he was going to throw up. We made a quick trip to the bathroom and he vomited. I felt awful for him. By now I was feeling more alarmed because up until this point I had no reason to believe it was worse than a bump on the head. He didn't have any signs of a lump or cut on his head where he hit. No blood. Nothing. But vomiting after a head collision? Not good. Tyler was gone still, in fact I knew the game would just have been starting. I sent a text to tell him what happened and I'd keep him updated. It was an hour later that Braxton threw up again. I instantly felt this knot in my stomach that this wasn't normal. I called the advice nurse who told me I needed to take him to the ER. 

Now, being a mother of all boys I try not to sweat stuff. I mean, if I panicked over every injury I'd be a wreck like every single week. Boys are energetic, they gravitate towards dangerous things. I try to keep calm about most of it, realizing it will be a regular part of my life. So when the nurse said the ER I was feeling sick about it. Was it really that bad? Was I overreacting? Was I under-reacting? I needed someone to help me sort out the rational thing to do. The problem was, Tyler was not there to be my second opinion. So who else to call? Of course, my own mom. I explained the situation and she, in her calmest voice of reason, confirmed I needed to take him in to be seen. As I'm talking to her Braxton throws up again. That was all I needed... to hear that it was the right thing to do. And in my gut I already knew it was, but was fighting to not lose it in front of my littlest two kids. I was trying to be brave, but starting to fall apart. 

I got off the phone with my mom, collected some shoes, a blanket for Braxton, a bowl for vomiting (I'm so glad I had the presence of mind to do that), and headed next door. Fortunately my dear sweet neighbors were home. I quickly explained that I needed to leave and wondered if they would watch Zayden for me. They graciously accepted and asked if I was okay to drive. Just the thoughtfulness of another mother (a grandmother, actually) made me instantly choke up. I reassured her I was. On the drive to ER Braxton vomited again. I felt awful that I couldn't comfort him, but did my best to get us there quickly. By the time we arrived at the Emergency Room it was 9:00. We were checked in swiftly and then sent back to an exam room to wait for a doctor. It was quiet and B seemed to be feeling better, but I still couldn't push away the concern I felt. We waited and waited. I had left several messages in that time frame for Tyler and still couldn't reach him. Around 10:00 we met with the ER doctor. He gave Braxton a basic mental and physical exam (asking where he was, how he got there, what happened, and to stand up, walk a straight line, push this, pull that, touch his finger to his nose, close his eyes and put him arms down). Braxton passed them easily. He's a pretty tough kid. 

What caused the doctor to be concerned was that he was vomiting, and instead of it decreasing it seemed to be increasing over the time since he hit his head. He was also concerned because his fall was over 3-5 feet (being his height, plus the height of the shopping cart). He suggested we do a CT scan to make sure there wasn't any internal swelling or damage to the brain. 

What is a mother to do? I felt helpless and even more worried, but worse than that I felt the need to convince this man that I wasn't one of those sick people who did this to my own child on purpose. I knew that the questions he asked Braxton and the subtle looks he would send my way were all part of his job, but I didn't dare try and convince him that it was just a freak accident. I prayed he would come to that conclusion on his own. 

We went in for the CT scan about 10:45 and Braxton vomited again. I knew it was set off by the moving of the bed we sat on. He was super brave as the technician told him to hold very still so we could get a picture of his brain. His eyes were super dilated and he looked so small laying there. I stood beside him and held his hand, offering words of comfort and encouragement. It was done in less than 5 minutes. We were sent back to the room to get results in 20 minutes. And so we waited. I was finally able to contact Tyler around this time (as the game was over). I found out that he had no cell reception in the gym and didn't get any of my missed calls, voice mails, or text messages. I think I scared the crap out of him when he walked out of that arena. We talked and I caught him up. I had arranged for my visiting teaching companion, Kerissa, to pick them up from the max. I told him to just go home, that there was nothing they could help with there at the ER. 

40 minutes later Braxton lay asleep on the hospital bed in a dim light while I listened to doctor explain the results to me. He said the good news was that there was no damage to his brain. Everything looked in order there. The bad news was that he had a skull fracture.It appeared to be on the smaller size and a clean break- meaning it should heal nicely on its own. He told me they were required to monitor him overnight at a different hospital and he would have to be transported by ambulance. I couldn't help the tiny tears that fell down my cheeks. The doctor gave me a warm smile and then left me alone. 

I sat in the dim light of that exam room having a wave of emotions rush over me. First I was relieved that he would most likely be okay, as the doctor had reassured me. All the monitoring was just procedure. I felt hopeful that everything was going to be okay. Then I felt guilt. Oh so much guilt, because if I had just NOT moved that cart towards me, if I had been paying closer attention then I wouldn't be stuck in the situation in the first place. I kept thinking, why didn't I just choose to stay home? We could have avoided the accident all together. I know now that was the adversary taking advantage of my raw emotions and making me feel like a rotten mother. More than those feelings I felt the love of my Father in Heaven comforting me and helping me realize that accidents happen and that things could have been far far worse. 

Tyler met up with me around midnight. I thought he was going to take our car and I had planned on riding to the hospital with Braxton in the ambulance, but he came with Kerissa's husband and he told me they gave him their extra car. It was so kind of them. 

Tyler hugged me and I could tell he was drained, thought probably not as emotionally drained as I was feeling. We said our goodbyes and I told him I'd call when we got to the hospital. Because it was a change or shifts around 1:30am we were moved to a different room to wait for the ambulance (apparently it was a busy night for them and we were not top priority). Eventually we left and I followed behind the ambulance. The interstate was empty. I kept myself alert by watching every movement going on inside the ambulance because the interior was lit up. Right before reaching legacy Emmanuel hopsital's ER I noticed the EMT moving around which made me feel alarmed at first. I couldn't go in the same entrance to the ER and ran in as quickly as I found a spot to park. I reached the front desk and explained my son had just arrived. She didn't have any info on it and told me to sit and wait. I felt slightly upset about not being beside Braxton and knew that they were there, but tried my best to sit patiently for her to tell me where to go. 2 minutes later she came over and told me to follow someone to his room.

I walked around the corner following someone and was led to room where I saw 5 people surrounding him and he was all hooked up to things. He looked small and helpless, tired, but brave. I almost cried right then and there seeing him like that. I knew I was exhausted, by this time it was 2:00am, and so I choked back any emotion I felt and re-explained the situation to a set of new faces. They all listened intently and gave Braxton the same round of questions. He patiently answered them. Eventually they said he appeared good and that we would wait for a room in the adjoining Randall's Children's Hospital. The kind trauma nurses fell in love with Braxton and asked him questions about his Halloween costume, his brothers, and his favorite sports. They told him how brave he was. He didn't even cry when they put in his IV. 

Their kindness and love was evident. I felt so thankful that they were making their best efforts to be calm and reassuring in a stressful situation, helping to ease my raw emotions. The head trauma nurse announced they were done and that we could sleep for a bit. I dozed off for about 15 minutes before the blood pressure cuff expanded, which was right next to my face (as we were laying side by side on his bed) and it scared me half to death. After that I couldn't really sleep. 

Around 3:00 we headed up to a room where we did another round of 20 questions with new nurses and doctors. They were all very kind and compassionate. At 4:00AM we were finally able to sleep. Though they had a pull out style bed for me to sleep on I opted to sleep next to Braxton (because such was his request). He woke at 7:00 and stroked my cheek gently. I was so tired I could hardly open my eyes, but felt happy that he was awake and feeling better. 

We spent the next few hours looking at his new coloring books and crayons from Kerissa and her family, a new foam shield and sword from the trauma nurse, and watching cartoons on the TV. We had breakfast and waited for Tyler to come. When he got there I updated him and made calls/ texts to family members. Braxton was feeling much better and eagerly asked when we could go home. 

Around 1:30pm the neurological surgeon came in to ask the same questions to Braxton, who was less enthusiastic about answering, as he'd been answering them all night. He said everything looked good and we could go. We finally got home around 2:00. The other boys were playing at Kerissa's house for the day. I totally crashed for a 2 hour nap. I woke feeling much better and grateful that everything had gone pretty smoothly. 

I still wish it hadn't happened, but I think the experienced forced me to get out of my comfort zone and ask for help. I've never had an easy time doing that. I felt overwhelmed with the amount of love we felt from family, nurses, doctors, friends, and neighbors. I surely couldn't have done that without all of their support. We are happy to report that after doctor's orders of "taking it easy" for a week --- not an easy task for an active 4 year old with two brothers--- that Braxton is doing MUCH better and seems to be back to his normal self. 

Counting our many blessings and looking for the chance to be able to pay it forward to others.


The Higbee Family said...

You probably wouldn't remember this, but when Kathryn was 6 months old, I tripped while going down the stairs in our apartment in Boise. She rolled/bounced down the entire flight of stairs. It was such a sickening feeling. She also ended up with a skull fracture. I remember feeling all those same emotions and asking myself all the same questions you did. The guilt was terrible. And of course they are only following protocol, but it sure doesn't make you feel any better when the providers ask you all those questions. I'm sorry you guys had to go through all that! It sounds like you handled it beautifully and I'm glad Braxton is doing better. Best wishes.

Kati Howard said...

I didn't realize that happened to Catherine. That must have been awful. Thinking that she is okay, there is nothing worse than seeing your little ones in pain and not being able to do anything about it. Thanks for your kind words we are doing much better now.