“Dear Me on November 18,
Oh, Mama. Where do I begin? In a few short days… You will experience the WORST MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE! You will hear a terrible crash. You will walk into your only son’s bedroom… he will look like he is sleeping, the TV will be upside down across the room… His daddy will shake him and in unison, you will both scream, ‘Wake up, Stanley… Booboo wake up!’
Then, Danielle, you notice he is turning blue… He isn’t breathing. Your hands will be shaking as you dial 911… You will drop to your knees as his Daddy starts CPR… You will be screaming at the 911 operator to hurry… ’My son is dying — he is GONE, PLEASE HURRY.’ Danielle, this will be the hardest thing… you will run out of the apartment to make sure the ambulance knows where you are. You won’t remember this but you will fall as you go running and that’s what the blisters are on your hand. His life starts flashing in front of… a casket. You will shake your head to shake those thoughts away.
You go back in and he took a breath… blood coming out of his ear and mouth.
Now, Danielle, this will be hard too. You will go wake up his little sister. The police officer is going to help you… Listen to her calm voice. ‘Let’s get her a jacket…She will need shoes, dear. Stay calm mom… let’s not scare this little one.’ All the while the first responders are doing something… You will steal some glances to try to see what is going on.
Your husband is still in his underwear. He tells you to go get in the ambulance with him.[Seven] minutes — that is how long it will take to get to Children’s ER.
You call your mom. You listen to the paramedics talking to the hospital. Now, Danielle, there is going to be a moment on this drive… You hear Stanley crying… No no, whimpering. You hear them say he is STABLE! You will convince yourself of this… ‘Oh ok, he just got knocked out. He is stable…this isn’t that bad.’ He is awake — he just got knocked out! You call Cynthia’s teacher… You will have a moment of calm and clear enough thoughts to find someone to come get your daughter because she and her daddy are right behind us.
You will start to pull into the ER ambulance bay. You will still believe this not that bad. You actually think you will wait like a normal ER patient and wait for a room. This is your last moment Danielle, before EVERYTHING CHANGES. Brace yourself now… You still have the sense of everything will be OK before you step out of that ambulance. Be strong. Take a breath before you walk in… It’s about to get crazy and HORRIBLE.
I don’t even think the term ‘crazy’ is an accurate description of what’s about to happen.
Now these next few minutes are a bit foggy. Let me set the scene. Just arrived in the ambulance bay. They get Stanley out of the ambulance. For a moment you will think he is stable, and you will have to wait to be ‘checked in’ because it’s the emergency room and that’s what happens. This is where it goes foggy. I will do my best. He is taken away…. You can’t go with him. Someone is going to ask you some basic questions…You will try to hand his insurance card over. No one seems interested in these things. Those moments, like I said are a blur. Now, these next parts are VIVID. The emotions are tangible.
Someone will sit you down in a ‘family counseling’ room… this somewhat large room that looks like a doctor’s office waiting room. Chairs, brochures, tissues… boxes of tissues everywhere. Your husband still hasn’t arrived. You made a call into the kid’s teacher to come get your youngest. But you don’t sit alone… A social worker comes in and introduces herself. Don’t think the worst. By the worst, you still think he is ‘stable’ and the ‘worst’ is that Family Services is here to judge you, to take your kid away… What kind of mother allows such an accident to happen? All these questions are going to swirl around your head as she is talking to you. I can’t honestly say what she is talking about. You are just wanting a doctor or a nurse to come take you to your son. At some point, this woman explains she is the hospital’s social worker and is there just for support and to ask you basic questions. I really think she was just trying to keep you busy.
You call your husband, ‘Where are you? Why aren’t you here? Hurry up!! I need you!’
So… How can I explain this part? It goes so fast as well… BUT, another worst moment of your life! I know I know! How many worst moments can one mother endure in a night? Buckle up! Chin up! It’s going to get bad…
So, your husband and youngest child [arrive] to come wait with you in this doctor’s office looking waiting room. PAUSE… JUST PAUSE. This is the very LAST moment you think he is ‘stable’ …. The rug is about to be ripped out from under you.
‘Good news is the initial X-rays don’t show any damage to his chest, ribs, or stomach area. We don’t think the TV hit him there. Also, we don’t see that his jaw is broken… But the most important thing right now is getting him to the CAT Scan upstairs. You can ride up on the elevators with him. Now we did intubate him because he is swelling quite a lot.’
So basically, he doesn’t tell you anything diagnosis wise… He is the ER trauma doctor. His job is to stabilize little man and get him where he needs to go….and for now, it is CAT Scan.
NOTHING… not anything can prepare you for this next part you are about to see.
You will walk to the front of the door of the waiting room, you will be holding your 3-year-old daughter on your right hip. Look to the right for a moment and there is a security guard… You will think to yourself. ‘Why do they have security?’
Then before you can finish that thought…out of your peripheral vision you see the mass of people guiding a bed out of the trauma room. They make the corner… A woman is squeezing a bag… a bag that connects to your son’s mouth. Then the thought is put together, ‘SHE IS BREATHING FOR MY SON WITH THAT BAG.’
That’s all you can formulate before your knees totally buckle. Your 3-year-old on your right hip is swooped up by an angel who came around out of nowhere. Her teacher grabs her… Her face white as [a] ghost. You only make eye contact for a moment before she pivots with your little and leaves.
You will turn back to the sight…your son, a nurse squeezing a bag. You will grab your husband’s hand. He whispers things like, ‘hold it together.’ These things are more for him. It’s like he is telling himself to ‘hold it together.’
Now you follow the team of people wheeling your son’s bed. You want to touch him so badly. He looks so different. His head seems so big. His face so swollen. He doesn’t look like he is just ‘sleeping.’ You can’t quite figure out what to do…You whisper how much you love him.
You all squeeze into the elevator together. Such a tight fit. It’s so extremely quiet… all BUT the noise of this woman squeezing a bag. Someone holding an IV bag. You take it all in. Your knees want so badly to buckle again. Just at the right moment, your husband gives you a hard squeeze. Almost as if he felt your knees giving way. It is crazy that in these moments you can speak and show much by doing so little. Just a squeeze will sustain you through the rest of this elevator ride.
The door dings. You all start off going in the same direction. Then someone bursts your dream-like state by taking you another direction. Away from your son. EVERY fiber of your being will be screaming, reaching to go with him to this CAT scan. But it isn’t possible.
Well, my dear. I will end this letter here. Your world has been turned upside down now… You don’t have the notion of him being ‘stable’ anymore.
But hold tight. These next hours will be a true test of your faith in God and the medical team. You are going [to] another waiting room for a while. This one has a window though. But this wait is much harder.
Stay Strong mama…. your journey as a special needs parent is about to begin.
Love, Me… 5 years on.
Every 30 minutes in the USA a child is in the ER from a tip-over accident. This is meant to bring awareness and prevention. It helps my hurt as we approach the anniversary. If it helps save ONE CHILD…”