Life is different for us as of 1:00 am Monday, March 25. My eldest son, Jess, received a head injury in a skateboarding accident that required brain surgery. BRAIN SURGERY.
It is a strange, surreal landscape we are walking right now. I am closer than ever to my inner guidance and it continues to guide me well as I navigate this new territory. Writing to keep our extensive community of friends/family updated is helping me to keep my own head straight, and perhaps to orient me as I find my way. Writing is a great coping strategy for me, helping me find a quiet place and solace for my words, things I find I cannot or don’t have space to say. Writing is my meditation. It is helping me to find my ground right now, too.
Update Day 1 – Monday, March 25, 2013
Dear Facebook Family,
It is usually my habit (and joy) to offer you something here on Facebook…something to inspire, something to wonder about, something to uplift. But today I am asking you for your help.
At a little after 1:00 am this morning, we were awakened by the phone call that every parent dreads; our son Jess, age 19 and a freshman at UCF in Orlando, had been admitted to the emergency room with a head injury. He had been skateboarding with a buddy (without a helmet, despite our many pleas) and hit a wet spot after the recent storm in Orlando and went flying. He hit the pavement hard and fractured his skull. He was apparently unconscious for about 2 minutes; his buddy, who did not have a phone, yelled to some strangers to call 911. This quick action saved Jess’ life.
He arrived at the emergency room by ambulance somewhat coherent, but started to deteriorate rapidly, getting more confused by the minute. Peter spoke to the doctor after a cat scan, which indicated that there was not only the fracture but a large blood clot between the brain and the skull. It was necessary to operate immediately; apparently with brain injuries, time is of the essence.
Peter gave permission over the phone while I went inward to see if there was any guidance. I was told there was a brain injury but that Jess would recover. Waking Aidan up to tell him that we needed to go to Orlando to see about his brother was a heart wrencher. We high-tailed it to Orlando (a 4-hour drive that we made in about 3), speeding through the night. What a surreal experience.
Over the drive, I kept hearing “See him healed and whole.” It was so easy to go down the path of our worst fears, and each time I did meander that way, I was gently corrected with this mantra. I felt the strength and courage return to me each time I thought this powerful thought. I shared this with Peter and Aidan, and this became our collective mantra.
We arrived after Jess was out of surgery and in the ICU. We were told that the surgery was successful in removing the clot from Jess’ brain. He was patched up (he has a new piece of hardware in his skull…a plate that we will gently tease him a little about once he is well). He responded well to the surgery, showing good vitals. He was really out of it when we got there, as was to be expected.
A little while later in the morning, he was lucid enough to say his head hurt…the very funny and optimistic nurse who buoyed our spirits said, well DUH, you hit your head. He had no memory of the event. He also felt his head and asked where his hair went.
Later, an occupational therapist came in to test his brain functioning; this was the part that Peter and I were the most afraid about. Jess is an intelligent and gifted writer and speaker, a loving and kind personality, just a delight …our worry (besides that he wouldn’t make it) was that there would be permanent brain damage. Jess passed the test with flying colors; even in his very groggy state he was able to say our names, the date the time on a clock, Aidan’s birth date and year and follow 3-step instructions. WHEW. The occupational therapist said she felt really good about Jess’ chances at a full recovery, as did the doctor later when we spoke with him again.
Jess was moved from the ICU at around 2:30 pm this afternoon; this and the fact that when he does finally open his eyes he is complaining about how annoyed he is with the gadgets all over him and how much he hurts are good signs. We are not out of the danger window yet…the first 72 hours are crucial. But we are celebrating the small victories.
We were told that Jess will not be focusing or concentrating very well for the next 4-6 weeks; he will be unable to finish his semester at school, which is a shame because he was doing very well this semester. We will be bringing him home and working with him in the ways we are taught. We are just in the beginning of this strange, new journey, and there is much to learn.
And here is the part about asking for your help; so many of you have already heard through the grapevine about Jess’ accident and have sent words of love and prayers…your kind support has been and will continue to be a blessing we are very grateful to receive. We know the power of prayer and positive intention, and we can feel your support as if great hands are carrying us. But I will ask you anyway…if you would be willing to say a prayer or set an intention that you see Jess healed and whole, that is what I ask. The mantra I was given by my friends in high places has been working well, and we want to continue to build on this positive momentum. My son is HEALED and WHOLE.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness, love, support and encouragement during this trial. May your blessing return unto you one hundredfold.
P.S. I will continue to post updates here on Facebook as this is the best way to reach so many wonderful people who are part of this lucky young man’s circle of prayer.
During the many phone conversations, texts and messages on Facebook (they are all running together for me), I have felt a consistent wave of support. My inner guidance, the same guidance that gave me the “Healed and Whole” mantra, is saying that MY job is to ALLOW. This feels akin to receiving the true gifts of love that are being offered, the true expressions of love with no strings attached. People caring with no expectation, people doing things because they love us. I’m aware that in my life I have developed a strong independence, an “I can do it myself” attitude. This is, in part, due to the failure to feel loved and protected as a child, but also is part of my natural personality. My soul has a lot of pluck.
But the danger of having a strong independent will is getting in the habit of not allowing others to help. “I can do it myself” starts to get very lonely when you’re facing emotional crisis.Then it becomes “No one cares about me.” It feels like being in an empty room, alone and silent.
The instruction to ALLOW is an active learning curve for me; it requires conscious effort to soften the turtle shell on my back and receive the gifts of love that are being offered. Yes, you can pick up our mail. Yes, you can take care of our cat. Yes, you can make us dinner. Yes, Yes, Yes.
A friend has even set up a place for people to help us with the medical expenses; our insurance will cover most of the extraordinary expense of brain surgery, intensive care and a lengthy stay in the hospital and inpatient rehab, but we must pay the standard $5000 copay as well as all of our expenses while we stay in Orlando for the weeks needed. We are missing work income, too. The idea that people would put their money in our account as an act of love blows me away.
Allowing, receiving, saying yes, being in the flow of grace is extraordinary.
March 26, 2013 – Update on Jess, Day 2
Jess is in and out, mostly out, and very uncomfortable when the pain meds wear off. He groans and moans and holds his head. Hard to witness. Yet he remains sweet to all, saying thank you for the little gestures to make him more comfortable. His sense of humor is also intact, although in a very understated way…but in this situation, it stands out. His right eye is swollen shut due to the swelling and he joked with the nurses that he wasn’t winking at them…they cracked up, and I did, too. It was a much needed and surprising moment of lightness!
Cat scan results show that there is no further bleeding in his brain (hurray!). This is great news!
Little victories today…a few bites of banana and a few spoonfuls of soup (you all that know how much Jess can eat might be surprised that this is worth celebrating, but he’s not been able to hold down even liquids until today). I’m ordering foods to tempt him such as his favorites: chocolate pudding, mashed potatoes with gravy, chicken noodle soup…all comfort foods. He’s a tough sell because his tummy is queasy and it hurts his head to chew. I have great plans to fatten him up when we get him home.
Another victory…he asked for his cell phone and called his sweetie, Tori. He did the whole thing himself (she’s on speed dial). He talked to her for between 45-60 seconds, and was coherent and responding to her in full sentences. He ended the call with “I should probably not talk long because it will wear me out.” He also later asked for his phone and texted the young man who saved his life by calling the ambulance.
Peter and I have been tag-teaming in order to get some sleep; I was with Jess when he reached his arms out and called in a small voice, “mama”. I went to him and he enfolded me in his arms. I want you to know that I have intended to be very strong through this, but when this happened I couldn’t hold back the tears. The fear, the angst, the crushing weight of watching helplessly while your child fights for his vitality, how it all could have been avoided…it all caught up with me.
He asked me what was wrong, and I replied just that…that it’s all caught up with me. He is aware that he is in the hospital because he was skateboarding and crashed while wearing no helmet; he knows how often we told him that it didn’t matter how slow he was going, that a fall can happen standing still. He knows he is in this horrible situation because he didn’t listen to us. He’s never been a very rebellious kid, but since he left for school he has gotten a whole lot of adult life lessons as he’s tried out the boundaries of his life. He said, “I did this to myself”. I replied through my tears that I wished he didn’t have to learn this lesson in such a hard way. He said, “I’m sorry, mom.” Oh, dear Mother/Father Godde, dear stars in heaven…I’m so thankful that he’s alive and that he is internalizing a lesson that could save a life in the future. He‘ll be wearing a helmet…that is, if I ever let him get on a skateboard again (like I can prevent him).
Our hearts are broken open, and it seems that all of you are rushing in to fill them with your love, support and prayers. We are so grateful, you just cannot know how much it helps to read your encouraging words and feel your active expressions of love that are holding us up. What a miraculous experience to receive it.
In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to Jess’ HEALED and WHOLE fund…and if you can’t, please hold him in your vision as HEALED and WHOLE. Thank you.