Saturday, April 10, 2010
When that ever dreaded phone call came in at 5AM the last morning of October I was consumed with fear. "Dad, I'm in the hospital. They tell me it's Emanuel. The doctors said I have brain damage, spine damage and a severely deformed leg."
Well my son was speaking, although somewhat incoherently, so the brain damage had to be minimal. The drive to the hospital was one of the longest of my life.
We'd been to Emanuel too many times before. One of my newborn grandsons was diagnosed with a fatal condition there and died at home three months later. My daughter had two babies 18 months apart that were each born 3 months early and weren't expected to live. They were both in the NICU for three months. All of these recent traumas were filling my mind on that seemingly endless 20 minute drive. Would this be one more death, or would Emanuel pull off another miracle?
We found my son listed as "Neon Doe", a code name for unknown victims of car accidents. We made the walk to his room not knowing what to expect. Would we still have our son? Would he be permanently disabled? What would his cognitive ability be?
We cautiously entered his room. My baby was in a back and neck brace. Half of his face was gone, his leg was completely wrapped and was being propped above his heart.
I wasn't sure how the staff would treat us, or what information they would release to us, since my son was 24 years old. They were wonderful. They brought us extra chairs; they worked around us although we made sure to stay out of their way.
The first nurse answered all of our questions and told us as much as they knew. Cole was walking home from a pub and was on the side of the road when he was hit. The driver never stopped. Cole was unconscious when the EMT's reached him. His injuries were so serious that he was flown by Life Flight to Emanuel.
He was hit so hard that he was knocked out of his boots and his wallet flew out of his pocket, When he woke up he only knew his first name so he still had the "Neon Doe" tag on. The nurse walked us through all of this several times so that we could take it all in.
The man accused of hitting him is a high school football coach from one of the nearby districts. We were told that he called in about an hour after he hit Cole telling police that he "may have hit something". (A trooper later told us that this man said he thought he hit a scarecrow. Give me a break! A six foot four walking scarecrow? I'm sure that it was blood left on the hood of his car and not straw.)
After the nursing staff told us all that they knew the trauma team came in and thoroughly explained the trauma he had suffered. They, too, explained things several times. We were numb and not retaining information very well. They cleared him of any back and skull fractures and explained every step of the way what they were doing.
We feel that our son, as well as our three grandchildren received the best care possible from some of the most compassionate members of the medical community.
This is one hospital that seems, as least to me, to be there for the patients and not for the bottom line.
For our family that hospital brings up terrible memories of lost children, very fragile preemies and now a severely injured 24 yr old. Somehow the memories of the staff and the care that we received each and every time are enough to pull us through and realize how lucky we really are.