Sunday, December 07, 2008

Shock Trauma Drama

It's been eight days since it happened, but I like to journal both the common and uncommon events in our lives around here.

I don't know whether E.R. visits have shifted from the "Common" column to the "Uncommon" column around here, but if I tell you it was Ben, I think you--like I--would choose the former.

Last Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving, I was at school putting up a World War I bulletin board. (Talk about trench warfare; I just about threw a grenade at the thing by the time I was finished.) I was there from noon till 4:30. Got home at 5 to find no one here.

I called Paul's cell.
Me: Where are you?
Him: Out.
Me: Out where?
Him: At the hospital.
Me: Nuh-uh, seriously.
Him: Yeh, Ben got hurt.
Me: (putting down my fork, believing now) What happened? How? Where--?
Him: He was playing football at Beachmont. Tackled a guy, and started coughing up blood.
Me: Coughing up blood! That's not good! I'll be right there. (They were at a hospital about 7 miles from home.)
Him: No, I don't want you driving.
Me: Like I'm gonna stay here while my son's coughing up blood there? I don't think so!
Him: Well, Sarah's got Joel, and Stephen's at work.
Me: I'll be there in a few. (I called Steve at work to ask him to pray.)

Despite my hurry, I had tremendous peace. If it's because God gave it to me instantly or has trained my heart's responses from having a number of experiences in the ER with my sons,
I give Him credit. I didn't drive like a maniac. I didn't cry. My heart wasn't racing. I just kept praying.

Ben looked bored and relaxed, watching (of all things) football on TV. I asked him how it happened. He said they were playing without any gear. He tackled a 15-year old kid named Evan, whose dad once tried out for the LA Rams. (Let's just say, at 15, Evan is his father's son!).

Beside Ben on the floor was an upchuck cup of bright red blood. His main complaint was hunger. His pain level was 1-2 out of 10. He just wanted to go home and wanted to take a deep breath, but couldn't. It was 5:20 and he hadn't eaten since breakfast. They ran a CT scan on him, and finally at 8, the doctor says it's a pulmonary contusion (bruised lung). Since Ben was still feeling fluid in his chest, the doctor spoke with Dr. Scalia at U of Md's Shock Trauma (a big wig there; now I was concerned) . Scalia wanted him evaluated there; the one Ben was in is not prepared to do emergency pulmonary procedures in the event his case worsened. I called my parents who were in Texas taking care of my sister, post-op.

My mom prayed. "Father, to us Ben is a big, strong, handsome young man, able to do so much. But he can't heal himself and so we are putting Him in Your hands, and we thank You that You are able to do all things. We ask You to heal him." It was during her prayer that I saw my 6'5" tough guy appear in my mind's eye as the "yittle beebee" I rushed to the ER when he was 18 months old. (We thought he had swallowed rubbing alc0hol.) I was on the phone in the hall, out of Ben's sight, drying my tears. I also called our care group leaders to pray, who asked us if we wanted them to go down to Baltimore with us. That was so kind it melted me, but we didn't need that.

At 10:30 Ben was transferred by ambo down to Shock Trauma. Paul and I met him there a little later (after we, hungry pigs ourselves) indulged in fast food on the way, grabbed some clean clothes and toiletries for him, plus some snacks and drinks if they'd allow it. (They didn't; said he might have to have a procedure and needed an empty stomach.) Ben told us later that the ambo paramedic said, "If they had called 911 from [Beachmont] we would've airlifted you." I had no idea it was that serious, but they said pulmonary contusions can easily become life-threatening, even when the patient presents stable.

They ran a dye test and found the same thing. By 3 a.m. he was neither better nor worse, except he said it hurt more to breathe. Not bad, but "like being out in the cold where you can't take a deep breath." We watched the clock, tried to snooze.I graded papers, got a little excited when a gunshot vic got wheeled in with a shattered knee. A cop waited just outside the dude's room. Nothing says "get well soon" quite like seeing both blood pressure cuffs and handcuffs in the same 9-foot radius.

Ben was released at 3:30 a.m with a diagnosis of "pulmonary contusion, pulmonary lacerations blunt trauma" to his right lung. They said no work till 12/5, no contact sports for two weeks.(I'm like, "please say two years" and had to joke that vacuuming and laundry are not contact sports.)

He has a shoulder surgery coming up December 15th. It's to fix an old lacrosse injury that has made his shoulder pop out routinely and painfully.

We are so grateful to God for his mercy on Ben. Common or uncommon, it's always needed and so much appreciated! Our son is doing fine now. We have banned him from playing sports. Well, okay, maybe we'll let him play ping-pong without paddles.


Vicki said...

Wow Zo, that is scary... I am so glad he is going to be ok...

I would have told him your heart can't handle stuff like that so out of respect for you, he has to refrain from ever playing contact sports again... :)

Anonymous said...

That's what my older, always-cautious sister said. It's emotionally and financially expensive. My younger, more carefree sister said she used to gallop her horse at full speed with reckless abandon--until she was off my parents' health insurance policy!

krista said...

Wow--what an ordeal! Thank God he's okay.

(We can't speak highly enough of UMMC, but we're glad we don't have to visit those nice people anymore.)

Feel free to give Ben some grief for me, ok? :oP

Unknown said...

I heard about this when it happened via Facebook. We prayed for him then, but will continue to pray for him. So glad he's okay!

Anonymous said...

That would be me above!