I’m finally getting around to sharing the story about Malacai’s accident (that happened in June). It took me a while to reach the point where I felt ready to share…and then I’ve just been dragging my feet about actually opening up and sharing something personal on the blog. It’s something that I struggle with, but I also feel is important. I find it incredibly helpful and encouraging when reading what others share from their hearts (not to mention it’s just interesting and a good read). I also like having it documented for myself to look back on and see where I was at and what I was experiencing. I’m determined to do a better job with my own sharing. This is a long one…settle in.
That week was the hardest week I’ve been through. I experienced terror and panic, rejoicing and hope, and complete and utter exhaustion. Even just writing this story down and reading through it…I’m a mess. My heart races and I feel sick to my stomach.
Sunday evening (June 9th) I commented to Mike how I was looking forward to a week of a normalcy. After weeks of non-stop prep work for conferences (my part time job), a lot of birthday celebrations to plan and carry out, wrapping up our MOPS year, and our van calling it quits on us, I was more than ready for a “regular” week.
Monday morning started out like any other Monday. Mike left for work bright and early, I was home getting the kids fed and ready for the day. We got Lincoln on the bus and Malacai and Levi came in to watch a little PBS, their usual routine. I was cleaning up around the house and getting ready for work. Right about 9, I went in to the bathroom (yup, it’s true, a mama can’t ever pee in peace) and about a minute after that I heard a loud crash. If you’re a mama with some crazy boys, this actually is a pretty normal sound in the house. A lot of the time, I just wait to see if it’s followed by crying and if so, is it a real cry or a I’m scared I’m going to get into trouble cry. But something in me just knew to go fast this time.
I wish so much I could erase the image I saw from my mind forever. My baby was lying underneath our giant tv (it was one of those older ones, with a huge back, weighing in over 100 pounds). The tv was on his head and chest and the stand it was on was lying on his legs. There was no sound or movement from him. (Levi was just standing next to the couch, looking at his big brother). I ran over and pushed the tv off of him (and just like they say – adrenaline can do amazing things, I don’t even remember it being heavy at all… I didn’t even think anything about that till later, when my mom told me that my dad and brother had gone over to my house to clean up and she said it took both of them to lift the tv. Although I know either of them could have lifted it on their own, it just would have been cumbersome, there’s no way I would have ever been able to lift that thing!). I immediately noticed blood coming out of his ear and my heart stopped. I had left my phone in my room, so I ran to get that and called 911. I was a wreck. And those operators on the phone are amazing having to deal with distraught mamas and keep them functioning and thinking clearly. I ended up being on the phone with him for a total of 13 minutes. During that time, Malacai did come in and out of consciousness a few times. He would scream-cry and thrash his arms and legs around. Which was actually reassuring to me that he could still move. He also may have had a seizure or two, he would just lay there twitching. He never opened his eyes though or responded to me, which had me terrified. I had no idea what was wrong inside his body that I couldn’t see. I wondered if my baby was going to live. Was he bleeding internally or have a crushed lung? I wondered if he would have brain damage. And the blood in his ear…why was he bleeding out of his ear? I think I asked the operator that at least a dozen times. Along with where the ambulance was and why it was taking so long. And just praying over and over. I wanted to call Mike and tell him what was going on, but the operator told me I needed to stay on the phone with him in case Malacai stopped breathing. Good point. He asked if I had another phone in the house I could call from, I hadn’t even thought of that. Thankfully we have a “home” cell phone. I tried to get Levi to get the phone for me so I wouldn’t have to leave Cai’s side, it was just around the corner in the kitchen, but he just kept wandering around saying “where?”. You know if I didn’t want him touching that phone, he would know right where to find it! I jumped up and grabbed the phone and managed to call Mike. I quickly told him what happened and that I was on the phone with 911 and what hospital they were going to take Malacai to. I told him to call Caitlin, my mom, Marla – just get someone over here to watch Levi while we went to the hospital.
After what seemed like forever the emergency responders arrived. Right before they walked in, Malacai got very combative and threw himself around (the operator had told me to try to get him to be as still as possible and not move his head/neck). They took over and got a neck brace on him and loaded onto a stretcher. That whole process probably took close to 10 minutes. Right as they were ready to leave, they asked if there was someone who could watch Levi so I could ride with them, and Mike walked in right at that minute. I was able to go with Malacai while Mike waited for Caitlin to arrive to take Levi. During the ambulance ride, Malacai kept drifting in and out of consciousness, but his vitals were stable. He did throw up blood on the way and that created a new wave of panic in me – why was that happening?
Once we were at the hospital, Malacai became very combative. He was screaming for people to get away from him (he kept saying, “I’m done, I’m done”), thrashing around, trying to push people away. Everyone kept reassuring me that it was a good thing that he was fighting so much. At one point there were four people holding him down while they were trying to get an IV in him. Once that was in, they gave him something to keep him calm. About that time, they finally let Mike back. I guess they made him wait about 10 minutes after he got to the hospital before allowing him back. My mom also arrived shortly after that. And my friend Amy, who works at the hospital, heard we were there and she came down. I was so thankful that she was working that day. I felt like I had someone who could answer questions and let me know what was going on.
It was hours and hours before we finally were given a we think he’s going to be okay, we’ll just need to observe him now. Malacai did end up throwing up more blood while we were in the ER and that was of some concern, they weren’t sure if he was bleeding internally. It ended up just being a lot of blood that had drained from his head injury. We ended up being in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for three days. There were x-rays, CT scans, so many specialists, so much wait & see. He had some bleeding on his brain, but they said that it didn’t require surgery. He also had three head fractures, one by his eye, one in his ear and one behind his ear. They were most concerned about the ones in and behind his ear. They weren’t sure if it would affect his hearing and the bone behind your ear controls part of your facial movement and they wanted to be sure that wasn’t affected at all.
Malacai pretty much stayed asleep for the entire first two days (except for being forced to wake up and respond every hour, what they had to do because of the concussion). He started having longer periods of being awake on day 3, and by afternoon was eating and sitting up. (The poor kid ended up wearing a neck brace for pretty much the entire 3 days. They had to wait until he was really awake and responsive before they felt that it was safe to take off). We pushed hard to leave the hospital that evening because the next day was Lincoln’s birthday and we really wanted to be home for that. All the specialists had already given him the all clear earlier that day. We left after dinner with lots of prescriptions to fill and appointments with his doctor and specialists scheduled.
We arrived home to two little boys standing in the driveway holding welcome home signs for their brother – it was so sweet. They were so happy to have him back home.
Looking back, I keep thinking of all the small things that happened that were tiny miracles. First, that I just ran out immediately when I heard the crash – like I mentioned, with three wild little boys, crashes and yelling are the norm around here and I don’t always going running to the scene, I know that sounds awful, but mamas of little boys get it. Second, earlier that morning when the boys were outside, Levi had lost one of his sandals (another usual occurrence around here). So I had went out to look for it and while doing so, picked up all the bikes and yard toys that were in the driveway and yard. Normally I would have made the boys do it right before we left. We had a lot of emergency vehicles show up at the house, they were able to pull in the driveway and yard because everything was out of the way. Where Mike was working that day and that he answered the phone on my first call were little miracles too. He was only 12 miles from home that day and a lot of the time he can’t answer the phone because he’s in the middle of a project. So having him be able to respond and get home so quickly was amazing. And I know there were more little things that I just can’t remember right now. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through without Jesus. He is my strength, my calm, my peace, my hope. I knew that no matter what happened, I had Him. He loved me. He loved Malacai. And that is what kept me from completely losing it.
People have asked me what Levi was doing the whole time I was on the phone, and honestly, for most of the time, I don’t really know. I know he was in the living room with me. I think he knew something bad was going on and just stood around watching was happening. I remember he was trying to turn the tv on at one point and I had to tell him to stop. And I tried to get him to get me the other phone from the kitchen. I also had him unlock the front door for me. The operator had asked if the doors were unlocked for the EMTs. The back door had been unlocked, but I had Levi unlock the front door. (He then started going outside onto the porch and I had to tell him to stay in…like I needed him out playing in the driveway with all these emergency responders pulling in!).
And here’s where I get to report my actions for mother of the year award. Two days before this happened, Malacai had been in urgent care to get his chin glued back together. He split it open after falling at my mom’s house. It was the first time in my seven years as a mom that we had a trip to the ER for anything. While the paramedics were trying to get the neck brace on Malacai, his chin reopened. So for the rest of the day, any time a new doctor came in they would notice his chin, and I’d have to explain that it was an injury from 2 days before. And while the EMTs were getting medical history info from me on the drive, they asked what Malacai had eaten that day. The answer, a cookie! Ughh. Way to be a good mom – cookies for breakfast. I had been making cookies that morning for a birthday treat to take to work and Malacai snatched one! So, two emergency room trips within two days and cookies for breakfast – looking pretty good.
I’m so incredibly grateful and thankful to be able to write this last paragraph. Malacai made a full and complete recovery. The follow up appointments with specialists all went well, they said everything looked great. Malacai did not lose any hearing in his ear; and other than trying to keep him from bumping his head in the near future (real easy to do with an active 5 year old!), we were clear. It did take a few weeks to reach that point of full recovery. Malacai definitely acted different during those first few weeks. He is usually very laid back and easy going and for about a month after the accident, he was a lot more grumpy, aggressive and just unhappy. He also couldn’t run and play like he used to. One day after trying to run around with his brothers, he sat in the grass crying because he couldn’t run because it hurt his head. (So heartbreaking!) I was very nervous to let him just go out and play…or pretty much do anything. I was so scared he would hurt himself again. This scary accident has forever changed me as a mama.
I’m so thankful to family and friends that prayed for us, called and sent messages, visited us in the hospital, brought food to us, gifts to Malacai, watched the boys. My heart is full and we were definitely blessed by all of you. And of course so thankful for the EMTs and amazing doctors and nurses that took care of our Malacai. How fortunate we are to have care like this and a great hospital close by. (One of the EMTs even called while we were at the hospital to see how Cai was doing and stopped by the following week. She will forever be my favorite EMT!)
Thanks for letting me share and pour my heart out here on the blog…if you even made it this far (holy long story batman!). xo. Manda
God gives us songs in the midst of our trials and teaches us lessons in the storm that we could never learn in the sunshine. If you have the eternal God with you, you have the source of all goodness, and if you have the fountainhead of all goodness with you, what else do you need? – Dennis Kinlaw