How We Ended Up in the Hospital but Everything is Okay

Friday’s forecast was 36 degrees. If you live in Minnesota, and it’s Christmas break, that kind of heat wave means only one thing – sledding. We rounded up some friends, headed to the biggest hill we know and spent a glorious hour exhausting ourselves in the sunshine.

You know how people say that when things go wrong, everything slows down? The world skids into slow motion? I don’t know what they’re talking about. It all happened incredibly quickly. And by ‘all’ I mean, almost nothing. A split second.

My daredevil five year old, Judah, was heading down the hill for the thirtieth time. A couple of the big kids were headed down on a giant inner tube 25 feet to his right. He veered right. They veered left. He hit a bump, lost his sled and hit the snow. No big deal; I may have mentioned he was a daredevil. Not two seconds later the inner tube hit the same bump and came down with sickening speed. Right on top of my boy’s head.

The moments right after an incident like this are hold-your-breath moments. You wait for the boy to get up and laugh or cry. But my boy just lay there in the snow. My husband ran down and carried him up the hill, limp and moaning. He wouldn’t open his eyes or answer questions. Give me a screaming, bleeding child any day; a limp, pale one is terrifying.

But we do not panic. My twelve years of parenting and four years as a 911 dispatcher have made my panic button near to inaccessible. My husband jogged off to the van and I told the kids to get the sleds together. We loaded up and decided where to go – there was an ER 10 minutes away. All the while I kept waiting for him to start crying, but he just lay in his daddy’s lap, quiet and pale, eyes closed. I spent the ten minute drive trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to get him to look at me. When his eyes were open they wouldn’t focus.

Once in the ER, we were met with a wonderful staff of nurses and a doctor who were all very friendly and non-panicky. I’m sure they see much worse on a regular basis. Their poking and prodding coaxed some life out of him and his crying was very reassuring. They quickly made the decision to send Judah to the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis so that he could be assessed by their pediatric trauma department. He was IV’d and collared and strapped to a board – at which point he began yelling “I’m cold! I’m cold!”, which made me feel much better. Dad and Judah bundled off to an ambulance while I headed to the lobby to make phone calls. (Side note – this was the point at which I almost lost it. Panic button reached.)

Getting set for the ambulance.

Two hours, three stops to drop off children and a 35 minute drive downtown later found me sitting in another ER with my little boy sleeping on his monster wheel stretcher. He’d had two CT’s and some X-rays. He was still pale and limp, but each time the doctor came in he had good news – the X-rays were clear. The CT’s were clear. When he started to wake up they wanted him to pee in a cup, which he found horrifying.

About five hours after the accident he really started to come around, and even when he fell back to sleep it was the sleep of a tired boy, not the near unconsciousness of a head injury. He ate cookies and juice. He snuggled the stuffed dog the EMT had given him. Eventually we were given a room for the night (discharge was pending the pee he refused to give and his keeping down a meal). By dinner time he was asking for spaghetti and movies.

Feeling better!

And now he’s home. Perfectly fine, without even a mark. Irritated as all get out that he can’t jump on the bed and wrestle with his brothers. And I’m just unbelievably thankful.

I’m thankful to all the (hundreds!) of people who prayed and sent their love our way. I’m in awe of the support that was poured out for us. We have the most incredible group of family and friends anyone could ask for.

I’m thankful for an ER doctor who smiles and says, “He’s just a little more sleepy than I’d like to see.” instead of frightening us with medical jargon or remote possibilities of serious complications.

I’m thankful for nurses who, when I realized I didn’t have his insurance card, smiled and told me they didn’t care. And they really didn’t.

I’m thankful for the nice old lady in the lobby who watched my kids while I ran back and forth between them and the exam room.

I’m thankful for amazing friends who, despite the flurry of post-holiday activity, kept my kids for me at the drop of a hat. Happily. You make me cry. In a good way.

I’m thankful for God’s will, which is inescapable. While I drove to the hospital my mommy brain kept imagining worst case scenarios, but I realized that whatever was going to happen, I had no control over it. I could only walk through the circumstances of my life as best I could. Knowing that it was truly out of my hands and in His brought me a peace I can’t describe.

I’m thankful for hospital food. All hospitals should have good food, and one of the items on the menu should be clam chowder. Because when you’re adrenaline dumping, you really need comfort food and there’s nothing better than clam chowder.

I’m so thankful for my boy being healed and safe that I can’t think of any adjectives for it. Just a few days ago, an old friend from high school’s son had brain surgery to control a bleed that came from bonking his head on a bench. My child gets plowed by 150 pounds of person on a speeding tube and he doesn’t even have a bruise.  A concussion, sure, but he was spared what could have been a serious injury.

So tonight I’m hugging my babies and thanking God that they’re all whole and wonderful.


And one more thing. Someone recently said, “It’s better to be paranoid than dead.” But I don’t agree. Life is for living. Accidents happen and unnecessary risks should be avoided, but in a few weeks when we’ve gotten the ok, we’re going sledding again. On the big hill.


One thought on “How We Ended Up in the Hospital but Everything is Okay

  1. Praise God for looking after our boy. You and Justin are wonderful parents. Your faith and trust in God is inspiring. Love to the whole family… Hug the kids for grandma and I. We miss you.

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