This is the sixth of 12 “amazing” installments of “12 days that amaze.” I am pushing myself to write 12 posts about things that amaze me leading up to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser in Chicago that Karin, Deb and I are participating in. In doing so, I must also be open to the everyday amazing things that happen around me.
I know it’s late, but we had an eventful day.
This afternoon, we decided to go to Kensington Metro Park to take a walk, visit the nature center, and spend a little time at the playground there. When we arrived, we ate the lunches we brought, then took off on the shorter trail since the Little Professor is still recovering from his broken leg. (We brought his wheel chair, but it’s not exactly easy pushing him through a dirt path.)
We had a nice walk, even if we did have to repeatedly remind the small ones to use level 1 or 2 voices only. I stooped to snap a shot of this moss. I don’t know why, but I love moss.
We made it to the playground; although, it took what seemed like an hour to walk from the van with the Little Professor treading oh, so carefully on his bum leg. Here he is swinging.
I swung for a few minutes, too, and the other boys had fun playing tag with a kid they met there. Everything was going great, and we figured they’d all sleep deeply tonight. We were wrapping things up, and our middle child wanted to show us one last thing: how he could walk across the chain walk without holding the rails. Great, show us how awesome you are!
He made it across toward me with no problem, and we were ready to call it a day. Then he decided he’d turn around to go back to the other side, and for an instant, I had that feeling. Do you know that feeling? Where you think, “This is where someone gets hurt. Just one more time, they say.” And just as quick as I had the thought, I brushed it off as irrational parental worrying.
And wouldn’t you know it, with one step to go, his foot slipped between the chains and down he went–forehead first into the edge of that metal platform you see there. I dropped my camera on the ground and grabbed him out of there, and there it was: an oval-shaped bubble on his forehead. Instant swelling. The first thing he said was, “What happened?!” as he was crying.
I started freaking out.
He’s disoriented. He’ll have a concussion. What do I do? Do I run him to the car that seems to be a quarter mile away or call 911 first? My phone! Where’s my goddamn phone?!
Karin was trying to tell me to calm down as I was holding the screaming fruit of my loin in my arms, his forehead swelling right before my eyes. Some strangers nearby gave us a near-melted ice pack and their cell phone to use. I called 911, but the dispatcher seemed to have no idea what I was talking about as I tried to describe the Metro Park. He suggested I call the park’s office. Fine, whatever. I called the office and they asked if we needed an ambulance, she went to put me on hold, and the call disconnected. Shit!
Meanwhile, Karin is carrying my son back to the van and I’m trying to walk with the Little Professor at a turtle’s pace while making this phone call. I gave the guy back his phone, thanked him, then picked up LP and started running as best as I could while carrying a 70-pound kid.
As I ran toward my injured son, carrying my recovering son, during those couple of (few? several?) minutes, I started to cry, but there was no time. How could I have let this happen? Why did the Little Professor have to be so feeble right now, today? Will he need an X-ray? A CAT scan? Where’s the nearest hospital? Should I take him to an urgent care center? Will I make it to the van without collapsing? Omigod, please let him be alright.
As I caught up to the rest of the family, I found that Karin had already been asking him if he knew what day it was and some other questions to test his orientation while checking his eyes for dilation/constriction. He seemed lucid and was calming down. Thank goodness. I was still in a bit of a panic mode, though, playing it over and over in my mind.
We found an urgent care center and had him checked out. By then, I had calmed down and knew he’d be alright. The doctor was great and reassured me that he doesn’t seem to have a concussion, but that I should wake him up every couple of hours tonight to check his orientation to time and space. I’m still blaming myself, but that’s what brings me to today’s amazing thing:
The biology of being a parent.
Karin was trying to tell me that it doesn’t help my son to be freaked out, and I get that, but there’s purpose to that panic mode. We act. We make quick decisions. Thinking back on it now, I realize it must have only been about 10 minutes or less from the time he hit his head until the time we were in the van and headed toward the urgent care center, but it feels like it should have been an hour. Our bodies kick into overdrive with enzymes and adrenaline, making us momentarily move at a pace that would kill us if it never shut off.
Here’s a picture of his lump:
It’s time for me to wake him up just enough to check his responses. Rationally, I’m sure he’ll be fine, but I’m not taking any chances.