Thursday, April 24, 2014

Game Changer

Last Thursday, someone told me that I probably have PTSD and I pretty much just tossed it off.   A couple other people have hinted at it and mentioned that I maybe should talk with a professional.  Yesterday our doctor told me I needed to deal with my PTSD so I decided to believe him.  If only to give a name to what I'm going through.  He gave me a few ideas and one of them was to go over and deliberately relive what happened.  That it would help.  So I'm going to try.

Friday, April 11

Saturday, April 12

All three kids were upstairs in our loft/playroom.  I had been helping them clean it but then I went downstairs to fix some lunch.  I called them down to lunch and Haylee came right away and Bree after a few minutes.  I could still hear Luke upstairs and I knew he wasn't going to come down on his own so I was making my way upstairs to bring him down.  Halfway up the stairs I heard something.  At the same time I looked and didn't see him in the playroom I heard Haylee yell at me to come quick, that Luke had fallen.  Next thing I recall is racing on to the deck.  Haylee was just standing there staring at me.  Before I saw Luke, I saw the blood.  There was so much blood.  Everywhere.  It was just everywhere.  Luke's entire head and most of his body was covered in blood.  I picked him up and I screamed but I don't remember in what order.  All I could see was the crater in his head.  It was huge and deep.  I'm pretty sure that's about when I shut down.

It was a really warm day. 3 houses down, our neighbors were out working in their back yard.   A neighbor, Jahde from 4 houses down was with them.   I had looked out at them earlier.  They must have heard my scream or heard something because I heard someone yell at me "Did he just fall?"  "Do you need some help?"  "Do we need to call 911?"  I remember them walking towards me but they were blurry - like it was a dream.  I just stood there and stared.  I didn't or couldn't answer them.  One of them, the guy from 4 houses down ran up on the deck, ushered us inside and just took charge.  He said we needed a blanket.  Haylee got it (I found that out later).  He helped me lay Luke down.  He said we needed paper towels.  The roll was empty so Haylee found him some napkins which were immediately saturated and worthless.  At some point our neighbor from across the street, Jeff appeared and somehow found a roll of paper towels in the basement.  Jahde was holding a stack of paper towels to Luke's head.  Jeff called 911.  He started cleaning the blood off of Luke's face and arms while he was talking to them. And then off of my arms.  I still hadn't been able to speak but I was crying and shaking.  Jeff put his arm around me and started talking to me but I don't remember much, just that the paramedics were on their way.  The whole time Luke wasn't really crying, just weakly whimpering.  And his eyes never left me.  His eyes were so scared.  

At some point I looked up and saw Haylee and I knew she and Bree needed to get out of there.  Haylee went down to our neighbor's house.  The paramedics got there and took over.  I watched stranger's hands examining Luke.  I remember feeling a wrenching pain in my gut as I watched them gently pull of his jeans and then cut off his Darth Vader pj shirt he had been wearing.  For a minute, I couldn't breath.  I was pulled away to answer tons of questions and I heard Luke crying for me.  I remember not being able to think, to form words.  I just couldn't do it.  Then something snapped inside me and I could.  His name is Luke.  He's 2 years old.  His birthday is November 25, 2011.  He fell out of the upstairs window.  He was not unconscious when I found him.  He was not screaming when I found him.   I don't know what time it happened.   I don't know what position he was in.  I do not know the distance he fell.  My name is Julie.  Yes, I have other kids but I don't know where they are.  My husband is on his way home from work....

They told me they were calling for a helicopter.  The next thing I remember was watching Luke being strapped onto whatever it was they were going to use to transport him and he didn't like that.  He was crying now and weakly batting them away.  Then they told me we were going into the ambulance, did I want to ride in it with him.  I saw one paramedic make eye contact with another one and nod and then he said under the circumstances, I think we should take him to Primary Children's.  They continued prepping Luke and somebody else started asking me all the same questions.  I looked up sometime and noticed that our house was full of people.  Neighbors and I don't know who else but they were everywhere.  BJ finally walked in.  I saw his face as he took it all in.  BJ told me later that when he was coming in, someone asked him who he was and when they found out he lived there, asked him if he minded all our neighbors inside our house.  We didn't.    My one neighbor asked me where Cambree was, that nobody could find her.  I just stared at her and she told me they would find her and take care of both of my girls.  

Somebody, BJ I think, got me some shoes and Luke was rushed outside to the ambulance.  I was right by him, holding his hand the entire time.  I was too afraid to touch anything else.  Somebody told BJ he should drive separately so we'd have a car there.  I looked up and again saw that there were people everywhere outside.  Also, a whole line of police cars crowding our narrow roads.  Somebody handed me my phone.  BJ and our neighbor Scott gave Luke a Priesthood blessing inside the ambulance.  They both could barely get the words out, too emotional. Then we were off.  They turned the siren on immediately, even before we were out of the neighborhood.  We were going so fast.  There were 3 paramedics in the back with us.  They told me Luke's situation was very serious but not as bad as they had originally thought.  They decided last minute to take the ambulance instead of the helicopter because Luke had moved his arms and legs when they were strapping him down.  They talked to me and tried to distract me.  I held an oxygen mask just above Luke's little face and just looked at him.  His eyes were so scared.  I was so scared.  I remember thinking that the real siren didn't sound like the sound I'd taught Luke to make with his cars. One of the paramedics said I should take a picture of Luke so he could remember his ride in an ambulance.  I was appalled, disgusted.  Then I thought about how much he loves ambulances and fire trucks so I did.

We got to the hospital and it was so quiet.  Luke was wheeled into a room that had about a dozen doctors and nurses in it already.  They were just standing there, waiting for us.  I thought that was so strange.  More people came in and I was backed away from my son.  A social worker put a cup of water in my hand and tried to get me to sit down but I didn't.  A few other people tried to make me sit down and eventually, I had to.  I was shaking so much I couldn't stand anymore.  2 of the doctors asked me the same questions again. They weren't sure if he was going to get stitched up in the OR or in the Trauma Unit.

They did a few tests and x-rays before BJ got there.  Then a CT scan and more x-rays.  They weren't sure about spinal damage so he had to keep a neck brace on for quite a while (which he hated as soon as he woke up) but everything else was fine - amazingly.   Thing is, he fell directly on a plastic chair we had on the deck.  The chair broke into a bunch of pieces but it broke his fall.  Also, since it was such a warm day, the plastic was nice and flexible which might have helped things.  So the chair is what ripped up his head but saved him at the same time. His skull wasn't cracked.  More than one person told me it was just amazing that he could fall that far with only "minimal" damage.  They wheeled him back into the trauma unit to stitch him up.  BJ and I sat on the bad side, Luke's left side as the Dr. got him ready.  Are you guys sure you want to sit on that side?  The Dr. was squirting water, trying to clean off more of the blood.  I watched him pull back and stretch the skin and squirt again and I saw the gray/blue of Luke's skull.  A good 4" diameter or so chunk of it.  My shaking turned more violent and I decided I should move to his other side so I didn't pass out.   It's one thing watching it on tv but when it's your own kid... They put him out and covered his face and I couldn't see much of anything but his little hand and knee, poking out from under a blanket.

We were taken up to a room and I remember very little about the rest of the day.  My mom showed up sometime.  Then my dad later.  Danny from Bishopric.  Luke was so still.  He had a neck brace on and all sorts of wires coming out of him.  He didn't move or talk or really make any sounds at all.  They kept asking me if he was normally a quiet, calm kid.  Those are the last word I would use to describe Luke.  Around 9 that night, he had about 15 minutes of play time where he talked a bit and smiled and played (mostly with Grandpa) and overall seemed a lot more like himself but then he went back to being quiet and still.  He finally fell asleep.  I stared at the blood on my arms and then on my toes.  I had to throw away the shirt I had been wearing because of all the blood.  My shaking didn't really stop, it just took turns between being more or less violent. That night was a very dark night for me.  I did not sleep at all.  I relived the horror of the day over and over.   I took turns between feeling unbearable pain and crying and just feeling completely numb. 

These 2 are from the second day, April 13th, right before we went home.  He was starting to act a lot more like himself.  How could he not with plenty of cars and chocolate milk?

For the first few days, I kept reliving it in my head.  Again.  Every time I closed my eyes and often when my eyes were open and my mind drifted.  I would see the blood.  His eyes.  Hear his whimpers. See them cut his shirt off and strap his little body to the thing.  His gray skull....I would imagine what he looked like as he fell.  And I'd start shaking again.

2 things I cannot remember, although I've tried again and again...I cannot recall the sound that I heard when he fell though I know I heard something.  I also cannot remember what position he was in when I found him. I think it is a blessing that I can't remember.

The day after we got home I found two tiny drops of blood on the kitchen floor.  I absolutely lost it.  It was a while before I was able to make myself go into the playroom where he fell and even then nowhere near the window.  One day someone opened the blinds and I forced myself to look out where he fell.  Just yesterday I went out on the deck the first time.   That was another thing my Doc told me I should do.  My neighbors hosed off all the blood.  But those huge stains will be there forever I'm sure.  Evidence of what happened.  But maybe, someday they won't haunt me like they do now.  That's what I'm hoping.

From the day Luke's accident happened I have felt support from so many people.  The list seems to grow everyday.  We had dinner brought in to us for almost the entire week after we got home.  Others have brought treats for all the kids, for us, and even just for me.  One amazing neighbor brought over a huge tub of toys to loan us since Luke can't do much outside. So yes, I feel loved.

At the same time, I am having a very hard time with some comments that people have made. Yes, I know everyone has good intentions and yes, I know it is my fault that it hurts me but it does hurt every single time.  No hard feelings against these people, just inside me.  So if I talk to you in the near future, do me a favor and don't tell me how glad you are that you live in a one story house.  Or that one time your child almost fell out the window but you stopped it (because I didn't.)  Or that you never open the windows on your second floor for this reason - in fact, they're all bolted shut.  If you offer to bring dinner, thanks a lot but please don't tell me over and over that you are just so busy and if I still want you to bring it over it'll have to be at lunch time and can you please cut your own lettuce because I'm out of time.  Please don't ask me if I know about window locks I can buy (I've been told over and over thanks.) 

This was our first venture outdoors on a walk.  We have to keep his head covered and away from the sun.

Luke is doing fabulous.  For all intensive purposes, I'd say he's back to his normal self.  It is amazing to me how fast his "owie" is healing.  Every once in a while he accidentally bumps it or notices it in the mirror but it definitely doesn't slow him down.  We do have to wrap it up when we go outside.  Also our neighbors gave us a protective helmet he can wear outside so that will help against further damage.

BJ and I are getting there too.  I felt like I was constantly crying those first few days and that has lessened considerably.    It's taken me a few days to put this post together and I can honestly say that I feel more peace about things today than I did when I started.  Social gatherings are so hard for me though. Church was torturous.   I still hate telling the story and answering questions so I am still avoiding as much of that as I can.  

Saturday, April 19

April 22

 April 24

 How am I doing?  Great. Considering the fact that just over a week ago I thought this cutie was going to die.  Or have serious brain damage.  Or broken bones.  Spinal damage.  Or something I didn't even know existed.  But he doesn't.  Just a pretty big owie that will soon be a pretty cool scar.  So yes, I'm feeling more blessed than I can express.  I'd say I'm doing quite well.