I was awakened very early this morning by an unnerving sound. I heard crying outside the french doors that lead from my master bedroom onto the backyard deck. It was a horrific cry; a cry that sounded like a small child in pain or extremely frightened.
After clearing the sleepy fog in my head, I realized it was the sound of a cat crying. Now, I’ve heard cat fights before, but since I didn’t hear a second cat, I realized that this was a much more serious situation. My guess is that a cat and a raccoon were about to prove that the strongest would survive, and the weakest….well, would not.
I don’t own a cat, and therefore I didn’t jump up to save fluffy from certain death. However, I did get up to look out the window. Despite the sound continuing, I didn’t see anything. Eventually the sound of a scuffle began, and it was frightening to listen to the sound of life and death battling right outside my bedroom.
Soon the horrible cries moved farther away, and I don’t know the final outcome. (I think it’s probably better I don’t). But I laid there in the dark unable to fall asleep. I kept thinking about that poor frightened kitty, and even about the poor family it belonged to who would be very sad if fluffy doesn’t return in the morning.
This life and death struggle I heard really affected me, and I think I know why. It’s been a little over a week since I witnessed a different life and death struggle involving my son. Nine days ago my 26 year-old son crashed while longboarding and fractured his skull in two places.
It is every parents nightmare; getting the phone call with the message, “He’s been taken to the emergency room at Harborview and is bleeding from his ears”. Harborview Hospital is a number one trauma hospital. Only the worst of the worst trauma cases are taken there. This wasn’t good.
The emergency room waiting area was full that Saturday night, but when my husband and I told them who we were there to see, they were very attentive to us. Within minutes we were assigned a social worker and were sent to a private waiting room where we found two of our sons friends already there. These two young men had been with our son when he crashed and were now covered in blood that belonged to him.
We were told that a CT scan was currently under way with our son, and that we would be able to see him a few minutes from then. Our social worker prepared us that our son would be intubated and sedated. She also told us that he was covered in blood, and still bleeding heavily from his head and ears. She wasn’t sure if he’d be able to hear us if we talked to him, but that we were certainly welcome to do so.
We were still unprepared to see what we did when we entered that small emergency room.
The CT Scan results:
- Right temporal longitudinal fracture
- Left temporal longitudinal fracture
- Right frontal subdural hematoma
- Right temporal subdural hematoma
Cory had not been wearing a helmet, going very fast down hill on his longboard, and crashed hitting his left buttock, right shoulder and the back of his head on the pavement. We were told that Traumatic Brain Injury and skull fractures can cause many, many health problems, and there was no way at that point we could know how much damage had been done.
We waited for another CT Scan 5 hours from then to see if the bleeding hematomas would have increased in size. We found out that the frontal subdural hematoma had increased in size by 2mm. This was a fairly slight increase in 5 hours, and therefore it was on the side of good news.
Another CT Scan would be done 8 hours from then, and they prepared our son a room in the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit. We left him in the competent hands of the medical team at Harborview to see him though his life and death struggle.
When we arrived in the ICU the following morning, we were very surprised to see the our son at been extubated and, although very confused, was sitting up and talking to us! He was still oozing blood from his ears; he was experiencing an extreme headache; and he was having a difficult time hearing us. In time, we’ve come to understand the reason for the hearing loss….
Last night I heard the sounds of a life and death struggle. Nine days ago I witnessed my son in a life and death struggle. How do these events compare? Both were preventable.
Why own a domesticated cat only to allow it to live like a wild animal? Why participate in dangerous behavior and not protect yourself with the proper equipment?
Lead properly those you have stewardship of, like a pet. We have to make decisions for our pets and minor family members that they can’t make for themselves. IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY.
It is also our responsibility to make choices for ourselves that effect our health and well-being. LEADING ourselves is just as important as LEADING others! Every decision we make affects those around us in some way. We are intertwined, and therefore caring for ourselves allows us to care for others. THAT IS LEADERSHIP.
I’m happy to report that my son is improving slowly. He still has a headache. He still has ringing in his ears, and he still has significant hearing loss. He is LUCKY. He walked away with minor injuries compared to most individuals in the same situation. Most of the young men that crash in the same way my son did don’t walk out of the hospital, they are wheeled out and into a long-term care center. Most of them don’t talk. Most of them have facial paralysis. Most of them have brain injuries so severe that they can’t make a different decision the next time. For these young men there will be no “next time”.
I implore any young people that may be reading this, and any parents with teens, pre-teens, or young adult children that you show your children the pictures of my son. Show them what can happen. Tell them that their lives can be changed in an instant.