Have you ever read an article in the newspaper which caused your heart to ache for someone that you did not know? You may have read about an accidental shooting that involved a couple of playmates or about the couple, who on their honeymoon, died from a head- on collision with a drunk driver, or possibly read about a parent who abused their child for wetting the bed. Those are some of the news articles that had lingered on my mind long after I had read the newspaper and finished my morning coffee.
I used to think to myself, “those poor people, how tragic, how sad. I never realized before experiencing my own newspaper article, how much more devastating it was when it happened to me. Since the near death experience of my son, I have come to learn the power of prayer, and that life should never be taken for granted. It was Tuesday November 7th, 1989, a day that I on often to remind myself not to take life for granted. I was a server at IHOP and my husband was a cook there. We worked different shifts to avoid having to pay a lot of money for daycare or babysitters. On this particular day I was working until 2:30 pm and my husband, Jon, would start his shift at 3pm.
Most days before he would arrive at work he would pick up our two oldest children, Brian and Susie, from school. Jeremy, our baby who had just turned seven months old, would have already taken his nap before coming to the IHOP. Several days before, while Jeremy was in his crib to take a nap, he learned to hang onto the railings and pull himself up. He was so proud of himself; he would jump up and down while hanging onto the front railing of the crib. This particular day was no different with the exception of the latch on the railing coming undone while he was jumping.
Jeremy had gone tumbling out of his crib, hitting his head on the way down. There was a bureau a couple of feet away which belonged to our oldest son Brian, who at the time shared a room with Jeremy. Jon had come running into the room when he heard Jeremy crying. By the time Jon had called me to tell me what had happened, Jeremy had already settled down. However, Jon said Jeremy appeared drowsy but he would not let Jeremy go to sleep until he could get checked out by the doctor. I told Jon that I would make arrangements for Brian and Susie to get picked up. Thank goodness we lived less than ten minutes from where we had worked.
By the time Jon arrived at the IHOP, Jeremy’s eyes were glassy and his body was lethargic. I knew we needed to go directly to the emergency room. For once the wait at the ER of Wuesthoff Hospital was minimal; in fact the nurse took us back almost immediately. They started to take vitals and wanted Jeremy to get a CAT scan. There were several doctors and nurses who had come into the room while we were there and each had asked us what had happened. I think we told the story about ten times at that point. When the ER doctor examined Jeremy’s head he had noticed four small puncture marks resembling a perfect square.
This had the doctor puzzled as well as us, but we thought it was from the bureau. During the entire time we managed to stay calm; worried but calm. It was now time for Jeremy to get the CAT scan. When we took him up to the 3rd floor, they allowed us to carry him and put him on this long table- like bed. They explained to us the procedure that would take place. The nurses immediately started to strap Jeremy in, and we were asked to wait in the designated wait area. No sooner did the door close, than we both broke down and cried uncontrollably. We could not bear to see his little body on this long table going into this tunnel.
Jon and I were extremely scared waiting to hear from the doctor. Meanwhile, another doctor stopped in to tell us that Jeremy had a fractured skull along with a concussion and would be admitted for a few days, so that he could be monitored. The thought of him having a fractured skull made us nauseous. We then were directed to the pediatric ICU where they had Jeremy’s room ready for him when the tests were done. While in the room waiting, his pediatrician came to us and said, “Don’t worry, he has a fractured skull and a concussion. The brain swells but he still has a soft spot so there is room for swelling.
He then mentioned the worst case scenario would be blood on the brain. Shortly after, Jeremy was taken into the room and the nurses started taking vitals, inquiring what happened and gathering information on our family medical history. My parents arrived at the hospital for support. About this time the phone rang in the room, and it was the doctor whom had just performed the scan. He informed me that three blood clots were found on my son’s brain, and that he would need to be airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center where they specialize in head trauma. I started to cry, and said “You said that was the worst scenario, this cannot be.
Then everything around us started moving quickly. The medical staff immediately started to get Jeremy ready for a different stretcher that was suitable for the flight. Our pediatrician informed Jon and I that we would not be allowed in the helicopter with Jeremy because of the limited space. The hospital was one hour away and the plan was to meet them at a designated area so that we could meet the neurosurgeon who would perform the surgery. As soon as we arrived, they shuttled us to the nurse’s station where the neurosurgeon had already started to prepare for surgery.
It was all like a whirlwind, my mind being in fast forward. The neurosurgeon came out to us and told us the surgery would take about three to four hours, and you may want to contact family as a precaution. At that moment I realized that even if I had all of the money in the world it was out of my hands. The one and only thing we could do was pray, and that is exactly what we did. It was just shy of four hours, and then the doctor appeared. He said Jeremy made it through the surgery and he would be taken over to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital across the street, and they will keep him there to monitor his progress.
The doctor did not believe there was brain damage, but mentioned it was too soon to tell. He also remarked that he was puzzled by the puncture marks that were in the shape of a square. The first couple of days were stressful; Jeremy had become listless and had to receive a blood transfusion. As if our lives weren’t crazy enough at the time we were then visited by Children Protection Services, an agency that investigates child abuse or neglect. The local police department was sent to our home to investigate. Our other two children were being questioned, and their day care and school were being questioned on what type of parents we were.
It was not until the home investigation when it was discovered that the source of the puncture holes that had caused the perfect square marks on Jeremy’s head was due to a piece of Lego that was lying on the floor just below the crib. The officer took the piece and measured it against the marks on Jeremy’s head and said that unless these parents took the time to cram a piece of Lego into their child’s head, this case is solved. We were so very thankful to the officer. Jeremy was then allowed to come home a week later. Today Jeremy is a 20 year old college student majoring in Media Management at the University of Miami.
Other than a scar on his head in the shape of a horseshoe, and the fact that he is spoiled, Jeremy is my daily reminder that life is a gift. Jeremy’s accident was the first near death experience my husband and I had ever encountered. Through this difficult time we learned the power of prayer; when praying was all we could do, we found it was what was needed. We also learned that life must never be taken for granted for it can change in a moment’s time. Now, when I read an article that involves a tragic accident, I do more than just feel sad, I count my blessings and I pray for the people involved.