Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The night we were converted to bicycle helmets

 Last Saturday night I got the bright idea to go for a family bike ride.

Originally, the plan was to stay home and watch Napolean Dynamite. I was in the mood to watch it because my neighbors have this sweet bike ramp outside their house and I kept watching the neighborhood kids go over it and it reminded me that I haven't seen Napolean in... way too long. 

My good friend Jenna let me borrow the movie, and we were so close to just settling in and kicking back and watching it as a family. But then Jason was sighting in his bow in the garage, and the kids started riding their bikes around, and I thought, it's such a nice evening. Let's just go for a little bike ride first. I grabbed my new, life-changing iPhone and began to document the journey.

Here's Jason giving you a little taste of his bike skillz. Don't feel bad, he's had lots of training. You could probably do this too someday if you set your mind to it and practiced for hours a day.

We set off on our journey.

My heart about stopped when I looked at these pictures later. This is Luke, right where he was destined to take a nasty spill on our way home later in the evening.

We have this certain road we like to take. It's freshly paved, quiet (usually), and we almost always see lots of critters. 

These little critters weren't too impressed that I kept making them turn around for pictures, but it's not my fault I had to try out my new iPhone. Gosh!

At one point we saw a chicken running around in the bushes. Luke got off his bike to chase it with a stick. Jason was fed up by this point and bailed.

No chickens were injured in the making of this post.

Unfortunately, one little Luke was. We were about a quarter of a mile from home and Luke was riding in front of me. Abby started squawking in the bike trailer and I turned around to see Jake trying to escape from his straps. He was all twisted around and I was worried that the straps were around his neck. I yelled, of course being overly-dramatic, and quickly stopped my bike. Luke looked over his shoulder to see what all the commotion was. 

He lost his balance, over-corrected, and went off the road. His bike tipped over and threw him right into this beautiful barbed wire fence.

I was fixing Jake at the time, but I was aware that Luke had crashed and I ran up there as fast as I could. Luke had jumped up and was walking toward me, bent over. I could see blood dripping from his face. A lot of blood. I lifted his chin to see if it was his nose and I about passed out. His cheek was ripped wide open right under his left eye, in addition to a large cut under his nose. It was one of the worst things I have ever seen.

What could I do? I had two barefoot kids in the bike trailer, I was too far away from home to carry Luke there, and even if I did, what would I do with Abby and Jake? I pressed Luke's shirt against his face and sent Dallin home at top speed to get Jason. 

Those were some bad moments. I was trying to keep Luke's cheek closed and keep him calm at the same time. He wasn't in much pain, surprisingly, but he was scared. "Am I going to die, am I going to die?" "No, no, you're just fine. It's going to be fine."

When Jason arrived, he about freaked. Dallin had just told him that Luke scraped his face, so he was NOT prepared for the sight that greeted him. Somehow we piled all the kids in the truck and drove home to switch into the van. 

I just couldn't believe that our Napolean Dynamite night was turning into this. Why, why, why did I insist on a bike ride?

Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. We couldn't get anywhere fast enough. We didn't know where to go, first of all. An instacare? After-hours clinic? The ER? I had heard so many bad stories about the ER, I thought that should be our last resort. After driving to a closed instacare and frantically trying to figure out what to do, we drove to the hospital.

Of course there was construction. Of course every road we turned down was closed. It was horrible.

Finally, we arrived and Jason dropped me off at the door and I carried Luke in. Luke was clutching a damp white dish towel that was soaked in blood and we looked like we had been attacked. My worries about having to sit in the waiting room were put to rest as soon as we entered. The receptionist and nurses rushed over and helped us immediately.

This is the part that is so touching to me. I expect that my friends and family members will be kind and show lots of compassion. They always do, and I am so grateful for it. I didn't expect it at the ER. To receive that kind of treatment from total strangers who see this kind of thing all the time is so humbling. Every single person we dealt with - the office people, the nurses, techs, doctors - were beyond kind and were so gentle with Luke. He had to go through a lot to finally get all stitched up, and it was so much more bearable to be working with people like that. For example, Luke was so proud of the hospital bracelet with his name on it, and when we were carrying him out to the car, one of the nurses (male, no less) came running out and said, "Wait, you can't leave yet!" We turned around, expecting to have to fill out more paperwork. "He dropped this!" and handed us the bracelet (Luke was fast asleep). So nice! It was the first thing Luke asked for when he woke up.

They gave Luke some kind of sedative through a nasal spray. Luke hated it, but I'm pretty sure he would have been hating it a lot worse without it. It made him groggy and he fell asleep several times. He doesn't remember waking up several times and having to have us hold down his arms and legs and head, and then spray more junk up his nose. THANK HEAVENS.

He ended up with 28 external stitches that will need to be removed on Friday, and a whole bunch of internal ones that will dissolve, mostly in the gash in his cheek. I can't even describe how deep that gash was. The most gory picture doesn't do it justice. But I have been impressed again and again that he was protected from worse injury. He could have lost his eye so easily. The cut under his nose was deep and could have taken the whole nose with it. I know that's graphic, but I just can't help but be so incredibly grateful that he was spared from more permanent damage. The cut in his cheek is in the soft tissue on his face and didn't reach the muscle. The doctor was so precise stitching him up and I know he did a great job. Luke might still have scars, but when I see them I will be forever reminded of how blessed I am and how each moment I have with my loved ones is a true gift.

It was hard to see Luke lying there having to go through all that. I would have traded places with him in a second. But he did so well and was the bravest little boy ever. I am so proud of him.

We have had an outpouring of love from everyone. It has been amazing. My in-laws picked up the other three kids at the hospital and took them home so we didn't have to worry about them. My sweet friend offered to play the piano for me in church so I could stay home with Luke. My sister-in-law made him yummy rice crispy treats. Lots of Luke's friends have showed up with treats and cards. One little boy even used his own money to buy Luke a pack of Pokemon cards. Thank you to each one of you for your prayers and concern. It really means so much. Sometimes when something major happens to someone else, I think, oh I shouldn't even bother to contact them, they are probably so overwhelmed with everyone else in the world reaching out to them. But seriously, every single person's efforts are so appreciated. I will try harder in the future to be more compassionate when others are going through hard things.

Putting Luke to bed that night was scary. The sedatives were still in effect and we couldn't wake him up, so we just had to hope that he was all right. Imagine my relief when I woke up Sunday morning to a happy little boy standing by my bed saying, "Mama, I'm okay!" He is doing so well and I can't shake the thought that even though it is unfortunate that he has had to go through this (and try to shake the thought that it was my fault), it could have been so much worse and he was very blessed and protected.

A few thoughts about helmets

I've never thought much about putting bike helmets on my kids. They have them, but I never wore one growing up and my kids aren't reckless, so I have never bothered with them. But that was the first question the doctor asked us, and I was very ashamed to have to answer no.

I'm not sure if anything would have been different if Luke had been wearing a helmet. It's very likely that things would have been exactly the same. A helmet probably wouldn't have protected his face from the barbed wire. I don't know. But I think about how quickly that happened, and how unexpected that moment was, and I was right there. What if in the future it is a head to the concrete, or getting hit by a car, and I could have prevented at least some of the injury? One instant is all it takes. I will definitely be more careful in the future.


Tara said...

Wow is all I can say to this story. I am so glad he is ok and that the Docs at the ER were so great. We sure love your fam and are grateful right along side you. Much loves and hugs to you!

T+J said...

Ohhh poor little Lukey! I am so glad he wasn't hurt worse. Your family bike ride wasn't a huge mistake, trust me. Your resolution of wearing helmets now came from that experience which may be a lifesaver in the future! Helmets may look goofy & unnecessary but you're right, things can happen soooo fast. It's not worth the risk. I've had a few close calls riding my bike when I least expected it. But we're so thankful things are going to be ok for little Lukey. He is so brave & will look tough with a little scar :)

Shelly said...

I am so glad he didn't have worse injuries than he did. You are an amazing mom so don't beat yourself up thinking its all your fault. We all make mistakes. Hope he continues to heal quickly.

Jenna said...

As usual, a lot of emotions/reactions when I read your posts, Anne Marie. First of all, I think you handled everything very well. I probably would have been completely immobilized at the sight of a wound like that. And, I'm so relieved that Luke will be okay. When I first saw that picture, he kind of looked dead and I started to panic. Thank goodness for competent doctors and pain meds.
Thanks for posting that video. It made me laugh and that's one thing I can count on with you, that no matter what, you'll always find the humor in a situation.
And, keep Napoleon for as long as you need to. We can pretty much quote the whole thing around here anyway. :-)

Tami said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. So glad your little Luke is okay. What a scary experience. No mom ever wants to be in that position. Yikes. You have also extra converted me to helmets. This summer my Luke lost control on our family bike rideand crashed his bike in the street right in front of an oncoming car and luckily the car stopped in time as he flew off his bike across the pavement. No helmet and not a single scratch was on him. I know there were angels with him that day as im sure there were with your Luke. Im so glad everything is okay. So good to see you guys at the reunion. Take care.

Tami said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. So glad your little Luke is okay. What a scary experience. No mom ever wants to be in that position. Yikes. You have also extra converted me to helmets. This summer my Luke lost control on our family bike rideand crashed his bike in the street right in front of an oncoming car and luckily the car stopped in time as he flew off his bike across the pavement. No helmet and not a single scratch was on him. I know there were angels with him that day as im sure there were with your Luke. Im so glad everything is okay. So good to see you guys at the reunion. Take care.

Emily said...

Like other moms reading this, my heart stopped when I read about the barbed wire and the gash. Those close calls are such scary experiences...and I often find them even scarier when I dive into the "what ifs" late at night after the event.

When Madison was 4 and Lauren 2, Lauren dropped one of those barbecue scrapers from the swing set playhouse towards Madison's upturned face. (She was on the ground.) It came so close to her eye it was a miracle it didn't hit it. She required stitches as well, but like you, I am so glad it was just stitches and a small, thin scar. It could've been so much worse.

Best wishes for your little Luke! I hope he continues to recover well. And a shout-out to your hospital ER team--they sound awesome!

Tiffany said...

I got teary eyed reading it and I already knew all the details from before! It still breaks my heart. I'm so glad he's doing well. We love you guys and would do anything for you!

Sierra said...

I'm so glad he's okay. You had angels around you that day for sure! Let me know if you need anything.