Saturday, April 28, 2007

Adrenaline

Yesterday, early evening, our co-op/cottage school had just finished dinner/supper/whatever, I was reading Twelfth Night to the fourth and sixth graders among us, when there were blood-curdling shrieks from the backyard.

One of the seven year-olds had dropped a roly-poly through the wire to the chick(en)s, the other had ducked between the electrified wires to get closer to the chicken tractor. The barely three year old tried to follow, and was scared motionless, "stuck" to the wire. Her mama saw this from the window and took off running. My mom jumped up to look, said little one was by then in the arms of one of her brothers, since my group had heard too and jumped as well, G running to unplug the fence, everyone else making a beeline for the little one. I knew she would want her mom and couldn't figure out where the mama could be. I was all over the house calling for her and then ran out myself.

The mama was on the driveway, still, on her back, staring at the sky, saying her baby's name. It took me a second to register what was happening--it was too out of context, this mother lying still, in stocking feet, on the asphalt. I tried to get her to talk, she was having a hard time. I sent K for Kleenex as I talked and tried simultaneously to calm the kids who by now were gathering round, as stunned as I at the circumstance. I sat her second oldest next to her to stroke her hand to try to keep her awake. She was adamant about the little one needing attention--I told her K had the same thing happen to her when she was the same size, no lasting effects save a pointed respect for electric fences. She was getting shocky--shaking and getting "sleepy", by this time the Kleenex had arrived for the blood from the cuts on her lips. I'd asked her if she could get up and she said she just didn't want to. I told her I was going to take her in or call 911, asked if she had an opinion about which it would be, she said she couldn't move. I ran for the phone.

Ever notice how, when it really matters, it takes forbloodyever for the 911 people to pick up? I asked for an ambulance, they sent the guys out from the nearest fire station--about three miles off? while the 911 operator got the details as best he could. I think the EMTs arrived in about 7 minutes, but it felt like centuries. All the while, the mama is less and less responsive, working harder, or so it appears, to open her eyes when asked. In a stroke of genius, her seven year-old obliges by making annoying noises to keep her awake. It works.

I herd the last of the observers in, having called for back-up from a mutual friend and called the husband while waiting for the EMTs (her ten year old still stroking her hand and talking to her). I tell my mom that I'm leaving her alone with ten kids but back-up is en route and I'll call when I know something. The mama is still having difficulty responding to the EMTs, but seems to chuckle a little when I ask her if she's up for fried chicken (from the backyard) and again later when I ask her if she can give us advance notice next time so we can get the driveway a little cleaner--less dirt and needles to stick to a person.

The EMTs give me printed directions to the nearest level 2 trauma center. I hop in my mom's car and follow. Their lights are on and they're quickly out of sight.

My mom and her team of awesome folks (my dad, aunt, and friend arrived) are meanwhile making banana splits, the boys are playing Gamecube, the girls are having baths, everyone is calming, calming, calming. The oldest was sort of "herding sheep", organizing his younger siblings, and finally relaxed when they all seemed distracted.

I gave directions via cell phone to the mama's husband, who was, I'm sure, driving like the devil was after him, and finally arrived at the hospital myself. One of the EMTs escorted me to the person who needed all that boring personal information. I did the best I could, barely remembering what little I ever knew, other than how to spell the pertinent name, then the nice lady was going to take me in to the room. She poked her head in only to discover that the mama was "about to go to x-ray" (probably off to CT). So I went to the waiting room and called her husband again. He got there something like 15 minutes after I did, assured me he was fine, that the kids probably needed me, and I took off for home, feeling ever worse.

As I drove, I called a friend who happens to be a family practice doc, and asked about the fence, just to be sure. She was very reassuring (it was milliamps, not house current), but was concerned about the mama. So was I.

I got home, called another mutual friend to ask that their (also the family's) church be notified and explained the situation to her.

The husband called--she would be released soon and they would come to get the kids. I urged him to let the mama know that they were all fine and happy and we were putting everyone to bed so they really could just go home and let her sleep. He said he'd call back.

My aunt took off for home (having stuffed Q happily full of his supper in my absence) and my friend got the boys into T-shirts and started washing clothes--assuming until we heard differently that there would be an impromptu sleep-over, much to the delight of the kids. Stories were read, kids tucked in, the littlest ones went out like someone was turning off a light. The bigger ones needed help relinquishing Legos and fears. As our oldest guest was coming up the stairs one last time, his mom called. He sighed, visibly relieved, and gave a full report on the state of the herd. (smiles) She spoke briefly with her second born and then me.

Woohoo! They were on their way to fill prescriptions and she could talk again. Apparently, she could speak much more easily after they gave her some morphine. She'd been in too much pain to speak, never mind the dirt and tooth fragments she was trying not to swallow. The ones I had wanted to sweep for, but I could see she wasn't aspirating, so no messing with what's working, right? Pain also increases shock symptoms, so that would (apparently) explain the disconnect in reactions and things, right?

Evidently, she had, while running to get to her panicked little one, lost her footing on the cement steps leading down to the driveway. She'd had some kind of momentum, because the place we found her was about fifteen feet from the stairs. She tried to catch herself on the arm and shoulder that had already been hurting, and landed hard on her face. Thus the chipped tooth (maybe more than one?), the abrasions on nose and chin, the bloody lips, the scraped and bruised arms. I'd noticed that one of the buttons on her shirt looked like it had been sanded in the fall. It's amazing she hadn't broken ribs, jaw, head or arms.

She went on home and slept, and so did all the punkins. All night. Well, except for Q, but that's nothing new. They're waking up now, watching Veggie Tales. I'm going to go make breakfast. Maybe later we'll go to the zoo. It would seem that this place is so fun that despite the accursed fence at least one of our guests hopes they "have to stay another night." Heh. Quite a compliment.

Next time these two mamas decide something like, say, the kids need to have a basic first aid course, we won't be saying it out loud. One never knows what follows, but there's no need to make such learning a "crash" course. (Oy.)

Thanks for reading, thanks for praying. Here's hoping the rest of your weekend is calm and uneventful. Goodness knows we've filled our yearly quota for excitement.

Blessings to you and yours.

2 comments:

Podcastin' Cyndi said...

Thank you, Lord, for answering prayers. I keep thinking about her children, and how scared, yet composed they were. Thanks for the update!

Amy said...

Goodness! What a frightening situation. I'm glad everyone was alright, and I'm very impressed by your coolhead, and also the childrens'!