Thursday, November 29, 2007

Head injuries

My brother's comment about my history of falling off ladders in the post below is a fine segue into my story about Alexa, another head injury survivor. Alexa is a six-year-old girl whose parents used to live in the house across the street from mine. They moved to the growing, unincorporated community of Lantana before my family moved in.

In that community, where houses are still being built, on Aug. 6, Alexa rode her bicycle right into a parked truck with rebar hanging out the back. The rebar pierced her skull.

The first person at Alexa’s side was a neighbor, Kris Black, an experienced firefighter and paramedic: “He was the first one on the scene and I’m sure he saved her life,” said Peg Eason. In twenty minutes an ambulance arrived, paramedics assessed her condition and called for Care Flight to meet him at the E.P. Rayzor parking lot and helicopter the first-grader to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

Doctors there did not expect her to make it through the night, but they put her on medications to keep her sedated. They took pieces of her skull off to let the brain swell. And then they waited.

And waited.

Word spread throughout the community. Everyone wanted to hear. Finally, Peg, through an online journal,, posted good news.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2007 11:27 AM, CDT

Just a quick update, Alexa had a great night; very restful. She is making good progress again today and they may move her out of ICU soon. She is still listed as critical but getting better everyday. I have printed the guestbook entries and will take them to the hospital today so we can read them to her.

Good wishes flooded in to the online guest book from Lantana, Flower Mound, Highland Village and around the country—everyone wanted to know the status of Alexa Eason.

“It was nearly two weeks until she was responsive,” said Peg, “and then it just seemed like leaps and bounds. That Sunday was the day she started giving us thumbs up and thumbs down.”

Can you imagine waiting 12 days before your child started being responsive? I still get upset thinking about it. It wasn't until Oct. 9, October 9 !, that Alexa was able to come home. Peg is still giving updates through Caringbridge.

I had wanted to get other voices into the story besides Peg's, but this story was being written and bumping up against deadline during some unexpected family business. But with Peg's journal entries I think it came out nicely enough. My neighbor, who is publicity shy, was a friend of the parents before they moved. She's been a huge source of support and strength for Peg. I asked her for a quote, but she said only if I don't use her last name, which I thought would come off strangely in a story like this because you have to write, "who didn't want to use her last name," so I scrapped the idea.

My head injury, at 7 years of age, involved me falling off a high dive at our local swimming pool onto the cement. I bruised my brain and didn't wake up for a couple of days. What I take away from that accident are just a few memories. In the ICU, I was experiencing unfocused, unadulterated anger. I refused to take medicine from a nurse; I seemed to be in a big open room with other patients who were extremely old. At one point Mom brushes my hair.

The memories sharpen once I get into a private room. Two of my older siblings who aren't generally at all sympathetic to me are being fun and nice. They're playing on my hospital bed. I'm playing cards with one of them, but I can't count the cards right. We later visit my grandfather in a hospital next door with a neighbor. Mom pushes me in a wheelchair through a tunnel that connects my hospital with his.

But most of the memories belong to my oldest brother Joe, who had the unfortunate luck of being the oldest son in the family and was told to bike over to the neighborhood pool, while Dad drove, to find out what the hell happened. He then shared the backseat with me fading in and out of consciousness for the approximate 30-mile drive to Methodist hospital, to hear the doctor tell Dad that I was probably not going to sink into coma, that most coma patients throw up and I hadn't done that, and then to see me throw up a whole mess of--chocolate ice cream, was it? I don't remember.

Not long after that incident (and before a second one that left me in the hospital for 6 weeks-- oy!), Joe went to Astroworld with a boy down the street and brought me back a stuffed animal. Now, that I remember, and quite fondly, too.

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Anonymous Vivian Louise said...

Dag, Nancy, what a pair of stories. 6 weeks in the hospital! What did you do the second time?

I can't imagine waiting so long to find out if my child/relative/friend were going to make it.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

What did you do the second time?

Broken femur. I was in traction for six weeks.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Mike LaRoche said...

Wow, I'm glad you recovered well from that head injury. I was fortunate enough to never have anything like that happen to me as a child. No broken bones, either.

Where would the Festering Swamp be without its virtual eye candy? ;)

8:28 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Gosh, Nancy, you've led an even more exciting life that I originally thought! Yikes.

11:00 PM  

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