A view from my side.
Words every parent fears. Words that I hoped I would go through my entire life not hearing. “Dad, I have a flat tire” I’m ok with. “Dad, the car won’t start” I’ve heard before. Even “Dad, something fell out of the bottom of the car while I was driving and I’m stuck on the freeway.” But “Dad…I’ve been in an accident” was something I wasn’t prepared for.
11:37 a.m. I know this because of my phone log. I had just finished lunch in the Dining Hall and was enjoying the conversation around the table when the phone rang. It was Kid#1, calling. I figured he needed directions or wanted to tell me something about work or had more news about the upcoming Fall semester. He is heading back to school this fall and has been updating me with all the tidbits of info from the admissions office. I answer the phone and am greeted with “Dad…I’ve been in an accident.”
My initial reaction was disbelief. That quickly turned to relief as I realized that it couldn’t be that bad if he was able to call me. I sighed, took a big breath and asked him if he was ok. He said that, yes, he was fine but that the car was in pretty bad shape. I told him not to worry about the car so much and asked if anyone else was hurt/involved. He said, no, it was a single car accident, he could walk and he was out of the car. All good, I thought. I asked him if anyone had called 9-1-1 and he said that yes, the man that helped him out of the car had also called it in. I started to feel better and that everything was under control. That’s when he said, “Dad, I’m starting to feel dizzy, can you hurry up please?”
I asked him where he was…less than a mile from home. I told him I’d be there as soon as I could. I got in my car and headed out. As I approached the site, I saw the street had been blocked off and the police were re-routing the traffic around the accident. The scene was just down a small hill from where I was stopped at a light, but I could see an ambulance. Just then, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but it was local. When I answered, it was the EMT on the line. He was transporting my son to the hospital and I needed to turn around from wherever I was and meet them there. He wouldn’t tell me much other than my son was fine, but that he was bleeding from his mouth pretty bad, his face was swelling on the left side and he was unstable on his feet. He would tell me more at the hospital and I should meet them there.
I turned my car around and started to drive to the hospital. I called Ex#2 to let her know what happened. As the ambulance passed me, siren blaring, I told her I didn’t have many details, had not seen the car and would update her when I had more information. She sounded worried, but not panicked and promised to keep her phone handy.
When I arrived at the ER, I found Kid#1 strapped to a board on a bed in the examing room. He seemed ok, but was a bit confused by everything. A nurse practitioner was taking a look at him and explained that a doctor would be in shortly. No, she could not take him off the board and no, she could not remove the collar. He would have to wait until they could x-ray his head, face, and neck before they would release him from those restraints. That did not sit well with him and his Asperger’s started to kick in.
He was strapped down. He was confined. He was in some pain and uncomfortable. He was nervous and scared. He was bleeding inside of his mouth and his lower lip was swelling. All of that combined to make for a bad situation for him and he started to strain against the straps. He knew better, but he couldn’t stand being on the board. I called the nurse back in and talked to her about it. She said there was nothing she could do and he started to panic. I told her she needed to do something soon or he was going to have a full blown panic attack. He has not had one of those in a very long time and I was not going to sit by and let it happen without letting the ER staff know what they were in for. The nurse got a doctor to come examine his head and back. She decided they could take him off the board, but would leave the collar on. He said he could live with that and seemed genuinely relieved when the straps came off from around his chest, arms, and legs.
He calmed down and the doctor ordered some Lortab. He asked me if I had spoken to his mother and I said not since I had arrived. He said he was better and if I wanted to step out to call her he’d be ok. The nurse said he would be fine and that they were going to be taking him up to x-ray in a few mintues. Since I wouldn’t be able to join him in the x-ray room, now would be a good time to make any phone calls I needed to make. I called his mother and texted his brother, letting them both know what was going on. I told his brother to meet us at the hospital when he got out of class to trade cars with me and to visit Kid#1.
Upon my return to the room, he was back from x-ray. Nothing broken. Anywhere. They couldn’t really explain the swelling on his cheek but figured it was due to the impact and we should just ice it and keep an eye on it. There was a number of strange cuts inside his mouth that puzzled them, but the decision had been made to send him to an ENT to repair it. They gave us the referral, told us the ENT’s office was expecting us and told us how to get there. Then, we were shown the door and whisked on our way. It was 3:30 p.m.
We didn’t know it at the time, but we still had hours to go.