It started out like most nights at our place… frantically getting dinner ready while my boys played noisily around my feet (Tyson 2 ½ & Jack – almost 1). Hubby had just gone out to the verandah to light the barbeque when we both heard an almighty ‘thud!’
I absently thought to myself ‘what on earth was that?’ Then hubby and I looked at each other and the horror in his eyes made my heart sink. We both realised what had happened at the exact same moment… Jack had found a small gap in our hand rail and had plunged, head first, 2 ½ metres to the wooden floor below.
I froze in place and screamed ‘get him!!’ to my hubby. I pictured his limp body, lifeless on the floor below and a myriad of unspeakable thoughts went through my mind. Then… a loud cry. Oh my God! He’s alive! Hubby defied gravity has he flew down the stairs and instinctively picked him up.
I was already on the phone, dialling 000. Jack’s forehead had doubled in size and was distinctly purple. The operator finally made sense of my hysteria and an ambulance was on its way.
Running out the door, Jack screaming in my arms, our neighbours, Mick & Jenny, leaned over the fence for a chat a quickly assessed the situation. Hubby was holding Tyson (poor, confused Tyson) and he explained the situation.
Jenny ran inside, shouting over her shoulder ‘I’m coming in the ambulance with you.’ How grateful I was to have someone with me who could talk sensibly to the ambos while hubby and Tyson followed behind in our car.
At the hospital, a good ½ a dozen emergency medical staff were waiting for us to arrive and pounced on Jack…
X-rays, MRI’s, a cannula, poking and prodding. I sang to him in a desperate, broken voice, trying to keep him calm while I fell apart. The nurses were so gentle and kind with me, coaxing the story out of me that was still a blur in my mind.
Meanwhile, hubby had texted everyone we knew, asking them to pray for our little Jack.
By midnight, he was fast asleep. I was set up on a trundle bed beside him and sat there, at 2am, looking out at the beautiful city lights as texts and emails continued to pour in from friends and family who were praying for Jack.
Hubby’s sister was already on her way from to help him with Tyson at home and my mum came and sat with me in the Neurology ward for 2 days.
Day 2 was Jack’s 1st birthday. His party was cancelled but he was smiling, nothing else mattered in the whole world.
I couldn’t hold back the tears when the ‘Fun Factory’ team came through with birthday presents for Jack and mum brought in a home made birthday cake to share with the other patients. They all had their own stories of heartache and tragedy but smiled like regular kids without a care in the world.
Finally, at about 3pm on Jack’s 1st birthday, a Neurologist gave him the all clear. ‘Just’ a large fracture from the top of his head to his eye socket. Ouch!
My relief was palpable. Mum drove us home and as I took my first step in the house, I burst into tears. I didn’t know anything about post traumatic stress syndrome but that’s what I was experiencing. For weeks, whenever I heard an ambulance siren or a loud ‘thud’ I would jump 10ft in the air. And I’ll never truly understand the impact it all had on Tyson, who still talks about it regularly, months later. He became super protective of his little brother – running from the other side of the house to make sure Jack was okay whenever he heard him cry. We’re working through it together, that’s what families do.
So, here’s what tragedy taught me…
1) Miracles happen. If you saw how far Jack fell, you’d have to believe that, too. One friend looked at the distance he fell and said: ‘I have no choice but to believe you must be good friends with the man upstairs.’ I truly believe an angel caught him on the way down to soften his fall.
2) The staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital are truly amazing people. They run a tight ship, on a tight budget, with incredible humanity and a genuine love for kids. We are truly blessed to live in a country that cares so well for our little ones and
3) My facebook post, written the day we arrived home from the hospital says it all: When something terrible happens, that’s when you realize love is tangible. It has a face and hands, it’s a kind voice, it’s prayers, it’s words, it’s presence, it’s help, it’s heart. Thank you for all of the above, beautiful people in our lives. We have felt your love in our darkest moment and we feel truly blessed. Jack is doing better than we could ever have hoped and anyone who has seen how far he fell knows it’s a miracle he is here with us today.