On Monday morning I posted a cute little Memorial Day graphic here on my blog. I was excited about our Memorial Day plans and ready to spend the day with my family. I had a lot of projects and such to accomplish, had plans to read something to the kids about the meaning of Memorial Day, and had chicken marinading just waiting for the right time to put it on the grill. I made my famous (famous to my kiddos, that is) cheesy potatoes and by 5:30 p.m. the cheese was bubbling in the oven. All was well, except my husband had commented that it looked like it might rain. Most of the kids were out in the backyard playing wiffle ball other than the three year old who was playing dolls in the family room and our 17 year old boy who was at work, his first day at a new job.
In a split second, with ear splitting volume, our Memorial Day changed, and so now has our family.
Close to 6 p.m. as my husband and I sat talking we heard the loudest sound either of us have ever heard in our lives and without any delay the brightest flash of light we've ever seen. Our house shook violently in a way I didn't know a house could shake. My husband and I, in perfect synchronization, jumped up and bolted to the backyard. As we made our way out the door leading to the deck we were met by three screaming kids. Trying to decipher what they were saying we noticed a child in a heap on the ground. The kids were yelling, "he was hit, he was hit"! We ran to our 15 year old, Nic, and tried to get him up. He woke up saying something about falling down and how it was so sharp. He was holding his head with both arms and crying. As I helped him in the house my husband found the phone and called the hospital. Kids were crying, neighbors were running through our backyard, our oldest was trying to tell us what happened, and my husband was putting our boy in the van and telling me to come on. We grabbed our youngest girl who was frozen in silence. Our little eight year old girl was sobbing uncontrollably begging me not to leave and I was begging her to go with us. She refused to go outside and decided she would rather stay with her brothers. At that minute our 17 year old entered the chaos hoping to tell us all about his first day. We flew out the door and left the crying, scared kids at home. My heart was broken in two. I wanted to be with the kids at home and I wanted to be in the van with our son.
My husband, a notoriously slow driver, weaved in and out of interstate traffic like a professional race car driver. I've never known him to drive like that. Our vehicle is a 12 passenger van, and if you can picture that big ole thing darting in and out and around all the other drivers on the road you can imagine how scary that was. We were ushered in to the emergency room very quickly. No paperwork, no check-in, no demand for an insurance card. Nic was in a wheelchair and down the hall in about two seconds. They had him in a bed and were drawing blood before I could believe it. I stood against a wall while the room filled with people. Several doctors, nurses, lab people, and others. The first bit of relief came when they said his EKG looked good. His heart was flying, but good.
The next few hours were tests and examinations and lots of questions. Nic was completely coherent and answered all the questions with clarity. My husband sat in the waiting room with our three year old since she was not allowed back. I ran from the waiting room back to the exam room delivering information to my husband and talking with doctors. Blood work was good, urine was good, CAT scan was good. Everything was good. Praise God!
Nic's headache was horrible but everything was going to be alright. Reality was starting to sink in as my mind finally grasped what had happened. My heart started to ache for the kids at home. I hadn't forgotten them, of course, but I had been so distracted. I stepped out to call home about two hours into our time at the hospital. I had no idea it had been two hours until I pulled out my phone. I spoke with our oldest who was more than worried. He asked if it would be okay to put a prayer request on facebook. He had the younger kids all under control and was handling everything at home like a champ. He always does.
Oh, the power of facebook. Around the three hour mark of our time at the ER the kindest, sweetest, most encouraging texts and phone calls started to pour in. I knew I loved our church family but I didn't know how much. One of our pastors called and offered to come to the hospital and stay with us but we were hearing we were about to leave. Things seemed so great I could hardly believe it. I was so happy I was floating on air. The total time at the ER equaled about four hours. This was the clearly the fastest moving ER I'd ever seen!
We arrived home about 10:30 p.m. and oh was I happy to have all the birds in the nest. The kids recounted their versions of what happened and as we listened to each one we shuddered. Both boys saw Nic as he was struck. They said he lit up all over and looked just like something from Star Wars. They saw the "flash" go all through him. The boys had felt their feet get hit after Nic, and our oldest said it ran up his leg. He had a tiny black burn mark on his foot right where he had been hit. They talked about how bad it hurt and how scary it was. Nic remembered seeing the lightning coming straight for him. He said it hit the top of his head first and ran through his body. He said things seemed to be in slow motion and he saw lightning running down in front of his face. They all agreed that the lightning had hit our neighbor's grill and then had shot over to Nic. It came from that direction, they said. Every little detail was so horrific. We tucked them all into bed with thankful hearts and then downstairs, later, as we were alone, my husband broke down. It was over though, and they were all safe. He headed outside at midnight and grilled the chicken I had prepared. I'm not sure why, but that's what he wanted to do. He wrapped it in tin foil and put it in the fridge.
Tuesday morning I had an early appointment for a check-up on my shingles. My doctor asked me how I was handling my anxiety issues. Ha! Neighbors dropped by all day checking on us. Some had seen, others had heard. Our neighbors behind us cleared up the confusion about where the lightning had struck. It wasn't their grill, it was a tree. We went to see it.
Our pediatrician also called Tuesday morning. He had received word from the ER and wanted to talk with me and check on Nic. Nic complained of a headache all day and still had the burning, tingling sensation in his head. I rubbed his head and kissed his forehead several times and received a shock with each touch. He was electrifying, literally! We reached the 24 hour mark and Nic seemed okay, just sort of distant which we blamed on the pain.
By mid-morning Wednesday Nic had slipped away into what my husband calls "the distance". He was not himself. He was blacking out when he stood up from being seated on the couch or resting on his bed. He was seeing flashes of light. His headache was intensifying and he said he was having trouble thinking and remembering. I decided to call our pediatrician and just check in. Dr. Rawlings said to bring Nic in as soon as I could. I called my husband who left work immediately and I loaded the four kids I had at home with me into our van. The next several hours Dr. Rawlings spent time examining and talking with Nic. He believes that Nic was in shock for the first 24 hours and that is why we saw so much change as we got closer to the 48 hour mark. He said the body was just then beginning to realize what was wrong. He says the brain needs time to heal itself. My confidence in the CAT scan results were diminished when he told me that the scan didn't mean much. He said the CAT scan will only show soft tissue and let us know if there is a bleed on the brain. It does not tell us anything about how the circuitry is working. Dr. Rawlings has connected us to a Neurologist who we will see in a few weeks. In the meantime Nic has to rest. We were told not to leave him by himself at all. No swimming, or reading, or playing in any way that involves contact. Just rest.
Nic seems to be going through ups and downs. There have been periods that he is alert and smiling and talking and there have been times he seems to stare way off and disappear. He doesn't always answer questions the first time we ask and he is quiet. His once active appetite has gone away and he has eaten only a tiny bit. My husband is struggling with the way Nic acts when he wanders off mentally. I have to say it is very scary but the times when he is fully with us make me believe he will eventually be back to normal. Our doctor tells us this is to be expected with an injury to the brain. He says he can admit Nicholas and get a neuro consult right away but does not feel we have to do that right now. What we do have to do is be patient. We must pray and wait and allow the brain to have time to heal. The boy I brought home from the ER and the boy I'm sitting next to right now seem vastly different. This is hard on my heart but I am so thankful he is alive. I'm happily relieved when Nic acts ~normal~ and I'm believing with all my might that each day will bring more normalcy. He is a sweet, loving, thoughtful kid and the one thing I know he has going for him is his good attitude. Attitude makes all the difference when you are healing.
Daniel 4:35 (Nic's favorite verse) All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, "What have you done?"
Thank you for allowing me to share our story. I will keep you "posted".