Preface: I’m writing this particular post for many reasons. The most obvious would be to reflect and heal. It is very difficult to relive the moments I am about to write for you, but I am also writing it to help anyone else who has gone through the same type or similar situation. You are not alone.
I have not ever considered myself a strong person, which is hard to say and sounds self-deprecating. I ask that as you read this post you don’t judge the incident but you see the growth and the perseverance that as a family we all developed.
Introduction: This story is about my son Jaxon and a traumatic accident that involved him at a young age. It is very emotional for me to write and relive. I cried and shook the entire time I wrote it, so I apologize for grammatical errors. Please do not continue if you feel you have a weak constitution. Though nothing graphic is shown, my story is emotional. I will use general medical terms, but no locations or names of medical personnel. I am not a doctor, just a mom and this is my personal recollection of what happened as I remember it through my own emotional memories. This is not the whole story as it is long, but rather a summary. This is only the main incident and then a small look into the years following. I will write a brief update at a later time.
The day started like any other day; my husband got up early for work and I got up with him. I fed the baby and got our daughter Nadia ready for preschool. I was tired but I felt so grateful for my life. My husband just came back from deployment, we had a five month old son and a beautiful (soon to be) four-year old daughter. She went to preschool just yards down the street from our home, and Jaxon, our son, went to daycare on the other side of the building. I worked a few miles down the road, not too far from where my husband worked. Sometimes we got lunch and I was often able to go breast feed Jaxon during my breaks. We had our own little bubble. Everything was perfect!
At least I thought it was. I had just finished work for the day, picked the kids up, got home, and was greeted by our dog Emma. It was a beautiful day outside. Nadia was chattering to me about her day as I put Jaxon in his chair. Nadia left us to go play in the living room. This was usually when I got her a snack, started dinner, and heated up a breast milk bottle for my little man. So I moved Jaxon’s chair to the kitchen counter. He had a high chair you strap to a chair, so I usually just set it in the middle of the counter as I did my duties every night.
I went to the refrigerator to get Nadia a snack…that’s when time started moving in slow motion. Even writing these words is hard. I had my back to Jaxon and when I hear a sickening thwack… a sound I have relived in my head and my dreams every day since.I turned around slowly and screamed as I see my five month old son laying on the ceramic tile floor, 4.5 feet below where is high chair was still sitting.
I dropped everything, leaving the fridge open, and I grabbed him. I use to be a medic in the military and I know not to grab him for he could have a neck injury, but I’m panicking. He wasn’t crying. I couldn’t compose myself… in what felt like minutes but was probably seconds I laid him back down and yelled for Nadia to grab my phone. I dialed 911.
I don’t remember much of the next few moments. Just that the call to 911 dropped signal and any calm I worked hard to regain left me and panic flooded me again. We didn’t have a house phone so I had to keep. I redialing 911. Why wouldn’t it connect. Finally, after what seemed like years, I dropped my phone and ran out the back door, jumping directly over the four-foot rock wall and started banging on the neighbor’s door. I was screaming, ‘HELP, Please Help”. My neighbor opened the door. I think she had other people over, but I didn’t care at the time or I don’t remember. I yelled, “Call 911, please call 911. It’s my baby.” I don’t know what her reaction was, I’m sure it wasn’t good. I’m sorry if I scared her, nobody ever wants to hear the words 911 and baby!
I left and ran back. I don’t know if they followed me or what happened. I got back to the kitchen and Jaxon was finally starting to cry. I could see his head was swelling, but I didn’t touch him this time, I knew I could cause more damage. I vaguely remember grabbing my phone and calling my husband, the call went through! He worked down the road. I think at this point my neighbors were coming over to get details, they had 911 on the phone. They were so helpful and call: I was shaking and crying. My husband wasn’t answering but I kept redialing. He finally answered, he must have known something was wrong. He was in a meeting. I yelled, (everyone heard me in the meeting) “come home, its Jaxon. 911 come home!” At the very moment my phone beeped, 911 was returning my first call. I answered and tried to give them my address, but the signal was so bad and I was still emotional, I ended up yelling and giving my phone to my neighbor. I think I was just too hysterical and terrifies at this moment. I just can’t recall.
When emergency services arrived they came running inside to assess Jaxon. His head was swollen but I think his pupils were responsive at that time. I’ll never forget one paramedic asking me, “Ma’am does this feel normal?” as he put my hand on my son’s head. I yelled at him and said, “does that look f*cking normal!” I was in shock. I know I was. I was shaking and crying and I thought my son was dying.
They put Jaxon on a small stretch and we headed to the ambulance. As we started loading up I saw my husband fly around the corner. As he jumped from the car I remember crying and jumping in his arms saying, “He fell, he fell. I don’t know what happened. (We found out later, will discuss in another post). Please don’t divorce me. I’m sorry. Nadia’s in the house,” then I got in the ambulance. I don’t know why but I thought he would blame me and leave me. I thought I had killed our son that very day. A day that haunts my mind till this very day.
Later my husband told me he ran from the meeting and just flew home. He could hear sirens. He drove so fast. He was so scared. When he turned the corner to our street there were two fire trucks, an ambulance and four police cars blocking the street. He said he thought he was going to die. He ran to me. An officer tried to stop him from coming inside but he told him he lived at the house.
The Ambulance Ride
To keep this short Jaxon became unresponsive twice on the way to the children’s hospital. Having the ambulance stop to try and get him to respond was the hardest thing ever. They would rub his chest really hard, pinch him, but nothing. He was in shock as well and because of that they couldn’t get an IV started. I was so hysterical. I wanted to help but I couldn’t.
I actually don’t remember much more from the ambulance ride. Whether it was from so much adrenaline or shock. What is written is about all I relive from this event.
The emergency room was chaotic. Many people and many moving parts. I remember vaguely calling a few family members. I remember screaming hysterically and I remember having to hold my son down so they could get imaging. I don’t remember how long I was there, where we sat, what room we were in or even if I drank water. Time seemed to stop.
Jaxon was diagnosed with a traumatic head injury with skull fracture and right frontal lobe damage.
Jaxon was concussed for over a week. He didn’t recognize us for quite a while (he just slept and stared) and the swelling on his head took almost a month to go down. He still to this day and he is five and a half, has a large lump on the back of his head.
Jaxon developed dysphagia and required thickened breast milk. Jaxon still has trouble eating any meats or drinking thin liquids without his head in a neutral position.
Jaxon didn’t learn to sit upright until after he was one, a mile stone he was on track to hit prior to his accident. Jaxon started attempting to crawl shortly after he turned one but unfortunately he was dragging the left side of his body. The neurologist said he had developed some mild paralysis. This did go away after a few months of physical therapy.
Jaxon was standing by 18 months, walking a bit by age 2, and trying to run (toddler like running) by age 3-4). Jaxon was finally able to step up stairs by age 4-5. He could do 4-6 steps at most at first and now he can do multiple sets of 10 without going to his knees to finish.
Jaxon began using single words after age two, two-word phrases after age three and small sentences around age four. When he turned five he hit a huge developmental milestone and just woke up one morning speaking. He hasn’t stopped since.
Jaxon developed complex partial seizures. Jaxon no longer has seizures, not since last spring, but he does suffer from residual tics.
We are told that because of the severity of his head injury, recovery will be long, however because he had it at such a young age we shouldn’t ever worry about learning issues or long-term disabilities.
During the accident and when Jaxon was in the hospital, Nadia stayed with our neighbor. Thinking back on this event, so much of it is vivid and hard to say, let alone write, but some of the events are hard to even recall. I remember Nadia telling me she got a happy meal while we were gone. Such a small detail yet I remember it vividly.
During Jaxon’s recovery, I became very angry and closed off. Loud noises scared me and I didn’t want to be away from Jaxon. I got overly emotional if one of the kids got hurt. I ended up buying a paramedic aid bag so that I would always be ready for any situation that could happen. This is completely irrational, but it was part of my healing.
I blamed myself for his accident. I have gone over the scene in my head over and over and over and I can’t figure out what happened, or why. I have since been told (via genetic testing and a neurologist), that Jaxon has hypotonia. That even though he was strapped in to his seat, he just fell. I don’t know, I didn’t see and speculating like I did for years almost killed me.
I also look back on all the indicators my husband and I had leading up to the accident to see if we could see the hypotonia, or see what we missed. When Jaxon was two months old he did need an ultrasound on his hips because he was hyper flexible and one hip was slightly lower than the other. The neurologist has said this could be an indicator of many things, including hypotonia. But that is all I recall. It’s frustrating trying to solve the puzzle. It won’t change anything, so I stopped trying.
I have since determined after 5 years, that even if I did see the hypotonia, find a way to stop the accident, and protect Jaxon, I can’t protect him forever. We have all learned so much from what happened. For many years I thought I lost my life to the accident, but I didn’t, it gave me life. I got him. I got hours and hours with my son. I’ve learned how to take care of kids with disabilities. I’ve learned a tremendous amount of patience. And though I would like to take away the pain, I don’t want to lose the experience and the wisdom I have gained.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Natalie for pushing me outside my comfort zone. She told me to never be afraid to tell my story, it may help people who are going through the same thing.