I am typing this from the acute surgical floor of a local Phoenix hospital where no mother would want to spend Mothers Day. But I've been living at this hospital since Tuesday now, starting in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit, by the bedside of my beautiful son. And I am quite grateful to be here by his side, after five sleepless nights, where he and three friends survived a horrific head-on collision with
a drunk driver on Cinco de Mayo.
Why? Because not all children with internal and traumatic brain injuries make it out of the ICU. But mine did. Here is a small portion... The rest will come at a later date of more lucidity.
I received a text as I was driving on the freeway Tuesday at 1:00 pm. I glanced down and saw "emergency" and called my other son. Given the work I do, I take the word "emergency" seriously.
"Ari is hurt, he's in ICU at XYZ hospital... "
This news came less than an hour after one of the top mornings of my life: I had just left a meeting with the dean informing me of my academic tenure and promotion at ASU.
My mind spun. I was driving on the freeway, north, and had to find an exit ramp to turn around and
get back to Phoenix. That's the last thing I remember, other than two other phone calls I made, one of which was to the hospital. Next thing I remember, I was at the foot of his bed, shaking, looking at his broken and bloodied body. My legs disappeared...
When the ICU social worker appeared, I felt relieved that I'd get answers and maybe a shred of compassion. However, instead, I ended up in our sons bag that smelled of his sweat and bloodied, cut- off clothing searching for his insurance card. Obviously, this was her priority. Next thing I remember after that was sitting in a tiny room with loved ones sobbing uncontrollably.
There is much much more to this story which I will tell when I am rested. The loving support and generosity of the MISS Foundation community and my friends have been overwhelming, vastly different from Cheys death. Yet, there is much to say about the experience as a whole- one such concern being that we were never notified by law enforcement or hospital staff despite the fact that
they had my sons ID and they knew my first and last name. Rather, they left him alone in ICU and I
didn't make it to his bedside for 12 hours after the crash. His coworkers' growing concern that he hadn't come to work spurned a search for my boy. There is much more to the hospital and investigative story too...
It appears Ari will be okay, though neurocog assessments are challenging and he will have months of rehab ahead. I always hesitate to give overly fluffy and optimistic reports because every day I meet parents who were assured that their children were stable or even recovered and then they, tragically, died.
The young driver of the other car was impaired. I do not yet know his name however the news said he is is not expected to survive. He was merely 25. I ask that you hold my son and his two friends in your hearts, prayers, and meditations as they face a very long and arduous road to recovery.
I also ask that you hold the unidentified driver in your hearts, prayers, and meditations. Whoever he is, for me, his life is worthy of our thoughts, and he and his family are deserving of my abiding compassion. My heart is heavy for this probable loss...
Life is so fragile. So very precious and fragile. And I have to say it: I miss you Chey.
Gentle Mother's Day to all the mothers who have lost their precious children, including the one who caused the accident nearly killed my son.
My goodness thank you to nurses Todd, Angela, and Rose and PCT Toni on the 8th floor here. You have been amazing and compassionate! And our experiences otherwise have not been so there.
Thank you to those who brought amazing basics like good water, broccoli, coffee, green smoothies, deodorant, dry shampoo, notepads, blankets for sleeping (hospitals are cold and their sleeping cots are, I'm sure, intended to dissuade others from cohabitating with patients for a week) and other essentials I'd never have considered.
Mostly, thank you for the love and prayers.
Update 5/12/14: Ari was given a medical clearance and has moved up to Sedona so his family can take care of him through his rehabilitation. He'll be following up with the experts at the B.R.A.I.N.S.
Clinic and soon be in PT for his left leg injury.
We are trying to get some home health... at times the pain is unmanageable.
5/15/2014: we we're readmitted through the ER at Flagstaff Memorial Hospital several days ago. Home care did not go well and it was clear he was not release-ready. However, the staff here has been superlative, in both technical and human skill.
His two friends are doing well and expected to make a full recovery.
Sadly, I still have no information about the other driver but I continue to think of him often, holding him gently in my heart.
Please remember the parents who did not get to bring their children home from the hospital... please.