The Long Road to RecoverysteemCreated with Sketch.

Those of you who’ve read my last two miniposts know that my son sustained a serious injury Saturday night. A brief recap for those who didn’t read those posts, then more recent developments.

Saturday, August 10
I was camping with my wife, stepkids, and most of my sister-in-law’s family in Redwood Falls a hundred miles west of the Twin Cities. A bit before 10pm I got a phone call from a friend of my son telling me that my son Nate had gotten a concussion earlier that evening in a Muay Thai match, had been taken to an Emergency Room, had a CT scan which found bleeding in his brain, and was about to go into surgery.
My brother-in-law and I drove back to the Cities, him at the wheel, me sending and receiving phone calls and text messages along the way. Dark thoughts creep in, things I don’t want to happen but have no control over. We made good time until getting close to the hospital. For those not in the know, Minnesota has only two seasons, Winter and Road Construction. It’s not Winter.

Sunday, August 11
Now past midnight, spent some time finding the right waiting room. Several of his fellow Muay Thai fighters as well as some of his non-fighter friends were there. Wait, wait, wait. Mumbled concern amid a lack of information. Talk about anything else whenever there’s too much silence, a discussion of the life and films of Nicolas Cage fit the bill.
After 3+ hours in surgery, the neurosurgeon came in to speak to me. My son had bleeding in the brain, a blood clot, and they’d removed a part of his skull to relieve pressure on the brain. He held up his hands to show me the approximate diameter. Bigger than a baseball but smaller than a softball.
Then more waiting while he was moved from surgery to the Intensive Care Unit. Eventually, just us two family members were allowed in to see him.
A breathing tube down his throat, bandages on his head, tubes everywhere. Blood. I successfully resist the urge to draw my iPhone from my pocket and record the scene for posterity. Monitors blink and my sweet boy lies there heavily sedated. He may be 26 years old, but in this place and time, he’s my baby. I stroke the side of his head that’s not bandaged, tell him that I love him even though he can’t hear me (on a conscious level at least). Eventually a nurse says I need to take care of myself. Go home, get some sleep. I try, not all that successfully.

Later Sunday, went back again. The breathing tube has been removed and he’s nodded answers to some Yes/No questions. 98% sleeping most of the day. Eventually speaks a bit, very softly, but more than a bit confused. Then back to sleeping moments later. When prompted, will eventually move his arms and legs.
Finally remembered to call his remaining grandfather to tell him what had happened. Very painful conversation. A few more hours of intermittent sleep.

Monday, August 12
Fool that I am, I go to work. With only four days until my scheduled retirement. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Meh, it’s a way to occupy what’s left of my mind. But I lay out the situation to my boss and coworkers. I am here physically but not mentally. I’m choosing which projects to work on and will stick to ones I can do on autopilot. If I get a call from the hospital saying my boy’s taken a turn for the worse, I’m walking out the nearest exit and not coming back. I’m working fewer hours than usual. None of this is negotiable. Nobody argues with me.

Later, we head back to the intensive care unit. My son recognizes me and his stepmom. Can open his right eye all the way but his left eye (the one that was dilated) only a bit. Answers a few questions with just a few words. And then drops back into sleep. Seems to have some long-term memory, but not short-term. Knows his name, what year it is and who’s our Sociopath-in-Chief, but guesses at the month, thinking it might be July.
The head of neurosurgery stops in on his rounds. Almost casually, he mentions in passing how fortuitous was the timing of my son’s arrival at the ER and that given the seriousness of his injury, that he would have died if he’d been brought in five minutes later. He did not look like a man prone to hyperbole.

Tuesday, August 13
My son had his eyes open maybe 75% of the time. Talks a bit more. Both suggest that he’s going to survive. But also that his cognitive deficits are more obvious. He only speaks when spoken to, and then only a few words. But the pressure in his brain seems to be abating a bit, there’s talk that maybe they’ll replace the missing piece of his skull on Thursday.
The hospital is a Level 1 Trauma Center with highly skilled staff but happens to be in a somewhat sketchy part of town. As we leave to walk back to the parking garage, I find that there are still people who think no more of dropping an empty pack of cigarettes in the street than a dog thinks of where to relieve itself in somebody’s yard. I want to pick it up and hand it to him saying “Excuse me sir, is this yours? I think you may have dropped it” but this is Merica! so he might pull out a 9mm. I walk right past him.

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Hang in there, man. All the best to you, your wife and son.

My thoughts are with your son, you and your family. Hope everything turns good again and that he can recover quickly!
THX for sharing

Thinking of you. I missed your post, but saw @jayna's post (didn't realise you two were related before now). The brain is an amazing thing and it's abiltiy to heal itself is only just beginning to be appreciated. Hope he gets everything he needs to make a full recovery.

On the “good news” front, he is responsive, recognizes people, and has even joked a little. Really hoping and praying that he can make a full recovery. Thank you for the kind words,

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My brother suffered a TBI in 2008. It's a long road to recovery, if you need someone to talk to, find me.

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I hope he’s okay now.

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Well, he'll never fully be 100%. That much is certain. He needs to take a nap in the middle of the day, so he can't hold a full time job, but he's able to live almost independently. Needs a little home here and there, but otherwise he's living life to the fullest.

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Cried all the way through reading this. I probably would have done so even if I didn’t love you guys so much. Having your child experience a trauma like this is a nightmare. Full stop. Hang in there, @preparedwombat.

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Damn man I missed the start of this story.

Unbelievable. Hanging tough and being the rock everyone looks to for stability would be the best I would hope for in that situation.

Can't wait to hear the happy ending of this one bud.

Wishing the best for your son and the family. Advancements in healthcare will surely help as it seems he is in good hands my friend.

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Tough times indeed for your son, you, and your family. Take care.

I am hoping that the lead tag is not going to be a common one.

It sounds like you guys are in for some times ahead with recovery but hopefully once the pressure subsides and the bruising clears, the fog will lift and he will be back to his old self.

I can't imagine what it must be like for you, but I do know what it is like to have a child in emergency with unknown brain issues.

And since I don't know much about Nick Cage

but this is Merica! so he might pull out a 9mm.

This is why you need to carry a 9mm as well, because then they cancel each other out...

I am sorry and glad at the same time. I hope with every fiber of my being your son will be okay. I am truly sorry you and your loved ones have to go thru this. Being a parent is awful sometimes really.

I wish your son (and your family) well on his road to recovery!

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Woow, that is indeed not so good! Looks like he will get away rather okay! I can imagine the feeling you were going true. Must have been a nightmare. I do have shivers now!
Hope he recovers fast and that it will something great for him to tell to his kids later on!


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This is so hard to comprehend what you are going through. I wish you the best for your family as you go through this time.

Sending hugs and best wishes for a complete recovery.

Oh no I am so sorry to hear this. You must be traumatised too, to see your son like that. It doesn't matter how old they are they are still your baby and you still want to protect them. Glad to hear that he is in good hands. I find it remarkable that most stories of survival about that knife edge wear one wrong move or 5 minutes later the outcome may have been very different. Thank god the outcome is what it is and I'm sure he will make a good recovery. Much love to you. Xx

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