We were in Louisville, Kentucky over Memorial Day weekend staying with some friends of ours. We were set to leave the morning of Memorial Day. Anna and I were still laying around in bed while Alex and Luke toyed around the house that morning. Alex decided that he was going to drink his coffee on the back deck and that him and Luke would eat breakfast out there. They were just hanging out when Alex looked over and saw Luke leaning against the slats of the railing. Just as Alex looked at him, the nails that held the slats to the railing pulled out and the slats fell out taking Luke with them. Alex watched Luke fall backward, head-first off the side of the deck and he was powerless to stop it. Alex stood up and watched Luke twist around so he was belly-down with his hands and knees down (in a crawling position). He saw the look of terror on Luke’s face. He keeps replaying that look in his head. Luke fell about 10 feet to the ground.
Alex ran into the house screaming, ‘Lisa! He fell through the deck! Lisa! He fell off the deck!’ Alex immediately turned down the stairs for the basement. I heard Alex screaming, and the tone of his voice. The terror in his voice will forever haunt me. I jumped out of bed and bolted down the stairs. (Thank God I had pants on.) I ended up being a step behind Alex as we raced down the stairs. I remember thinking ‘oh my God, oh my God, oh my God’ and then quickly praying that Luke would be okay. Alex was expecting to find Luke dead on the ground. I was screaming, ‘Don’t touch him! Don’t move him!’ All I could think was that his neck had to be broken, or that he was going to be paralyzed, or that he was going to have brain damage. I knew that he shouldn’t be moved.
By the time we made it to Luke, he was already trying to stand up and was sobbing. I could see that his head was bleeding. I pushed Alex out of the way and picked Luke up. I held him against my chest trying to stabilize his head. In hindsight, I should have laid him on the ground. Alex and our friend were standing in the door. I yelled at them to move (apologized later in the day for that) and carried Luke upstairs. I laid him on the couch so I could get a good look at him. He was moving all his limbs and crying uncontrollably. Alex was saying that we needed to go to the hospital, and I agreed. Stupidly, we were planning on driving him ourselves. I even asked them to give us directions. Our friend was asking if he should call. I didn’t connect what he was saying. A few minutes later, our friend tells us that the ambulance is on the way. I’m glad he took the initiative – in the moment, we weren’t thinking very clearly.
I asked Alex to sit with him while I gathered everything. I changed my pants, put on a bra, brushed my teeth, threw on deodorant, grabbed my phone, charger and Luke’s hearing aids, and tossed on shoes. My whole body was shaking from the adrenaline. I asked our friends to keep Anna with them. Without skipping a beat they said, ‘absolutely’. They kept apologizing. I told them to stop – it was an accident. Accidents happen. I went back to kneeling next to Luke while Alex quickly got ready. I tried to keep Luke occupied and calm by singing songs and asking him to point out parts of my face. It felt like an eternity, but the paramedics finally arrived. They walked in and did an initial assessment. One of them collected information from me about Luke and the other explained what would happen. They were going to immobilize Luke’s head and neck and strap him to a backboard. They wanted to transport him to the children’s hospital, which was 30 minutes away. The paramedic said that at a minimum, Luke would probably have a concussion.
The paramedics wrapped a collar around Luke’s neck. He immediately started crying. They rolled him onto a backboard and noticed that his diaper was full. They suggested that I change his diaper before we left. I agreed. Turns out, the fall had literally scared the shit out of Luke. I cleaned everything up and got his sleeper back on. The paramedics strapped him to the backboard and immobilized his head. Anna was in the kitchen at this point, so I went and talked to her a bit. I tried to sound as normal as possible when I explained that Luke had to be taken to the hospital and that she was going to stay and play. Her eyes got really wide when she saw them carry Luke outside.
They put Luke on a stretcher and belted him down. I walked next to the stretcher as we made our way to the ambulance. They got the stretcher hooked in and had me sit next to him. Alex loaded into our van and positioned himself to follow the ambulance. We started the drive to the hospital. Luke was crying, so I was doing my best to talk to him and calm him down. Eventually he settled down, and almost fell asleep. The paramedic said we needed to keep him awake, so I started showing Luke games on my phone to keep his interest. The EMT kept checking for blood in his ears, nose, and mouth. Alex was following along, and the reality of the situation hit him. He cried the entire way to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital and were immediately taken to a trauma room. Luke was swarmed by nurses and doctors that were assessing him. A nurse was talking over the commotion and asking me a ton of questions. I was doing my best to talk so Luke could hear me and answer her questions. I was trying to hold his hand or foot, but I kept getting in the way. Luke was screaming and kept reaching for me to hold him. It broke my heart that I couldn’t pick him up. They changed out his neck collar, removed his sleeper, hooked him to the heart monitor, and removed the backboard. Alex had parked the car and found the room. The doctor determined that he was healthy enough to sit up and that I could hold him. I immediately grabbed my baby and held him tight. He instantly calmed down. The doctor was hopeful that everything was looking good, but she wanted to run a few tests to check for internal injuries. She ordered a CT scan of his head, an x-ray of his neck, and a urine sample.
We were left to wait for Luke’s turn in radiology. I asked Alex to hold him for a minute. I had taken a cue from Luke and the shit was scared out of me too. Luke screamed the entire time I was in the bathroom. I quickly returned and took him back in my arms. We sat in a chair and rocked for a bit. A nurse brought some toys for Luke to play with to pass the time. Luke sat on the bed stacking blocks and playing with trucks while we waited. I was able to call my family to tell them what was going on. The emotion of the situation finally hit me (or the adrenaline wore off enough) – the tears started.
Eventually we were taken back to radiology for his scans. I realized that I didn’t even know what hospital we were in. I had to ask the nurse. Turns out we were at Kosair Children’s Hospital. Alex and I were in the room for each scan, and had to help hold him down. Luke absolutely hated it. He cried the saddest sobs while he was being scanned. Once they were done, we were taken back to the room to wait for the results. We didn’t have to wait too long (one perk of being a trauma patient brought in by an ambulance – you get top priority). The ER doctor came in and told us that she had good news. The scans showed no signs of fractures or bleeds. He didn’t even have a concussion. We were elated, but confused! It definitely wasn’t the news that we were expecting and it wasn’t the news that the doctor expected to tell us. She shook her head in disbelief and told us that Luke was a miracle. She said that Luke could be discharged once he drank and ate and kept everything down. She knew that we were suppose to make the 5 hour drive back to St. Louis that day, so she recommended we stay another night in Louisville so we knew where the hospital was in case Luke started showing signs of internal injuries. She didn’t want us to be on the road if something were to happen and not know where the closest hospital was. The first 24 hours are the most crucial, so we opted to extend our stay in the area.
Once we learned that Luke was fine, it hit us that we hadn’t eaten anything all day. We were instantly hungry. Not surprising, Luke was also hungry. Luke drank and ate and kept everything where it should be. I was given the discharge papers and we were free to go. In disbelief, we carried Luke to our car. My son fell 10 feet onto rocks and walked away with only a few scrapes. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Luke took a quick nap in the car and was ready to play when we got back to the house. He spent the rest of the afternoon playing with the other kids. He never showed signs of any internal injuries.
The rest of the day, Alex and I would stare at Luke in amazement. We are a bit traumatized and shaken up by the whole ordeal. We keep replaying what happened and talking to each other about it. We are dumbfounded. We don’t know exactly how he impacted the ground (because Alex was already running inside and no one else saw it), but the only part of his body with scratches is his head. We think he might have fallen on a patch of decorative grass on his knees and belly and then bounced his head on the rocks. The bush may have padded his fall. His hands and knees have no signs of injury. Our friends were actually planning on ripping that landscaping out, but didn’t get around to it before our visit. I told them I was going to give it extra water as a ‘thank you’ gift. It’s also amazing that he didn’t land on concrete – a few inches in and he would have. The realization that Luke could have easily died entered our heads. We could have easily lost him. It happened so fast. A snap of the finger and he could have been gone. My paranoia has reached an all-time high. Luke was spared this time, will we be so lucky if there’s a next time? Call it a miracle or blind luck, Luke should not have walked away from that fall. By the grace of God, he was protected. One of my friends said that his guardian angel must be pretty bruised right now. If you aren’t a believer before, this should make you one. We are squeezing our sweet boy a little tighter and sending major thanks upstairs. God is so, so good.