Torgesen Family Times

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How do I even start…

How do I even start…  ER trip for kid #2… The first ER trip for kid #2

Last Saturday afternoon, May 18, after a day filled with a baseball game a shopping trip to REI (my kids call it REI-EI) and Grandpa T over to play, Sara was supposed to be taking a nap.  It was late, but better late than never. 

It was an accident.  It was horrible.  It was one of the most scary moments of a parents life. 

Sara fell from her window, two stories up and landed forehead first on to our deck. 

She had recently learned how to unlock our windows, they are easy new windows to open, her bed is against the window and the roller shade was opened. 

I was tired too and trying to get her to sleep with me in my bed, but she’s 3+ and isn’t needing naps much anymore.  So, after ~20 minutes she said she was going to her room.  I let her.  She was playing around for about 15-20 minutes when I heard what sounded like a screen hitting our deck and a second later a big thump.  I knew exactly what had happened, jumped out of bed and started running down the stairs and telling Lance to call 911. 

Lance didn’t know what had happened.  He thought it was her bookshelf or something else that had fallen over in her room.  I opened the back sliding glass door and there she was.  She was not laying flat, but up half way on her hands and knees.  I don’t have any way to explain it other than Mother’s intuition – but I picked her up.  I know you’re not supposed to move someone injured like this, but how could I NOT pick her up?  There must have been something in me that just knew that was the right thing to do.  I scooped her up (she likes to recount this detail a lot after the fall) and told Grandpa T to get me a towel. 

Lance was calling 911 and Alex was screaming because he was so scared.  Grandpa T took Alex and was re-assuring him and talking with him – it was really a wonderful help to have him there.  He was asking questions and I could tell he was so scared.  Did she crack her skull? Is she going to die?  Is her brain going to be OK? 

By this point – she was going into shock.  She was pale and although she was crying the first minute or so, she was now very quiet.  This part scared the snot out of me. 

Two ambulances arrived and quickly starting checking her out.   She could move her hands & her feet. Nothing obviously broken, but from the 12-15 foot drop and landing on the deck  - we were definitely going to the ER in the ambulance.  They were so nice – they gave her a bunny which she later named “rabbit” but it really sounded like “wabbit”.  She wasn’t doing much at this point except for looking around and doing what the technicians were telling us and her to do. 

There is no real words to describe how it feels to see your child strapped to a board.  All I can tell you was that I was in full blown Mama mode. 



notice in this picture below that she’s itching her face/eye – so she definitely could move. 


They told us we were going to Evergreen, as long as her stats and condition stayed the same.  If she worsened, then they were going to turn on the lights and head to Harborview.  They told Lance that if the lights were to turn on, don’t try to stay up with them.  Just drive safely to Harborview.   It scared the snot out of us again. 

In the ambulance, the trauma and the tiredness of this girl (!) and the motion of the truck moving was just putting her to sleep.  It was a bit scary for me since I didn’t REALLY know if it was just tiredness, but it doesn’t really matter I guess, since the ambulance guy wouldn’t let her close her eyes for too long.  He kept her away by talking to her and I held her hand and talked to her too. 

At one point she started crying, saying she didn’t want to go to Evergreen – when I asked why she said she didn’t want to be a baby.  She knows that she was born at Evergreen and she thought she was going to go back there for that.  We assured her she was not going to be a baby again and she was going to the big girl Emergency Room.  

Thankfully, although probably the longest ride to Evergreen ever – we arrived and she was escorted in to a staff of about 10 people waiting for her.  We quickly explained what happened and they took vitals, hooked her up to monitors and then we started off to CT scan. 

We escorted her there, but had to leave due to the radiation.  This was really hard.  She was so little and all these strange people were around her.  In a funny room, strapped down.  It must have been so scary for us to leave.  We heard her cry a bit through the door and they were done within a few minutes.  Thank goodness CT scans are fast.  They scanned her skull and her abdomen and chest. 

Lance broke down at this point when we were outside the CT scan room.  He started crying and we hugged.  I was still in full trauma mode and just staring at the door, waiting for it to open.  I was a bit surprised, but glad that he was telling me what he was thinking.  He told me he was having a hard time looking at her, he was scared and feeling guilty, etc and I just told him exactly what he needed to do: When we go back in the room, you hold one hand and I’ll hold the other and you look her in the eye and you tell her that you love her.  That is what she needs right now.  She needs to hear this from you.  (At this point we had no idea what condition she was in at all).  We had no idea if she was seriously hurt or not.  We both needed to say this to her and we did. 

They wheeled us back to Xray next to try to get her neck.  They tried a couple of different things, but because her neck had shifted, they asked the doctor to come back in and readjust it.  We ended up back in Xray again for another try, then back to CT scan since it didn’t work. 

We ended up wrapping a blanket around her head to keep it straight and tape it down.  This worked great.  We think she kept moving since I was always on one side and holding her hand and also the strap was right on her forehead where her big cut was.  Anyways, we got the CT scan that showed there was nothing broken in her neck. 

She even had a little smile at this point. 

During the whole thing at the ER – we kept talking about Doc McStuffins (a Disney Junior cartoon about a little girl who is a toy doctor and she gives her toys check-ups and makes them feel better and fixes their boo-boos).  Sara was here for her check up and they needed to take pictures of Sara to make sure she was OK.  Well, the last time we were in Xray, she asked to see the picture (being used to seeing it on my camera or iPhone).  So, I took a picture of it and was able to show her where her neck and throat were, her sholders, her ribs and her head.    It was one of the first times I think I could tell she was feeling a bit better and not so much in shock. 

The other time was when we were waiting for the radiologists to read the Xrays and CT scans and she was getting somewhat agitated at being completely strapped down.  That was a good sign.


Everything came back OK, so she was released from the binds.  The doctors wanted to see if she could stand and she was heavily favoring her left leg.  So, she could move her toes, but not as much on that right leg/foot.  So off to Xray again to check out her leg, but everything turned out OK. 

At this point, Alex came back with Grandpa T (I think this is right) and saw her and saw that she was OK.  Alex got to watch cartoons a bit, but then it was time for him to go home.  Grandpa T took him home and put him to bed and did all the chores (fed the dogs).  Alex was very glad to see that his sister was OK. 

We turned on some cartoons and she just watched for a while.  She was getting thirsty at this point (another good sign) and we asked if she could have anything.  They said no, but I sneaked her a few drinks of water which she loved.  Finally, after being cleared from any surgeries, we got the go-ahead to give her something to eat and drink and she scarfed applesauce and apple juice down.  She was still having quite a fast heart beat (around 140 bpm) but was laying so still.  The doctor kept saying something like, but not really asking, is she acting normally?  I would answer yes, but her heart was just pounding out of her chest.  After the apple juice it calmed right down and then she was my normal girl again.  I asked what she think happened and she said that she probably had low blood sugar and after the juice she felt much better, hence the lower heart rate. 
A little girl in a big room. 
We couldn’t really find anything good on Saturday night ER television, so we turned on Dad’s netfliks and watched a little toons. 

We had called for a plastic surgeon and were waiting for him to show up.  He was very nice and gave me good hope that this wouldn’t be a huge scar.  Of course, after all her major bones and organs were cleared, I felt guilty for even thinking about a scar, but we wanted the best for her.  I’m sure we’ll be paying for it, so no worries there!    I was just trying to grow out her bangs too, and I was thinking she would have to have bangs for the rest of her life (dramatic!?!). 

The plastic surgeon cleaned her up and we took a look at the cut for the first time in many hours.  About a 1 inch cut in the shape of an slight S.  When he was cleaning it out, I noticed it was quite deep in the middle of the cut and there was no tissue there.  I asked him about it and he said it was deep.  My thoughts were that she fell directly on this spot and just obliterated the tissue at this point.  There was nothing really underneath the middle of the cut.  No tissue to stitch together. 

He put in 3 internal stitches and 13 external. 

He told me a few things that really helped me.  First, she has very young skin and therefore had got a lot of time for this scar to fade.  Second, we will be putting a silicon gel on her scar twice a day for ~3 months.  This really reduces the scar dramatically.  Third, and not to be underestimated, sunblock, everyday.  Also, she is still growing and the scar won’t grow with her.  So, it will get relatively smaller on her. 

All stitched up.

We feel so bad that this accident happened, words cannot express how much.  It was an accident that could’ve been prevented.  We should’ve moved her bed away from the window once she knew how to open them up.  We should’ve had a lock on them that she couldn't open.  We should’ve, but we didn’t.  We could’ve paid the ultimate price, but thankfully we didn’t.  Trust me, it keeps replaying in my mind with all the different scenarios that could’ve happened.  We are all figuring out how to deal with this.  Sara must have had angels carrying her down that Saturday afternoon.  You can justify or reason or tell yourself all the things that you do differently so that accidents don’t happen to your kids (I watch my kids where ever they go/always, they don’t like windows, they don’t know how to open them, my kids don’t have accidents, my kids don't take naps in the thier rooms, or anything that makes it seem unlikely that one of their kids would have had this accident, I’ve heard all of these…trust me) but ultimately it was an accident. If we could predict accidents, we would be living in a different dimension. 

What I did appreciate was the outpouring of support and love we got.  From our friends, family and neighbors.  It was truly great and we were so grateful.  Many people just listened to me and validated how scary that must have been.  This was exactly what I needed. This really helped.  No judgements (trust me - I'm judging myself enough). 

She slept with us that first night and I don’t think I got any sleep at all.  6 hours in the ER and my adrenaline was still fresh and pumping.  It was almost like the first night you bring home your newborn baby.  You watch them sleep.  I had to have her right next to me all night long. 

Sara the next day – wearing her Tinkerbell (angel, I think) wings. 

And here she is after her stitches were removed about a week after the accident, with just a piece of surgical tape (and some good ol’ 3 year old attitude). 


And at the beach, happy as a clam in 50 degree water wearing her winter coat.IMG_5634


JOLT said...

Oh man Allison. So, so scary! I'm very glad she is okay, and I imagine writing this post was somewhat therapeutic for you, at least I hope so. Take care of yourself. Love, Jess

amberfull said...

You must have been so scared! My 4.5 year-old (3.5 at the time), twirled like a ballerina in a neighbor's garage, slipped and fell. The bottom of her chin was spit open and we rushed her to ER.

If it is any consolation, I was bit by a dog on my face when I was 3 years old, was in surgery for 6 hours with a plastic surgeon and I have very minimal scaring. Your skin grows with you from such a young age and heals so nicely. I could even email you a picture of myself and you wouldn't detect any scars. ;) She will heal up nicely!