Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Too Close

It’s 3:30 a.m. I’ve been up now for about 20 hours… not a personal best by any measure, but a heavy stretch of awake time all the same. For the last 6 + hours, I have been at Mercy San Juan Hospital. My 19 year-old son was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a very bad accident. He’s going to live and barring any complications, he should make a full recovery. In other words, I am not on some kind of vigil… I don’t have to be here.

But I do. My boy is hurt and even though he is finally resting, albeit restlessly, I need to be here anyway – just in case he needs me. To hold his hand when the pain is unbearable; to tell him it’s going to be all right; to empathize and sympathize; to make it possible for him to rest just a little bit easier knowing his father is just on the other side of the wall. Although I knew even before I left home that he would survive, I am acutely aware that it could have been otherwise.

I saw the wreck.

Between my home and the hospital was the carnage that used to be three automobiles. My son’s friend’s car was by far the most damaged of the three. The driver’s space was about one-third its original size. I knew that there would be injuries and severe ones at that. I wish I were wrong. Timmy has myriad superficial wounds to his face and left hand… deep gashes requiring many stitches, but still superficial. He has a concussion and he has a badly broken right arm. I believe it’s the humorous bone (it’s the larger bone, between the elbow and shoulder – sorry, no Internet… you know I’d look it up), and how bad it is won’t be known until an orthopedic specialist has evaluated him. It’s at least that bad, I guess.

All four of the occupants were transported to area hospitals. Timmy’s girlfriend has already been released from another hospital; she’s sleeping on a little couch in the trauma ICU waiting area, right next to me. She suffered contusions and lacerations requiring some sutures as well as a concussion. The other passenger is spending the night here on the fifth floor for observation – he should be fine. The driver was transported to a hospital in downtown Sacramento with his own severe injuries – among them a broken femur, we’ve been told.

I know a thing or two about broken femurs.

Although there is never a “good” time for something like this to occur, there are some times that are, well, less convenient than others. For a number of reasons, this would count as one of the least so. But it hardly matters. Right now, all bets are off. Work can wait. So can school. But that’s my stuff. This major pothole in the road of life comes right when Timmy finally found a job, one he likes and is excited about. He has worked two days, and he’s scheduled for today. He won’t make it. Hopefully he will still have a job when he has recovered sufficiently. But that will be weeks from now.

Me? Besides my usual weekly deadline at work, I just have a research paper due today… I was going to finish it last night. It looks like my last post came back to haunt me. The paper will be late. So what! It is rather insignificant and completely meaningless at the moment. I’ll take the deduction on my grade and life will go on. Should’ve done it when I had the time? Never know what’s around the corner? Save it! None of that philosophic “what-if” BS has any impact on me right now. Indeed, the importance of this whole quest for obtaining my degree has little meaning next to my childrens’ health and welfare.

Right now my eyelids are heavy. The muscles of my scalp are tense. I’m ready to tee-off on anyone who so much as looks at me, cross-eyed or otherwise. In my mouth is the acrid taste of adrenalin combined with the tightness only hours of clenched jaws can bring. And I am grateful, humbled and oh so tired. This was close and I now have a very good idea what this side of the equation feels like. I’ve been in Timmy’s shoes, now I’m trying on my parents’.

Let’s don’t do this again.


Timmy came home this afternoon. He looks pretty bad, but what a difference 24 hours makes. He will be rehabilitating for some time, but it looks like his arm will not need anything more than immobilization. Of course, all of this is subject to change, but the news is promising nonetheless. Tomorrow marks 44 years since my birth - I feel as though I've lived them all in a single minute.

Blessings duly noted, and counted.


Anonymous said...

Oh Mike, I am so sorry. I will be praying for Timmy and the rest of your family. My first thought was that you had been through this before...so you know what he's going through and your parents went through.

You're a wonderful dad. I wish my son had a father like you.

Praise God they all survived the accident and will be ok.

awareness said...

Hi Mike.


Can I send you a cyberspace back rub and a hug?

Thinking of you and your family. Let the healing begin.......

dana. xo

Anonymous said...

Well Mike, Happy Birthday My Friend! You've had a lot of life in the first 44, I wonder what's in store for the next half?

Hey, I see that Dana gave you a back rub and hug. I was going to offer that but I didn't want to seem like a flirt since I've been accused of flirting with you before! I think married women can get away with saying things that sound "different" if coming from a single woman.

hugs and tons of kisses,
Barbara ;)

Ellen said...

I am relieved to hear that your son is going to be ok. What a nightmare for you and your family to endure.

The true test of character, and one which you passed, was to be by your sons side while in he was in the hospital. To put aside your deadlines of other business shows you are an outstanding parent. It also shows what is most important in your life, your child.

A belated happy birthday wish to you, and a hope that next years birthday celebration won't be as eventful. Perhaps a nice cake and some candles... and a healthy healed son.

Take care.

X said...

Hugs about your son....I hope that his rehab doesn't last too long, but I'm glad to hear that he will make a full recovery. I'm thinking of you guys!

Hugs also about your bday ;)

Saur♥Kraut said...

I am SO very glad that your son is OK. If it were mine, I'd be by his bedside night and day, as well. *hugs*

Jenn said...

Happy birthday!

Glad to hear your son is going to be ok! What a nightmare to go through.

Snaggle Tooth said...

Must've been tough driving by the wreck- TG the kids are alive! You've definately had your share of "how fragile life is wake-up-calls"!
I knew there was a reason I keep you in my daily prayers- I'll add one on for Tim-
Also it's amazing what the lack of sleep does to interaction skills...

n Happy belated B-day!

SzélsőFa said...

Found you through Carmi's blog.

I was sorry to read about what's happened. I, being a totally stranger am sending you and your son some positive vibes.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

blimey, didn't think lightening was supposed to strike twice!

the myriad of feelings, the memories of your own wreck, the wanting to take all his pain upon yourself as a father does...if it had been my boy, there's no way i would have left the hospital either

strength to you from the other side of the pond

Helene said...

Thankfully everything is going to be ok!

Wow... and my post yesterday now seems soooo silly...

Hey... Happy Birthday! I am thrilled that he is home to celebrate with you! (Although I bet what you really wanna do is sleep!!)

Jinsane said...

Mike: Hey stranger! I'm so sorry to hear about your son, but am extremely grateful that he is going to be OK. I've been in a really bad wreck before too, and I know the damage it does to you, both mentally and physically. I'm just really relieved (for the both of you) that he is going to "walk away" from it.

God Bless!

P.S. Happy Belated Birthday!! XO

CyberKitten said...

SO glad your son is OK.

BEST wishes for a swift recovery.

blair said...

Hi Mike,

So sorry to hear of your son's accident. I hope he is ok. That has to be the scariest call in the world. My children are 10 and 12 and I know it won't be long before I have to worry about much more than a bad test score, or a messy room. I'm sure your son was greatful that you were there for him. It will all come together. As I read your post, I breathed a sigh of relief when you said they all survived.

Take care,

coryandfarah said...

I'm glad that your son is going to be okay, and I'm glad that he has a loving father like you to stand by his side. Take care of yourself and your family in this difficult time. How precious life is.

Happy birthday!


OldLady Of The Hills said...

Haven't been by here in some time but I saw your name over at Carmi'sd...So sorry about your son's accident but glad to read it is not as horrible for him as it might have been...Reading that first sentence I was reminded of yoyr accident that you have written about and what a life changing thing it was for you.
Prayers to you and your son, Mike.

Michael K. Althouse said...

barb (2) ~
Thank you, and thank you again. Go ahead and flirt away - I've been accused of worse!

Dana ~
Absolutely, and much appreciated. The healing has begun, but it's a long road ahead - one I am very familiar with.

ellen ~
Comfort (mine) was not high on my priority list. There was really no other place I could be. Thank you for the cake and candles. I'm with you... enough excitement already!

K ~
Even though he has some significant injuries, a year from now all that will be left are some scars. Oh, to be 19!

saur ~
Thank you too! Fortunately, he's gonna be ok. Now we just need to find a good lawyer.

jenn ~
Thanks stranger! Glad to see you again. I stop by your blog from time to time, but time has not been plentiful of late. But soon, very soon I will have more.

snags ~
Yes my friend, I know you know a little about sleep deprivation. It's good to know that when I have to, I've got it in me. And Thank you too!

Szélső Fa ~
Vibes received and appreciated. Thanks for stopping by. I visited your blog as well (I always do when a stranger takes the time to leave a comment) and will be back. Thank you.

paul ~
You're not kidding. When is it going to over?? Actually, at the end of the day (actually it was two or three, but the metaphor still works), everything came back to a reasonable level of sanity. Not that it's all over - it's not, but the crisis is. Thank you.

kate ~
I don't think your rant was silly at all. We all have our days. I don't believe in counting my blessings in relation to another's - it cheapens the whole process. By the same token, your trials are yours to bear - my experience doesn't lessen yours in the least. But I get what you're saying;-) and thanks.

jen ~
Hey girl! I was wondering if you ever stopped by this way anymore. I check you out often - especially on HNT, but I don't usually leaver a comment - but you probably know that! You're not kidding about the mental part of it, maybe that's why it struck me so hard - I dunno, but thanks.

ck ~
Thank you, he's definitely out of the woods now.

blair ~
so good to hear from you again. Here's to hoping that all you ever have to worry about is messy rooms and bad test scores.

cory ~
Thank you, but I don't feel as though I did anything special or that I had any choice. I am just glad that I was able to support him when he needed me most. Thanks for the birthday wishes - I got mine!

oolith ~
I don't get over to your site as often as I would like either, my friend. I just discovered Carmi's blog and I like it... as a matter of fact, he is my newest link. Thanks for the kind thoughts -everything is gonna be alright.

nessie said...

Jesus Christ! I don't know what to say.

I'm 23 years old and I dont think either of my parents would do that for me. timmy's really really lucky. You tell him that from me, ok?

carmilevy said...

Thank goodness he's OK. My worst fear is that something bad would happen to our kids, and as I read your account I find myself silently wishing that I'd have your strength and dignity if I ever found myself in your shoes.

I survived a severe car accident when I was 14. My sister lost control on the highway and put us through two concrete dividers. There was almost nothing left of the car, and the police officers who arrived on-scene first said they expected to be calling in helicopters for rescue.

Please know that I am thinking of you, and of your son, and saying a prayer that more kids in this world have fathers as caring as you.

enid said...


A belated sympathy hug for you. Glad to know that all went well and that your son is recuperating well at this time.

Happy Birthday and may you have Many Many more~


mckay said...

oh my goodness. i haven't had time to devote to your blog, as i know i always need extra time to contemplate your words. i had no idea what your son and you have gone through.

i hope the recovery has gone well and you are both feeling less stress and pain. family is so important, so putting everything on hold is the only thing you could have done.

you're a wonderful father, mikey.

i hope all the other people in the accident have also recovered. may this Christmas be even more special, knowing that your family is safe.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear your son survived and came home.

Biker Betty said...

I'm reading this days after the post. I'm so glad to hear that Timmy will most likely heal without further surgery. He will be in my prayers, as well as you. Parenting is one of my toughest jobs. The situations that come up usually require the most from me.