This post is a departure from my regular posts due to the content. But I have always found that sharing real life struggles helps someone somewhere. If you’re the one it touches, please know that you’re not alone.
I jumped up in bed so quickly that my head was spinning. I had been pulled out of deep sleep so harshly that I was disoriented and dizzy. It took a couple more seconds to realize that the phone was ringing. Why is the phone ringing? What time is it?
The clock said 2:15AM. This isn’t going to be good.
When the phone rings at these hours, it’s always a call that pulls the breath out of my body and leaves me without strength under the weight of whatever horrible news is coming at me from the other end of the phone. These calls are every parent’s worst nightmare and I’ve had too many of them.
The voice on the other end of the phone was my 19 year old son. He was drunk, crying and scared. He said he was in the emergency room, that he thought he was going to lose his eye and that the cops were there. He begged me to come to him. He kept saying how scared he was and how much pain he was in. Somehow, I managed to discern that he had been in a car accident and had put his face through the windshield. There was either glass in his eye or near his eye causing him a lot of pain. I’ll be right there.
I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes and put my hair back in a baseball cap. The hospital was an eight minute drive from home in which time my mind came to its fully alert mode and started trying to process the pieces of crazed information that had come from my manic son. I tried the best I could to brace myself for whatever I was going to see when I walked into the emergency room since I had no way of knowing just how bad the injuries were.
When I arrived at the ER and was ushered into his room, I took in the scene. Gordon was sitting up on the bed, covered in blood from his right eye and mouth, down his shirt and onto his pants. His eye was swollen shut but he recognized me when I entered. He cried about how much pain he was in and how scared he was about losing his eye.
He told me that the police had been there asking him questions about the accident but that he didn’t tell them anything because he didn’t want to get his friend in trouble. She had been driving drunk at the time of the accident and fled the scene. She had dropped Gordon off at the ER and driven away. Nice.
Because I had been through other drunken incidents with Gordon, I knew that it was best to keep my calm and not allow my mom-emotions to alter my judgment or make me act crazy. Having a sane discussion with him while he was drunk was like asking a two year old to drive you to the store.
Shortly after I arrived and began to discern what happened, the ER doctor and nurse came into the room to work on Gordon. They explained that the glass was so close to the eye that he was miraculously lucky to be able to keep his eye. The doctor asked if I wanted to stay with Gordon while they removed the glass and like I always did when my boys were hurt, I opted to stay. But things went south fast.
Because Gordon was so intoxicated, they had trouble getting him to be still for the Novocain injections. I tried to settle him down but he was swearing and combative. The doctor and nurse calmly just kept doing their job but it wasn’t easy. By the time they were ready to begin removing the small pieces of glass, I was already tense and distraught inside. As soon as the doctor began removing the glass, Gordon started screaming and crying and squeezing my hand to the point that I thought my fingers were going to break. The doctor firmly explained to me that this reaction is common when people are high or drunk. But it was too late. I began to pass out. Apparently, the nurse looked over and caught me just before I hit the floor.
I have seen a lot of blood and experienced my children’s broken and dislocated bones and never flinched. My three boys have had emergency room visits, ambulance rides, surgeries, x-rays, MRI’s and the list goes on and on. I have been by their side for every procedure from start to finish and never once swooned. But the out of body feeling that hit me like a tsunami in that emergency room was unlike anything I had lived through thus far. I felt as though I had been transported out my normal, suburban life into a Quinton Tarantino movie. The stench of alcohol, the screaming, the blood, the emotionless doctor and the nurse who was trying to mask her disdain for my son, the cold ER atmosphere and the feelings of guilt and helplessness were more than my brain and physical body could process – so I just shut down. It was as if I blew a fuse and my lifeless body slowly sank down the side of the bed towards the floor.
To be continued…