Thursday, January 31, 2008

Jon's Bad Day

When the Prescott police told me that Jon had been flown to Phoenix by helicopter they said they weren't sure he'd survive the trip. He'd been torn up pretty bad. The Prescott hospital hadn't been able to do much for him. The extent of the brain injury was too severe. Jon's legs had been broken, both thighs. The big toe on his right leg was split. His left arm had been wrenched from the socket. The bone around his left eye was broken and his scalp was peeled back. The doctor at Barrows Neurological Hospital told me he was in a coma, that his brain had been severely damaged and they had place a shunt in to relieve the pressure from the swelling. I later learned that in a traumatic brain injury quite frequently this secondary injury from pressure building up in the brain cavity is the worse. Putting a shunt in most likely saved his life. He told me that Jon would not likely wake up and if he did wake up he would be profoundly injured, most likely never speak, never walk and would in all likelihood never open his eyes. But the probability was such that if I wanted to see him I should come immediately.

I phoned the airlines and found that there was no help in such a situation. It would cost me over a thousand dollars to fly to Phoenix. I used a credit card to get a flight but it would be another day before I could get a flight. I spent the next several hours online learning about TBI, shunts, cranial pressure and other facts. I learned how little chance we had of ever seeing Jon walk or speak or understand the world around him. The next morning, the day before my flight was scheduled I got up, fixed coffee and breakfast. Margaret and I talked about things, trying to be sure we had not forgotten anything important. I had arranged to stay with friends in Phoenix. I went to the bathroom and collapsed on the floor with incredible pain in my gut. I felt myself losing consciousness and tried to call out. Margaret was walking by the door when she heard something like a whimper and opened the door. That afternoon in the emergency room I came to. There was nothing wrong with me, no reason for the collapse. We told them about Jon and they said most likely it was just stress and probably I would be alright. The next morning I was flying to Phoenix.

Jon in the ICU was like a Frankenstein creation with wires and beeping machines attached. His skin was slightly grey and the scars on his face were still bloody and terrible. They told me I could go in and see him. I managed to draw close to the form on the table. The nurse told me I could touch him. I found it hard to move but I reached out and laid my hand on his shoulder. Suddenly one of the machines began beeping loudly and I jumped back. The nurse ran over and found a wire had come loose, nothing to worry about. Inside of me was a tiny man racing in circles, bouncing off the inside of my head screaming. I walked out of the room into the hallway and slid down to the floor. The nurse asked me if I needed anything. I told her "I need my son back." There was nothing to do and I was not in the way so they let me sit there for a few minutes. I talked to the neurologist who told me all the things they do in times like this. No hope, no chance, no future, no son. I talked to the Chaplin or minister or priest, whatever. He gave me his card. I have it somewhere.

Jon's Bad Day is white stoneware with mason stains, fired in an electric kiln, about life sized.
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