God was there pt.3 (the 30 minute race)
"Jorgie, don't go to sleep, come on, wake up baby." I said these words over and over as we waited in the Emergency room for the doctor to come in. We had already seen at least 3 different people. This hospital is a teaching hospital which means students and interns walk in one by one looking, examining, and asking the same questions over and over. Although I understand why, and they do need to learn, but it gets old after awhile, especially when you are anxious for the doctor to walk in and help your child.
Jorgie was 12 years old. It was a couple of weeks before his 6th grade graduation. He has always had incredible teachers since preschool, and these teachers always poured their hearts and energy out on these very special students, each with so many unique needs and abilities. The last 3 years, from 3rd to 6th grade, Jorgie had shown tremendous progress. Most typical children go through many milestones by 12 years old, but for a child with cerebral palsy, the smallest skill or achievement is huge success. Jorgie was beginning to bring his lips together, which was a very big challenge for him. Also, he was able, with the help of his teacher designing modified plastic utensils with velcro, Jorgie was able to hold a spoon or fork and bring the food to his mouth. This was an incredible accomplishment, one he was very proud of because if there was one thing he loved, it was to eat. That boy had an apetite. One of my favorite things to do was take him out on Saturday mornings for breakfast; just mommy and Jorgie. We would go to our local family restaurant together, the servers knew us and always greeted Jorgie with a warm welcome. His favorite thing to eat was their chorizo burrito, and it wasn't small. Its length filled a whole dinner plate. Feeding him took alot of patience, because I had to be careful his bites weren't too big, and I had to remind him to chew it thoroughly before swallowing. When he was done swallowing, he would let out this loud "ummmmmmmm", this was his way of telling me he wanted more. He would eat that whole burrito! He didn't know how to whisper, or what an "inside voice" was so at one point we had an audience watching him eat that big old burrito. It was a funny sight because he was so skinny, I even wondered, where is he putting this thing. There was no "mind our own business" or "keep to ourselves" moments when going on dates with Jorgie, he let every one in the restaurant know when he wanted something with his loud "Ummmmmm" or "hambreeeeee" or "Agua" when he wanted a drink of water or juice. Not to mention, when he was full, he would open his mouth and take a big bite, hold it in his mouth for a few seconds, then slowly open his mouth letting everything fall out and whatever was left, he would push out with his tongue, a very dramatic ending at every meal. Makes me smile to think back on those days.
Now we are sitting here, waiting for the doctor. When the doctor finally walks in, she calmly greets us and starts examining my drowsy son. "Is this his normal behavior?" "No, it is not, he should be crying." She examined his shoulder and started to type in an order for an xray. "Doctor, I think he hit his head, he shouldn't be sleepy." Why did I feel like the only one who knew about the possible head injury symptoms, I felt like I was in the twilight zone. At one point, I began to think maybe I was making things up, maybe it was just his arm, maybe he is just tired. Thankfully, the doctor noticed the concern in my voice and on my face and decided to send him for a ct scan, "just to rule out any head trauma". I stood on the other side of the glass as they fastened my son on the table, that would roll under the scanner. He was unusually calm, something was not right.
A few minutes later the nurse and the tech transferred him back on the bed and made their way out of the radiology room. It was as if, I had disappeared. They didn't look at me, they didn't say a word. There steps got bigger and faster, as they pushed his bed down this long hall back to the ER. I tried to keep up with them, my mind went blank until I was startled by a very large intercom announcement, requesting, no, more like demanding the trauma team 1 go to trauma Room 1. The nurse and tech were practically running at this point, I'm right behind them. They make a sudden stop in front of a different room, on the door, a sign that said "Trauma 1". They rolled my son inside, I peaked into room and there had to be at least 6 people there, in masks, paper robes and gloves. They made me wait outside of door. All of the sudden, I feel a hand on my shoulder and there was this guy with a white collar standing behind me. "Why is their a priest here?" Were my first thoughts. Obviously, he was the hospital chaplain, but I why was he there. "Are you Mrs. Alvarado?" "Yes". He introduced himself and extended his hand, I shook his hand but never kept my eyes off the trauma 1 door. The door finally opened and doctor escorted me inside. I couldn't see Jorgie because he was surrounded by people hovering over him, asking for this and that, starting an iv, examining him, scurrying around, I tried to peak through the bodies to see my boy; when I did get a glimpse, he seemed to be sleeping. The doctor gently grabs my arm and pulls me to the back of the room where there was a lit window and my son's head scan on it. The chaplain followed behind, I was looking at him strangely, like "why are you following me". The doctor was very brief and to the point. "Mrs. Alvarado, this is your son's head". I looked at it and it looked like he had 2 brains. the doctor pointed at the smaller mass and said it was a blood clot and it was getting bigger and pushing into the brain. "We have to operate immediately to removed it." OK, surgery, of the head, at this point, I wanted to cuss. I didn't know what to say. "How?" "Why?" Finally I found a full sentence in my overwhelmed brain. "Is this surgery safe?" "Mrs. Alvarado, we have less than 30 minutes to save your son, the risks are far greater if we don't operate now!" I nodded my head and moved out of the way as the doctor made his way towards Jorgie. I felt numb all over, what was happening? This is a bad dream and I am going to wake up any minute. But I didn't wake up. I realized, I have two little girls, one at school, one at home with dad. I need my mind to calm down, so I can figure out what to do next.
The chaplain brought me a chair, but I couldn't sit. He brought me water, but I couldn't even swallow. I could hear them prepping for Jorgie right behind me, but I couldn't even look, I had my back towards my son. I thought maybe if I didn't look, it wasn't really happening, but the reality was I was scared to death. "Is he going to die?" "Please God, don't take my son". Were the only words and prayer rolling around in my head. All of the sudden, I woke up from the dark place in my head and I could think for a minute. "I have to call my husband". The chaplain stepped away to talk to one of the nurses. I could barely get the words out about what was going on, now my husband is in tears, I could hear it on the phone. "Honey, I need you to calm down, we have the girls to think about too." "You need to pick up Sarah from school and the car I left; I will call someone to watch the girls, so you can get over here." "OK" and he hung up the phone.