“Everyone’s ok, but…..”
Conversations that start like this usually turn worlds upside down.
Your breath stops, the world stops, and all focus goes to listening to the words that inevitably follow;
“There’s been an accident”
I received this phone call on a Sunday afternoon.
From your Grandma Sue.
She was talking about you, and your family.
As you know, we were on the tail end of a huge, happy family holiday. We had literally just got back to the van after a big day at Movie World. Which was awesome by the way, get your mum and dad to take you once your all tall enough, the rides are AMAZING!
You guys had headed off home, a day before we were due to head off.
The accident, your hilux ute, towing your caravan, Vs a B-Double, (the driver of which had let his guard down while pulling on to the highway in front of you), happened nearly 300k from where we were.
Details were sketchy, even the location wasn’t exact.
I was told that everyone was fine, but you, my niece, N1 (8) were being taken to hospital.
Feeling helpless and starved for information, we packed up camp and started for where we assumed you all were.
The journey felt so slow, but more calls were coming in. Your Daddy, my Brother in law, (BIL), and sisters, nieces N2 (6) & N3 (5), and brother, nephew N4 (4), were being taken to their closest hospital 30k from the accident site, and my beloved middle sister, your beautiful Mumma and you, were being choppered to the nearest big hospital, 250k from the accident site. Seems you had been knocked unconscious, and had quite a bump to the head.
Your car and van were a write off.
You know how your Uncle Dan is a pretty volatile individual. Hell hath no fury like Uncle Dan with a fly in his beer, a missing screwdriver or a stubbed toe, but put him in a serious, dramatic life event, and he’s as calm and clear headed as a superhero.
As I freaked out and cried and filled the gaps of information with awful scenarios in my head, he made a plan.
He would drop your cousins, G1, G2, G3 and I at the big town, we’d set up camp, go to the big hospital, and he would keep going north to your Dad and the little ones, and help sort the practical side of things.
It was late and freezing when we arrived at the hospital, and you and your Mumma had just arrived too.
Hospital waiting rooms are pretty bizarre. Late at night, they’re bizarre-er still.
I didn’t wait long before I was taken in to see you.
G1, G2 & G3 waited in the crazy waiting room. An old friend on hand to sit with them for the first little while.
To say walking into that emergency room was confronting, would be a total understatement.
I was expecting a bump to the head.
What I seen was my beautiful, funny, loud sister, ashen faced, in a paper gown, standing with 3 nurses around the head of the bed where my baby, my first niece, that I watched enter the world, you, lay, bloody, dirty, and drugged.
You looked as frail and helpless as the day you were born. Wearing knickers and a huge neck brace. Stickers attached to wires, attached to a beeping machine covered your little body, still tanned and glowing from a week at the beach. There was an adhesive on your chin, covering a star shaped split that would be sutured together hours later.
Your sun streaked blonde hair was a mess, and stiff with dirt and tears.
From your beautiful blond right eyebrow, to your chin, was swollen and bruised. Your beautiful blue eyes frightfully mismatched. With the right completely swollen shut. Your little mouth, bloody and barely able to open, turned up at the edges when you saw me.
I kissed your mother, and they took her away to have her injuries, which I didn’t even know she had, seen to. The terror in her eyes is something I’ll never forget.
So my watch began.
I stroked your hair and told you that I loved you. You told me what happened as I tried to distract you with other talk, and questions about your trip to SeaWorld. You were sick. Many times. I’d hold the bag while the nurses carefully tipped you to your side, a back/neck injury still a very real possibility.
Your little body would convulse as you wretched, your frightened eyes rolling in your head.
I gently held your sore little hand as you were wheeled down corridors for scans on your brain, spine, pelvis, and internal organs, helping shift you, ever so carefully from bed to bed.
Leaving the room while the scans took place was awful. Seeing the nurses adjust you for the machine was awful. Waiting for someone to explain the results as they came through was agony.
You know how your Mum gets watching state of origin, her pulse racing, on the edge of her seat, that was me inside. But replace excitement with fear. The anticipation was awful. It was all awful.
Getting the all clear was amazing. I took my first breath.
Drs and nurses came and went, and the emergency department carried on at full, crazy steam, as city hospitals do.
G1, G2 and G3 still waited.
They found you had a broken cheekbone and eye socket. You also had belly and hip bruising from the seatbelt, and ended up with 4 stitches in your chin.
When your neck cuff was removed, much to your relief, and some more pain relief was administered, you finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
I watched you as you slept. Stroking your hair and thanking every god I could think of for your very existence.
Just like when you were a baby, and I’d watch you sleep in my arms, your face portrayed every emotion in your brain. Your little face would fitfully turn from still, to grin, to sobs. It was heartbreaking.
When at last your mind was still, and your machine beeps were steady, I tagged out with your nurse, and I went to check on your Mumma.
I was again taken by surprise.
Finding her laying in an emergency bed, wearing a neck brace, ashen, panicked, and very afraid.
She’d not realized how hurt she was, until she knew you were ok. She felt no pain at all, up until then.
She retold the accident in detail. Her eyes darting about, like a cornered animal. Scared out of her mind about her babies. About you.
She was so relieved to hear of your clearance, and to know everyone was in the right places to care for you all.
Phone calls relayed info through the night. Your Daddy and the little ones were spending the night in hospital, nurses monitoring the head bumps of N3 and N4. And N3’s belly. N2 was just along for the ride. And the treat of toast in bed!
Uncle Dan had arrived there safe. Phew. And Grandma was well on her way(800k), due to arrive the next morning. She promised she would only travel half way and rest, but we all knew better.
I braced your cousins, G1, G2 and G3 for what they would see, and they were let in to sit with you, so I could be with your mum.
Thankfully you were asleep and missed the shocked sobs, as they all came and sat by your bed. Unsuccessfully holding back tears, they realised, as I had, how terribly lucky we were to have you with us.
Your mums cuff was removed and she revealed her war wounds. An awful friction burn on her throat from the seatbelt, and matching deep purple and black bruises across her chest and waist.
Both hands were swollen and aching. Whiplash and worry, making moving and speaking very difficult.
When you were given the all clear to move to the children’s ward, mum and baby were finally reunited. Your mumma was allowed to accompany you up, she in her wheelchair and you on your trolley bed.
My girls and I headed back to camp.
Dawn, and we were back again. I checked in on your mumma, not a great rest was had on the Emergency floor. And then up to you.
Your improvement was incredible!
My girls stayed with you, and I went to your mum.
An X-ray had picked up a broken hand. And ensued a hilarious trip to the have her bones manipulated and set.
I’ve been with your mum through 4 births, and 3 of my own, so I’m no stranger to laughing gas. But perhaps given the different circumstances of child birth, I’ve never seen gas do anything but make people vomit.
Until that moment.
My heart was singing as I watched her giggle and drunkenly tell her Dr how gorgeous she was, way too young to be a Dr, and the bone Dr how old he looked with his grey hair! You know Ice Age 3, when they go through the gas, she totally did that line! “It’s Gas talk dude”, followed by “we’re all gunna die!” Before laughing maniacally.
She was wheeled back to her cubicle very embarrassed, but totally pain free!
Your Dad, N2, N3 and N4 were all discharged that morning, and Grandma Sue had arrived at the crack of dawn, ready to take the little ones into her care in a motel, while Uncle Dan and your dad salvaged what they could from the car and van.
They sent through photos of the wreckage.
Your great Aunt drove out to check in, living 100k away, she was the closest family and couldn’t stay away. A nurse, she was invaluable in translating info, and taking special care of you, up in the kids ward.
She took my girls and I into the shops to buy clothing and special treats for you both. Trying to find warm clothes in December is hard! Even in the arctic town of Toowoomba!
My girls, your cousins, were amazing at looking after you, and our Aunt thinks we may get a nurse out of one yet!
They really do love you a lot.
Late that afternoon, your mum was finally discharged and able to be wheeled up to you in the children’s ward, where they had found another break in your eye socket.
Your Daddy and uncle Dan arrived that evening. It was a very, very teary, heart wrenching reunion for a Daddy and his little girl. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Even from Uncle Dan!
The following day Drs found that you, tough as nails, and totally getting used to being waited on, had in fact broken your right arm as well.
Grandma was doing a smashing job keeping the little ones sane and smiling, up in the little town, but was very much looking forward to seeing her daughter and granddaughter, (and having a bit of a break).
With your Dad and mum both with you, it was time for us to go. Walking out of that hospital was hard.
It’s just like when your Mum had you babies. I’d be there for her, go through the birthing roller coaster with her. Share in the joy. And then have to step back. And realize that she had her own family. A family that are more than capable of caring for her and loving her, and her babies.
Just like now.
We headed up to Grandma and the little ones, staying the night, and hugging them all to pieces. Thankful for every little part of them. Thankful for their lives. Thankful and laughing at their stories of the accident, and their time in the motel with grandma.
Sad when they asked when mummy and you, would be back, knowing how bloody scary it must have been for them, for you all, to be separated.
Your James grandparents had arrived too, and your great Aunt and Uncle. All ready to offer a hand.
And your beautiful Aunt had been informed down on the ice in Antarctica, and through the help of some friends, was in the up to date loop of info.
So much help and love, all coming together to make sure everything went smoothly.
After an awful side track. We are all home. Shaken but not stirred! We had Christmas together, and all the injuries are improving so fast! The breaks need more checks, and some more aches and pains are popping up in your Mumma.
Though driving is still a bit scary, for all of you, through debriefing and being open about how you’re feeling, I’m confident you will all be just fine.
And I’m non stop thanking all our dead relatives for protecting our beautiful family.
My lesson here my darling?
Hold your loved ones tight. Always wear your seatbelt. (The wicked bruises they leave are worth all the pain). Never, ever give up hope.
And, my goodness, you are one super brave, super tough young lady!
You must get it from your Mumma.
I love you my baby! Xx