The TBI Chatroom
Hi, I am Austin's mom. It was July 14th 1997, the last day of our 2 week vacation. Austin was just 2 months into his third year when we had our accident.
This is a very hard story for me to tell. Unlike alot of peoples accidents they have someone else to blame for their accident, I had no one to blame but myself.
My husband wanted to take his truck up to the corner of a busy intersection to place it for sale. Our other vechicle was a brand new Taurus. Since we were a family of five, to make things simple (no arguing over who was going to sit where) we had assigned seats. Of course Austin had a car seat and always sat there. As my husband hopped in the truck, my oldest son (9) hopped in with him. My middle son (7) with excitement asked if he could ride up front. We weren't going far so I said sure. As I was putting Austin in his car seat, he started throwing a fit (one of those terrible 3 year old fits) kicking and screaming and arching his back, refusing to go into his car seat. I looked at my husband, and he shrugged. To this day I regret the decission I made when I said "Okay, but just this once." As a family we were not in the habbit of putting on our seat belt, so I did not fassen Austin's either.
We were just a few blocks from our destination, and I was taking the side roads to avoid traffic. I was going down a residential street (25mph) that only had two-way stop signs at every other street. It was a street with very old trees, and as I approached an intersection I did not see the stop sign and went straight through the intersection and got hit by a car going 45mph. It hit us on the side and slammed us into a pole. Austin hit the windshield upon inpact. The air bag went off and slammed him into the windsheild again. He broke the windshield twice with his head. My airbag went off too, and I remember not really knowing what was going on. Or what could have possibly happened. As the air bag went down, I looked around tring to figure out what had happened. I saw Austin laying on the floor still daized I picked him up and laid him on the seat. I asked if everyone was okay. Still very daized and tring to figure out what happened and where we were, I heard my middle son say "Mom Austin's not moving" I looked down and his eyes were wide open and he was staring into space. I picked him and got out of the car and started yelling call 911 call 911. People came out side and called for help. I was only a few blocks away from where my husband was and started running for him (I was histerical)I was yelling "I killed my son, I killed my son." Someone grabbed me and took be back to the scene. I kept saying "I killed my son , I killed my son."
We were very lucky, Austin was alive, but barely. He was only breathing 4 beaths per min. There just happened to be a military doctor who lived at that intersection and was giving Austin CPR. It was very difficult be cause he had to keep clearing his mouth of blood. Parimetics were only two blocks away. (Parked at the very intersection were my husband was with his truck, waiting for me to pick him up.)
There was 2 ambulances at the scene. Someone went to get my husband. When He got there I was still histerical. They were putting Austin into the ambulance and checking out my other son, who had a bump on his forhead from hitting the dashboard. I refussed treatment. My husband rode in the ambulance with Austin, and I rode with Adam. We went to Childrens Mercy Hopital in downtown KCMO. All the way there I did not if Austin was dead or alive. I prayed all the way.
When we got to the hospital they informed us that Austin was alive, but in very critical condition. We was not able to breath by himself, and was immeditatly put on life support. He was in a comma from time of impact and his brain was swelling. When we asked if he would be okay, all they could say was "We will have to wait and see." He was sent up to ICU and was allowed to see him hours later. He had had a colasped lung, and burns on his face from the air bag. A neck brace on and his face and head were swollen. My baby was laying there with nothing but a diaper on. They did not allow me to touch him. (They did not want his brain stimulated.)
After the cat scan we found out that one of his main impacts had affected his brain stem, and that was why he could not breath on his own. There had also been severe shearing between the two sides of his brain. The other impact was to his left side. While in comma laying there, the only sign of life was the posturing we would see. (Not a good sign.)
On Wednesday they wanted to wean him from they life support to see if he could breath on his own. They would slow the oxagen flow until there was none. He immediately started to breathe very hard and fast. 127 breaths per minute. His chest would rise and fall really hard. It looked like his stomach was touching his back bone. It was a horrible sight to see. Immedatly his lung collasped again and they had to put in another tube, and gave him medication to slow his breathing down, but it did not seem to help. They did not put him back on life support, they did not want him to become dependant on it. I found out later it was basically to see if he would make it on his own or not. Thank God he did. He began to stablize, but was still in comma. Sunday, 1 week after the accident, he was out of ICU, but still in a comma, and starting to have seizures. A very unsettling sight. They took him back up to ICU for observation for a day. Then Monday, we saw his eyes pop open, then shut just as quick. He was starting to come out of it. Little did we realize that once he "woke up" he would still be in a comma like state. A week later he, what we call woke up, but there was no life in him. He stared blankly into space. Could he see me? Could he hear me? Did he know I had not left the hospital once since the accident? Did he know I was there? After he came out of ICU, I had not left his side once. They took him down for therapy, and did test on him, he responded to pain, but nothing else. They told me that was a good thing. It was hard to watch. The doctors called a meeting two weeks after he woke up. We was not responding to anything but pain, and they were not incouraged. We asked all of the tyipical questions, Will he come out of it, What will he be like if he does ?,?,? every response, "We don't know, We'll just have to wait and see.
Everyday they kept up the thearpy, every day no real response.
One day, Austin had just fallen to sleep when his therapist came for him. I asked if we could skip, so we did. I was laying behind him, with his back to me. I kept peeking over his shoulder to see if he was awake.
When I saw he was, I started to play with him. Kinda like peek a boo. When all of the sudden the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. A smile. I hopped out of the bed as fast as I could and found a nurse. Austin had snapped out of it. I could now play with him and make him smile. The thought that came to me was, If he never gets any better than this, I know he's in there, and I can make him smile. It was such a relief. He was not able to talk, but we found ways to ask him questions. Mostly yes and no. He would answer by blinking, then opening and closing his left hand. In two weeks he was holding up his head. It was like having a newborn all over again. Watching him with new first everyday. After 6 weeks they let us go home. Austin was still in a wheel chair, and not talking. He had to have thearpy 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. In December he said his first word, it was "mom".
He started walking about the same time. Was fed through a tube for nine months. That whole year was really hard, but with each new gain we were thankful.
Ausitn is 8 years old now and is in the 2nd grade after repeating kindergarten twice, and barely making it through 1st grade. His right side is very weak, and uses his right hand only to assit with some things. He walks with a limp, and hipper extends his knee whe he walks. His speach is breathy and hard to understand even for me sometimes. He never seems to be discouraged by his disabilities. He is a very happy child, (this helps me a great deal)and wants to do every thing himself, no matter how difficult. He has played tee ball, soccer(with kids younger than him), and does tae kwon do.
He wants to ride a bike, but doesn't have the balance, he still can not tie his shoes, and has problems buttoning. He is getting thearapy at school, and once a week at Childrens Mercy. He has trouble reading, and hates school. I wonder what challenges will be ahead. What his life will be like as a teenager and adult. Right now kids in school like Austin, but has no real friends. Kids his age don't want to play with him because he can't keep up. He spends most of his time playing video games, computer games and watching TV. He did learn how to ride a scooter this summer and was very proud.
I am writing this today with hopes of finding other families with children with disablities. So we can share stories of hope, and triumph, and disapointments.
My name is Tammy, I hope to hear from you soon.Email Tammy "momoftbi"