It was a Monday afternoon in late May, when our 3-year old Zachary stumbled and fell into the path of a moving forklift. It did not run over him, but the forks and load of pallets sort of drug/crushed him against the concrete. At the ER they checked him out, PTL no internal organs damaged, no broken bones, blood vessels and nerves were intact. There were severe lacerations, and muscle/tissue damage to his right leg, groin and butt cheek. His vitals were always strong. They took him straight to the OR where they spent 4 hours cleaning everything out and putting him back together again. For the first 36 hours he was sedated and on a ventilator, but soon was alert again and saying a few words. This was such a traumatic time for us! We cried many tears, but we also so supported and loved on by many caring family and friends.
On day four, I could hold him, which was such a comfort to both of us! The worst part of this week was the constant wound dressing changes, which we all came to dread. Within the first week, Zach had 3 surgeries, where they cleaned out the wounds and eventually removed a sizable portion of dead tissue from his butt and upper thigh, about a 1/2 inch in thickness. It was a definite loss for sure, since we knew it would require grafting. However, we were so grateful that the wounds never got infected, and every day was another series of slow improvements.
During the second week, Zach’s 4th surgery was successful; we spent a long time talking with the plastic surgeons and they were happy with the outcome. The tissue looked good (healthy) and they did graft, using skin from his thigh. To help manage the pain from the grafts site, anesthesia placed a nerve block that is like an epidural and could be used as long as needed. It did not hinder movement but just managed the nerve sensations. That ended up being a great decision and kept Zach so much more comfortable. This made mama very happy!
For many days, Jim and I switched places at the hospital. Jim normally took nights and I would take days. Being home at night allowed me to spend a bit of time with our other children and fit in office work here and there. When Jim came home, he would work like crazy to catch up with business and keep his employees on track. The back-and-forth lifestyle was wearing on us. It’s very hard to flip the switch and be present in both sides of life. We were so grateful for my mom and sisters, Grace and Louise, who took turns sitting with him to give us a break. During the second week, Zach handled life reasonably well, especially after we finally got his pain meds dialed in. The days were pretty calm and uneventful. Between naps and movies and crafty-type things he stayed fairly entertained. The days just got long!
After 17 days in the UI Children’s Hospital, we came home! Zach chattered happily, face to face with his 4 brothers and cousin, and we couldn’t stop smiling and blinking back tears. As we imagined, a switch flipped for Zach when we drove in the lane. Zach was discharged with an ostomy, an ng tube, a catheter, and a bunch of meds. Overnight I had to turn into a nurse. I was on the clock about every 2 hours with meds and all the appropriate care, which meant I barely slept, but it was still far better than being in the hospital! We were all SO relieved and grateful to be back home.
Over the next month we went back in for several more dressing take-downs under sedation. They were relatively easy, and we could return home the same day. The care-giving at home has eased up somewhat. We were super relieved to be done with the overnight feeds via ng tube, and the catheter. Despite having the ostomy and what seems to be a lot of belly/gas pain, Zach surprised us all with how quickly he bounced back!
This week’s visit to the plastic surgeon was a very happy one. They are pleased with his healing and we see huge strides, especially in the last 3 weeks, with our new approach of using Burdock leaves and B & W Ointment for daily dressing changes. Zach is back to his normal spunky, energetic self! He runs and jumps and climbs all over the place without discomfort. He’s even back to riding his bike! The last thing left is to reverse the ostomy, and it sounds like we’re just a few weeks away. That procedure will require another hospital stay and sounds like possibly a bumpy road to regaining normal bowel function. We are so grateful that Zach is still with us and is healing up beautifully! The whole experience was so incredibly hard to walk through and there are days when we still deal with the trauma of flashbacks. I choose to acknowledge that we can’t control everything in life, accidents do happen, and I gratefully see Gods hand of protection throughout.