Just after noon on Sunday I heard a knock on our front door. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Dave and his friend standing outside. I thought to myself, “Doesn’t’ he have a key?” I heard a knock again as I made my way. I opened the door and saw their terrified faces. Dave’s friend was bracing Dave. Dave was scraped, bloodied, and completely covered in dirt. I only wish I had had the wherewithal to take a picture. Instead I believe I did the right then and desperately asked,
“Dave crashed. He needs a CT scan.” His friend said.
“What?” I said followed by a few expletives as I firmly placed my worried hand on Dave’s wavering shoulder. Now I was terrified.
It could have been much worse. I know that a million times over. Dave and his friend were near the end of their ride. Dave’s friend was riding behind Dave and watched as Dave went over his handlebars, and landed on his helmeted head, right eye and cheek. Dave was immediately knocked unconscious. In the words of his friend:
“Then his body went limp. His arms hung straight at his side – lifeless.”
Like a rag doll, Dave continued to slide face-first down the path. He was unconscious for approximately 2 minutes. His friend, who happens to be a doctor, also told me it took effort to wake Dave:
“I had to shake him and really work to wake him.”
Once Dave was alert, it took another 10 minutes or so for Dave to know who he was or where he was.
We knew that the next 24 – 48 hours should let us know if Dave’s big brain is ok. And yes, that is what they said when they reviewed his CT scan:
“He has a big brain.”
Those of you who know Dave, and know his insatiable curiosity and need to learn, are probably not shocked to hear that yes, Dave’s actual brain is large. What we also learned is that Dave has two facial fractures, a ligament thumb injury, a large mystery bruise/pain on his side (probably a bruised hip bone), a big blood blister on his pinky finger (listed here for levity), road rash everywhere and a high-grade concussion (because he was knocked unconscious – and for more than a few seconds). Of course, only time will tell if there will be any long-term effects.
It is 2:51 PM.
Dave is still in bed. He does not want to eat. I can barely get him to drink water. His right eye, cheek and chin are more swollen. He looks like he was punched in the face. His road rash looks worse, but I have also seen worse.
I, on the other hand, feel anxious, lonely, lost, and very lucky. When something goes wrong or is just not right, Dave is my constant. He really is my best friend. He gets me. He laughs at my crazy humor. He knows I worry. He knows I over analyze. He knows I feel more than any person probably should. I can talk to him – always. Even during those times when I literally want to throw him head first off of say his mountain bike, Dave does not run. He engages said moment and fights back. Sure, while we fight, Dave will most likely be looking at his iPhone. That is what makes Dave, Dave.
Earlier, but after 2:51 PM (it is now 7:52 PM), Kyle and I helped Dave get out of bed. He can hardly move. It takes two of us to finagle him up. While we were moving him, I touched his very painful and swollen thumb. He shrieked,
“Beth, YOU KEEP TOUCHING IT! How many times do I have to tell you not to touch my sore thumb?”
Kyle and I looked at each other and smiled. We knew Dave was wrong. I wanted to fight back and say,
“Dave, I have not touched your stupid thumb. Seriously, this is the first time.”
And then I remembered the persistent medical advice we have been given:
“He will seem to make so much sense, but actually makes no sense. Concussions are hard on the concussed and hard on the family. Be patient with him and yourselves. Cut him a lot of slack…”
Somehow in that moment, I was able to I take a deep breath, shut my defensive mouth, and help Dave. I promise I won’t always be this patient. In truth it only took an hour for me to lose my cool. Dave needed to send an email. He is supposed to be off screens right now. He was stubborn, so was I.
“Dude, just let me write the email.” He insisted.
I backed down. We compromised. He wrote the email and promised to rest stay of screens. I edited it. Thank God. In those few sentences, I could no longer deny the fact that Dave’s head is bonked. Then I felt afraid. I wanted to run to my best friend (Dave) and say,
“Dude, what are we going to do with Dave? Is he even going to be ok? Can you believe how strange he is acting? Did you read that email? Some of it was so well written and then… It is really freaking me out!”
But today, Dave lies injured in a dark room.
I know concussions are a mystery. I know their results are often unpredictable. Kyle had a friend, who was very seriously concussed. His friend seemed just fine and then wasn’t. It was awful and profound.
Our family is also no stranger mystery and mystery illness. Ate age seven Kyle was bitten by a Copperhead snake. Immediately we were told he would lose his right arm. Together, standing in Maryland’s Suburban Hospital, Dave and I looked at each other as tears streamed down our faces. Kyle overheard the news. He was elated and exclaimed:
“Mom, Dad, this means I will have a bionic arm!”
“So not cool.” Dave and I said to each other. And together we told Kyle, “dude, I promise your real arm will always be better.” Thank god the doctors were wrong.
A few minutes ago Kyle and I returned from a walk. We left Eli home with Dave. At some point Kyle stressed,
“Mom, I need to get home. I need to finish my homework.”
I shot back and said,
“Fine. Let’s go.”
I turned in the direction of home and quickly began walking. I was frustrated and wanted to talk to Kyle like I talk I can talk Dave. I wanted him to comprehend how overwhelmed and scared I feel. Kyle does get it. Kyle is my son and it is not fair for me to impose that kind of worry on him. I am the parent. As I calmed my insides, my pace evened out. I knew I needed to apologize for being a boob. I did. Then Kyle apologized for being impatient. This is hard on all of us.
Just two days ago Dave and I were walking, talking and connecting. Dave said,
“Hey Beth. You know what? Our life is really good. It is funny because it is definitely not easy. And it never turns out exactly how we hope it will. But in the end, our life is good.”
Dave is right. Our life is good. Yes, it is very unpredictable, but whose isn’t? Right now I am grateful. Dave is alive. Dave is not in a coma. Sure, I wish I could have my best friend here to hold my hand, tell me that everything will be ok, and walk me through this tough moment.
But today, I need to be both of us.