The Story behind “Phew”

For my facebook friends, this is the story behind “Phew.”

It is also the story of why I missed two days of work this week and why I start all stories with: She is fine. Remember that when you read the following: my youngest had a bicycle accident on Wednesday resulting in a loss of consciousness (we think) and a concussion and what, for a time, we thought was a skull fracture.  But: she is fine. FINE.

But the past few days have been a bit of manic worry interrupted by hours of waiting in cold rooms. And now we are home and she is eating food and keeping it down and the weight that pressed on our hearts and minds for two days is done.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So the story goes like this: she calls me at work Wednesday afternoon to ask if she can ride bikes with her friend down the street. Yes, I said, around the block or the church parking lot only. Not quite a half-hour into my hour commute home I get a frantic phone call. Luckily, my husband was home when a neighbor brought our dazed and crying girl home. While my desire was for him to get her to the hospital sooner (she had a bump on her head and seemed to have lost consciousness), my husband waited until I got home to try it. By that time she had started vomiting. 

We arrived at the ER, they sent her to the FastTrack option, where they cleaned up her scrapes (those that were visible) and sent her for a cat scan and gave her some medicine to relieve the nausea. But she continued to vomit and there was blood in it. They were ready to discharge her, but the ER doc would have had to sign off on it and wouldn’t because of the blood.  Back to the ER. Eventually she slept and seemed to be getting much more responsive, the pain that had been a 9 on the 1 to 10 scale was down to a six without pain meds. The scans remained inconclusive and the doc gave us the choice to take her home or admit her. They wanted us to wake her every two hours and make sure she was appropriately responsive.  She was.

But on Thursday she started vomitting again and we went back to the ER. The same doc was there and when she examined her she found some fluid behind her ear that wasn’t there the night before. More tests–including scans of her internal organs as well as her head–a new catscan and then an mri because things just weren’t checking out.

The doctor tried getting a neurosurgeon on the phone, not wanting to release her without him looking at the results.  He finally answered her repeated calls late that evening and recommended admitting her and he would examine her … sometime.  Which ended up being 8:00 Friday. She’s fine. He explained something about kids skulls that made sense at the time but I can’t recall the exact words–but what may have looked like a fracture may only be lines from the changes kids skulls go through.  Still, we’re keeping an eye on her and will see an ENT to look at the ear where the fluid appeared.

She is fine.  She has a renewed fondness for helmets and for closed-toed shoes on the bicycle. She is still taking motrin for her head and pepcid for her stomach and is really good at letting us know when she needs both.  We both slept for well over 8 hours two nights in a row (after having to wake every two hours for two nights straight–not to mention the “bed” that parents get in the pediatric ward that can also be affectionately named “the rack”) and feel like we are on the long, quiet road toward normal.

No flight to CA to see grandma, no bicycles (duh!), no swimming, no fighting with her sisters (yay!), just quiet times reading and watching movies and maybe, just maybe, a board game or two.  But for now, this is all good. She gets to eat pudding and jello and even ice cream and her sisters are letting her sit in one of the few comfortable chairs in the house.

And here’s what we learned/relearned this week:

  • helmets are necessary;
  • 15 and nearly 17-year old children are fairly self-sufficient given wads of cash or an ATM card;
  • they can also be very tender and worried about a kid they usually label a pest;
  • people are good and caring;
  • heads are fragile, but spirits are not;
  • we really do rely on a net much larger than the one we think we cast each day.

To this last point, I would like to say how grateful I am that we have, through my husband’s work, great health insurance. What a gift it was, in the midst of this, to not worry about the cost of her care or that we were delaying care because money was in the way. She is fine, so it may have been overkill, all that we went through, but when you are talking about your child’s brain, there really is nothing that doesn’t seem too much. And she is fine. We think.  But what kind of doubt would I have right now if I hadn’t taken her because I didn’t think we could afford it.  What a choice to have to make.

So we are grateful. And relieved.


About TinaLBPorter

I write poetry and blog at And I'm thrilled to be writing with you.
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6 Responses to The Story behind “Phew”

  1. Caught up in having all three of mine at home this week, so I just saw this. Oh, Momma. Thanks be that your daughter is fine. And that you and your dear spouse get to sleep again.


  2. Patrick McLaughlin says:

    So relieved. You’re right, you need to preface the telling of this with “she is fine!”

    My cousin broke his arm, leg and banged the hell out of his head (while trying, effectively, to decapitate himself–odd to say that one is grateful a kid wasn’t really holding on to the handlebars–on a tent-line) over three successive summers. It gave me an appreciation for how durable kids can be (he is alive, well, and despite all his efforts as a kid to select himself out of the gene pool, married and has kids. I pray that none of them do to him what he did to his family…).

    And then, my CPE time at Children’s Hospital gave me an appreciation of what it can be like for the kids and parents who aren’t as lucky–or who are really unlucky.

    Thank the gods for “Phew!”


  3. Maureen Price says:

    Hugs to you and Brian! I think I may have had more ER visits with three boys than you may have had with three girls, but I also “PHEW” everytime it is over.


  4. mskitty says:

    Oh, thank goodness! I knew that Phew must mean something important.


  5. Paul Oakley says:

    Phew! Indeed! Can’t imagine the worry and stress you’ve just been through! You’re all in my thoughts.


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