Thursday, June 23, 2005


Monday evening's blogging was interrupted by a phone call. It was a friend of my younger son calling to let me know that Brad had hurt himself surfing and was in hospital. Brad was apparently Okay after his board hit him in the face, it was just that his eye had popped out.

It was a good thing I was sitting down at the time because there’s nothing that puts a parent – this parent, anyway – into a head spin like being told one of your kids has been injured, possibly seriously.

I immediately got on the phone to the district hospital nearest to where my son lives but couldn’t really find out much because the only doctor on duty was with a patient. The doctor, who was a really nice guy by the way, eventually rang back. He explained that Brad had taken a pretty good shot to the eye causing the lower part of his left eye socket to blow out – it’s apparently a common injury resulting from a blow to the eye. The doctor added, however, that it was difficult to assess the extent of the injury because Brad was a very sick boy: he was still vomiting up the blood that continued to leak into his sinus and down his throat. The doctor was certain Brad would have to be flown to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service for specialist treatment.

At least his eye hadn’t actually popped out. Great! Reassured, I went to bed and eventually got to sleep.

Just after 4 AM I woke to my daughter banging on my bedroom door. She said Brad had just been on the phone. He was at a Perth hospital and wanted to be picked up. This seemed really strange: only a few hours before he was in a bad way and now he was ready to come home? Obviously his injury wasn’t as bad as first thought. I quickly dressed and jumped into the car and was off to pick up my son.

When I arrived at the emergency room it was deserted except for staff. The woman at the desk, who was obviously perturbed to be taken away from her magazine, knew nothing of my son. After a bit of gentle prompting she got on the phone and discovered he had been admitted. I didn’t know exactly what to do but eventually decided that 5:15 wasn’t the best time to discuss his medical situation. So, I headed home.

After waiting until I thought breakfast had finished I rang the hospital to check on Brad. Hospital enquiries put me through to his room. He was very groggy but seemed Okay. Assuming he was doped up on painkillers I told him I’d ring him back.

By early afternoon Brad was up to having a semi-normal conversation. It was obvious he was bugging hospital staff to let him go home. Late in the afternoon they eventually agreed he could leave. When I first saw him at hospital he looked pretty much normal except for the huge piece of gauze covering his eye.

Here’s what actually happened. It was a good day to surf at Bears (Three Bears). He was on the first wave of the day – about a 10 foot face, he reckons – from which he bailed to avoid getting hammered. Somehow he miscalculated the arch his body would take through the air, causing him to come down head first facing the wave. The tip of his board hit him just under the brow on the outside of the eye, the tip moving across toward the bridge of his nose. This either cut or tore his eyelid for about and inch and a half. When the tip of the board reached the upper corner of his eye near the bridge of his nose, something had to give. The board punched through his eye socket into his sinus. Ouch.

Brad knew straight away he was in big trouble and mustn’t pass out, not if he wanted to make it to the beach alive. But, it wasn’t going to be easy to get to shore because he had an extreme case of double vision. He eventually got to the beach and struggled up the rocks to his car. Luckily two young guys had just parked near by and offered to drive him, in his 4WD, to the local hospital.

Hospital staff super glued the gashed eyelid and told him to go home – the assumption was that the big quantity of blood was coming from a simple blood nose. He protested but there wasn’t much he could do so friends picked him up. These same friends eventually took him to the larger district hospital where he was X-rayed and the extent of the injury began to emerge. The Royal Flying Doctor Service air-evacuated him to Perth. He’s scheduled for surgery this coming Saturday to repair the damaged eye socket.
It was really nice of the two locals he’d never met to take him to hospital. His friends were really great in looking after him. The Royal Flying Doctor Service did a really fantastic job in flying him to Perth – this is, by the way, the second RFDS medical evacuation for my family.

The moral of this story? Actually there are a few. Never take life for granted; make the most of it. There are lots of nice people in the world. Never lose touch with your children. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a wonderful organization that deserves our support. Why not make a donation, you never know, you might need their service some day?

Update: The son's surgery was scheduled for this morning (Saturday) but was postponed until tomorrow to allow the swelling to go down. He's a bit annoyed, having fasted for nothing.

He's in the public system because he can't afford private hospital cover. The service has been pretty good but he does have two complaints: emergency unit staff are rude – the bigger the hospital the ruder they become; and, nobody seems to know for certain what's going on, ever, about anything. Oh yeah, he wasn't pleased to be told that there's a remote possibility his two front teeth might accidentally be knocked out when he's intubated for surgery. I don't think they bothered to mention there's also the remote possibility he might die.

Update: For the latest eyeball news go here.


Anonymous Ros said...

Glad Brad is going to be pretty well alright. Bit too much grisly information for me, can imagine that for you it was particularly distressing.
yeh good point about keeping up with kids. Mine is 30,amazing how they never stop being your kids.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous J F Beck said...

Thanks for taking the time to post your kind thoughts. Hopefully before too long I'll be able post on the unusual family situation at this end.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous The_Real_JeffS said...

Been out of the area for a while, JF. Glad to hear Brad is doing better!

1:41 AM  
Anonymous adrian said...

Mate, every parents fear - that sudden medical call. Best wishes for the boy.

4:36 AM  

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