02 February 2011


Yesterday I walked to the bus stop to pick up the younger boys.  This isn't something I normally do - the bus stop is at the end of the block, and James and Jacob are more than old enough to walk that far on their own.  But the big snowstorm was growing thicker, and a couple of cars were having trouble holding onto the road, so I wanted to make sure they stayed away from the road.

It was worse than I thought.  Living this close to Lake Michigan, we have almost constant wind, and gusts up to 55 miles an hour were whipping the flakes directly down my throat.  Breathing was almost impossible.  By the time I got to the end of the block, I was shivering hard and couldn't feel my cheeks.

Fortunately, the wind was at our backs on the walk back home.  The kids were excited by their "first real blizzard!"  I got them inside and gave them mugs of rich hot cocoa with whipped cream to warm up, then set them to doing their homework.

About 45 minutes after he got home, James came to me complaining of a headache.  Lately, he's been making excuses for why he doesn't want to do his homework, so I didn't quite believe him - then I saw something red on his temple.

"Hey, James, what happened to your head?"

"Oh.  Zach tripped me at school, and I fell and hit my head."

I took a closer look at the mark - it was a small abrasion directly on his left temple, surrounded by an inch of slightly swollen tissue that was going to discolor in a few more hours.  I began to suspect he had a mild concussion.

(which reminds me - why is it that the kids always seem to get injured when the resident paramedic ISN'T home?  Is it some sort of twisted version of Murphy's Law?)

I called Grandma Debbie, who works as a nurse, and she walked me through a few steps to see if he had a minor or major concussion.  I was freaked out by his eyes for a few minutes, because his pupils were dilating and contracting in a quick pattern, but we quickly realized that was because he was standing in the living room by the windows.  The storm was blowing snow around, and thus the light quality was shifting constantly - and so were his eyes, in response.  Once I took him over to an artificial light, the shifting stopped.

So James had a concussion - a mild concussion, to be sure, but still...poor kid.  I started to get angry that the school hadn't called me about him taking a fall, but he explained that it happened as he was getting in line for the bus ride home, and that he hadn't told a teacher.

I also asked about this Zach kid, the one who tripped him.  Turned out it was Zach who was tripped by a bully, and when he fell, he tripped James on accident.  Just one of those random things that happen, but I am still going to talk to the school administrators about this.

Night fell, and the storm and wind picked up in intensity.  The younger boys had lost their excitement over the blizzard - now it was just plain scary.  Didn't help that the wind howling around the house sounded like it came straight out of a horror film.  It had also found a crack in the attic, and occasionally something blowing around up there (probably an empty box) made hollow thumping noises.  It sounded like a ghost walking around in the attic, and the younger two were totally freaked out.

Bedtime came, and I made the decision to switch beds for the night.  James usually sleeps on the top bunk, but with his head aching and spinning, I didn't want him climbing up there.  So Jacob took the top bunk for the night, and James curled up on the lower bunk.

Around 11pm, James came staggering out of his room, announced "I'm going to throw up", and then made it to the toilet just in time to vomit.  This seriously concerned me, as I know that vomiting can be a sign of his brain swelling.  I called the ER and spoke to a nice male nurse, who walked me through the symptoms.  We discovered that James was still fine - he wasn't walking around like a drunk, he wasn't incoherent, and he had just thrown up - not projectile vomited.  I was told if he showed any of those symptoms, to call an ambulance pronto - but if not, he would be fine.

I gave James some Ibuprofen and rubbed his back until he fell back asleep.  Then I sent a text to Sean informing him of what happened.  He called a few minutes later to check up on the situation.

He also reassured me that James sounded fine - just had a killer migraine from the concussion.  He also informed me that his ambulance had broken down, and they were waiting for a tow truck to pick them up.

Fast-forward to this morning.  James woke up bright and chipper, headache gone - and declaring that Ibuprofen was some kind of wonder drug, which made me laugh.  We all trooped to the big windows in the living room to look at the results of the storm, and I opened the blinds to a chorus of "Oooo".

The snow was so high, it had covered the lower six inches of the windows.  This seriously impressed the boys.  The wind had sculpted the snow into peaks and gullies, and the effect was beautiful - stark and cold, but beautiful.

Then Jon groaned.  "That's a lot of snow to shovel, isn't it?"


He had such a woe-is-me look on his face that I laughed.  "No worries, Jon - we'll trade off on shoveling.  You don't have to do it all by yourself."  He brightened up at that.

While the kids ate breakfast, I called Sean to see if he was on his way home.  I reached him, only to discover that he and his partner were still waiting for the tow truck!  They are completely snowed in and stranded until the tow truck arrives, and he's not sure when he will be getting home.  I'm a little bit worried about him, because they are not the only ones stranded in this storm and it might be several more hours before a tow truck gets to them.  But my husband is young and strong, and they still have heat in the rig, so I know he'll be all right.

I'll post more updates as I can.

Update:  11:15am.  Went outside to shovel snow.  Was out there for over an hour and had barely made a dent in the snow.  Shovel broke under the pressure of the wet snow.  I stood there feeling like an idiot, wondering how I was going to get all this snow moved so that Sean could park the car.  Just then a couple neighbors driving by stopped and offered to help.  One of them even took the broken shovel out of my hand and told me to rest!

The neighbors across the street pitched in, despite the fact that they had been shoveling their own drive for three hours.  We ended up having three grown men, one woman, and two kids shoveling out our driveway.  I felt useless, so I ran inside and made them all hot cocoa.  Now the majority of our drive is shoveled clear, and there is a pathway cleared for safe passage to the front door.

As of this time, Sean is still waiting in the ambulance for the tow truck.

Update:  12:15  Sean is finally freed from the ambulance and is now on his way home.

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