“Look at me Dad, I can run up the slide”. Well done, Hal! nice moves:-) I can’t remember the last time I was in a park with the kids. Mostly it seems we’re dropping off or picking up from viola practice or Enjoyaball, it’s so rare to just be killing time, goofing around on the zip-wire, climbing the tension frame…
Today was pretty sucky from the get-go, I’d been trying to squeeze in a few productive hours of work for a few days now but with Nicki away, the time just seemed to get eaten-up by one thing or another. Today was time to bite the bullet and get the presentation Powerpoint done. Park the kids in front of movies / Playstation and knuckle down to sorting things out. Yeah right… anyway by late afternoon I was feeling so guilty I piled them off the park.
We had a lovely walk around Oakfield Park. The sun was not yet setting but the light was fantastic, the weeping willows dipping their branches in the brook and the air smelling reasonably fresh. All in all a good walk around the park with CLF getting a view of her future school up on a hill in the distance (how did she know this and why didn’t I?).
Hal wanted to play in the park so ran ahead and pretty soon I’m sitting in the grass with Hal on the zip-wire and CLF on the climbing frame.
I remember following CLF on the climbing frame when she was younger. I wanted her to explore, and climb and throw herself into it. When she was three she could climb right to the top of the wooden bars in the gym, she was fearless and we spent ages larking round the various North London climbing frames.
But I used to do this dance. Every time she’d head towards an opening, an area with no railings I’d (as discretely as possible) position myself to either block the gap or catch her if she fell. Of course she never did. Most of her playground traumas came from over-egging the push on the swings (but that’s another story).
I did the same with Hal as well on the few occasions I’ve taken him to the park but for some reason today felt different, I had two, confident, sure-footed big kids. I let Hal walk the long way round to the park entrance (keeping an eye on him from a distance) and then both of them got a good old stretch after a day of being cooped up.
Hal pitched forwards from the top of the climbing frame. He fell head-first, his forehead connecting squarely with the ground and his body collapsing on top of him, snapping his head back and folding his back. An eight-foot vertical drop, landing directly on his skull…
When I got to him he was in shock. He couldn’t breath, he was looking terrified and making a grunting, rasping sound as he tried to get his lungs to work.
He was conscious and mobile so I scooped him up and put him on his side to relax his breathing. At that point what do you do? I got ready to start blowing into his mouth but I was worried about his neck. Luckily he started crying and screaming which was a relief. I had this terrible moment of trying to decide what to do, weighing the possible outcomes, the possible damages. With a violent head trauma you’ve got a clock running, shock sets in, inflammation, vomiting, things get bad very quickly and permanent damage is a very real possibility.
But moving him has it’s own risks, what to do? I was kneeling on the floor, phone in one hand about to dial 999 when I remembered an incident in this same park the previous year. It took the better part of 45 minutes for the ambulance guys to make it to the victim and the better part of an hour before she was moved.
I was looking at the little guy thinking I didn’t want to lose him. He was conscious, he could move his feet and squeeze my hands. He had rolled over and started to get up on his own.
I guess I just took a decision. Given a choice of paralysis or the damage from trauma and internal bleeding I decided to carry him back to the car, strap him in as carefully as I could manage and get him to A&E as quickly as possible.
I’m guessing I’ll be hearing from Barnet council about the very large number of red lights I converted to stop signs today but we quickly had the little guy in resuscitation (CLF wanted to take a picture of him when we got there but I thought that was too weird. The shot above is after the x-rays confirmed his spine was intact and the restraints where just about to come off). In the end, the doctors did all the checks and observations but the deciding factor had to be the floor surface. An hour into the A&E session Hal had gone from screaming and crying to lecturing anyone who would listen on the correct pronunciation of maul (as in “Darth Maul”). You cannot imagine how incredible a feeling it was to hear that Maul is not pronounced “mow-re”…
He’s upstairs now. I’ve checked on him a few times now and he’s still breathing.