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As I bent to kiss my son's hand and forehead, to remind myself that he was real and that he was talking to me and even doing his level best to convince me it was going to be all right, a random voice started explaining to me what had happened.  

Jonathan had taken a nasty hit at the end of a play that had 'whiplashed' his neck sideways and laid him out cold for about ten minutes. An ambulance had been immediately called. He had started moaning even before fully regaining consciousness, and once revived had started hollering, "My neck! My neck!" At that point, any thoughts of trying to move him ceased until the ambulance arrived.  

Even once the paramedics had arrived, he was groggy and not responding as well as they'd like, so they chose to contact Life Flight and get him to the hospital for a full set of X-Rays. They had carefully removed his facemask and then strapped him to the backboard (of which he later complained had been MUCH too small!) and gotten him into the ambulance, out of sight of everyone else.

When the random voice paused, Jonathan said to me, "Look at my feet, Mom. Look!" When I looked, he was moving them. "And my hands, right? I'm holding your hand, and I'm squeezing it, but not too hard 'cause I'm so strong," to which I had to laugh, in spite of myself. I took a deep breath, believing that he was going to be okay, after all.

Scott and I decided to make a short trip home so that I could gather my purse and cell phone (and a bra!) before heading to the hospital. Once we were on the road, my mother was the first call I made. Since she lived in our town and had a police officer roommate, she would quickly be made aware that Life Flight had been called to the high school football game (a big deal in our town) and would work fast to find out the rest of the details. I was lucky enough to get her roommate on the phone first, and gave her the abridged details with the promise to call as soon as I knew more. Quite frankly, I was glad that she was going to have to break the news to my mother, as I'm not sure I could have handled it just then.

I called Jonathan's dad who offered to come, but he was two hours away and, since it looked like everything was going to be all right, I discouraged him. He was scheduled to pick Jonathan up that weekend anyway, so I wanted to just stick according to plan. Keep it normal, at least in that moment.

The drive took less than an hour, but it seemed an eternity. Being told that he was going to be okay was one thing; having possession of him again, with a clean bill of health, was something else altogether. And, as expected, the traffic, the hospital parking and then finding anyone who knew what in the hell I was talking about once we got there was a whole other series of events. I was an absolute wreck, to say the least.

By the time I was taken back to where Jonathan was, I quickly discovered that I was worrying needlessly. He was propped up on a gurney with about eight pillows, wearing a hospital johnny and eating cookies. Just in the time it took me to walk from the double doors to his spot against the wall, three different nurses stopped to check on him. Two of them laughed at something he said, and one even went so far as to squeeze his arm before walking away with a dreamy smile on her face.

My son was just fine.

It turns out they had cut his uniform jersey and pants off of him, and I hadn't thought to bring anything with me, so we were in quite the pickle. As I've mentioned, Jonathan is a big guy, and that hospital johnny was only providing so much cover. He was quite the center of attention already, but when various people started talking about ways in which we could spirit him out without alarming the little old ladies in geriatrics, the game was on. He hammed it up masterfully, with only an occasional rub to his neck to indicate why we were there in the first place. In the end we double-wrapped him in hospital johnnies and were presented with the scraps of his clothing in a bag.

While waiting for the doctor to release him, Jonathan had loads of visitors, including friends, coaches and the high school athletic director. My emotions swung wildly from terror to relief to gratitude for the outpouring of support and well wishes.

Jonathan was discharged with diagnoses of a severe concussion and sprained neck. I was ordered to check on him every hour, make sure he remained responsive and woke up easily, and allow him to approach activity as he wanted. This was on a Thursday, and the doctor wrote him a note for the next day, although Jonathan insisted on going because he had a math test.  That alone indicated to me how severely he was concussed, since Jonathan would fake bleeding from his eyes to avoid math!

None of us slept much that night, but we all got up the next morning and tried to move about our day as normal.  By noon, though, we were all back home getting ready for naps. Jonathan had flopped his math test (big surprise) and by mid-morning was complaining of tunnel vision and a ringing in his ears. Since I worked "in the field" at that time, the school had called my mother to come pick him up. She called my job, who called me. I then called Scott and we'd all met back at the house.

I was exhausted but still freaking out; Scott was exhausted and feeling like he was coming down with something; and Jonathan was just plain exhausted. I settled Jonathan in with the warning that I'd still be shaking him every hour or so; he was too sleepy too care. I tried to get Scott settled into the recliner, since he was feeling so odd and only felt worse when he laid down, but he was restless and it took him about two hours to drift off. By this time I was terrified to fall asleep, needing to keep an eye on my guys, so I spent my time between the computer and television, mindless.

By that evening Jonathan was up and starving, rattling around the kitchen for anything that looked good. Scott was feeling much better after his nap, too, so we went ahead and ordered pizza (a big treat in our house) and just hung out together. Jonathan had begged off going to his dad's for the weekend, and was unusually happy to just be at home.

At nine that night Scott encouraged me to take a Sominex to help me get to sleep. I was exhausted, but had gone too long without sleep to be able to get my brain to shut down. I normally don't like taking any sort of sleeping aid, but he promised me it was just enough to get me 'over the edge' so that my body could take over. "A cup of coffee in the morning and you'll be just fine," he promised. So, however reluctantly, I took the pill.

Exactly an hour and a half later, Scott was waking me up. I was extremely foggy-brained and couldn't for the life of me understand the look on his face other than to know that I was immediately terrified all over again.

"What's wrong?" I asked him, struggling through that damn pill to sit up.  The room was dark and the house was quiet. I was so confused, and so very tired. "Is Jonathan okay? What's the matter?"

"Jonathan's fine," he said to me. "But I need you to drive me to the hospital, Heather.  I think I'm having a heart attack."



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