I thought that I would take a few minutes and type up some of the events of TC’s experience and to share a few thoughts and feelings from Becky and me. First of all, I am Cliff Rogers, TC’s dad and Becky is TC’s mom.
March 31, 2008:
Around 4:30 Ray Landry called our home and with an urgent voice he told me that TC was being attended by EMT’s and would be transported to UMC. He told me that they had been skateboarding and TC fell and was vomiting. Ray told me to meet them at UMC. I called Becky at her school and told her to meet me on the curb, as I was coming to get her. I told her what I knew. After entering the emergency room Ray called and told me that he was being unloaded at the NE corner of the facility, in the Trauma Center. We found our way there and met Ray, Jaron and the others that were with TC skateboarding. Lincoln, his younger brother showed up as well. The weather was perfect, a spring sunny day.
Becky and I were allowed to enter the triage area behind the locked, large automatic doors that separated the waiting room corridor from the organized confusion and trauma. TC was lying on a gurney, with a white sheet draped over his body; his hands were clasped over the sheet on his chest. We meet the trauma admitting physician Dr. Sheer who introduced us to Dr. Bigler who began to analyze his condition. Dr. Bigler told us that TC had suffered major head trauma, and has suffered a scull fracture. A neo-surgeon was coming. Dr. Bigler continued his exanimation, asking TC if he could do this and do that, of which he responded “yes”. TC had his eyes shut as he had been given medicines that caused him to be drowsy. Dr. Bigler asked him if he could open his eyes for him, and TC responded “yes”, but did not open them. The doctor then opened his eyes and shined a light into them and observed his pupils contracting.
The attending nurse was as sweet as could be. She was professional and caring, and had a motherly spirit about her. As Becky and I were becoming emotional from the reality of the situation, she was patient with us as we answered numerous questions, all positive as she checked them off her form. We commented to each other how healthy his is. As the doctor continued his constant talking and asking questions to TC, he turned and wrote a note; TC had been muttering and mumbling a few words and paused, then he said “It’s a miracle”. This is the last thing I heard him say. I told the nurse, with a broken voice that we needed to give TC a priesthood blessing. She knew what we needed and accommodated us. I went back out to the waiting area, Lincoln and several of TC’s Priesthood holder friends entered the area to assist in the Priesthood blessing. Lincoln anointed and I sealed the anointing and gave him a fathers blessing. When a blessing is given, sometimes the voice or the one who is speaking is prompted to say and offer inspired words. The one thing that came to my mind, that I remember was to tell TC that he has a mission to fulfill. What, when or where that is, I don’t know. I also remember blessing those that will be attending him, that they will remember their training and be inspired for TC’s care. They left the area and we were immediately introduced to Dr. Jason Garber, TC’s neuro-surgeon. With urgency in his voice, he directed to a computer screen which had images of a CAT scan they had just taken. He pointed out on the screen images and described how they should be in relation to what was there. He described that his brain was swelling from the impact, and needed room for expansion as soon as possible, to contain the possibility of the brain actually pressing in the spinal cord and causing death. When I heard the word “death,” it seemed as if the sound of the word hung in the air, resonating. Much of the following conversation was just words. The doctor explained that he would remove a sizable portion of his skull and store it away for future use. (Stored frozen in California) He then explained that he would install a shunt (drain) to allow the fluids a place to go. He also explained that they would install a “bolt” that would monitor the pressure actually in his brain. Immediately we were escorted the exit as TC took the first few feet of a long journey. We went back to the waiting room, were more of TC’s friends were standing in groups talking quietly. I relayed the words and procedures the doctor said to us. The room quieted down as we all realized this was a serious matter. In the following hours more and more people arrived and the events were relayed and repeated over and over. It is amazing that words can be spread so quickly with the furious fingers of the youth. My family reacted quickly and my brother Terry and Paul were here in a few minutes. It was a wonderful feeling to have your big brothers there, and feel their confidence. Paul is in the middle of tax season, and yet he broke away for several hours just to be involved and lead his support.
The neuro-surgeon came in after a few hours and told us the procedure went as planned and that we would be able to see him in a while. We really didn’t have ay questions for him as the shock of the reality of what was happening to our son was strong. In a few hours we were allowed to go see him. The weather is perfect, a spring sunny day.
The next morning, I dropped Becky off at the hospital as I had to attend to some business for a short while. Becky called me and told me that they were taking TC back into surgery because some blood clots had shown up on the morning CT scan. I remember the swelling of pain that eventually lead to the uncontrolled tears, I quickly returned to the hospital. Upon arrival I was surprised with the amount of people that were in the waiting room. I went back with Becky and we sat and watched TC for a long time. We are so thankful for him and all those who have shown their sympathy to us. Dr. Garber consulted with us, and basically in a few words he told us he was able to remove the clot and drain off the fluids. He told us that that this is a very serious matter, and that his scull fracture was from his lower left ear up and around near the other ear. We felt heaviness as the conversation sunk into reality. Later that evening, TC’s Stake Presidency and Bishop came to visit him. They all able to all come into his room where they gave him a blessing. The blessing from President Bingham was special. Jay and TC are close and the blessing he gave him was from the heart and from one friend to another. He did ask the Lord for a miracle.
Ray explained the accident to me as follows: They were long boarding down Dell Web towards Rampart like they have done several times. At the very end of the run they were heading towards the parked car. They were on a flat area pushing about the speed of a fast walk, when TC’s wheel caught a small rock or an edge of some sort and sent him flying over and into a rock landscape area. They all laughed at TC for the trip and waited for him to get up. When he didn’t Ray went to him and turned him over and he was snoring loudly. Shocked and wondering if this was a joke he knew it wasn’t when TC started to shudder and began vomiting. This was a fluke accident. I expected that we were going down to get stitches in TC’s head and would be home in a few hours. Now we have a new home that we spend with TC.
We really feel the results of the prayers and fasting on our behalf. I contribute the calmness and peacefulness that Becky and I feel because of our and your prayers. We do get emotional, and we do find ourselves imagining down dark allies of TC’s dilemma. We have learned that you can’t worry about things you imagine, or don’t know about, so we just take it day to day. We feel the Lords love through your prayers and fasting. We also have been focusing on what good can we make come from this event, especially for others.
I cannot explain how important the family support unit is or how grateful we are for our kind, loving church friends. We look forward to the continuation of this resource. In the future there will probably be lots of service TC will require, OR service he can do for others!
Thank you for your love and support.
Cliff and Becky.
PS: As I have a moment I wanted to let all know how impressive is caregivers are here at UMC TICU. I like the fact that Trauma Intensive Care Unit, TiCu has his name in it! The nurses that attend to his daily (and nightly) needs are amazing. These unsung heroes are always in the shadow of the all mighty people that have several letters after their names, not to take anything away from them, but the nurses are always involved. Their knowledge mixed with their compassion provides an ultimate combination of service. I am impressed with their dedication to their profession and the amount of education they have had just to take care of our son. We have learned about their families and their fun stories. We know that they are not supposed to get close to their patients, but when they start to hear about TC I think they take a little exception.
Go to http://mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/ to learn more about TC’s religious views.