Road to Recovery — Dawn’s Journal Part I

Bailey in hospital with tubes and neck braceThis post is an excerpt from a journal article written by Dawn Ehasz — the mother of Bailey Ehasz whom I wrote about in the previous post. The journal describes Dawn’s thoughts and feelings as well as medical facts about events that occurred after the driver of a Ford F-150 nearly killed her daughter. The next two posts will also contain excerpts from the journal. If you have questions for Dawn, please contact her directly. If you do not use Facebook, and you would like to contact Dawn, please send your questions for her in the Contact form on my blog and I will contact Dawn for you.

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Our lives were altered significantly on May 19th, 2009.  Our daughter, Bailey, was 11 years old the day she was walking across the street, in a crosswalk, with a friend, when she was hit by a Ford F-150. The impact threw our small-framed daughter nearly 50 feet. She suffered numerous injuries, Dawn's Journal Part 1the most catastrophic being a traumatic brain injury with diffused axonal injury (shearing of the brain stem). As a direct result of the impact and subsequent landing, she also sustained fractures to the head of her femur, multiple pelvic fractures, lumbar fractures, cervical injuries, rib fracture, scapula fracture, bladder injury, pneumothorax, bilateral lung contusions, and skull fractures. The impact to her head caused a loss of gray/white matter differentiation in the lower portion of her cerebral hemispheres, brainstem, and adjacent brain tissue, as well as subdural, subarachnoid, intraventricular, and intraparenchymal hemorrages with diffused brain swelling with transtentorial and tonsillar herniation.  According to her doctors, Bailey had shearing injury of the splenium of corpus callosum and probably additional shearing foci in the hemispheres.

Her Glasgow Coma scale was a three, leaving our family, our friends, and Bailey’s friends panicking, and in tears. Doctors performed a craniotomy to relieve some of the immediate pressure from Bailey’s severely injured brain, but we could do little more than panic, cry, and wait to see what happened during the next 48 hours. We watched as she lay helpless in the hospital bed with tubes coming from her scalp and mouth, as well as intravenous lines seeming to come from everywhere. We didn’t know where to touch her for comfort as she had road rash the entire length of her left arm, right shoulder, both temples, and right hip/buttock. As night fell on the hospital, I was aware of myself, Bailey, and the PICU nurses. I wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear because I knew there was nothing I could do to help. I couldn’t sleep. I cried, sobbed and tried to wrap my head around what was now our reality. The constant beeping plus the alarms ringing constantly, as if the shock of my dying daughter was not enough, blasting “codes” in the night sometimes two or three a night. I just cried and prayed, knowing God just received another angel and a parent very near is in the worst pain ever!! Attempting to sleep with an eye on my daughter’s monitors at all times, the sound of the respirator breathed for her.

Doctors, nurses, and social workers told us to prepare for the worst possible outcome, and I mean that in every literal sense you can imagine.

Bailey began having complications within the first week such as cerebral salt wasting which left us on pins and needles not knowing exactly what would happen. She would get better, but then she started getting a fever, and then the anatomic storming began. If you have witnessed your child doing this then you know how absolutely horrific it is to watch. It looks similar to a seizure. I had to leave her room. I thought she was going to die. She continued doing it whenever I touched her, then whenever anything stimulated her such as lights or sound. We had to stop visitations and therapy because they were too stimulating for Bailey. All this time, she is still in a semi-coma, no talking; just obvious signs of pain. She only came alive when she stormed. When she stormed she arched her back at least a foot off the bed. All of that with a broken femur and multiple pelvic fractures. It was unbearable to watch. Her heart rate would shoot up to 180, her respirations up to about 40-50, and her blood pressure (160/120) higher than I thought possible in someone so young. The nurses repeatedly said Bailey was safe, but that only provided a little assurance, not absolute conviction. Through trial and error, the doctors tried to find the right cocktail of medicine to calm her and help her recover. They couldn’t prevent the storming, but they were able to shorten the duration of the storms.

By the Grace of God her salt levels subsided as did the storming. It was beyond any words I can summon to watch her suffer. The doctors told me that she didn’t feel any pain, but I watched Bailey and I believe she felt a lot of pain.

I felt alone and isolated. I talked to my semi-conscious Bailey all the time, encouraging her and reminding her how much she was loved. I told her she had to fight like she had never fought before. I told her she survived the impact and God saved her for a reason.

Click here to read Part II of this post.

8 Comments

  1. How is your boyfriend doing? I pray that his recovery continues and that each day moves you closer to healing the pain in your heart.
    Sue I’m sorry that your bf has had to endure these similar struggles. I’m happy to hear that he is doing well and continues to make gains. Honestly it took me three years until I was able to tell my daughters story. I find strength now in sharing my daughters journey. If I can at all provide some reassurance to people going through a similar traumatic event, I know I’m paying it forward which I want to do. It was through baby steps but once I got it all out I finally felt as though the pain in my heart was lifted. I know you are strong anyone that endures that much sorrow has to be. You will in your own time feel that strength and you will be able to truly live again without tears and painful flashbacks. Bless you for being strong enough to stick with your man. I’m sure you are his rock and him your’s. I believe strongly that having that support and loyalty aids greatly in the recovery process. Thank you so much for your comments and words of support. Bless you and your boyfriend!

  2. Dawn, My thoughts and prayers are with you. My BF was struck at 65 mph from a vehicle that was being chased by the police. He also sustained similar injuries. Your journal is a blessing to all that have the opportunity to read it. It too takes a strong person to create a journal. Me? Well I’m not so as strong as you. I feel like I re live everyday writing things down, but some times when I have, it is interesting how far Darrel has come since he was hit in 2010. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Sue, I forwarded your two comments to Dawn. How is your BF doing? Are you interested in sharing the story on my blog from your point of view?

  3. Thank you for commenting. She is a miracle and a true SURVIVOR. She is an inspiration to me and everyone that gets to know her. She is very loved that I can personally assure you. It’s been a long scary, crazy, hectic, and eye opening four years.

  4. Oh…dear God…show her only all the love you have and as i see she’s a little fighter. Wish you all the luck in the wold!

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