This is just not what you want to see:
Yep, that’s my son lying in an ambulance. On his way from hospital number one (Harderwijk) to the second hospital (Utrecht). They didn’t trust it in Harderwijk, so they send him over to the Really Real University Hospital for Bad Cases. Ouch. (Luck: that university hospital is 10 km from our home instead of 70 km for Harderwijk!)
Ok, what happened?
We were visiting my parents (in the Dutch town of Putten) and the children were playing.
Boom. Silence. What you want is “boom, scream” or “boom, cry”, not “boom, silence”.
I see Floris lying dead still on the ground. Unconsious. He dropped from the stairs in a creative way (i.e.: we still don’t know exactly what he did, but it was probably a 2m drop). His head was the first to hit the edge of the stairs.
After 1 minute, he starts breathing deeply. Ok, he’s still alive.
After 2 minutes, he pushes himself up. So: he moves his neck and spine, so those at least aren’t broken. Oh, and he starts crying, which means “I’m still alive, hurray!”.
The ambulance arrives quickly and takes him and me to the hospital in Harderwijk.
In the hospital, they’re very worried. “He’s not stable yet, get your wife here”. Everything seems to function mechanically (no broken bones), but his heart rate is between 50 and 60. One of the panels on the wall says it has to be 80-120 for kids his age… Every couple of minutes they have to be professionally cruel to him (pinch his earlobes, pinch his stomach, pinch his fingertips) to get him to react and to push his heart rate up.
Three nurses tell me to Sit Down Right Now and Drink Some Water. They tell me that and they Look At Me, so I obediently sit down. Yep, I was feeling a little bit light-headed :-) After a minute I’m fine again.
After a while, most of the doctors peel away (which means: nothing is going to go wrong immediately). They don’t trust it, however, as his reactions are still incredibly slow. He really knocked his head big time. So they arrange to ship him off to the university children’s hospital in Utrecht.
Ok, off with the ambulance (that’s the photo at the top) to the university hospital of Utrecht. Upon arrival in Utrecht, I get a warning not to be scared shitless because of the amount of people about to swarm in on my kid in the emergency room.
Ok, so this is how an emergeny room looks like. From the signs I saw, it was a top grade emergency room. I got a heavy anti-röntgen-radiation coat. They immediately started taking additional x-ray pictures (they already took one in Harderwijk). I counted 14 people, including the two ambulance guys. That’s probably what you get with a university crisis room: a neuro surgeon, a child surgeon, an anathesist, a regular broken-bone surgeon, a couple of assistants… I was glad! It was clear Floris was getting top-level professional care. My own impression was that I was pretty relaxed (relatively). I stayed out of the way part of the time and stepped in to comfort Floris and re-assure him of my presence whenever there was room near the table.
Yeah, the end verdict was that he didn’t seem to have suffered permanent brain damage, neural damage or bone damage. It was “just” a pretty heavy concussion (Dutch: hersenschudding). So they did want to keep him under observation for at least a day.
In the end Floris stayed two nights and one day at the children’s hospital (Wilhelmina kinderziekenhuis). I was with him the whole time, Annie and Rianne slept at home. One parent is allowed to sleep next to the kid at night.
They had to wake him every hour for tests. You don’t want the brain to suddenly swell because of an after-effect. Or a broken blood vessel. So you wake the patient every hour and get him to say his name and raise his arm and so.
Oh bloody hell. Floris is difficult to wake at night even when he hasn’t just fallen on his head. Mechanically going to the toilet without waking up: no problem. But waking up and speaking your name: no way. Add a concussion to the mix and you’ve got a kid that’s hard to test :-)
I was wasted after that first night.
At around 8 in the morning, Floris stopped vomiting when you put him on his legs. He started eating. And he started really waking up. Reading a book (a bit), talking to the nurse, etc. Yep, it’s going the right way.
The second night was ok. Only needed to be tested every 4 hours. So I too slept pretty fine.
The second day, he was perfectly fine. So we could go home.
At the moment, Floris is still a bit tired, but fine otherwise. We’re all very glad he’s fine again.
I’m very happy with the health care we recieved. The ambulance was at my parent’s house in less than five minutes. In Harderwijk, all the necessary doctors examined and x-rayed him and kept him from slipping away into deeper unconciousness. In Utrecht, the warning “don’t be scared by the amount of doctors” was much appreciated :-) And the sheer massive amount of profesional care being poured out over Floris in those initial 20 minutes in Utrecht was incredible. The monitoring-stay in the children’s hospital was fine. Friendly nurses, good care. The only drawback, but that’s a common hospital problem, is waiting for that final doctor to say “yep, you can go” (a 30 second task) after it is already clear for three hours that you can go as all the tests passed OK.
And… it is a privilege to live in the Netherlands where health care like this is simply covered by our regular (and affordable) mandatory health care insurance. We won’t get hit by extra costs for this.
My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.
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