My husband, Mark, has agreed to finish up my short series regarding our daughter’s accident. Pull up a chair as he walks you through this crisis from a male perspective. You’ll be glad you did.
“After the initial shock of the accident subsided, a new wave of terror came slamming into my world. What steps do I take now to maximize Hilary’s opportunity to recover? Conflicting diagnosis and confusing reports must yield to clarity of action. And that clarity of action needed to understand all available information. It was there, in the center of the crisis, where the clarity came. It was possible to act intentionally and, as needed, aggressively, because Peace surpassed my ability to compile, collate, and understand information.
“I told God what I wanted (Phil 4:6). I want the best available treatment by the best available doctor in the quickest available time. And while I wait I want no mistakes to be made that will impede Hilary’s path to recovery.
“The first answer was to move Hilary from an understaffed and outdated rural clinic to a well-staffed and medically updated urban hospital. The crazy hi-speed drive in a crude emergency vehicle to the hospital in Taichung was a big “no mistake” concern. The scar caused by the “ambulance’s” loose tire tool cutting into Hilary’s right ankle is a permanent souvenir of her joy ride.
“The decision to shave her temples and put her head and neck in traction was tough. I wept as they prepared her for the process. But until a long term solution could be found, we had to stabilize Hilary’s damaged spine. The grinding of the screws into the side of her head was painful, and the pain was constant the entire twelve days of traction.
Lesson learned: in order to endure suffering the future must be better than the present.
“As Hilary slowly gained feeling and use of her arms and leg , the traction was replaced by a neck brace. She could sit up in bed, although she still was confined to a bed pan. We all knew that for Hilary to ever go home, she would have to be able to function beyond that. Her first attempt to stand resulted in increased pain, dizziness, and vomiting. Then, she collapsed back onto the bed. It would be awhile before she attempted that again. As I stood over her and encouraged her to try again she looked into my eyes and replied, “Dad, I don’t know that I can really ever do it.” I was aware she was afraid she might fail again. And she had to address that on her own.
Lesson learned, in order to succeed, the hope must be greater than the fear.
“Once I finally gained access to medical records, I overnighted Hilary’s records to professionals in the U.S. Quickly, a leading neurosurgeon responded quite clearly that Hilary needed to have stabilizing surgery as bone fragments were perilously close to life-altering damage in her neck. By this time, Hilary was well into her final semester of her senior year.
“I asked if we could wait until graduation and keep her in a neck brace for another two months. “Spinal integrity is more essential than high school graduation”, was the reply. He was pretty clear that a minor jolt or misstep could pierce her spine. We quickly prepared Hilary for a trip to the U.S., wondering if she would return to Taiwan.
Lesson learned: the reward must be greater than the risk.
“Hilary would return and graduate with her class. But that is another story of its own.
“How about you? Are you risking present pain for future reward? Hope is greater than fear.
Mark and his two daughters – China Medical Hospital 2004
Friends around Hilary’s traction bed: (L to R), Sarah Cox, Becky Courson (behind), Rachel Kuhn, Steph Craker, Rachel Courson Swensen, and Jamie Torgerson Willett (kneeling by bed)
Park picture courtesy of Sara Jeng Grewer.