noun (c) failure
A situation when a computer or system suddenly stops operating.
The occasion of our son Kevin’s 18th birthday took a sudden and frightening turn when he crashed to the floor unconscious. He was paralysed on his left side when he came around.
The party had been a joyous occasion, Kevin was almost the last of his cohort to celebrate the milestone of turning 18. Additionally the group was looking forward to the end of their school life. Our house renovations were in the last stages, but the kids didn’t mind the relative chaos of the house as they gathered.
By midnight I was ready for sleep and left James to ensure that the kids all found somewhere to sleep since many were staying over.
Sometime around 2am James woke me, urgency in his voice as he relayed that they had called an ambulance because Kevin collapsed after doing a headstand. The kids had been playing truth or dare and Kevin had selected the option of a dare, thus doing a headstand. A superb athlete, he was more than able to complete the dare and surprised everyone when he crashed to the floor. One of the kids at the party had his first-aid certificate and he rushed to aid Kevin.
Kevin was prone to exaggerating his injuries and so James wasn’t worried until it became apparent that he was not faking his current symptoms. An ambulance was arriving as I joined the group in the family room.
A rapid assessment by the paramedics had Kevin bundled into a neck brace and rushed off with lights and sirens to the local Emergency Department. James and one of Kevin’s friends went to the hospital to wait with Kevin while I settled the remaining kids for the night.
By morning it was apparent that Kevin was seriously ill. The headstand had uncovered a neurological condition, Chiari Malformation Type 1.
In the weeks that followed Kevin crashed in and out of consciousness. The pressure of the brain crushing his central nervous system was life-threatening. On one occasion the ambulance officers asked me if they should resuscitate him should he crash on the way to St Vincents in the city.
The neurosurgeons were amazing and life-saving surgery was performed just weeks after diagnosis. Throughout this time we were constantly aware that his condition could deteriorate. He had severe headaches and would lie down only for us to find him semi-conscious. His eyes would be bloodshot red as the pressure on the spinal cord became acute.
Kevin’s recovery, although very painful at first went well. His neck muscles had been severed and the bones in his spine drilled to accomodate the malformation in the brain. He shows off the scar that runs from the top of his head to the base of his neck. He’s of the impression that girls find scars attractive! When I look at his scar I’m reminded that life is a precious thing.