santa cruz wharf

09 February 2007

Photo Hunting ~ week four ~ "Broken"

When I saw this week’s word….the only thing I could think of was:

Broken Neck

This picture was taken in July.

It is the neck of my beloved Cameron.

I want to begin by saying gratefully, thankfully, joyfully that this little tale has a happy ending.

A bit of the back story….In addition to my daughter I have two wonderful children in my life. The role I play in their lives can most easily be defined as ex-stepmom. The lost their own Mother to cancer when they were young. Their Dad and I were an item for quite some time about ten years ago…the Step Mom thing worked…the girlfriend thing didn’t…and I definitely got the better end of the deal. They do not live with me fulltime…and I am not financially responsible for them. But I have done all the Mommy things….fieldtrips, sleepovers, prom dresses, prom suits, football gear (yeah for BOTH of them) et cetera. While they may not be children of my body…they are indeed children of my heart…and they will always be part of my family.

Last June (on the night of his sister’s senior prom) Cameron was at a beach birthday party – complete with parents et cetera. They had been playing in the surf and sand and it was time to eat. As Cam dove into the water to rinse off…a wave caught his legs…grabbing them out from under him…slamming his head into the sand.

Cam would later describe feeling his chin ram into his chest…and hearing a sound I can not bring myself to describe to you. He could not move, and for a few minutes he was underwater. One of his friends noticed his stillness and pulled him out onto the beach. The feeling in his limbs returned…but he was “tingly” like pins and needles when your foot falls asleep…except he was tingly all over.

Being almost six foot and almost sixteen…the most important thing on his mind was eating dinner. He was feeling better by the moment…and hey…the hot dogs were ready. The ongoing frivolity included volleyball…and who knows what else. I only know that God was holding his head.

One of the girls stepped on a sharp object in the sand and cut her foot. For this…they all flagged down the ranger….to check on her foot. (picture me rolling my eyes – the only time in my life I am thankful for a 14 year old, attention grabbing, hysterically complaining, froo froo airhead girly girl)

Having washed out the cut and bandaided her foot….they decided to mention as an afterthought to the ranger….”hey…ya think its okay that he still feels kinda tingly” (Imagine the rangers’ reaction to THAT story.)

Ambulance is called.
Boy is strapped to board.
Ambulance rushes to hospital.

Frantic phone calls, many tests, scans, xrays, brace instructions, and dire warnings of possible paralysis and then THEY SENT HIM HOME.

For the next twelve days….TWELVE days…he can’t pick up anything heavier than five pounds…gets to take his finals at home…can’t even shower without the brace…and yet something is still not quite right.

Twelve days.

Apparently the “one guy” who reads pediatric scans at the local hospital was on vacation. Apparently no one else knew what to look for…and so no one else had any idea what the real extent of Cameron's injury was. We live in a small beach town. World renown medical institutions are about an hour away. I kept telling his Dad to get a second opinion. But no. (we won’t discuss the influence of the nurse he was dating at the time…but suffice it to say….she has since been voted off the island)

Cut to the chase.

When the “one guy” finally comes back and gets around to looking at the test results…Cameron is sent to immediate surgery. Nothing – no ligaments or tendons or anything are attached. Later we would be told that football saved his life. He played Center on his high school football team and had developed incredible neck and shoulder muscles. They held his head in place and prevented the weight of his head from crushing his spinal cord. That and the hand of God.

A piece of bone was removed from his right hip and attached to his neck with a metal plate and screws. In August they let him drive and in November the brace was removed. They are saying his neck will be four times stronger than before and (are you ready for this?) that he can play football next year.

I can hear you gasping “NO” all the way out here.

I have begun my campaign against such absurdity.

Stay tuned.

Cam has pretty much his full mobility back. He can swivel left and right as before…he can look down almost 100%. Looking up is still somewhat limited…but hopefully additional movement will come from more therapy and exercise.

Today…he is thankfully the typical sixteen year old. Beat up pickup driving…hormone poisoned…smart mouth talking…loud rock listening….equal parts bear and boy. Capable of consuming a ton of food at every single setting.

Not Broken anymore.


tnchick said...

Gods grace was definitely with him. Oh my goodness what a story but praise Him that it ended this way. Wow.

Bernard said...

"God was holding his neck" indeed. Phewww...

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

my word, what a truly amazing story! all the best to him...

smiles, bee

Smalltown RN said...

What a remarkable story...and such a happy ending....thank god!! I can't even imagine...

Thank you for sharing your story and the is truly a reminder of things for us to be thankful for and that things and life can change in the wink of an eye!

Happy photo is up!!!


Viamarie said...

Absolutely a happy ending.

Happy Saturday!

Hootin'Anni said...

Amazing!!! And so grateful it DID have a good outcome!!!

Mine's posted

Linda said...

As amazing as the picture is, the story is even more so! As someone who works in Emergency Medical Services, all I kept thinking about was backboards and c-spine precautions!

Cameron is indeed very blessed not only to have survived this ordeal but to have you in his life despite his father not being there.

Morgen said...

That is an incredible story. I can't believe that football still is in the equation. But his perseverance and your love for him touched me very much. Thank you for sharing this with us.
~ Mo

Mel said...

Oh my........definitely the hand of G-d!

And how wonderful for him to be so loved by you!

katherine. said...

thanks you much....

Its not an easy story to tell. Partially cause it is still a bit traumatic to think about...and partially cause of that old "knock on wood" feeling.

Kai said...

Oh my god. I don't think I took a single breath while reading that entire post.

How amazing, how lucky, how remarkable! Wow.

meeyauw said...

What a totally incredible story, from the beginning (who would think that a wave could do that much damage?) to the end where you see Cameron in his handsome glory. Thank you for sharing.

Kat said...

Wow, angels on his shoulders. Cameron must be destined for great things.

PowersTwinB said...

Oh my God, and your God and his God! What a horiffic photo! I have added you and yours (even your heart-children) to my prayers! and I even sent a prayer up that Cam's football coach thinks twice before insisting he should play! My photo is up, please come and visit


I cannot add anything to what has already been said except thanks for posting this. It reminds me to be thankful for my kids and grandkids...