Chapter Links


Here are the links to the story written in Macala’s Honor.  The story was originally intended to document and journal her recovery but as you all know by now it never happened that way.    In addition also setup facebook links to make it easier to share.

Chapter 1 ~ A Dream


Chapter 2 – Critical Crossroad – What’s really important in life.


Chapter 3 – What We Can Not See


Chapter 4 – Panda’s Full Circle


Chapter 5 – The Final Chapter



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Chapter 5

Before I begin with my thoughts and feelings for this last year, I just wanted to take a moment and thank every one of you that have been so supportive and helping with us all to deal with this tragedy.  I would especially like to thank my family:

My mother Jodi for being my shoulder to cry on when things were at there worst and stayed with us through out the last days of Macala’s life.


Kim my sister who was there at the hospital most of the time, with us and acting as a standing board to help keep us from falling apart and being there for us every step of the way.


My little brother who always seemed to be there at the right moment and shared with us the last few days of Macala’s Life.  Your humor and your presents really helped with coping especially those last few days.


My big brother Mike, although stuck in Vegas I know you was still with us in spirit and your daily calls with your great sense of mind and always knowing what to say helped me through some of the worst parts and your words at the funeral still bring tears to my eyes.


I would also like to give a special thanks to Jennifer and Cindy, Becca’s sisters who helped us tremendously during this dark time, Cindy stayed at our house watching over Tristin after school and off track, and being a sounding board for Becca when she needed to vent.  And for Jenny who kept the extended family in California up to date with the latest information and helping out when ever you could, and Thanks to Becca’s Mom for being there with us at the end and helping were you could, also Becca’s Grandmother Bobby who helped with a large portion of the funeral.


Thank you all of Macala’s friends who were there for her, before and after her accident, you have provided Macala with such love and happiness, you were all very much an important factor in her life so thank you for being her friend.


















The Final Chapter





One year ago February 8th 2010 a distracted driver hit my daughter while crossing in street in the crosswalk on her way to school.  The next four months she suffered and endured more then I thought anyone in the world should ever have to suffer.  As she drifted in and out of our world I to this day wonder if she ever really knew what happened to her.  All I do know is she felt pain and that was clear in all her expressions and movement when she was in pain.




I look back and recall many times were Macala would look at you and you can tell by looking in her eyes and the way she focused on you that she could recognize you.   Some times it would last a couple of minutes others a few seconds before she went back to staring at nothing.

One time early morning I walked into her room and looked down at her and she was sleeping.  I called her name and she opened her eyes looking up at the ceiling.  I called her name again and she looked at me.  Her eyes were sharp and focused upon me.  I walked around her bed and her eyes followed me.  I grabbed a hold of her hand and her expression on her face changed to sadness as I watched her eyes swell with tears she made her little pouty face.  She looked around the room and a panic look came over her face as if she just realized something bad has happened to her.

I could only imagine what she was thinking at those moments, unable to move because the brain damage caused a disassociation from brains pathways to do easy common movements.  She could not speak or make any noise because she had a tracheotomy and a tube in her throat that prevented her from using her voice box.  Although she could move her arms it seemed more like aimless swinging, she could also kick her legs and got good at scooting her self down the bed.  Perhaps this is the only way she could move.   I also think she kicked when she was uncomfortable and in pain.

A few times she seemed to panic and the only way to calm her was to talk to her and tell her what happened and to let her know we were all there for her and we love her greatly.  After a few minutes she would go back to starring at nothing, her eyes were not focused and they would become glazed over.  When she was in this state it was hard to gain her attention again which was a lot of the time.

On occasion during her awake episodes she would give the appearance of mouthing words.  One time Kim my sister made a reference to her panda bear that always with her and she mouthed the word panda.  According to Kim it was very defined and deliberate.  Other times it looks like she is trying to say something or could just be moving her mouth, its hard to say at times.

Her physical therapist would come, they would sit her up at the side of her bed at first she would like a limp noodle, but eventually she would try and help hold her self up by trying to brace her self up with her hands at the side of her bed and even a couple of times we were able to get her to kick on command.

It is times like this that would give us great hope, and she appeared to be fighting so hard and in tern would make us fight for her that much harder.  But seems like every time we had to do something neurological to her, such as place her bone flap back in, or putting in her shunt she would always be set back a couple of weeks.  Just seemed we could never get ahead.  She would take 3 steps forwards and we would have to do a procedure that put her two steps back.  I so hated that roller coaster.

Again, I could not imagine going through what she went through.  For four months she endured so much.  You can tell when she was suffering when the pain was so strong, you wish she could talk to you and tell you what hurts, and what we can do to make it better.  Most of all you long to draw it way from her, you would take it into your self if you could, but watching her suffer is one of the things to this day that hurts so much.

The monitors above her bed showed us Macala’s blood pressure and pulse were usually the only ways she could communicate.  When her blood pressure spiked along with her pulse you can tell she was in pain, often would lead into neuro storming.

You feel so helpless when she is storming, although the medical staff can give meds to counter some of the affects of storming, but they can not stop the storming its self.  The storming is when the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system are disconnected or delayed from each other.  I can hardly imagine it being possible to being fully conscious during a storming episode and she had them quite often once she started reaching the waking up process.

The wake up processes was a nightmare in its self.  I actually expected it to take a few days to a couple of weeks like most people who are in a coma, however given the brainstem damage it was taking a lot longer and was a very slow processes.  She never reached full consciousness that we knew of at least enough to take over her body all the way.  Like I said she would have a few seconds to a few minutes here and there but for the most part she was not conscious or fully aware.

I often wonder from time to time, that she did wake up enough to be aware of people in her room, she always calmed to mine and Becca’s voice.  I think she did reach enough consciousness even as rare as it was that she knew she was injured and in the hospital.  She knew she had little control over her body, she knew she could not speak, and she knew we were with her.  Some times us talking to her was the only way to calm her during certain procedures that were painful.

I can think of many examples of her appearing to be aware of what is going on around her, for example her fifteenth birthday, all her friends came to visit her.  The day of her birthday before her friends arrived, she seemed to be struggling, she did not feel well at all, that was apparent by the blood flooded cheeks, her high blood pressure, and over all body movement like she was in pain and could not get comfortable.  No matter what we did, we could not seem to resolve her problems.

We debated weather letting her friends come or not because of this, however once her friends started to arrive; she seemed to calm down and even light up.  I know she knew her friends were there by the way she reacted to their voices and we had her entire room full of her closest friends.   When her friends broke into play with each other you could see it was affecting Macala in a positive way.

The night and next day after her birthday however was a different story, she put up quite the show for her birthday but it took a lot out of her.  It took several days to get her back to where she was before the birthday party.

I know by what we have seen Macala was on the road to recovery, I know she would have eventually awaken enough that we would be able to communicate with her on a day to day basis.  I know that although she would have been seriously handicapped I think she we could have had our Monkey back.  She was making great strides if we just could have held on longer with out so many setbacks from her other issues, such as her lung problem, infection etc… things would be much different today.

Looking back I were things went wrong were just those set backs, the lungs collapsing and needing of the chest tubes and all the procedures, the initial placing of the shunt, the infection in her cranial fluid and the outside of her lungs in her chest cavity all contributed to her weakening.

When we took Macala to South Davis, she just had a set back from her lung collapsing and a problem with her stomach causing her to vomit from time to time.  The end of April she seemed to be feeling ill, they put her on anti nausea medicine.  While she was not feeling very well, they placed the shunt in; she also had chest tubes, her lung collapsing just before that.  I wonder if she was just put through too much in such a short amount of time that might have weakened her will or her ability to put up the fight she was earlier.

After placing the shunt in, we got some good responses and awareness times and even got her to kick on command but over all it seemed it might have taken too much out of her because her awareness spikes were after the shunt surgery were few and in between, however when she did have them, they were further along then they were before as though she was making great progress in her waking up processes.

The day she had her shunt placed in, the hostpital admin was eager to get her out of the university of utah hospital, they were ready to move her to a rest home and they really did not care where.  I was angered by that, I felt she was not ready.  With the support of our neuro doctor we got her moved to the step down unit in acute care and she was even trying to gain support from pulmonary doctors to transfer her to there unit  but eventually felt there was nothing they could do despite still having a chest tube in her lung.  They instead fitted her with a tube they could make portable, I feel did more harm in the long run then good.

We fought hard for Macala though, we knew she was not ready to leave the U, however the hospital was pushing us out the door, so with the help of someone at the U who jumped in to do a job the admin refused to do, we were able to get her in a facility that would continue her physical therapy that we feel made such great strides in her waking up, and be able to support her other needs.

More or less, we were transferred to a long term care facility.  The first week Macala seemed to take to the change, one morning we came into her room and her hands were in the aqua braces (just by the way they looked, they looked like big aqua hands) She was slowly rubbing her hand along the side of her bed railing up to her air tube and then to our astonishment along the tube to her throat, she paused there a moment and then slid her hand back down the tube and then along her railing again.  Becca called her name and she stopped.

Like I said the first week we seemed to be doing good, but she then started the vomiting around the second week we could not arouse her like we could before, her vitals were still normal, her white count was slightly elevated but still not to high.  By the third week it seemed as her GI track was shutting down, basically she could not hold any food down, and we began to worry about her nutrition we tried several different types of foods and nothing seemed to help.  She just started looking sicker and sicker.

Becca went in one morning and the staff was all in an excited state and that the staff doctor was looking for her.  She found the doctor and the doctor and becca and the doctor decided to get labs drawn because she started spiking a fever and eventually hit 105 – we made the decision to transfer her to the emergency room at the U.

Macala was eventually transferred to the emergency ICU and right after the labs came back, her room was under quarantine, you had to wear special one time use gowns, hairnets, gloves etc… just to enter the room.

She was so weak and sick.  They found the infection in her lungs and in her cranial fluid.  They transferred back to NCCU (neuro critical care unit) because they had to take her shunt out.

She spent 11 more days in the NCCU she was so very sick, despite the massive amount of antibiotics we could not get her white blood cell count down, we could not keep anything in her stomach.  Her body was starving.   We then had a meeting with our doctor and she then explained to us the dire of the situation.  We were at the end of the road there was nothing more they could do.  We had her placed on comfort care and she died seven days later.



Well today is the anniversary of the morning she was hit by the car.  It is hard to say how we cope, for I can simply just think of her and can draw my self to tears.  And have just about every time I have to make a road trip.  I love the road trips because it gives me that alone time remember and even break down if I need to get that release.


Up to this point I have lost two people very close to me, my aunt and grandmother but losing your child just adds a whole other element, and that’s the fact that you do not loose that parental instincts that you have to protect your child.  It is these parental instincts that seem to cause so much pain, because you never loose that drive to protect your child and you wonder if she is ok.


But our little family is coping, and we go see her from time to time.  We kinda spoil Tristin probably a little too much.  We try and just live and live better then we did before.   The sorrow has dissipated somewhat and the sadness still comes from time to time, but keeping busy does seem to help.

I went back to work, and it really helps to keep from dwelling on it, and Becca decided she really wants to be a nurse and has enrolled in school.  She is doing good.  Tristin copes by going to school and keeping her self busy with her various projects and games.


We all miss her greatly, and talking about the memories of her brings smiles to our faces and tears to our eyes, but we take it day by day, because there is nothing else you can do.


Since Macala was hit in Feburary of 2010, four other people were hit with in our community here in Magna, resulting in another death, and two children that were seriously injured.

People need to remember that driving is a privilege not a right, and we are all responsible to pay attention to our roads and those that share the roads with us.  We all just need to be a little more aware and perhaps we can prevent another death.


With one last thought, people ask about the driver who killed Macala and our thoughts and feelings on that.  Well, the facts are the DA dismissed the negligent homicide charge; she got several traffic tickets and reckless driving.  Other then a Christmas card from the drivers family we have not had any communication from the driver her self.


We are moving on, and putting our back together and doing what we can to build as many good memories as possible because that is the most important thing of all.


I love you all and thank you for taking the time to read this; this is the final chapter and the end of my story.  Perhaps some day I will write a screenplay about the whole experience and find someone to produce it… but you never know.





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A Star is Donated in Macala’s Honor

Although I am working on another chapter, however this news I feel could  not wait.   In the honor of Macala, we received in the mail a certificate stating that a star in the constellation of Ursa Major has been named after Macala.

The star was registered as a gift from Russ Hymas and Ken Christensen – from Christensen Law firm.

Many thanks to both Russ and Ken for all there hard work and such a wonderful gift!

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Macala’s Video Memories

Here are the videos that were produced by Mike and Lisa Fisher – This video was played during the viewing and funeral.  Please feel free to leave comments and come back to this page as often as you would like.  If you want a DVD version of this video please contact Terry at

Macala our sweet girl, we will always love you and miss you!

Macala Marie Holloway Ewell – Born April 18th 1995 — Died June 6th 2010

Macala 1 of 3

Macala 2 of 3

Macala 3 of 3

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Chapter 4 – Panda’s Full Circle

Chapter 4 – Panda’s Full Circle

Panda was left behind - Macala went to surgery.

Wow, just wow.  There are currently no words in the English language to describe my current feelings.  It feels that Panda has taken a full circle.  Who is panda you might ask?  Well Panda is a small little stuffed panda bear that was given to Macala on Christmas way back when she was a little girl.

Panda well all though she would never admit it was very sentimental to her and she cherished him deeply.  It’s not like panda was alone, Macala had tons of stuffed animals that lined her bed pillows and along her wall.   When Macala was older she made the decision that she was too old for stuffed animals and got rid of them all.  All but one, she kept panda.

Panda was the one special stuffed animal that was granted his stay.  He was only allowed to come out at night, otherwise stayed buried under her blankets to her bed.  Panda was also granted special sleep over privileges, when ever Macala went to any of her friends house for a sleep over, she always made sure she packed panda along to bring out at night.

When Macala went to the hospital, Becca and I made sure that we made sure we brought panda to her because we know it would have been a big comfort to her.  During this time, panda has been spit up on, thrown up on, and soiled in other ways.  He has seen several trips back home to hit the wash.  The funny thing is, is that panda is white again, actually looks new again, minus the area around his upper body were the beads were mis-placed through out his body from constant gripping by Macala.

Panda was with her through all complications, all the many hours of lying on her bed.  Panda even managed to hitch a ride to CT scans and even surgery.  Panda and Macala has been through a lot together.  Macala’s energy consumes panda.

Well, I have been thinking long and hard on what to write for this chapter, I was planning on bringing this journey up to date and then back track a few incidents in the past when we almost lost her or other problems came to be.

Well, a new development has changed this chapter all together.  This new event has completely changed out how things were going and how this chapter will be written.  See Macala has reached the end of the road on her journey to recovery.

Although this chapter has taken a drastic turn, in order to get the full perspective of what has happened, I am going to take you back to some of the problems in the past.

The day of the accident we were told that Macala has vomited and aspirated her stomach acid in to her longs.  When all was said and done, we were told that she had the lungs of an eighty year old who has smoked all her life.  We later found out that this was true to the seriousness of the words.

The stomach acid really did a number on her lungs, especially her left one.  The spongy elasticity material that makes up the lungs well has lost a lot of its ability.  Macala was also inhibited so she had a tube down her throat and was connected to a ventilator to breath for her.  With out the ability to cough and protect your airways fluid secretions build in the lungs and eventually development of pneumonia

Macala’s case of pneumonia was quite severe and was hard to treat.  We found a secondary complication caused by the original accident.  We found that Macala’s left lung blew a hole into her chest cavity.  So air was escaping from her lung into the chest cavity and it became infected.  The problem was at this point getting to the infection so they were using chest tubes to try and drain fluid in the lungs and chest cavity.  At one point she had six chest tubes at the same time, this was three more then anyone on the floor of the NCCU has seen before, and one of the nurses was a twenty year veteran.

The infection in her lungs ate away at them something fierce, that and the original problem from the stomach acid, much of her lungs became pockets of trapped air with out no real oxygenation going on is parts of her lungs.

Antibiotics were not working well enough because they could not get into the chest cavity well to kill the bacteria.  They decided on two surgeries were they go in through her back and scoop out the bacteria and also remove bad lung tissue.  They ended up removing about twenty percent of her bottom lobes of both her lungs.

That seem to work well, however the original hole caused by the accident did not allow us to begin healing of the lungs.  Air kept escaping into her chest and they would need to use a chest tube to get the air out.  Then they would remove the chest tube and we were within a few days right back at it.  It seemed it was a never ending battle.

Macala developed pneumonia again during a procedure to find the species of bacteria that was causing the problem, the lung fully collapsed.  At this point there was nothing that could be done; the options on the table caused more harm or death because of her current state of being.  They decided that living with one lung would have to suffice.  Due to her neurological state she is not a candidate for a lung transplant.

A week or so later one of those air pockets burst into her chest cavity.  The air pressure was so great that it pushed her heart from the left side of her chest to the right side.  Her right lung became under serious distress along with her heart.  They eventually decided to just try and remove the air, and inserted another chest tube.  This pulled the air out but also re-inflated about half her lung.  They inserted another chest tube into her bottom lobe of her lung and that inflated the bottom lobe.  All though it was not oxygenating all that great but some is better then none.

They decided to leave one of the chest tubes in for a long time to try and get her lungs to heal and scare up against her chest cavity so that we would stop having these problems with air passing into her chest cavity.  However she developed a respiratory infection again.  They also discovered her shunt maybe infected as well.

They removed the shunt and placed her back on an EVD drain, and they cultured samples out to find the species.  They began a ten day highly aggressive antibiotic treatment.  Towards the end of those ten days one cutler came back with a highly resistant to antibiotics infection.  This bug was nasty!  In addition to it being so nasty, the antibiotics used to treat it were already administered.  This bug has colonized her lungs and at this point the only way to remove it was to open her chest and cut out the parts of the lungs that were infected and seal up the lungs and close the chest.  Unfortunately this operation is not an option because Macala would not survive the surgery.

We soon found our selves right back at that ugly cross roads.  It was crazy to me, to think as far as we came, everything we have been through and all was starting to look like she could actually begin to recover from her injuries and work on rehabilitating her from her brain injury a bacteria that is usually harmless has taken up residence in my daughters lung and we are helpless to evict it.

We were faced with that decision once more, however instead of fighting to keep her alive the outcome from both decisions well unfortunately means her life will end.  On the one road we have trying to keep fighting an infection resistant to drugs that will eventually take her life and possibly painfully or do we take her off her life supports and provide comfort care until she passes.

I can not begin to tell you how agonizing this decision was to make.  I was shocked that we were even at this stage.  I guess in away I kind of felt this coming but wanted to deny it.  My wife and I both cried over trying to make this decision.  We do not want her to suffer, for she has already been through so much.   We soul searched through the night and the next day we made the hardest decision we have ever made in our lives.

We thought about many pro’s and con’s and tried to look at every aspect of this decision and including what we know Macala would want.  We looked at it emotionally and logically and searched our beliefs to what would be the right answer.

We looked at her neurologically; she has persisted into what was called a persistent vegetated state.   It was this stage we feared because it is very rare that people awake from it once set in.  We felt that we were so close to avoiding this stage but complication after complication has really did Macala an injustice and she slipped into a vegetated state anyways.  We needed her conscious enough so that we could remove the trache, but we could not remove the trache while in this stage because we need her to fully be able to protect her airways on her own.  With that in mind, we would find our self faced with constant respiratory and pneumonia infections until it would eventually take her, as it would appear was already going to happen.

We finally came to the conclusion that prolonging her pain and suffering a few more months until the bacteria took her life was not the best option.  We decided that it would be more humane and yes, we hated the decision and have cried often about it.

We pulled all life support measures at in the morning of May 31’st.  We were told to expect about three to seven days until she would pass.  Today is June 3rd and she is barley hanging in there.

The sorrow and pain my wife and I are feeling right now, I can not find words to describe it.  The pain inside is unbearable.  Our hearts are breaking watching our daughter slowly die in front of us.  It hurts something fierce.

I look at all the things she is going to miss out on, learning to drive; she wanted to learn so badly.  She will never grow up, get married or have children.  She will never experience so many first that she was just reaching the beginning of.

Tristin was crying today laying on Macala’s bedside wrapping her arm around her.  Looking at her I thought about every adventure and life experience she is going to miss out on because her sister has gone.  All the experiences I have shared with my brothers and sister from our childhoods and through out our adult lives.  Tristin will never experience with her sister.  I am sad and cried for Tristin.  I could only imagine how she is feeling.

It is not fair; parents should not have to bury their children.  I sit here writing this chapter, my daughter lies not more then five feet away from me, as she struggles to breath.  Each breath labored and the gurgle sound of her lungs filling up with fluid making it that much harder to breathe.  Her oxygen saturations are now in the single digits, I imagine she will pass very soon.  I will be happy however that her suffering will finally come to and end.  Four months of her ordeal is far too long for anyone to experience.  I can not even fathom the notion of going through everything Macala has been through.

Sitting here listening and watching and waiting for her to die.  She is at the final stages now and there is nothing we can do, I just want it to end now.  We have all said our goodbyes several times over, and have come to grips with letting her go, so now just need it to end.  She has such a strong heart that just keeps going and going despite being oxygen deprived.  This is pure agony and nothing but pure sorrow and sadness for me and my wife to have to endure.  Not to mention her family and friends who love her so much.

Dear Macala,

You came into my life and touched me so deeply.  I will always cherish every memory we have ever shared together.  I am so proud of you for the girl you were and the woman you were striving to become.  Your honesty and above all your personality shined like no other.  I loved everything about you and who you were.

I love your strength of heart, how you fought for everything you believed in and even right down to your stubbornness that really helped you in your fight for life.  You fought a good fight and your death will always deeply sadden me.  I can only hope that you will visit from time to time, and guide your sister through life because I know she needs you so much.

I hope you find your self in a much better place then were you were these last four months, your torture is my torture and in the light of your eventual death I can only hope that I was the best father I could be for you.  I hope that I did everything right in your mind even because you did in mine.

Macala, I love you my sweet girl, you are a very gifted and beautiful spirit.  I will miss you and will think of you everyday.  I know Tristin, your Mother and I will get through this and the pain will slowly fade, but we will never forget you and will always cherish all the memories, the smiles that you have given us through the years.

I am damn proud to have been your daddy.  I will long for our reunion.

Panda went on one hell of a journey with you through out the years and especially the last four months.  Panda will end his journey with you and remain with you always and forever.  Panda sure did come full circle.

I love you,


UPDATE:  June 6th 2010 at 4:30am Macala Marie Holloway Ewell passed away at the age of 15 – please help to prevent this from happening to another family by sharing this story and raise awareness for pedestrians and careful driving practices.

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Chapter 3 – What We Can Not See

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Click here for Chapter 1

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Chapter 3 – What We Can Not See

I sat on my couch in my living room, Tristin was sleeping and Becca was at the hospital.  It was very quiet.  I sat on the couch in the living room, the only light on in the house was the kitchen light and the air wick night light mounted in the outlet next to the entertainment stand in my living room.

I sat there thinking about Macala as a few tears are shed.  I began to get that distinct feeling of someone in the room with me, as if I was being watched..  I looked up and saw someone walking slowly from the bedrooms into the kitchen.  My first instincts were to see what Tristin needed.  Then as I began to turn towards the kitchen my peripheral noticed that it was not Tristin, it was Macala walking towards me.  She stopped when I began to turn towards her.  By the time I was able to focus in that direction she was gone.

I sat there a few minutes and could still feel her presence.  I tried to squint my vision and adjust to different angles but nothing worked I could no longer see her.  I soon began to smell her and feel that she was very close.  My heart began racing and I tried to speak but could not get any words to come out.  My eyes swelled up with tears and I just sat there a few minutes.

I got up and began to walk down the hall towards my bedroom.  I turned into my open door and just as I entered the room again from my peripheral vision I saw a glimpse of her again in the hall way near the kitchen.  I stopped and looked her direction and although I could not see her I said the only thing I could say.  “Macala, I am so sorry for what has happened to you.  I just want to let you know that we love you very much and truly sorry.   Please don’t give up, the body can heal.  Good night I love you.”  I climbed into my bed and fell asleep quickly.

I spoke to my wife about the incident and she explained to me that she too has seen glimpses of her.  As it was, that it so happens that we were to share several other experiences of Macala visiting us.

We began to learn the pattern, whenever Macala was having problems, as one night Becca and I were in our room sitting on our bed talking and the cat Reeses was sprawled out at the bottom of the bed.  The only light we had on was our black light that lines the top of our headboard of our bed.  Suddenly Reeses jumped off the bed as something startled him or jumped at him.  His claw dug into my leg as he leaped off the bed.

From the door the silhouette of Macala stood there as her profile faded into to the background darkness.  It was a strange sensation; it was as if I could see her with out seeing her.  It was like a white light of her body standing near the door; however I could not see anything there.  It was simply just knowing she was there and sensing her light with out seeing her, but seeing her at the same time.  She walked to the bottom of our bed and both Becca and I could feel she was confused and even agitated.   She walked through our bed to us and she was gone.

We got a call a few minutes later from her nurse up in the NCCU that she was de-stating and were having a hard time keeping her stable, her cranial pressure spiked up however they were able to get her under control.  We did end up going up to the hospital to be with her.

February Day 5: Becca, Kim, Jodi and I were in the waiting room back in our little corner were the book shelf was, to find as much privacy as we could.  We were taking turns visiting Macala.  Her ICP’s were looking good, better then we have ever seen them.  Looking at her on her bed she didn’t even look like they removed half her skull, other then the wires, tubes, neck brace and shaved head she looked pretty normal.  We were all talking and hanging out; my mother was back in Macala’s room along with Becca.  Jodi came back into the waiting room her face was white as a ghost and told me that something was wrong and that I needed to get back in there.

I quickly got up and walked down the hall into the NCCU.  I walked into her room and noticed her alarm was going off and her oxygen saturations were in the low 80’s and began to drop.  Pretty soon a bunch of people dragging a crash cart with them entered the room.  The situation began to become dire and began to loose her.  We eventually got kicked out of the room and they brought us back into the panic room, I believe this is the day my mother named the consultation room the “Panic Room”.

We sat in there and waited.  A little while later, I am not sure how long; time seems to blend in upon its self when things like this happen.  It must be to help people deal with a traumatic event and not go crazy, well almost.  One of Macala’s doctors entered the room and told us they got a chest x-ray done and found that she has a punctured lung and was blowing air into her chest cavity.  They solved the problem by putting a chest tube in to suck the air out and any fluid that has built up.

The problem with her lungs, when she initially was hit by the car, she was taking a deep breath and the pressure caused her lung to burst like taking a sandwich back filling it up with air and then slapping your hands together to make it pop.  In addition to the pop she also vomited and aspirated on it.   So by the time we got to day five we found that because of the stomach acid in her lungs it ate up parts of the inside, so instead of being spongy like material it was more like the lungs of an 80 year old who smoked all his life.

She remained fairly stable of the course of the next couple of days, friends from her school arrived and we updated them on her status, though they were not able to see her, we took pictures for them to see and that is when I began to keep a picture journal and every day I would take a picture of the calendar to mark the new day and everyday take a few photos of her.   It is interesting to flip through the photos and watch her hair grow.

My brother Mike and his wife Lisa arrived from Vegas.  I was filled with joy as I saw him, I do not know why but he was the only one who has been missing.  I spoke to him every day but seeing him sent a wave of emotion over me.

Wow, have I become THAT emotional?  It is crazy because I usually able to deal with my emotions so well, but since the 8th I think I have shed way too many tears, but hey we were really just getting started.   I was getting worried about Becca.  She has shed a few tears and had a good cry the other day but she has really been holding it in.    She did not want to look bad in front of family she wants them to know she is strong and can handle it.  I know however, that building up like this… well she was eventually explode.

We all talked with Mike in our little corner of the waiting room behind the book shelf.  Mike is one of those people who always know what to say to make you laugh and break up emotional tensions from the bad things that have been happening.  His humor really helped.  I took Mike back to visit Macala, as he watched her I could sense that all too familiar feeling emitting from him.  He walked out into the hall way and began to cry.  I took him into my arms and held him for a minute and then we returned to the waiting room.  We had another scare the next day but they were again able to keep her for the most part stable through the weekend.

I do not remember exactly what day it was, we had Tristin with us because she was having a problem trying to get back to school, she was afraid she would get hurt and end up like her sister, so we did not want to rush the matter.  My sister arrived soon after we got there at the hospital.  We were in our usual corner of the waiting room.  I started feeling that now common feeling that Macala was around us.  I could see things move from the corner of my eyes but never can actually get a good look of her.  We all started to have that sense something was wrong.  Macala started having breathing problems again, and was not able to hold her oxygen level and began to de-stat.  It was not long before someone from the NCCU grabbed us and told us what was happening and escorted us back into the panic room.

This one was really bad and Macala’s Oxygen saturations were low into the forties.  Macala was barley hanging on at this point.  After a short while, they were able to stabilize her but they were reaching the end of their tricks in the bag sort of speak.

Two of Macala’s doctors entered the room.  We called them by their first names, not sure why but because everyone else did.  Elaine began to explain the situation with us, “Macala has pneumonia and combined with her TBI Macala unable to regulate her blood pressure amongst other things she is not regulating.  We are at that point we can let her go or keep fighting.”

With tears swelling in her eyes, my wife immediately jumped out of her seat and yelled out “Keep fighting!”  Elaine and Val talked another minute with us and then left the room.  My sister took Tristin out of the room to keep her distracted.

We sat there a few minutes not sure what to say.  I began to think of what this decision could mean for Macala.  Because of her TBI she is more then likely to be disabled but what if keeping her alive and she is in a persistent vegetated state or stuck in an institution for the rest of her life?  I know I would rather die then live like that.  I expressed my concerns with my wife.  Macala even her self told us once that if she was ever like that, she would rather be taken off life support then live like that.

Becca then began to cry, this time she cried harder then I have ever heard her before in my life.  Once it started it just came out.  I felt the same pain she did, however it was her turn to cry, though I did let it seep out a little.

After a few minutes she calmed down and we decided we really needed more information and decided to ask for her doctors to come back in and talk with us again.  They came back and we told them what we were discussing and told them that we did not want Macala to live as a vegetable or in an institution and if this is what we are faced with then we need to let Macala pass.

Elaine then looked at us as she pulled one of the chairs over to sit down with us.  “To let you know, I am not in the business to keep people alive just to keep them alive.  I know this is hard for you but if I felt that, that is where we are then we would gather up the entire family (her medical team and our family) and make that decision together.”

Val then decided to login to the computer with the duel monitors and show us what they have seen with her head CT scans.   They were looking at the known brain damage; the majority of it was shown in the frontal lobe area.  She explained that also the serious whiplash could have caused some brain stem damage and also because she was on such low oxygen for so long, there is a high chance additional damage happened from affixation, however because she is so young she has a good chance at a decent recovery and if we didn’t believe so, then we would tell you.  She told us that because of her current complications with her lungs and her body not regulating many things on its own there is a strong possibility she still may pass but they would do everything they could to keep her with us.  We told them we love her and want to keep fighting for her.

It was not even twenty minutes later when her body suddenly clicked, she suddenly began to hold her oxygen, regulate her blood pressure and some of the other things she has been having problems with.

Besides one other time I have not felt Macala’s presents anywhere else except inside her hospital room.

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Chapter 2 – Critical Crossroad – What’s really important in life.

Click here for Chapter 1

Chapter 2 – Critical Crossroad – What’s really important in life.

Randy and Linda picked up dinner for everyone, that little conference room with all of us stuff inside could not handle all of us, the temperature in the room slowly climbed till it became to warm for comfort.  We propped the door open with a chair and that seemed to help, just a little though.

After it got pretty late, and I am not even sure of the hour because that entire day went by so fast and all the hours melted as if time was nothing more then a candle stick wasting away to nothingness.  My wife Becca decided to take our daughter Tristin home and try and get some sleep.  My sister and I were the only ones to dare trying to sleep at the hospital.  There were no recliners in any of the waiting rooms and in the panic room we had two little tiny couches that were more benches then anything.  We braved it however.  We pulled one of the regular chairs to over to place our feet on to make it more comfortable. We must have looked pretty odd to the housekeeper who came in, in the early dawn to empty out the garbage can.

We tried to sleep but only managed to claim an hour or so, the door to the OR room kept opening and closing, just as you would get able to enter that dream land again, the door would open and then close.   Open then close, open then close.  This was not working to well.

The next few days everyone was in and out, never did get much sleep over these first few days.  I think we managed to pull about eight hours of total sleep the first four days.  It is not much but adrenalin seems to keep you going and alert.  However this is not sustainable eventually we needed real sleep.  But that came later.

It is so hard to be in that room, yet you do not want to be anywhere else, because nothing else matters to you when you have to go through something like this.  The room is so quiet, there is very little light entering the room.  All the little lights and medical equipment seem to bleep or stay stagnant.  The one you pay most attention to is the screen that shows her vitals.  Even all the vitals the one that you pay most attention to is the blue one marked by ICP, for her intracranial pressure.  The nurses told us that this one right now is why we have to be quiet and have as little stimulation as possible.  This number if it manages to go over twenty seven, then the pressure inside her head will become too great and then begin to cut off blood flow to her brainstem.  We were wavering right around twenty five.

So little did we know how much your breathing makes a major difference in your cranialpressure?   When you breath or the lack there of, your brain begins to fill up with carbon dioxide gas, that tells your body to breath.  The urge to breathe and or panic, comes quite earlier to you then you actually need it.  You will loose consciousness as a precaution to spare your self any trauma, again before you actually need to breathe.  This is also why new CPR standards have changed to not worry about blowing into a person’s mouth when performing CPR.  The oxygen in the blood is enough to sustain for a short while.

Around the third day, Macala’s pressures start to teeter on the twenty seventh mark.  At one point it climbed to twenty eight and then twenty nine.  A few nurses came in and kicked us out.  We were allowed a few minutes later to come back in.  They bagged her, were they hooking up a manual breather and squeeze the breathe rapidly to remove a lot of CO2 gas out like hyperventilating and that managed to hold off the ICP to the mid twenties.  Although they are trying to manage her ICP through little or low stimulation, and medication, if that does not work they try and drain out some of her cranial fluid, and the last resort is a craniotomy were they remove apart of he skull to allow her brain to swell past its normal barriers.

Everyone left the panic room and it was just my wife and I alone for the first time since the accident.  I think we both manage to get our first real good cry done.  We managed to pull it off for about twenty minutes before everyone started coming back.  It felt like such a relief to get that out, so if you need to cry let it out because it does feel better and is a great coping mechanism.

I look at my eleven year old daughter, and some how you can’t help but wonder how she is feeling during all this.  She is acting so brave and you wonder if she fully understands at her age.  We later found out of course she understands what is going on, but she seemed to handle it so well.   I also feel bad for her, because the NCCU would not allow her onto the floor to see her big sister because she is under the age of fourteen.  I know it hurt her feelings quite deeply.  I could only imagine what was going through her head, especially when things go south and they seemed to be doing that a lot.

I know Tristin was building and bottling up her emotions but just kept hanging on the best she could.  I remember everyone leaving the panic room and so it was just Tristin and I, my wife was in the room with Macala.  Just as the door to the panic room closed my daughter sitting right next to me and not even two seconds and then she finally let it out.  I do not think I have ever in my life heard her cry like this before.  She buried her head into my chest and let it all out.  At one point she tried to speak but she was crying so hard she could not speak so she just buried her head again into my chest.   I could do nothing but put my arms around her and rock her back and fourth.  I also shed a few tears because of the emotion I was feeling and especially for Tristin.

Something about my wife and my daughters they are like very good pipes, you know the water works in a house.  They do there jobs well and can withstand a lot of pressure when holding back there emotions, however once you spring a leak, it is like the main pipe bursting and it just keeps going and going.   It seemed like about twenty minutes Tristin was just letting it out, and it did not calm down much either.  This pipe busted good!  Well soon my wife walked into the room and of course I was like ok, time for motherly duties because I couldn’t handle it any longer and needed a change in environment.

I stepped out of the room, though I do not remember were I went, or what I did.  I just remember I left the room.  I began thinking of Macala, remember how we were supposed to go to Disneyland and hearing how disappointed Trisin was when she found out we were not going to make it on our vacation because Macala was in the hospital.  But I started to think about her future, what kind of future are we going to get if she does survive.  I know my father was injured in a motorcycle accident and had a severe head injury back when I was eight, and although he was changed he turned out pretty good.  So I found comfort in that.  However there were differences in the types of head injuries and my two worst fears are, one that we hit the reset button and she looses the last fourteen years of her life and start over, or two she ends up trapped in her own body in a persistent vegetated state. Soon I began to think about all she will miss out and to try and escape the future I tried to think about the past.  And yes, this made it much harder.

So who is Macala?  Even now that is a hard question to define.  Anyone who knows Macala knows she is definitely one of a kind.  In many ways she reminds me of an old television show called “Punky Brewster” Macala is quite eccentric like Punk was.  She is one that always has to do things in her own way.  Even if you tell her a thousand times she has to learn her way.   Kay did what she wanted; with in boarders and limitations of course, we never just let her be a wild child.  She wanted to be a wild child but because we explained everything to her with out shelter she had a good grasp on things and rarely did anything wrong to get into trouble.  But let me tell you she was a tough cookie and stubborn like you would not believe.   She puts her mind to something she goes after it something fierce.

I think for Macala what was most important to her was her friends (taking family out of it) She was very social and had many friends.  Of course she had a small group of friends that were considered her core friends and then had many other friends that branched out from there.  Last summer I think my house was constantly filled with teenagers and especially on the weekend.  It was quite crazy some times.  They would go often to the swimming pool and play and then many times it would be so quiet – she would disappear to a friend’s house and often stayed the entire weekend over there.

Most of her friends were in walking distances but we some how managed to get wrangled into driving her all over the place.  I wish we could do that now, I would be happy to drive her anywhere she wanted to go.  Anyways Macala spent much of her time dabbling in the arts.  Macala had fantastic art talent.  Those who have been to her hospital room know we decorated her room with her art work.   She was especially good with the Japanese anime art.  I hear some of her friends rooms were also plastered with Macala’s art work as well.

I guess because of her fascination with Japanese anime, she also got into a little cos-play group were they dressed up as their favorite anime characters and goofed off and made videos and such, or just dink around.  Death note was her favorite anime, that is most of her anime artwork was taken from.

Macala was a very intricate part of our little families’ way of life.  Today it just feels broken with out her.  Everything my wife and I did involve our girls in one way or another.  There input into decisions we made to even deciding what to have for dinner each night was a group decision.   We often took turns because not always could we agree.  Our system worked good for us.  It was quite noticed when Macala was at a friend’s house Tristin usually got to pick the food or activity and just felt like a car missing a wheel when she was not around.

Macala she had a laugh that was infectious, everyone who knew her fell in love with her personality.  She really knew how to get everyone going.  I miss watching her and Becca chasing each other down the hall because one of them usually Becca was teasing Macala with some chocolate or something… well usually chocolate they both chocolate feigns.  And usually they get to rambunctious and someone ended up getting hurt… but would they learn?  Nope!

Its funny thinking back on things, you know we never had a whole lot of money to go do things all the time and be able to just drop hundreds one night just to have some fun; however I don’t think we missed it much, we just did our thing and it worked well for us. We would try and save money here and there to go do fun things and that worked too but usually we were good at entertaining our selves and Macala was real good and keeping the laughter and the craziness going.

Macala was looking forward to getting her learners permit, they have to drive with a parent for a year before they can get a drivers license, I thought it was a great idea.  Too often inexperienced drivers passed the tests but really do not know what they are doing. Becca let Macala drive our old hoopty of a van around the parking lot, Macala freaked and I suggested a bigger parking lot.  I was thinking about taking her to driving school track to let her practice and get familiar with being behind the wheel, however it never happened; I just put it off too long.  If only we could wind back the clock.

This last Christmas Macala was quite the big helper, it seems our family grows and grows larger every year and I think we are thinking of renting a place next year; I don’t think Kim’s and Randy’s house can’t quite handle it anymore for Grandma Jodi’s Christmas parties.   We usually have one of the Dad’s play Santa and they dress up and then gives out all the gifts to everyone there.  For some reason nobody wanted to volunteer… hey I did it two years in a row it was someone else’s turn!  Anyways Macala played a good roll not just being silly and entertaining but passing out the presents for people and it seemed to work out good too.

Going back to Macala’s talents, although she deleted them all, but she had several hundred pictures of makeup she did.  There was a youtube channel that all they did was talk about makeup techniques, now this is not your ordinary makeup how too channel, because well ifyou know Kay, we don’t do things like everyone else, especially be a girly girl.  Well this youtube channel was all about crazy patterns and techniques to do wild and crazy stuff.  Macala would take the information and create it on her self then take a bunch of pictures of it.  She did little cheetah prints all over were her eyeshadow would be, from a distance look like she just caked on way too much makeup but once you got close you could see the little cheetah prints it was fascinating to me how she was so talented with it. I was mad at her for deleting the folder of all her makeup creations.  Some of them were quite astonishing.  I was amazed at how little time it took her to do such awesome artistry.

We have searched all the hard drives and found a picture here and there but nothing as great as what she had in the folder she deleted.  I really wish she would not have done that, especially now.

The rest of that day was very hard emotionally; the battle over the ICP’s became a tough battle to fight.  It seems as if we were on the loosing end of that battle.  The two nurses worked diligently and heroically before they were able to get things calmed.  Macala kept them going there entire twelve hour shift.  At shift change, my wife and I were standing off to the main hallway in a smaller hallway that lead to the OR doctors entrance so not many people around there were we could talk.  It seems sometimes it was just too hard to find a good place to talk.  I believe it was a little earlier that day we had to give up the comfort of the panic room for other families just starting there roller coaster ride.  As we stood there talking I forget what we were talking about when one of the nurses came around the corner.  That was a very hard day for the two nurses, that entire twelve hour shift well, Macala made sure they earned their money.   Looking like she just had been run over by a bus and then kicked down the stairs, helped back up only to be kicked down again the nurse looked atBecca and Becca looked up at the nurse.  Before I knew it the water works busted again on both of them.  The walked into each others arms and cried a few minutes.  I didn’t say anything just stayed back and let them have there moment.

A little while later, we walked into the NCCU and past the administration desk and around the corner.  We walked towards Macala’s room, the curtains were pulled shut and just as we got to her room the curtains flew open, they were bagging her.  Macala’s ICP was around forty-one. The bagging got her down to the mid teens, however by the time they got the ventilator hooked up again she was back up into the thirties and climbing.   We hear the rumbling of the wobbly wheel from the crash cart flying down the hall way and a team we have never seen before right behind.  We then returned to the waiting room to one of the corner sections were it was kind of enclosed to allow for a tad bit of privacy.

Tears were shed emotions ran high because we all knew something was wrong and did not know what to do and what was going to happen though I think deep down inside we all knew that we were approaching the last resort.

Becca and I were walking back into the room after being told we could go back again.  As we entered the room one of the neuro-surgeons were in her room and talked about doing the craniotomy.  He told us we could continue to treat her ICP’s medically however with in a day or two they will have to do it anyways as an emergency procedure and she would be in a much more critical state and possible more brain damage.  We decided not to take that risk and signed the consent form.  The next day she went into surgery so of course that night we got no sleep.  Becca stayed the night at the hospital.  I went home with Tristin.

It was roughly around three o’clock in the afternoon when they took her into surgery.  These were the longest three and a half hours of our lives.  This is when you really start thinking about things what is really important in life.

It is not the houses, the cars, the jewelry, and the electronics.  It is not about the money, what you have, what you want, or need.  It is not about who you k now, or how you spend your time day after day in the same routines you repeat time and time again.  It is not the politics from world leaders and governments; it is not about anything but the love you share between you and your family.

I found that far too often we do not pay enough attention to the fabric of our families.  Rather then nurture those relationships we assume they are just there but really do not show what is most important and that is acknowledgement, recognition, listening and above all love.

I can not tell you how to live your life, or even tell you to tell your children that you love them each and every day.  Though you should but who am I to tell you to do these things?  My wife and I did things a little different by following our hearts and not following everyone’s directions on how to do things.   So for me to tell you would be a tad hypocritical.  So I will not tell you to tell your children each and every day you love them.

My wife however was lucky enough to tell Macala “I love you and I will see you after school.”   Those were the last words my wife spoke to her.

I miss her so damn much; there is no closure just a constant fear and longing for it all to be over the grief you feel is almost unbearable.   I think the only way to get by really is to hope it is all going to get better soon.  At either point you wish if she is going to pass, you wish she would just get on with it.  Or if she is going to live just get better already.   However you find your self just trying to take it day by day or actually hour by hour when you are living in the Neuro Critical Care Unit.

Despite everything, I am amazed on how much the body can handle, though all the damage of the accident, to everything she has been through up to this point but the roller coaster is not done yet, it’s just getting started.  Like one of the nurses said to us “We fix something that breaks something else, we fix that to break something else.  It’s a long rollercoaster ride.”

The surgery went well; her ICP’s were in the single digits.  They were better then we have ever seen them.  For a minute there we thought the worst was over but the ride was just getting going we just went down the initial drop.  We just have to hang on to the love because that is what’s most important in life.

I love you Macala!

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Chapter 1 ~ A Dream

Chapter 1

I do not know why but my wife who is the worst morning person I know got up in the morning of Febuary 8th 2010 just in the nick of time to send our eldest daughter Macala off to school.   Macala was fourteen and was very independent in the mornings.  In other words we slept while she got ready for school.  It was great!  So I still wonder to this day what prompt her to wake up in the first place.

Wait, lets back track a little, just a little.  See we usually live paycheck to paycheck.  We have been trying to plan a family vacation for a very long time.  Some times I wonder looking back if we shouldn’t have just did it more often.  Well I always wanted to take my family on vacations but never seemed like we had the money.   Or when we did have the money there was always pressing needs to take care of.  If only you could rewind the clocks right?

Well we finally decided and planned for a family vacation at Disneyland.  This would be the first time for both my daughters.  My youngest Tristin began counting down the days for the last two months.  It soon became a nightly routine for her to show her excitement.  I think she was packed and ready to go a full month before going.

I think all of us were pretty excited.  We had the entire tripped out, we planned on stopping in Las Vegas to visit with my brother who abandoned us with our snowy winters for the warmth well and the heat of Vegas.  Then we would be off to LA and spend a few days visiting Disneyland and Universal studios.  To this day I feel a little guilty for not showing my daughters the fun that I had when I was growing up, well when it comes family trips and vacations.   I always loved road trips.

We were down to the last two weeks before the vacation.  We even bought a new car to help our vacation travels.  Now we didn’t buy the car for the trip but hey, it helps!  We picked up the car and brought it home.  We showed it off to the kids and took them for a little ride.   Later that day my eldest daughter Macala who is an exceptional artist drew a rose on her arm.  The art work was exquisite, it looked like a professional tattoo.  My wife liked it so much she decided to take her rose and turn it into a tattoo which she got on the lower lumbar of her back.

I remember the look of pain on Becca’s face while the needle of the tattoo gun dug into her skin.  Her face was flushed and I think she squeezed the life out of my fingers because I could not feel them for about an hour after words.  One of the other tattoo artists came in to examine the work as it was being performed.  He was tall and had a shaved head, he sat in a chair almost next to me but close enough to view the art work.  As he was examining the tattoo I noticed the number fourteen tattooed on his head just left his ear.  I do not know why at the time, but for some reason that number stuck out to me.  There was some sort of weird significant meaning to that number at that moment.  I stared at the number wondering why it fascinated me so.

After my wife was done getting her tattoo, I told her about the number.  After telling her we shrugged it off and she went off to tell me how bad the tattoo hurt and how bad she wants to add to it.   I thought to my self, “uh oh, I hope she doesn’t turn into a tattoo addict.”

We got home and showed Macala the tattoo, and she was very proud of her work.  We all were.   Later that night crawling into bed I looked back over the day and the number fourteen flooded my thoughts again and as well as the picture of the tattoo.  I began thinking about getting Macala to draw me one, well not of a rose but something.  Off to sleep I went.

Febuary 8th 2010 —

Although I know my wife got up early that morning, I did not know why or did I really care, I was still stuck in that dreamland phase of sleeping.  I was suddenly awaken by the sound of my wife Becca’s phone ringing, I was pretty groggy and the only thing that came to mind was to ignore it.  Which we did.  After a few rings the call went into voice mail and we were in the clear and started off to sleep again.

After about a minute, my phone began to ring.  I then decided to answer it, one because I was awake now, and two someone really wanted to get a hold of us.  I answered the phone.  A gentleman with a deep voice replied to my hello with an introduction to him self as an officer of the unified police department.  He stated his name and proceeded to ask me if I was the parent of Macala.  I stated yes.

It was about that time the roar of a low flying helicopter was flying over my apartment.  The officer was talking to me, but I could not hear him.   The sound of the helicopter finally faded away enough that I could hear the officer again and then asked him for the purpose of  his call again.  He stated to me that my daughter Macala was involved in a serious accident and is being life-flighted to the University Hospital.

I remember my face began to feel hot, as I was getting mad.  How dare someone play such a cruel joke and I was about ready to begin to yell, then it dawned on me as I put two and two together with the sound of the helicopter still thumping in back ground noise.  A feeling of fear hitting right down the the abyss of soul hit me.  It was a feeling I have never felt in my life.  So powerful was this feeling I almost discounted the feeling as not real.

I made him repeat him self again.  I politely thanked him for calling.  I looked at my wife who already knew something was seriously wrong.  Her face already filled with fear and worrisome.   She asked me what was happening.  I was not sure how to tell her.  The only thing that came out of my mouth was “You know that helicopter that just flew over our apartment?  That is for Macala!”  I never will forget that look on my wife’s face.  Even now three months later the look on her face still stirs those emotions that swell tears in my eyes.

We woke Tristin up and quickly got dressed and made for the car.  We pulled out on to the main road heading towards the freeway.  The road just down from our apartment was blocked off by the Unified Fire and Police Department.  As we got closer to the road they designated for a detour I then realized that I forgot where we were going.  I decided to stop at the scene and ask the officer the information I needed.  As I ran  up to the officer I noticed a silver Dodge Neon parked down the road half in the lane.   I spoke with the officer a moment and he re-supplied me with the information I needed.

I looked over and noticed my wife got out of the car.  She ran up to one of the police car’s were a woman sat.  She told me she thought she was one of Macala’s friend because she looked very similar.  My wife knocked on the window because she wanted to ask Macala’s friend about what happened.  Tears streaming down her face as she had that panicked afraid look on her face.  The woman in the car turned to my wife and then buried her head into her hands.  My wife realized then, that she was not a friend of Macala’s but the one who hit her with her Neon as she walked across the street to school.

We got back in the car and took the detour around the block and then back on the main drive.  We came the intersection that leads us to the freeway.  On the corner there is a Chevron station and a strip mall with a large parking lot were the Air-med helicopter landed.   As we creeped up to the light at the intersection we noticed they have not loaded Macala onto the helicopter yet.  They were still working on her body though we could not really see what was going on.  My wife asked me to drive over there.  I told her, there is nothing you can do and there is not enough room for you to fly with her.  It will be better if we just meet them at the hospital.

We began to drive to the hospital that is all the way across the valley.  As we traveled down the freeway we decided to start calling relatives.  I called my mother first, she did not answer so I then tried my older sister Kim.  When she answered the phone. for some reason I could not get a single word to come out.  I felt as if my chest has collapsed and my throat was being cut off.  Tears swelled in my eyes.  I tried to get the words out, any words but could not.

I do not know why it was so hard to tell my sister that Macala was hit by a car.  It was as if, if I could say it, it would make it real.  But to me the whole thing was a bad dream I really could not wait to wake up from.  I finally took a deep breath and got the words out.  About this time I looked over at my wife who’s face was filled with tears and worry, I began to cry.

I got off the phone as she told me she would call everyone else and meet us there.  I took some deep breaths and continued to drive us to the hospital.  We arrived at the U and dropped the car off at the valet parking in front of the emergency room and walked in.  We introduced our selves trying to hold back tears.  The nurse proceeded to tell us the Helicopter arrived about ten minutes ago and they had her in a trauma room making her initial assessments.

We waited there about twenty minutes before a nice lady came over to us and introduced her self.  I do not recall her name but she stated she was going to guide us to the waiting rooms were they will we will meet someone there.  We followed her down the hall to the elevators and up to the third floor were a sign stated Nuero Acute Care.  We proceeded into a waiting room that was empty.  The temperature in that room was set to almost eighty degrees.  It is one thing to be extremely emotional and another when you add on the eater blaring in an already hot room.

We waited about twenty minutes when Kim arrived with my mother Jody.  We showed them to the waiting room and talked about what happened.  My little brother Randy soon arrived along with his wife Linda and there daughter Madison.  They brought a little snack package with them, they always come prepared.  A few minutes later we were escorted to a tiny family conference room that had a couple of coutches and chairs inside along with a computer with dual monitors.  We later called the “Panic Room”.

We waited there a few minutes before a gentleman named KC introduced his self as the trauma counselor and our social worker.  Soon after a doctor came to the panic room.  The doctor we do not remember his name but was the initial trauma doctor from when the limited her into the emergency room.

He began to tell us that Macala has suffered a severe traumatic brain injury called a Diffused Axonal, this type of brain injury is the same injury babies suffer when traumatically shaken otherwise known as shaken baby syndrome.  The injury is damage to multiple parts of the brain.   He also stated that she has a break to her right humorous bone just below her shoulder.   Along with that, she was taking a breath when the car hit her, caused her right lung to blow air into her chest cavity, in addition she vomited and inhaled her stomach acid into her lungs.   We were told that her lungs at this point were equivalent to a man who was eighty years old and smoked all his life.

At this point it still did not seem real.   The feeling was like floating in a dream.  “It can’t be real” I thought.  “This kind of shit only happens to other people.”   I know it was real but I still can’t explain that feeling of it being a dream.  I expected to wake up.

Soon someone arrived into the panic room and escorted Becca and my self to our daughter.  We were told that because of her brain injury we are trying to keep her cranial pressure down so we can not stimulate her, we can whisper softly only.   We walked to her room 3314 and suddenly my thoughts flew to the day before watching Becca get her tattoo looking at the man in the chair with the number 14 tattooed to his head just above his left ear.

We walked into the room the lights were very low, a sign on her door said no stimulation.  We walked in and there was our baby.  There are no words that can describe the feeling I felt at that very moment.  Looking down at her, a part of my soul fell out.  I held my wife as we stared down upon our daughter.  Her head was shaved and a tube came out of her head called an EVD that was used to monitor her cranial pressure and drain cranial fluid if needed.  We were shown upon a monitor her vitals and were her EVD pressure was, it was called ICP which stands for Inter-Cranial Pressure we later learned to fear the word ICP’s.

Damn, just looking at her you feel so damn helpless.  Everywhere you looked she had tubes and wires hanging out all over her.  She looked like a doll crossed between a science experiment.  All you want to do is hold her and tell her it will be all right, but you can’t because looking down at her theres no were to even touch her but the tips of her fingers.  It is the worst feeling in the world, well almost.  Little did we know that the wost feelings you have ever felt was about to get a whole lot worse as we entered the worst roller coaster ride.  Guess what, NO REFUNDS!

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I am 35 years old, married and have two children, Tristin 11 and Macala 15 and of course my wife Becca.  We  had our problems like any other family we were very happy and although we were not well to do we however were rich with love.

We were planning on a family vacation to Disneyland, and it would be the first time for both my daughters.  We were getting ready and excited about our vacation when about two weeks prior to leaving tragedy struck our home.  My eldest daughter when on her way to school was involved in an accident – when crossing the street in a crosswalk a car collided with her.

Macala ended up with a  traumatic brain injury.  This blog is to tell her story as it progresses and to try and provide a perspective from my point of view and to give and idea of what it is like to go through a major tragedy and most of all a TBI.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a TBI, I can only hope that our story can help you in understanding and help to feel not so alone and maybe provide an ounce of comfort that there is always hope.

And a good rule of thumb that was given to us by one of the greatest doctors I have ever met is that “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.”

Feel free to leave comments and thank you for stopping in.

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