The Summer Of The Broken Wings

On Sunday the 25th of November 2012 my little family: Me & my wife Benita, Drummond {8.9 years}, Galvin {6.3 years} & Judah {4 years} went to a combined 40th birthday party for our dear friends Aaron & Michelle Spence. It was held way up on Tambourine Mountain at a gorgeous property called The Secret Garden. We got there early around 2pm so i could take some family photographs of the birthday couple and their two boys Elijah & Jericho. {see below}

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After a great little session {see above} it was time for catching up with some great old friends and a lot of Aaron’s family {note Aaron and i go way way back to year seven / 1984, we have had many adventures together and i like to take credit at introducing Aaron to his wife Michelle way back in 1991} . My sister Megan and her family were all guests there too.

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{above: L>R Megan, Michelle, Benita}

The afternoon tea of sandwiches, fruit and cakes was served and all of us parents rounded up the kids, got them eating and behaving. Our oldest son Drummond is pretty much the oldest amongst this group of kids so he is often the kid on the bottom of most of the play wrestling and play fighting {parents of boys will understand}. Aaron’s oldest son Elijah is a year younger than Drum but they have infamously as thick as thieves and are often getting into trouble together, their dynamic together is usually something along the lines of: Drum trying to be the cool older one and Elijah the crazy Drummond fan. All in all they are great great friends and have been all their lives.

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{above: Drummond & Elijah just a mere hour or so before the ordeal began}

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{above: L>R Michelle, me, benita, Shane {my Brother In Law} talking to Matt} just minutes before the day went all topsy turvy – is my expression foreboding?}  

Around 4pm in the afternoon the kids slipped across the fields to a few tire swings and other play areas. Benita and my sister Megan wandered down there with the kids, so i stayed sitting around and chatting with Birthday girl Michelle and some other friends. {as seen above} Out of the lazy afternoon haze of relaxed fun conversations someone said, “someone is calling out Darren..” {my full name is Darren John} – then someone motioned to me; i was being called to the field, then someone mentioned “tree” “fall” “Drummond” and i walked down the embankment towards the field i could see my sister crouching under a huge Jacaranda tree with a limp Drummond. 

The next part is a bit of a blur…

i am crouching down over Drummond as he coming to, he is in shock. his right arm is obviously broken at the wrist. he is very distressed. he is trying to stand up by pushing himself off the ground with broken arms. My sister is talking to him, is she talking to me? i hear “climbing tree” “branch break” “3 or 4 metres”… i remember looking at his neck and his back because he was attempting to stand up. My sister and i exchanged something along the lines of “his neck is not broken” and then – here is the weirdest experience i had – my mind said “remember your training in first aid etc- do not move him in case he has injured his back or neck” but then my body scooped Drummond up in my arms out of the dirt and i started walking to a bench about 70 metres away. It was as if my “dad flesh” had to pick up the crumpled little “son flesh” and get him to safety… i am guessing this is what it’s like to be in shock. i felt as if i was watching myself…. as someone who prides themself on being super level headed in all sorts of emergencies this was very strange … after getting about half way there in the open field with Megan telling the men to “Call Triple 0” – it was Aaron’s sister Martine that came and stopped me and made me put him down – she somehow connected my mind back to my body and also by this stage Benita had got there.

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{above: around a very distressed Drummond you can see little brother Judah with thumb in mouth, me holding drummond in place, benita with drummond’s head in her lap and my sister Megan in yellow.}

Now my wonderful wife Benita comes from a long line of wonderful people who you wouldn’t really want to be relying on in an emergency, they tend to get a little flakey. But i must say that in this instance Benita was amazing. i got her to simply sit with Drummond next to her lap, so she could whisper to him and stroke his head. Megan, disappeared for a minute and people scrambled for ice, a colouring in book and a scarf. We made a simple splint for Drummond’s newly bendy right wrist. And it was then that i came to my full senses – {what my old friend Matt Lester called} Super Dad manifested and i had to make Drummond look into my eyes and i looked deep into his poor scratched up pale face and i had to just keep talking to him to try and keep him calm. We had around 20 minutes to wait for the ambulance {that time felt like about 3 hours} and my poor Drummond kept on asking me “Dad is this real life?” “Dad is this really happening?” “Dad is this a dream?” “Dad i can’t move my arms” – I answered everything honestly, telling him the truth, telling him what was going to happen, telling him that it was going to be OK.

*The photographer in me kicked in – I also told my friend Aaron to photograph everything – hence the great pictures here.

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Finally the ambulance arrived and two super heroes Claire & Neil appeared and took amazing care of Drummond. I was able to take a step back for a moment and my sister – who was the only adult who saw everything – put an arm around me and we looked at each other and i started to tell her: “thank you sis, i love you, i’m so proud you are my sister…” when my voice cracked – i felt the dam of tears crack a little so i pushed her away “man alive! nick off sis!!” We laughed instead… A neck brace, new splints, some pain drugs to breathe in, cutting off his button up white shirt, keeping all the other kids back a bit, other parents rounding up the kids or hovering seeing what they could do. Our 4 year old Judah sitting right there next to Drummond while 6 year old Galvin kept right away…

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{above: make a note of Elijah on the far right}

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… and in between every shallow breath… in between every stroke of his forehead i asked the God of the universe and the Father of all light to look after his child. it wan’t a question of belief or faith or church or religion. it came from something much deeper: it was a creation calling out to it’s creator. it was real.

Aaron and Michelle’s son Elijah was absolutely beside himself, i have never seen a child cry so hard. Having witnessed his mate fall out of a tree right in front of him, land on the ground with a snap and then lie there limp like a sack of potatoes, i am sure he thought he had witnessed his best friend die. My sister Megan told me to thank God that we had not seen the fall, because after witnessing it, she ran like the wind to his crumpled motionless body in the dirt, the only thought she had in her mind was “move…. move…. just move…” She was hoping that she had not just seen the death of her nephew.  Thank the Lord for small mercies of not seeing a nightmare first hand….

eventually the ambulance left with Benita and Drummond. We then regathered and had the birthday cake. My boys gobbled it down and then we headed down the mountain. Matt Lester helped with the bags and on the way out Aaron’s brother in law John stopped me and said “Now don’t speed. You may not realize it, but you are full of adrenaline, just take it easy down there.” That was one of the best pieces of advice i’ve ever gotten. We made it home without speeding. i gave Judah & Galvin a bath, changed them, rang all the family and then we made it the the Gold Coast Hospital Emergency unit where we found B & Drum being looked after by the excellent Dr Matt – i tag teamed with Benita and stayed with a sedated whimpering Drum as we had X-rays done. i watched as all the X-rays came back of his head, chest, back, stomach and his arms. Both arms done. Right arm particularly nasty. They explained the need to get him into surgery that same night as the right arm would probably require to be wired, and both arms set in casts past the elbow. Meanwhile my mum and sister swooped in, grabbed Judah and Galvin and allowed B & I to be there. Benita found her way back and then it was my turn to run out, see the Spences and grab some dinner for us both. At 10:30pm we got the use of the the operating theater and the wonderful anaesthetists asked Drummond for his favourite music: Gotye & Guy Sebastian – Battle Scars ft. Lupe Fiasco. We then had a couple of hours to get home, shower, pack some clothes, post to facebook and get back to the hospital by 12:30am.

In all of this i need to express how proud Drummond made me. Granted if he had not broken anything but had only gotten a scratch i would have given him the hiding of his life being way too cocky climbing trees without adult supervision {a trait he get’s from yours truly}. But given the circumstances, where he could have easily been killed or broken his spine, he made me proud of my son. The other thing to take into consideration is that Drum has always been overly sensitive to pain, {his last name does not suit him at all} he is the child to wail over a splinter or cry rivers over a paper cut. Galvin has a better pain threshold, and Judah has the highest {a trait he get’s from yours truly}. So for Mr Sensitive to have to suffer through two broken arms and to have every nurse or doctor or hospital staff compliment us on a beautiful child, it does make me proud. It is under immense pressure and adversity that we see peoples real characters come out. And i fell in love once again with the character of my oldest precious son.

It was around 1:30am in the morning when they wheeled a very groggy and double casted Drummond into his room on the paediatrics floor. After making sure everything was ok i headed home and eventually fell into a fitful night of dreams around 2:30am… it was a long day!

The next evening {Monday 26th} Drummond was album to come home and he has been doing really well in the week since he’s been home. Just to note – he has both arms in casts up past his elbows – so he is locked into a permanent C3PO / robot arm bend. He cannot feed himself, dress himself or even accomplish the finer pints of going to the toilet…. for a boy almost 9 years old: not the most fun. He has had a few days of the “broken bone dull aches” – but all in all he has been amazing. On Thursday the 29th Nov he was able to go to School for the last hour of the day and his class mates all had a great time asking questions and hearing the stories. 

On Monday 3rd December, one week after the accident, we went back to the hospital and got more X-rays and a check up: Everything was good news: bones healing really well, doctors very happy in the progress. We then went to the casts department and i must say: best dude ever. He reinforced both of his casts with fibreglass coloured wrap – Drum chose the colours and the dude cleaned everything up and showed him the pattern he could do. Drum was very excited with his Purple and blue casts – as close to his favourite colour of Indigo!

after we finished breakfast this morning Judah {22 months old} decided to get up onto the table and dance to the music… i grabbed the flip and we created this… Music: Death Cab For Cutie “Long Division”

about seven minutes of my three boys from this morning. this is me letting the flip video roll as i shoot some photographs of the three of them as the B.o.B album plays on {dang that junk is catchy}

Saturday 30th January 2010 – {6:30am} Jolane is up at our place working on some website stuff etc… he has decided to sleep in the backyard in his swag…. the boys love it.

saturday 23rd January 2010 – galvin, zack, danae & drummond back in the olden days we used to record cassette tapes for our cousins etc, now the kids make videos for facebook etc… classic. this is to their two cousins down in Melbourne.