Victory Through Him

Background of incident:  On 7/31/10 my son, Thomas called a friend on his cell phone to hang out.  He told my son he was at D's house playing XBOX.  Even though my son had only known D from on the school bus and in passing at school for about a year and a half (D dropped out or was kicked out of school and hadn't ridden the bus last year) and once at his friend's birthday party early in the year, Tommy decided to go there because he wanted to hang out with his friend before the end of the summer.  He was given directions to D's house.  My son rode his bike over to D's house. 

His friend took Tommy to the kitchen and offered him a drink of water because Tommy was overheated and tired from the long bike ride. Tommy hadn't realized D's house was that far away.  After getting Tommy a drink, the kids walked from the kitchen to D's bedroom and my son sat down in a computer desk chair.  His friend, sitting in another chair turned and told my son that D had a gun that he (D) had stolen out of a car.  My son didn't really respond and so D walked to the computer desk, pulled the gun out, turned to my son, pointed it at him, said "Freeze Mother F***r", and pulled the trigger.  D was holding the Smith and Wesson .38 caliber gun within 18 inches or so of my son's head. My son didn't have a chance to react.  My son had only been at D's residence 15 minutes or so when he was shot.

My son never lost consciousness and was screaming "What happened - what just happened?"  (With a few "cuss" words as he later told me.)  His friend gave him a towel to apply pressure as my son was bleeding profusely from the wound, nose, and mouth, and told him to remain calm.  His friend called 911 as D tried to figure out what they would tell police - making the statement "We will tell them he came here like that."

Medical aftermath:  My son was Bayfighted to Bayfront Medical Center the evening of 7/31/10 and remained in ICU for 4 days - He was constantly monitored and tested - hooked up to IV's and various medical equipment.  Medical personnel were amazed he had survived.  Being medicated, in shock, and healing, he was in and out of consciousness pretty much the whole time.  When he became stable and out of imminent danger, he was moved to an intermediate neurology floor. He was released late in the day on 8/5/10.  He was sent home with anti-seizure (we were warned of the possibility of seizures) and pain medication.

We were told his right optic nerve was severed and his ear drum was ruptured.  He had multiple facial fractures, as the bullet entered in the right temple traveled through his head depositing multiple bullet fragments throughout his head until finally stopping, lodged within 1mm of the carotid artery on the left side of his neck.  He also had (and in most cases still has) sinus issues, pain in his jaw, and numbness throughout his face, as well as some appearance abnormalities as he is scarred and unable to raise his right eyebrow or fully move his right eye.  No surgeries were done because as we were told - it would be more life threatening to perform surgery that to leave everything alone.

When he came home the first time, he never felt good and slept or laid in bed for 22 out of 24 hours a day.  He was not eating.  When he was up, he complained of constant pressure in his head.  He often hacked up blood clots we assumed were from his sinus'.  On 8/10/10 my son was up more and we went to a local doctor for a recheck.  They didn't want to even touch him until they received medical records.  We stopped at a store and my son had a small amount of what looked like bloody serum come from his nose.  It really scared us so we went home and I called the trauma doctor we had seen in the hospital.  They said to watch him closely.  The next day (8/11/10) my son got up and instantly complained of extreme pain in his head which was increasing, and he was steadily dripping fluid from his nose.  I took him to Spring Hill Regional ER and after a cat scan they transported him by ambulance back to Bayfront Medical Center.  Bayfront Medical Center did another 2 cat scans and my son was diagnosed with a tear in the lining of the brain which was allowing spinal fluid to leak out and air to invade the area around the brain causing pressure and pain.

Surgery was required and performed on 8/13/10.  This required a 6 - 7 inch incision in his thigh, removing a large piece of fat and tissue, making a 6 - 7 inch incision in his head, pulling back the skin on his head, removing a piece of skull to access the area, and maneuvering around the brain to make the repair.  He was again in ICU where spinal fluid began seeping out of his ear,  They were going to place a drain in his spine - but the leak slowed and then stopped, making it unnecessary.  He remained in ICU until 8/16/10 when he was moved to an intermediate ICU and then released late on 8/17/10.

Tommy seemed to do well at home this time, and we made the rounds to various doctors including a primary physician and an eye specialist.  On 9/3/10 he was sent to a retina specialist who discovered that a large portion of the retina in his right eye was detached.  Because of the severe damage to the eye, the doctor felt that surgery to reattach the retina would not benefit Tommy.  However he did think it was immediately necessary to "weld" the retina that was still attached to prevent it from detaching completely - causing Tommy to lose the tiny bit of peripheral vision that he has left. The laser surgery done that day was painful because of the existing damage that was not yet healed.

On 9/11/10, Tommy had gone for an outing and lunch with his sister.  When he got home he walked to a friend's house (4 houses away).  This was the first outing and the first visit to a friends house since the incident.  He called me and said that his heart felt like it was beating out of his chest.  We had him come home and started monitoring his blood pressure and heart rate.  The blood pressure was always good - but the heart rate was elevated.  Because Tommy had been so stressed about everything that happened, and this was the first day of real activity, we assumed it was a panic attack combined with the result of everything that had happened as well as the activity, and when the heart rate finally came down we were relieved.

On 9/17/10, Tommy again felt like his heart was racing.  We again monitored the heart rate and became concerned when it did not come down after 3 or 4 hours.  I took him to Oak Hill Hospital ER and through the tests they did, we discovered Tommy had multiple pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) located in his lungs.  He was admitted and despite the doctors worry about the recent brain surgery, he was started on twice daily Lovanox injections and Coumadin.  Tommy endured several rounds of testing as well as having his blood drawn and tested every day because he was experiencing chest pain and because of the need to check the clotting levels of his blood.  He will have to remain on blood thinners for 6 - 9 months to prevent further clots while the clots in his lungs slowly dissipate.  He was released on 9/25/10.

Tommy has been recovering at home since that time.  We have dealt with a problem of a racing heartbeat which has been hard to get under control.  We are going back to the neurosurgeon soon because a recent CT showed that his brain is pushing into the blow-out fracture the bullet caused in his sphenoid sinus.  It is a true miracle that he is alive.  He is not dead or paralyzed, and is truly himself.  He has survived being shot in the head, brain surgery, and most recently blood clots breaking free and settling in the lungs.  Any one of these things could easily have been fatal.  Unfortunately it has shaken everyone's belief that he was over the worst and that nothing else could possibly happen.  God has a plan for this boy!

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