You always hear the phrase, "The darkest hour is just before the dawn". Truer words never spoken that night. Danjela's condition was getting worse and we were running out of options.
AirLife.....switching from ground transport to air because time was of the essence. She was bleeding into her brain, was unresponsive and her left pupil was blown.
They moved her immediately into another room where they prepared her for sedation so they could put in a breathing tube. She was still breathing on her own, but since her situation was so dire, they wanted to make sure they were ready "just in case" and they didn't have to waste precious time they just didn't have.
The Chaplain sat with us again and explained what was going on while we waited....again... seconds just ticking away.
Finally, they were ready and we got to go back and see her. She was sedated and so still and pale. She had the breathing tube in. To see your child like that is unimaginable. To say it's a nightmare doesn't even scratch the surface.
I asked if I could touch her and they said I could. I held her hand and stroked her forehead....moving little pieces of hair out of her face. I whispered in her ear that mommy and daddy were right there with her and she had to be strong. I then whispered to her that she was finally getting that helicopter ride she always wanted to take.....and she moved, every so slightly, but she moved. Marc went over to talk to her too and then we waited outside in the halls.
Marc, as a Blackhawk crewchief, has worked with Med-Evac in the past and knew some of the AirLife crew. He would talk me through what was going on, what they were doing....which was very calming, I think, for both of us. When they rolled her past us, she was all wrapped up tight, like a blue burrito. She even had the blue surgical cap on as well. One of the crew came up to me and handed me an AirLife pin, hugged me and said they'd take good care of her. We'd be following in our car....about 5-10 minutes behind her.
I remember watching her being rolled out and looking around the ER. It was completely silent and so dark. Everything stopped and she was the main focus at that point. I looked on the faces of the staff and saw sympathy and sadness. They knew that this may not turn out good. The odds were not in our favor.
As we gathered up our things, I remember just shoving stuff into my purse....still having the sense to make sure we, at least, had our phone chargers....and then we headed out to the car. As we pulled out, we slowed down just a brief moment to watch them load her in helicopter. As a mother, I would feel helpless a lot during the next week.....but this was just the beginning. She was going alone.....I could not be there with her.
As we drove off, I looked up and noticed that there was lightening.....a lot of lightening. That pit started to form in my stomach again. Marc kept telling me to keep watching out the window and I'd see them flying. But as the weather worsened, all I saw was lightening......cloud to ground lightening bolts all around. While normally this would be such a beautiful sight, this was a bad thing for helicopters. And then the rain started.....hard, driving, pouring rain and lightening bolts all around. While Marc kept trying to ease my worries, I've been around aviation enough to know that there was no way in hell they'd be able to fly through this. I could hear it in his voice. I kept my hands over my eyes the whole drive. I just didn't want to see the lightening.
As we got closer to the hospital, I heard Marc say, "They made it" and showed me where to look for the strobe lights on the top of the hospital. It was a miracle.....God's Hands wrapped around that helicopter, protecting it from the weather and guided it safely there. I could breathe just for a moment.
Once we got to the hospital, the security guard directed us where to go immediately. I was so impressed how they already knew we were coming....had wrist bands already for us. When we got to our floor, there was a chaplain and a nurse waiting for us as well and they took us back to the PICU.
At first, we had to wait as they evaluated her. I hated sitting there...waiting....not knowing what was going on. I had no control over the situation. No way to make them give us answers any faster. Finally, they called us back and we didn't get to see her right away. I remember the hallways being dark & dim except for her room which was filled with bright white light. There were people all around her, moving, doing something....so much activity.
And then a man came over....grabbed our arms and pulled us over to the side. I remember that he was very short and had dark hair and a beard. He introduced himself, but to this day, I still can't remember his name. He handed us a piece of paper and said, "We're out of options. Your daughter needs emergency surgery and she needs it now. If we do not relieve the pressure on her brain, she will die."
I remember saying, No, no, no, no over and over again. My legs collapsed around me and I felt arms hold me up as my worst nightmare, my worst fears were coming true. Marc had to be the strong one and sign the papers as I don't think I could have even remembered how to hold a pen.
Finally, they took us back to see her and again, I asked if I could touch her. I looked at my sweet girl. She looked like she was asleep. She still had the breathing tube in and she had IVs everywhere. There were two little sharpie marks -- one in the middle of her forehead and one by her left ear. I leaned over her....held her hand....kissed her on her cheek and cried as I begged God to please save her, to please be with her. I prayed for everyone I knew who had passed to be with her. I prayed for her Guardian Angel to comfort her and help her to not be scared. I prayed for the surgeons and the team who'd be operating on her. My last gesture was to make the sign of the cross on her forehead.....and I watched as they rolled her away.
All I could think of was, "Dear God, please don't let that be the last time I see her alive."
And the wait began........