In August 2011, we had a typical summer cookout planned at our house with friends. My husband Dave and I were enjoying the company. Next thing we know, our son was crying. He’d wrecked his bicycle in our driveway – not an uncommon occurrence for a 4 year old.
I took him inside and let him lay down in our bed. He hadn’t felt good that morning – in fact, we almost considered rescheduling our party. I just assumed he was tired or maybe had a virus.
He didn’t sleep that night. He was in our bed with a fever and the chills, his face would go from super pale to flush, and his heart was racing. He didn’t want any covers on him.
"The scar is a constant reminder to me that maybe I didn’t do enough to protect my son."
Around midnight, we called the pediatrician and he assured us all the symptoms he showed were related to a high fever. Sunday morning, we determined that he needed to go to the doctor. Our pediatrician’s office didn’t open until late afternoon and we didn’t want to wait.
We dropped our two older girls off at church with their grandparents and headed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital ER. Something was definitely wrong – our son never made a peep or a cry or a movement during the 25 minute ride to the hospital. We were taken back immediately – which is never a good sign in the ER.
Within just a few hours of arrival and a series of tests, our son was taken to surgery. Turned out that when he wrecked his bicycle, the handlebars had punctured his small intestine. This was a complete surprise to us as he had no scratch or broken skin or bruise on his stomach. He was in Vanderbilt Children’s hospital for a week where he received exceptional care. He was unable to eat for a week and lost about 10 pounds. We had to stay on alert for potential infection due to the stomach bile that had leaked into his body.
The surgeon shared with us that bicycle injuries like this are more common than people realize.
Thankfully, he had a full recovery and has a really “cool” scar to show off.
The scar is a constant reminder to me that maybe I didn’t do enough to protect my son. It is my job to keep him safe, and I felt like I had failed.
That’s when Dave and I decided we could do something about this for other children and their parents. And so, the handlebar helmet was born. This small piece of plastic might be the difference and keep another child and family from having to experience the physical, emotional, and financial impact of an abdominal accident resulting in hospitalization.
Our son may have a scar on his stomach, but he was not permanently scarred emotionally. He was back on his bike just as soon as the doctor cleared him to do so.
As parents, it is our job to protect our children and to put their safety first.