Sunday, October 2, 2011


When you go over two months without writing a blog post you know what happens? You kind of forget how to make a blog post. But after that much times goes by you start to feel compelled to write something because over the years some friendships have formed and your only point of contact is the blog and it’s only fair to let those people know that you are still alive and that you still know how operate a keyboard. So…I am, and I do.

I’ve often thought it would be kind of cool and useful to start writing little life lessons down that a 34 year old Ben would tell a 20 year old Ben (or some other young dude). I recently made a mental note that when I got back to this blog that is exactly what I would do, but as it is, I’m going to keep that on hold for the time being because something very significant happened a few weeks ago and it merits a mention here.

A few weeks ago I received a message that my two year old niece had had a really bad accident and was in ICU at one of our local hospitals – one that just happens to be one of the best children’s hospitals in the United States. She had fractured her skull and face in multiple places and was on a breathing machine with an uncertain future.

Getting this news was a 9/11 kind of moment for me (and obviously more so for my brother and his wife). I’ll never forget where I was and what I was doing at the time or the tones of voices of the various family members who I spoke to, all within maybe a five minute period. That period was followed by a frantic rush to get out of the house and to the hospital. On arriving at the hospital I saw the single worst sight I have ever seen in my entire life: that precious two year old girl with a hugely swollen face, large black/red circles around her eyes, small amounts of blood coming from her nose and ears, and numerous tubes coming out of her throat and limbs, and the various machinery that connected to those tubes; then of course my brother and sister and law, and the looks of horror and helplessness on their faces.

I’m not going to try to describe the emotion or drama of that whole event. For one, I’d never do it justice but the main reason is because it doesn’t matter now. What matters now is that this is happy post. And these are happy times. These are times that are the little wake up calls reminding you that every moment is precious and nothing is to be taken for granted.

To sum it up, my niece was in ICU on a ventilator machine for about five days. On the afternoon of the fifth day they removed her breathing tube (and the other various tubes) and she immediately began breathing on her own and her body began functioning as it should. It wasn’t an easy journey by any stretch but after two weeks she was released from the hospital, and now, on the third week, she is walking, talking, climbing, laughing, eating, and doing all the things that two year olds do; which is really something considering this time last week she could not walk without falling over or stand up without holding on to something. She is in a large neck brace and still has some physical therapy ahead of her but for the most part is back to her old self.

I do not like the word miracle but this has been an extraordinary recovery and endless Gratitude is the name of the game for this uncle and this family.


Anonymous said...

After bringing me to tears by reading your post, I am so happy for your neice, for her parents and for you that all is well. Sometimes these awful life moments bring us back to our senses in what is truly of value. Blessings to all of you.

Anonymous said...

I'm pleased your (brothers) little girl is OK Ben.
Greetings and greetings and much gratitude.


Ben There said...

Hi Tony,

Thanks and greetings to you also. It's really hard for me to believe that over two months has passed since I've updated my blog. Have no idea where the time's always Now anyway.

Anonymous -

Thank you so much and I very much agree.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ben
How's your niece faring.
My g/d's 8 tomorrow.
Have a great Xmas break.
I'm well, hope you and yours are too.
There, that didn't hurt a bit.

Ben There said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben There said...

Greetings Tony,

Thanks for checking in. I've been meaning to update the blog but, well, you know...

Things went bad for Chloe shortly after I wrote this. We all noticed that her breathing was labored but her pediatrician thought it was just Croup (common thing for young kids). However, it got really bad one weekend and she was back in the emergency room. It turns out that as a result of the insertion of the breathing tube and being on it so long, she developed a condition called subglottic stenosis. Basically the airway below her vocal chord area collapsed and would not allow any air in. This resulted in her being back in ICU for another couple of weeks (on ventilator, etc) and a couple of attempted surgical procedures. Ultimately it looked like she was going to need surgery to reconstruct her airway but the dr was not comfortable doing it this time of year due to the prevalence of respiratory patients in the pediatric ICU. So they opted for a tracheotomy to allow her to breathe without the tube and they have been in the hospital in the tracheotomy care unit for the past 7 weeks. They might get to go home this week or late next week. But caring for a child with a trach is very involved and they will have in-home nursing help, etc. Major family transition. In several months if her airway is still compromised they will do the reconstructive surgery. There is still a slim chance that things will fix themselves.

Anyway...thanks for asking. She is basically back to her happy little self but the trach definitely changes things for her. She's been through so much for a two year old.

How are things on your side of the globe?

Anonymous said...

Ben, I am so sorry to hear about your niece; what an experience for one so young.
I know how upsetting croup can be too as my younger brother used to suffer from that as a little one. My thoughts are with her and her family.
Well Australia is still here having survived a visit from 'er 'ighness and then Obama and now Princess Someone-or-other. Balmy wants to put an extra 2,500 troupes in the top end of Aus. to intimidate China - I really don't think either will happen. Our PM had her fingers crossed when she promised access for the troupes so that negates any promises she may have made. Australia has had such a good relationship with China (and US) for so long the relationship will withstand whatever comes along. Mates of mine have been to China for the Aus. Fisheries Dept. for 6 months or so and they say the people are poor but very friendly just as I have had mates visit US and come back with the same friendly story.
If it was up to wtp I'm sure there would be no wars, all could be settled with law – it's just those pesky psychopaths among us that are the problem.
Australia has always had to fight for any engineering manufacturing that went on in the country but recently the industry has been devastated. With our huge mining boom that will go on for many decades we are only producing 10-15% of the engineering being used.
I live on the main eastern highway and the amount of equipment, mainly from China but from all over the world, England, Brazil, US, Mexico, Taiwan, everywhere, is amazing – it never stops. During the day there are as many semi's as there are family vehicles on the road. The problem now is that in the small country towns that the mining boom has hit everything has sky rocketed in price; once a normal home would rent for say $300 that same home now commands $3,000. It seems the whole western world can be greedy when it suits.
The rest of the world seems to be horrified with the floods and fires in Aus. but that's Australia – as one half burns the other floods, everything is normal.
I'm keeping up to date with what's going in your country (as with the rest of the world) so as things progress, please take care.


Ben There said...

Things are getting interesting here...I'm sure you've heard about Occupy Wall Street. Most exciting thing that has happened here in a long time. At least one pretty large group of folks is starting to figure out who's screwing them over. That's always encouraging.

There was a little blip on our news cycle about expaning our global military empire into your neck of the woods. Could you imagine some other country establishing permanent military bases and housing their troops in the US?

I agree with your comment about how much more amicably the world would operate if WTP actually ran the show as opposed to the money worshipping psycophants.

Thanks again for checking in...I really need to get back to updating my blog.