2017 Pikes Peak Challenge Summit Hiker: Cindy Noble

By Cindy Noble

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May 12th 1998 our then 14 year old son Josh had just built his masterpiece bike jump! It had been taking up room in our garage for weeks so when Josh and his young group of of friends said they were taking it out to the field I was elated! I watched from a distance while watering flowers, the boys carefully dragging the “fun box” from the garage. This masterpiece consisted of a quarter pipe with a platform very popular for bmx riders. When I watched the boys each start to pick up their bikes scattered across the driveway I gently reminded my son, “helmet Josh”. In his hurried excitement I watched as he ran out of the garage, helmet clutched in his hand he shouted back, “got it mom!” I turned back to watering and in a matter of seconds I heard a crash!! I quickly turned to see my son trying to stand and then stumbling from the driveway into the yard where I stood. When we connected Josh could barely stand, he kept repeating, “sorry mom, sorry… sorry mom, sorry…” as he tried to stand helmet still clutched in his hand. I steadied my son bringing him slowly to his feet and draping his arm around my shoulders. Together we walked slowly through the front yard, up the front steps to the house. Once inside I assisted Josh as he laid down on the couch now with an audience of all his friends looking on. I asked what happened and all the boys in a jumbled mess of conversation shared their recollection of events. I looked softly into my embarrassed sons eyes, “what happened Josh?” Josh stated he just wanted to ride the ramp just one time in the driveway before they moved it to the field. In doing that, he rode up and over that platform catching his back tire on the edge throwing him over his handle bars head first into the concrete drive below him. While listening to his story I was already checking all his limbs making sure there were no breaks but now I turned my focus directly to his head. I rubbed my hand through his hair looking for bumps or blood, nothing, I found nothing but a little patch of hair missing (road rash) from where his head made contact with the pavement. My husband was home from work within minutes after all this happened. Walking in the door Steve was obviously confused by the chaos that was surrounding our son. Filling him in on the events Steve now knelt down beside Josh on the couch checking his eye dilation. Steve quickly assessed Josh likely suffered a concussion from the fall. While Steve and Josh talked I was already on the phone with our family doctor. He too believed from the info provided Josh had a mild concussion which he had been familiar with from Josh’s sports injuries in football and wrestling. Victor (our doctor) made and appointment to see Josh the next morning and we all took a sigh of relief. While all Josh’s friends still congregated around him now reliving the details of the day each with their own version of events. Steve sent all the boys outside to pick up the scattered bikes from the drive and call it a night. While Josh was outside saying his goodbyes to his posse, our younger daughter Amanda tried to be helpful by closing the garage door. Once the remote was pressed and the garage door started to come down Josh started screaming out in pain! “Make it stop, it hurts, MAKE IT STOP” Josh shouted! Scared and confused our little Amanda came running to find help for her brother. We found Josh outside holding his hands over his ears in tears. “It hurts, my head hurts…” Josh continued to repeat. While Steve attended to Josh again I was already calling Victor for a second time. Once connected I told Victor about the episode with the garage door. Still not over concerned Victor assured me a sharp headache was not uncommon with concussions. He once again assured me Josh would be fine and we’d follow up in the morning. Josh, visually exhausted from the days events declined dinner and just wanted to lay down. Concerned about him falling asleep with a concussion we kept a close eye on him from the dinner table. While eating we watched Josh get up and head towards the bathroom. From the bathroom we could clearly hear Josh getting sick. Dropping my fork, I again picked up the phone to call the doctor only now it was after office hours. I reached the doctors answering service giving the newest developments in Josh’s condition. The lady taking the information assured me she would send it to Victor and he’d follow up with a phone call. While waiting for the call back I instructed Josh to get his shoes on. Steve, still sitting at the dinner table with Amanda asked, “where are you going?” I said I was taking Josh to the emergency room for piece of mind. Frustrated Steve shouted I was wasting my time, we had a doctors appointment in the morning, we had to work tomorrow. While getting my own shoes on I just responded, “it’s my time I’m wasting, you can go to bed.” Just then, Victor called back. I told him about Josh getting sick and my heightened concern. Victor trying once again to assure me this was all normal behavior with a concussion. He stated for now a third time we’d follow up in the morning. This time, though I told Victor we were going to the ER just for peace of mind. Victor told me he did not think it was necessary but still wanted to see Josh in the morning. I agreed and Josh and I quickly loaded up and headed to our local ER across town. On our drive Josh humbled and quiet asked, “Mom, why are we going to the hospital?” I smiled looking at my young son, “well, you hit your head pretty hard, what if you need brain surgery?” We both giggled just trying to lighten the moment. Never did I expect to be haunted by those very words later. Arriving at the ER I checked in only to be told there would be a long wait due to some trauma the majority of the staff were attending to. We waited for what seemed like hours, Josh sleeping beside me on a make shift bed he made out of chairs. I started to think Steve was right, we were wasting our time. Josh seemed more than comfortable sleeping beside me and the ER staff was in no obvious hurry to see him. Just as I was ready to wake Josh and head home skipping the ER visit we were finally called back to be seen. When the nurse was taking Josh’s vitals she asked him why he was there. He sarcastically said, “my mom made me!” The nurse looked over at me and smiled, “his vitals look good” she said, “the doctor will be in soon.” When the doctor finally arrived in the room he quickly scanned over Josh visually. He noticed the patch of hair missing, ran his hand over it, checked Josh’s eye dilation then the questions started. “What’s your name? Whose the president? What year is it?” the doctor asked and Josh answered each without missing a beat. The doctor then asked, “what happened?” Josh answered is specific detail (he is his father’s son) only taking a breath when the doctor instructed him to open wide. The doctor smiled at Josh after hearing his detailed story, roughed up his hair and said, “sounds like your a lucky boy.” After he finished writing a few more notes the doctor handed me discharge papers, told me give Josh Tylenol for headaches and follow-up with our family doctor in the morning. Clearly frustrated, I said, “that’s it?” The doctor looked at me confused. “What more did you expect?” he said. “I don’t know? Do a CT scan, an xray, do something?” I demanded. The doctor now taken back by my outburst asked what sort of insurance we had. I was confused by him asking the question but replied, “PPO why?” The doctor then mentioned if we had an HMO it could take up to 24 hours for an insurance approval. “We don’t have that” I snapped, “and at this point I’d pay out of pocket if I had too!” The doctor ordered the CT scan. I wasn’t allowed to go back with Josh during the test so I stepped outside to call Steve. I let him know we’d be home shortly, that they were just doing a CT scan as a precautionary measure. As I headed back inside the ER I could hear a lot of camotion! I just assumed there was another trauma case that was brought in. Little did I know or expect that trauma case to be our son! When I walked into the ER room we were previously in I saw Josh laying on a gurnee with the doctor sitting beside him attempting to start an IV. Completely panicked by the chaos I shouted out from the doorway, “what is going on?!” “That’s my son?!” I shouted! The doctor still focused on Josh’s IV and never making eye contact with me calmly said, “Mrs. Noble, your son has a massive brain hemorrhage. He’s in critical condition. Time is of the essence. We have a brain surgeon on standby at Poudre Valley. We are preparing Josh for transport were he’ll have emergency brain surgery tonight.” It was if someone sucker punched me! I couldn’t breathe! Trying my best to absorb the words of the doctor I tried making my way through the room to get closer to my son. Once by his bedside my shock quickly turned to tears as I reached to hold Josh’s hand. I questioned the doctor still avoiding eye contact and working frantically on the opposite bedside of Josh. “You told me take him home? You told me give him Tylenol for headaches? What happened?!” The doctor now in a soft and humble voice, “we need to move quickly, the CT showed the brain hemorrhage. There is no way we would have known…” As the paramedics scrambled with the gurnee to load Josh into the ambalance I tried desperately to keep holding Josh’s hand. As the paramedics began to load him into the ambulance our hands slipped apart, my Josh smiled as if his attempt to comfort me, “Mom? Remember when I had my adenoids out?” I smiled, but the tears kept rolling as I nodded yes. “It will be just like that, don’t worry, I love you.” And he was gone. They closed the ambulance doors, the sirens blaring and my 14 year old in critical condition was alone. As was I, still confused and in shock I was instructed to wait for Steve and drive to the hospital together. I was not allowed in the ambulance due to Josh’s critical state. After talking to Steve we decided he would drop off our daughter with a sitter and we’d meet at the trauma center in Fort Collins. When I arrived at the emergency entrance as I was instructed there was a nurse waiting for me. She took me to what they called a family room. 

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