The View from Above
It wasn’t exactly the same as scaling some 8,000 feet to look down at the ancient ruins of Macchu Picchu, but Bailey Dunn still enjoyed the view from atop the tree just outside his Bakersfield home.
The climb is easy. Getting down, as any experienced climber will tell you, is the hard part.
The 9-year-old inadvertently took the express route down. A dead branch gave way, and Bailey fell 12 feet to a not-so-soft landing on the dirt and concrete below–hitting a branch on the way down for good measure.
His head and his shoulder blade took the brunt of the fall. At first, the injury seemed minor. That is until his mom Carrie, a nurse, arrived home.
“I could tell that his right eye was starting to swell,” she said. “I could feel the lump on his head, and I said, ‘We gotta go.’”
A CT scan at a Bakersfield hospital revealed a subdural hematoma, bleeding in the head that can create pressure on the brain and damage delicate tissue. The next thing Carrie knew, she was in an ambulance with Bailey, heading north to Children’s Hospital Central California.
Bailey was admitted to the Children’s Emergency Department, and then transferred to the Hospital’s Starship Explorer inpatient unit.
That night, Bailey felt nauseous and began to vomit–common symptoms for patients with head injuries. He was given medication for his nausea and pain. A CT scan the next morning revealed the true extent of his injuries–subdural and epidural hematomas along with a skull fracture.
Dr. Meredith Woodward, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s, observed Bailey’s condition closely. Surgery was a definite possibility, but Bailey’s condition seemed to stabilize, and both doctor and family decided to hold off for the time being to play it safe.
Twenty-four hours later, Bailey began experiencing pain. He started vomiting again. He was extremely sensitive to even a sliver of light, the slightest noise, or the hint of a scent.
“He did a complete 180,” says Carrie. “Everything went downhill. That was the worst day ever. At that point in time, I welcomed the surgery.”
Surgery was no longer just an option.
It was the only option. Dr. Woodward and the expert surgical team at Children’s performed a procedure to relieve the pressure on Bailey’s brain. It worked. The skilled hands of the surgical team accomplished everything they had set out to do.
In fact, the surgery went so well that three days later Bailey was discharged from Children’s. Four days after that, he was back in school.
“I was in complete shock that a child could recover that quickly,” says his mom.
Today, Bailey is just your normal 10-year-old boy who enjoys playing baseball, riding his bike, and yes, climbing trees. He’s been cleared to get back on wheels once again, a fact that Carrie is not too enamored with just yet.
“Mom’s not comfortable with him on his rollerblades or his skateboard,” she says. “He’s allowed to ride his bike with his helmet, but that’s about as far as it’s going right now.”
But Mom, what about that new motorcycle? You know, the one you
got him two days before his accident? “He has to walk by it and just kind of pet it,” she says. “I’m sure the first time he rides it I’ll be clenching my teeth.”