Within moments of receiving the devastating news, we were told there was no neurosurgeon available that night and Anthony needed to be transported to another hospital who had availability to take him. That hospital would be Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. By the grace of God that was the closest facility equipped to be able to admit Anthony for further evaluation and determine if he needed emergency surgery to be done that night. We were told that they would have to send an ambulance from the receiving hospital over to pick up Anthony and transport him back. It’s a 35 mile distance between the hospitals and if you are familiar with Southern California traffic, especially that in Los Angeles, you will know that means it is at least a good 2 hour drive during prime traffic. This would mean that it could take about 4 hours overall from the moment they picked him up until he was taken back and arrived at CHLA. Every minute counts and makes a difference in a life threatening situation. So thankfully we were presented with the option to have him transported via helicopter. Without a doubt or even question in our minds of how much this could cost or if this would even be covered by our insurance, we signed the release form immediately and before we knew it we would be taking the flight of our lives.
During the brief moment that we waited for CHLA’s helicopter to arrive, Ricky and I took the time to inform our immediate family members of what was going on. I can’t even begin to tell you what was said in those conversations, at least for me personally, because it all happened so fast. Those close friends and loved ones that we had been in contact with during the day letting them know we were in the Emergency Room department we were just able to respond with a brief text message to update them on the situation. We then quickly returned to Anthony’s side and let him know we would not be going back home that night. That instead he needed to be transferred to another hospital so that they could run more tests on him to see what was making him vomit. He remained completely calm (as you will notice the same has applied throughout his entire course of treatment), as we fought back the tears at his bedside. We knew we were not going home that night but we honestly had no idea when we would be able to return after that moment.
6:50pm (Pacific Standard Time) Anthony and I boarded what would be our first helicopter ride. A dream of ours to someday experience this moment, only we would have hoped that it was under different circumstances. Still in the same hospital gown that he had been in since 9:00 that morning when we first arrived to the ED. A blood pressure cuff wrapped around his right arm and a pulse-ox on his left index finger that were both attached to a heart monitor. He was strapped to a gurney with three seat belts across his body. Two nurses to his left hand side, one monitoring his vital signs while the other one was calling in the report to the charge nurse and receiving nurse at CHLA that would resume continuation of care.
It was so loud inside the helicopter, which adds to the rush of adrenaline. Despite the fear of not knowing what would happen next, the view of Los Angeles was still amazing. Anthony and I sat there in awe taking in the skyline and city lights at night.
We made it from Anaheim to Hollywood in 8 minutes. The helicopter is only able to carry a certain amount of weight and with it being an air ambulance they carry a lot of medical emergency equipment that adds up weight quickly. Initially I was told I may not be able to ride in the helicopter with Anthony, which was nerve wrecking to have to part with him at that time if needed. Thank God the nurse pilot said the nurses on board would leave any personal bags or equipment not needed in order to ensure that I be able to accompany Anthony.
Luckily they did not have to leave anything behind and I was able to ride in the helicopter with Anthony. Unfortunately for his dad, Ricky, that meant that he had a long drive home from the hospital to his house and then to CHLA. I cannot imagine what that drive was like for him, sitting there in traffic alone with just time on your hands to think and take it all in. On my end, I truly had no time to think. From the moment the helicopter landed on the roof of CHLA, the next moments happened so quickly.