A Scary Day, and A “Walking Miracle”

November 8th, 2010

I had been planning to write today about my great uncle Milt Goerzen. Milt passed away last Thursday after a long struggle with dementia, and his funeral was this morning. I was there, and was inspired by a few things I heard.

But that will have to wait, because today brought one of those few moments in life that’s a sense of an impending possible great loss. I can remember two others: one was when Terah passed out, and the other was when we heard that our place was on fire and our house had burned down (it turned out the house hadn’t, but much of the rest had).

I got a call during Milt’s funeral. I didn’t answer because I was, well, at a funeral, and the phone was on vibrate. When I had the chance to check the voicemail, it went something like this: “I think we have an emergency with Jacob. He got run over by a tractor. He says he’s OK, but I’m taking him to the doctor right now.” I tried to return the call, but cell phone reception wasn’t cooperating. The most I got was “he’s OK”.

It’s hard to describe how a moment like that feels. My mind jumped to telling Jacob “I love you”, and how lately when he hears that, he will snuggle in for a big hug, and say, “Dad, I love you toooooooooo!” On the one hand, I heard the “he’s OK” part, and on the other hand I couldn’t forget the tractor running over him part, and my mind leapt at the worst.

It turns out that, while I was at the funeral, Jacob had been standing on his usual spot on the tractor, sort of to the side of the driver. He was enjoying himself like usual. The tractor hit a large hole that wasn’t really visible. The combination of the jolt and the dip the tractor took towards Jacob’s side knocked him off and he went directly under the big rear wheel before the tractor could be brought to a stop.

I caught up with him and his grandpa after he had seen the doctor and just as he was being admitted to the hospital. He saw me and crawled over, making his sort of sad and scared sound — he sometimes doesn’t want to verbalize things when he’s in that mood. I held him close and he seemed to appreciate it.

He had to have blood drawn, and he was scared of that. I remembered his inquisitive mind, and reminded him how much he liked watching the tube fill up with blood last time he had a blood test (which he calls a “blood shot”). That wasn’t helping, until the actual blood test started. He cried when the needle went in, but then calmed down as the nurse, getting into the act, pointed out that there was blood filling up the tube. “Hmmm!” said Jacob. Then she gave him a band-aid. “It has an airplane,” said the nurse. “Um-hmm!” said Jacob. I pointed out that it looked like the airplane we were on when we flew home from New York. Jacob got a big smile and said, “Yes, it IS that one!”

He got a sticker there too.

Then it was off for an x-ray to check for broken bones and a CT scan to check for internal injuries — the tractor had gone right over his abdomen. He had to get an IV at the CT scan, which he certainly didn’t like. After it happened, however, he found it very interesting — especially when the nurses explained that they would give him a drink through the hose attached to his hand.

After that, we went to his room, with orders for him not to eat or drink anything until it was clear he didn’t have digestive problems.

While we waited at various steps along the way, Jacob wanted to sit on my lap and watch train videos on YouTube on my phone. He loves train videos, and brought my phone’s battery nearly to depletion through the course of the afternoon.

Jacob eventually seemed to get back to a bit of his usual self. At one point, while Terah had made a run home to pack an overnight bag and grandpa ran some errands of his own, Jacob wanted to leave the room. He had gone “exploring” in the hospital with me before: when Oliver was born, and when Terah had her thyroid surgery. So this was something he just associated with the hospital. That and lemonade, which is free any time of the day or night in the cafeteria.

So we went exploring, even ventured outside into a courtyard for a bit. He was walking fast and seemed good. We had several visitors: grandparents and his aunt and uncle. Jacob got a stuffed rabbit and a colorful bug box with windows (for putting bugs inside for observation).

Eventually the doctor came by and gave us the results: the x-rays showed no problems. The labs showed some elevated liver enzymes, which he expected, but no serious trouble. The CT showed contusions on his lung and bruising on his heart — which would heal completely in time. He allowed Jacob to have a liquid supper (so I quickly got him the lemonade he had been wanting while the nurses got him some Jello).

The doctor examined Jacob, pushing at various places, asking “Does it hurt here?” “No.” “Does it hurt here?” “No.” “Here?” “No.” “Are you hungry?” “Yes.” “Does it hurt here?” “No.” He gave me a look that said: “really? It doesn’t hurt ANYWHERE?” What could I do but shrug my shoulders?

Jacob has some abrasions on his face, arms, and back, which will probably eventually hurt (and sure enough, about 10 minutes later he started getting a little pain when he tried to move, which the doctor checked out)

Then the doctor said, “I hope you know you have a walking miracle today. This is just amazing. You have some thanking to whatever guardian angels you like tonight — all I can say about this is that the Lord must have had some other plan for him. There’s no way he could have survived that.”

Jacob’s doctor is one that we really respect: he’s scientific in his analysis, cites studies as a matter of routine, doesn’t prescribe antibiotics for things that he knows they have a small chance of helping, is common-sense about not over-treating things and yet always engaged in an emergency. That little speech from him was something I’d never expected to hear from him.

He went on to add that “I always visit my sickest patients first. You were my last visit this evening, so that should tell you something. Any other kid as healthy as he is, I might discharge already — but I’m just not justified doing that with a boy that’s, well, been driven over by a tractor this morning.” He also wanted to monitor Jacob’s progress throughout the coming day, especially his digestive system.

They wanted to measure his urine output, which he, predictably, found to be very interesting. Terah said “I think it is about 150 ml.” Jacob said, “No mom, it is closer to the two hundred line.” Me: “Since when does Jacob know about the number 200?” Terah: “I… don’t… know…. he’s 4, where would he have gotten it?” Between that, and using every opportunity to tell people that there were not one but TWO red light switches in the x-ray room, Jacob’s definitely himself in some ways already.

So, that feeling of some impeding great loss is gone, replaced by being more than a bit overwhelmed by how fortunate we were today. We also appreciate all the help we’ve had with Jacob and Oliver today.

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Comments Feed19 Comments

  1. Susan Goerzen

    Yeah God!!!


  2. Bryan O'Sullivan

    Hi John –

    I am so relieved that Jacob is okay. That sounds like a very scary and stressful day, the sort that any parent would dread and can all too easily imagine (I felt my own stomach doing backflips to read this!).

    Thank goodness,


  3. Kara

    I saw your tweet and my stomach did panicky flips, worrying about what could have happened. Thanks for writing in such detail. Keep us posted!


  4. Kevin Mark

    Sorry to hear about your recent turmoils :-(
    But happy to hear that the little guy is ok :-)
    I certainly enjoy reading about your adventures with your little ones and was not looking forward to that ending :-(


  5. Floyd

    What a horrifying experience. Jacob, aside from being driven over, you are one lucky little fellow. In a few years you’ll be pulling trains with your teeth :)


  6. Nana

    Thanks for the post, John. God is good. I am one who believes in guardian angels and am convinced that Jacob’s was doing his job. Thank you, Jesus!


  7. Paula Hilton

    Excellent blog, John! I hope this story will remind people that is is NEVER SAFE to allow a child to ride a tractor (or even a riding lawn mower). Your blog should be seen by every parent and child care provider! Perhaps Jacob’s miracle will prevent some other child’s tragedy.


  8. Caro Duerksen

    absolutely amazing!!! Thanking God for this miracle!!


  9. kristin

    indeed, what a day to be grateful.


  10. Christian Perrier

    Oh. Your story scared me. Even before I met your nice family, I would have been shocked if anything happened to one of you guys…but after this summer where I had the great pleasure to (even briefly) have a chance to see you in real life, I would have been more shocked.

    Glad to see that Jacob, this great little boy, is completely safe and well after that accident.


  11. John Goerzen

    Thanks to so many of you for all your comments of support! We appreciate it.


  12. We’re All Home | The Changelog

    […] wrote yesterday about our scare with Jacob. It’s been quite the […]

  13. Arthur van Leeuwen

    Whoa. That’s… very well written. I could feel my gut turn and then clear from just the written words. This really really really is a godsend.

    And in response to Paula Hilton: there is no way that accidents of any sort can be completely prevented. None whatsoever. It *is* however important to be aware of risks, and learn a child to be aware of risks; often the only way to get that message across is with a controlled fright/painful moment. Ofcourse, in the case of Jacob, the control was gone, which is exactly why it was so extremely scary.


  14. Bill U

    Amazing. So glad everything is ok.


  15. Orville Stutzman

    Sure was a scary day, especially for Grandpa, and I think I know the other Grandpa,who probably was at work at Bethel College when he heard about it. But you are right, God has something He wants Jacob to do for Him.


  16. Jim Klassen

    Wow! What a nightmare! But God is so good!
    We just got home from an out-of-state trip.
    Never expected to hear anthing like this!
    God bless–and He does!
    Love, Jim for Ly and me


  17. Forest of the Plains » Blog Archive » Rural Reality Check

    […] no broken bones, minor internal bruising. John wrote a lot about this experience on his blog. See “A Scary Day”, “We’re All Home”, and “Misc. Jacob Tidbits” for more […]

  18. Rain, A Funeral, and Excitement | The Changelog

    […] Alice’s husband, Milt, passed away in late 2010, and it was while I was at his funeral that Jacob got run over by a tractor. That memory certainly came back to me […]

  19. The world is still a good place | The Changelog

    […] know what it’s like to fear for my child’s life. And sometimes the shoe has been on the other foot, when I have been one of the […]

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