Jessie’s Head Injury

Posted by on September 2, 2011

It’s been 3 weeks since my most horrific mommy experience ever. (This incident is up there with my Nightmare at the Pumpkin Patch in 2008.) I just wanted to document my experience in a blog post to keep and share with my family & friends… Jessie is doing much better and we are so thankful that she’s okay.

Thursday, July 11, 2012: It was a typical summer afternoon. We were packing up our things to go swimming. The kids are bouncing off the walls, excited that we are about to leave. They wanted Popsicles, so I thought it we could pack some & eat them at the pool. And then… Jessie (3) is crying in the other room. Marissa (9) came running out to tell me, “Mom! Jessie fell off the bed!” We have a loft bed, which is lower than a traditional bunk bed, about 4 feet high. I ran to the bedroom to find Jessie face down on the carpet, crying. I rolled her over and there was a dark goose egg, growing

Jessie got her new loft bunk bed in Oct. 2010

on the left side of her forehead. I quickly got a bag of frozen vegetables & iced her head. I wasn’t panicked at the time, because I’ve seen bumps on the kids heads before. We usually put ice on it and then they go about playing again. I carried her to the couch and she was still crying. She still wanted a Popsicle so I offered one to her. And then the horror began… Jessie looked up at me with a blank look in her eyes and said, “Mommy I can’t see. I can’t see the Popsicle.” I put my face up to Jessie’s and said, “Jessie, can you see Mommy’s face?” She said, “No.” I waved my hands in front of her eyes. Her eyes were not moving. She had a blank stare.  My heart sank. I was trembling with fear. I called Jim to let him know what happened and then called 911 for help. The dispatcher sent a firetruck and a paramedic immediately. 4 firemen and 2 paramedics arrived. She wasn’t crying anymore and was so cooperative. They examined Jessie & flashed lights into her eyes. Her eyes were not tracking the light. We needed to get to the ER as soon as possible. We needed someone to come watch Marissa while I ride in the ambulance with Jessie. I quickly called Jim to let him know we were going to the ER, my friend Mernie who lives in our neighborhood, and my mom who lives nearby too. Mernie and my mom arrived at the same time, so I told Mernie that Marissa would be fine with my mom. By the time they showed up I was already strapped to the gurney and being wheeled into the ambulance. Poor Jessie couldn’t see a thing. I did my best to remain calm, even though I wanted to freak out that she was blind. I prayed that this was only temporary. I think me being brave made Jessie brave. I noticed that the more calm I was, Jessie was calm. So for her, I kept it together. She wasn’t herself though. Her speech wasn’t the same. She had trouble putting words into a sentence. I was so scared. She was disoriented and blind.

We arrived at the ER at Hoag Hospital in Irvine. More doctors and nurses examined Jessie. They checked her limbs and lifted up her sundress to look for other injuries. Her head was the only injury. More lights flashed into her eyes. She still wasn’t tracking the light. Another doctor came in to take a look. He ordered an x-ray and CT scan. All we could do at this point was wait. Jessie started to complain her stomach was hurting. I had a feeling she was going to vomit. I tried to put a plastic pan near her face but she said she didn’t want it. It seemed like we were waiting forever for the CT scan. I was beginning to worry. The longer we waited, the worse my fears grew. Was she going to be permanently blind? Was she having internal bleeding? Will she need brain surgery?? 30 minutes seemed like an eternity. Just when I was about to get up and start losing my cool.. it was finally Jessie’s turn.

Finally, it was our turn for the CT scan and x-ray. By the time Jessie was prepped for her CT she had to vomit. (concussion symptom) After we cleaned her up, she was ready for the scan. Jessie was in and out of it. She looked like she wanted to fall asleep. I guess this was good so that she could keep still for the scans, even though it made me nervous that she wanted to sleep.

We returned to the same room in the ER while waiting for the results. By then, I noticed Jessie looking around. She looked up at the lights and I asked her, “Can you see, Jessie?” She was still out of it. She gave me a knod. I think by this time her vision was coming back. I was hoping and hoping that it was.

After a few minutes, the doctor came in with the results. Concussion and a skull fracture. What? Doesn’t that mean Jessie’s skull had a crack in it? Scary. It was a small, non-displaced fracture, meaning parts of her skull didn’t move. Thank God it wasn’t worse. Her blindness was caused by pressure to her optic nerve. So thankful this symptom was temporary!

Jessie resting w/ an IV lock on her arm.

It took 3 nurses to get an IV in Jessie’s arm, 2 to hold her down and 1 to stick her arm with needle. Poor thing, This was hard to watch, but it was quick. (She was on a no eating or drinking order, in case something were to happen and she needed surgery right away.) Once they got her IV in she was calm again. What a trooper.


The ER doctor told us Jessie had to stay overnight at CHOC Hospital for observation and have a neurosurgeon take a look at her. So we took another ambulance ride. The paramedics were so nice to Jessie. This was kid-friendly ambulance, with a fully stocked DVD library. They offered Little Mermaid to Jessie and she smiled. She was able to see by then. She laid quietly in the car seat that was strapped to the gurney.

Jessie rested most of the night. She never complained. She looked so peaceful as she slept. I started to breathe a little easier. So far so good. No other symptoms were occurring. She was stable.

My best friend Kimi showed up at around 10pm, even though visiting hours were over. She talked her way passed security and made it all the way to Jessie’s room without me even telling her where we were! She brought magazines & extra juice boxes to keep Jessie hydrated. It was great to have her there. She kept me and Jessie company for a while, until I was ready to finally get some rest after a long scary day. Thanks Kimi!

I posted an update on Facebook. The comments were overwhelming. So many thoughts and prayers for Jessie. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to think about us. I think God heard everyone’s prayers. The power of prayer is an incredible thing! I continued praying though the night, that Jessie would make a full recovery. Thank you, God.

The nurses checked Jessie’s vitals throughout the night. They checked her eyes with a flashlight. CHOC is a wonderful hospital with a very caring staff. The following morning we were greeted by my family: my sis Adrianne, her husband Adam, their son Gunnar and my mom and dad. Jessie was happy to see everyone.

The neurosurgeon Dr. Loudon came by to check on Jessie. He reviewed the CT scans and told us more about her condition: Grade 2 concussion and a non-displaced skull fracture. Only 4% of head injuries result in a fracture. After examining Jessie, Dr. Loudon said it was okay to discharge her that day and watch her closely for 6 weeks. The most crucial part during her recovery is to NOT INJURE that spot again, or the crack can worsen! (second impact syndrome) Okay, now I was planning on being a nervous wreck for 6 weeks!

Enjoying open space & soft sand to play in!

As soon as we got home, we moved the mattress on the floor. Jessie has been compliant (most of the time) about no running and jumping. It’s hard to keep a 3 year old down. But Jessie understands. She’s amazing. We spend a lot of time at the beach because she can play in an open area with soft sand around her. No furniture or playground structures to bump into or fall from.

Jessie & Shahla at LA Fitness Kid's Club

We’re into week 3 and I started going back to the gym. Jessie is having fun at the Kids Club. Shahla at LA Fitness in Woodbury is the best! She’s been caring for Jessie since she was an infant! The caregivers are awesome. They make sure she sits and watches TV or plays without jumping or running while I workout.

We still need to visit Fire Station 20 in Irvine to thank them! They responded to our 911 call so quickly and were so sweet to Jessie during a traumatic moment. Those moments are still a blur to me.  I’m just so thankful. We live in a high tech society with the quickest emergency response teams around. Maybe I’ll bake some cookies for those sweet firemen! Jessie will love checking out the firehouse and the trucks!

I don’t know what I would have done if this situation were any worse. She could have bled internally. She could have been permanently blind. Or.. I won’t even say it. All those crazy thoughts were going through my head at the time. I’m just glad that Jessie is all better. Heaven can wait. We need Jessie here! Whew.

3 weeks after her injury. Photo taken 9/2/11.







  • Anonymous

    I’m in tears.  I know about the situation from what you’ve been telling me but to visualize it while reading your post brought tears to my eyes.  Jessie is our sunshine and need her here and in one piece.  Life would be too dark without her bright presence!!  Thanks for sharing!

    • MaryAnne Wendt

      Thank you so much for being there in an instant. Wow, one phone call and you were here so fast! I love how you guys live so close to us now. We are here for you guys too, anytime! Love you guys!

  • Sukhraj Beasla

    Thanks for sharing MaryAnne. That was an emotional day for everyone that cares about you and Jessie. So glad that Jessie is doing better and she got all the help she needs. 

  • kimikor

    It was the longest drive EVER to the hospital! I am go glad she is better and better every week! And when you go to the FD, be sure to bring me, um I mean s’mores :)  I mean me too :) Your post brought it all back and I am getting teary eyed. Jessie is Daniel’s  (my youngest) best friend and you all are family. <3 you bestie!

    • MaryAnne Wendt

      Yeah let’s try and go next week! S’mores bars! The kids will have fun visiting the fire station! I want to go before the 9/11 sweets show up! I’m sure they’ll be getting lots of attention that day.

      • kimikor

        sounds good! How is Tuesday? That is Daniel’s last free day without school during the week now that he is a big kindergartener :) . Let me know when you want to get together!

    • MaryAnne Wendt

      I still laugh about the nurse, “Oh you’re sister? You look so much alike!” LOL!!! Thanks so much for being there for us. You are family to us too! Love you!! xoxo

  • Jlbisel

    What an amazing story, and what a trying and scary event!  Mary Anne, we’re so glad everything turned out okay for Jessie!  We prayed for her, and we’re are so proud of her for being such a trooper during such a scary time! I am so grateful to have you all as family!  

  • Sally K Witt

    Wow, glad to hear that there is happiness in this story!!

    • MaryAnne Wendt

      Thanks Sally! My biggest scare. So thankful Jessie is all better now! xo

  • Garick Chan

    OMG.. I just read this now.. wow MaryAnne, I’m glad to hear Jessie’s ok!

    • MaryAnne Wendt

      Thanks Garick!! It was so scary. Jessie’s a brave girl! :-)

  • Denise Sonnenberg

    I can’t even imagine what a nightmare this must have been. Good to hear she is healing. It would be great if we were born with airbags for this kind of thing. Or maybe wings.