It happened on a sunny day in late October, while the Fields family was busy preparing their Ft. Myers home for a Halloween charity event. 13-year-old Connor asked if he could join a pal biking to visit another friend.
¡°Yes,¡± said his mom, busy with the Halloween decorations. ¡°Be careful.¡±
Connor and his pal grabbed their bicycles and pedaled off. Around the corner, they could hear a big truck rumbling nearby. They rode up onto a nearby grassy area to safety. Connor watched the truck pass. Then he steered back onto the pavement¡ªnot realizing that a 16-wheel semi-trailer was right behind the first truck.
The semi-trailer hooked on to Connor¡¯s back wheel and threw the 80-lb boy into the air and flying toward the pavement.
In the local hospital emergency room, doctors determined that Connor¡¯s skull was fractured and there was bleeding inside his head. If the situation worsened, a specialized neurosurgeon would be needed. So they airlifted the boy to Tampa General Hospital¡¯s level 1 pediatric trauma center, where he was put on a ventilator and feeding tube, given anti-seizure medication, and watched closely.
The next few days were a waiting game to see if the boy would need surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
¡°Boy, that was an excruciating three days,¡± says his mother, Dawn.
Fortunately, Connor¡¯s head began to heal. The doctors explained to his parents about the eight phases of a traumatic brain injury.
¡°The doctors warned us and gave us a lot to read,¡± she said. It helped them understand why Connor, still in his hospital bed, sometimes shouted confusing things and even curse words.
Then, unexpectedly, the boy¡¯s brain waves showed new problems. A pediatric endocrinologist pinpointed dangerously low salt levels and a condition called cerebral salt wasting. The medical team acted quickly, testing Connor¡¯s blood around the clock and working to safely restore his salt levels.
In about a week, the boy was strong enough to sit up and eat regular food. He began physical therapy and occupational therapy, but rehabilitation was delayed after doctors discovered a broken shin bone. His double vision and headaches were relieved by a procedure to remove some spinal fluid.
Overall, Connor spent 10 days in intensive care and a total of 21 days in the hospital.
¡°Tampa General was Class A, fantastic.¡± says his mom, Dawn. ¡°Every person treated us with kindness, courtesy, and respect. They kept us informed and used plain, clear language; any time we needed help they were there. Even when there was a schedule or shift change, the doctors knew exactly what was going on. Everyone was happy and smiling and making the best of a rotten situation.¡±
Eighteen months after returning home, Connor is back to being a typical young teen. He bikes and skateboards with friends, listens to heavy metal music, and thinks about high school.
¡°I can do everything now,¡± he says. ¡°I try to focus on my future.¡±