Tragedy, family, friends and neighbors

It wasn’t but 8 days ago when I posted a photo of Max playing soccer on a warm summer day in Bend. Today I find myself looking after him with Laurie at the Oregon Burn Center in Portland. The amount of support we have received has been overwhelming and Laurie and I thank everyone so much for their thoughts and prayers. Everything has been happening so fast – it’s been hard for us to keep up with letting everybody know how Max is doing so I think it’s best to just post his status here as he is being treated.

On my way out the door to Portland on Friday I made my best attempt to let family and friends know what had happened, but in my haste (and using Laurie’s computer) I didn’t get an email out to everybody so I will recap what happened and end with where we are today.

Friday evening Max was standing outside by the bbq grill when our friend Eric was making an attempt to re-light the fire w/ some sort of fuel. Max tells me now that he was standing about six feet away from the grill when the fuel my friend was using exploded. I was sitting inside talking to Laurie  when all of a sudden we saw this massive explosion right outside the side patio – I had never seen such a thing before in person. The 1st thing I thought of was Max. I immediately ran outside and saw both Max and friend partially on fire – I ran towards Max and tackled him to the ground rolling him and smothering him as best I could. With the the fire off his body I ran with him to the car to take him to the hospital – but then someone called the ambulance so we waited. We grabbed as many towels as we could and soaked them in cold water to put on Max and my friend – skin was just peeling off of his face, arms and chest – Max still didn’t realize what just happened – and didn’t know at 1st why his sister and mother were screaming and why I was acting so crazy. The ambulance came, Laurie left with Max and I took Ana to her Grandparents house as fast as I could.

After dropping of Ana and explaining to mom and dad what had just happened I took off to the hospital – and waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Max started to realize what had happened and was looking at us staring at his face and was getting a little concerned – he had very serious burns on his left arm, face and chest – so the doctors decided he needed to be flown to The Burn Center immediately – my friend was to go as well, but he took the helicopter not the jet.

Once the decision was made that Max was going to Portland, I left for home to get whatever I thought I would need for our stay.

I got home – threw some clothes, toothbrushes in a bag, stopped, typed up a quick email and sent it off to whoever I could think of at the time – I let the dogs out got in the Pathfinder and raced to my dads house picked him up plugged the hospital in the GPS, got fuel made hotel reservations and headed for Portland.

The drive up there was torture – my father did his best by talking about anything but what had just happened to Max – I as a father I kept thinking how could I let something like this happen to my son. What could I have done to prevent this – why did this happen?… I had no idea how bad the burns were, if Max was going to be OK – his beautiful 10 yer old skin had been chard from his body, his eyebrows were gone, eyelashes burnt, I kept on seeing him as I did when I ran out there after the explosion – blank stare on his face while his hair was on fire, then his skin peeling off as I was trying to keep the wet towel on him – then my phone rang as we were entering Sandy – it was Laurie.

‘Hey honey, the Dr looked at Max and he thinks he’s going to be ok. his arm is kind of bad, but his face may be ok – he can see, and still feel – but we’re going to be here for about 2 weeks’ My state of mind went from uncertainty to relief – my stomach stopped churning and I felt my foot get a bit lighter – my dad immediately called my mom and left a message.

Laurie was there about an hour and a half before we arrived – We 1st went to the emergency center, but they directed us across the street to the Burn Center (which is where I am now). We buzzed the door told them who we were and they let us in (it was after hours). Once inside there were a series of doors we had to go through to get to where Max was – but it was quick.

I remember walking into the room with my dad – it was very quiet, somewhat brightly lit and there were two nurses working on Max. They had already mostly finished wrapping him up. His head was mostly covered with dressing less a few holes for his nose and eyes, they had already wrapped his arm and were just finishing his chest – ‘Have you washed your hands?’ one of the nurses asked. We were directed to the hand washing station before we could approach Max.

Immediately after washing my hands I quietly walked up to Max who was sedated and appeared to be unresponsive. I whispered in his ear ‘Max it’s dad, I’m hear’ – his head jerked toward me and his right hand moved up to reach for me. I squeezed it just hard enough to let him know I was right there. He let go of my hand and then gave me the thumbs up – and then put his hands back down and was out again.

Max had tubes and wires all over him – he had a tube in his nose to feed him, a tube in his mouth to make sure he could breath,  a catheter in him so he wouldn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom, IV in his arm for hydration and potassium, a blood pressure gauge on his ankle, a blood oxygen reader on his finger. These guys had him covered. I believe the people at St Charles actually put the breather tube in him before the flight.

Our 1st night here was rather bizarre – after spending a little bit of time with Laurie and making sure Max was OK I took dad to the hotel and drove right back here. Dad was looking tired and I knew he could have used some sleep – All of us had gone from 0 to 200 in seconds and we still had no idea what the final outcome would be. They set us up with cots in the waiting room so we took turns staying with Max and the whole time I was just starring at him, thinking is this really happening?

The next day (Saturday) was amazing – Max did not look good at all – but it was amazing to get calls, emails, and text messages of support from our family, friends, and neighbors. Laurie’s brothers and childhood friend flew in from the east coast, my brother just happened to be in Portland with his wife for a Wedding so he was here too. Max’s face was swelling up by morning, healing, but it looked bad – his spirits were up and he would give us the thumbs up on occasion and would gesture with his two arms up for hugs. They had been medicating him for the pain that he was no doubt in. Throughout the morning and afternoon he would have moments of lucidity, gesturing in the air like he wanted to write something – so we gave him a pen and paper. His eyes were swollen shut, and he couldn’t talk but he still wanted to communicate with us. The 1st thing he wrote was ‘The hospital is fun’. We laughed and tried to give him the best hug we could without crushing the tubes and wires and touching his dressings – we wanted to kiss him so bad, but his lips were just raw flesh. After a moment – he realized that it was just Laurie my dad and I and he gestured for the pen again and wrote ‘I love you guys’. I started to cry. How could this little dude who was just on fire less than 24 hours ago be so strong and spirited! He was keeping our spirits up because he felt we were upset.

The day progressed with dressing changes, family visits, phone calls, emails, texts, and just starring at Max. I made my best attempt to keep people in the loop, but realized after several hours I was loosing my ability to focus on anything else but Max. I may have returned some phone calls, but it’s a blur at this point.

It’s Sunday early morning and Max is actually doing really well! The swelling on his face has gone down considerably and the doctor says his face looks like it’s going to be OK, but he’s a little concerned about his arm which is bordering a 2nd degree burn – his face was mostly 2nd degree burns, which appear to be healing – but with burns I’ve learned it can go either way.

He has just one tube in him now for food, but that’s it. He hopped out of the bed today and we took him for a roll in to the beautiful garden here. He walked around for a bit to go to the bathroom (record pee time for him today) and his appetite has come back (he was nauseous yesterday and vomited pretty much everything that was pumped into him). I’ve been helping the nurses remove and replace his dressings – Laurie helps too and has been right next to Max this whole time. There was one sad moment today when Max looked in the mirror and saw his face for the 1st time – he gasped and was shocked – he didn’t recognize himself and was scared – we assured him he was getting better and this was just part of the process. I think seeing himself really put things in perspective for Max – he’s as strong as ever and now understands what happened. He’s such a strong kid and we are so proud of him. We’ve been with him this whole time, watching movies, reading, playing roshambo, talking, explaining, and mostly relaying messages of encouragement from our family and friends. I just want to say thank you to everyone for your awesome show of support and prayers – I believe it is really helping Max’s healing process with everyone thinking positively!

The doctor came in today and gave us a bit of encouragement. We may not have to be here for 2 whole weeks – Max seems to be healing well, so that’s good to hear. Eric is also here and is doing OK – he may need some surgery to his arm/side but we will know more later this week.

It’s getting late and I’m tired, but wanted to write about Max’s condition here and continue to post his progress for family, friends and neighbors to see. Thank you all for all your positive thoughts, support, and well wishes. We really really appreciate it and realize that without you guys this would have been way way harder!

119 Replies to “Tragedy, family, friends and neighbors”

  1. Dear Max,
    I’m so sorry. I hope you feel better. It must have been scary. I have some video games for you that we’re sending in the mail. You don’t have to return them. I hope we can have a playdate when you get back. Well, all I know is that everybody out there who knows you wants to help. I’ll come over and we can play some video games. I’ll be thinking of you until I see you again. Bye, Max, see you soon, have fun with your games,
    from Henry

  2. I cannot express enough how thankful we are for everyone’s support throughout this ordeal. Reading these posts throughout the day has become part of our routine here at the hospital and provides a great source of inspiration for all of us.

    In these past several days we’ve been so amazed at Max’s progress and this fantastic support network we could have only dreamed of.

    When starting this post I can say with most certainty that my state of mind was dramatically different than it is now – there was much uncertainty looming and my intent was to establish a quick line of communication in regards to what had happened and what was to come. I honestly did not want to communicate what had transpired over and over again by phone or email – The thought of repeatedly explaining what happened was not appealing to me. Experiencing the incident leading up to our stay at the hospital was enough – retelling the story was hard at the time.

    But this post, being here with Laurie, having family and friends visit, and seeing Max heal has changed that. I now look forward to informing everyone of Max’s progress, knowing he is on the path to recovery and knowing there are lots of people out there rooting for him.

    I’ve decided to stop commenting on this post and starting another – one with a more appropriate title, one that reflects what I’ve seen both at the hospital and here on this blog – Healing together. To continue reading about Max’s progress, please click here.

  3. Hey MAX!
    How ya doing buddy? I’m sorry to hear that your not feeling so good tough guy…But Im sure you’ll be back to helping Mom with her worms really soon. I miss you guys….Maybe you can come out to CT when your feeling better? We would love that….Im sending you a little something in the mail buddy, so be on the look out…Ill talk to you soon.

    Love , Cousin Jonathan

  4. Hi Max –

    I wanted to tell you what an amazing little guy you are and that we are all thinking of you in NJ. Give your mom and dad a big hug for me! Get well soon!

    Love, Mary Kay, Mike, Jack and Mallory

  5. Hi Max, Laurie, & Carlos,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you guys! We just found out today that this unfortunate accident has occured. We are so thankful to read that you are on the road to recovey!. We will be thinking of you daily and checking in on your progress! Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

    With love,
    Your Neighbors, the Lybarger family

  6. still checking in with the blog regularly.
    Max you’re a freakin’ rock star! Dood, you’re my inspiration for EVERYTHING right now.
    Michael and I send love to you and your whole family. Hang in there….I know you’re a trooper and will heal quickly!
    love chemynne, michael and athena

  7. Max,

    I’ a friend of your cousin Jonathan Walsh out here in Connecticut
    and want to wish you the speedyst recovery ever !!!
    All the best
    Woodbridge Fire Dept.

    Steve Buda
    and family

  8. Hi Max,

    Checking in to see how you are doing. I don’t know how you are going to keep up with your massive fan club when you come back to Bend. Always check those bushes in front of your house for paparazzi from now on – they are the worst!

    Glad you are doing so well, and tricking those doctors into thinking you are eating so much! It’s always fun to trick a doctor. They think theyr’e so smart – ha!

    Speaking of tricks, how great you are going to be home in plenty of time for the big CANDY holiday. I wonder what Little Ana is going to be? What about you? Big Ana is going to be a cowgirl – again, cause she just looks so darn good in a western hat!

    Tigua is thinking about being a raccoon, cause he already has the mask, and Boo is going as a white wolf, as usual. Tell your dad, he better be real scared of her this time. Does Lucy get a costume? I could see her with some bunny ears maybe….

    Ana misses ‘fighting’ you in Poekoelan. She’s working on set 3 with Bontoe Michah.

    Also, tell your dad to buy those ski passes THIS WEEK on line OK? Can’t wait to see you, hit the slopes with you, and down some serious CANDY with you!

    Tell your mom and dad we love all of you, and can’t wait till you come home!

    You are a very brave boy Max.

    Bomber, Gregg, Ana

  9. Hello Perezzzez,

    Thank you Carlos and Laurie for sharing so much about what’s going on. It takes us all right there, and especially for those who are not able to come visit and support you in Portland, it helps us feel like somehow we are there.

    So Max, good call on skipping out on school with that teacher lady. Just let me know and I’ll give her a call and take care of things!!! Apparently she has no appreciation for educational value of leggos and the priceless value of spending time with your loving parents!

    And a note to Ana: You must be one brave and loving sister! I’m sure that it’s been hard being away from your parents and brother for so long, but I think you are an amazing kid and how lucky are your grandparents to be able to spend this time with you!

    Looking forward to hearing more success stories on Max’s road to recovery!

    Hazel, Kent & Finley

  10. Perez family, just heard the news from John Tabakman, so sorry about max’s accident! Your all in our thoughts & prayers! Sounds like max is a strong kid for his mom & dad, you should be so proud! Take care! The Schnake Family, dave , michele, devyn & drue

  11. Max, Laurie and Carlos…
    Kristi has kept us posted over the past week…you all are in our thoughts and prayers…what a brave guy, and brave mom and dad too. Take great care & lots of hugs to you all!
    Becky, John & Nina
    (down the street)

  12. Yo Max!

    Riley here. When I heard about the accident I flipped out! I felt awful for you. On the other hand, I here your recovering nicely. I would like to see you in school very soon. Good luck.

    Riley, the comic maker

  13. Hi Max,

    We are still thinking about you and missing you out on the soccer field. We are so glad that you are healing so fast. I am glad to hear that you got the box. Keep smiling and healing!!!

    Heather and the Gladiators

  14. Hello! Laurie…thanks. I finally found the additional posts and the pictures. Wow! It is truly amazing how quickly Max is healing. He looks awesome! And I can’t wait for Keaton to get home to tell him how much you all enjoyed the Mad Libs. They are always good for a chuckle!

    Good luck tomorrow. We will send all our good thoughts with you!


  15. Hi folks
    You don’t know me, but I know your friends Jeff and Kristi. I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you all. So glad to see that Max is making a great recovery! Take care and I’ll keep praying:) – Laurie

  16. Hi Carlos,
    You might not remember me, but I work for Sunlight Solar and I did a site survey on your house about 1-1 1/2 years ago for a solar electric system.
    In browsing the internet a couple weeks ago, I happened upon Harold’s blog and the announcement about your son, Max. I just wanted to write and let you know that I wish you and your family a speedy recovery. You are in my thoughts and prayers and my heart goes out to Max. By the looks of your comments section here, it looks like there’s quite a force of people out here and all around all rooting for him!
    All the best and kindest regards,
    Stephanie Manzo

  17. Our Prayers are with ya Max,
    Hi Max I’m so sorry to hear about your accident, I’m a Fireman in Austin, Tx and I hate to say I’ve had to see what your going through before. Be strong and you’ll get through it and it will make you stronger and a blessing will come out of it. You will now Know how to conquer life’s fears like few other’s. Your bounders and fears can now be moved to a new level. Little problems in life will be just that! ” Little! ” But for now, just keep being A kid! I learned about you from the fact your Dad has A Husqvarna te610 like me! Isn’t the Internet Cool! To: Mom & Dad! Let this make you a stronger family and draw you to God. He has the strength you’ll need in the tough times, just give it all to him! p.s. Get that boy a dirt bike and mom too! and Go ride as a Family!
    God Bless, Ed & Ixore Roberts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *