Two years ago, my daughter Brooke had just woken up from a nap. She was walking in front of me through the living room– I remember watching the cute little skip in her step. I followed behind her and sat down at our computer desk in the hallway right next to her brother’s bedroom. She walked into the bedroom, and then I heard the crash – our lives would change FOREVER. I remember looking into the doorway and seeing the bottom of the dresser, but not Brooke. I panicked when I realized she was underneath the dresser. I was only able to partially lift the dresser myself because I had just had a major back surgery. My effort had gotten the weight of the dresser off of her head, and I was hanging on with all my strength. I was screaming for my husband, Matt. He was there instantly and literally threw the dresser from her into the corner of my son’s room. I saw her reaction…she shuttered or jerked a little and then I saw the blood coming from her left ear.
I can vividly remember that feeling of utter despair – the thoughts of fear and anxiety rushing through my mind as I was relaying the information to the 911 operator. Somehow the police and fire department arrived within minutes, and we were faced with choosing which family member would ride in the ambulance. I don’t know how but my husband decided that I should, and then we were heading toward Dell Children’s Hospital. When we arrived, I remember feeling out of body – feeling like I was watching it all happen. I saw myself standing there bawling, and watched my child’s clothing being cut off of her body. I remember trying to speak to the doctors, to say I was her mommy – to please help her. One doctor spoke up and said, “Mom, we will talk with you later” – the look of complete concentration on his face not wavering. My legs just sort of collapsed as I slumped into a chair – feeling helpless. I sat for maybe a second, and then I jumped up. My mind was reeling. I had to call my mom and dad – where was Matt? Oh my God, this was really happening. Oh my God!!
Brooke had air in her brain, but the initial prognosis was that the brain looked good. We were given a window of 72 hours. The air in her brain was due to 3 different skull fractures. With the skull fractures they were concerned about fluid leakage which could cause an infection of cerebral fluid….causing meningitis. She had shattered the orbital bones above her eyes and had broken a bone very close to the auditory nerve in her ear. Despite all of this, she seemed to be doing well according to the doctors. If all went well with her brain, we would still have to have surgery to repair the tear in her dura (the membrane around her brain) and reconstruct the bones above her eyes. The only way to perform this surgery would be a craniotomy–an ear to ear incision to enter through the top of the skull. The neurosurgeon would protect her brain and repair the torn membrane and the plastic surgeon would repair her orbital bones. Without the surgery she could lose her eye sight or suffer from double vision and/or be facially deformed or even die from infection. We had no choice. I heard brain and skull, and I lost it.
Two years after the accident, she has miraculously made a complete, 100% recovery, but I haven’t. I am steel reeling from the emotional after effects of Brooke’s accident. This all happened because she was reaching for a Barbie doll at the top of her dresser – a dresser that was never anchored to the wall. When I walked into the room, after we came home from the hospital, there was still blood on the floor. I walked up to that dresser and put my foot in the bottom of it. It tipped so easily. At that moment, in frustration I pushed at the dresser with all my might, as if I could transfer my pain to the source. I took my hands and hit it in anger, until they were turning red and trembling with pain. I knew though, it was not the dresser’s fault but OURS. A simple attachment of the dresser to the wall would have prevented what our family went through. Why had we not simply attached it to the wall?
As a parent, your worst fear is for something to happen to your child. You are their protector, and your job is to make sure that nothing happens to them. But, accidents do happen. Things do happen that are out of our control. However, nothing can prepare you for how it feels when you see your child laying on a hospital bed broken, bruised and in pain. The thought of losing her just tore into my entire self – it was overwhelming. And, the guilt, why did we not have that dresser strapped to the wall? It was such a simple thing.
Brooke did amazing during and after the surgery – her recovery truly a miracle. After the surgery her swelling was minimal and her bruising around her eyes became her pink and purple eye shadow. The doctors had told us to expect her to be unrecognizable – but, it was our sweet Brooke (just with eye shadow and well, no hair). She was a sport about her new hair-do and she was even more beautiful with her “Princess Crown.” That is what we called her zigzag, ear to ear incision – her “Princess Crown.” She was such a trooper, even through all the pain she always smiled. There is not a day that goes by that I do not thank God for letting her stay in my life – He let our angel stay, and for that I will spread this message.
So, I am on a mission – a journey so to speak – to raise awareness to the dangers of unsecured furniture. The staggering statistic that I can’t get out of my mind is that a child is severely injured or DIES every 2 weeks from a furniture tip-over accident. This type of accident does not discriminate – it can happen to any age parents or ANYONE that might have a young child enter into their home or place of business. I urge you to take the proper precautions to secure your furniture to the wall…NOW. Just like buckling your child’s seat belt, installing furniture safety straps could save their lives.
Nobody should go through what we have.
I am still reeling from the emotional after effects of Brooke’s accident. Even 2 complete years after her accident. Even though she is a walking miracle and she made a complete, 100% recovery, I still have my days that I re-visit that day and the events of that day in my mind. At times, when I hear an ambulance siren – I feel my heart stop just a bit. I am transported right back to that ride, where I watched my daughter lying in the back of the ambulance from a tiny screen above the EMS driver. I remember when he turned the screen off, and I said, “What is going on, is my daughter ok?” And he said, “I am not going to lie to you, your daughter is very sick.” I realize how our situation could have had a very different outcome, and I thank God each and every day for letting our angel stay.
Sometimes when given a second chance, you make the most of that opportunity. Sharing Brooke’s story is difficult – but, I feel it must be done. I think that many do not realize the massive damage that a piece of furniture can do to their child. I think as parents we know that securing furniture is part of childproofing 101, but maybe it’s on the “to-do” list. Some don’t want to mess up the walls or damage the furniture. They don’t know the proper materials to use or actually they just did not realize that furniture could pose such a huge risk to a young climber. This type of accident does not discriminate – it can happen to any age parents or ANYONE that might have a young child enter into their home or place of business. I urge you to take the proper precautions to secure your furniture to the wall….NOW – TODAY!! Ultimately, I can’t make you take action – I can show you these images and tell you to do it, but I can’t make you do it. If I had all the money in the world, I would just buy furniture straps and pass them out to any family with a young child in their home. I so badly want to do my part to spread this message. I want to save the lives of these children, and I want to prevent their families from suffering through the NOT knowing, the pain, the fear and the anguish of a child that has been put in harms way. If we all just take a simple precaution, these types of accidents would not happen. It’s as simple as that – THEY WOULD NOT HAPPEN! Just like buckling your child into a car seat before driving, installing furniture safety straps, could save a life!
Here is a clip from KVUE news that shows the dangers of unsecured furniture. Watching the dresser and shelves as the fall takes my breath away. It’s a real danger, and I want to make sure it does not happen to your family. Please take the precaution to secure your furniture to the wall.
This type of accident really takes a toll on a family, and we have struggled as a family financially since the accident. But, we have not given up – we are a family in-tact. We work hard, and we continue to fight. Sometimes my husband and I do get down because we have fears, but then we look at our children and we continue on – one foot in front of the other Brooke’s Angel Wings actually took flight after “Mending Wings” ran in The Creative Mama on October 18th 2011. This mission to spread the word about securing your furniture to the wall and the jewelry that Brooke and I had begun to make somehow became one and the same. At 5 years old, Brooke is a fan of fashion and loves bright, vibrant colors. The jewelry is not only an expression of a mother and daughter’s love but also serves as a reminder to the owner of our special message! It’s something Brooke and I do together, and each necklace we make is helping me to mend emotionally but spread this message that I know I have to spread – so that I do my part to try to prevent this from happening to other families.
It’s a reality that every 2 weeks a child is losing their life to an accident involving unsecured furniture or TVs in the home. Your home is your area, and YOU have complete control. Take the precaution to secure your furniture to the wall. Don’t think it won’t happen to you, or your child won’t climb or that the dresser in your child’s room could not possible do this kind of damage. There have been families that have woke in the morning only to find their child dead because they decided to climb their furniture in the middle of the night – children climb it’s part of their development. These families never knew their child was hurt because the dresser killed them instantly and they did not make a sound. PLEASE SECURE YOUR FURNITURE TO THE WALL, IT COULD SAVE A CHILD’S LIFE! And know, that accidents happen as well. Our family could not have known that in that instant our lives would change in a blink of an eye. We do wish that AWARENESS to the dangers of unsecured furniture in our homes was more mainstream because as parents, our job is to protect our children. Matt and I had even talked about doing something – it was on the “to-do” list. We could have never know that the day of her accident would have been the day she decided to climb her brother’s dresser to get her Barbie. We could not have known the massive damage that a light weight, 5 drawer dresser could do to our daughter. We also wish that providing furniture straps with any piece of furniture made that poses a danger of tipping was mandatory BY LAW. It’s not, it’s VOLUNTARY. There are some companies that put furniture safety top on their PRIORITY LIST and provide protection for our children – their are others that do not to avoid the added cost. Just know that ultimately no matter how the ACCIDENT occurred, the accident could have been avoided if we had taken the precaution of installing dresser straps. We are extremely lucky that our family got a second chance and that Brooke is here today to share her story.
Last thing I want to stress is that UNTIL FURNITURE SAFETY becomes mainstream and something that pediatricians, doctors, business and media focus on these accidents will continue to occur and lives will continue to be lost. Until parents make securing their furniture in their homes as important as buckling their child into a car seat each time they drive their vehicle, these accidents will continue to happen and we will keep losing children (the most common age for these types of accident is 12 months to 5 years). The dangers are real, PLEASE PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN. Furniture straps are easy to install and very affordable.
The Rahn Family