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dear universe: you win

packed up and ready to go ... almost

Just when you think you have gotten “over the hump” –  the wrecked car, the tornados, all of the crappy stuff of recent weeks … When vacation time has arrived, and you are ready for a much-needed break and a week of bicycle adventuring – and then the unpredictable forces of the universe strike again, and you can only feel like you are on the losing team in the current competition.

At the end of May, our oldest son Mason left for a summer physics research internship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  We were thrilled that he was chosen for such a great opportunity, and he was excited to have the chance to spend his summer doing research with Dr. David Ernst (theoretical/computational physics, neutrino oscillation) and earning money at the same time.  It was a win-win.

With his books and bicycle in tow, he was off to a great start at Vanderbilt – absorbed in his work, enjoying new friendships with his professor and the team of researchers he was working with, exploring the city by bicycle during his hours off.

Mason at Vanderbilt

At home, Mark and I were packed up, excited and ready for our cycling vacation.  We were heading to Missouri to spend a week riding across the state on the Katy Trail – a trip I have wanted to take for several years, but we had never managed to get planned and scheduled until this summer.  It was not to be.

Got a jumbled phone call from the ER of Vanderbilt Hospital on Thursday night, the 16th.  One of Mason’s friends told us that they had been playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee on campus, and Mason had been “clocked” in a collision during play.  He had been knocked out, but was now conscious; had suffered a concussion and they were going to perform the routine head CT.  Later we learned he also had a shattered nose along with some chipped teeth – all of the information being very difficult to come by, given HIPA regulations, the fact that he was over 18, and complicated by his current lack of mental clarity – he wasn’t initially lucid enough to give permission to release information to us.  As a parent, it was agonizing.

We finally were able to speak with the attending doctor who assured us that there was no brain bleeding, and that felt it would be safe to release him with his room-mates looking after him through the remainder of the night and until we could get there.

(post-surgery ... he gave me permission to post)

at home, on the road to recovery

So, to condense the story … we’ve spent the better part of the last 4-5 days in Nashville.  Mason had surgery at Vanderbilt on Monday to “repair” his nose, and he continues to improve each day from the concussion – which has, truthfully, been the most disconcerting part of the whole ordeal.  We know that there are expected side-effects – loss of memory, difficulty in concentration, mood swings – all of which should improve over time.  It’s just difficult to see him struggling with “the foggy feeling” he’s experiencing, along with some short-term memory problems.

We brought him home yesterday for the remainder of the week.  Hoping that he will be feeling significantly better and recovered enough to return to Nashville and to begin to resume/continue his work at Vanderbilt next week.

We also brought his bicycle home to stay for a while.  I know he’s really disappointed that he won’t be able to be riding, but he also understands that it’s just too risky, given his head injury.  For now, all we can do is look forward to getting back on the bike when it’s safe to do so.

Finally … Dear Universe:  Please give us a break for a while, ok?

Mason on his bike ... a few weeks ago

Posted by savaconta on June 22, 2011
  1. 06/22/2011

    oh wow! So sorry, but glad it wasn’t worse. Hopefully his nose will now have ‘character’!

  2. 06/22/2011

    Yikes – that’s terrible!! And looks VERY painful! Glad it was no worse at least and that he seems to be on the mend. Any sort of head injury is a scary thing. Hope he’s feeling much better soon and can get back to his internship. And hope the universe begins cooperating and you and your husband can take that vacation soon 🙂

  3. 06/22/2011

    Oh my goodness. Poor son, poor Mom and Dad. Hope the healing goes very quickly for him. What a bummer for the summer.

  4. 06/22/2011

    I’ll put in a word to teh universe. HOly cow.

  5. 06/22/2011

    WOW – I’m so sorry Cassi. I can’t imagine what you were going through with that phone call. I’m glad Mason is on the mend, and I hope you get to take that bicycle ride soon.

  6. 06/22/2011

    Oh man, I’m sorry to hear about Mason. The past few months really have been something over there, hasn’t it? Just like Susan said……we’ll all start putting some positive vibes out there for you.

    Ouch….I just had to take another look at the pictures. That looks nasty.


  7. 06/22/2011

    I will second your thoughts… “Dear Universe, give this family a break!” My goodness!! I hope your son is up and doing much better very soon, and that you will be able to take your cycling trip at another time. I suppose I’m one of those “weirdos” who thinks everything happens for a reason, and by that I do not mean by any stretch that I would wish this (or any) injury on your son or anyone, but sometimes it seems that there comes a silver lining from tragedies, or we learn about something that may have been even worse. I hope that you and your family have a huge silver lining somewhere in all of this, and a very speedy recover is wished for Mason.

  8. 06/22/2011


    Sending positive waves your way. As a recent concussion patient I can empathize with what he’s going through.


    Enough already.

  9. 06/22/2011

    I’m sorry to learn of your son’s injuries. I have also found that at some points in my life the horrific, life altering occurrences seemed to not end…I know it’s hard, but they will end. Focus on staying strong!

  10. 06/23/2011
    Florence Nightingale

    That must have been some “clock!” I had a buddy suffer a pretty serious concussion while we were mountain biking and it was very scary. He kept asking the same questions and repeating the same phrases over and over for hours (“What happened? How’s my bike? Man I really f**ked up didn’t I?”) But it cleared and we kid him about it now. Mason will be fine, he’s young and strong and your luck will improve. It’s too hot in Missouri right now anyway.

    It occurs to me that this same week last year you guys had a medical emergency. You might want to lock up the kids the third week of June from now on.

  11. 06/23/2011

    Oh man. I’m so sorry to hear all these crazy things have been happening. You’re an incredible person and definitely deserve some good fortune. I’m glad he’s ok. I’ve seen some crazy things happen in sports.

    Come on universe… that’s not cool.

  12. 06/24/2011

    Ouch….that doesn’t look like fun.

    Don’t you just hate it when being responsible gets in the way of having fun?

    I’ve done the Katy a couple of times. It can be a good trip. Hopefully you’ll make it soon.

  13. 06/27/2011

    ARGH! Glad your son will be ok, but so sorry to hear the news about your trip being delayed. Tailwinds… you deserve some!

  14. 06/28/2011


    So sorry to hear of Mason’s accident… I send many good thoughts and prayers that his concussion heals quickly and his recovery from surgery is speedy… Hope that he’ll be back on his bicycle in no time…

    keriberi on SC (we miss you there!)

  15. 07/1/2011

    Ouch! That looks painful. So sorry to hear about this — you definitely deserve a break. I hope he makes a quick recovery.

  16. 07/6/2011


    Hope all is well for Mason now. Must have been quite a scare for awhile. I’ll have a talk with the Universe for you guys. In the meantime, could I interest you in an apple fritter?


  17. 07/8/2011

    Sorry to hear that you’ve been though so much lately. I followed your photos on shuttercal and was wondering why you haven’t been posting. Hoping there will be plenty of rainbows in your life after all the storms you’ve been through. All the best.

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