Column: When boredom turns deadly

(Photo: Facebook)

by Ryan Martin

At the age of 10, freshman Ethan Swan almost lost his life.

His father was making a new deck for their home and to entertain himself, Swan was balancing himself along the beams that made up the unfinished deck. He was by himself as his dad went inside to grab a drink.

While balancing on the beams that made up the base of the deck, Swan lost his footing. He crashed down onto the beam he was walking on hard, crushing his stomach.

“I hung there on the beams in excruciating pain for about two minutes,” Swan said.

When his father found him, he picked Swan up and brought him inside and sat him in a chair, thinking he was just tired or faking his pain. It wasn’t until Swan realized he couldn’t move that his dad knew something was wrong.

His father brought him to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockland, Maine, about 20 minutes from their home. “I was in intensive care,” said Swan, He had internal bleeding in his spleen.  When the spleen is ruptured and internally bleeds, there is a possibility for death even at the highest trauma care centers. It causes blood pressure to drop immensely and depending on how serious the rupture is, a heavy flow of blood to enter the abdominal area. “It was a really scary time,” said Swan.

Swan spent the night at the hospital and the next day was taken by an ambulance with his mother beside him to Eastern Maine Medical Center, a two hour drive.  “I passed out for most of the ride there. I was in a lot of pain but thankfully the medication they gave me helped ease the pain in my stomach.”

Swan was hospitalized for six days. “I couldn’t eat any solid foods. I had to drink chicken broth the entire time I was there to get nutrients,” Swan said. The transfer to EMMC was made because there were talks of possible surgery to remove his spleen. “We decided against it because it was too expensive and my spleen was healing much better than expected,” Swan said.

After a week of rest, homework, TV and chicken broth, Swan was finally sent home to rest for two weeks.

Swan was instructed to stay in bed and was warned that because of his injury, it would affect his ability to drink alcohol or smoke anything in the future, although, smoking and drinking have not affected Swan’s health as of late.

Swan missed about a month of his fifth grade class as well as countless soccer practices. “My doctor said I wouldn’t be able to participate in any physical activities for a month.” His teacher stopped by his home every Thursday to deliver his missing assignments so he wouldn’t fall too far behind in his work.

After about a week, Swan was moving around the house. He was finally able to enjoy his first meal of solid food in two weeks.

“Since my brush with death in the 5th grade, I’ve tried to live life more cautiously while really appreciating every moment for what it is,” Swan said. Swan’s soccer team then went on to win the Mid-Coast Championship that year. Swan continued to play soccer all through high school until his freshman year at Franklin Pierce.

After three weeks, Swan was caught up in his academics and went back to playing right and left halfback for his soccer team. “Instead of becoming an injury that has set me back in the future, it’s helped me grow mentally and didn’t define me physically. “

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