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But he assured me that he had cleaned and stabilized the wounds sufficiently to allow Nick to spend another hour and a half in the ambulance to Montreal, since so many months of after care would be required close to home.
Thankfully, the ambulance drivers were very considerate and kept me informed of exactly where they were as the endless morning dragged on. We were quite helpless and useless in Montreal and had to entirely trust the skill and knowledge of everyone involved in the emergency response system to care for our son. I was only able to speak to Dr. Dew after Nick was out of surgery and on his way in the ambulance. That was when I got some idea of the extent of his wounds. I wanted to rush to Ottawa to be there for the transfer into the Quebec ambulance, but that would have complicated things unnecessarily, and so I waited by the phone and thanks to the driver I was at the emergency entrance of St. Justine's, along with a team of surgeons and doctors, when Nick arrived.
I bent down to kiss him as he was being wheeled into the operating room and he gave me a lopsided grin and whispered, "Don't freak out, okay Mom?"
My little warrior.
And then over five hours later Chief Surgeon Dr. Louise Laberge came out of the operating room and said to us, "If you didn't believe in miracles before, you can believe in them now."
Nick had survived 26 puncture wounds, some so deep that the doctors could put their whole hands inside them, and yet no major artery had been severed, which would have resulted in him bleeding to death. He spent two weeks in hospital undergoing intense treatment to destroy the dreadful bacteria that lives in the mouths of bears and in our soils; bacteria which include many types of streptococci and diphtheria to name a few, and which could have cost him his legs or even his life. He was treated with rabies vaccine because although rabies is rare in bears, wildlife services confirmed to the microbiology department of the hospital that it does exist in the species and it can only be prevented never cured. So my Nick had to undergo the very painful rabies injections inserted at the major wound sites. He required eight weeks of daily nursing care to clean and irrigate the many wounds, which had tubes in them while they healed from inside, and a month after the attack he went back to hospital for skin grafts to his thighs. And all this was followed by months of physio and massage therapy to break down the adhesions in the wounds as they healed.