OGDENSBURG – Just outside the bathroom where Stacy J. Sibley is going to rest from some procedures, another tube is placed inside her 19-year-old son, after a skiing accident this week l ‘left in an induced coma. with severe head trauma and broken spine.
Connor J. Sibley, from Ogdensburg, was on a ski trip in Maine when he crashed on Monday. He was descending a slope without a helmet and, it seems, although there were no witnesses, he struck his head possibly against a tree as he was moving at high speed.
A passerby saw him and called for ski patrollers, who brought Mr. Sibley down to the runway and into a helicopter after he lost consciousness. The injuries were almost all to the head. His brain was swelling from an epidural hematoma he had just suffered, his frontal lobe was damaged and one of his vertebrae was fractured.
The accident charged a community and tested a mother who, due to COVID-19 protocols, was unable to leave the intensive care unit after entering for the first time, leaving her to live with her son in a coma for about two days as she sleeps on a daybed about 10 feet from where a fan is attached to her teenager.
Mr Sibley, a second year honors student at SUNY Oswego, was on a school break this week and decided to go on a ski trip with friends. After everyone was tested for COVID-19, the group headed to the Sunday River Resort in Newry, Maine.
It was around 1 p.m. Monday when a trip friend called Ms Sibley in Ogdensburg, telling her that Connor had been in an accident.
“He was calm, but I could hear the concern in his voice,” Ms. Sibley said. “I could hear the uncertainty.”
She was called about an hour later, this time by the ski patrol telling her that Connor was being airlifted to Central Maine Medical Center, which is about 50 miles from the resort. She praised the medical staff and compared it to the Northern Syracuse State Medical University.
When she called the hospital, medical staff told her they were taking action to save lives and needed her permission to have the surgery, which she granted.
“That’s when I went into not only shock mode but also panic mode,” she said.
There were no flights, so she had to drive about eight hours from Ogdensburg, Maine. She tried to distract herself with music and talk to family members on the phone, but constantly wished she could be there now, if only she snapped her fingers.
After a day in the hospital, Mr Sibley tested positive for COVID-19, according to his mother. She added this to one of her daily updates for friends and family.
“The kicker,” she wrote, “he tested positive for COVID. He tested positive for COVID in mid-October in college. He was recently tested and tested negative on Friday before the accident. So I’m going to ask a LOT of questions about this, you can bet on that.
To make sure it wasn’t a false positive – since it would be her second time with the virus – she said she had requested another test, which was administered on Wednesday.
A cornerstone in dealing with a seriously injured loved one is the ability to occasionally get out and take a moment.
She didn’t have that option. After all the tubes, ventilators and meds and then writing them down to remember them, Ms Sibley found herself having to find a way to get away and breathe. Sometimes when a nurse came to replace a tube, Ms. Sibley would go to the bathroom.
After about two days on Wednesday, she and the doctors agreed that she could leave and come back in 10 days, she said. It was wreaking havoc on her and she will be able to FaceTime with her son every day.
Ms. Sibley’s son is known to be a kind, kind and loving person and the community has responded.
There is a GoFundMe account, Venmo, raffles and T-shirts with “Sibley Strong” on them. People have asked if they can send flowers and cards to the hospital, but the facility cannot receive anything due to protocol at this time.
Ms Sibley thought it was fair to update her friends and family with videos and Facebook posts.
“The main reason I’m giving these updates is because the community has come together for him and they want to know what’s going on,” she said. “I think I owe them this because of everything they do for my son and for me. I feel like we are all in the same boat. I want them to be part of it. I want them to know his background and how he is progressing.
Ms Sibley also discusses the fact that her son did not wear a head-on helmet.
She doesn’t know her thought process there. Maybe he thought it was an easier hill and a helmet wasn’t needed, she said, but she isn’t sure.
“At least,” she said, “I can use this circumstance as a chance to educate and tell others that this is what you should be doing.”
She said she also knew she would be pushed back for some reason because her son was not wearing a helmet.
“I understand that, but he’s also 19 and an adult and I can’t control everything my kid does,” she said. “It’s my job as a parent to raise him and try to teach him to do the right things, and after a certain age it is his responsibility to make his own choices.”
As to his current status, Mr Sibley said there had been encouragement. There have been some signs of neurological activity, but with any head injury, only time will tell if there is any long term damage. She is full of hope, and she will continue to thank the community for everything she has done.
“With the strength they give me, I can, in return, give it to my son,” Ms. Sibley said. “You hear a lot of negativity about the north of the country – job loss, drug use, all that other stuff. You don’t hear a lot of wonderful things happening, and this is a great example of a community coming together and supporting a family in need.