Mandy Locker said her husband’s 30th birthday party that had been planned for this weekend has been canceled because of the events of the past few days.
But, Mandy said, her husband Ryan will get the best 30th birthday present he could ask for: their 20-month-old son, Jackson, was on his way home Friday from Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Jackson had been there since being bitten twice on top of his hand by a small rattlesnake on April 18.
“(Jackson is) doing well,” Mandy said by cell phone around 4:30 p.m. Friday from the family’s SUV. “We actually got discharged from the hospital about an hour ago. He’s in really good condition.”
Jackson was taken initially to Brownwood Regional Medical Center after being bitten twice on top of his hand, then flown by helicopter ambulance to Cook Children’s Medical Center. He remained there until his discharge Friday afternoon.
He’ll have to have the platelet level in his blood tested to make sure he doesn’t need more antivenom, and he will have occupational therapy for his injured hand, Mandy said.
“The swelling in the arm has come down a lot, but it is still pretty swollen,” she said.
Jackson is moving his hand quite a bit, but it’s too early to tell how much long-term tissue damage the bites caused, she said. “He definitely can use his hand. He didn’t lose function in his hand or fingers. He’s doing well. He’s playing … he’s fallen asleep …”
When Jackson was bitten, he was being cared for by other family members and Mandy and Ryan had traveled to Austin for the fifth-year reunion of their law school class. Both graduated from law school at the University of Texas in 2004.
They were driving in Austin when Ryan’s mother, Cynthia, called them and told them Jackson had been bitten and was being flown to Forth Worth. They checked out of their hotel and began an agonizing drive to Forth Worth.
Ryan drove as fast as he could while remaining safe. “We were mostly silent, to be quite honest,” Mandy said. “Ryan was focused on the driving. I know that I prayed silently a lot. Once we prayed out loud together. We were fairly calm, but we were very purposeful. We could not get to Fort Worth fast enough. It felt like the longest drive we ever had.”
They actually got to Cook’s before the helicopter did. Standing in a hallway, they saw medical staff carrying Jackson, still strapped into his car seat, into a treatment room.
“He was crying and asking for me,” she said. “He just looked bad. He looked like he felt bad. He was awake, and he was calling for me.”
By the time he was discharged, Jackson had undergone two blood transfusions.
The drive home Friday afternoon with Jackson was much more relaxed than the drive from Austin to Fort Worth.
“The anxiety is way less,” she said.
She said Jackson is in good spirits. “He knows he has ‘boo-boos’ and ‘ow-ies,’” Mandy said. “I don’t think he knows exactly what happened.
“We have been so blessed with the outcome and community support and the prayers. We are so glad that he’s coming home.”