By Barbie Porter
Karen Mitchell’s phone rang in the early hours of Jan. 23. The person on the other end made one of her biggest fears a reality.
“My son (Lucas Shawstad) had been in an accident and was being air lifted to a larger hospital,” she explained on her son’s CaringBridge site, which Karen gave permission to use for the article.
The car accident had left the 19-year-old with skull fractures and damage to his spine.
Karen, her husband Chad Mitchell and Lucas’ siblings Casey, Gunner and Grace of rural Frazee immediately left for Billings, Mont. They asked friends and family to uplift Lucas with prayer as he underwent surgeries. One operation placed two screws in his backbone to stabilize the fracture, which irritated his brain injury as Lucas had to lay face down for a stretch of time. He also had his left eye removed.
“Most of the damage is on that left side of his brain, which explains why there is decreased movement on the right side of his body,” said Karen, who is a nurse at Essentia Health in Detroit Lakes. “They put a boot on his right foot to maintain the stretch in his muscles in anticipation that when he’s able to go to rehab, walking will be a little easier.”
While thoughts of rehabilitation are being considered, Karen noted her son is still considered critical.
“So be prepared that we are on a roller coaster ride together and it could be rough,” she said. “He is receiving excellent medical care here at Billings Clinic Hospital.”
On Jan. 25, Lucas underwent a CT Scan. The doctors also removed a monitor because of his brain pressure normalized.
“Most of the damage is on that left side of his brain, which explains why there is decreased movement on the right side of his body. They put a boot on his right foot to maintain the stretch in his muscles in anticipation that when he’s able to go to rehab, walking will be a little easier.”Karen Mitchell
“Look at what your prayers have done already!” Karen exclaimed. “Please know how much we appreciate your outpouring of love. This is what family is all about.”
With positives there remain uncertain. Karen explained the brain is complicated and the extent of the damage may not be known until he awoke from his drug induced coma. She added the doctors do not plan on attempting to wake him for at least a couple of weeks.
“We are so honored at the outpouring of love that we have been shown,” Karen said. “There is no doubt that Lucas is still here because of our Lord. You, our prayer warriors, are helping us to draw strength, please keep praying.”
Between the shock and fear Karen has experienced reliving joyous moments with her son—quick witted one liners that create smiles and laughter and the many, many times he has loved with his entire heart. Friends have shared similar stories of her son, and a few videos have been posted.
Karen is thankful to see each picture and video, especially the ones with sound where she can again hear her son’s voice.
In addition to prayers, friends of the family set up a Go Fund Me Account on their behalf. The funds raised will go toward paying Lucas’ personal bills. His mom said her son signed a two-year lease and the family doesn’t want his roommate to worry about covering his share of the costs. The fundraiser site can be located at gofundme.com and placing Karen Mitchell’s name in the search bar.
The journal his mother is keeping can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/lucasshawstad.