Fun Sponge

Sometimes my training makes me a fun sponge.  Like last night.  I was getting ready to go to bed, and heard some loud noise in the backyard.  I muted the TV and opened the door, and saw it was my backyard neighbors.  They’ve been loud before…that’s nothing new.  It’s a wealthy family that owns the home.  Well, actually, a home and a pool house.  The pool house is directly beyond my fence, and the kids are often out there, being rowdy, and leaving the (outdoor) stereo on.  Loud.  On a terrible station.  But whatever…they’re teenagers…I can live with the noise.

But last night when I walked out on the patio, I saw that the reason it was so loud is they were climbing up on the roof of the pool house and jumping in the pool.  Within nanoseconds my speech-language pathologist training kicked in, and I thought “Oh crap, someone is going to hit their head and either snap their neck or give themselves a major TBI (traumatic brain injury).  I thought about what I know about TBI…other than motor vehicle accidents, falls are one of the biggest causes.  Males 18-24 are one of the largest risk groups.  I also thought about kids I’ve  encountered during my recent internship at a children’s hospital.  They’re in wheelchairs, on feeding tubes, eating a pureed diet, unable to do anything independently. Some of them were in motor vehicle accidents and sustained TBIs, and some have TBIs from just being stupid.  Like these guys.

So I had a conundrum.  Do I call the cops?  I felt like talking to them would probably make it worse, but I didn’t know what to do.  I wasn’t really trying to get them in trouble…so I did what any rational person would do when they can’t ask Tami Taylor. I asked Twitter.  And when my Twitter peeps mentioned TBI and spinal cord injuries, I felt compelled to act.  I thought about what I would feel like if one of these kids broke their necks and I hadn’t done anything.  So I called the non-emergency number, and talked to a dispatcher.  I had never, ever done that before, and wasn’t quite sure what to say.  I think it went something like this: “Um, I’m not really sure if it’s a crime, but my backyard neighbors are jumping off the roof of their house into their pool.  I’m just really worried someone is going to get hurt.”  She asked a few questions, and said she would send someone.  Naively, I thought that meant the cop would come and tell them that was stupid and to stop doing it and maybe give them a warning.

Again, I did what any rational person would do.  I turned off the lights and watched out the window to see what would happen.  What I wasn’t prepared for was what actually happened–the cops arrived, and kids started coming over my fence.  And my neighbors’ fence.  Almost every house in the neighborhood has a fence, and gates, so the kids had to scale 2 or 3 fences.

My neighbor ended up coming out, and told me the kids have been doing this nightly for the last 5 or 6 nights.  I’m not sure how I didn’t hear it, but he had.  Ironically, he also has a TBI, and with his deficits, loud noise is excruciating for him.  He doesn’t sleep well normally, and his TBI also causes an abnormal amount of anxiety.  He said he’d talked to them and warned them, and his wife had urged him to call.  He was thankful I had called.  We talked for a while at the fence while the cops lined up the kids…what I hadn’t anticipated is that they were all underage, cited for alcohol.

It feels weird to be the neighbor who called the cops.  And citations and arrests for alcohol weren’t really even on my mind…I had figured the kids were college age, legal.  But knowing what I know about TBI, I couldn’t let it go.  When it comes to preventable, life changing injuries from stupidity, I am a fun sponge.  I think I’m okay with that.

For anyone who’s interested, some more information on TBI from the CDC.

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