Noah Nelson

Noah Nelson, 6, sits on his mother, Amber Schommer's lap at Let Them Be Little Daycare in Randall. Nelson is recovering from extensive damage he sustained to his left hand when it was crushed by a wood splitter, Oct. 31.

Noah Nelson did not get to spend his Halloween like most boys his age this year.

Rather than dressing up and trick-or-treating, the Randall boy spent his day in the hospital. It was the first of five straight days at North Memorial Health in Robbinsdale, where he was being treated for extensive injuries to his left hand.

On the morning of Oct. 31, Noah, 6, was in Motley helping his dad, James Nelson, with the wood splitter.

“The thing, it was coming back and my hand was there,” Noah said. “It just, it was coming back and it just hit it and it crushed it in there.”

Noah immediately displayed the toughness he has shown throughout what will be a lengthy recovery process. When his hand was caught in the wood splitter, his middle and pointer finger were crushed, and he had several lacerations. Despite the pain, he did not cry or scream out. He just had one word for his dad.

“Doctor,” he said as to what he immediately said following the accident.

“He’s a tough guy,” said his aunt, Jennifer Kloss.

His father followed that advice and took him to the Lakewood Health System Hospital in Staples. Soon after, his mother, Amber Schommer of Randall, got a phone call no parent wants to receive.

“I didn’t even know anything until (James) called me and said that they were in the ER,” Schommer said. “They were just out splitting wood like they normally do. It’s something he’s been doing since he was, like, 3. Then I got a call saying that Noah pinched his hand in the wood splitter, and that he didn’t know how bad it was.”

It was soon determined he would need to be seen by a specialist. After some discussion about the best place to take him, he was airlifted to North Memorial. Upon arrival at about 8 p.m. that night, he was immediately taken into surgery. He didn’t get out until 2 a.m., six hours later.

Along with the two fingers being crushed, the growth plates were also broken. He had extensive damage to the skin and veins in his hand, and required skin and vein grafts.

“They went under a microscope to put all the little blood vessels and stuff back together,” Schommer said.

“He’s got metal wires in his pointer and middle finger,” she said.

“And thumb,” Noah added.

He was in the hospital until Friday, Nov. 5. His doctors checked his circulation every two hours. Kloss, said the main concern was that he would lose circulation. If that would have happened, he likely would have had to have those two fingers amputated.

Though it was a difficult week, Noah was able to find the positives he experienced during the ordeal.

He got to take his first ride in a helicopter, during which he liked looking out the windows to see the water, houses and buildings below. He also got to use a virtual reality headset during his stay at North Memorial.

“I played a fishing game and an ocean game, and I don’t know what else,” he said. “There was two of the ocean ones; the shark and the other ocean one.”

Even now that they’ve gone home, Noah and his family have to make weekly trips to Robbinsdale so doctors can check on his hand.

Schommer said they found out during his Nov. 11 visit that the skin graft wasn’t holding up. That means it will eventually fall off and the skin will have to heal on its own.

“Which will take a very long time,” Kloss said.

They planned to return to North Memorial again, Thursday, for another check up and to put new dressing on his hand. The biggest concern at this point, they said, was infection. Kloss said if that happens, he would again be in danger of losing his two fingers.

She said his doctors aren’t “super concerned” about that happening. But, he still will have a lengthy road to a full recovery. He will have to go through physical therapy to re-learn how to use the fingers once the wire is removed. He might also need follow-up surgeries to “stretch” his fingers, due to the growth plate being broken.

“But, I’m probably not going to be able to use them because they might be numb,” Noah said about his fingers.

“You can still use them if they’re numb, though,” Kloss told him. “You just won’t be able to feel them.”

A first-grader at Dr. S.G. Knight Elementary in Randall, Schommer described Noah as “wild.” He likes to play Xbox, play outside, ride bike and is a wrestling fan.

His life is different right now, as he’s recovering from the accident. He is unable to play outside — something which was particularly difficult last weekend with the first snowfall of the winter — and has not been able to return to school. Even when he goes back, he won’t be able to participate in gym or play with his friends at recess.

Schommer said his doctors had still not given her a timetable as to when the wires might be able to come out. She was thankful, however, that they planned to send home new bandages after the appointment Thursday, so they would be able to change his dressing at home.

“He’ll be back and forth between here and the cities for months,” Kloss said. “We’re just happy, now, because they said they’ll give her stuff to do dressing changes on their own, because right now he’s going there weekly just to have his dressing changed.”

Schommer works at Kloss’s day care center, Let Them Be Little Daycare in Randall, and James owns Nelson Construction in Motley. They both stayed by Noah’s side while he was in the hospital, and will have many trips back and forth to the Twin Cities in their future.

Though Noah’s medical expenses were covered by insurance, both parents are still experiencing the hardships of lost wages and travel expenses.

As such, Kloss has set up a GoFundMe page to help Noah and his parents through the recovery process. It is called “Noah’s Medical Journey” and can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/noahs-medical-jour ney.

“They both want to be there for all of the appointments, but still have bills to pay, obviously,” Kloss said.

The family has also received help in the form of gifts and cash donations from Motley Free Methodist Church. Kloss said their church family has been “really great,” and is thankful for their continued thoughts and prayers for Noah.

As for Noah, he is looking forward to getting back to school and seeing his friends. He is excited to be able to play outside and do all of his favorite things again.

He didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do first when he’s able to resume normal activities, but there’s one thing he was sure he’s not going to do.

“Not touch the wood splitter,” Noah said.

“He says he’s never touching that again,” Schommer added.

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