“I remember your dad calling me, Connor, and he had gotten a call from somebody on site there,” Gruninger said, recounting part of the episode that Fields had not heard. “He said: ‘Connor’s not breathing. They had to create an airway for him.’ And then your dad’s like: ‘Wait, they’re calling back. I have to go.’”
In Tokyo, Dr. Finnoff was at the Olympic Village when messages arrived.
“When I saw the accident on TV, my first thought was, oh, my gosh, not only did he ram his head down into the asphalt, but I wonder if he broke his neck, and now is a tetraplegic,” Dr. Finnoff said. “Finding out that he doesn’t have a broken neck and he’s moving his arms and legs was really, really great news.”
Dr. Finnoff met Fields in the emergency room of St. Luke’s International Hospital.
“I had to essentially yell to get him to open his eyes,” Dr. Finnoff said. “I could get him to say his name, but almost immediately he’d close his eyes. He didn’t know exactly what was going on. He didn’t know where he was. He couldn’t tell me anything.”
Having any response was a good sign, Dr. Finnoff said. A CT scan and M.R.I. assessed the damage. Dr. Finnoff was relieved to learn that there was no internal bleeding beyond the brain. Fields had a broken rib and a bruised lung, and serious scrapes and bruises.
“There are just so many other things he could have had,” Dr. Finnoff said.
To Gruninger, the first few days were agonizing. She tried not to think the worst — death, paralysis, permanent brain damage.
It was three days after the wreck when her phone buzzed, saying that Connor Fields wanted to FaceTime. She did not know what to expect. She found him looking back at her.
“I could tell you were groggy and tired,” Gruninger said to Fields in their kitchen. “But I could also tell that you were you.”