Doing things that would probably be best left undone is just part of being a teenager, isn't it? Making mistakes (and hopefully learning lessons!) is just an age-old rite of passage that we all experience during our formative years. Scientific research has shown, after all, that the part of our brains that's responsible for balanced decision-making isn't fully formed until as late as our mid-20s!
Luckily, most people make it through the mishaps and misadventures that are part and parcel of the teen experience relatively unscathed. Yes, we might get our hearts broken and our fair share of aches and pains, but generally these experiences are just part of the litany of stories we can tell people down the road. Unfortunately, though, not all are so lucky; continue reading to hear the story of one Washington teen who experienced dire consequences due to an online game. Note: some of the following images are graphic.
This is called the "Duct Tape Challenge," and it's going viral online.
All it involves is freeing yourself from duct tape. Sounds pretty simple right? Fairly harmless, even! In general, it is, but many teens (the majority of people taking on this "challenge") don't realize how quickly it could all go wrong.
Skylar Fish, a 14-year-old from Washington, learned that lesson in one of the most painful ways possible.
His attempt at the "Duct Tape Challenge" put him in the hospital, with critical, and potentially lifelong, effects.
After being wrapped in the duct tape, Skylar began trying to extricate himself. While doing so, he fell.
Unfortunately, when he fell, he crashed into a metal window frame, hitting his head, before falling into a concrete wall.
This brutal tumble left him with severe injuries on its own.
The impact alone crushed his left eye socket and cheekbone and left him with pinched nerves in that area of his face.
Skylar's injuries didn't stop there, though.
More seriously, the injuries caused his brain to begin bleeding, which required emergency surgery.
Skylar was rushed to the hospital and operated on immediately.
When he woke up, his hair had been shaved off and in its place were 48 surgical staples crossing the top of his head, from ear to ear.
Now, Skylar's mom, Sarah, is on a mission to warn other parents about this online "game" with serious real-life consequences.
She told Q13 Fox, "[Teens are] just looking at what's fun, what's cool, what's going to impress their friends. 'I can break out of this duct tape. I'm the strongest. I'm the best.' They're not thinking what if I fall and hit my head."
Sarah says that Skylar "so far has been doing well. His brain seems to be healing well." However, the future is still uncertain.
"It's still too early to determine the long-term results of the sight in his eye," she explains.
Skylar's accident happened on January 16, 2016. Nearly four months later, Skylar is still experiencing the effects of his turn at this online challenge.
He has not yet recovered sight in his eye and there are still signs of brain damage.
Fortunately, other aspects of Skylar's recovery are looking promising.
He has completed his occupational therapy and even returned to school!
Sarah reports that, while things might still be tough physically, Skylar's attitude is in great shape.
"The moment I will never forget is when Skylar and I drove home from the Children's Hospital. He said to me, 'You know it's okay if I have one eye. It is what it is. I'm alive.' He smiled and, at that moment, I knew we would be okay emotionally."
The next mission, Sarah says, is to start "physical therapy ... to get back on his bike, skateboard, and scooter!"
While life has certainly thrown them for an unexpected loop, Skylar's family seems determined to move forward.
Right now, their lives are busy, busy, busy. Therapy, doctor visits, and upcoming surgery are all part of the Fish family's daily life ... in addition to school, work, commuting, errands, chores, and all the other things that daily life requires.
To help offset the huge costs that this unexpected circumstance brought up, Sarah set up Skylar's Recovery Challenge Fund. They are at the beginning of a very long recovery and "challenge" certainly describes what the future holds for the family.
Be sure to SHARE Skylar's story with your friends and family!