Getting by with a little help from our friends

We’ve been home from the hospital for several days now, and that’s a good thing, but it’s been harder than I anticipated.  Arriving home threw me into the role of primary caretaker, and,while that’s a role I relish, it has been a full time job.  Gary is a great patient, but his pain level has been really high.  I know that seeing someone in pain is a difficult thing for all in the medical profession, but when it’s someone you love, it is excruciating.  Hopefully, we’ll be past this part soon, and his pain level will subside.

My lack of rest caught up with me yesterday.  Gary has only been able to sleep in our double recliner, and I had been trying to sleep there with him, both to be able to monitor his needs, and for the comfort of his presence.  But, I wasn’t sleeping well, with trying to make sure I didn’t bump him unnecessarily and trying to get comfortable myself, it was a losing battle.  I didn’t realize how much the lack of sleep was affecting me until yesterday, when I saw a glass of orange juice on my kitchen counter and burst into tears.  Now, I’m not one who cries in times of crises.  I’ve been known to shed a tear or two when Bambi’s mother dies, but in real life, I’m pretty stoic.  And, a glass of orange juice has never really offended me before.  So, when the tears burst forth, I knew it was from sheer physical and mental exhaustion, rather than true distress.  So, I did what I always do when I’m scraping the bottom of the emotional barrel, I lifted a prayer to my precious Father, I sent out an SOS text to my prayer girls, I kissed Gary on the forehead & made sure he had everything he needed, I lit my lavender candle in my bathroom, then I submerged myself in a long, hot bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil.  I also made it a point to go to my yoga class last night.  I haven’t been able to run, sheer exhaustion is not conducive to a mind clearing run, so I haven’t even tried.  With the great weather that rolled in last night, though, I’m hoping to be able to sleep well enough tonight that I can run in the morning.  I slept on our sofa last night, near enough to be able to awaken if Gary needed something, but much more restful with being able to stretch out and not worry about bumping him.

I am in awe of the medical personnel who have helped us so far, and, indeed, to all who have surrendered their lives to the call of nursing/paramedics/doctoring.  I cleaned and changed my first fasciotomy dressing on Sunday, and I’m not ashamed to admit there was a large glass of wine waiting for me when I finished.  That. Was. Tough.  However, I’m happy to report that after watching the doctor change it on Monday, yesterday’s & today’s dressings were much easier for me. So far, his wounds look good.  If you have a strong stomach, I’ve included a pic here for you.  It includes one set of the pins on the external fixator.  The other set are on his upper thigh, and he has an incision slightly longer than this one on the outer part of his calf.

A little boo boo

And, that brings us to the doctor question.  We saw our regular orthopedic surgeon (how weird is it that we have a regular bone doctor and not a regular general doctor?) on Monday.  He referred us to one of his younger associates who is skilled in trauma surgery, and we were very comfortable with him.  They looked at Gary’s scans, then dressed his wounds.  We will return to him on Monday, and we are hoping that he will be able to schedule the surgery by mid-week next week.  We are more than ready to mend these bones and begin the healing process.  At this time, we have decided that Gary’s surgery will be done locally at Southern Bone and Joint.

God’s hand has been in every move we’ve made.  I know that it always is, but it just becomes crystal clear in times of crisis.  The people He has brought to us, from the race staff, all the way to the emergency room personnel, the pilot who brought us home, and precious friends who take the time to pray for us and bring us delicious meals (Thanks, Sandy!).  I even got a text yesterday from the paramedic who worked on Gary at the race site, just checking on us to see how we are doing.  How cool is that?  This young man, who sees thousands of people, took time out of his day to check on us.  I’m completely humbled.  I think we’re more than getting by with a little help from our friends.

Today brought clarity after a somewhat more restful night.  I was actually able to get a little work done, as well as go to the grocery store, and I didn’t wander around in circles trying to remember exactly what it was I was supposed to be doing, as I have every day since we’ve been home.  That’s progress.  The bags are unpacked, the laundry is clean, some of my work is done, and, for now, Gary’s pain is bearable.  I think, for tonight, that’s enough.

I’m thankful that God is holding my rope, and that He’s given me so many people to help me tie a knot in it when I think I’m going to fall.

Learning patience

I’ve never been a fan of the idea that you shouldn’t pray for patience.  The reasoning behind that is that you won’t like what God sends you.  Does the same go for wisdom, then?  Or strength?  When I asked for wisdom, He sent me a teenager.  When I asked for strength, He had me train for and run a marathon.  Did I like those things?   No comment.

So, although I didn’t specifically ask for patience, it seems God feels that I need some schooling in it.  And, here I am.  Sitting in a hospital room 500 miles from home, watching my favorite man be miserable, relatively helpless to do anything to relieve him.  And waiting.  Waiting for his surgery tomorrow, praying for the successful closure of his wounds so that we can prepare for the next phase of this thing.  Dealing with the minutiae of an extended hospital stay and all the little aggravations that are built into that.  Learning to be patient and kind, even when I’m tired and cranky.

Gary is doing okay.  Neither of us slept well last night, although I slept better than him, I’m sure.  So, we were both a little off kilter this morning.  I woke up when the trauma team came in at 5:30 am, although I’m usually up by that time.  After they left, I slapped on my running gear, got him situated as comfortably as possible, then headed out for some much needed run time.  It wasn’t fabulous or fast, my legs were grouchy and snarled at me a few times, but I got a couple of soul soothing miles in.  I haven’t been eating well, the offerings here at the hospital are tasty, but a little heavier on the carb side than I like to eat.  So, the result was a draggy, slow run.  But, what’s new?  They’re all slow these days.  And, what’s with the hills, Missouri?  Good grief!

They put poor Gary through the wringer today.  All necessary, but he was exhausted by lunch.  The tech weighed him today, and unless he’s gained 200 lbs since Sunday, that’s how much the apparatus weighs that they have on his leg.  And, he doesn’t look like he’s gained that much to me.  He’s strong and able to help move himself much more than the typical patient is, but it wears him out doing it.  All in all, he’s doing well.  He’s awake and working some right now.

Dexter (the creepy white van) and I have become best buds.  I had to venture out today on a couple of errands, the first of which was to find the closest Starbucks.  He & I found one nearby and I whipped him in and out of the parking lot like I’ve been driving him for years.  For those of you who don’t know what my usual car is, it’s a convertible Mustang.  So.  I’m not crazy about Dexter’s friend TomTom (the GPS), and had a few choice things to say to him as he navigated me through some areas that I felt were out of our way.  TomTom wisely listened to my wrath without comment, and eventually began to see things my way.  I had coffee for lunch, and I knew the offerings that are available at the hospital, so I was looking for a good organic market from which I could pick up a few things.  With no help from TomTom, I found a Trader Joe’s.  (I’m officially starting a petition for a Trader Joe’s to open in Hattiesburg, by the way.  Let me know if you want to help campaign.)  Got my things, headed back to the hospital and saw a store like the one TomTom had driven me across town to find much closer to the hospital (less than 10 minutes away).  After another tirade at poor Tom, I let it go.  Patience.  Stopped to get a bag of ice for the cooler, got in the express lane (carrying a 22 lb bag of ice because I didn’t need a buggy) and got in line behind the only 93 year old woman in America who still writes a check for her groceries.  She slowly wrote each letter of each word, then signed her name at the bottom in a process that took at least 8 and a half minutes.  No lie.  Patience.  I took several deep breaths, shifted the ice to the other hip, and smiled at the sweet, beautiful old lady.  She handed the clerk her check (which thankfully did not require approval), he handed her some cash back from it, along with some change, and she promptly dropped it all on the floor.  Patience.  I put the ice (melting into a puddle by now) on the floor, got down on my hands and knees, and gathered her change up off the ground for her.  She looked at me, then at the ice, and she said, “You aren’t in a hurry are you,dear?”  I just smiled and said, “No, ma’am, I’m fine.” Patience. I spent a long time laughing when I got back to Dexter.  Really, God cracks me up.

You know what?  When I got back to the room, I felt better and had a much sunnier outlook on life.  I’ve been reflecting on all the wonders and blessings He’s given me, and I’m full to overflowing.  I’m putting something in my veins besides caffeine (delicious Trader Joe’s gazpacho!), and have a small stash of good things to eat to tide me over a few more days.  And my man looked a little better when I got back, too.  I think he was able to rest some while I was gone.

Prayer requests:  Tomorrow afternoon they take Gary back to surgery to make the first (and hopefully, only) attempt to repair the fasciotomy wounds.  Pray for him to rest well tonight and for his body to be ready to accept the repair of those wounds.  Also, pray that we’ll have a little clearer vision of what our next step needs to be.  We’re not stressing out about it, but being the planners (some might say control freaks) that we are, we will rest a little easier when those decisions have been made.

And, finally, pray for patience.  God will provide you with all that you need.

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  James 1: 2-4

Perfect and complete, needing nothing.  I like the sound of that.

Hospital updates

Yesterday was a long day. Thank God, His mercies are new every morning.

Gary is doing okay today. His pain is being managed and he is moving around some. We had a really long night last night, they had a time getting his pain under control, and of course, x-rays at 3 am don’t induce a good night’s rest. I’ve had lots of caffeine today and am holding up very well, although I do feel a crash in the not too distant future.

Specifics on Gary so far: He has a schatzker 6 left tibeal plateau fracture, which apparently is not too common. Of course. The fasciotomy done to alleviate the compartment syndrome has been successful so far, he’ll have surgery again on Thursday to repair the wounds, then we’ll be making some decisions about the fracture repair. The doctor showed us the x-rays & CT scans, and the phrase she used to describe the damage was “kibbles and bits”. So. Not much else to add there, we’re playing the waiting game and trying to take each hit as it rolls our way.

On a lighter note, I was happy to discover that driving “Dexter” (the creepy white van) was much easier than I thought it would be. Even in 5 o’clock traffic. I felt a little like an ant with a biscuit, but like that intrepid little critter, I carried the load & got the job done. I couldn’t leave Gary last night, so I took a spit bath after midnight, the kind nurses found me some clean clothes to put on, and we made the best of it. I waited for the doctors to all roll through today before I headed back down to Festus to get our things, but I’m back at the hospital now & settled in for the duration.

I’m quite sure I’ll have to find someplace nearby to run soon. A really nice surprise for me was to discover that Gary’s lead orthopedic doctor, as well as at least three of her residents are runners, so I’m sure they’ll be able to tell me where some safe running routes are nearby. I think it’s kind of rare for bone doctors to be runners. At least in my experience. So, I was excited by more than the fact that we share a hobby. I know that they will understand the importance of getting Gary back to doing the things he loves as quickly as possible.

I’ll leave you with a couple of images of the old man in his temporary prison.



And this would have been a good thing for him to be wearing yesterday as a reminder (his words, not mine).


My last thoughts today are these, shared by one of my fellow bloggers, “Overcome by Joy” (sorry I couldn’t reblog it – I’m too tired to jump through the hoops my Ipad was requiring. I’ll try to link to your blog tomorrow!) She’s going through so much more than we are, and the verse she shared filled my soul with peace today. As I told my sister earlier, I’m not worried. I’m supernaturally calm. Praise Jesus.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Ephesians 8: 26-27

And then God laughed…

You know the old saying about how to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans. Well, I think I may have heard Him snicker a little.

Day 3 of our adventure dawned bright & beautiful. Truly, the weather here is about as close to perfect as weather gets. We headed to the Missouri Mines for Gary’s dirtbike race which started at 9 am. Enduro racing is a little more complicated than I want it to be, but the idiot’s version is this. There are several timed sections through rough terrain, heavy woods, up rocky hillsides, down slippery waterfalls, you get the picture. There is a scoring system that requires the riders to check in at certain spots, and they tally the scores based on the length of time it took them to ride each section. Or, something to that effect. In other words, it’s not like a foot race where the first one to the finish line wins.

Gary had given me approximate times that he would be back at the staging area (the van), for gas, a bite to eat, and a short rest break. He started his race on time, and I went out for a six mile run. A fairly hard one, the hills here are ridiculous. I made it back to the van about an hour before he was scheduled to come in, changed my clothes, ate a quick bite, then fixed him something to eat when he arrived. I settled in with a book and waited. And waited. And waited. I started to get a little worried, but tried to dismiss it with my book. About 20 minutes after he was supposed to arrive, a truck with his bike in the back pulled up beside the van. It took me a second to realize it was Gary in the passenger seat. Our eyes met and I asked him if he was ok. The driver told me he thought he broke his leg.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but I went into “okay, let’s take care of this” mode, Gary was moved to a chair to wait for the paramedics A really nice guy helped me get the bike loaded & strapped down in the van, and I got our things gathered up and put back into the van. The paramedics arrived, strapped Gary into a vehicle to take him to the ambulance, and headed that way with him. At the ambulance, the decision was made to airlift him to St Louis (about an hour away, but with better orthopedic facilities than we had close by). They gave me directions, and I followed in the van.

Three hours later finds me sitting on the floor in a surgery waiting room, still wearing the stink of my run. Gary’s never been one to do things by halves, and he really messed his leg up badly. His left leg has a “tibial plateau”, but the more pressing problem and the reason they took him to surgery immediately was that he has developed “Compartment syndrome”. He will have to have a second surgery in a couple of days to repair the wounds left from this one.

So, we’re a long way from home, in an unfamiliar town, in an unfamiliar hospital . Everyone has been very helpful and kind, especially when they found out we’re from out of town. Of course, the rest of the trip (which was to have included a stay in Niagara Falls, as well as a short stay in DC) has been cancelled, as we’re looking at probably a week’s hospital stay. I have a sister who lives about four hours west of here, so there’s family nearby. We’re nothing if not flexible, although this is requiring a little more bending than either of us really like.

What I would like from you is this: prayers. Gary will have a long recovery ahead and the logistics of getting all this done is more than my tired brain can compute right now. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be in full on “I’ve got this” mode, but right now I need to know my prayer warriors have engaged. I’m amazingly calm and that only comes from Him, so I’m thankful for that. I had a very sweet reminder from my oldest daughter when I said that we are a long way from home. She said, “MJ, Dad is your home. Y’all are together.” She’s right. Pray for our girls to not worry, they’re a little freaked out right now. Also, pray that God will lay His mighty hand on our plans and we’ll be able to come home for the bone repair surgery.

Thanks, my friends. I’ll keep you updated. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of waiting time on my hands.