Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Day, Take 2

It started snowing yesterday morning, and hasn't stopped yet! We have about 2 1/2 feet of snow in our yard right now. It's crazy...and so early for such a huge storm here. Needless to say, schools are closed and everyone is enjoying the weather. We're enjoying it too...from our living room...with hot chocolate...and baked goods, because snow days illicit baking and cooking.......and hot chocolate.

Cary's been on a business trip this week, so I've had friends and family with me during the days to help with the boys. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such a loving support team! My mom stayed last night because of the snow, and the boys LOVED getting to spend some extra time with Bella. Because of the snow and all of the complications it has caused, Cary got to come home from his business trip a whole day early! Yay for that! :)

Carter is this close to walking. He stands up with no hands and cruises the house barely touching anything, but when it comes to out and out walking, he squats down and crawls as fast as he can. I have a feeling when he finally gives walking a go, he will try running on the same day. Personally, I would like it if I could walk again before he does, but I'm not so sure that will happen. He's also discovering lots of things around here lately and it's so funny to watch his mind work as he tries to figure things out. It took him all of 4 days to figure out how to open our baby gate if it's not in the locked position. It has a closed position, and then a locked position, and because I was sure I had a few months before he even took interest in figuring it out, we hadn't been locking the door. Well, he proved me wrong. Also, we got a new trash can to replace the one that we've had and hate since the step for the lid had broken. We got an electronic lid trash can. It's great, and I love that the kids don't need to touch the can...they think it's pretty cool too. Anyway, Carter figured out right away that if he stood up near it, he was just tall enough that the sensor sees him and opens the lid. Over and over again, he would stand there until the lid opened, and then he would squat down low until it closed again. Such a funny kid. He's also figured out how to illicit laughter from his ever willing audiences. I'm loving seeing his little personality bloom.

Carson and Caden are doing well, and are VERY excited about Halloween this year. I've been hiding their costumes so that they might actually make it to trick-or-treating without damage, but I pulled them out today because I knew that Carson's needed a bit of altering. They are so incredibly excited about their costumes and spent a few hours already trying to master their characters. FU-NNY!!!!! They were cracking me up. Carson was going all out with his character development, struck a pose and whispered (I'm sure so no one would hear) trick-or-treat! Funny, funny stuff!!! I'll save the surprise of what they are going to be for a later post... Pictures as well, of course! It's been too long since I've held a camera. It's weird, but the perspective from our couch is only so interesting.

As far as my leg goes, I'm doing well. I'm losing my mind a little, but I'm trying to take everything in stride and a day at a time. It's hard for this incredibly independent girl to be forced into being SO dependent for nearly every little thing. I don't know exactly how much longer it will be before I can bare weight on my ankle. I have an appointment next week for a new cast. The ortho wants to take x-rays of my ankle in different positions to make sure it's healing like he wants, and hopefully he can give me a more definitive time line at that appointment. I think it will be a slow process even once I can put weight on it though, so I'm not getting too excited. Baring weight is only the first step (pun definitely intended) in a line of many I'm afraid.

Cary's doing well too, and is handling things around here really well, considering how much he has had to take on! I'm so thankful for him! We have couples' retreat for our church a week from today. We are leading worship at it, and I CANNOT WAIT!! Couples' Retreat is definitely always a highlight of our year. It is nice to get away from the day to day and focus on us instead of everything else in our lives. Anyway, that's what's going on in our neck of the snowy woods. :) If I'd just trusted my instinct back in September to buy Caden that snowsuit we could be enjoying the snow outside, but for now it's awfully toasty and white from our living room view!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Accident

First, I want to thank you all for your prayers for me and our family, and your understanding in my lack of blogging these past few weeks. I truthfully had planned on blogging an account of my accident much sooner than now, but the pain meds - any good pain meds to be honest - make me sick to my stomach, and the computer screen seems to aggravate that a great deal. Yeah, that's a bummer, but God has been good in covering me, because from what I'm told, I should be in a lot more pain than I have been. Okay, now on to the story, and what's been going on since...this is going to be long...mainly because 5 years from now, I don't want to forget. There are so many obvious ways of God's hand on every detail of my situation.

Saturday, September 26th was a really good day for me. I had a senior photography session with a family friend, and then a meeting with some other clients to place their picture order. Between the two, I had a couple hours to spare, so I went and used a gift certificate for a pedicure that Cary had given me earlier in the week. That turned out to be a really good use of an hour or so, as I would later find out. :) After my last meeting, I stopped at the grocery store for some fabulous homemade - without the work - chicken noodle soup. Seriously, it is so incredibly good. It was late - 8:30 or so, and I'd had little more than coffee and a muffin for most of the day. I was excited about that soup. I was only two exits from home, and was driving Cary's jeep. The speed limit on our interstate is 75, but I was only going around 70 because it takes work to make the jeep go much faster than that. There are four lanes on the interstate. For sake of understanding, lets label the lanes 1-4, 1 being the fast lane, 4 being the slowest. I was in lane 3, and was about half way home when I saw a guy flying in lane 1, about a 1/4 mile behind me. About the time he was coming next to me, he flew over into the lane between us. I remember thinking that I should get over because I didn't think he was going to stop, but he did, so I stayed in my lane. Well, right when I decided to stay, the other driver decided to He changed lanes into my lane, I tried to miss him, and don't think that I did, but everything started going very fast from that point. I spun, and about the time I regained control and began going straight again, I was facing the concrete median/barrier, still going around 70. The thought crossed my mind that there was no way that I was going to live through this accident, and I should quit trying to avoid an accident, so I did. I let go of the steering wheel, put my hands in the air like I do when I'm worshipping, closed my eyes, and I began praying, audibly, in tongues, because to be honest, I had no words to pray and was believing that the Holy Spirit would intercede on my behalf. I remember the sound of the first impact, and very little of the rest of the accident, except that I knew I was airborne. I guessed that I had cleared the barrier and crossed into oncoming traffic. When I landed, The jeep was turned over with the passenger side door on the ground. All of the windows were busted out, and the hard top of the jeep was gone. The wheels of the vehicle were facing the cars behind me. I was in the passenger seat, still with my hands in the air and still praying. Then the thought crossed my mind that if the first person to find me wasn't a believer, they might guess I had head trauma if they found me still with my hands in the air praying. Out of instinct, I guess, I quickly lowered myself to the ground in a squatting position to get out of the jeep, and about the time I was going to put my right foot on the ground, I began to feel excruciating pain, which was perfect timing, because I probably would have pushed my foot into my leg had I bared weight on it. Then I realized that I could see headlights from behind me, but I couldn't tell if they were stopped or still coming, so I stayed where I was and desperately started praying that no one would hit me. Shortly after, a lady appeared, and I saw her jump at the site of me. I think she expected to see a mangled body instead of a person trying to get out. She said she was a nurse, and that they needed to get me out of the vehicle. She asked if I could walk, and I told her no, so she went to get help. While she went, I began to worry that I would be charged with reckless driving, because I saw the other vehicle keep going when I started spinning. Then the nurse and another guy came and carried me from the vehicle to the side of the road. The whole time they carried me, the man said repeatedly, "I saw that guy run you off the road, I saw him change lanes into you! I will tell the police." That was such an immediate relief to my mind. As I sat there on the road, TONS of people began surrounding me. The next person I remember on the scene just happened to be a trauma surgeon with the army - how good is GOD! He had what I guessed was his teenage son brace my ankle because it was hurting me so bad I couldn't focus on the questions they were asking me. The surgeon braced my neck and asked me lots of questions about if I had children with me or anyone else, and where I was and what day it was and things like that, and he asked them frequently. He also checked for other injuries, and from what they could tell on the road, I only had hurt my ankle, and had some lacerations on my right shoulder where I road the ground after the flipping stopped. I remembered that my computer and camera and lenses were all in the jeep, and asked the nurse if she could get them out. I kept saying, "My camera is in the car! Someone please get my camera from the car..." And she kept patting my shoulder and saying, "Oh honey, it's just a camera, you don't need to worry about that right now." We both repeated ourselves a few times before I heard what she was saying, and I looked right at her and said, "You don't understand, I'm a photographer. My camera and lenses and computer are in the jeep, and I have to get them out. Can you get them." She responded with, "OH! I'll go look right now." She went back and forth to the jeep showing me what she had found, and miracle of miracles, every bit of it was still there. I figured much of it was damaged somehow, but at least I had it all. Then I remembered my iPhone, so she looked for that, but couldn't find it. It had been in my lap, so I assumed it had likely flown out during all of the flipping.

The EMT's showed up at about that time, and the trauma surgeon began telling them all kinds of medical jargon about my condition. They checked me out and cut my jeans, which were new, to my rear, and cut my dress off. I said, "Oh, I like this dress!" And the nurse said, "Oh, honey, it's all torn in the back anyway." They checked for injuries and then strapped me to a back board with a neck brace. During all of this, I kept saying how sad Cary was going to be about his jeep. And that we had just put new speakers and a new stereo in it the week before. Then I remembered the chicken noodle soup, so I said, "I just wanted to go home and eat my chicken noodle soup!" Then I immediately thought how funny that must sound. Someone asked me if I knew where the keys to the car were, and I said no. The nurse asked me if there was anyone she could call, and I told her to call Cary, and I swear she was more shaken than I was because I had to repeat the number 8 times before she could remember it to punch it into her phone. I told her to tell him I was okay. Well, Cary later relayed to me that she called him and told him that his wife had been in a bad accident and that he needed to come, and then she hung up! She didn't even tell him where to go! Cary called some friends of ours and had one of them come over to stay with the boys, who were thankfully sleeping. Then she called back and told him they were taking me to SkyRidge hospital, and that he should come there, and hung up again. I can't begin to imagine how terrified Cary must have been, especially because he beat me and the ambulance to the ER and had to drive past the accident to get to the hospital, and it looked BAD.

In the ambulance, they continued checking me out and gave me an IV and commented on how good my blood pressure was. I asked for drugs, and they gave me something that did nothing. I was hurting more with each passing minute and shaking all over from what I'm sure was shock. The drive seemed to take forever, even though it was probably only 5 minutes. When we got to the ER, Cary and my mom (probably my dad too, but I didn't hear him) met us at the ambulance doors, and Cary looked scared out of his mind. I'm sure I was quite a site all banged up with my clothes all cut off and strapped to a board. Not to mention that I was shaking so much. They were really quick to check me out in the ER, and ran all sorts of tests. Xrays and CTs and everything. They pushed on me all over to see if I had internal injuries, and then ran more tests. They even did a specific cervical CT because there was a shadow on the normal one. Turns out I probably just caused a shadow because of my shaking, and all was well. Then they ran more tests. I think they figured they must be missing something because I should have been so much more hurt than I was based on witness testimony and the way the vehicle ended up. Between tests, Cary told me that he checked out all of my camera equipment and my computer, and they were all perfectly fine! I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT!! How good is God, that aside from just covering me, he took care of my equipment because it is important to me. A police woman came and talked to me between tests, and I told her what I remembered. She asked me if I had my seatbelt on, and I couldn't remember, but that I normally do, especially in the jeep. (A few days later when Cary went to get our stuff from the jeep at the wrecker, he told me that the metal clip on the seatbelt was bent, so they determined that I must have been buckled and the crash caused it to bend and come apart). By the grace of God, I stayed in the vehicle. I asked her if I crossed into oncoming traffic, and she said, "You sure tried." Then she told me that where we were on the highway was curved (the road that is), and on curves the barrier walls double in height. That in itself is a miracle, because I would have cleared the normal wall easily. She said that witnesses said that I flipped at least 3 times after hitting the wall, and that I looked like a rag doll flying all over the inside of the vehicle. She told me I was incredibly lucky to be laying their and talking.

During all of this time, they tried several different pain killers for my leg, but none really worked all that well, and when they finally did, they made me incredibly nauseous. They finally discharged me with instructions to see an ortho surgeon on Monday, because I definitely needed surgery to repair my ankle. My shoulder had significant road rash, but didn't require stitches. It is truly a miracle that I am okay with only moderate, reparable injuries. They gave me scrubs to change into since my pants looked like underwear with a weird skirt, and when my mom cleaned out my pockets, she found the car keys. Evidently in my state of shock, I had taken them out of the ignition and put them in my pocket. Weird. We got home early in the morning on Sunday, and laid low the next day. Our church, and so many other friends and family have surrounded us, bringing meals, and even setting up house cleaning for us until I am able to get around again. I am so incredibly thankful to you all, as is my family!

That Monday, I saw the orthopedic surgeon's office. They confirmed my need for surgery, and said that I had severed the inside ankle bone on my right foot. They put a new brace/temporary cast on my foot and set my surgery for Wednesday morning as outpatient. On Tuesday morning, the nurse called to say that the surgeon who would be operating on me wanted me to get a CT that day, and wanted to talk with me before my surgery. So we got a babysitter and headed up for the CT. Basically the surgeon saw something on the xray that the other two doctors who had looked at my screens missed. I am so very thankful I got Dr. Kim as my surgeon. He is awesome, and so thorough. When I went for the CT, every tech and nurse that I saw said that he was the absolute best in the area - even received an award stating such - and that his specialty happens to be ankles! The CT showed that not only had I severed my inside ankle, but I broke off a bit of a bone called the talus (the bone at the top of the foot where the leg bones connect), and crumbled a small portion of my heel. He said that it was going to require an additional incision and that because of the talus being one of the bones I injured, he can't really predict how I might heal long term. That specific bone is evidently hard to injure, and difficult to heal, because it has continuous friction when walking and standing. He said that I would likely have to keep off of my foot completely for a minimum of 8 weeks. He apologized, and then suggested that my surgery be inpatient, and that he wanted to keep me for 3 or more days to manage my pain. I should have been scared by this point, but felt quite at peace about it all. Cary felt that inpatient would be better as well, because he was concerned about being able to adequately care for me while caring for the boys as well.

On Wednesday morning, we arrived at 5:30 at the hospital for pre-op, where they informed me that because of H1N1, I could have 1 person in pre-op, and that no one would be able to see me in post-op. That was a little sad because I knew that my mom and dad and pastors were coming to pray with me and wait out the surgery. My awesome surgeon snuck our pastors in to pray with me while the nurses glared on - love him. My anesthesiologist, who is equally as awesome, came in and explained that he wanted to give me a pain pump in addition to IV meds to control my pain in a way that would keep me from getting sick to my stomach. He told me that because of the way the nerves in the leg run, it would only control the top and outside portions of my foot, but that it would make a big difference, and normal narcotics should be able to help with the inside nerves at relatively low doses. He also said that when I was discharged, he would give me a portable one that would last 2 1/2 days, and that the further out he could get me from surgery with the pain pump, the better my pain management and thus healing would be. Of course I was all in. They gave me the meds that make you loopy before you're completely sedated and wheeled me to the OR. In the OR, they had me turn over to install the pain pump. It was painful. Not as painful as my ankle, but painful enough to make me gasp, and Dr. Kim to rub my shoulder and ask if I was okay. I don't remember anything after that...not rolling back onto my back...not being told to count down from 10...nothing...until I woke up in recovery in incredible pain. I was still very loopy, but I woke up crying out. It felt like they were sawing off my inside ankle bone. Awful. Then the anesthesiologist came and gave me a nerve block for the nerves on the inside of my foot. It was heaven. I felt like I had been given Novocain from my hip down. The nerve block would last for 12 hours!

Once in my room, Cary and my mom and dad came in to see me. I was pretty loopy, and still a bit out of it, but they said that my surgery was twice as long as expected, and my injuries were even worse than Dr. Kim had expected, but that it went well. It turns out that I didn't just break off some pieces of my talus, but a whole section off of the top including cartilage, so instead of having to just clean out some pieces, he had to reattach the portion with 3 bio pins. I also tore all of the tendons on the outside of my foot/ankle, so he stitched those all back together. In a later visit, Dr. Kim said that he hopes that I will heal well, but can't be sure because cartilage is unpredictable. At best, it will be one of those aggravating injuries that bothers me sometimes but is controlled with ibuprofen once in a while, at worst, it may be chronic, or require a cartilage transplant. He also said that because of the deeper extent of my injuries, I am likely looking at 10-12 weeks before being able to bare weight on my foot, and then a walking boot and physical therapy for a good while. I really want to recover as well as possible, so I am following all of his instructions to a T!

Just during that week following my accident (not to mention during the upcoming months), I had to cancel several photography appointments, including a wedding I was supposed to shoot the following Saturday. I was so sad, but everyone has been so gracious. It stinks that this all happened now, but God is good, and I know I'll be able to pick up where I left off with my photography as soon as I can get around again. They ruled the accident "no fault" for me, and my insurance is considering it an uninsured motorist claim. We have very good insurance, so chances are this will turn out better financially than if the guy had stopped. I can't imagine how that guys conscience must be doing though. There is no doubt that he knows that the accident happened.

My hospital stay lasted 4 days, and I was glad. I had a kookie roomie, who was very funny, and very lonely, and I think my stay was as much for her as it was for my recovery. She needed a friend. The week after my surgery, we (Cary and I) were to go to a conference with our church staff in St. Louis. At first, Dr. Kim nixed the idea, but after realizing that I either went and endured the flights and only got involved as my energy level allowed, or I stayed home with our three energetic children and a sitter. He decided that going was the best idea, and we concurred. It was hard on us, and our kids, but I can't imagine how difficult my first week home would have been if I had actually been at home. The airline on the way to St. Louis lost our luggage, and we were beginning to feel like we couldn't take one more thing. I was feeling grungy, and was drawing extra attention to myself since I was in a wheelchair with my leg sticking out for everyone to see...not to mention that my temporary cast was HUGE. No joke, it was like an additional 4 inches of padding and plaster on all sides of my foot. Plus, I had a lovely medical pump and cord hanging from my neck. Then we found out that the airline was going to cover $100 of our loss even after they found it, so we went shopping. I got cute clothes, and my mom gave my hair a much needed trim in the hotel room. It's amazing what a bath (because I can't shower), new clothes and a haircut will do for your self-esteem! :) We enjoyed the conference, and I laid low for the most part. I'm glad we went, even though it was hard on the boys. I still think it would have been harder on them if I'd been home and incoherent a lot or even there, but unable to help them.

Things have been getting better each day, and we're beginning to get into a routine for now. Cary has been truly amazing, and is handling having to do everything with much more grace and excellence than I had even hoped for. It's hard, because I have never felt so incapable, but I know that even in this there is learning. If you think of us, pray for Cary and the boys and their patience specifically, and of course for continued and swift healing for my ankle, and generosity from the insurance company. This to shall pass, and in the end I'm sure God will use it to teach us something. I won't lie...a lot of this just stinks and seems incredibly unnecessary in life, but God uses all things for good, and he will use this too.

If you read this far, thanks for caring...and now I will warn you that pictures are coming, so scroll down at your own risk. I don't have pictures of my initial injury, but I did take pictures of my ankle on Tuesday when they took off the temporary cast to put on the permanent one. The incisions (and my leg hair) are nasty, so feel free not to look.

Last warning....

First the car, so that if you scrolled by mistake you're not shocked...aren't I nice :)

It's hard to tell how bad it is because the picture was taken from a distance, but under the hood, the engine is shoved into the cab quite a bit, and the front axel is broken and the tires are busted out. Cary said he cried when he saw it...pretty sure at that moment his tears weren't for me. :)

Now my ankle, 2 weeks post surgery. I'm going to have some crazy, ugly scars. Dr. Kim has apologized profusely for them, but they couldn't be helped. :(