Monday, November 1, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010...No Accident

Note: I've been writing this over the last 2 weeks, so hopefully the time frames make sense:)

I only found out about the birthday/reunion/thanksgiving get together a couple of weeks before, but I knew immediately that if it was at all possible we’d be there.  It has been so precious to watch our kids make memories with my grandparents & they were soooo excited to see them againJ.  Last year we also had the opportunity to spend a day with my Uncle Wilf & Auntie Pearl...that bond too was immediate...the kids have been asking ever since when we get to see them again.

My family has always been especially close to Wilf & Pearl, Rachael, Seija, & Brendan.  When my parents were getting ready to go on the mission field they had to go to New York for 3 weeks for orientation.  Jenni, Jodi & I stayed with Uncle Wilf & Auntie Pearl.  To this day I have so many memories from that time.  Although we haven’t always been able to see each other often, it has been a bond that has stayed strong through the test of time. 

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll call it a reunion.  The reunion was to be held at Uncle Wilf & Auntie Pearl’s house in Enderby, BC.  Some people would stay at their house...others at a friend’s.  They were gone & offered the use of their home.  I was told the kids & I would be staying at the friend’s house.  Uncle Wilf & my dad drove to the house with me on Friday night (9th).  The driveway up to the house was so steep that even the owner’s don’t use it.  I parked the van on the road alongside a small grassy hill.  My dad, Uncle Wilf & I carried numerous loads of sleeping kids & bags...first up the small grassy slope...across the sidewalk...and up the steep driveway.  Once the kids were tucked into beds, I sat up to wait for my 2 cousins who would also be staying there.  Rachael is Wilf & Pearl’s oldest daughter...only 2 years older than me.  Heather is a year older than me.  There are 5 of us girl cousins within 2 or 3 years of each other & it’s always so much fun to get together!

The kids slept in a little on Saturday morning.  As soon as they were up we got ready & headed to Wilf & Pearl’s to join all the aunts & uncles & numerous cousins for a scrumptious breakfast buffet.  The rest of the day included (among other things I’m sure I’m forgetting) lots of picture taking, a walk to the river to see the salmon run, plenty of visiting & laughing, table hockey, ping pong, a football game (in which I scored the tying touchdown...first of my lifeJ!!) & a family picture.  I am so thankful for the amazing bond our family shares.  It was an amazing day.  To finish it off we enjoyed a catered turkey dinner together. 

We went to church with Wilf & Pearl on Sunday morning.  It was wonderful to worship together.  A number of people had to leave on Saturday...and some more Sunday afternoon, so the group was thinning out a little, but we were still having a great time.  We played ping pong, table hockey, visited & had more laughs.  Amanda & Kirby enjoyed cuddling with Gram & Gramps while Gram read to them...& Benjamin & I helped work on a 500 piece puzzle.  We were worn out by the time we headed back to the house for bed.  I got the kids tucked in & then started packing & organizing everything to leave in the morning.  I took a few loads of things out to the van & got the van organized.  I wanted to leave at a good time (hopefully 9 or 10) so that we had time to stop on the way home & create some memories together.  Little did I know that by that time, I would have had a ride in an ambulance & be laying in an emergency room...

Thanksgiving Monday...approximately 7:15 am.  I got up quietly so as not to wake the kids.  I got ready & got everything packed that I could.  I took a load down to the van.  It was pretty chilly outside, frost on the ground.  I was thankful for the sweater I had on. 
Back in the house, Rachael had her kids in the bathroom getting ready.  I hadn’t seen Heather yet that morning.  Approximately 7:45 am.  I had one more load to take to the van & then I was going to wake the kids up.  I headed down the hill with the small soft cooler in one hand & a tupperware of pineapple in the other.  I had cut it up at home & planned to share it that morning at breakfast.  Leaves had fallen over the weekend & I was cautious as I made my way down the steep driveway, knowing the leaves would be slippery.  I took a step or 2 onto the frosty grass hill...and that’s when my plans fell apart. 

At the bottom of the grass hill was a small lip...maybe an inch or 2.  My feet were sliding on the frosty grass.  My left toe went over that little ledge & my foot buckled under me.  I felt (or heard, I’m not sure which) a terrible pop/crunch/snap (something like that).  I knew immediately it was broken.  Later the ambulance attendant would try to encourage me that “best case scenario it’s just a bad sprain”...but I knew in my heart it was broken.  I was in a LOT of pain.  I don’t remember ever being in pain like this. 

My first thought was that I had no idea how I would get help.  There was no way I could pull myself up that hill.  I couldn’t move my foot at all.  It felt like my foot was falling off.  I (thought) I had left my phone in the house.  Rachael & Heather had no idea I was even outside, the house was much too far (& closed up) that even if I screamed they wouldn’t hear me.  A split second later I thought to check for my phone & realized it was indeed in my pocket.  I knew I had to get a hold of someone at Wilf & Pearl’s house to come help me.  I didn’t have any phone #’s for Rachael or Heather.  I tried my mom’s cell phone.  It was turned off.  I knew I had Wilf & Pearl’s phone number written on a napkin on the dash of the van, but again knew there was no way I could pull myself up there.  I knew their number was also on my computer at home so I called Ben to look it up for me. 

Here starts one of many events that make it so clear to me that God was in control of all of this.  As hard as it was & not fun...I’m so thankful for these ways that God was taking care of me.  There were no accidents that morning...or now. 

Ben was planning to go hunting on Monday morning.  I knew this.  I was worried that he would already be gone when I called.  Only a week later did I find out that on Sunday night he went to bed exhausted & planned to go a little later.  After he lay down in bed he realized the alarm was still set early for work.  Usually this would result in one of us getting up to change it or turn it off.  On that night Ben was too tired & decided just to turn it off when it went off in the morning.  Little did he know that his phone volume had been turned way down...and I was going to need to get a hold of him.  God knew...and it was no accident!
Ben turned off that alarm on Monday morning & lay back down.  About a half hour later his phone rang.  Now, for those of you who don’t know Ben, he is a VERY heavy sleeper.  When the kids were babies, he wouldn’t even wake up when they cried.  There was no way that he would have woken up when his phone rang (with the very quiet volume).  But God knew.  God knew that the alarm would wake him enough to hear the phone.  It was no accident.  Thank you Lord!

All I could think to say when Ben answered was “I need help!!!”.  That’s all I remember saying.  Ben has since told me that I then told him “my ankle is broken & I’m at the bottom of a big hill”.  He repeatedly asked me where I was, but I just kept saying that over & over.  Poor Ben thought we’d been in an accident.  I was so glad I was able to talk to him.  He managed to calm me down & figured out what was going on.  I asked him to look up Wilf & Pearl’s number.  At this point it had been about 5 minutes since I fell.

About that time a truck turned into the driveway a couple houses down.  It was no accident that the people looked over toward me.  Remember, I’m at the bottom of the grassy hill with my feet nearly under the van.  No one driving by could see me unless they were specifically looking.  The neighbours came over & got Rachael from the house.  I stayed on the phone with Ben for a few more minutes as everyone starting gathering around me.  Rachael brought me a blanket even though I said I wasn’t cold.  Once she covered me I realized how good it felt.  She actually ended up getting a hold of Wilf & Pearl before Ben because the computer took so long to boot up, but I was so thankful to hear his voice. 

I had it in my head that I just needed family to come take me to the hospital.  It was no accident that the neighbour was an ex-paramedic!  He told Rachael & I that we should definitely call an ambulance.  Because of the way I fell, there was a possibility of a bleed & it could be dangerous to move me.  I was still sceptical about calling the ambulance, but thankfully at that point Rachael took over.  Within 10 minutes of falling I had the ex-paramedic, Rachael, Wilf & Pearl with me...and my parents arrived 2 or 3 minutes later (one of them was in the shower when the call came).  Pearl brought me another blanket.  By this time I was shaking & cold.  The ambulance got there only a few minutes later. 

Being “prepped” by the ambulance attendants was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through.  I was so thankful to have so much family around stroking my holding my hand...others speaking words of encouragement.  It was no accident that I was in Enderby for a family reunion...and that my own family...along with extended family...was there to help.  It was no accident that the kids were still sound asleep & did not see Mommy laying on the ground or getting loaded into an ambulance.   It was no accident that Pearl didn’t have work for most of that week & was willing to drop everything to take care of the kids.  It was no accident that my parents were there to go to the hospital with me. 

Once in the ambulance I received the wonderful gift of the gasJ.  The EMT told me that it didn’t actually take the pain away, but it made it so it didn’t matter anymore.  I appreciated that description.  When I had Amanda they gave me the gas to help the pain & I was so mad because it didn’t help the pain at all...and I was too loopy to remember her birth.  This time I didn’t care that I was loopy...anything to make the pain “not matter”.  I even surprised myself by telling the EMT a joke!  He made a comment that I should be feeling like laughing & said, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” to try to make me laugh.  Little did he know that I had just looked up Thanksgiving jokes to tell the kids at Kid’s Rock.  “No, why did the turkey cross the road?” I replied.  (It was the chicken’s day off.)  I’s corny...but it was a kid’s joke...and the only one I could think ofJ

It was no accident that the EMTs recommended that we go straight to the Vernon hospital instead of Salmon Arm because Vernon has an orthopaedic surgeon.  By the time we got to Vernon (1/2 hour regular drive...not sure how fast they drove) I was mostly warmed up & not shaking anymore.  The pain was definitely still there, but the EMT graciously carried the gas inside for me to use until the ER nurses were ready.  The moment we went inside he got me a warm blanket that felt so good.  I wish I could remember his name.  It was no accident that he was there to encourage me & get me through that time. 

The ER portion of my day was definitely my least favourite.  Shaking horribly with cold...nurse saying we had “business” to do before he could warm me up.  Business:  Take my shirt off & put on a gown...leave the room while I shake uncontrollably.  Come back 5 minutes later to put my IV in...complain because my veins have collapsed because I’m so cold...dig around one part of my arm making a bruise that lasts over a week.  Tell me to “slow down...breathe...slow down.”  I do my best to take deep breaths & stop shaking.  “Slow down...breathe.”  I AM...what are you talking about!??  (Amazingly, I didn’t say that out loud, but it went through my head.)  Finally comes out that I’m supposed to take small shallow breaths, not deep ones.  Communication always helps.  Finally gets the IV in.  Makes me feel stupid because I don’t want to lift my foot off the bed to get my pants off—it feels like my foot is falling off.  I knew it wasn’t (kind of obvious I think), but it was still very disconcerting & painful.  He felt the need to point it out to me that my foot was not falling off, let’s just get the pants off (a little understanding & willingness to lift my foot, not just my calf would have been great!).  He eventually did support my foot as well so I could get my pants off.  Back to the point of being so cold...I’m not sure why warming up couldn’t have come before (or during...I had a small blanket the whole time...could have added a warm one) all that.  Although that few hours is frustrating to think back on, I still trust that God knew what was going on & it was no accident.

Thankfully it wasn’t too long before I was moved upstairs to a room & had a wonderful nurse.  The surgeon had come to see me in the ER.  She was heading into a surgery & I would be next...probably in 5 or 6 hours (4 or 5:00).  Once settled in my room upstairs the nurse mentioned that I was actually on call.  The plan was for me to go next, but if an emergency came in, I’d be bumped (there was only one OR open because of the holiday).  It was no accident that my mom was there to wait with me.  At 2:30 the nurse came in & said I was in!  She got me to go to the bathroom & then went out to let the porter know he could take me.  The porter was gone.  She phoned the OR.  In the 5 minutes that it took for her to get me ready, an emergency had come in & I was bumped.  Although it was disappointing, I wasn’t too worried.  I was comfortable & in basically no pain.

As the afternoon, then evening wore on, we started to worry that I wouldn’t get in that night.  If I didn’t get in that night, the earliest would be Tuesday after 4:00...and I’d be on call all over again.  God knew how discouraging it would be to wait till the next night.  It was no accident.  They came to take me to surgery around 10:30 Monday night.  I came out of surgery with 2 screws in my tibia (big bone) & a plate on my fibula (little bone).  Often with these types of breaks, they will also have to put a screw between the 2 bones to help them heal correctly, but once they had a look at my ankle they realized I didn’t need that.  That also, was no accidentJ.

This is my x-ray from October 11 when I got to the hospital.

Waking up in the recovery room is no fun.  You’re out of it & uncomfortable.  I have no idea how long I was there.  I only remember bits & pieces.  I also don’t remember getting back to my room, but I remember waking up & my mom being there.  I called Ben very briefly to let him know I was out.  My mom & I talked a bit I think & she helped me get comfortable before heading back to Wilf & Pearl’s at 2:30 am.  It was no accident that my mom was able to be there for me.  Thank you Mom!

I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling great considering what had happened the day before.  My nurse that morning was amazing...not only that, but she knew Wilf & Pearl!  Yolanda not only took care of me as a patient, but let me know how much she truly cared.  I ate some first food in over 24 hours...and was feeling good.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to last.  After breakfast I was talking to the secretary at church...just letting her know what was up & making sure things were covered for Kid’s Rock that week.  Yolanda came in with my meds part way through the conversation.  When I finished, I apologized & explained that I run the kid’s program at our church & needed to make sure it was all in order.  Later in the day Yolanda mentioned that she used to go to church with Wilf & Pearl.  Although I obviously had no idea where she was at spiritually, it was very comforting hear that.   It was no accident that Yolanda was my nurse!

As I said, my good morning wasn’t to last.  Shortly after breakfast I called Yolanda to let her know I needed to use the bathroom.  Up until this point I had to use a bedpan & assumed it would still be that way, but she said that it would be good for me to get up.  I was feeling fine so didn’t see any reason why not.  Unfortunately, putting my leg down for that short time changed the rest of the day.  The swelling increased dramatically & my pain shot up.  I went from a pain level of 2 or 3 in the morning to a 5-7 for the rest of the day.  All day Yolanda fiddled with my meds to try & make me comfortable, but nothing was working.  She would come around the corner of the curtain & make eye contact with me, trying to see if I was doing any better.  There was something very comforting about those looks.  I knew it was much more than “being a nurse”.  She genuinely cared & wanted me to feel better.  My mom spent the morning with the kids at Wilf & Pearl’s.  It was no accident that the 3 of them were taking care of the kids.  Despite the stress of the whole situation I was not at all worried about the kids.  I KNEW they were in excellent hands. 

My mom came back to the hospital later in the afternoon.  Sometime in the afternoon we realized how tight my leg was in the splint because of the swelling.  Yolanda got some scissors & started cutting.  She opened up my splint to release some pressure & it made a huge difference.  I continued to use my morphine button through that evening, but by just after midnight I was pretty much done with it.  Once my pain was better I was able to enjoy hanging out with my mom.  She read to me, we talked, I dozed, she gave me foot rubs & head rubs...and we had Sudoku competitionsJ!  I’ve never really done Sudoku puzzles before, but Auntie Pearl had sent a book so we thought we’d give it a try.  My mom beat me in our first race & quickly declared that we had completed the study: morphine inhibits the ability to think clearly to do Sudoku puzzlesJ.  Unfortunately for her, those results soon went out the window as I started beating her.  It felt so good just to think about something after being so woozy & out of it from the morphine.  It was easy to get to sleep after the relaxing foot & hand massages my mom gave before heading back to Enderby!  Other than the adventure of gaining a roommate in the middle of the night (a very interesting one at thatJ), the night went well. 

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling good again, but definitely hesitant about getting up, knowing what had happened the day before.  Yolanda came in & I was reminded again that it was no accident that God had placed her as my nurse.  Nearly the first thing she said to me that morning was, “I prayed for you last today is going to be better!  Isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to wonder why these kind of things happen?”  I don’t remember the exact wording of the last sentence, but that was the idea.  Wow God.  That was definitely no accident, because I really needed encouragement in that moment!  From that moment, I had a pretty good idea where Yolanda’s heart was at & it gave me an extra sense of peace through that day...knowing I wasn’t alone. 

I did indeed get up to go to the bathroom that morning & although I definitely felt it, it was 100x better than the day before.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  We pretty much knew I was going “home” (Enderby) that day, but weren’t sure what all would happen before that.  I hung out on my own while my mom spent more time with the kids.  She made it to the hospital just before the physiotherapist got there to get me on crutches.  Although it sounds bad, I’m very thankful (i.e., it was no accident!) that I had used crutches before.  They wouldn’t let me go home till they knew I could do it, but with the pain & pressure from the swelling, it was a huge stretch to have my foot down for that long.  If I had not known what I was doing, I’m not sure I could have done it.  All my focus was just on getting through it so I could put my foot up.  I made it down the hall & up a few stairs so that they could sign off to send me home. 

Although I was very happy to be leaving the hospital & making the first step toward home, it was nerve wracking.  I had only used the morphine 2 or 3 times (down from every 7 minutes) since 1 am...being completely off it since about 8, so I knew I could make it without that.  There were still other meds in my system though...strong ones.  One, a super strong ibuprofen, had seemed to be the most effective.  Both the meds were going to wear off around 10:30.  I had no idea how my body would react once those were gone.  I hugged Yolanda goodbye (I’m so thankful I’ll see her again someday!) & we headed to the van.  My mom got me comfortable & we headed to the drug store to pick up my Tylenol 3s.  My mom went inside & I started to crumble.  The fear & anxiety of the pain meds wearing off caught up to me.  I quickly tried to call Ben.  He was headed to music practice & I wanted to ask him if they would pray for me at practice.  I also knew he would help calm me down.  I dialled...and dialled again...and once more.  No answer.  I decided to try my dad.  He would almost certainly be at practice with Ben & I could ask him to relay the message.  My poor dad.  He answered the phone & I promptly started bawling.  It was no accident he got that call though.  I knew I needed prayer in that moment.  Thank you Papa! 

We arrived at Wilf & Pearl’s to some very excited kidsJ.  It felt good to be able to interact with the kids, although I could hardly do anything.  That night we (Pearl, my mom & I) made a plan.  I wanted to just make it through the night with minimal pain.  I knew if I could do that, I would be a lot more confident in the morning.  It was very comforting to be staying with Wilf & Pearl (no accident!).  Pearl is a nurse so it was just a step down from being at the hospitalJ.  That night my mom got me up every 2 hours to alternate my T3s & advil.  By the time I took the 4:00 T3s, I decided to skip the 6:00 advil because I was feeling totally fine.  I haven’t had any advil sinceJ

For the first week, I was supposed to have my foot above my heart for 22 out of 24 hours in a day.  It wasn’t very hard to follow that.  By the time I made it to the bathroom & back my foot would be throbbing.  Throughout Thursday & Friday though, it continued to improve.  I was able to have a sponge bath & even stand at the kitchen sink briefly to wash my hair (that’s never felt so good!).  Throughout this time I realized that my biggest struggle in all of this was going to be the mental/emotional.  I would go from feeling just fine, to bawling & not being able to stop...anything from being overwhelmed with the whole the realization of how long this would affect our lives.  It was no accident that there were people who were praying for me in that time.  Thank you to each of you who prayed!!!

My wonderful grandparents drove up from Kelowna on Thursday to see us.  We had just celebrated their 80th & 85th birthdays, but they were much more concerned about me.  I love you Gram & Gramps.  Thank you so much for driving that far to see me before we went home!!!

We had decided to head home on Saturday.  This gave me a few days to get the pain under control & rest...but would get me home on the weekend when Ben was still home from work.  My mom & I started organizing on Friday afternoon...she gathered up odds & ends from around the house.  I packed what I could while sitting on the floor beside the couch.  I was thrilled to be able to sit up at the table for supper on Friday night & again breakfast on Saturday morning.  Although I could only last 10 or 15 minutes with my foot on a chair beside me, it was wonderful to feel like a part of the family.  After breakfast my mom finished getting the van packed up & I organized kids from the couch.  We washed my hair one more time in the big kitchen sink since we didn’t know how it would work at home.  Then...we were off. 

As we all loaded up into the van Uncle Wilf said something that meant a lot to me.  He mentioned how our families have always been especially close (something I’ve never discussed with him) & how special it is that now my kids get to have a part in that bond too!  I teared up when he said that.  I’ve always felt that special bond, but didn’t know if everyone else felt the same way...and I too think it is soooo special that now my kids share that!  Thank you Wilf & Pearl for investing in my kid’s means the world to me!!!

The drive home went much better than I anticipated.  I thought I’d be uncomfortable & sore the whole way.  Once I got set up I was actually quite comfortable.  I even stretched my T3s to 5 or 6 hours apart!  The only tough part was stopping for bathroom breaks.  The furthest I’d been at Wilf & Pearl’s was to the bathroom & back.  Having to get into a restaurant or gas station & then wait for a bathroom & then all the way out again was enough to cause quite a bit of throbbingJ.  Thankfully though, as soon as I got it up, it would be fine.  Ben met us in Cochrane with my dad.  My dad took my mom to Calgary for a mission’s banquet & Ben drove us the rest of the way home.  It was very nice to finally see my hubby after all we’d been through in the last 6 days! 

We came home to a beautifully tidy house.  My wonderful hubby had cleaned up & moved things around to make more room for me to move around on crutches.  I’m so thankful he did that.  Our house is so cramped that it’s still tough to get around.  It’s no accident that Ben has been on crutches before & totally understood what I was going through!  Thank you Ben!!!

By far the hardest part of this journey has been the emotional roller coaster.  Yes, it’s tough to be stuck at home & not be able to do anything, but I can handle that.  God is making me slow down, I realize that.  Apparently my emotions can’t handle it though.  I finally figured out, nearly 2 weeks after I fell, that I think I’m dealing with some mild depression.  It feels very similar to after Kirby was born when I had post partum depression. 

I’m not going to continue giving you day by day detail of what’s been happening, but I did want to share how God has been encouraging me this last week (2 weeks after it all happened).  My favourite worship song is “Everlasting God” by Brenton Brown.  It has been ever since Breakforth last year when Ben & I got to hear him in concert.  I love the song itself & the lyrics.  As I lay in the hospital I was very thankful for the iPod Ben had given me for my birthday.  I listened to lots of music...and I played “Everlasting God” over & over & over.  I listened to it at Wilf & Pearl’s as I went to sleep.  I listened to it once we were at home anytime I had the chance.  The more I thought about the lyrics, the more it felt like it was written just for me in this time. 

Everlasting God

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon you Lord x 2

I’m doing a lot of waiting right now...a lot of sitting.  That can be really discouraging...but I know that You will give me strength through this Lord.

Our God, you reign forever
Our hope, our strong deliverer...

You reign forever.  You haven’t fallen asleep.  You didn’t “miss it” when I fell.  You knew every detail.  It was no accident.
You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God
You do not faint, you won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak, you comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles...

You are the everlasting God!  You aren’t going anywhere.  You don’t get tired.  You didn’t accidentally fall asleep as I fell...or when I have my emotional crashes.  You are my defender when I’m weak...and you will comfort me.  Not sure how with this ankleJ...but you will make me fly! heart soars when I think of how you’ve taken care of every detail.
ccli # 4556538
Brenton Brown/Ken Riley, Copyright © 2008 Thankyou Music (PRS) (adm. worldwide by EMI CMG Publishing, excluding Europe, which is adm. by

If you don’t know the song’re missing outJ

I went to you tube to look for the song & also found this...a description from Brenton himself about how the song came to be.  I started bawling.  His condition is obviously a lot more long term, but the way that the song spoke to me is very similar. 

Well there you go.  That’s my Thanksgiving story for the yearJ.  A huge thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, made meals for us, helped clean, pulled carrots, covered Kid’s Rock for me, watched the kids, driven us around...and everything else I’ve missed.  THANK YOU!!  It is no accident that we have you in our lives!!!