Monday, September 10, 2007

A Long Awaited Update

Finally! Some pictures of Caleb for you all. I snapped these a week or two ago as he was waking up from a nap. I couldn't resist... he looked so cute. Caleb has been at home with us for about a month now, and he's turned out to be quite a happy and content baby. I would say that out of the three of us, he's probably doing the best.

Here he is looking sleepy...

A little smile...

Back to sleep...

And now for an update on me... since so many of you have been asking. As most of you know I was in the hospital in Calgary for just over 2 weeks. I don't remember a thing about the accident-- total memory loss of that event, so I can't give any details about that. As I was being airlifted from the scene of the accident to Calgary I started to wake up a little bit. My first clear memories were in the ICU in Calgary signing consent for surgery-- even though at the time I had no idea what it was for. That first surgery they removed all of the glass from my arm, left shoulder, head, and hands. When I woke up they assured me that the baby was doing fine, and that he was in stable condition. I was told that he would be staying put for the time being. I was also made aware of all my injuries. Let me set the record straight of what was wrong with me: a good part of my left shoulder was missing-- skin, tissue, muscle, it was a hole about 6x3 inches. My left arm, right hand and scalp was shredded by flying glass. My T4 (a vertebrae) was fractured, there was some bleeding in my brain, and my jaw was broken. About 3-4 hours after the first surgery Caleb's heartrate started dropping. The nurses started running around the room and began to ask me if I was having contractions. I said no-- on morphine and still woozy from surgery I had no idea what was going on. Within a few minutes they had me in surgery for an emergency C-section. Doug wasn't allowed in the room since it was a risky surgery-- At that point they were not sure if my spine was stable-- so they had 3 teams of surgeons on hand: 1 performing the C-section, 1 team for Caleb, and 1 to operate on my spine if something went wrong. It went well, and within 12 hours I had already completed surgery number 2. That's the story of Caleb's birth. Not exactly as we had planned.
This began my stay in the hospital. In total I had 5 surgeries... some more pleasant than others. They ended up operating on my shoulder 4 times. I never saw what it looked like originally, but it already looks so much better 6 weeks later. The plastic surgeons ended up taking skin from my hip and grafted it onto my shoulder to cover the hole. It's going to leave a terrible scar, but at least I still have a shoulder. They also wired my jaw shut to allow it to heal. That's made for an interesting few weeks eating every meal from a straw.
For the most part I've tried to be postive about my physical injuries... knowing that my body would eventually heal. However, there's been some bad news in the past few weeks. The oral surgeon I've been seeing here in Abbotsford told me that my jaw had been set wrong by the doctors in Calgary. As a result, there's been some nerve damage-- my chin and a part of my lip is numb, and will most likely always be like numb, and there's a chance that my bite might be off. I had 2 options-- to leave it wired shut for the remainder of the 6 weeks, hope it heals okay even though it wasn't set correctly in the first place, and learn to live with the numbness. Or they could redo the surgery, and try to reconnect the nerves and wire me shut for another 6 weeks. I chose the first option, and on Wednesday my jaw will be unwired. Pray that my jaw has healed correctly, despite it being set incorrectly. Another surgery and 6 weeks of the blender is hard to take in.
Today brought more disappointment. Last week Doug and I asked one of my doctors about the placement of my shoulder. There is a large lump protruding in the front of my shoulder that looks so out of place. He sent us for x-rays immediately, since he agreed that it look a bit strange. The results came in today-- my shoulder is dislocated and one of the bones (can't remember which one) was broken in several places or "shattered" as the doctor put it. This came as quite a shock since not one of my doctors in Calgary ever said anything about my shoulder being out of place or anything being fractured. It's a complicated issue, since they are going to have to put it back into place and fix the damage while dealing with the skin graft and major damage to the muscles and tissue around the bones. I can't describe how disappointed and frustrated I've been today. I've been working so hard going to physio to try to regain use of my shoulder, only to find out that I'm starting back at square one. We will most likely be seeing a shoulder specialist in the next few days, so hopefully we will have some answers soon.
That's the update on how I've been recovering physically. I wish I could give you a run down on how I've been healing emotionally/mentally, but unfortunately you can't see or measure how that process is coming along. Simply put, I miss Nate, and I can't believe he's not here. So many times over the past few weeks I've thought about a converstation the 4 of us had in the car the morning of the accident. We started to think about the past 5 years and began to share about what our plans for the future had been 5 years ago. We all acknowleged that we had ended up in different places than expected. Nate then suggested that we each share about our plans for the next 5 years of life. We all had remarkably similar goals and aspirations-- kids, ministry, missions. It was exciting to think and dream of the future. If we had only known how quickly those plans would change. To be honest, I don't think my heart understands that Nate is gone for good. I didn't really have the chance to say goodbye to him, since I was stuck in the hospital in Calgary during the funeral. It almost feels like I came home and he's just been missing temporarily. Everyone had a chance to say goodbye except for me. How does one grieve? I have no idea how to do this or what this process is like. All I know is that I miss him, and I hurt every time I think about Doug without his brother, Rosanna without her husband, Doug's parents without their son.
Never before have I had so many questions for God, and so few answers. I'm overwhelmed with emotions of anger and thankfulness at the same time. I'm thankful that God chose to spare my son, that I can walk and talk after being close to losing both of those abilities, and that Doug is still here beside me. And yet I'm angry at times, and question why this had to happen. Doesn't God know that we needed Nate here?
All I know at this time is that God love me and that understands my pain. There were several sleepless nights that I lay in my hospital bed feeling so alone, scared about the surgery I was facing the next morning, and like life was totally out of control. In the middle of the night I would pull out the Ipod I was borrowing and would listen to this song by Casting Crowns again and again in the dark.

I was sure by now that You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen" and it's still raining
As the thunder rolls I barely hear
You whisper through the rain "I'm with you"
And as your mercy falls I raise my hand and praise the God who gives
And takes away
I'll praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
Every tear I've cried You hold in your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry, You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on
If I can't find You?
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

The words describe exactly how I've felt over these past few weeks. I don't know why this has happened to us, I don't understand it and probably never will, but I still choose to praise God and trust that he will see us through this storm.


The BG's!! said...

Elissa, I am so thankful to hear an update on you. Caleb is amazing! He is just so sweet looking! We have not stopped praying for you. Hang in there dear friend. I love you.

Trev and Rebekah said...

Elissa, I have been waiting for an update. Thanks for sharing and being real and honest. I am so sorry about the setbacks you have had with the healing process. I do hope that God will heal you faster than expected. I am thankful that He chose to spare Caleb and your life. I can't image what you are feeling inregards to losing Nate. Have you had a chance to go to the grave at all? I know when my pastor died it was healing in a way to go and visit the grave to say my good-byes.
Caleb is so cute.
We are still praying for you and your family.

Kelsie-Lynn said...

You strenght and honesty amazes and inspires me.

I heard that the song A Place on The Earth by Fernado Ortego yesterday and you came mind and part of it has become my prayer for you. Here are some of the lyrics:

"Find me a place on the earth
Where a weary man can rest
And listen for your voice
In the turning seasons

A quiet place in the world
Where I can bow
And confess that I fear
Where you have brought me,
Mysterious God

All of my life
You have been with me
My comfort in loneliness
My hope in the dark
All of my life
Lord, please stay with me
Be my sustaining breath
Guardian of my heart"

My prayer is that God "would stay with you and be your sustaining breath and Guardian of you heart" in the midst of this difficult time.

You are on my mind and heart daily. We have not stopped praying for you and your family.

Janelle said...

i have so much to say...but it would take up so much room.
your son is peaceful, and i'm sure just the biggest joy in your life right now. what a miracle he is!
i have thought about you so much - about how everything about life just changed in a flash for you that day. becoming a Mommy is such a HUGE event, and one we dream/imagine didn't happen as you had hoped, but Caleb Nathan is safe & sound in your arms. but now as you face being a new mother, healing in every way possible, and trying to grieve & let the realization settle in...i will keep you in my prayers!
the set backs must be so frustrating - but HE IS WITH YOU. and the memories must be overwhelming - but HE IS WITH YOU!!
you, Doug & little Caleb are so so loved! and you're never far from our thoughts & our prayers. may God grant you strength you didn't even know you had...and lots of smiles from little Caleb to keep you joyful. HUGS!!

KDees said...

Thank you for your update, Elissa. What mixed emotions you are dealing with right now! Thank you for being honest about it all...We will continue to pray, and now that you have given us things to pray for, we will give those requests to God on your behalf. Draw near to God as He will draw near to you...

Rosanna Toews said...

I love you.

EB said...

Eli -

In times of prayer for you, Rosanna, Doug, & the greater family... I have always prayed PEACE & LOVE... I continue to pray - for strength, understanding, joy, honesty, and now - for MIRACLES. I've been learning a lot lately about how ABLE God is. Nothing is out of the scope of HIS abilities... to heal your shoulder, jaw, to begin healing your heart & mind... HE IS ABLE.

We love you guys a lot... I'm not quite sure what else to say other than to promise our prayers, love & support.

Erica (& Tim!)

EB said...

PS: Caleb = the sweetest thing ever!!! The beauty of his parents is definitely reflected in that gorgeous little face of his.... absolutely beautiful :)

Anonymous said...

You don't know me, but I know you through Kristi...I can't say I know exactly what you are going through, but I do know what it is like to be in hospital with a broken and wired shut jaw. I do know what it feels like to be in a car accident. I do know what it's like to question God...I wish I could tell you the journey ahead will be easy - but I can't! Be brave. Trust God. Continue to seek Him and love Him. Make the most out of every moment. Thank Him for every breath. You are in my prayers. Your son is beautiful. Keep on keepin' on!

jenni weir (kristi's boyfriend's sister)

Bonnie said...

Elissa---Your words & honesty have touched my heart deeply & on so many levels. I've been thinking about you so much, wondering how you're doing physically, emotionally and mentally...thank you for letting us know how you're doing. I feel lost for words and so all I can tell you is that you are LOVED and I am continuing to pray for you daily. God CAN heal your broken heart and body and I will be praying unceasingly for Him to do so. Caleb is a beautiful gift from God....may he bring you guys so much joy in these tough days ahead. Thinking of you.

Yvonne said...

Thanks for posting the pictures of Caleb. He is so precious and it's so great to see him happy and healthy. As for you and Doug - Eric and I pray for you constantly. You aren't far from my thoughts. I'll be lifting up your new prayer requests and praying that you feel God's peace and comfort during this tumultuous time.

Keith - Kristen said...

Thank you for sharing your self. I know I still have moments of 'whys' as well, but I am so grateful you have your son at home with you. Thank you so much for the update, I have thought and will continue to think of you guys.

Janelle Schultz said...

I don't know if you remember me but I wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you & Doug & your families daily and praying that God will heal you all. Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy.
Janelle (Goertzen) Schultz

Jen said...

Elissa, I'm not sure if you remember me, we were at Bethany together. Ever since the accident I've been praying for you (and the whole family) lots. Caleb is just so beautiful!

Jen (Bueckert) Birkland

Michelle said...

Hi Elissa-we have never met but I went to Bible school at Bethany with Erik and have become friends with Jamie via blogging world. I think we both know quite a few of the same people (Trev and Rebekah-went to high school with Rebekah and Bible school with Janelle). Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that despite the personal relationship we have, we share a spiritual relationship and I have been praying for you and your family since your tragic accident. I have been praying for physical healing and emotional healing for you. I can't imgaine how you're feeling and the frustration you've been facing. I guess the only light at end of this looong tunnel has been the light in the eyes of your son!! He is a true miracle and sooooo cute! I continue to pray for you, Doug and Caleb that you all will continue to heal even tho at times it feels like it's moving sooo slowly. Thanks for the update.....I've been "lurking" for a while :o)

Charlotte said...

praying you will feel the nearness of God and his huge arms surrounding you.

Leslie said...

You have no idea what your story has meant to me, and I have never met you or any of your friends for that matter. I just happened upon EJ and Kelly's blogs one day and have followed them when I read your story. All I can say is that even through all of this - you and your family are an inspiration to people thousands of miles away, whom you've never met. I know that brings you no comfort, just know that everyday you struggle brings more people hope. I pray for you guys everyday. Thanks so much for the update.

Vanessa said...

Elissa, thank-you for the update and for sharing with us. My heart rejoices with you for your precious son and it also weeps with you over the frustration with your physical healing process as well as the grieving process. Grief is tough, because there's no formula of what to do and so we have to go through it and it is different for each one of us. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you continue this journey towards recovery and healing. I thank God that He is faithful to walk with us through the shadow of death and that He is there as our constant comfort. Love you and praying for you.

kelly ens said...

Elissa, you don't me, but we are friends with Erik and Jamie.
Thanks for sharing honestly about what you've been facing. We've been praying for your recover, and will continue, especially as the wires come off today, and as you continue to cope with the loss of Nate.
Thanks for sharing the pictures of Caleb - he is so precious!

Mac said...

Elissa, I am so thankful to hear from you -- and that you were able to be so honest about how you are doing. My heart aches with you and our prayers continue to be with you in your physical recovery and your family as you all grieve and heal.

Mac and I will be in BC in December, i hope i will be able to see you and your beautiful son while i'm there!

Jamie said...

Elissa - I've been thinking of you and Doug lots these last couple of days. You are loved by us and always in our thoughts and prayers. All the best with the jaw surgery today and hopefully we'll see you soon...

Ej said...

We are so grateful that Caleb is doing so well.I don't feel I have the right words to say but please know that we are constantly praying for you and Doug.


Erin and Ryan

Leanne said...

It's strange that we have never met, yet I still feel like I know you (blog world is weird that way). I've been praying so much for you. I remember my feelings of crushing disappointment for a birth that didn't go as planned. And the grief and pain and memories are just piled on top of that - I can only imagine how hard it must be.
I pray for courage as you face these tough questions. I pray for peace and healing. I pray that you can feel God holding you, loving you.

Leanne said...

PS Caleb is beautiful. Thanking God with you for his safety.

Donna said...

Following your story from Jamie.

As I was reading this and listening to worship music, began to weep, for you , for your family.

God has already paid for your healing. It is yours fight for it. I pray God will honor your decision to not go through with wiring your jaw shut for 6 more weeks. I pray for a full, complete 100% healing of your jaw.

I feel upset at the doctors at the other hospital, but I also feel this is a time for you guys to put your full trust in God and not man.

My heart aches for your family. I am so glad to see your tiny baby is thriving. Thank you Jesus for saving this little boys life. God has plans for him=)

It is hard to not question why God would take someone so awesome as Nate (I don't know him, but from the stories, and just his face you can tell?. The world needs more of him. I think it is fine to ask God why, just wait for his answer.

Lots of prayer for your family.

Sorry so long!

Ellen said...

I have been a lurker on your blog for a while (thro Jamie's) since we had one thing in common, we were both expecting a baby (I am still anxiously waiting my baby's arrival). Your son is beautiful!! Thank you for the update, I have been thinking about you. I just wanted to let you know that my husband (before I knew him) had his jaw broken as well and had to have it wired - they told him that the numbness in his chin and lips may never go away as well - but they were wrong and his jaw healed and he can feel like normal - I pray that God work the same miracle in your life as well!

Jacqueline said...

Hey Elissa so glad to get an update on how things are going thanks for sharing not a day goes by that I don't think and pray for you guys. I read the stuff on you jaw and let jamie know too the info I know about jaw surg. So glad you did'nt decide to do another surg once the nerve has been severed or cut there is no guarntee it will ever heal the same no matter how many surg you might have. Lots of time the feeling comes back in the first year or so try not to get discouraged by that, Anyway wish we could have visited more when you were here, but take care Paul and I send all our love and prayers to you guys and little Caleb. PS he is so cute. Awesome pictures.

Kathy's corner said...

Our prayers are with you, Doug and Caleb, during this difficult time. You have such a beautiful boy, and knowing he is so content, is a gift from your heavenly Father. God knows your needs, and your anxious thoughts. He is still in control. He will rdie the storm with you. Love Kathy (Jamie's mom)

Lisa Moran said...

Doug & Eli, your boy is lovely. I haven't stopped praying for you and your family. You are deeply loved. Lisa

Anonymous said...

Hey guys. I love you so much. Praying every day for peace on you...

Nichole said...

I've been checking your blog and was so glad to see an update. What a way to embark on this incredible journey of motherhood. Your son is beautiful and we too, thank God for him!!
We continue to pray for your physical recovery. I am so sorry to hear of all the complications. We know all too well how frustrating the medical system can be.
Many thoughts and prayers as you wade through this valley of grief.

Brad & Nichole (Jamie's sister)

Bonnie Hughes said...

Thank you for updating us on your condition. I have checked everyday for new pictures of Caleb. How incredibly precious he is, a joy in the midst of tears. It is so good for us to know how we can pray for you and your family specifically. Thank you for sharing your journey of healing with us. You are constantly in our prayers!

Carmen said...

I'm not sure if you remember me, but I used to live in Waldheim and we went to elementary school together for a while.
I came across your blog while you were pregnant and have been checking ever since. My heart just ached when I heard the news of the accident and everything that went with that. You and your families have been on my mind constantly, and I just wanted you to know that I am praying for you...for healing for renewal, for patience and for gifts of joy. Caleb is such a bright spot in this dark hour- He is a beautiful boy and he will, without question, be a source of joy and healing for you. Cling to God and cling to those who love you.

Anonymous said...

elissa, i have been reading your blog and rosanas fora year or so now and although we dont know each other i feel like i know you and rosana in this profound way through following your story... you have both made me appreciate my life and all of the little things SO MUCH... my heart aches for both of you and your families and i think of you all so often... i have no words that would surfice but i just want you to know that you are thought of and prayed for constantly... i have had your baby boy on my heart and i am so glad to see pictures of him and hear your update! thank you!!!

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