Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm Free!

That's right. As of yesterday morning, my jaw was finally unwired. For the most part, it was an okay experience. It felt a bit strange to be put to sleep again-- the nurse started an IV, attached me to all sorts of machines, and hooked my up to the oxygen again-- it brought me back to those days in the hospital. The dentist came in and we started chatting and the next thing I remember is walking up the stairs of our building to our second floor apartment. According to Doug, I was awake in the room when he was called back in there to talk to the doctor. Apparently I even tried to be part of the conversation, although they didn't understand a thing I was trying to say (I had a lot of gauze in my mouth at that time). Somehow, I walked out of the office, down the stairs, and to the car and don't remember a thing. A little creepy, if you ask me.
It sounds like the doctor is pretty optimistic about how things went. While I was asleep he tested the strength of my jaw and found that it was healing well. My bite lined up well too, so he's thinking that I will not need to have any more work done if I don't want it. We'll see him again next week, but it feels like a small answer to prayer. Yesterday Doug and I decided that we were going to celebrate this small step of progress in the journey of recovery. Even though it's difficult to put the painful thoughts and memories aside for a while, it was nice to just be encouraged and focus on the positive for a few hours.
If there is anything I've learned from this experience, it's to not take the small things in life for granted. Eating every meal though a straw for 6 weeks certainly teaches you this lesson, and there have been so many other realizations of how much we take our health and independence for granted every day. I remember so clearly how important those small steps have been to me throughout the past few weeks. Drinking my first glass of water after 3 days of no food or drink was glorious (I asked for it in the helicopter and was told to wait until we reached the Calgary hospital-- little did I know that it would be days before I'd be allowed to drink it!). I wept during my first shower in the hospital-- after 10 days of having someone else bathe you, taking a hot shower on your own is incredible. I can still remember how remarkabe it was to pick up my baby for the first time on my own without having to wait for someone to lay him in my arms-- finally I felt like a mom. The first time I was actually able to dress myself without help I ran into the kitchen to show Doug my accomplishment like a toddler anxious to show their parent their latest trick. Yesterday I actually shed a few tears the first time I realized I could lick my lips without having teeth in the way! Small steps often feel the most significant during the journey.
Thank you everyone for praying for me and my broken jaw. I can't begin to tell you how relieved I am to have this part of the healing process almost over.
For those of you who are curious, the first thing I ate was a piece of toast. Not too exciting, I know, but I sent Doug to McDonalds for me not long after. (Don't tell my oral surgeon).

Why not throw a few pictures of the little guy in? These were taken just this morning. He's irresistibly cute while sleeping.

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.