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Friday afternoon - Monday, February 6-9, 2009

Hello, my friends.  It seems weird that I have not written to you for a while.  I have now been home for three

 days and feel like I have started an entirely new journey.  Having spent three weeks in the hospital, I had--without realizing--become accustomed to certain routines, limitations, and expectations.  Now that I am home, I am having to start all over with a . . .

  • new environment (how am I supposed to get on that toilet?!),
  • new people (well, hello, Nurse Douglas!),
  • new scares (who do I call at 3 a.m. when I have a fever??),
  • new equipment (why is my mini-VAC making all those noises??),
  • new questions (is it OK that my toes are turning purple??),
  • new challenges (how do I sit up in bed when we have used every pillow in the house to prop up my foot??),
  • and a new set of joys (What?? I get to cuddle with my family in bed??).

Having said that, I will give you a quick run-down on my life since Friday morning . . .

Friday, February 6, 2009

After sharing the amazing notes from Ms. McCoy’s class with you, I expected to live out the rest of the day in eager anticipation of my big return to my abode.  In reality, it felt like all of the positive thoughts that had been carrying me through the prior week were just the labored clicks of a roller coaster, slowly ascending up to the peak of the track before the big, scary, heart-in-your-mouth DROP. 

Since the first day of my accident, I have found great comfort in knowing what this is NOT . . . I am not paralyzed.  I can speak.  I can move.  I am alive.  I can continue to be a good mom and wife.  I can teach.  I am alive.

And if everything goes wrong, the worst that will happen is that I will have a prosthetic foot or undergo an ankle fusion.  I can live with that.

However, as the discharge papers were being prepared, I came face to face with something that I really did not want to think about . . . what IS. 

I was reading things like,

  • “Patient has a very complex, limb-threatening injury, fracture, and deep infection that will require multiple treatment modalities and surgeries.” 
  • “After the procedure, I discussed with the patient’s husband the significance of the type of injury that she has.  It is unlikely that this patient will have normal functioning after sustaining an injury such as this.”
  • My most trusted resident’s starting answering questions that I really had not wanted to ask,
  • “No, the cartilage on your talus bone is gone.”
  • “No, you can not grow it back, or use artificial or cadaver cartilage.”
  • “Yes, no matter how well we rebuild your ankle, you will always be bone on bone.”  “You will most likely develop arthritis within a year or two and will find it painful to walk.”
  • “Your best bet would be to get a ankle fusion where the entire ankle is fused into a fixed position.”

All of a sudden I was imagining myself at the beginning of next school year . . .

Am I in a wheelchair?  Do I use a cane?  Do I limp?  Am I living in constant pain?  Can I go to the beach and walk on sand?  Can I walk with everyone else when exploring a new town or site on a vacation?  Do I have to wear a weird shoe?  Can I drive?  Am I a burden?  Do I hold everyone else back?  Do we begin to talk about who Mom was “before the accident?”

By about 3:30 p.m., my genuinely positive, can-do spirit was broken.  I was scared to leave the hospital for fear that I wasn’t going to be able to take care of all of my tenuous issues.  I felt disgusting with a VAC tube leading out of me with gook, an IV line coming into my arm, a hairdo testing the limits of what is socially-acceptable, and the undeniable recognition that I just might be wearing my open-backed gown for the rest of my life because it was the only thing that would fit over my external fixator!  And one more thing . . . I was going to throw my IV stand at the next uninformed student nurse who walked in and said, “Woowww. . . that looks really bad.  What’dga do?” or “Oh, don’t worry—You’ll be fine!!!!!”

When my Mom came at about 4:00, I told her to shut the door, pull the curtain, and stand guard by the door.  I walked into the bathroom, sat down, rested my head on my walker, and sobbed.  I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

And for those few moments, I allowed myself to stop being positive.  To stop thinking the best thoughts.  To stop putting my best foot forward.  And to just see it for what it was . . .

That falling off a ladder, suffering a catastrophic injury, facing a world of unknowns, and wondering if you are going to be a burden to your family for the rest of your life really, really, really STINKS.


Friday night – Monday, February 6-9, 2009

OK—Don’t worry.  By the time I left the hospital around 6:00 I was ready to take on the world one day at a time.  I wasn’t going to take on the scary unknown.  I would just rest in knowing that God continues to have an amazing plan for me.  I was glad that I was able to release a little steam/pressure before I left the hospital so that I could

 face the new challenges at home with renewed energy.

In a nutshell, we are figuring out where I hang out, how to manage my medications, how to keep me safe around the house, how to manage a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, how to get Doug some time alone to work at school, how to support the girls and talk through their feelings, and how to create a household that seems pretty “normal.”

My home healthcare nurse, Fiona, came for the first time on Sunday and changed my VAC.  She is a school nurse over at Calusa Elementary, is proud to be from Jamaica, has one teenage son, and takes care of a few patients during the evenings and weekends as an extra job.   Dr. Carbonell’s residents and I had made a video explaining some of the special issues with my ankle.  It was obvious that our little video was slightly patronizing in light of her amazing skills.  She knew exactly how to care for my wound and had my situation figured out in no time flat.  She will come to our house now on Thursday night and on Saturday.

Although I have been taking it REALLY SLOW these first few days, we have still had a few minor scares.  The first night I was home, my foot swelled up like a balloon again.  As Annika left for a soccer game on Saturday morning, she was convinced that I would be back in the hospital again by the time she got home.  Luckily, the doctor told me to stay off of it for a few days and elevate it to the sky.  Since then it has looked good.

Also, for the last two nights, I have suddenly felt incredible chills and body aches all over my body.  I run a fever of 100.3 for a few hours and then it goes back down.  Seeing as it is happening again tonight, I will be sure to call the infectious disease doctor in the morning.  We have learned not to react to these setbacks—but to just see them as bumps in the road that we will deal with soon enough. 


My Mom has been sewing cute little external fixator “socks” to keep my foot covered.  She has also made about eighteen trips to Sports Authority to find the perfect sportswear that fits over a gigantic foot. 

Elise has become my little nurse who LOVES reminding me to take my medicine and even takes part in giving me my antibiotic injections!  If I ask her to get something for me, she runs to get it and returns saying, “Now what?!?!?!?!” 

Annika has this incredible ability to sense when I am thirsty, cold, or uncomfortable.  I took this picture right after she said, “Mom—your foot looks cold.  I am going to put a sock on it.”  My favorite is when she slathers lotion on my leg. 

And then there is Douglas.  Dear Douglas who is doing laundry, putting together healthy meals, managing homework and bedtimes, responding with concern to every little sigh or moan that leaves my mouth, keeping calm during setbacks, getting dressed up for the Father-Daughter Dance, filling up my water glass, making sure thank you notes are written, figuring out a way to wash my hair in the tub, and keeping up with a full time job . . .

All while telling me over and over that he loves me so much, that he is so incredibly proud of me, and that he never would have married anyone else. 

What a man.

Tomorrow I head to the Jackson South Wound Care Center to meet with Dr. Carbonell.  I am excited/anxious for him to check out my wound and to see where we are headed next. 

Thank you so much for the amazing ways in which each of you have supported my precious family.  Even though I don’t always get to name you specifically by name, please know that the love and generosity that you have bestowed to our family has been indelibly written on our hearts.

With much love,


P.S. Do any of you have one of those things that you put behind your back in bed so that you can sit upright?  Also, I need a thin exercise mat to put on the floor so that I can do my exercises on our tile.  Any ideas?

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