Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dinner Conversations

First, because it still makes me giggle, the following exchange from dinner last night withHubby and Dad at T.G.I. Friday's:

Waitress: So, did you save room for dessert?

Dad: Oops.

Then there was tonight.

Medium Fry is being potty-trained. Mom asked her tonight, after dinner but before dessert, if she needed to use the potty before she had her ice cream. "Is your Pull-Up dry?"

Medium vigorously nods her head, and Mom goes to dish up her ice cream.

Meanwhile, Dad croons, "When you walk through a storm..."

Having sung the infernal song in high school chorus, I knew the next line, and I also knew Dad was going to modify it to "...keep your Pull-Up high..."

I started pounding my forehead with the heel of my hand, visualizing Medium hauling her Pull-Up nearly up to her armpits, and unable to stave off the giggles. "I'm not nearly as visual a thinker as my husband," I gasp between what's now full-blown guffaws, "but still, all I can see is her yanking her Pull-Up up to here!" I indicate Steve-Urkel-waist height.

This gets both Mom and Dad going, and I realize that the past three nights of insomnia mean that I am dangerously close to laughing until I start crying, at which point I'll bawl simply because I can't laugh anymore. Tears are already leaking out because I'm laughing so hard, and the girls are asking if I'm crying. I bring myself under control, assure the girls that I'm just laughing because Boppa said something funny, and turn my attention to my own ice cream.

But I'll tell you, just thinking about it makes me want to giggle all over again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Conversations. Yet again.

Boppa: What do you have?

Small Fry: Stickews!

: Stickers! And a sticker book?

Small Fry: Need more stickews!

Boppa: You'll have to ask the Queen about that. Do you know who the Queen is?

[dead silence]

Boppa: Do you know who the Queen is?

Medium Fry: [crows confidently] Esthewr!

(They'd watched the Veggie Tales "Esther: The Girl Who Would Be Queen" several times over the last week, including once already today.)

Boppa: [chuckles] That's exactly right!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How I Became An Honorary Octogenarian

I was in a bad car wreck on July 17.

For those who want the gory details, here you go.

It was a rainy afternoon, and I was driving home to C-burg from my dentist's office in W-boro. (I'd gotten my permanent crown put in place, in a last-minute appointment because of the discomfort I was experiencing with the temporary crown.) Hubby was back at the house, and Mom and Dad had picked up the kids before I'd left the house for my appointment, taking them back to their place because of Bro's visitation time the next day.

Despite the weather, I opted to take SR 997 north as part of my route home, since it would take me right to US 30. I needed to stop at Walmart on the way home, and going that particular route would take me right by the store. SR 997 does kind of wind through the countryside, but it's not as bad as some of the curves on the roads we take to church, so I didn't think too much of it.

I'd driven about a mile up SR 997 N when the speed limit changed from 35 mph to 45 mph. About a third of a mile later, I slowed to the recommended speed of 35 for an approaching left curve, due to the weather. As I came around the bend, I had two realizations: 1) There was a maroon car coming at me sideways. 2) There was NO way I was going to avoid the impending crash.

So I did the only thing that seemed sensible at the time. I closed my eyes and screamed like the girl I am.

The right rear quadrant of the maroon car slammed into the left front quadrant of my car and then the passenger side hit my hood. The impact was intense and jarring. I slowly opened my eyes and looked around. The airbags had both deployed. My sunglasses had flown off my head (yes, I really did notice that), and I know in retrospect it was a good thing it was just bright enough that I felt the need to wear them. My windshield had spiderwebbed, but remained intact. Not so much the windows in the driver's side doors...they shattered inward. I was covered in glass. Steam hissed outside.

As I was taking a slow and careful inventory to make sure everything was still attached, a young woman in the other car was screaming at me, "Are you okay?"

"I don't know," I called back.

In panic, she repeated her question and I repeated my answer. All body parts were accounted for, but the pain was beginning to make itself known. My left shoulder and hip were the most intense, along with the spot on my sternum where the shoulderbelt crossed over it.

"Are you okay?" she screamed again.

"I think so," I said. I then unbuckled my seat belt while I was still able to think about doing that.

A young man, who I surmised to have been in the maroon car, walked around the front of the maroon car and then towards me. "We hydroplaned," he informed me.

"Oh, my God, my leg!" another young woman screamed. I looked over. Yep, she had a compound fracture of her leg. No doubt about it, even though the bone didn't protrude. Her leg looked like rubber, as if there were no bone in there. (I heard later that she passed out after seeing her leg.)

An older man appeared in my window. "You're going to be okay," he reassured me. "I've called for help and they're on their way."

Pic from local paper.  Black car is mine.
I nodded my thanks, and carefully leaned over to retrieve my purse, which was now on the floor. (Thankfully, my cell phone was in there and not my pocket...small favors.) I tugged off my wedding rings, just in case, and stashed them in a zippered pocket in my purse. My right wrist hurt, and my left didn't, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. I didn't want them to be cut off, and I didn't yet know the extent of my injuries. My right ankle also started throbbing.

I got in a quick call to Hubby, only having enough time to tell him I'd been in an accident before EMS arrived. I hung up so I could answer the questions the paramedics started asking. What was my name? Date of birth? What did I think had happened? (She slid into me sideways.) Did I lose consciousness? (No.) What hurts? (What doesn't?) A firefighter--I could tell from the heavy gloves on his hands--climbed into the car behind me and braced my neck with his hands until they could get a collar on me. Gentle hands checked for other injuries. When the paramedic shifted me forward to run his hands down my back, I felt pieces of glass fall down my back and into my underwear. (I said this had the gory details.) Yay, I thought, knowing there was no way that glass could be gotten out until after I'd gotten to the hospital, the x-rays were done and there was no damage to my neck, blah, blah, blah. I made another, too-brief call to Hubby to tell him I was going to be taken to a hospital and I thought I was okay but my ankle and wrist hurt, along with my shoulder and hip. Then the paramedic asked me to hang up so they could get me on the backboard.

Getting me onto the backboard was...interesting. My door wouldn't open; the maroon car kinda prevented that, and besides, it was crunched in. Short as I am, I was close enough to the wheel that turning wasn't exactly easy--and I was even an arm's length from the wheel! What they ended up doing was leaning both front seats back as far as they could, got the collar around my neck, and had me shift my backside onto the backboard and lean back. Then they hauled me up, strapped me down, and six burly guys carried me from the car, through a cornfield, to a waiting gurney. One looked down at me and apologized for the fact that I was getting wet (it was still raining). I was amused by both that and my little ride through the corn. And I figured that a little rain wasn't the worst thing that had happened to me. I was alive. The car and anything in it that was ruined--those could all be replaced. I had the most important thing: my life.

They got me onto the gurney and into the ambulance. Another series of similar questions. Name, date of birth, known drug allergies, what hurts. I winced a little at the loss of my nearly-new jeans as the paramedic cut the right leg nearly up to the knee so he could splint my ankle. My wrist was also splinted. The driver rescued both my purse and Hubby's C-burg Hospital clergy ID, which led to a discussion of why I was such a nice patient (they said they didn't know how to deal with a patient who wasn't cursing at them) and where Hubby works. I was informed they'd be transporting me to W-boro Hospital...ironically, right across the street from my dentist's office. My Christmas socks with the Christmas trees, snowmen and gingerbread men on them greatly amused the paramedic.

In the ER, one of the trauma guys leaned over me to ask me the same litany of questions. Name? Date of birth? (When I told him the year, he winced and said that was the year he'd graduated high school. I didn't know what else to say but a mildy sarcastic, "I'm very sorry.") He informed me that my husband had called and he was on his way; they'd send him back as soon as he arrived.

The doctor came in momentarily. She did a quick mental orientation check (thank you, all those episodes of ER), asking if I knew my name, what day of the week it was, and who the President is. Then she ordered x-rays of my c-spine, chest, left hip/pelvis, right wrist and right ankle. What hurt most? Well, I'd have to say my left hip. (I knew I had all sorts of fun stuff in my pocket, including a little plastic army man that Hubby had given me before he'd gone on the youth group's Ohio mission trip the last week of June. He said the army guy would protect me, and I should keep him in my pocket.)

Shortly, a state trooper came in to get my statement. I explained that the other car had already been sliding as I came around the corner, and then it slammed into me. I estimated I'd been going about 35. There wasn't a thing I could do to avoid the accident. He said there had been a witness--the driver of the car behind mine--who had seen the whole thing, and his story backed mine up, and so did the accident scene. He said he'd mail me a copy of the accident write-up. The witness must have been the older man who'd called for help. Thankfully, his car wasn't involved in the accident at all.

Hubby arrived just as the radiology tech came to scoot me over to x-ray. She explained that they'd do all but the chest and pelvic films right now, so that we could get my c-spine cleared a.s.a.p. Besides, she said, they couldn't get good pictures through the backboard. I couldn't hold my shoulders down low enough to get all seven cervical vertebrae in the x-rays, so one tech had to pull down on my arms (ouch) while the other shot the pictures. By the time we finished with the ankle and wrist films, I was ready to cry. The tech told me they had to email the films to a radiologist up at C-burg Hospital to be read.

I did cry when Hubby got back to my curtain area. "I killed the car," I sobbed. He brushed a hand across my forehead, getting rid of auto glass so that he had a clean spot to kiss my head. "It wasn't your fault," he said gently. "And we needed a new car anyway."

The nurse bustled back in. "Your left hip hurts the most, right?"

Hah. "No, my ankle and wrist hurt more now." After the different shots for the x-rays, I figured I'd lost my perfect record for no broken bones.

She assured me that, as soon as the radiologist's report came in, she'd be able to get me something for the pain. I nodded, expecting that. She came back a few minutes later, asking if I was sure there wasn't anything she could do (I think). She said she could get me some ice packs. I said that would be good; I really did hurt. "Well, you've got some broken bones," she said. "The doctor is looking at the report now, and she'll be in soon to talk to you." Hubby asked about my neck, and she said that she was pretty sure those x-rays had come back clear.

A few moments later, the doctor came in. "Well, I've got some bad news," she said. She went on to relate that I had two, possibly three, broken bones in my right wrist, and two, possibly three, broken bones in my right ankle. The possible break there, she said, was one of the major ankle support bones, and if that was broken, it would require surgery. Well, yay. If I'm gonna trash my perfect record of no broken bones, might as well go all-out.

Hubby nervously asked about my neck and back. "Oh, yeah, those are fine. We can get her out of that collar and off the board now." Whew.

The nurse came back in and they asked how attached I was to my jeans. I no longer really cared. I said I was kinda attached to the shirt and would like to not have that cut off, but when I realized there was already a gaping hole in it, I decided I didn't care about that, either. Nearly everything was cut off me; only a couple articles of clothing escaped. I had massive bruises and scrapes all over my left hip, and more bruising along the line of the shoulderbelt. The doctor and nurse could not believe how much auto glass I was hiding on and around my person, and were shocked that I'd been laying on glass pieces for four hours now without any real cuts or complaints. They rolled me to the left to get the backboard out, and then replaced the sheet under me with a clean one, after removing as much glass as they could see. Then the nurse hooked up an IV and started the saline drip and pushed the first dose of morphine. Nausea hit first, and then the flush of heat--both normal responses to morphine.

Hubby went out to call my dad and I went back for the chest and hip pelvic x-rays. Making me sit up and moving too fast ratcheted up the nausea I was feeling, and I nearly got sick. The orthopedic surgeon who would be working on my foot came in and helped move me onto the table for the pelvic pictures. He was able to read them right there and said those were fine; the pain I'd been feeling was due to the severe bruising from the seatbelt yanking tight against me.

He joined me again a few minutes later in my curtain area in the ER to explain what had happened. I suspected the wrist breaks were due to the airbag deployment. The wrist, he said, would just need a cast. However, it was a notoriously slow-healing break, and would take 8-12 weeks to heal as opposed to 6. He hoped that he could have me in a sling about halfway through, but I still wouldn't be able to do much with it. My ankle--well, that was a different story. He said I had chipped pieces off of the two bones that stick out on either side of the ankle, and those would have to be screwed back into place. Surgery was scheduled for about noon the next day. He gave me his business card to give to Hubby.

After the surgeon left, another aide came in and said I had visitors. Hubby, Dad, and my brother-in-law C came back. (Dad and C had driven out to leave a vehicle for Dan to borrow.) They stayed until a nurse came in to announce that she had to put in a catheter in preparation for surgery the next day.

It took forever for Hubby to come back. When he did, he explained that the mother of the other car's driver--whom I'd estimated at mid-20s but was in reality just 17--had been calling the hospital in something of a panic, trying to get information about my condition, only to have HIPAA laws preventing her from getting anything out of the nurses. One of the nurses had had pity on her, and went to see if Hubby was still around and if he would be willing to talk to her. Hubby obliged, and was able to reassure the woman that, while I had some broken bones and a possible need for surgery, I was in stable condition and going to be fine. My ankle and wrist were both splinted.

Because of some things that had shown up in the ankle x-rays that were a little perplexing to the surgeon, I got sent for a CAT scan of my foot. I looked at the people assembled to once again move me from bed to table, and said we had to stop meeting like this. It was the third time in as many hours that I'd seen them.

I got taken up to my room, where we had the lovely predicament of getting my weight. It was needed for surgery and anesthesia the next day. I couldn't put weight on my foot. Couldn't hold myself up with my hands. A bed-scale was the best bet...but I had to be rolled to each side to get the dumb thing under me. Ick. The room spun whichever way I'd been rolled. Once they got the weight (cranked up in a sling--yuck, I got so sick to my stomach) and got the thing out from under me, they hauled me up on the bed. "Son of a motherless goat!" I muttered, closing my eyes until the room stopped spinning.

Surgery was ultimately at about 1:30 Saturday afternoon. After my March surgery, I figured I could handle the pain of a small ankle operation. Hah! Soft tissue and muscle pain from surgery is FAR different from bone pain. The doctor explained that he had put in the screws as he'd described, but I did have four breaks in my ankle. One of the other breaks was in the front bone, and it had sort of split. It didn't need to be screwed into place since it was already in the right spot, but I could not put any weight on the foot/ankle because it might knock that bone out of place, and because the tiny screws holding in my chipped bones could bend...and then we'd be back at square one. I have no desire to do that, especially after how horrible of a night I had on Saturday night.

Hubby did discover on Saturday that the accident had made the local newspaper--the front page, no less, and above the fold!

On Sunday morning I cried all over two physical therapists as it took me ten minutes to hobble four feet in a platform walker. They decided that was enough exercise for the day, and got me settled in a reclining chair. I slept better there over the next few hours than I had the entire night before.

The teenage driver of the other car and her mom came to visit me in the hospital that afternoon. The girl had written a lovely card with a huge apology and had brought me homemade chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon swirl bread. She was relieved that I was okay. Hubby asked if she'd learned anything from this experience. She said she'd learned a lot.

On Monday afternoon, I was transferred to Chambersburg Hospital's rehab wing. I was there for the next four days, with a snarky attending physician (who had a wardrobe stuck in the 70s), a sarcastic occupational therapist, several nice physical therapists, and a bunch of great nurses. I got to learn how to do a bunch of stuff left-handed, as well as getting further instructions on how to use the platform walker and maneuver through daily activities while having a bum leg and arm. I also practiced getting up and down two stairs (all I had to worry about, since I would be recuperating at Mom and Dad's), getting in and out of bed, getting up off of couches and arm chairs, getting in and out of kitchen chairs, and getting in and out of a car.

To use the platform walker, I strap my right forearm to this cushioned platform and grip the handle, and put my left hand on the grip on the walker itself. I bear all my weight on my right elbow and left hand, push down, and swing myself forward until I can put my left foot down. Complicated, yes. A bruised left knee makes it even more fun!

I got discharged from rehab on 7/24, and I'm happy to report that I'm on the mend. I've been living with Mom and Dad ever since, and so have the girls. I've had one PT appointment, and I saw the surgeon on Friday to have my staples removed and I got my "moon boot." I still can't put any weight on my right foot; the doc says in another month, he'll do x-rays to see how I'm healing and then maybe I can start learning to walk again. I go back in two weeks to get my wrist re-cast, since the current cast is loose. And I can finally shower again, once Hubby gets here with my plastic chair to put into the shower! Hubby comes down on Sundays after church and stays until Monday night, occasionally Tuesday morning. The cats are living it up without the kids, but I understand that Mika is confused by my absence.

So, the upshot is, I'm healing. I'm very tired, even more so after I go out of the house for doctor's appointments or PT appointments. I sleep a lot. Mom and Dad have been wonderful to let us all stay here and take care of me and the girls. I use my walker to get around their main floor, and it even has a walker bag. That's when I knew I was an honorary oldie. Especially when my octogenarian aunt came to babysit me last Sunday while the rest of the family went to church.

It's good to be home-ish.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Auntie J's Big Little Helper

One of the things we've learned in the last week since I've been home from the hospital is that I am always much more tired the day after I exert myself more than the usual getting around and PT exercises.

Another thing we've learned is to let the kids help me in what ways they can, so they can perhaps better understand Auntie J's limitations because of her big boo-boos. This usually means getting small things for me or picking up toys so I don't have any trip hazards as I hobble around.

Yesterday was one of those extra-exertion days, as I went to see the surgeon for my 2-week checkup, to get my staples out and fitted for a lovely moon boot brace.

Today I'm pooped.

I could hardly stay awake until lunch, and once the kids had gone down for naps, I decided to take one myself. I slept solidly for nearly three hours.

When I got up from my nap, tired but feeling a little more rested, I slowly hobbled my way out to the recliner. Large Fry will sometimes "help" me as I walk, standing really close to make sure I'm okay, which makes the hobbling even more challenging. I made it to my recliner without such "help" and without having any toys to trip me up, since all of the girls were either on the couch or in the kitchen pestering Gramma as she worked on dinner.

I collapsed into the recliner with an oof, and Medium Fry and Large Fry came over to me.

"I'll get yewr book!" Medium said cheerfully, reaching her hands into my walker bag and pulling out the paperback novel I've been reading. She handed it to me. "I'll get yewr phone!"

Before she can dive fist-first into the walker bag and pull out other stuff like the pumper for my aircast moon boot, I say, "My phone is already out. It's plugged into my computer."

Large Fry then said, "I'll get your phone!" I had to explain again that it wasn't in the bag, picking it up to show her.

Large Fry became disinterested, and wandered away. Medium Fry went to sit on the loveseat and look at a book, and began crying when both Mom and I scolded her for trying to rip off the clear tape that had mended a previous rip in the page. Mom sat down and talked with her, and Medium wailed, "I want to sit with Auntie J!"

Much as I hated to say no, I was seeing a bathroom trip in my immediate future, and it's hard enough to get out of the recliner because of how low it is. I couldn't do that and maneuver around a small one.

Next thing I know, as I'm psyching myself up to stand up and hobble to the bathroom, Medium comes almost tumbling back into the living room.

She's toting my pillows that I use to prop up my leg and arm when I'm in the recliner. She'd apparently gone to my room and gotten them off the bed.

She'd also gotten the right pillows, which is something of a feat, since I have a half dozen pillows on my bed.

They were nearly as big as her, and it's a wonder she didn't fall trying to carry them both.

"I got yewr piwwows!" she announced proudly.

What a big girl!