Well, I started this blog nearly two months ago with an exciting, adrenalin-packed story about Dave getting buried in an avalanche. And I acknowledged the need to occasionally include an exciting, adrenalin-packed story to keep your attention. So, for that reason, we are obliging once again. (Please excuse the delayed timing on getting this story out to y’all – it’s taken a couple of days to get my sense of humor back. And, if I sound just a little ticked… … it’s ‘cause I’m just a leeetle bit ticked. Wyatt’s encouraging me to practice graciousness. He’s right. So I’m practicing. If practice makes perfect, I should be approaching perfection soon.)
All right. Y’all (such a useful word – I learned it from Lee. He learned it in four years of school in Texas. Anyway.) Y’all know that we’re working on a building project this summer. Our goal is to have it sided by July 4th. Our nephew and his bride will be getting married here and we prefer the lovely Alaskan Garden look over the Alaskan Construction Site look. We’ve (hmm, Dave has) made good progress over the past weeks, going from bare slab to two stories, some sheeting and trusses. Saturday, Scott and Jay came over to help Dave and Wyatt roll the trusses. After getting the trusses are on and secure, the guys sheeted the upper roof. They even got it tar papered and put a lovely silver tarp on to keep out the weather. Tarps are very important to the Alaskan look. The small roof that extends out over the north side of the garage wasn’t done, but it could wait another day.
After dinner on Sunday, Dave decided to put up the girder truss on the garage section. It’s a one man job. He set up the scaffolding and got to work. Wyatt, Ben and Sharon decided to take advantage of the good weather and went on a four-wheeler ride. I was playing on my computer – making schedules and menus (my favorite – really and truly). I could hear Dave banging around outside. After a bit I heard thumping and then nothing. This happens a lot. And I always go check. And nothing is EVER wrong. So, I thought – he’s fine, leave him alone. A few seconds later I decided that it doesn’t hurt to check. I went to the front door and poked my head out. No sounds. “Dave?” No answer. Hmm, he’s probably in the garage for some reason. On my way back to my desk I glanced out the window and saw Dave lying on the ground. Racing out the back door and around the garage I could only think, “Oh God! No, no, no, no.” Reaching him, I could hear him breathing loudly and hard. He was absolutely still. I called his name and gently touched him but didn’t get a response. He’d fallen at least twelve feet and landed in the rip-rap (eight inch minus, broken, decorative rock) – NOT a forgiving landing pad. His left arm was hanging down the window well, the wrist badly scraped and swelling. His right arm was curled up under his chest; I thought it was probably broken. There was a small pool of blood under his head, I could see a large cut across the top of his head and a bigger gaping wound behind his right ear. The rest of his body looked okay – no protruding bones or weird angles. As I ran back inside for the phone I debated calling 911, if I called and he woke up fine, he’d be annoyed – shoot, I’d be annoyed. On the other hand, I could always call back and cancel the ambulance. But, I was pretty sure he was going to need it.
Inside I grabbed the phone and ran out again, dialing. The 911 operator was calm and very helpful, she got an ambulance coming immediately and asked me questions to help me assess Dave’s needs. Not that I can remember much of the conversation now – I was pretty focused on Dave. I could hear the ambulance siren coming up the hill a couple of miles away when Dave started to regain consciousness. His eyelids fluttered and he started to push himself up. “Stop, don’t move Dave. How can I help you?” I couldn’t keep him from moving. I was terrified that his neck and or back could be broken. But I could not stop him without wrestling with him which I thought could be just as damaging. So he moved bit and tried to stand up. He was only up a few moments before he said, “I gotta sit down.” And down he went. I took hold of him from behind and we sank back down on the rocks. I cradled him in my arms and tried to hold his head against my chest to stop any bleeding. (He was pretty happy to be cradled.) He asked over and over what had happened. I testily told him, “You fell off the roof.”
“What was I doing on the roof?”
“You rolled trusses yesterday and you’re trying to finish the project.”
“What project?” he asked.
“We’re building a garage onto the house, you rolled the trusses yesterday and you’re finishing the garage extension today.”
A few moments later he queried again, “What’s going on?” And we went through the whole thing again, over and over.
The ambulance arrived, quickly followed by the big fire truck and the fire chief himself. Our neighborhood must’ve been wondering what was going on. The fire chief is a friend and I was happy to have him there – though I didn’t pay much attention to him. The EMTs took over care of Dave, getting a neck brace on him and placing him on a very uncomfortable board. Although, I suppose a board is more comfortable than rip rap.
As soon as the ambulance arrived I hung up with the 911 Operator and called Scott. “Scottie! I need you at the house now!” “I’m on it,” he responded and we hung up. I tried to call the boys, but couldn’t catch them. As Dave was being loaded into the ambulance I went back inside to pack a bag for the hospital, thinking “I know what I’ll need: water, granola bar, apple, book, and camera. We just did this a couple of months ago.” All packed up, I went outside to wait for Scott. Now that I didn’t have anything to do, it felt like forever before he arrived. In reality it was only a few minutes. While waiting, I talked with the fire chief. Again, I don’t remember much of the conversation (so sorry, Mitch – I’m really glad you were there). As soon as Scott drove up I ran down to him. “He fell off the roof. He fell off. He fell of the roof!” Scott held me and then I saw that Kathy had come with him, she took hold of me and we held on to one another while Scott went to check on Dave in the ambulance.
We decided that Kathy and I would drive to the hospital behind the ambulance. Scott stayed at the house for a bit to try to figure out how Dave fell and to turn off and put away the tools. He also did a quick run through on the house and greenhouse to make sure I didn’t have anything cooking or the water running. Good man. I’d gotten a hold of Wyatt and Ben, they pulled in in time to help Scott button up.
By the time I got to the emergency room Dave was coherent and talking well. They took him for a cat scan and x-rays and then we waited for results. Eventually someone came in to clean and staple his head wounds. Finally the ER doctor came to tell us the extent of his injuries. They are as follows: He has two lacerations on his skull. He does not have any skull fractures or bleeding on the brain. On his third cervical vertebrae he has a fracture of the spinous process (the little tab on the back of the vertebrae). This will only be sore; it is not a problem in any way. His sternum is broken horizontally and the plates have shifted and overlapped – this is his major source of pain. There is bruising behind the break and the concern was that his heart could be affected by this bleeding. His left wrist is scraped and swollen. His right big toe is black and blue and very sore to walk on. The rest of his body is covered in scrapes and bruises.
Dave was admitted into the ICU because in this hospital it is where they also do heart monitoring. He was hooked up to a monitor and they watched him for a couple of days.
Benjamin succinctly summed up his hospital stay: “he got drugs, he slept, he ate, repeat.” Monday afternoon, he got up to take a walk. He found this much more comfortable than staying in bed. He also spent some time sitting in a real chair. Lee, Beth, Wyatt, Ben and Sharon came in Monday evening and we spent time with them in the ICU waiting room visiting. After they left, Dave settled into bed and I went home to try to get some sleep. It was a terrible night for Dave. He asked for more pain meds, but the medication didn’t seem to help. He asked for more medication and the nurse gave him morphine, but it didn’t help either. Dave was concerned that there was something else wrong internally. After consulting the doctor the nurse was able to tell Dave that it was just a pain that he’d have to endure. The doctor assured them that there are no further internal injuries. Dave had them close the door to his room and he lay there and hollered for a few hours before falling into fitful sleep.
Tuesday morning I went in and was happy to learn that Dave was expected to be released that morning. He was exhausted from his rough night, but was feeling much better and definitely wanted to go home, so he got dressed. The doctor came in and questioned Dave. He said that he thought Dave would be alright going home, but that staying another night would be very reasonable. Dave communicated his eagerness to leave. I was very surprised how quickly we were released. I was expecting hours of waiting for paperwork and visits from various people. But, once Dr. Ko gave the okay, we were able to leave in less than an hour.
I thought that we would go to Fred Meyers to pick up his prescriptions then go home. But no. Dave wanted to go check on things at work. We spent about an hour at the Truss Company while Dave checked messages and e-mail, worked on a couple of orders, made a few phone calls and gathered up some folders to take home.
After we got home he lay down for a few minutes, but soon was up again. His chest was hurting. We spent the next three and a half hours moving from couch to wing-back to love seat to straight back chair to bed, back to the wing-back, over and over and over. My arms and back are sore from lifting and lowering him up and down so many times. He was in agony. There was no comfortable position for him and after a bit he couldn’t keep quiet. I hope he never has to go through something so painful again. Finally he was so exhausted and with the medication he’d been getting at intervals allowed him to collapse on the bed and sleep for a bit. I think he relaxed enough that his body was able to give him some relief. He continued to take his pain-killers and as the evening wore on he felt better. He came downstairs to eat a late dinner (thanks Sharon and Ben), visited with the men working outside (thank you Gregg, Jay and Scott) and took a shower. At bedtime he was able to lie flat. And he slept. Whew. Relief.
This morning he woke up at 6. “I feel a hundred percent, I’m going to work.” “I think that’s a bad idea,” I responded. He rode in with Wyatt. (Y’all might be surprised to learn that Dave is a strong-willed and stubborn man. Okay, maybe you’re not surprised.) I called a couple of times to check on him and make sure he remembered to take his pills. He had a good morning. While his chest pain is subsiding, he can now feel the stiffness in his neck. (These are Dave’s words – I’m not sayin’ a thing. Well, okay, maybe I’m sayin’ a little something.)
At lunchtime I went in and picked up him up. He’s resting comfortably on the couch right now. We are really happy that he’s had nearly twenty hours of relief. In the good moments it’s pretty easy to hope and believe that he’s all good. We’re praying for all good moments.
Golly, we go from high drama to a real yawner. I’m glad to tell you that he’s recovering well. It’d be a bummer to keep the drama level up by saying “… and then he had a five hour open heart surgery, followed by weeks of laying near death in ICU, followed by months of horrible physical therapy, followed by…”. Sometimes I prefer yawners. Actually, I really thought (think?) our life was exciting enough. I was content to have one close-call-life-or-death experience a year. Two in two months seems a little excessive. I told Dave so, too. As y’all can imagine. Not that it’ll change anything – but sometimes, I just have to get things off my chest.
Once again, we are grateful for the mercy God has shown to us. Once again, God has chosen to preserve Dave’s life and body. Once again, he’s given me the grace to make it through a difficult situation without completely breaking down into a hysterical fit. Although, believe me, sometimes I’m really close. And once again, we have been surrounding by loving family and friends to help carry the load.
For a whole bunch of reasons, we’ve had a very difficult year and half. In many ways we are struggling. And yet, through it, we are trying to keep our hearts and minds focused on what God is teaching us. We are sure that he has not left us. We are sure that he is working in and through us. What does he want us to know? What do we need to learn? The answers to these questions could be a book. But I’ll limit myself to these two truths:
Matthew 6:25 – 34
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
37 And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Trusting God and staying obedient to him, no matter what the circumstances of life are what we are trying to do. Some days it’s harder than others. Some days I want to say, “Enough God! I don’t think I can take any more.” And he always responds, always: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So we are pressing on, holding on to God’s grace, expecting that whatever it is he has for us, he’s in control.