"Whew, we made it through October without a visit to the hospital!"
I've alluded to the fact that we had a life-changing ordeal a couple of years ago. I've finally found time to sit down and put it into words. It's long, so I won't be offended if you have better things to do. If you've got a few minutes, brew up some java, add a little Gingerbread creamer and join me.
It was a cool October Saturday and we had a fun evening planned. My Manly Man was headed over to his parents' house with the kids. He was going to hunt while the kids spent some time with Grandma and Gran-gran.
I was headed to the grocery to buy enough food for my friend Julie and I to try the 'once a month cooking' thing. I was standing in the checkout line with my cart loaded to the top when my cell phone rang.It was my dear mother-in-law and she said:
"There's been an accident."
My heart was in my throat.
My whole world could be changing at this very moment. My husband? My children?
"Your father-in-law is with the paramedics trying to get your Manly Man (okay, she used his real name) out of the woods. I've got the kids with me. I'll call you when I know more."
Remember I said he was going HUNTING?
WITH. A. GUN.
I started crying as the lady was ringing up my Oreos and chicken breasts. I didn't know what to do. Do I just walk out and let them decided what to do with a half rung up cart of groceries?
It's funny how we behave when the world is crashing down. I just stood there and waited until she was done. I paid for the food with a trembling hand and left.
I called Julie and told her what was going on. As we were trying to decide where to meet for her to rescue the mountain of perishable food, my husband's cell phone beeped in.
It was his sweet voice.
His tender, loving voice that I had feared I might never hear again.
"I'm okay." That's all it took for the dam of emotions to break free. I was sobbing.
"It's okay, honey. I slipped coming down from the tree stand. I fell about 10 feet and I messed up my ankle. The paramedics (two females) couldn't carry me that far out of the woods so they had to put me on a stretcher in the back of my dad's 4-wheel drive truck to get me out. They are going to take me to the hospital, so you can just meet me there."
What a blessing that my kids were already at my in-laws' house. I didn't have to worry about arranging a safe place for them to go. My parents were out of town. We have a running joke that every time they go out of town, something big happens. This was big.
I met my father-in-law and my husband's hunting buddy, Joel, at the hospital. We watched as they rolled my husband in on a stretcher. He was all smiles and joking with the hospital staff.
The paramedics had (wisely) chosen to leave his boot on in an attempt to keep it stable.
As the nurse cut the boot off (much to my husband's dismay, after all, they were his favorite huntin' boots!) I nearly passed out. His foot was going the wrong direction.
If you know me, you know that even though I come from a family of medical minded people, that gene skipped me. I cannot handle blood, teeth, bones, eyes etc...
"Oh! Let me get the doctor. Yes. You messed that one up pretty good."
You might want to bring the smelling salts for me, too.
We settled down for the night in the ER. CAT scans, x-rays, blood work. Hours of tests.
Meanwhile, the kids were having a ball. Grandma took them to Target to get new pajamas and a movie. They thought it was great fun to have an impromptu sleepover.
By this point the Manly Man was tired of being poked and prodded. If he weren't in so much pain, I think he would have tried to hobble out of there. Forget the cast. Duct tape will work just fine.
As I sat in the family waiting room (thank goodness it wasn't the ER waiting room with blood and broken bones n' such) the tallest doctor in the world came in and introduced himself. He was the orthopedic surgeon for the hospital. He also takes care of the local football and hockey teams. We felt like we were in good hands.
He pulled my father-in-law and me aside and said,
"His leg is in grave condition. After looking at the x-rays, we realize that it is much more serious than we thought. I have spoken with my colleagues and we do not feel that we have the ability to perform the kind of surgery he needs."
What?! We live in one of the biggest cities in NC. We are at one of the best hospitals in the area. It's not like we are out in Podunkville!
"If the surgery is not done correctly, he has a high probability of loosing his leg."
Did you say he could loose his leg?!
Suddenly I was standing in a vortex. I couldn't breathe.
My father-in-law was crying. In the 13 years that I had known him, I had never seen him cry.
In an instant we went from joking about having to find tall crutches to the reality that he may have to use them. Forever.
The worst moment was yet to come. We had to go tell my Manly Man what we had just heard...
(Come back Monday for more of the story)