Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Remington Roller Coaster

On December 7th my sweet husband John took on the task of getting the holiday decorations out of the attic.  On his first trip he brought down our old Christmas tree with all of the bright colored lights.  I put it together and set it all up and realized that some of the lights didn't work anymore, so I asked him if he'd get the other Christmas tree down for me.  The kiddos were having fun decorating the broken one, but I figured I'd get the other one set up and they could help me move the ornaments and all.  So up he went again.  It was a great Sunday afternoon.  We had all been a tad sniffly so we stayed in and had a family day.  We were ALL in our PJ's. The scene was perfect for Christmas decorating.  Music was playing, I was finishing up the dishes, and the kiddos were clearing the spot for the tree when we heard the crash.

It was surreal.  I ran, wet hands and all, to the hallway.  We have had the same ladder for years.  John used it for installing dish network years ago and we've just always had it.  Just a note of caution....ladders get old and their latches get faulty.  I looked into the hallway and my husband was standing there with both hands held up in front of him and his arms were bent in the wrong places.  He was very clearly in shock and looked like he would pass out any second.  Shoes were stuck on without socks and I grabbed the keys and we were out the door to the emergency room.

This is his right arm.  It looked worse than the left, but the break was a bit cleaner.  It only needed one surgery.  The left one...pictured below...had to have 2 surgeries. 

His very swollen hand is to the left of the picture
and the right of this picture is toward his elbow.

It took a little over a week to get in to see an orthopedic surgeon. We were very frustrated.  There was no relief for John's pain and he was so obviously broken and needed to be put back together.  When we did finally see a surgeon he referred us to a specialist in Temple, at Roney Bone Institute with Scott & White.  

Finally we got straight talk from a doctor.  We saw Dr. Daniel Stahl.  He was/is amazing.  He sat down across from us both and said "You are in this for the long haul.  Surgery can be done anytime within 3 weeks of the actual break before you have to worry about re-breaking anything, and surgery is NOT going to make you feel any better.  In fact, it will make you hurt worse for a while.  The purpose of the surgery is not to make you feel better, it's to make you heal better."  That was our consultation with him.  The surgery was scheduled for the following Monday.                 

My sister an her family were able to be here during that surgery and take care of getting B and E on the bus and off the bus. They brought their children so little L had playmates.  John's surgery took 4 hours and his recovery took nearly as long. So it was all day before I got to see him.  He has had previous breaks in his right hand from wrestling in high school, and for some reason the surgery exacerbated the pain from those injuries.  They tried multiple pain meds and finally resorted to doing a nerve block in the right arm to get him out of excruciating pain.  Eventually we were sent home with instructions to keep the arms dry and move the fingers every day.  That was going fairly well when John began to develop a sore throat...

After about 3 days he had gotten to feeling so badly that we had to get him to the doctor.  Much to our dismay, he had Strep.  I was also running a fever, so they went ahead and put us both on antibiotics.  

It was Christmas break for the kiddos so we had them all at home with us.  We were trying to get ready for Christmas and little L's birthday was on the 21st...  All of the days are running together a little bit for me now.  John had his 2 week checkup at Scott and White locally, so that we didn't have to drive to Temple.  It was supposed to be routine.  He just needed a couple of xrays and casts to replace the ace bandages since the swelling was down.  The kiddos and I sat in the waiting room while he went in.  20 minutes turned to 30 minutes....and 30 minutes to an hour...then an hour and a half.  During which time little E began crying that his tummy hurt.  I was holding him and he was moaning and crying.  John had forgotten his phone, so I couldn't reach him to tell him that something was wrong.  Finally he came out...not because he was done, but because he needed his phone.  E's fever had spiked really high and John's nurse walked us around to the ER in the same building...while John stayed to finish his appointment.

Long story short, E had the flu and severe constipation.  And while I was getting that news, John was learning that his right arm was better, but the left wrist had collapsed again.  We had to make another trip to Temple to consult with Dr. Stahl. L was with us when we went, so John went in alone.  When he came out he was distraught.  They told him that it looked bleak.  That they weren't sure that they could do anything else other than fuse the joint...which would make him lose ALL movement in his wrist.  Later that night, Dr Stahl called John on his cell phone.  Long story short, he had spoken to another specialist and they had an idea.  They wanted to take a chunk of bone out of John's hip and graft it into his wrist. 

 3 days later we were in Temple again for the surgery.  Going in, they informed us that there were several possibilities of what they might find when they started surgery.  We trusted Dr Stahl and gave him written permissions to make important decisions regarding the hip bone and how to best repair the crushed wrist joint.  I sat in the waiting room drinking coffee and crocheting for 3 hours.  They didn't end up cutting into John's hip.  I was so very relieved about that.  He was already in so much pain.  It was nearly unbearable for me to see him hurt like that, and the thought of them causing pain elsewhere was excruciating to me.  They ended up packing the joint with sterilized ground cadaver bone.

They used a bar like contraption to ratchet the joint to the right angle. When they finished the surgery it looked really good to Dr Stahl so they left the contraption on for 3 weeks to give the bone a chance to get a good head start in healing before removing the screws.

My Aunt Tammy came and took the kiddos to visit with the rest of my family and have New Year's and a belated Christmas celebration while John was having his surgery.  It was so amazing to know for sure that the kiddos were in good hands and also to have a couple of days of quiet to get John used to the external structure that was on his arm.  As you can imagine it was a psychological challenge for him...and I guess for me as well considering that it was my job to remove the bandages and clean the screw holes 2 times a day.

E got what everyone thinks was a mosquito bite while he was at my folks and it got continually bigger until he got home, and B came home with an absolutely terrible cough, a fever, and a sore throat.  I took them both to the dr the next day and E had a secondary infection with his bug bite and B had a sinus infection. They both needed antibiotics...and neither could go to school for a few days.

B and E both returned to school that Thursday and Thursday afternoon they both came home miserable.  It was back to the dr again on Friday.  B had the Flu this time and E and L both had ear and sinus infections.

None of which stopped them from enjoying eachother's company....as you see in the photo below.

On the 31st of December I walked into the boys room to a squishy soggy floor.  The dishwasher had sprung a leak and had to be unplugged for a couple of days....AND my dryer quit working and had to be repaired.

 Through it all we have kept our smiles secured in place and enjoyed spending time together.  It's been soul cleansing to have these few weeks at home with John and the kiddos...

It has been a roller coaster, but we have been closer as a family than ever before.  I keep waiting for the challenges to slow down a little bit and I keep aiming my chin to heaven and praying my heart out for my beautiful little family....and the challenges keep coming.

As the kiddos began to get better, John started a deep scary cough in the night and his fever spiked.  He was diagnosed with bronchitis ...very nearly pneumonia.  A few days later I started having a severe stomach issue along with a sore throat terrible cough and headache.  I was in the bathroom 25 times in 3 hours and there was no sign of anything slowing down.  I was vomiting and having diarrhea, completely unable to retain any fluids at all.....  We had to take me to the ER for an iv of fluids and blood testing. It was not the flu, but it was viral.  Nothing to be done but stay hydrated.

One week later my stomach was better, but there was no improvement with the cough and congestion.  I went back to the Dr and she prescribed antibiotics.  The day that I finished the antibiotics...yesterday...we ended up taking John to the ER for severe abdominal pain.  We thought that he had a blockage as a result of eating too quickly since he had gastric sleeve surgery a few years ago, but when we got there it turned out that his liver enzymes are elevated and his gallbladder is full of sludge.  They still don't know what is going on exactly, but they admitted him to the hospital and he has been there 2 days now with no real end in sight.  I'm still coughing uncontrollably and struggling with chronic chest congestion so today, between visiting John at the hospital and consulting with his doctors and caring for the kiddos, I had to go in for a chest x-ray...they think that I may have pneumonia.  

We also kept a friend's dog for a few days while she went out of town and the dog ate a pair of my shoes and chewed the cord off of my vacuum cleaner....so...yeah...

Anyway, long story longer....I'm sharing all of this to ask you all for your prayers and thoughts over the next little while. 

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