Thursday, July 10, 2008

Snap! There went my ankle...

Warning! This post is very long-it's for me to reflect on a day that changed my life in extreme ways this past year. It's a way for me to acknowledge what happened so I can continue to heal both physically and mentally and even spiritually. Proceed with caution!

A year ago today I was in Wyoming participating in a Pioneer Trek. We had taken the youth of our church from Seattle Wa. to Martin's Cove Wy. to dress up like pioneers, push and pull handcarts and walk the trail of our pioneer ancestors.

It was an amazing experience and one we were glad to be a part of. My hubby and I were Ma's and Pa's to several fantastic kids. We left Wa. on Monday, arrived in Wyoming late Tuesday after many, many mishaps of which I'm not sharing right now. We trekked out Tuesday night and continued on until Friday when we prepared to head back to WA.

This story begins early Friday morning...

Hubby and I woke up earlier than normal (pre 6 am) that day so we could have a moment and get a head start before we woke up the 'family.'

We were camped right next to the J family. There was a spot between our tents that was perfect for brushing teeth so that is what I was doing. Brushing teeth! While walking back to our tents-calling for the kids to 'Rise and Shine' I stepped into a gopher hole.

My ankle rolled, snapped and I fell to the ground. A hole that small took me down! Man!

The pain was excruciating.

I have sprained my ankle before but this was NOTHING like that. I remember thinking "this must be bad because I can't stop crying and I'm surrounded by teenagers."

I yelled for E.J. to push my ankle back in. He held it instead until the cavalry arrived. Dr. S came and removed my shoe-AAGH!! (I believe I was saying NOOOOO! Don't take it off!)

Dr. N (who is a foot/ankle surgeon and happened to be a Pa on trek) arrived several moments later. He squeezed my upper calf and I screamed well lets just say that I reacted loudly to this event. Dr. N announces that 'I think it's broken! Don't put any weight on it at all.'

Now, I'm in the middle of Wyoming laying on the ground surrounded by tents and kids. I have to get home to Seattle by bus/van which is over 35 hours away. I'm not suppose to put weight on it. Ha!

During all of this, while crying occassionally whimpering and uncontrollably shaking because of shock I was directing kids to get another adult to take over the music for that mornings meeting, find the music in my backpack, pack up camp and go to the meeting without me. The kids thought that it was really funny that I still remembered the things that had to get done that morning and that I maybe shouldn't worry about that stuff and worry about my ankle. Hubby went to get the kids settled at the early morning meeting.

Laura ( of taco soup fame) stayed behind with me. I am soo, soo grateful that she was there. Dr. N needed to stabilize my ankle and wrap it and place it in a boot. While he was doing that Laura held me tight and I cried and cried in her arms. I was crying from the pain of it but I was crying more from the abrupt end to my trek experience. It was over for me. No more hugs and chats with my kids, no riding home on the buses and laughing and singing and being with them. I love these kids and I was not prepared nor ready to have our time end. We had no closure. No goodbyes. It was so sad for me. In one fell swoop it all changed. That darn gopher hole!

This is me with my kids before the hole.

This is me after the hole.

Hubby eventually came back from settling the kids and I was helped into a cool handcart for injured folk. That was now me darn it! Injured! After the meeting it was really busy for everyone. All of the camps needed to be broken down and packed up. Everyone needed to be fed breakfast. The buses needed to be loaded with all of the gear and kids...It was a busy time. No one accounted for a serious injury. I was forgotten.

Picture me here alone without hubby. My leg propped just like the photo.

I was in a ton of pain. I couldn't take the pain medication yet(which Dr. S so generously supplied) because I needed to eat. After the meeting my cart was parked in an out of way place. The 'powers that be' assured hubby that they would get me food and water within minutes and bring around a van so I could get out of the hot, hot sun and get my foot settled.

Hubby needed to go with the kids and make sure everything was taken care of for them. I told him to go. Hubby believe the 'ptb and I believed the 'ptb' (acronym for powers that be) So, there I sat. The cart propped on a bucket. My foot propped on a thin bar. The sun shining overhead-getting hotter and hotter. I had no water, no sunscreen, no food, a broken ankle, no way to take the pain medication and no one around me. It was BAD! I was left there for over 2 hours- (3 hours had already passed before this part began)

On a side note, this moment truly helped me understand a smidgen of what the pioneers went through. This particular place was refuge for hundreds of trapped pioneers who were waiting to be rescued. Many died and all suffered because of the elements which they were stuck in. They however were waiting for days and weeks not just hours. Also, those who ended up rescuing the pioneer company were ones who took matters into their own hands as well. I was about to be rescued by those who took matter into their own hands.

I love you Amy and J.P. for finally rescuing me! Thank you!

Now, back to my story; My dear friend Amy happened upon me and asked me what in the world was I doing there? I lost it! I truly went into hysteria. I think I cried and shrieked over and over again 'They forgot me.' 'I'm not suppose to be here.' 'Help me! Help me!'

Thank goodness for great, inspired and responsive friends. Amy took immediate action and ran and found the closest staff member. It was J.P. My dear friend who has always been around to help whenever help has been needed. J.P was busily loading the buses. He dropped everything and ran to me and asked what I needed. I couldn't respond in any coherent way so he took action. I remember very distinctly J.P. leaning over the handle bars and looking at me very intently. He spoke very earnestly to me and apologized to me for being left alone for so long. (although he had no knowledge of my situation before this very moment -he didn't need to know to understand that something had gone horribly wrong) He promised me that he would remedy this immediately and take care of me. J.P. then went and got a van and within a moment he had pulled up, pulled out the seats and was putting me in the van.

I cannot express enough right here what gratitude I feel for the action that took place on my behalf. For the acknowledgement of my feelings. For being willing to make quick decisions to remedy a very bad situation. For kindness, for friendship and for true, Christlike love!

Amy meanwhile had gone to get Hubby. He was horrified. He ran to the food area to get me food-they had already packed it all up. He opened coolers and found me food anyways. He brought it to me and I could finally take pain medication. (5 1/2 hours since the break occured)

I was in the back of the van in unbelievable pain, crying into a pillow and trying to understand what I was experiencing when the 'ptb' pulled up. Ptb started talking very loudly with J.P. I was not suppose to be in that van they said. I had to go in another van. J.P. stated that he would not move me. PTB insisted on moving me. J.P. said 'absolutely not!' J.P. won. I sobbed. On top of it all-being abandoned, in pain the PTB was actually angry that action was taken without their permission and the action didn't fit into their plan.

It is obvious that I still have issues with this part of the story. I'm working through them. I just got around to acknowledging them a few weeks ago. Boy do I have issues!

Our trek family in SLC

J.P. assured me that he would not leave my side until I was safely home in Washington. He kept this promise. Hubby and I drove with him and his wife the whole way home. Even when we stopped in SLC for a few hours, he stayed with us.

It was on the drive home after internalizing the previous days events and talking aloud in a safe atmosphere that I realized I had experienced hysteria. It was very scary! Very raw! and a very vulnerable feeling! I hope to never feel that again.

Upon arriving home, I had x-rays and yes my ankle was broken. The bone snapped clear off and had significant ligament damage. I was in a bright pink cast for 6 weeks-and I couldn't put any weight on my ankle at all. Then into the black boot for several weeks, followed by a brace for several weeks. In the middle of this we bought a house and moved. I was out of the brace for 3 weeks when my ligament showed itself to be a problem. Back into the boot for several weeks and then the brace until surgery on April 18th to repair the ligament and cartilage. In the hospital for 2 days, no walking for 7 weeks, a couple of complications, extreme and unexpected pain and difficulty.

This is my ankle 3 weeks post-op. Ewwww! Gross. Funny story-I came home from the hospital with a drain tube that needed to be removed on day 3. I was suppose to go back into Dr. N's office but I couldn't because I was just in too much pain and I have too many stairs. So that evening, Dr. N came here to my house to remove the drain after t-ball. (Hubby was the coach and Dr. N's son was on the team) My bed was surrounded by several t-ball players and all of my kids plus 2 of the neighbor kids. They thought it was so cool! A house call in this day and age. Amazing!

It's been a difficult, difficult year. I didn't see this coming. At the one year mark, I'm finally walking again. I'm in quite a bit of pain still. I wear a brace. I'm at about a 30% activity level and everything I do is affected by this accident. Dr. N does tell me that surgery was very successful and I can expect to be at 95% in about 6 months.
It's been a very difficult road mentally and I've been surprised by that. I believe it's because I haven't had one day of being pain free this entire year. It's affected my patience level tremendously in a negative way. I've gained a significant amount of weight due to inactivity. My 2 closest friends whom I treasure and need have walked away from me, I believe due to the move and because I just haven't been myself. It's the only thing I can think of and they both say everything is cool. It's not. I miss them so much. They were brightness and laughter to me and always made me a better person.

It's 11:00 p.m. now. I've been writing and re-writing this all day. I've been thinking about it and I've been talking it through. I genuinely feel that this one year anniversary is a healing anniversary for me. I'm finally on the healing side of this accident. My pain is lessening and I will continue to heal emotionally and spiritually. I know that I would go again on trek. We had amazing experiences; walking, pushing, pulling, loving, sharing, singing, crying, bonding, feeling, helping...there is a connection with our kids that will last forever. Next time, I would just be a little more careful when it comes to where I'm brushing my teeth :)

Thanks for hanging in there with helps to have friends! Goodnight!


Braden & Amanda said...

Wow Chari, I had no idea that this all happened! I saw you a few months ago and noticed the boot but had no idea it was this long of an ordeal. I am truly inspired by this story in many ways, ways I need to change my life to be more like J.P. and more like the Savior and watch for out for those around me. I am so sorry that this has been your experience the last year but I know that I will surely grow from this experience. You truly are pioneer now :)

Reddirt Woman said...

Chari, I am so proud of you for re-living your experience with your injury and all that surrounded it. When I first read your blog, it was a couple of months ago when you were at a very down point with your ankle and the frustrations you were experiencing with the forced inactivity. I was one of several folks that were encouraging you to hang in there, it had to get better. I don't think that I've read a post of yours since that hasn't been more and more positive as the days have gone by and to be able to go through your emotions and the pain you've dealt with and be able to celebrate your healing (albeit slowly) is wonderful. Keep up the good work and all the positive progress.

Helen G.