I have not blogged recently, as I am reminded every few days when the Handy Man asks me, “have you added anything to your blog lately?” It isn’t that I have had nothing to say, but rather that I have not known quite how to say it. I have felt weary–oh, so weary. But this week, in the midst of some trials and uncertainties, God allowed me a blessed and much needed respite.
We are barreling down to the last few weeks of Gladys Mae’s high school years. She has been very resistant to the idea of college, and in fact, resistant to finishing some of the courses I wanted her to finish. As she is almost eighteen, I have been, frankly, ready for her to just quit and get her GED. I know, not a very flattering or Godly response as a mom–I am just being real here. Sometimes homeschooling is fun and exciting, and other times it is like pulling teeth. When eager mom meets stubborn, decidedly marching-to-a-different-drummer child, sometimes the ensuing struggle is enough knock the life right out of eager mom. We have been consumed with so many extra activities–co-op, choir, archery, poultry judging, Awana, music lessons, etc. (I am going to simplify next year!) And then there is the constant financial struggle. The Handy Man has been employed for a year and a half–and we are grateful–but it is clear that the earning potential in his current job is far less than what it could be, and indeed less than we need to keep our chins above water.
We have been doing some exterior remodeling of the house since last summer. The Handy Man has been installing new vinyl siding, replacing exterior doors and a few windows, and has plans to replace the skirting around the bottom of the house. In December we had a central heat and air unit installed. What a God-send that has been! We also had some short walls poured around the perimeter of the house to which we can anchor the skirting. The walls are also there to provide a barrier so the water running off the hill does not go under the house anymore. The children’s rooms are much drier!
Last Saturday, The Handy Man was working on the siding when he had a rather nasty accident. We are not sure what exactly happened. At 3:00 he was in the house and commented on how fast Sweet Pea was eating her apples. (The child LOVES her fruit!) He was back outside around 3:15 while the boys and I puttered around the house working on laundry, finishing the clean-up of their room, etc. They had done a good job, and I was waiting on a load of laundry to finish, so we sat down at the computer to watch an episode of our current favorite cooking show, Cutthroat Kitchen. Little Princess and Gladys Mae were off at a 4-H event (where Little Princess received a score of 100% and won first place in Creative Stitchery at the regional District Project Achievement) so The Handy Man was without his main helper. At 4:30, I heard a noise behind me, and I looked over and saw the Handy Man sitting in my chair at the kitchen table. He looked a little dazed and had black streaks on his face. I walked over and saw that it was dried blood, and I asked him what he had done. He replied, “I don’t know.”
Some of you know The Handy Man in person, and you know that he can be something of a smarty pants, so when he said. “I don’t know.”. I immediately thought that he was being one then. I asked him again, and he said, “I think I just woke up.” And that was when I knew he had really injured himself. His cheek had not just a trickle of dried blood, but huge GLOBS of dried blood. (We washed those off before photos were taken. You’re welcome.) I walked around to look at the back of him, and the back of his head was covered in dried blood and mud. I called for Lil’ Adventurer to get me a wash cloth so I could try to identify the blood source. As we started to look more closely, I could see that the dried sheets of blood on the back of his head and neck had come from his ear. As I looked at his ear, it looked okay, but as I pulled the top a little, I could see that it was completely detached from his head at the top…and the dried blood had simply congealed and glued it back into place. Keep in mind, that this all took about 90 seconds. I put the clean wash cloth over his ear, grabbed his hand and placed it over the wash cloth, and told him to not remove it under any circumstance. I yelled for the boys to put on shoes, and I grabbed a clean shirt and diaper for Sweet Pea. We were out the door in less than five minutes, a record for us. We buckled The Handy Man into the front seat, and set off for the emergency room. Most people are amazed that I did not call an ambulance. I am not sure why I didn’t–maybe because of the children–but I am not even sure it crossed my mind. The Handy Man was upright, talking…the blood was DRY.
As we drove down the dirt road, he said to me,”What day is this?” And that was when I was sure he had a concussion. He could not remember the day at all–that it was Saturday, that we had argued over how early we had to get up to get the girls to 4-H on time (I won–and drove them) or even what he had been doing that day. He could not remember that Lil’ Adventurer had been helping him by handing pieces of soffit up, or how he had injured himself. As we drove to the ER, I called Lindy and asked her to meet me there so she could get the kids. Well, she activated the Emergency Sister Alert, so by the time we arrived, Dee was there and Star Child was on her way. Both had left their jobs and flown to the hospital. Lindy’s boyfriend, Andy, was there, too.
Lindy, Andy and Dee were standing in the parking lot waiting for us. They had arranged for Dee to take the children since Lindy is the EMT in training. I got out of the car, told Dee that she needed to go to the meeting place to get Little Princess, and off she went in my car. (Gladys Mae was staying the night as they had a special formal for them. It was senior retreat weekend.) Dee had the children and we had The Handy Man. We walked him in, sat him in a wheelchair, signed him in, and then they took him straight back. No triage, no waiting–it is amazing how a lot of blood can make the ER wait time disappear.
They wrapped the Handy Man’s head, put him in a neck brace. By that time, Star Child had arrived, as had Number Seven. (You will recall our “adopted” children all get numbers.) One of my sweetest sisters in Christ, Gayle-Rae, also came. I had called her as a back-up, but she insisted on coming even if we had it all covered. Our oldest son had also arrived….and the hospital decided at that point to enforce the two visitors per room limit. They took The Handy Man to CT, so we were all in the waiting room just waiting. Meanwhile, Andy whipped out his phone and was showing all of us the ring he planned to give to Lindy. (He had gotten the Handy Man’s blessing the Saturday before Easter.) They brought the Handy Man back out, and I chased them down the hallway.
We were there for a while before they came back and said that they were transferring him to the bigger hospital in Gainesville. He had a head fracture, and they were not equipped to take care of him. That moment was terrifying for me. Number Seven walked me down the hallway, and I was about to lose it.
So now we were waiting for medical transport; he got his ambulance ride after all! The ambulance arrived, and we all headed out. Star Child and Number Seven went back to Seven’s house so Star Child could borrow some clothes. Dee had to work, so Lindy and Andy went back to the house to relieve her. Lindy gave me her car so I could drive to Gainesville behind the ambulance. I had given them a list of things I would need for the night, and Gayle-Rae insisted on going to the store for me to get some food items that would fit on THM plan. Somehow they all met up…
Lindy was planning to come down to the hospital, too, and she left Andy at our house with the four children (Little Princess, Lil’ Adventurer, Curious George and Sweet Pea. Talk about being thrown in the deep end!) She had his truck, he had my Lincoln (with the car seats) in case he needed it, I had Lindy’s car, and Dee was at work. Star Child and Number Seven met me in the waiting room in Gainesville, but it was a good half-hour or more before we were allowed to go back to see him.
The Handy Man had fractured his temporal bone. His ear needed extensive repair. His shoulder and ribs were extremely sore, as was his opposite wrist. he had a concussion. A plastic surgeon came in and began cleaning the mud out of the ear injury. He repaired it in the ER while we sat with The Handy Man. The ear had detached around the top–and it required many, many sutures inside and then the external repair. The surgeon was most concerned about infection because of how contaminated the ear was. An x-ray was taken of the wrist. Other than a cracked head, nothing else was broken. Of course, he had injured his “good” ear. As we like to joke, he is deaf in his left ear and hard-of-hearing in his right one.
The initial estimate was that we would be in the hospital for a week, but a seasoned nurse came in and said that, based on how well he was doing, she would not be surprised if he was allowed to go in one or two days. And indeed, The Handy Man, apart from being in severe pain, was acting like himself–joking, giving the nurses a lot of good-natured grief. I clung to her words of wisdom like a life raft. The Handy Man was transferred to the ICU.
Lindy arrived with my cooler of goodies from Gayle-Rae and my overnight bag. Star Child and Seven took turns with Lindy coming in and visiting. Seven is a nursing student, so she found all the gory stuff very interesting. They eventually left, and we were left in the excellent, attending care of the ICU nurses. The Handy Man rested fitfully between neurological checks, blood pressure checks, temperature checks, IV monitor beeping, blood pressure cuff readings, etc. His blood pressure was fluctuating, sometimes really high. His blood sugar was also very high. Both were probably due to the trauma. My rest was even more fitful–between all his interruptions, his occasional moaning, the very hard chair cot, and the fearful thoughts that kept assaulting me in the night (how long would he miss work, how would we pay for all this, would he really be okay, etc.) I found I had to preach the gospel to myself over and over that night. I finally begged the Lord for rest, and I had about an hour of uninterrupted sleep.
My mother arrived the next day for a visit, bringing with her some food for me. Other friends came–Tammy and Scott; Michelle and Bob. The Handy Man had done well and was being transferred to a regular room. I was relieved to find that the sofa cot was much more comfortable than the chair cot had been, and there was a comfy recliner, too. The Handy Man was in bed for the remainder of that afternoon, but the next morning, he moved quickly to the recliner. He was up walking around. He insisted on wearing his pajamas. They removed his IV as he was drinking well. We were ready to go home!
The Handy Man is “grounded” for two weeks. He can not lift more than 10 pounds, he cannot drive, he cannot operate heavy machinery. He is going nuts. His body still hurts, his ear is still very swollen and hurts, his head hurts. BUT he is alive, he is mending, and we still have him! Hopefully the neurosurgeon will clear him when he goes back. I am afraid the plastic surgeon may take longer–he cannot wear glasses for 3-4 weeks, and he has to wear protective goggles for work. His injured ear is very swollen and sticks out of his head at a weird angle. That should go back to normal when the swelling goes down.
I have no idea what the hospital bills will be….I do know that our deductible is so high that it will take us a long, long time to pay off the bills. However, God is faithful. I have for a while prayed for God to show me what He would have me to do to help our family finances. I begged him for something I could do and still homeschool my children. On Tuesday, I received a call from the local school board about an application I started but never completed (last fall!) to be a bus driver. I have an interview next Thursday. Whatever happens, I know that God has us…He always has and always will.
Our friends and family have been wonderful. I was encouraged to keep my plans for a spring break get-away with Tammy and Gayle-Rae, and I did. We had a blast! (post to come soon!) Our adult children (including Andy) all stepped in to make sure that someone was here to care for the children, provide transportation, and care for The Handy Man. Yesterday, on my way home, I received a call from Lindy. Andy had popped the big question, and she had given him a “yes”. What a way to end a week of incredible lows and surprising highs! It is indeed always an adventure.