Accident Date: 31 Jan 2007
First Writing: 07 Mar 2007
Latest Update (Appended): 16 Oct 2007
To all my friends and acquaintances:
Thank you for your prayers, cards, visits, gifts and good wishes.
As most of you know, I fell from a roof I was de-icing and shattered my pelvis. God was good to me because, although this is a serious injury, it was not as bad as it could have been: I was not paralyzed, I did not suffer brain damage nor did I die. A nurse from the brain-trauma unit at St Luke's Rehabilitation told me there are three major categories for brain damage: 1) strokes and related things out of the person's control; 2) accidents while using drugs and/or alcohol; and 3) men on ladders and roofs.
The fall was probably fifteen feet including the slope. The tail of the rafter is a little more than twelve feet from the ground. My son was present when I fell. He ran up to me and asked if he should back my truck closer so I could get into it, or should he call 911. I remember instructing him to bring the truck. However, it didn't take me long to figure that I was seriously injured and we should leave this transport up to the professionals. I began to pray; not only for myself but now I was concerned about my family and my friends.
From the start, most everyone that worked with me has been cheerful, encouraging and professional. I remember apologizing to the EMTs in the rescue truck for making so much noise and my complaining. I was in so much pain. They told me I was fine and could make as much noise as I needed to. The rescue truck was unable to get close to me because of the ice. The EMTs put me on a flat board and transported me to the emergency vehicle in the back of my son's four wheel drive pickup.
There was a lot of hustle and bustle when the transport vehicle arrived at Kootenai Medical Hospital. I remember being moved a lot and the pain that was involved. They had to cut my work jeans off my body and I remember saying through the morphine that those were my favorite jeans. They laughed. But there was a nurse that didn't laugh, in fact she gave me a bad time when she asked me how tall I was and I said, "I used to be five foot nine, but after the fall, I think I am five foot three!" She told me if we were going to get anything done around here, I was going to have to give her straight answers. My wife said she later lightened up and she was a very good nurse. She helped Robin understand how things work and how to get the answers she would need from the doctors.
From the start, I knew I was in God's hands and even though I was in great pain, everything was going to work out. So, amidst the pain and the confusion, I was having fun joking and teasing with people who were working on me and I think they were enjoying it as well.
My wife was trying to get in to see me from the start. But the doctors and nurses had to get certain things done before they would let her in. She was persistent and they finally brought her to me. I remember hearing her voice as she said, "Honey, this is me, Robin. I am here. I will be right here with you." Suddenly, I knew, in my half-conscience state, everything was going to be okay. She was with me everyday - for a month and a day she stayed with me in the hospitals and the rehab center. God really blessed me with a great wife and life companion - and we just celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary a couple months earlier.
For the repair of the pelvis that was needed, there were three doctors who could perform this surgery: two were at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and one was at Sacred Heart in Spokane. However, Dr. Howlett, of Spokane was having his kidney stones removed and I would have to wait six days or go to Harborview. I chose to wait for Dr. Howlett.
Kootenai Medical put me up (or put up with me) during the wait. I had built homes for two of the nurses in my ward and they made sure I was treated real well. I was on morphine during this time and don't remember a lot. Even among the visitors I do remember, I might not remember much about the visit. I do remember having a lot of fun visits. I remember a lot of jokes and having trouble laughing.
One day, I was suddenly surrounded by five nurses. I think they were changing out my mattress so that I would not get bed sores. They started stripping away stuff all around me. Feeling I needed to protect myself, I pointed out the fact that I did not have any clothes under my hospital gown. They all stopped. The gal on my right, closest to my face, twisted her upper body so that her face was right in my face and she said, "Oh, I am so glad you pointed that out because I have not seen more than one other man naked in my whole life. What about the rest of you girls?" They all responded with, "Me, neither," or "Not me." I laughed; we all laughed and they went about stripping me down to nothing. After that, I did not concern myself with modesty for the next month or so.
At Kootenai Medical, I remember Janet and Tina, the two nurses I built homes for. Don always wore Elvis or Hawaiian shirts and was very pleasant to work with. Diane told us to be sure to come back or let them know how I was doing. There was a nurse from Czechosolvakia, but I don't remember her name. Dr. Sims was in charge of me and visited quickly every day. Turns out, we attend the same church. Except for the pain, Kootenai was a pleasant place to stay and I appreciate everyone there, even the ones I can't remember. I also remember CT scans and X-rays.
The transport to Sacred Heart was the day before the surgery. I remember getting a room, meeting the doctor and his aide, Brandi, and getting ready. The next day started off with nurses and doctors asking me questions and filling out forms. Then I met the anesthesiologist. After surgery, while the anesthesia was wearing off, I remember trying to get the nurse to understand how severe the pain I was going through was. She just kept reassuring me that I had come through a very major surgery and the pain would be under control in a very short time. I tried to take her word for it.
Up in my room, I felt like I was falling apart. Every small movement was accompanied with incredible pain. The incision around my belly is about eighteen inches long. The nurses that were in the operating room said the word "fillet" best describes the operation.
The day after the operation, I was allowed to rest. The following day, I was expected to, at least, use the walker to go to the bathroom - even if that was the only exercise I did. "Painful" is the only word to describe this activity. Even though I was worried, I still knew I was in the Lord's hands. He made me; He will heal me.
At church, I work in the children's ministry. The eleven o'clock church service consists of a four-man team (three men and a woman) working with about forty fourth and fifth grade boys and girls. Well, it turned out the team leader and I were on the same floor of the hospital this week. Tim was getting knee surgery by the same doctor. So, half the team was in the hospital.
Andy, who is the head of all children's church ministries, came to visit us both. He works at a store that provides wheelchairs and walkers and such. So we hired him to take care of the items we needed, except for the items our neighbor picked up at St. Vincents' - thank you, Michele. That was such a big help for Michele to do that. She first, went to the store to eyeball what they had. Then, she told us and then she went back to pick the items up. It was amazing to us to see the generosity of so many friends who were willing to go out of their way to fetch things that we needed.
They put a big blue boot on my left foot to keep it pointed the right direction and help prevent toe-drop. However, it was causing me great pain until Jane noticed the boot was not installed correctly. She then, showed my wife how to put my foot in the boot correctly. After that, the boot worked real well.
Other nurses we remember from Sacred Heart were Tim, a young man from Russia; Sandi was with me a good bit and Carol was with me near the end of my stay. Everyone treated us well and tried to help us on the fifth floor of Sacred Heart - even the ones I can't remember.
We started rehab on Valentine's Day at St. Luke's. Being off the hard drugs, I remember more of these people. The first day was hard. Becky started me off with some physical therapy (PT) in the morning. She was going to get me dressed. I remember the pain was so bad, I told her I was not going to get dressed and was going to go back to bed, which I did. After that, Dr. Varga came in to see how I was doing. I explained how I was feeling and he got right on the problem. After conferring with my surgeon, they both agreed I had nerve issues that were not being attended to and they adjusted my pain meds accordingly. In just a couple hours, he had me able to go about my daily routine. I felt real bad for Becky and hoped I had not ruined her day.
Becky was a regular therapist for me and she assured me she was fine after my display of pain. Chris was the lead physical therapist and she gave me a lot of great advice for improving my walking. Dave was always enthusiastic and a great encourager. He even brought his personal truck to work so I could practice getting in and out of a pickup. May was my therapist for several sessions doing weight lifting. Darrin was fun to talk to as we exercised and walked. I remember cold-cocking Marjorie when she was teaching me how to go up and down stairs for the first time. After I walked up the mock-stairs, I turned around on the landing. As I turned, my arm swung out - I don't know why and she was walking up the stairs and got hit square in the face. I felt bad about that, but we had fun with it and she teased me for several days after that. I also used it as a mock-warning to the others therapists not to mess with me.
The nurses and nurse aides were exceptional at St Luke's. Lis had a heavy German accent. At first she seemed to be pretty hard but I found her to have a great sense of humor. I remember one time, Robin asked her what I was supposed to wear in bed at night. Lis replied, "Calvin Klein. They are up in the cupboard. One size fits all." After that, we started calling hospital gowns, "Calvin Kleins."
Heidi was one of the first nurses to attend to me and she was a great encourager. Janell was a great nurse and always encouraging. Adam helped me understand my meds and learn to call for them on time. Kathy was just like a mom, always making sure that everything was just right. I remember Candace had to weigh me twice one day; packing that huge machine around to my room. Rhonda was a full of energy and encouraged Robin to learn how to do PT with me. Shelley taught Robin how to give me shots (in case she needed to know). I appreciate the attention and thoughtfulness of everyone on staff at St Luke's.
I am sending along one or more images of the metal in my pelvis. There are three plates and each plate has a series of screws and pins. I feel each and every one of these plates and pins. Everyday, there are more strange, new feelings. Sometimes, it feels like there is a metal rod in my leg from the top to the bottom.
About a week before I left St. Luke's, I had a fall. I was transferring from my bed to my wheelchair by myself. Usually, if the wheelchair is ninety-degrees to the bed this is a smooth transition. This time, the angle was a little more obtuse and my foot stopped short in making the swing. I was faced with either using the left foot for balance, which I am not supposed to place any weight on that foot until 06 May, or falling. So I decided to fall and leaned toward my right knee. I fell on two knees, two hands and my head hit the door - all with almost equal impact. A five-point landing! Thank God, no harm was done; in fact, the fall felt good.
As I write this, I have been home for nearly a week. Some days are better than others but overall, we are constantly improving. I am getting up and down the stairs with no problem using crutches. I have a walker upstairs and one downstairs. I use the wheelchair at my desk and when I venture outside. Yesterday, I walked down the block with my walker. Actually, "down the block" means past my house and sixty feet along my neighbors' frontage. Today, I went from chair to chair, doing paperwork or resting.
It has been a month and a day since the operation. Overall, I'd say I have improved considerably. Although I am in a lot of discomfort, not everything is painful anymore. I am able to get around on my own, but I still cannot put any weight on my left leg for another two months. Some days, it seems like this will be an eternity. Some days, I think I am going to breeze right through this. It helps to know I can always rely upon God.
It is hard to remember everything that happened after falling off the roof. One thing that I was concerned about was that I did not cuss. Years ago, while listening to the radio, I remember the account of a man that survived one of the worst airplane disasters of the century. Like me, he always thought that as people were approaching the end of their lives, especially in a disaster, when they knew the end was eminent, they would call upon God. But all around him, he heard cussing and swearing and bitter complaint. And it impressed him that as we are in life, we will be at the end. I think this is what Paul was talking about in Romans 10:9-10; the confession of our faith is a daily thing. If we call upon God and confess Him in our daily life, that is what we will do at the end. My son assured me I did not cuss and I was praying in between my moaning and groaning. My wife said I was also praying in the emergency room. I thank God for this as I know this is not of myself but it is His power and His doing that my mind should be on Him and not on myself or my circumstance. Thank you, Jesus.
/s/ Dean Isaacson
07 March 2007
PS [08 Mar 07]: Last night, I was feeling very discouraged and my wife was trying to cheer me up to very little avail. As I went to bed, I committed myself to God and when I woke this morning, my heart was singing, "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He's watching me."
PS [09 Mar 07]: For three days, my leg has been building up more than the usual share of pain. It got so bad yesterday that we decided to call the doctor. As soon as Robin called the doctor, the pain left. However, it returned again just as soon as the doctor's office closed at five. It is the darndest thing! The doctor's office decided the pain indicated the presence of blood clots. They told me to immediately go to the hospital and report to radiology. They would put an order in for an ultra-sound. We arrived at the hospital around noon. The hospital told us the imaging center across the street has an appointment for us at three-fifteen. You've got to take into account, I don't just hop in and out of cars anymore. I am certain there is a conspiracy!! Little more tired for the wear, but we made it.
PS [15 Mar 07]: A week ago, we were having additional pain and motion problems in my injured leg. The doctor sent me to radiology to have an ultrasound. We mentioned that in the last update. Friday, we were told to rush to the emergency room at Sacred Heart because they found a blood clot in my lower leg. We spent all day in the emergency room while the staff figured out the best course of action and medication. Near the end of the day, they sent us home with a prescription for coumadin and lovenox. The lovenox shots for one week (14 shots) cost over nine hundred fifty bucks! Our insurance limit on prescriptions is only twelve hundred dollars. This sure took the bite out of that. I was talking to my family doctor about this today and he explained to me that before lovenox, the course of action was to put me in the hospital for a week on an IV. Then, I remarked at least the insurance company paid for the stay! He made a remark that the insurance company is going to get us one way or another. Probably so.
PS [20 Mar 2007]: I remember a couple stories that I forgot about earlier. At Kootenai Medical, they had drilled through my knee and set a pin for traction. When I arrived at Sacred Heart, the nurses were instructed to set up traction for my leg. Well, these gals had never set up traction of this sort before. So I, still heavily doped up with morphine, had to show them how to set the hardware and then I instructed them to tie a knot at the end of the rope. They had no idea how to tie the knot and I could not reach far enough to tie it; so I asked if they had an extra rope. They did. Following my lead, they successfully tied the knot -- and very well I might add. After that, one of the nurses commented it was a good thing there was a man around here.
Another episode involves Sacred Heart as well. In the narrative, I made mention of Nurse Jane, who noticed my boot was not installed correctly. She came into the room and asked me who put the boot on. I told here I didn't know but that it did not feel right. So she showed me the label on the boot, which read, "Ankle Contracture Boot." Then she asked me if I knew what that meant. I told her I thought I knew what contraction meant but I wasn't sure what contracture meant. Then she explained to me it was all wrong and was doing my foot no good. I asked her if she could show my wife, because I knew my wife would make sure the boot was on correctly. She was gracious and showed my wife twice to make sure she was certain about it. Just as she finished, a couple nurses walked in. Jane confronted them and exclaimed, "This is an ankle contracture boot. Do you know what this means?" They just looked at each other, dumbfounded.
PS [21 March 2007]: Went back to dasceneadacrime (where it happened) today. Sorry, I can't report that it was a very emotional experience; nor can I say that I received closure (whatever that word means, anyway) by making the visit. But I and my customer did notice the fall was greater than I told you. At the place where I fell, the eaves, or the rafter tails, are closer to fourteen feet from the ground, not the twelve feet reported earlier.
Well, that said, today, I was able to visit both my local jobs and talk with my customers. It is something I used to take for granted. Normally, I would be at jobsites most every day but I have not been to work for over seven weeks. The subcontractors and the customers were glad to see me as I was to see them. When I got home, I had to elevate my feet and take a nap for an hour and a half! Maybe I can do this again in the next week or two.
PS [10 April 2007]: Today, I went to see my phlebotomist again. Had to draw more blood to check the level of rat poison in my system. I do this every week and it is not so strange as it sounds. To help prevent chipping of old blood clots and the formation of new ones, my doctor put me on coumadin, a blood thinner used in rat poison. It's kind of humorous, in that, the type of coumadin the pharmacist has given me is called warfarin. Warfarin reminds me of wharf rat! It reinforces the idea that rat poison is going to make me healthy.
Last week, my surgeon said I could drop three meds. So I did. Boy, did I feel poorly. A few days ago, I started back up on one of the meds because my urine output had dropped severely. Probably created problems by dropping too many meds at once but I will see the doctor in a couple days and we should get this worked out. Meanwhile, if the sun is out, it is hard to feel too poorly, no matter how bad you feel.
This last week, we saw good progress in two areas: 1) the signals from my brain to my quad muscles were finally transmitting (that is a big "Praise the Lord"!); and 2) I started walking with my left (injured) leg. My physical therapist wanted to put my leg muscles (quads) on electronic stimulation. Two days before we were scheduled to test with the machine, my leg started responding on its own. We still tested with the electric -- it hurts. Nonetheless, the PT wanted to confirm this with the surgeon. The surgeon said it was okay with him to use the electric if the PT thought this would accelerate any improvement. I communicated this to the PT but told him I would prefer to wait a week and see how well I improve on my own. He agreed. I am doing so well, I think we can skip the electric altogether.
Walking with my injured leg: Last week, the surgeon said I could put half-weight on my injured leg; enough to start exercising it. Well, last night, I was actually able to move my leg as in walking (without putting much weight on it) and was moving successfully. There was a definite limp to the gait.
In earlier entries, I mentioned sometimes we would not be told how to prevent a problem until after it arose. Such as, the issue with the blood clot -- now we know! Several of my friends expressed similar problems with their doctors. Often times, doctors can be poor communicators and sometimes much of this stuff is everyday and basic with them, so much that they don't realize we would have such little knowledge of the problem. A friend told me he was having such a difficult time with his mother's doctors until a friend in the medical field gave him some invaluable advice. The advice was to ask three questions: 1) Ask the doctor to identify the problem, even ask for the name of the problem so that you can look it up in a book if you have to; 2) Ask the doctor if it is treatable and if so, what is the recommended treatment; and 3) Ask if the problem is likely to re-occur, if so: a) ask how to prevent the recurrence; and b) ask what to do if it does reoccur. I thought these were real handy tips. The main point being, good communication in both directions is important to accomplish this labor of healing.
PS [01 May 2007]: Met with Sawbones today (always wanted to say that!). Dr Howlett said my bones are all healed up and I can put all my weight on my leg. Furthermore, there are no restrictions, period -- weight, angles, nothing!
"So," I said, "I can just walk out of here?"
"That is entirely up to you," he replied.
When I go home, I practiced walking with my foot. Of course, I was still using the walker because my bad leg isn't going to take my weight. It is good to know I am over the hump -- at least it appears that way. Praise the Lord! The doctors had been saying I would not be walking until late July or August. If I practice, my muscles will get stronger, and maybe, I can be walking in June. After all, my son gets married in June and I want to be able to walk him down the aisle!!
PS [04 May 2007]: It is the fourth of May and snowing in North Idaho. No, it's not sticking, it's just a storm passing over and sunshine is right behind it.
It has occurred to me, in all our conversations, I've not mentioned much about what it is like to get around. It takes about four or five times longer to do anything that a non-impaired person would take (how do you like that? - my first stab at political correct terminology!). I am getting more efficient as time goes by, and even though my surgeon has removed all restrictions and declared my bones healed, my leg still doesn't work, so it is no help in the process.
One thing about healing up from an injury - you have to exercise. You can't skip and say you'll "do it tomorrow." So, in the morning, I get up, exercise, get my clothes on and clean up. This takes an hour - the exercise is about half that time.
Putting my clothes on is interesting: My wife, Robin, lays them out for me on the bed. If she didn't do this, it would take me another five minutes to round them up from the dressers and the closet. While standing, I put on my shirt. Then, I move around to the side of the bed and sit down. I use a grabber to bring my underpants and pants up my injured leg, which doesn't work. My other leg, I just stuff in the holes and pull. Then I use a special sock tool for putting on my socks. Then, I stand up, again, and pull up the pants to my waist and I'm done! Sounds easy? Try it, sometime.
This morning, my wife cut my hair, then I trimmed my beard and took a shower. After the shower, I brushed my teeth and shaved. This took almost two hours. Taking a shower is interesting: I have a special seat. Two legs of the seat rest in the tub and two rest outside the tub. The bench extends the width of the tub and another eighteen inches outside the tub. To use the bench, I sit at the end of the seat, perpendicular to the tub. Then, using the foot of my good leg, I lift the injured leg, scoot back on the seat to the other end, then turn my whole body, with both legs still extended, until my legs are over the tub, by the spout. Then, I lower my legs, close the curtain on the shower to hold the water inside and shower away!
Sure, I skipped a few steps, such as, when I turn the water on, etc. However, at this point, taking a shower while sitting on the bench, takes no longer than a regular shower. To get out of the shower, I dry first, then reverse all the steps given above.
As far as mobility goes, I still use the walker most to get around, even in the bathroom. Last week, I was getting around so well on crutches that I went out four days in a row and spent four to six hours per day on them. After that, my leg was so sore, I spent this week at home, recovering. Crutches are great for outdoor terrain and stairs. The wheelchair is the tool of choice for out in public for several reasons: 1) ease of mobilization (it moves easier than the walker and crutches); 2) I am already in a chair and don't need to take rest breaks, especially if I meet someone who wants to talk a long time - that can be very tiring on crutches and walkers; 3) less chance for getting knocked over by careless people; 4) free cookies at the bakery; 5) easier to hold things while shopping; and 6) etc.
Getting into a vehicle is a small challenge. The larger the vehicle, the easier this is to accomplish; full size pickups are the easiest to get into. My wife has a small pickup. The drill is to bring the wheelchair to within thirty degrees of the open door, adjacent to the side of the truck. Then, I stand and turn with my back to the truck. I sit on the edge of the seat, perpendicular to the truck. Then, I slide back; in her pickup, I have to get by butt over the driver's seat before my legs are completely inside. After my legs are clear of the door, I turn my whole body, most times using my good foot to guide the injured leg, until my feet come to rest on the floor in front of the passenger seat. Then, I wiggle and squirm until I am comfortable in the seat and then fasten the seat belt and shoulder harness.
Several times, I have climbed into the driver seat of my F350 Dually, to fire it up and let it idle a while. This is good for the truck and it is good therapy for me to sit there and listen to the motor. My injured leg, which is my left, usually hangs outside. Sometimes, I bring it up into the cab. It saddens me to have to sell this truck, which is my most favored of all trucks, but my surgeon strongly suggests that my daily driver is not a stick shift, or clutch operated, vehicle.
This gives you an idea what it is like for an injured or crippled person (not politically correct, but there is nothing wrong with the word "crippled" -- or being one, for that matter). However, it is easier to read it than to do it. I spend most of my day accomplishing the basic things: getting up, exercising, cleaning, eating, bathroom, getting ready for bed, etc. And you know how frustrating inanimate objects can be at times? Yes! Well, when you are crippled, or disabled, times that by ten because it seems all the inanimate objects are out to get you.
It is quite humorous that people give me extra things to read because I "have all this extra time" while recovering from this injury, and they mean well -- and if you have done this for me, I appreciate the thought and wish you no harm by mentioning this. I had more time for "extras" while I was whole and busy and working overtime!!!
One last thing -- when I am navigating in my wheelchair, most people act like they don't notice you. I don't think they are trying to be rude, they are just uncomfortable and don't know how to act or what to say. If this is your problem, I have a solution: look the person in the eye and smile. I have always practiced this, even before I was injured, and I noticed that sometimes the person in the wheelchair will act like they don't notice you -- and even now, I notice the same thing wheelchair-to-wheelchair! Nonetheless, always try to smile at others, even if they don't have a wheelchair. This is the minimum that God expects from each of us to the other: Every one we see, we should try for a second to make their day better! After all, God made us in His image and when we smile to another, we help remind each other of His love for us.
When you see someone who is injured, or even paralyzed, I hope this account gives you a small appreciation for what it takes for them to successfully navigate the daily protocol. Thank God for the blessings He has given you. He is so good to me: even though I am injured, He has been there with me and He has given me no greater trial than I am able to handle -- and He gives me the strength to go through it.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." [2Co 1:3-4 NIV]
PS [12 May 2007]: This week, somewhere I read this quote: "I want my last words to be, 'Dang, that was stupid!'" In a non-spiritual way, I kind of agree with that. Not that I always want to be living foolishly on the edge and end up doing something that gets me killed, but I don't want to grow old watching my wife's fingernail polish drying, either.
In some respects, falling off the roof was almost one of those 'Dang, that was stupid!' events -- except the Lord preserved me and spared my life. Since that time, I have fallen three times while learning to walk again. I think the first two are explained above, the third happened today.
There was a man pressure washing our house and I thought I would go out and inspect the work, walking with the aide of a pair of crutches. On the eastern side we have a large gravel parking strip and right now, there are a couple stacks of used barn wood we are trying to sell and some miscellaneous long beams. After this, to the north, there is a steep embankment, going downhill. Not to worry, the embankment does not play into this story, except for the fact that I had to climb over several boards, beams and small stacks of lumber to get to the top of the embankment to watch the man spraying our house.
After my inspection, I returned a different direction than whence came. There was little in my way except some odd shaped, large stones and a few beams with a stack of 2x6 lumber, perpendicular to, and on top of the beams. Slowly, I made my way to straddle the 2x6s on the beams. Just when I thought I had done quite well (in fact, I was proud of myself), I lost my balance. The most logical foot to move to break the fall was my injured one and that leg does not work! As I fell backward, over large stones and boards, my right leg flew up in the air but my injured, left leg did not move -- 'cause I have no control over it. In fact, my foot stayed planted on the ground and my leg bent in a sharp "v" until the impact forced the leg to fall over sideways.
The pain was unbearable, I landed in a shape similar to a pretzel and the impact of the fall threw my phone out of my shirt pocket. I twisted in agony until I was able to reach the phone. Then, I called my son and let him know I was in the driveway, fallen. Andy was at my side faster than the time it took to hang up the phone -- he is a fast kid. He helped me up and we both spoke of the lecture I was surely to receive from mom!
Today's fall seems to be one of those 'Dang, that was stupid!' events. Actually, it seems more and more of my life is being consumed by 'Dang, that was stupid!' events -- not that I ever intended it to go that way. No matter how smart we think we are, God is always able to remind us how finite we really are. I am glad I'm trusting Him to get me through this because if I was trusting myself, I would be in pretty bad shape by now.
Nonetheless, even though my faith is in God, it is easy to become proud of myself as He blesses me with more ability. That is exactly what happened today. When things are going good, we think we are doing well. And just like the story of Peter walking on the water, when he took his eyes off Jesus, suddenly the fears of this life can become overwhelming. But God is there to pull us out of the water, so to speak; whether we are caught up in circumstance or whether we made a bad way for ourselves.
I guess that is our lesson for the day. When I sat down to write this, I gave no thought to bringing a life lesson but God had other plans and it is amazing to see how He works even the little things out.
PS [08 Aug 2007]: I've learned to sleep flat on my back; never moving to the right or the left; never rolling on my side. It's been that way for over six months. Because of my medication, I have to do the number one once or twice a night; after that, I will wake up to take a drink sometimes every hour. Often, when waking to drink, I am tempted to get up and call it a night because sleep can be uncomfortable -- sometimes, incredibly uncomfortable.
It has been a while and I had planned to give an update right after my son was married on 16 Jun 2007. That date was a huge answer to prayer. After my fall in April, tripping over a pile of lumber, I thought my pelvis had been set back a long time and that I would not even be walking by August as was previously estimated by my surgeon and rehabilitation doctor. The April fall caused me three weeks of additional and great pain. In spite of this, my progress began increasing near the end of May.
Two or three days before the wedding in mid-June, I was rolling through Sportsman's Warehouse in my wheelchair when I came upon an interesting display of canes and walking sticks. I got out of the chair and tried a few canes (I could only walk a few steps). When I found a cane to my liking, I decided to purchase it so it would be available when I graduated from crutches to cane in the future.
After I got home, I started practicing walking with the cane, just to get a feel for it. Soon, I could walk a fair distance. By the time of the wedding, I was able to walk in to my seat and walk out -- just as I had prayed. In fact, I would have been happy to have walked in on crutches but God did one better and walked me in with only a cane! After walking out, I was very tired and spent the rest of the celebration in my wheelchair. But I was very happy; happy not only to walk in with a cane but also because my son's wedding was very beautiful and I know he has married a wonderful wife.
God uses little things to remind us of His great mercy. Lately, as I consider the fall from the roof and all that could have happened and the ramifications if this, I am overwhelmed by how much the Lord saved me. I am not sure if I already mentioned that I saw the head nurse of the department I was housed at Kootenai Medical at the business of a mutual friend some time after the accident. I already mentioned that I built her a new home several years ago. When I saw her, she expressed delight that I was doing so well and she told me when I was under the care of her department, she was worried that I was not going to live. She had seen others with injuries less than mine die from the trauma. She was grateful to see me alive.
When I go over the accident, as I often do, I am well aware that I could have died that day, not because of the fall but because of the nature of the injury. The other Saturday, I was hosting a "Men's Garage Sale" and a man noticed my using a cane and asked what was the matter and I began relating the fall and how far the Lord has brought me. Another man asked me where the accident happened. As I was telling him it was in Cougar Gulch, he asked me if it was in Cougar Gulch (we were both talking at the same time). He then told me his son was one of the paramedics that rescued me and the reason he remembers this was because of the peculiar nature of the injury and how his son had related to him that the doctors had never seen a pelvis injured in this way and that it was unusual for the femur to pierce the pelvis like this -- it was horrific and they thought my life was in danger. As he left, I asked him to extend my thank-you to his son.
Until recently, I took a shower on a shower seat. I think I described this before: You sit on the seat outside the tub/shower. Then you slide back on the seat to where your body is over the tub; swing your legs over and down into the tub; close the curtain and you are ready to shower. That was fine for the past six months but it is restrictive, you tend to get water in more places that need to be mopped up and it takes longer. You will need a telescoping showerhead or one "on a rope." Fortunately, we had the rope style long before the accident, so it was there when we needed it.
Yesterday, I installed three bars around the shower. One on the left, vertical next to the shower stall; one on the right, installed the same way and; one short bar on the side wall above the shower stall. I will admit, I was apprehensive and a bit scared, but I made sure I always had one hand on a bar. Did just fine and probably cut the shower time in half. This is a great milestone!
Some days I grow weary over the limited use of my leg. Though I am thankful to be healing and getting around better, sometimes I grow weary of the daily ritual -- most the time, I am encouraged to see improvement. In the mornings now, I am exercising for almost an hour and I do the same in the afternoon. Just to get out of bed, exercised, cleaned and dressed takes an hour-and-a-half of my life. If you toss in a shower -- at least the old way, increase the time to two hours. But when I consider the whole scope of things, I am convinced God's mercy is endless and I am so grateful for everything He has done for me.
PS [16 Oct 07]: It has been about three weeks since I quit taking any oxycodone. It has been difficult to say the least. That stuff can really hook you and I understand how some people can get addicted to it. My body has been very restless and sometimes shaky. I will wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go to sleep again. Sometimes, I will feel panic attacks coming on, but when I start reciting Bible verses, the panic goes away. God is good.
Other than that, I am walking better and have more use of my leg, although the physical therapist and my doctors tell me I have at least another year to go. Some days, I see such little progress but when I think back a couple weeks or months, the progress is very real.
For work, I have been doing a little consulting for people who want to build their own homes. The revenue helps, even though it is very little at this time. And no matter how thin our finances get, God always provides what we need; He is faithful.
Lately, I have been more seriously selling on eBay and have opened a store there. (My seller name is phastbargains). Am trying to build it up to making a living, at least through the winter months. It is picking up steam.
Robin still drives me everywhere, except local errands I can make on the Honda Rubicon (ATV). My truck sold a couple months ago. Still have the 1955 International and if my foot can operate a clutch by next spring, I think I might keep it. It is a beauty.
It still takes longer to do things than normal and sometimes I can get incredibly tired, but all the while, I am growing stronger and I have learned to work more efficiently to overcome some of the time issues.
As I write this, I am sitting at my desk, which looks out the back yard. From here I have a beautiful view of trees, rooftops, the prairie and the mountains -- and right now there are several deer running through my back yard. I love this; I am thankful to be alive - God is so good to me!