Today was the day we were suppose to fly out west to see our two son's and families. Our plane was to arrive at 11:05 a.m. in Portland, Oregon. Our trip is now on hold as John has had a bad accident.
On June 20, I was at work, my first day back after a trip downstate for a week with my daughter Leah. We brought Chloe (our grandaughter), back with us. I had about 40 minutes left of work to go, and got a call from Leah that dad had fallen off the ladder while tearing down our old shed in the back yard. She was quite upset and said that she was sure he had broken his nose, and there was alot of blood. She and our neighbor Steve both heard the supporting beam crack and heard him hit the floor face first--and his moans. They helped him into the house and then took him to the hospital. I got another girl to come in early and went straight to Keweenaw Aspirus Hospital, a few blocks from home. He was in terrible pain when I arrived, and was having cat scans of his head. The doctor and surgeon checked him over and said that he would have to go to another hospital as his nose was pushed deep into his skull (we later found it was 3/4 of an inch into his skull). They were also concerned about his eye and the blood behind it, and the multiple fractures of his face. So off he went to Marquette General on an ambulance Saturday evening. I went home and packed our bags, picked up Chloe from a friends house,and headed to Marquette with Leah. We arrived before dark.
John was stable when we arrived, but in terrible pain. He saw the opthomalogistand a trauma doctor. He was put in a room and on pain meds and anti-inflammatories. They had to keep him resting straight up in bed, so the swelling would go down. We stayed with him till about midnight and left to find a hotel to stay for the night. Poor Chloe was upset to see grandpa and got sick to her stomach. She is twelve and has such a tender heart!
I went to the hospital early the next morning to see the doctors. It was Father's Day and a sad way to spend it in such pain and agony! I was able to speak with two doctors about John's condition. They said that he would need surgery and that they were worried about the vision in his right eye. It looked like optic nerve damage and his lid was not moving. They could see that there were multiple fractures in the bones around his cheeks and forehead, and that his sinus's were crushed. He would have to go to a trauma center for surgery. They suggested Mayo Clinic or University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We opted for U of M, as our oldest daughter lives an hour from there in Howell. We are familiar with U of M as Chloe was transferred there when she was born at 1 lb. 2 oz. Chloe spent nearly 3 months there, so we got to know that hospital well.
So off to Ann Arbor on Monday after going home to pack, and back to pick John up. It is a 100 mile trip one way to Marquette from home. So, I left Sunday with Chloe and Leah for home. The doctors agreed that I could drive him down, as he could not fly there because of the pressure of flying would be bad for his sinus and head injury.
Leah stayed home. Chloe came with us on Monday. The trip went amazingly well. By then word had spread about John's injury and we had many prayers going with us. He was well medicated and was able to rest in the car. We got a late start, so we knew we would be getting in late to Vanessa's house. The Marquette doctors set up all of our appointments for us in Ann Arbor. We prayed for God's help on the journey and I felt that as I got closer to the big city traffic, so late Monday night, that God was guiding us and had ahold of the stearing wheel. Vanessa was waiting up for us at 1:30 am. We were exhausted and fell into bed right away, John sleeping upright, to keep the swelling down.
John's first appointment was at 8:30 am. Tuesday morning. So Vanessa took him to Ann Arbor, while I stayed with the kids. They ended up being at appointments all over U of M the entire day and did not get home until 6:30 p.m. It was Vanessa's 33rd birthday that day, so Andy and I planned a surprise birthdy with the kids. They made a birthday banner and Andy bought a cake. I made dinner.
On Wednesday, I drove John back to Ann Arbor for another full day of tests, dr. appts. and a physical, for his pre-ops. I was so surprised that they did not admit him. But we had heard that U of M works at a 100% capacity, with not enough beds available. So its push you in and push you out. I do have to say that the doctors were wonderfull though, and he got great care. We are so thankful for his care and expertise. We consulted with the myofacial/oral surgeon, the neuro-surgeon, and the opthamalogist. We found that his eye had optical nerve damage, and he had numerous crushed bones around his eye and that he was leaking brain fluid through his nose. That posed a problem with an infection risk, such as meningitis. His surgery was scheduled for Thursday at 2:30. We were told to be there by 12:30.
On Thursday, after lots of prep, we left for the hospital. Vanessa got a babysitter for the kids, so she could sit with us through it all. John was nervous and quite anxious. We all had the jitters about the 8 hour surgery with 4 doctors working on him. We had to sit in a large waiting room with many other surgery patients and thier families. There must have been 50 or more in that room. We saw all kinds of sad sights there, injuries, cancer patients, heart, and spoke with families waiting anxiously for surgery to be over. My Uncle Larry came to sit with us that afternoon and got to visit with John while waiting. John did not get called into the surgery prep room until about 4:00, so it was a very long wait. Vanessa and I went in to see him shortly before going into surgery. We said our goodbyes and gave kisses and prayers and off he went. We met the Chief of Surgery who told us that each surgeon would come out to meet with us in the conference room to let us know how things were going. We were given a round frisbee like disc which would light up when it was time to meet with the surgeon. We could then go anywhere in the hospital or courtyard. Uncle Larry had a wonderful lunch packed for us by Aunt Paula. So we went to the commons area with tables and couches to sit and eat. It was so nice to have his support and words of encouragement. Such a dear Christian,who is there to help others.
When I get nervous I end up eating and moving. We hiked around the hospital--to the gift shop, Starbucks coffee shop, and out to the courtyard. My sisters, Kathi and Janice came up around 7:00 pm. to sit with us. Waiting was hard, as we did not hear anything until about 11:00. Our light went off and into the conference room we went--my sisters, Vanessa and I to meet with the neuro-surgeon. He said things went well on his part. He had to graft some tissue from his bone and skin from the forhead area, to form a barrier to cover the brain so the leakage would stop. Then they had to flap it and fold it under, screw his forehead bone back together and put titanium plates in to hold it together. He said that the facial kit for the titanium plates were very expensive (around $40,000.00) and he needed them around the eye, cheek and forehead area. They also fixed his nose in more than one area and cleaned out the broken bone fragments around his eye. We got all our questions answered thanks to my daughter and sisters being there. Dr. Sullivan sat with us and chatted for quite awhile, and he looked so exhausted. We then saw the other two surgeons running towards the cafeteria who quickly told us things went well.
Vanessa got to see John in recovery and then headed for home at 1:00 a.m. I went up with him to his room on the 4th floor neuro-intensive care. He was waking up and the nurse asked him to rate his pain. He said it was a 10 on a scale of 1-10. She ended up giving him three injections of morphine, before it came down. I then fell asleep next to him in a recliner. He moaned alot during the night and kept calling me to see if I was still there. Good thing he did not remember too much of it the next two days.
John was kept in the intensive care till Saturday evening, as there was a bed shortage in the other units. He was moved to the 8th floor that evening when we all came to visit--Vanessa and Andy, Chloe, Ellie and Landen. He had his head bandaged and a nose cast on. His pain was managed with meds. He did not have any appetite and was on a liquid diet as his jaw and mouth were too sore to chew. We spoke to the Chief of Surgery along with two residents that evening. He said that John could go home on Sunday. No hurry to go early, he said. We were all a little surprised that he was to leave. I don't think John felt ready nordid any of us feel he was ready to go.
I came in early in the day Sunday. We stayed through lunch and supper before leaving as he did not have to hurry out. He got instructions for care and meds and drove back to Vanessa's house. John did alot of resting in the next few days and all went well. His pain did lessen with time. We are so fortunate to have a daughter and family there to stay with. Thanks to God all went well and he is healing.
By the following weekend John was getting back to normal and up and around. He was eating better and stronger. We decided to make a trip overnight to the west side of Michigan. We stayed the night in Holland at Holiday Inn and saw the fireworks and the kids swam in the pool. On Saturday we went to Saugatuck, South Haven,and Grand Haven. We went to some gift shops, to the parade in Saugatuck and sat in the sand on Lake Michigan. It was a much needed and enjoyable trip with our kids.
On Wednesday, July 8th we went back to U of M to get his staples out of his head. I forgot to mention that he had over 100 staples put in from one ear to the other--all around to the top of his head. They had to de-glove his face as it is called. Pull the skin down to do the repairs. He also had his nose cast off and little did we know that he had two very long plastic supports in his nose that had to come out. He felt an enormous relief after those came out,and could breeth freely again.
We were able to go home on Friday July 10,after seeing the doctor a couple of times. It felt so good to get home. We must return for a follow up in a month with the neuro-surgeon and the myo-facial surgeon. I'm writing all of this just to keep all of this in writing, as time makes you forget all the details. There are lots of pictures that we took while down state and I will post them soon. I will also tell the story of our surprise when we got home soon!