Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Trials and Blessings

This is a very emotional subject for me to write about, but I feel that there is such a great message to be shared that this story must be told! Even now just thinking about it I am chocking back the tears, but they are no longer tears of sadness! It is joy and thankfulness that is leaking out of me! It has been exactly two years today since my husband had his accident.

In the summer of 2007 in the month of July my husband and I had just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary, and we recently moved to Smithfield! Allie and Brenton were 6 and 4 and Draycin was just 10 months old. We were coming home from a very fun trip to Lava Hot springs with my side of the family on Saturday the 28th. We had so much fun and were discussing how this was one of the funnest summers that we had spent together as a family this far!

above are a couple pictures of Josh at Lava with the kids.

On Sunday the 29th we had church at 9 am. I woke up that day feeling a little strange about things, but didn't know what to pinpoint my feelings to. When we got home from church and began to prepare to go to my parents I went into my room with Draycin and sat down on the bed to feed him. All the sudden I had the very strong impression that this would be that last time I would ever nurse this baby. It was so clear that it sounded as if someone had said it aloud. I thought this was very strange and didn't understand. I finished and walked out so that we could get going. As I saw Josh, he was wearing a black t-shirt and khaki shorts and for some reason I suddenly wished that he could change his outfit, and it wasn't because I didn't like that way that he looked. I just felt so weird and thought that maybe if he changed that I would feel better. I didn't say anything because I knew he would think I was weird. so I just shook it off.

In the 45 min. drive to my parents we had a really great discussion with the kids about the movie of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by his brothers. I specifically remember Josh telling the kids that even though he experienced great trials in his life that he didn't give up and he became better because of them. He said, The Lord knows better than we do and what we can handle. He told the kids that we need to try to be more like Joseph.

As we were at my parents the kids started to play and I began helping with dinner. I completely lost the weird feelings that I had been having all day. The kids headed outside with the new fish squirt toys that my mom got them and Josh followed. I remember looking out at Brenton squirting water all over and yelling look, and then I went back to helping. not two minutes later the accident happened. In those two minutes the kids had said that they wanted to get on the swing set and that they both wanted to sit by daddy, so Josh thought the only sensible thing to do would be to sit on the middle swing. He later told me that he was warned not to sit on that swing, and after sitting anyway he was warned not to swing very high. He rationalized that this would make both the kids happy, and began swinging anyways.

Allie, rather slowly, came in the house and told me " you might want to go outside, because daddy is hurt." I dashed to the door and thought what has he done now? I saw him standing in the garden behind the swing hunched over and clenching his hand with the other one. blood was streaming from him like a faucet. My dad yelled to get a towel. I grabbed one out of the kitchen drawer and ran to Josh trying to help him wrap it up. My dad and I walked him into the house and straight through to the front door to load him into the car to go to the hospital. As we reached the front door Josh began to pass out. He fell onto me saying "oh Shari" and then back where my dad caught him and grabbed the wrist to his right hand and squoze tightly to try to stop the bleeding. At this point none of us knew what kind of damage had been done or how it had even happened. We were just trying to stop the bleeding. I was in a panic and went running to my Uncle Wills house to get help to carry Josh while my mom called my Uncle Shay. Shay was running late to his church meetings that day and was able to come over quickly and put a compression bandage on Josh's hand. When my uncle Shay arrived he could tell that I was freaking out and wisely told me to go into the house. I went inside and grabbed Draycin out of his high-chair because he was screaming (probably because of all the commotion). I took him in the living room by Allie and Brenton. The kids asked me several times if daddy was going to die. I was very scared myself and promptly told them NO he will be OK I PROMISE! My dad, Shay and Josh were out on the front porch surveying the damage. Josh could not move his thumb no matter how he tried and he continued to bleed great amounts. He was very pale and looked like he would pass out at any moment. As I was in the house with the kids for another brief moment I bowed my head and began talking to my Heavenly Father; I asked him to help my husband stop bleeding and to let us find out how to help him, and also to calm all of my family and let us have peace. I knew that this is what I had been feeling so strange about all day.

They finished up and I was going to drive Josh to the ER, but my dad could tell that both Josh and I were very shaky so he offered to drive us. As Josh and I waited in the car for just a moment while my dad got some pillows to prop up Josh's arm I tried to comfort my husband, and a tear ran down his face. I told him it was OK to cry and that I knew it must hurt really bad. He said, "I am just so upset that happened because I just ruined the rest of our summer." My heart sank because I wanted him to know that he meant more to me than any activity we could ever do.

While we drove to Mckaydee Hospital my dad seemed really out of sorts and kept trying to take short cuts to get us there quicker. Josh was the calmest one of all and was so composed the entire time. I kept trying to say things that I thought would make him feel better but it all just came out as jumbled nervous sentences. I was trying really hard to make sense of what happened and not cry so that Josh wouldn't be more stressed. We finally reached the hospital and went in at the ER. Josh even tried to walk in by himself but he had lost so much blood that we got him a wheel chair so he wouldn't pass out again. The people at the Emergency Room were very SLOW and not very helpful. they took us into a room to type our information into the computer and took their sweet time about it as if we were the next Joe in line at the clinic with a cold. Josh was in a lot of pain and just kept asking them when he could get some pain medication. After about 25 min. we were taken into a room where they gave Josh some drugs and got him in a gown. we had to cut his top off because he couldn't pull it over his hand. As the nurse left our room for a minute we knew that Josh needed a blessing and so he asked my dad if he could give him one. I remember in the blessing some specific things that were said: Josh was told that he would make a full recovery and that over time he would be the only one that would notice the difference. I felt a strong assurance that this was true and that our Heavenly Father would bless him with what he needed.

After the blessing Josh told me that I should call his parents. I had not even thought of this and still feel bad about it even to this day!! I called and talked to my Father-in-law Mark and told him all that I knew had happened, which wasn't much! I told him that I would know more when the Dr. saw him and I would call to let them know the updates. Mark told me that they would come to the hospital after they had dinner with the family.

When I got off the phone Josh began explaining what had happened and that the swing broke and that it ripped through his hand. We were still not sure at that time what on the swing had hurt his hand so badly. Several students came in and unwrapped Josh's wounded hand and began inspecting it. I was very upset about this because they took the bandage off and Josh began bleeding pretty bad again and it was so painful for him. Even after they wrapped it back up it continued streaming down his arm, and I tried my hardest to point it out to them but they didn't know where the blood was coming from! They should have just left the bandage that my uncle had put on him until the Dr. came to look at it!

It seemed like forever before they finally took him into surgery! As they wheeled him back they asked us several questions about allergies and anesthesia, and told us that everything would be OK. I told Josh that I loved him very much and then I kissed him goodbye. The nurse told me that she would be phoning me in half an hour out in the waiting room to tell me what they find.

about 40 min. passed and sure enough the phone call was for me. "There is extensive damage," she said. "He cut through the main artery twice, ( now we know the reason for all the bleeding) severed tendons in his fingers, and cut many nerves." I asked if there was any way that they could fix it, and she assured me that the Dr. was very skilled and could even reattach the tiny nerves, but that the surgery would most likely take anywhere from 6 to 7 and 1/2 hours. I sunk. My dad was there with me and asked what he could do. I needed a blessing to help me be strong for my husband and children because I knew that there was going to be a drastic change in our lives.

Surprisingly Josh's surgery was done in just under 4 hours and he was wheeled into recovery. I was informed of his room number and the Dr. came out and spoke with me briefly about what he found and what he did. i asked him about the recovery. He said that it would take a long time and told me that he would come speak with Josh the next morning. So up we all went to his room to greet him and see how he was doing.

Josh was very drowsy and tired and didn't quite know what was going on. My mom and Aunt Erin brought me some pajamas and make-up so that the stay would be a bit easier. everyone asked us to let them know if we needed anything and took care of the kids while we were gone. Allie and Brenton went with Grandma Nelson and Draycin went with my sister because she had a crib and stayed at home. Thanks to everyone who helped with our kids right after the accident and over night!

That night in the hospital I didn't sleep at all. I just kept playing the horrible scene over and over in my head. i looked at my wounded husband and wondered if his hand would ever be the same or if he would be able to do his job because it was all hands on and he is right handed. I was scared of the future and wondered how our lives would change because of this accident. I never once pushed the nurses button if Josh needed something I just went right out to their station and politely asked them for whatever he needed so that it would happen promptly. they were very nice and took good care of Josh, and me also. The first time Josh woke up after everyone had left he needed to go to the bathroom and so I helped him get up. He was so weak because he had lost so much blood. It was awful to see my husband, who is so full of life and active, become so pale, colorless, skinny and weak. he was haunted by pain and strange dreams in which he was playing the piano and golfing and doing things with his hand that he could no longer do. Things that he had never done but that you would use your hands for. I would be watching him and he would wake up reaching in the air and grunting in pain because he was trying to move his hand. These dreams continued for several months and each time he would wake up in pain because he was trying to move his hand. I, however, could barely sleep and I am sure that my body ran off of pure adrenaline for that first week following the accident.

We waited for a very long time the next day for the Dr. to come speak to Josh. When he finally showed up he didn't say much and gave us the papers to be released, but didn't instruct us on any follow- up care. We were sent home with an Rx for Lortab 5. they give you a higher dose than that when you have a c-section, and all your nerves don't end in your stomach!! They sure come screaming out of your hand in ridiculous numbers, though, so you can only imagine how painful it was. We were told that we would need to see the Dr. in two weeks, and not to move or bump Josh's hand for that amount of time. It was very hard trying to get the kids used to not bugging or bumping daddy, and I felt as though his hand became my new baby and I couldn't let anyone near it!

The first night we were home the meds from the hospital began to wear off and the prescription was just not helping the pain. Josh kept saying how much his hand hurt and writhing. i told him that i would do whatever we needed to to get the pain down, and he told me he would try to deal with it. About midnight Josh was in soooo much pain that he made the comment that it would hurt less if they would've just cut it off.... so we decided to go to the ER to see if we could get some better meds (this was only after several calls to the Dr. who did the surgery and not being able to get a hold of him at all!). We hadn't lived in Cache valley for very long so we didn't know exactly where the hospitals were and what ones accepted our insurance, and we had three sleeping children. I packed up the kids because i had no idea who could watch them with it being that late, and all our family was so far away.

The first hospital we stopped at didn't accept our insurance so we got back in the car and went looking for Logan Regional. About ten minutes later we arrived, and I got Josh and all the kids out. Allie and Brenton stayed asleep and I layed them on chairs with pillows. Draycin was wide awake and kind of confused. I signed Josh in and they took him back pretty quickly. The Dr. was pretty frustrated because he could not look at Josh's wound nor get a hold of the Dr. who did the surgery. So we explained the pain and the situation and we left with a better Rx to manage the pain. From that point on I was setting alarms to give Josh his medication when he needed. I remember several restless nights of dreaming about the accident and getting up to give him food and medication. He was so uncomfortable and also had a hard time sleeping.

The next day after we went to the ER we found out that the Dr. had been fired and skipped town leaving us to try and find a Dr. This was a very bad situation because Doctors don't usually take patients who have already been treated by another. We had many days of calling Dr.'s and providers and trying to explain the situation we were in. On top of that I was filling out forms and making arrangements with Josh's work so that everything would be taken care of financially. We finally found Dr. Barnett from Alpine who was willing to do the follow ups with Josh. He even did them for free like the original Dr. should have! We were so blessed to get Dr. Barnett for more reasons than one!

When Josh's hand was unwrapped about 2 and1/2 weeks later this is what we saw.

Josh was shaking and a little sick. I was just devastated at how bad it was. The details from here on are a little fuzzy to me as I have tried hard to forget about it. Dr. Barnett looked at his hand and determined that he would need a lot of therapy to get it going again. He sent us to the other end of the hospital to start therapy right away. Mind you, that this was all taking place at the Mckaydee hospital in Ogden and we lived over in Cache valley, so this required a lot of driving every other day.

Down in the therapy room they began gently moving his hand and Just taping over the wounds that were still gaping open. This went on for about a month with therapy at Mckaydee. They did several stretches that were very painful, and different tests to determine how much feeling he had. Josh had to wear a splint that covered his hand and fingers for a very long time.

After a while Dr. Barnett discovered that the tendon in his thumb had not been properly attached and was barely hanging on. Josh went through another surgery. This time he knew for sure that the tendon was attached, but that he would have to be very careful in therapy to not break it. After the second surgery they placed a drain that ran, just under the skin, all the way through his palm and coming out in the bend between his thumb and index finger. it healed up nicely, except for a small pocket of infection that we discovered after all the old dead skin peeled off. It was about the size of a pencil eraser and was right in the bend between the thumb and index finger where they had pulled the drain out. it was after that time that we were able to switch to another therapist over in Logan which was much closer to our home.

It was 13 months of time before Josh would make it back to work for good. During this time he had 2 more surgeries in Salt lake with Dr. Raemisch. He had to try to repair the atrophied (dead) muscle in his hand and when that didn't work, he used a method of transferring a tendon from the back of his hand to his thumb. Josh's brain would have to retrain itself on what finger he was moving because it was used to moving another finger. This surgery was successful and after 4 surgeries he would be done.

We struggled financially while Josh was out of work, even though Met Life took care of his pay checks, because we were paying hundreds of dollars in gas and prescriptions every week and The Dr. bills were piling up. We did everything we could to pay for things, but there were so many extra things we had to pay for that we could not keep up. We even tried to figure out if it would be possible for me to get a job, but it was out of the question. I had 3 kids I was caring for and Josh who needed constant care and help with everything from showering, and buttoning his shirts to tying his shoes, and cutting his food. They needed me at home. So we went to the bishop. It is a hard thing to swallow your pride and ask for help, but I will tell you that our family had learned a lot from this. The Lord has set up an amazing system to care for those in need, and it is truly inspired. It is such a perfect system and WE are truly grateful for it!!

We were so blessed during this time. not only did the church provide our groceries and sisters from the ward bring us dinner, but we had an amazing family who was taking care of us and helping us through it all!! I remember specifically certain things that they did for us... Josh's family dropped a huge tote at our door, around Christmas time, full of games, paper goods, and pajamas for the kids, along with several envelopes full of money for dates and coupons for family night activities and many other nice things. My mom always gave me all the Avon I ordered for free and fed us dinner several times, and my sister sent us home with several bags of groceries many times. I am so thankful for wonderful Loving families and for Our Heavenly Father who Loves us so very much!!!

Here we are 2 years later, and one more kid ( who, by the way, was due on July 29th 2008, but was born on the 25th). We Live in a nice home, and have a beautiful family and everything that we need! Even though Josh was warned to not sit on the swing that day... I believe that everything happens for a reason, and weather we know what that is at the time or not... we still have our free agency. keep in mind that Heavenly Father knows us, and what we will do. He also knows what we need, and what we can handle! He is always there even when we feel all alone and are in the depths of despair wondering why.

It is funny how such a strange accident has changed our lives in so many ways! So many ways for the better! I think that it brought us closer together in our marriage and helped our testimonies to grow immensely!!! Although Josh's hand is not quite the same, and it still hurts at times he still plugs away and hardly complains. He has become a more compassionate and empathetic person because of it! i am so thankful for the growing experience that this has been for our family!!

Down below are all the rest of the pictures of Josh's hand.

These pictures go from the most recent to the oldest. This is his hand marked up to show you all the different surgeries in color.

This and all the above are the end results of the surgeries and therapy.

Pictures of the last Surgery where they took the extra tendon from the back of his hand and put it by his thumb.

Third surgery pictures where they tried to fix the muscle that had died. This muscle is very important for your motor skills and allows you to bend your fingers and pick things up.

His hand had healed up after the second surgery where they fixed his tendon again.

His hands were in the shape of a claw because of the wound and how they healed, so he had to wear these contraptions on his fingers to help straighten them. They were very painful!

After he got his stitches out from the second surgery.

Second surgery bandage.
The healed over hand from the original accident.

Pocket of infection that we found.

After all the dead skin began to peeled off. The scary plastic thing that he had to wear for a long time.

Look how swollen his palm is.

The first time we attempted to clean the blood off his hand since the accident.
What a fashion statement!

A week after we came home from the hospital.

His shorts were soaked, and we threw his shirt away.

The blood and flesh on the ground. he must've bled the most right there because a day late and 90 something degree weather, and it was still wet. He did cut his main artery in his hand so we are lucky he didn't bleed to death.

The swing that broke.

The horrendous metal piece that tore through his hand.

As he was swinging the seat broke and he was going backwards holding onto the chain and that is what did it.
Sorry about all the graphic pictures, hopefully you have a strong stomache!!