Becoming Free

As many of you already know, I am wire free! Since I am still dealing with some pain, stiffness, sensitivity, and awkwardness, mostly all pertaining to my right side of my jaw where I had one of my two breaks, I have as of today been assigned some physical therapy to help with healing. But as my new saying has become, “This is always going to win over being wired!” It isn’t hard to trump how you feel when you spent 7 weeks not being able to open your mouth, eat real food, or see your own tongue.

My process of getting free comes with a good story, and as my cousin told me the other day, “That Wordless Wednesday of yours is fine and all, but I like your words,” so I am going to get this post made before I am too far removed from the moment of freedom. It’s been a great two weeks of soft foods and teeth brushing, but let’s rewind to the removal day:

1391875_10151620542076765_1446051385_nThe night before removal, I posted my full bling for all of Facebook to see. It seemed fitting to give those that had not had the opportunity to see me in person a bit of a glimpse. Basically they just look like someone got confused and put my braces too high, but those babies were not comfortable and they completely restricted my jaw movement for almost two months.

Bright and early the day after, we headed to the hospital for surgery. All typical routines that need to occur before a surgery were performed and all the staff and nurses were excited with me and baby girl for our big day.

My anesthesia team came in to talk. I wanted to completely understand why this process required me to “go under” and they did a great job of explaining why this was our best option.

Once convinced this was truly the best approach, they team began to say the two options they had for putting a tube into me to help with sedation and the surgery process. One was to insert the tube into my mouth and the other was to use my nose.  Our conversation continued like this (keep in mind I am still fully wired and muffled in speech)

Me: “I have read on the Internet that I will only be able to open my mouth this far” (picture me showing about half an inch between my pointer finger and thumb)

Anesthesiologist: “Well, that may be true, but we will never know unless we try, and I would like to try first, since down your throat would be the best option.”

Me: “I don’t know. I’m really scared of trying honestly.”

Anesthesiologist: “It’s worth a try though. We’ll have the surgeon come in and cut the wires and then you will open and we will make a decision before sedating you.”

Me: “Ok, I guess that makes sense”

And then we continue on with more pre-surgery information, only to have me interrupt him and say boldly, “I’m not going to do it! Just put me under through my nose and then take it all off. I’m scared of how much it will hurt, so just do the nose. Please.” He kindly responds, “I understand, but I still think we should try and see. You just never know, okay?”

And then I am blinded by the removal of my glasses, given a kiss from my dear husband, and briskly wheeled away off to the surgery room.

Once in the sterile and cold room, everyone begins their fantastic treatment of me and baby girl. We’re kept warm, encouraged, situated nicely, and all matters in between. Everything is ready for sedation but they can’t proceed until they know the pathway of mouth or nose, so the wires need to be cut. We wait and wait, since the surgeon is who they want to cut them and he is not present yet (typically they wait until sedation to show).

Minutes pass and finally the resident appears to cut my wires, using what have to be the largest and most unnecessary wire clamps/cutters ever. It actually kinda hurts because my teeth are extremely sensitive, and I begin to mentally thank the anesthesia team for recommending full sedation. Finally, the 5-6 sets of wires attached to top and bottom arch bars are all removed, and as the anesthesia team, the surgery techs, and the resident surgeon peer over me from above, I hear the words, “Okay Summer, time to open your mouth!”

Now, rather than being sealed tight with wires, my jaws are clenched with fear. Without opening my mouth, I say, with teeth still fully compressed upon one another, “No. I can’t. I am scared. It will hurt too much. Just put me under. I’m scared.” Then I begin to cry.

They burliest man in the room, completely tatted up, gently grabs my hand. An anesthesia nurse wipes my tears. All six faces looking down on me from above begin to encourage me. So, with great trepidation, I open my mouth. And it is at that point that I think angles sang the Halleluiah Chorus from above and I lift the top teeth away from my bottom. It was magical and surreal.

“Is that as far as you can go Summer? Open as wide as you can for us” says someone in the room.

I hesitate.

“Come on, you can do it; try to open as wide as you can” they all echo kindly, flashing smiles of encouragement my way.

And then I do it, I open as wide and as far as I possibly can. In my head, I’ve opened this far, and I am quite proud of myself:

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But the next words I hear are “It’s nose; come on let’s get started,” and nearly everyone but tattooed hand holder scrambles away and begins prep. He leans down and whispers to me, “I am going to have to let your hand go because I have to get to work. You did great!” With that hand now free, I began to move it towards my mouth, since my other arm and hand contained my IV and other medical necessities that made it precarious to move. It was at that point I realized I had truly only opened my mouth this wide:

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That’s right, I basically didn’t. I couldn’t even get my pointer finger fully in my mouth. It was ridiculous. Immediately, I began to laugh at myself, for my mental vision of what I thought I had done and what the true reality was were very far apart. This realization brought me to laugh hysterically at myself, the kind of laugh where your belly kind of shakes and your mouth smiles big. Laughing so large actually hurt my jaw, so the chuckles of laughter were quickly replaced with some moans of pain. Next thing I knew, I was out like a light and the surgery had begun.

I then traded my arch bars and wires for a more socially acceptable look:

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This is a “selfie” taken the day after surgery for removal.

After seven weeks, it was great to be free.

About four days later after surgery, I was able to go to church and have many from my church family celebrate with me. While in Sunday School class, we took time to study from the book of John. In John chapter 5, Jesus is in Jerusalem and travels to a pool where the sick would go for healing. There, he encounters a man who had been sick for 38 years (John 5:5). Jesus asks a question of the man, while he lay on a mat near the ‘healing’ waters, “‘Do you want to get well ?'” (v6). Not knowing he was speaking with Jesus, the man explains how he has no one to put him into the pool when the waters are bubbling and ready to heal the lame, sick, and blind. Next thing you know, Jesus tells the man “‘Get up, pick up your mat and walk!”

Want to know what the man does after 38 years of being sick and on the mat? Does he sit there and tell this guy in front of him that he can’t do it? Proclaim that he is too scared? Explain again and again that likely, after all that time and atrophy, his legs aren’t going to work right and slow is likely the best approach? Nope. Instead, here is what transpired right after Jesus’ command in verse 9:

Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk

That’s right, he just moved with faith and did as he was told, without hesitation, and accepted his healing.

After reading this familiar story so shortly after my events, I gained an even greater depth to the account. I couldn’t even open my mouth after 7 weeks. I actually uttered my first few sentences wire free in the same condition I was before my freedom, through fixated jaws and clenched teeth. I only had 7 weeks of my confinement ,and here, after 38 years, the man just embraced his healing, obeyed, and walked. That my friends is beautiful, for I know he could have said a million and one reasons why it wasn’t a good idea. He could have made excuses. He could have asked for a few minutes to think on it and he could have just sat there for a bit and begin doing small movements and work slowly up to walking—-but he didn’t. He responded immediately.

God wants to heal us of so many things, yet often I think our own fear of following through keeps us on the ground, as in the case with the man in the book of John, or keeps us with clenched teeth, as in my case. We know we need to forgive someone, yet it feels good to grow bitter. To find that freedom takes some work, and we are scared to start the conversation, and we feel justified in our hate. Situations like this serve to show why Christ asked the question “‘Do you want to get well?'” Too many of us enjoy our misery. We like the comfort of our old ways. We appreciate being able to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve been with the affliction, hateful spirit, or image of ourselves for so long, we’d just prefer to stay that way. But imagine the scene, his and mine, if we didn’t finally take the freedom and healing. What if he just sat there? What if I just continued these past few weeks to keep my teeth together? Our situations would not have changed any, but this time, instead of disability and circumstance keeping us there, it would have been pure choice. Misery is never good, but it is certainly worse and extremely compounded when you choose to be there.

So, take the freedom, preferably immediately, but if you say a few sentences before you embrace it, that’s better than a chosen prolonged imprisonment.

20131009-201046.jpgChoose freedom, and then you will be able to eat your best meal in at least 7 weeks, even if it takes you 45 minutes to eat one pancake. One slowly eaten pancake is always going to be better than drinking everything through a straw.

LAST DAY WIRED

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My sister-in-law made these for me. The kiddos have really enjoyed moving one over each day.

Today is my last full day with a wired jaw! I am so glad it has finally come. When week one was finished, week 7 seemed so far away (actually at the time of writing that, I thought it was only going to be 6 weeks!). The day I came home and had to move pebbles out of the “Almost There” container and back into the “Days Till Mommy Can Talk To Us Again” container was hard, but now, THERE IS JUST ONE LEFT!

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THERE IS ONLY ONE LEFT!

Tomorrow, all too dark and early, we will head to the hospital for my removal surgery. Unfortunately, removal of the arch bars (the part that looks similar to braces high up near my guns) have to be surgically removed. I could technically cut the wires right now with my wire cutters, and have access to my own tongue for the first time in 7 weeks,  but even if I did, the arch bars would still be there.

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This is/was a typical breakfast. I was told not to take my vitamins today, and I have to go on an empty stomach tomorrow, so unless I just decide to finish them off for the sake of not being wasteful, I’ve had my last dose of liquid vitamins.

From what we are told, it is a fast procedure, but still, it is a surgery, and I am pregnant, so I appreciate all thoughts and prayers. The alternatives to avoiding complete sedation are not much better for me/baby or simply not viable (such as leaving them in until after delivery—ummm hello serious gum infections!). The process is set to begin at 8AM but they want me there the standard 2 hours early, and we have around a 40 minute drive, so we need to leave the house by around 5 AM to also account to parking and walking to the correct hospital location. Yes, it is early, but this is good for several reasons: 1- I go less time on Wednesday wired 2-I go less time on Wednesday without food 3-I get to “sleep” anyway when I get there during the surgery 4-I get plenty of time to wake up and get ready for my pancakes from Cracker Barrel that I plan to eat for lunch.

I am keeping my eating expectations low. Side note: my brother-in-law and I are looking to get that on a t-shirt: “Low Expectations are Key to Life.” Let me know if you want to add a shirt to the order :0).

I think in this situation, low expectations are key, cause I certainly don’t want to be the crazy  customer sitting at the dining table crying because 1-I can’t open my mouth 2-It hurts to eat 3-Who knows why, just felt like a good cry. If I only expect a a bite or two at start, when I eat 5 bites, I will feel accomplished. Plus, having a gift card will help me feel slightly less wasteful if I can’t manage much.

I keep trying to think of the feelings I felt when I had my full leg cast removed in college. I was unable to bend my leg for a full 6 weeks, and when the time finally came to saw that bright orange cast off my left leg, I remember looking at it, hairy from not shaving it and atrophied from lack of muscle use. When I first bent it, it was so surreal and very stiff. Weeks later, years later, I ran races, marathons, began Crossfitting, hiked mountains, and basically just walked on it day to day with no issue. The muscles on that leg always looked a bit different, although you couldn’t see it unless I pointed it out. Sometimes, when the weather fronts change, I can feel pressure on the break points that can sometimes be a little painful and annoying. I’ve always heard though that a broken bone grows back stronger in the spot of the break, due to the build up of excess calcium and such to repair the break. It’s not invincible by any means, but it is just less likely to ever break there again, due to the extra thickness from repair (and I’ve got 4 spots on that left leg of mine! One from when I was 3, that didn’t break again upon the second injury, and 3 from the injury sustained from my friend Eric). I think this theory kept my leg from breaking in the wreck, cause that left leg of mine was the most stuck and had a large size bump/bruise right at the spot of my previous breaks. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” so stronger it was, thus giving me one less intense injury. I’m trying to take some of those ideas and apply them to my jaw/teeth/gums. Slow and easy at the start, acceptance of having to do things a little differently for a bit, perhaps some location pain during certain temps or times, possibility of things looking/being a bit different forever, and a time consuming building back of muscles and strength. I also have a little plate of metal to go with this accident, which will stay, so that will make for fun stories at the dentist!

The boys are very excited for me. I am excited for me. Thomas is excited for me. Baby GIRL is excited for US (she gets some benefit in all this too you know!), and I know you are excited for me. 

Look for perhaps a “Wordless Wednesday” post tomorrow that shows me with my mouth open :o)

Customer Service

Thomas and I were blessed with a kid free night thanks to grandma wanting some time with her grandsons. I had been feeling pretty down and defeated the whole day, so I was excited to do anything, especially if it was out of the house.

Together Thomas and I ran a few errands. Then, we opted to eat out, which can obviously be quite the challenge with a wired jaw. After considering gift card options, we decided upon Cheddars, and as Thomas placed my order for potato soup, which he requested to have no potato chunks it it, After my sweet husband finished explaining my situation to the young waiter, I flashed a metal smile in the waiter’s direction.

At first the young man seemed to feel a little awkward, but then he settled a bit and told me he could do his best to not get chunks of potato but that it might be hard. We just encouraged him to try and that I would be grateful for the attempt.

A few minutes later the manager comes to our table. He expresses a bit of sympathy for the challenge of eating out with a wired jaw and then extends an offer to personally take the soup to the bar and have it blended for me. We loved the idea and thanked him so much.

Turns out, his plan was perfect and the soup was fantastic. It culminated in being one of my best wired jaw meals, especially considering it happened out and about at a regular restaurant, like a normal person.

Thomas tipped the waiter well for his
effort in making it a great night, and I have given the manager the promised FB and virtual shout out.

Cheddars and their awesome customer service for the win!

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Better, Bit by Bit

Well friends, it’s been over a month since my wreck and my surgery to repair and wire my jaw. At this point, I am looking at about 2 1/2 more weeks until removal date of the arch bars, stitches, and wires inside my mouth.

N58493def7fcfb73e7a735d6f1f452137ot that this has been easy, in any form, but it has certainly been easier than I imagined it being. I’ve got quite a bit of people rooting for me, visiting me, checking in on me, sending me cards and gifts, and most importantly praying for me. 823ab202e547c8028fb3ee76b4f77a90

I’m truly beginning to miss the whole chewing thing. I’m not yet tempted to throw crazy things in the blender and slurp it up, but I do, and have nearly all along, go to bed hungry or wake up in the middle of the night craving food. The things is, the problem of being hungry can’t be resolved so simply with just having another smoothie. On a liquid diet, somehow, your belly gets full. You have no room left in your stomach cause you have so much liquid in it. Yet, despite the fluid, you are hungry. I’ve read on the web from some other jaw injury people that this is the case with them too. Contradictory and paradoxical as it may be, it appears to be true. If you doubt me, I challenge you to 7 weeks of all liquids and see if you find this to be accurate or not. I assume now you will just simply take my word for it. :o)

When this first happened, I had a plan for what I was going to eat when the wires came off. I had decided on something completely unhealthy but totally yummy. Pizza was the plan. Then, after about 2 weeks, I got on Google to see what the rest of the wired jaw community had to say. Turns out, there is a big factor I didn’t really think about at the time. When the freedom returns, your teeth are sore, your mouth barely opens from being pressed together for so long, your jaw muscles have atrophied, and all amounts of other complicated matters in between. Basically, you can’t eat whatever you want yet. And things like raw carrots, nuts, biting into an apple, and similar food choices might be a full year off for me. So, for about 2-3 weeks after removal, I will be restricted to a “soft foods” diet. This made me change my “freedom meal’ to pancakes from Cracker Barrel, perhaps even biscuits and gravy. Likely though my eyes will be bigger than my stomach and my enthusiasm greater than physical ability, and it will turn out to be just a few bites of pancakes. Nonetheless, I have a CB gift card reserved to the side and a date planned with the location nearest to me for October 9th.

I’ve also found some great wired jaw essentials, along with some favorites, should anyone else ever wind up in this condition by some great misfortune or if I happen to become some wired jaw Google hit for a desperate stranger.

1) Best soup to buy:

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Now, some folks are fortunate enough/unfortunate enough to lose teeth in their accident or planned oral surgery. The unfortunate part is that it is a tooth, and as an adult when it is gone you are out of luck (but at least a dentist can fix that right up!). The fortunate part is that a missing tooth means a clear and easy access for food. I kept all my teeth. Some of the things I read on-line had people eating things I could not imagine getting into my stomach simply due to space to get it in, not desire. All I have for my food to go through in route to being digested is the small little portion in the very back of my mouth. It’s tiny folks. So, a little thing like an herb can block that pathway and clog my mouth full of soup and then nearly suffocate me. No exaggeration. So, I have been blending most everything, even that which looks blended, just to be safe. “Creamy Tomato” written on a can is not necessarily gonna be doable for me, cause “creamy” to a person sucking it off a spoon that can chew and “creamy” to a person squirting it in via a syringe through a small little gap in the back of her mouth do not mean the same thing. This above soup was truly creamy and very accessible/drinkable for me. I also added in some sour cream and mixed it in real good until dissolved for extra yumminess. It’s a winner.

2) Best soup to make:

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This is squash soup. I am not usually a squash fan, but my friend that made it said her whole family loves it. She did some extra pureeing on my account and left the bacon pieces off the top upon delivery. This was the first meal that was good to me, and I consumed soooo much of it. I am contemplating taking her up on the offer to make me some more. I’ve got 2 1/2 more weeks to do it. She did share the recipe with me though, so I guess I could just make my own: http://honest-food.net/2012/10/31/squash-soup-recipe-bacon/

3) Best choices for oral hygiene/care

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There is so much there that makes up my cleaning routine. Ultimately, it is important to do everything you can to keep the teeth and gums clean. And don’t forget your emergency wire cutters, in case life gets any worse and you need them to not die. I suggest alcohol free mouth wash, cause there will be spots in your mouth that you don’t even know exist that are injured and don’t need the sting. I did use the dental wax at first but it annoyed me for a million reasons, so now I mainly have built up resistance and sleep in that red mouth guard that had the middle cut out by my dear husband. Best .97 cents we’ve spent.

4) Best way to go out to eat:

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I’ve read some people that avaoid being around others while they are eating. This is not soemthing I consider an option, so I have been around lots of people while they ate lots of yummy things. It’s not like I am making a choice to refrain from a food. No matter how much I may want it, that buttery roll will not find its way into my mouth, period, so I opt to do what I can and enjoy the company of everyone else. I did foolishly try once to eat a bowl of soup from a restaurant while out with some family. Likely you just shouldn’t try, but if you do, make certain to have your syringe and water pick with you. I made several trips to the bathroom to clean out my mouth and continue breathing and the precious ended up going home with me, where I blended it, and then ate it the next day. Be sure to take your muscle milk as backup.

5) Best way to have your morning coffee:

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Now, I guess I could sip on real coffee but that intimidates me. Last thing I need is a burnt tongue inside my mouth that I can’t even see or get to for a few more weeks. Being I need so much protein for me and baby, this protein coffee smoothie is fantastic. Pair that with a good morning Bible study and start your day off the best you can.

6) Best blender to buy:

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Some of my friends from high school shipped this little beauty to my home. First, the color is lovely, right? But this thing is SO practical.  It comes with a little cup that can be microwaved and is dishwasher safe. I can make a personal serving of something without making a mess of my kitchen or big blender, which requires so much cleaning. This is just a rinse and go most days. I can even pour into it something that needs extra blending and make it happen. Perfect!

So, that’s it for now. I’m getting better, bit by bit, and even though some pain does still linger and certain movements or touches can truly hurt, for the most part I am just dealing with irritation caused by this barbed wire in my mouth. I have been feeling my little baby boy/girl move and flip and flop for about the past week (I am almost 19 weeks!) so it feels good to know that I’m doing enough nutritionally to give baby enough energy to move! I’m one month into this wired journey! Ready to be done so I can tackle other things in life with the best focus that I can.

Enjoy a picture of me, showing just a little bit of my grill/bling at the top of my teeth to the world (trust me though, there is so much more of that in my mouth!)

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Wired Jaw, “Saved by the Bell”

Before reading this true account, let’s aim for a bit of audience participation. Do me a favor, clench your teeth together as tightly as you can and talk. This is sorta what I sound like. Now, clench your teeth even tighter (cause likely your bite was no where near as tight as mine is) and now raise your voice, yell. If you played along from home, you would have noticed that there is very little volume difference, thus proving that yelling, for whatever reason, serves little purpose when your jaw is wired shut. With this in mind, let’s proceed…..

Thomas has been doing so much since my wreck and the subsequent wired jaw surgery. For my 5 days in the hospital, he was there almost every moment. Once home, he began juggling all the household details, his schooling, studying for his nursing boards, and his managing his private practice and the meeting of his clients. We had a fair share of loving helpers around, thank God, but as you can imagine, he has been pretty swamped regardless. As my energy has allowed, I’ve done what I can, but it amounted to little. So, when he came home on Labor Day and wanted/needed a nap, I totally understood. To try and clear the house of noise, I took the boys outside to play.

Our activity of choice? Baseball. We were using our normal gear. Instead, we chose the “big bat” that wasn’t metal, and we were also playing with the “squishy ball” which wasn’t a true baseball, thankfully. Wesley was up first to bat and Daniel was the catcher. I was throwing the pitches and things were going well. Meanwhile inside, Thomas snoozed.

After Wesley hit a few, missed a few, and did his “final four” pitches, it was now Daniel’s turn at bat. Wesley was now the catcher and the game was back on.

I was doing little talking, especially since the noise and space of outside sorta just absorbed most of my already muffled words. If the boys were in the wrong stance. I simply modeled it for them and had them shadow. I was just glad to be doing something that felt somewhat normal with my kiddos, even if just for a bit of time.

Soon, Wesley decided he didn’t want to be the catcher anymore. He scooted from directly behind Daniel to behind him and to his left. He was cross legged on the grass, watching. I continued to throw pitches.

Suddenly, Wesley decided he was hot and wanted to get up and he started walking toward me. I had already thrown a pitch to his brother and began to yell “Wesley, don’t!” because I saw it coming, a bat to the face. Unfortunately, I likely only said “mmurrhmfff!!!” to his little ears, and it was definitely no where near loud enough. It was inevitable.

Sure enough, Daniel swung and nailed Wesley straight in his face. Immediately, the tears began to fall. Wesley came over to me and put his face on my newly growing baby bump and cried big tears. I rubbed his hair…..and then the blood began to pour.

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We rushed inside quickly, and I knew we needed Thomas ASAP. While entering the house, I yelled, “Thomas” but I didn’t even get a vocal range loud enough to exit the first few feet in front of me. I look over, and right on the kitchen counter was the bell my mother-in-law had brought for me to use in the days right after I got home from the hospital when I needed something. Perfect.

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding 

Pause for a moment, grab a cloth for all the blood, and get back to the bell….

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding

In rushes Thomas from his deep sleep, thoroughly confused and highly concerned. Wesley stands before him, hands covered in blood with a cloth shoved in his face, muffling his cries. There is blood on the floor and a chatty big brother in the doorway to outside explaining how it was an accident and Wesley should watch where he is going.

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As Thomas took good care of Wesley, stopping all the blood, calming Wesley’s fears, wiping away his tears, and looking for any real potential issues, he jokingly said how we were all “saved by the bell.”

While Daddy comforted, I did the exact reverse of what I would have done a few weeks prior. Parents generally don’t want any pain for their kids. We’d rather be the ones hurting than to see them hurt. But as I stood there, complete with a still tender jaw and wires all around, I looked at my poor baby there with this daddy on the kitchen floor and thought the opposite of my parental instincts. Over in over in my heard I repeated, “Oh I am so glad that happened to you rather than to me. Thank goodness that was you and not me, son!”

And I obviously also documented with a few pictures :o)

Wreck Recollections

(The following is not a fabricated recollection of my recent wreck. This is how I remember things to be. Although the words might not truly be accurate to how things occurred, any missteps in facts or details are due to my condition at the time. I’ve written it mainly in one sitting, to keep it fresh and to not over think the process.)

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Photo credit: http://www.lebanondemocrat.com/article/209336

Darkness.

“Ma’am…….Ma’am…..can you hear me? Ma’am……”

I open my eyes into tiny slits, just enough to see a completely shattered windshield just inches from my face.

Darkness.

I can hear the sound of crunching glass, bending metal, urgency, and lots of voices yelling orders back and forth.

“Ma’am……Can you move your legs? I need you to move your legs. Can you do that for me?”

Aware but with my eyes still closed, I wiggle my legs, immediately realizing there is no more room to move them anywhere else. They’re pinned in, stuck. Millions of little shards of glass sprinkle over my feet as I try to do something, anything with my legs. I make a mental note and thank God that I actually can move, feel my legs.

Darkness.

I open my eyes and see a small glimpse of the bright sky. I close my eyes again. Holding them open takes too much effort. Hard, firm, and sturdy, I realize I am on a stretcher. Something is on my neck keeping it still. I can hear noises all around but I can’t focus on anything.

“Ma’am, what happened? Can you tell me about what happened?”

I respond, or at least try to, but suddenly I realize that the droopiness I had felt earlier in my mouth wasn’t just because I was in and out of consciousness. There is an alarming amount of piercing pain there, and I have very little function or control. Somehow, I utter, “I don’t know… Nothing…I don’t know”

Then, as if all the terror of the situation is not enough, I realize they don’t know…..

“My baby! Is my baby ok? How’s my baby” I say with slurred, forced speech to anyone and everyone that will listen, cause even though I’m not looking at anyone, I know they are there. I need an answer.

“You didn’t have anyone else with you in the car. You were alone. It’s ok……” someone replies back.

“Pregnant” I eek out, “I’m pregnant,” I say as I struggle to lift my right arm and tap my hand on my belly.

Darkness.

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.

Photo credit: http://www.lebanondemocrat.com/article/209336
Photo credit: http://www.lebanondemocrat.com/article/209336

“Oh shit. I am in a helicopter. Dear God help me. This is a helicopter. They only put really hurt people in a helicopter; they call it ‘life flight’ for a reason. Oh God help me” I think to myself, eyes still closed. I begin to trace my tongue inside my mouth. I feel a gap. My thoughts run wild: Did I lose teeth? Oh wait, here is a tooth…..no, that’s not a tooth, that’s my jaw? Is that a bone sticking out inside my mouth? No, it’s a tooth out of place, right?

I stretch out my hands. I need a human. I want to touch another human, cause if I am holding tight to another person, I’m still alive and still here. To my left, I find the forearm of a man, strong and hairy. He allows me to keep a tight grip. I’m totally not letting go. I never see his face, but gripping him is helping to save me.

With my eyes now opened, I notice a woman that leans over me from the right. Her eyes are a brilliant blue, beautiful, like a perfect ocean. I can’t notice or remember anything else, just that her eyes are blue and her hair has a red tint to it. Those blue eyes and red hair look just like my friend Amanda’s sister, Sherry. It comforts me, perhaps because suddenly it feels like something “familiar” is near me. But mostly I think it comforts me because Sherry is a woman that is strong, resilient, and will fight for things. She does not give up easily, and she is determined. Having this “Sherry” with me during my helicopter transport is just what I need….someone that will fight for me, along with my unborn baby.

I close my eyes again, for I just can’t keep them open long. Too much stimulus, too much effort, too much everything.

“Can you tell me how old you are?” I’m asked by Sherry.

“Thirty-One” I mumble, but immediately I regret talking due to pain it causes and the energy it takes, so I then hold up three fingers on my right hand followed by one finger. I maintain my grapple on the man to my left. He doesn’t make me let go, thankfully.

“How far along are you?”

Oh Lord thank you they know and remember I am pregnant! One finger followed by four fingers is my next move, and Sherry immediately replies, “14 weeks…..congratulations!”

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.

Darkness.

Somehow, someway, I end up in the ER. I don’t know how I knew what hospital I was at, but it managed to get relayed to me. Maybe I just intrinsically knew. Without my grip on the man in the helicopter, I am floating in a pool of chaos, fear, and pain completely alone, unaccounted. I grab the hand of the next human that I hear near me. She allows me a few seconds of comfort but then has to return to responding to my physical needs: bleeding, IVs, removing glass.

With my eyes open, I see no one I know. “Husband. I want my husband” I utter. I don’t even remember what they tell me as a response, I just know I don’t see him, so I just begin to beg for my friend, Helen. I know that I am at her hospital, so if she is at work, I want her, and I want her now. I know she is close. “Get my friend Helen. She works with the babies. NICU. Get Helen” becomes my mantra. I say it enough to where I finally see the nurse pick up a phone and call Helen’s unit. The nurse never says what she was told, but I figure no response to me means my friend isn’t working today. I’m still alone, and I need someone. I begin to wonder: Do they even know who I am? No one has asked me. Could I even pronounce my last name well enough for them to understand me and could I give them a phone number if I had to do it?

I cry out in my heart for God to bring me someone to help me not be alone.

Soon, my love races into the room. He gently grabs my hand and cries. My neck is still in a brace, my body is achy, my jaw is throbbing, but suddenly my world becomes right, or as right as it can be considering the circumstances. “I thought I had lost you. I was so scared I had lost you” he tells me between sobs.

But he didn’t lose me, thank God. I know that I’m banged up and bruised and broken but I know that I am still here, and he is with me, and that is enough for this brief moment.

One Week Wired

For those of you that don’t know, I was in a pretty bad car wreck just over a week ago. I blacked out while driving and found my way to some trees. In the process, I got some bumps and bruises and shards of glass here and there, all basically minor. I also managed to break my jaw in two places, which is pretty major, and therefore I now have I wired jaw for the next 6-8 weeks, yielding an all liquid diet and constantly clenched teeth. I will definitely blog about what I can remember from my accident (I was in and out for most all of the evacuation and transport) but I thought for now I would share lessons from one week being wired shut.

(cue fancy intro music now….)

1. Just the thought of biting into a juicy hamburger will scare you. Later, after about my 300th serving of soup, I am sure the hamburger will be my heart’s desire, but for now, the idea of extending my mandible and chomping down on something like that gets me fearful.

2. Yawning is every bit as terrifying as you might imagine it to be. A casual yawn turns into a 6 sec nightmare as the lower part of my jaw tries to naturally separate from the top, to which it is very securely wired. When this happens, I have found myself squeaking out some sort of unintelligible prayer and flapping my hands next to my face. Fortunately, it passes quickly, and at a yawn’s conclusion, I don’t know whether to cry tears of pain or of laughter.

3. Throwing up when the opening from your esophagus to the rest of the world is blocked by wired together teeth is extremely more terrifying than you might imagine it to be. This one doesn’t need to much explanation, and I doubt you really want details. Suffice it to say, I’ve done it twice and hope not to do it again in the remaining weeks.

4. Getting cold, resulting in chills, is highly inadvisable.  This happened one night in the hospital, and the uncontrollable chattering of a broken jaw that that is wired shut is excruciating. Then, the pain and fear from the cold chills resulted in nervous shakes throughout my body, unsteady hands, tears, and ultimately a dose of morphine in my IV. After my first shower when I got home, I felt myself getting cold and immediately cried. Fortunately, we were able to warm me up before I had to experience the chills again.

5. Amidst all the pain, there will be lots of unbelievable blessings. You will see an image of your car and know that only God could have spared you from what should have been death. The police officer that was the first responder will give your husband his personal cell so that he can receive a report on you. People 5 counties away will manage to get dinner on your front porch. The glasses that you lost in the wreck will be replaced for free from your optometrist friends. Your mailbox will be flooded with gift cards to places that serve smoothies. Friends will watch your kids and love them fully. Your mother-in-law, when told the strawberry Ensure that you had in the hospital wasn’t that bad, will clear out Wal-Mart of their supply. Your brother will take off work to be with you, hold your hand. When you cry, and you say that all this seems too hard, your mom will cusp your hand, look you in the eyes with her beautiful blue ones, and speak to you that she taught you to be a strong woman, just like her momma taught her to be, and you will know that she speaks the truth. Your brother-in-law will mow your yard. Your sister-in-law will come immediately to the hospital with dinner for your hungry husband. Every family member’s pastor, including all the ones from your church, will come, driving out of their way, to pray with and for you. From the west coast, your brother will send a funny card to make you smile, along with yummy smoothie recipes. People that are strangers to you but friends to those you love will bring creamy soups from Trader Joe’s. The best man from your wedding will show up unexpectedly and suddenly make you bawl like a baby. Your phone will consistently receive texts of scripture, requests to help, prayer, and support. Your children will bring you flowers, rub your hair, and smile uncertain smiles that are still filled with hope and love.

Your husband will utterly amaze you, pray over you, cry over you, hold you up, awake in the middle of the night, wait on you hand and foot, carry all the family’s burdens and not falter. He will help rub off the IV stickiness, he will scour at a nurse that does something wrong, he will send out Facebook updates to everyone letting them know your condition, he will truly and ultimately be your helpmate and love of your life, cause he will be the walking embodiment of proving the line he said 10 years ago of “for better or for worse.”

Close friends, distant friends, strangers, family and  people in-between will pray beautiful prayers, and you will feel them, covet them, echo them, and know that your God hears them. You will know God hears them because you are still alive, and even thought things are not perfect, you fully know that things could have been much, much worse, and you’ve been blessed to live another day, and so has your sweet unborn baby that you carry inside; and that is one miracle no one can deny.