Saturday, July 20, 2013

Break a Leg...

I know we have been unusually quiet here on the blog, even for me!  Sorry about that, but I just haven't felt like writing, or really like doing anything.  Yes, I have let myself sink down into a drab abyss of depression.  I think it would be hard not to, even for the happiest of people, given the last 4 months. WARNING: This is a long, sad story, so if you want to, skip to the end.  So to catch you up, the last week in February we went on a fabulous 5 day vacation to Snowshoe, West Virginia where we joined good friends and all skied together happily.  It was seriously the best vacation we have ever had.  So we made plans to go again before the end of the season, actually over Billie's Spring Break in March. 
Let me back up a smidge (pretty sure that is a Crystal-ism, but you know what I mean)... So on our first run down the mountain on that fabulous vacation, Billie took a bad fall.  I was worried how I was going to get her down the mountain.  Literally, she would ski 5 feet, then fall or sit down, screaming her foot hurt.  Billie is an excellent skier, but it had been a year and she had very long, skinny skis (the longer and skinnier the ski, the faster you go).  I get nervous every single first run of every single trip.  Pile on top of that the extra long skis, being 12, having a great friend with you that you only see a few times a year and who has already been here skiing for 3 days, and you have what I like to think was the case of "I'm terrified, new at this, embarrassed I can't quite get the hang of it, I am gonna say my foot hurts and that's why I can't do this." So I tried the "I'm your momma and I am not going to leave you here so let's get down this mountain together" technique.  It worked.  It took us 30 minutes to get down that beginner slope, but it worked.  We walked back to our condo, she stopped crying once we got on the ski lift, so I felt pretty certain I had called it correctly and she wasn't really hurt, just a pride-hurt kinda thing.  We got her boot off, she was a little whiny but felt much better getting her boot off (and knowing she was safely inside with a couch, fire, and TV.) I forgot to mention we both had "New-to-us" boots.  These were slightly used boots that Matt found at a thrift store that were great! Billie hates shoes.  If she could go barefoot 24/7 she would.  If she could ski barefoot or in flip-flops, she would.  She likes room in her toes so she can wiggle and move and breathe.  You can't ski in boots like that.  They have to fit well, trust me, this is true, and I will explain how I know this first hand in a bit.  Billie had a bruise on her foot, but once the boot was off she was fine and she decided to go back out that night for night skiing with a fresh, borrowed set of short, wide skis.  She did great!  No crying, no falling, no stopping her.  The rest of the week was fabulous and we were all sad when we had to leave.
She complained her foot her here and there for a few days, we iced it and it was fine.  After ballet class, she would complain again, so about two weeks later I broke down and took her to the orthopedic.  It was broken.  Yes, I know, I am worst mother of the year.  Turns out Billie has a little extra bone attached to her Navicular bone (which you can google, but is the pointy little bone just above your arch on the inside of your foot, close to the ankle.) A lot of people have this extra bone, and it is a commonly broken bone.  So Billie is in a boot for 6 weeks.  (Side note: when she came out of the boot 6 weeks later, we saw a different doctor and he felt it may never have been broken at all. I took her the first time, Matt took her the second time so I don't know how one doctor saw a break, and one did not.)
As Spring break approaches, we decide to go on our trip, and leave Billie with her grandparents to have some fun, since a ski trip will be miserable with a broken foot. Matt gets a terrible virus  two weeks before the trip.  I have never seen him this sick before.  He spends 48 hours in bed, and is still sick when he gets up.  Harper ends up catching it and an ear infection a couple days before we leave, so we leave her with the grandparents, too.  Matt had to pretty much force me to do this.  Harper has Chronic Lung Disease, so a cold for her meant breathing treatments, wheezing, very grumpy, and a very worried mommy.
We go back to Snowshoe, and they have a deal so we buy season passes for next season, and this trip is FREE!! Too good to be true, and my constant ranting "maybe all this is a bad omen (the broken foot, Matt's illness, the sick baby) and we just should not go skiing" goes on deaf ears.  We actually have a good trip.  Our second day as we are walking to the bus, my boot starts breaking and falling off as we are walking.  I end up walking in my sock, pretty much.  It was so funny! Remember I said we had "new-to-us boots?" I guess mine were not as good of a deal! Before dinner, we head to the store at the top of the mountain and I get a great pair of new, new-to-me boots.  We got them used at the rental shop.  $400 boots that are slightly used for $60- good deal!
I wake up the last day feeling horrible, I caught Matt's ick.  So I stay in bed and let the Matts' (our good friend, Matt went with us) hit the slopes with out me that morning. I catch up with them at lunch, and we hit the slopes after a good meal.  My first run in my new boots I realize immediately that my boots are too loose.  Remember earlier when I mentioned you need a good fit in ski boots? This is how I know, my boots were fine for walking, but for skiing I had just enough room to make maneuvering on the slopes impossible. Ski boots have tons of adjustments on them though, so with the Matts' help, I got them tightened and the next run was better.  I really wished I had two pair of socks on, though.
The day was great, we are getting one last run in before they close and as we are riding the lift up I say "This has been the best day! I am feeling so confident, I am going so much faster than I have ever gone.  I am so glad you talked me into keeping these long, skinny skis.  I wish night skiing was open so we could ski tonight! I do not want this day to end!" Oh, how those words haunt me.  We get off the lift, decide to take "Gandy Dancer" for our last run.  This is a blue (intermediate) and, while it does have a steep hill, I had skied it at least 10 times the day before.
We take off, both Matts are ahead of me, it is going good.  We hit the really steep section of the slope, I start going pretty fast, and I get a little scared.  I do some self-talking "It's fine.  Your a little fast, but you can turn and slow down.  Your fine.  You can do this." I can barely see either Matt ahead of me, they ski and board much much faster than I do, even at this "I-am-scared-fast" speed I was going.  I start to turn, a boarder in front of me wipes out, so I am forced to turn back the other way.  It has been snowing for two days, and powder is much harder to manipulate your skis in.  I get some powder on my skis, and start to fall back.  I quickly gain my balance, but by now I am going VERY FAST.  So I know I need to slow down, so I turn and angle my skis a little up the mountain, my plan is to get to the other side and just stop, catch my breath and my bearings. I get to the middle of the mountain, there is something like a bump, or mogul.  It is small, but I can not avoid it and as I hit it, I jump a little tiny bit in the air and I am so off balance - I am going down.  I start to fall, my skis are covered in the back with snow and are so heavy I can not move them.  I land first on my elbow, I hear a loud "crack" and I think "oh, good, my ski came off."  I look up the mountain from where I just came to see if anyone is going to hit me, and I see my feet in the air with my skis still on them.  The back of my ski is stuck in the ground, my hips hit, and I hear that "crack" again.  It hurts.  The rest of my body hits the ground, hard, and I kind of slide down the hill a few feet and then stop.
I just lay there a minute and think "Am I ok? Does this hurt?" My heart is racing.  Actually, recalling this now has my heart racing and tears welling up in my eyes.  I know the outcome.  I look up and to my right, down the mountain, I see Matt Crouch, and to the left, my Matt.  Matt Crouch is much closer and he yells "You all right?"  I just shake my head.  Then I ask myself "Are you all right?  What hurts?" My answer "my elbow, and my knee." I try to decide which hurts worse and if it is getting better.  More self talk.  You are fine.  Just catch your breath.  Let yourself rest.
I see Matt Crouch taking his skis off and I yell at him to wait, I am going to try to get up.  I get up pretty fine.  I tell him I am going to try to ski to the side just to get out of the middle of the mountain.  I aim my skis and my eyes to the right, but the second I let any weight hit my right leg, I am in agony. I ski on my left leg to the side and sit down. Tears stream down my face. I am not usually a big crier, but his hurts and scares me. He walks up and helps me get out of my skis.  I tell him I am pretty sure my leg is broken and I am going to try to scoot down on my butt.  Yeah, right.  Any movement at all is just excruciating by this point. So my Matt walks up to us, they stick the skis up in the snow behind my head as I lay there crying, and everyone that passes they ask to go get the ski patrol.  It seemed like forever before ski patrol came, but they finally made it.  Most embarrassing thing I have ever done.  Lay on the slope crying, waiting for ski patrol. (Side note: a ride on a sled behind ski patrol is terrifying and you do not want to do this if at all possible.) They get me in a splint and on a sled and take me back to their first aide area at the bottom of the mountain.
They check me out and say they think my ACL is out.  They give us three options: pain meds and a ride in an ambulance to the hospital, pain meds and a $6,000 ride on a helicopter to the hospital, or no pain meds and we take our selves.  We choose the latter, hoping and praying I will feel better in a couple hours. (Another aside: The ski patrol asked if I was a beginner or intermediate skier. We mulled it over and decided I fall somewhere in between.  He said I should never have been on that slope.  It is not for beginners or even intermediate. Good thing I never let the boys talk me into Cup or Shays!( black diamond slopes)
Matt runs to get the car, they give me crutches and send us on our way.  I mentioned that it has snowed for two days, so when we pull into the drive way, the car gets stuck, slides, and we came close to losing it in the woods.  I sit on Matt's snowboard and they carefully slide me down to our condo, which is in the basement. We get my clothes off and we quickly see that my leg is seriously swollen and seriously hurt.  Since it is late, and there was so much snow, and our car is now stuck, we decide to stay the night and work our way home to help tomorrow. The great people that own the condo we are staying in help the guys get our car out and give me ice packs.
The drive home in the morning was the worst ride of my life.  Just getting to the car was horrible.  But we made it, and we called our Knoxville Orthopedic once we had cell service.  Since it is an 8 hour drive to Knoxville, we weren't going to make it so they suggested we stop in Johnson City, because we had to anyway to get the kids and the dog, and see someone there just to get x-rays and pain meds.  The orthopedic in Johnson City told us I had a broken tibia plateau.
So I had surgery about two weeks later, and it went fine, and I started PT and the slow process of learning to walk after two months no weight-bearing on my leg. I also broke my arm, but it didn't require surgery, Thank GOD!
Fast forward to June 29, which was my first day leaving the house with out crutches! WOOHOO! Then on the next day, I was walking in our house and I tripped on one of Harper's toys that she had left laying in the hall way, and I fell.  Hard. Guess what?! I broke my leg again! The same leg, the same bone! Not even kidding.  On July 10, exactly 3 months to the day from my last leg surgery, I had another surgery to fix my tibia plateau fracture.  So now I have screws and a balloon plus Gor-tex sutures from my first surgery holding my tibia together. Oh, and I fell so hard, the surgeon had to twist my tibia back into place.  Lovely thought, isn't it?
So there you have it, three broken legs and a broken arm later, here we are today.  I am healing, albeit slowly.  No weight-bearing for two months, and then I learn to walk again, again. I see my surgeon for my first post-op Monday, and I have already started PT again. I love everyone at PT, but I so wish I didn't have to go through this again.  Matt is either going to wrap me in bubble wrap, or trade me in for a new model, and I can't really blame him.
Thankfully we have had tons of friends and family helping us.  I am so certain they are all ready to turn me in for a new model, too, though.  I am seeing a little light finally today, and since I have been putting off this blog for 4 months, I decided today was the best day to just face it all and get on with healing.
In the middle of all this, Harper tuned 2! She is really doing great.  She is talking so good, even putting 2-word phrases together. I am so proud of her.
Billie is also doing great.  She ended 6th grade with second honors, and totally rocked her TCAPS (standardized tests here in Tennessee). She was baptized and confirmed into the church in May. She went on a mission trip last week to Nashville. She got back yesterday and had wonderful stories and memories to share with us.  She is leaving next week for Choir Tour with the church, and it will be so hard to let her go again after just getting her back.  We missed her so much while she was gone, but I am so thankful for the friendships she has with her youth group at church, and these trips not only teach her so much about doing for others and serving, but also allow those friendships to grow and strengthen.  These are good kids and I want her to have those strong bonds with good kids as she gets into her teen years. Hopefully they will grow up together and help each other make good choices as the become young adults.
The boys had their 5th birthday this week.  So hard to believe it has been 5 years since I held them.  I was just a few days post-op, and had a migraine that day (no doubt, because it was their birthday and I just couldn't handle it that day with everything else.) Matt took the day off from work and he took flowers to the cemetery.  I really didn't get out of the bed that day. I hope to make a cake or cupcakes and celebrate it in a few weeks when I can get around better. I hate that anything stressful in my life gives me a migraine, but that is how I handle everything. I miss my boys.  I see them in my minds eye as little 5 year old boys.  I think they look  a lot like Harper, only all boy.  I am certain they are happy and healthy and enjoying being 5 in heaven.  I imagine they are fishing with Michael. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Michael's death, so maybe they will have a huge party.  While it is a sad day always for me, I know Heaven is so happy to have Michael, Joshua, and Caleb.
I appreciate your prayers as I continue to heal and get stronger.  I am terrified that I will break a leg again, so pray that my fears are unfounded, and that I remain healthy once I get over this last surgery. I long for the days that I can take care of my family again, and I know this has been so hard on Matt and all of our family as they have had to take over my roles.  Think of me tomorrow, too.