I seriously am so tired that I cannot come up with a better title right now…
It was supposed to be a fun day…the guys had plans to ride trails and then go swimming and we were all going to meet up later and cook out with our friends. Bikes were loaded onto the trailer the night before, cooler filled with drinks and ice and we can’t forget the beef jerky and the sunflower seeds! I had my day planned out…I was going to finish painting the den, bake something for the cookout later and turn up the music and get caught up on the laundry – just me, all alone…well, Tess too…but she pretty much snoozes all day, so mostly all by myself.
Around 9:30 that morning, still in the t-shirt I slept in the night before, a serious case of bedhead and ingredients all out and ready to bake and I get a phone call from Tanner, my oldest son. He tells me that “Dad broke his leg” and my first thought was just a simple broken leg…and was ready to be mad at him thinking he was doing something to show off. But, then one of the guys that went with them grabbed the phone and at that point EVERYTHING changed. All I heard was “I’m not going to lie, it’s bad – you need to meet us at the hospital as soon as you can…it’s very serious.” I stood there…stunned, hands started shaking and I didn’t even know what to do first – I needed a shower, I had a HUGE mess in the kitchen, the den was completely upside down and I had laundry e v e r y w h e r e!!
I zombied my way through the next half hour or so…literally just covered up the stuff I had out in the kitchen, and my phone rings again…one of the guys had called his wife, who in turn called my oldest sister Lisa, who called me and asked “do you need me?” I can’t remember if I cried…I was still not sure what was going on and did not know how serious the accident or injury was at that point. I told her “yes” and showered as fast as I ever have in my life…grabbed a change of clothes for me and Larry and a few necessities and then ran my house key over to Neighbor (our neighbor’s actual nickname given to him by Tanner when we moved in 16 years ago) and asked him to keep an eye on Tess and that I’d probably have to spend the night. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, my brother, who was there with them called me…told me to contact one of the brother’s from our congregation to let them know what was going on and updated me on which hospital they were taking Larry. I have to interject for those who do not personally know me, our congregation is like family to us…as Jehovah’s Witnesses, I could go anywhere on the earth and have immediate friends and support from the local brothers and sisters. Plans are already in place for emergencies and once I made that call to one of my congregation brothers…he made calls to the local brothers in Roanoke so that they could be there to assist and support us. It’s an amazing arrangement.
The ride there was long…three hours, and seriously, I still had no idea what the gravity of the situation was or how bad it was going to be. I didn’t call anyone else, had a few conversations with my brother, who at this time, had my boys with him and just tried to keep me calm. Lisa was calm, kept the conversation going about random things and whether or not she knew things were worse than I thought, she didn’t say. Then, after the world’s longest ride ever, we made it to the hospital – found our way to the emergency room and there were my boys, my brother, Larry’s friend Rich and two of our spiritual brothers from the local congregation. I was still kind of numb, just wanted to see him and they had stabilized him enough for me to get there before they took him into surgery. It was pretty scary seeing him in that hospital bed and I leaned over so that he could see me and he just kind of shook his head and said he was sorry. I told him that accident’s happen and that it would be okay and that I loved him. I kissed him on the forehead and the boys went to see him real quick and then the next 3 1/2 hours he was in surgery.
Those 3 1/2 hours were just as long as the ride there…
I will tell you that all sorts of things went through my mind…we had just lost a life long friend a few months back on the operating table – she had a broken leg too. 😦
Once surgery was over, a nurse came out to tell us what room he would be in and the surgeon called my on my cell to explain what they did. I really don’t remember the conversation at all. But basically, that initial surgery was to clean the wound – they call it an “excisional debridement” and the medical term for his actual injury was a “left open tibial plateau fracture” in addition to most of the knee being shattered. They put a few screws in the leg and an external fixator on his leg to hold things together.
I have to backtrack here for a minute … the place the boys went to go riding is a campground and park with 39 miles of riding trails. They had just gotten there that morning, in fact, not everyone had arrived yet. They were just piddling around on the little hills at the beginning of the trail and after several versions of the accident, here is what actually happened: As he went up this little 3 ft hill for about the third time, the bike he was on popped up a little too fast, so in an effort to keep himself from crashing onto his back on the bike, he let go of it, with the intent of running down the hill after it and jumping back on…the bike went…but as he started to run down the hill to catch up with it, his left riding boot got hung up/caught on a tree root and his leg literally snapped at the knee! The momentum of his body was just too strong and something had to give…he said he heard a loud “pop” and the pain was worse than any of us could possibly imagine. He looked down and when he saw his leg, his first thought was that he’d never be using it again! It was a complete open fracture, the knee was shattered, it was literally hanging on by the calf muscle! His friends thought quickly, grabbed one of the straps for the bikes and applied a tourniquet. From what the boys say, everyone was running to get help and within 30 minutes – a guy and his wife pull up on a four-wheeler. This guy just happened to be the Captain of a local rescue squad unit and his wife is a nurse…they immediately took over the scene, called for an ambulance and a helicopter. I have more to say about this…but, later…
Once they got Larry in the helicopter…they were able to give him something to numb the pain…no one understands how in the world he did not lose consciousness from the extreme pain or the blood loss and trauma…but he didn’t – he said he was focused on keeping his leg attached! We sort of joke about the next part being like an episode of ER…arriving on the roof of the hospital, being wheeled in with people looking down at him and down at his leg, eyes wide and busy talking about if it can be saved or not. The term they used was “a catastrophic break” and after all is said and done, he was lucky! Lucky to be alive, lucky the leg is still attached, lucky that he did not damage the arteries or tendons and though he still has some numbness in his toes…they still have color and the hope is that they will heal as the leg heals.
That first night was rough…on ALL of us! They had a really difficult time managing his pain…but his amazing nurse and the staff at 10 Mountain at Roanoke Memorial did everything they could to take care of him. By the end of the second day, he started to get some relief…at least with the right cocktail of pain meds and muscle relaxers.
He spent a week at the hospital, as did I…in the chair in his room … so, no sleep really – but who could sleep?
The second week, he was transferred to an Inpatient Rehab Facility for some intense physical therapy and for occupational therapy. Three hard hours a day…so he mostly slept and did therapy. By the end of the week, he was able to come home with a fancy new wheelchair, a walker and a few other items…and at this point, we are waiting for his next appointment with the surgeon at MCV. I should take this time to say, that all of the above happened out of town…three hours from home!! And as hard as we tried, it was just not possible to move him in the beginning, first, it was too serious, and then second, no available bed in Richmond. It was frustrating and overwhelming and exhausting, but we survived. The support from the friends in Roanoke and my sisters and family and friends at home…was much needed and very appreciated. I will never be able to thank everyone enough for all that they have done so far to help us.
Back to the guy from the campground…the EMT…he called Larry the next day at the hospital…told him that he doesn’t usually follow up on people he works on, but that there was something about Larry that he could not get off of his mind. He told him that that morning, he wasn’t planning on taking his bag or radio to the campground…they were going just to hang out and ride, but at the very last minute – he asked his wife to grab his bag and radio…just in case…and less than 30 minutes later…he was using it on Larry. Between his friends knowing to put the tourniquet on him and the skill of the EMT and being able to get him medflighted to the trauma center so quickly…they saved his life! How in the world do you thank someone for that!??!
Anyway, I will try and update more later…but I had a lot of friends who are not on facebook that wanted to know what happened…and it is just easier to write it all down in one place rather than trying to recant the story over and over again.
Needless to say, we are grateful…and we are tired…but we are mostly grateful.
OoXx ~ Dianna