Jan 2, 2003
We had been back in the Seattle area for 6 months. Life was going moderately well. Josiah was in pre kindergarten at the local school, giving me a break every afternoon. Michael’s business was plugging away. We felt settled and only had a few troublesome things, like most families in the US.
That morning I had taken Josiah to his physical therapy appt and I was sitting in the waiting room, jotting down some things I wanted to accomplish this year. My cell phone rang and it was Keith, my husbands employee. “Gail, Mike fell!” Keith said. A dozen scenarios ran through my mind. “The ambulance is taking him to Harborview Medical Center”
My mom and I drove up to the hospital after I dropped Joe off with a friend. I called my sisters and let them know the little I knew. We finally found Michael at the hospital or at least found a social worker who could tell us what was going on with Michael. Yes, he had fallen. He had been taken to the emergency room and then taken into surgery. That was the extent of what we knew. We huddled around a table in the cafeteria and prayed. Later the surgeon, social workers, my brother in law who is a pastor and I met in a room. All they could tell me was that Michael had torn his aorta when he fell and they had repaired it. The fall had damaged his right lung and they removed a section of it. They told me that if he got thru the night then they would reevaluate and see what else they could do for him. I was in shock, and not really taking in all the ramifications of what they were saying.
They finally allowed me to see him. One of my nurse friends who had heard thru the grapevine, prepared me for the sight before me. After a severe trauma to the body, the body retains its body fluids to protect itself. Over the past few hours Michael had bloated up 30+ lbs. my normally skinny husband was almost unrecognizable with his skin stretched so tightly over the new, heavier body.
Over the next few days and weeks, I learned that when my husband fell 35+ feet out of the tree he was working in, he had landed on his back. From the fall, he had torn his aorta and his ribs had thrashed most of his right lung. Amazingly enough, nothing else was broken. He flatlined on the way to the hospital. He was bleeding profusely internally from the aorta. The doctors didn’t know where the bleeding was coming from, so they got out the saw and sliced his chest open, one doc holding a light to see what was going on in the dark mess of blood inside, another doc pumping his heart manually to keep him alive, another doc with his hand in his chest trying to feel for what might be going on. I think in all there were 6 docs working on him. A nurse told me later that they call that “cracking the chest” and they only do that in a last ditch effort to save someone. This nurse also told me that Michael was the first one he had seen survive the proceedure.
Michael was in the ICU and unconscious for about 8 days. Then he started to wake up and was moved to a regular floor. It was at that time that Michael and I realized there was something wrong with his eyes. Over the next few days, a series of eye docs came to look at him. We knew there was something wrong but it wasn’t til he was in rehab that he had an appt with an specialist who confirmed that becuz of the blood loss, he had lost all the nerves in his right eye. Without your nerves you lose your sight. In his left eye he had lost over 90%. Enough that he was declared legally blind, but also enough to be able to see a little.
That spring and summer, Michael rehabbed close to home and then was able to come home. Suddenly my bad habit of leaving cupboard doors open were causing a problem for a man who couldn’t see. Josiah and Mike bumped heads a few times when trying to hug and snuggle. Mike had to give up his driver’s license which was a huge disappointment for my independent, first born husband. He was suddenly dependent on his wife and others for rides, help and other things.
No longer able to climb trees or do the bidding for the jobs, we sold off our biz equipment and shut down our operation. At a loss as to what we should do, we sold our house in Puyallup and moved back to Idaho where we could live more cheaply and Michael could get some retraining.
During the year of 2003, and beyond, the Lord provided funds, food, comfort, prayer supporters and friends. Somehow without an income for the entire year we were still able to pay our bills and eat more than beans and rice. Yes, we had some savings and we sold some things, but the bulk came from the body of Christ. If I learned one thing from Michael’s experience, it is that God is faithful to us, his children. And that the body of Christ is used by the Lord to take care of his children.
Over the last 5 years we have been adjusting as a family to a father who doesn’t drive, can’t see everything that goes on, a wife who is the eyes for the family and sole driver to anywhere we go, a son who doesn’t talk and needs supervision 99% of the time. We have changed our habits and recreation activities, we find ourselves staying home more. But we are also moving forward. Michael is going back to school to get his degree. He has chosen not to sit at home and mope as some people do when hit with a mid life crisis. I am so proud of him and look at him in awe.
God allowed these situations to happen to our family for a reason. Reasons we still don’t fully comprehend, but we are willing to trust Him, we choose to trust Him for we know He has only good for us and not evil. We take comfort in all those who have gone before us and walked in faith: Hannah, Joseph, Sarah and Abraham, Daniel, Paul, Peter and the other disciples.
And that’s the story behind why I named my blog Challenges and Adventures.