Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Accident

It has become clear to me over the past year or so that when my parents got in an accident last summer while they were living in Mallorca, I haven't talked about it a ton here on the blog.  I mentioned it here and here but not much more than that.  I have friends who ask me about them and that is when I realize that I might talk about some lighthearted things here regularly but the more major things are harder to talk about.  I was dealing with a lot last summer and just didn't want to really write about the accident specifically.

A few weeks before their accident they rode their Harley up to the airport to see me on a layover.

Just because it would be good to record here, here is my experience mixed with some emails that my Dad me.

Last June I went to the Bahamas for work and when I received a call from my Dad the Monday after I returned, it was the middle of the day and thought it was no big deal that he was calling.  He told me on the phone that he and my mom had been in an accident but that they were fine.  He just wanted to let me know and that he'd call me back the next day to tell me more.  I was asked to not tell anyone in the family (obviously my sister knew about it) because he didn't want to worry anyone unnecessarily.  Some of you know that my mother has been through a lot in her life and has been in the hospital during my lifetime more times than I can count.  I didn't think too much of it - all I knew was that both of my parents had broken legs.  Not too big of a deal, right?

The next day I was walking in the West Village and I called my Dad to see how they were doing and that is when he told me that my mother was probably going to lose her leg.  He said that he'd talked to my sister an hour or so before and she said that she and her kids would start coming up with pirate names ASAP.  It is in moments like that that I am grateful that crying in New York is OK in public.  Apparently my Mom's leg (from the knee to the ankle) had been pretty much destroyed.  She still had some ligaments and was able to move her toes, so they were exploring their options, but that it was a 50/50 chance that she was going to lose her leg.  Someone knew of a microsurgeon in Valencia.  

Here is my Dad's account.
Nancy and I arrived in Palma de Mallorca on the 7th of June.  We had decided to go for a ride on our motorcycle with some friends on Saturday, June 11, here in Palma.  We had had an enjoyable day and were returning back to the ranch to pick up my boss to take him to the airport when the accident happened.  We were going through a turn in the road when the turn became very abrupt and I was unable to negotiate the turn and entered into the oncoming lane.  We were hit broadside by an SUV.  Nancy's right leg was severely damaged, they used the term catastrophic, and my right leg was broken also.  It took about 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive as we were on the far eastern side of the island near the village of Cala Llombard.  Upon arrival at the hospital they took Nancy into surgery and she was there for about 5 hours.  Because it was Saturday there was only one surgical team and I had to wait till her surgery was done.  It was a difficult 5 hours to wait but it all worked out.  

Nancy was in the ICU for two days but eventually they brought her into my room.  Her leg, similar to mine, had a large metal brace on it holding her leg together.  During that week, June 13th, the doctors visited us every day and I could tell they were not very pleased with what they were seeing with Nancy's leg.  Through some discussions with the plastic surgeon it was decided they would contact Dr. Pedro Cavadas in Valencia to see if he would take Nancy as a patient.  Following a review of her file, Dr. Cavadas said he would see Nancy and on Friday, June 17, she was sent by medical ambulance to Valencia.  On Saturday morning, June 18, Dr. Cavadas examined her and determined she had a good pulse in her foot, she had feeling in her toes and could move her foot.  He said he could help and scheduled surgery for Monday morning, June 20.  During the surgery, which included cleaning away the damaged soft tissue, they took some muscle from her left back and placed it in the wounded area.  The surgery was successful and on the following Thursday, June 23, they grafted some skin from her right thigh onto here damaged leg.  Dr. Cavadas said that Nancy's healing process would take approximately 10 months.  He has been much more positive than the other doctors regarding the possibilities of her recovering which we feel is directly a result of all the prayers that have been offered on our behalf.

Nancy will stay in Valencia for several more weeks.  We are anticipating she will have additional surgeries to repair the bone in her leg.  I will go to Valencia on Sunday and spend a week with her and to talk with Dr. Cavadas. 
The Relief Society has been the greatest blessing of this whole event.  They come an help Nancy with every meal and then a sister spends the night with her, EVERY DAY.  Bless Joseph for giving Emma this charge.  They have been incredible. The Branch President has been very helpful also and supports the Relief Society in all they do.  Imagine, they have done this without even being asked.  The missionaries came to give Nancy a blessing and the next thing you know they are there helping wherever they can, a true blessing.
My parents with the nurses and Relief Society sisters who stayed with my mom every night.

My parents planned on coming home in August and asked my Dad's sister to come to Barcelona to help them on the airplane, etc. as my mom was still completely immobile.   My dad's sisters realized that their passports were expired, so one of our dear family friends in North Carolina, Blythe, was practically on the next flight to Barcelona where she met with my parents and helped them on the flight.  They were only able to get on a big enough plane for my mom to recline from Barcelona and the closest that they could get to Utah on such a big plane was San Francisco.  My aunt and uncle picked them up in a 15 passenger van that they had taken the benches out of and the 5 of them drove to my parent's house in Utah.  By the time they had arrived at the house, the boy scouts had built a ramp up to the front door and they had arranged for people to come stay with them for the next several months.

From Dad in late July:
This will be the last update before we head out from Spain to Utah.  Nancy is progressing well and is anxious to get home.  She will go directly to the University of Utah Hospital where they will determine what the next course of action will be.  We will leave on Tuesday but because Delta Airlines was very uncooperative regarding our flight to Salt Lake City we had to change to American and will now go to San Francisco and then to SLC by van.  It will work out fine.  My sister Ilene and brother-in-law Mike will make the trip with us and it should be an adventure.  Blythe will accompany Nancy and I from Barcelona, Spain to assist Nancy.  We are grateful to her for her willingness to help.  We will let you know how the trip goes but for now we are just looking forward to getting home.
Dr Cavadas came to see Nancy a couple of days ago and told her that her leg was doing well and that the trip should not be too difficult.  They will put an inflatable cast on her leg to keep it straight and aid in keeping it elevated.  That is all for now, we will let you know when we are home.
In September I went home to see my parents while my aunt was there taking care of them. 

From my Dad in October:
Since returning from Spain we have been somewhat uncommunicative basically because there hasn't been a lot to tell.  I often think of a Harry Chapin song called, "A Better Place To Be" where he sings, "I am the midnight watchman down at Miller's Tool and Dye, I watch the metal rusting, I watch the time go by."  Our healing process is something akin to watching metal rusting.  Although we have made a lot of progress it is still going slow.  

We visited with Dr. Kubiak last Thursday and he had some incredible news for Nancy.  After reviewing her x-rays he said the bone in her leg is miraculously healing.  There were evident signs that the bone is growing back together and he had no explanation.  He said it might not grow all the way back together but for now he isn't planning on any surgery.  He did say he might remove the wires holding her kneecap together but other than that he said we should wait and see how much her bone grows back.  She will still have a long recovery but with the physical therapy she is receiving she hopes to be walking without crutches by the end of the year.  It would be great to have her walking again.

I had hoped that I would be able to go back to work the first of October but there has been a short delay.  The three screws put in the bone to hold the rod in place have been quite painful and the doctor said that until they heal, the pain will not go away.  He prescribe oxycodone but I am somewhat hesitant to take such a strong narcotic.  In any event, it has been a small hiccup in the plan to go back to work.  However, I will be going to do an advance for a visit we have in the coming months.  I plan on going back now in early November.

We have been fortunate in that my sisters have been able to come and help as well as a neighbor and several other friends.  We have some friends from California that have volunteered to come while I am gone to Colombia.  All in all we have been very fortunate to have people willing to come and help us.

I received this video in November.

Here we are at Christmas.  Everyone is standing on their own!

 Along the way there have been so many friends who have done amazing things for me.  Scott and Annie were in Utah in early September of last year and drove 2 hours to spend a few hours with my parents and make them breakfast and visit.  I told Scott that I needed him to do that for me and he was there.  My dad had surgery in Salt Lake and was there in the hospital by himself for a few days, so Kristy took him pizza and hung out with him at the hospital.  I think often of the Relief Society sisters in Spain who spent the night at the hospital with my mom for a month so that she wouldn't be alone.  Would I do that for someone here in New York?  I don't want to answer that.

My mom had surgery a few weeks ago to take the wires out of her knee and is doing well.  My dad no longer walked around with his crutch like Tiny Tim and other than my mom's "Frankenleg" you probably wouldn't be able to tell that anything had ever happened.

Just wanted to publicly say thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, given me a hug, or just been my friend while all this has been going on.  We are just extra grateful for the blessings we've been given.



Bud & Kim said...

Thanks for sharing. So glad they are OK.

Raleigh Crowl said...

Thank you for sharing your parents’ story, Steph! Your mother is such a strong woman. Looking at the photos, she seems calm and composed despite the cast on her leg. And I’m so glad that your parents were able to get back on their feet after what happened. I think the support and love they received from your family and friends give them the courage to face it all. :-)