Dear friends and loved ones,
Yesterday about 5:30 p.m. my son-in-law John was in a terrible accident. A man on the other side of the road was driving about 50 miles an hour. He fell asleep and ended up drifting into John’s lane crashing into John. They had to cut off the roof of John’s vehicle to get him out of his car. John was then airlifted to the trauma center at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, CA. This is the information that we have so far about John’s condition. John’s left femur, pelvis, left periorbital eye socket , left elbow, and L1 vertebrae in his lower back are all fractured. All the fractures except his lower back will require surgically implanted screws to hold the bones together. The pelvis surgery is particularly critical , because the left socket broke in half causing a lot of blood loss and the doctor is afraid the ball of his hip will fall out. In the trauma center they tied a sheet tightly around his left hip to hold it together. I was just talking to John’s sister, and she said that when she heard about John’s eye socket it made her remember when John was a very little boy and he was in a car accident that caused a scar over his eye. The Lord gently spoke to my spirit and said that the one that has the nail scars in his hands is holding John’s hands. Please be praying with us for the surgeon to be guided by the Lord, for a supernatural recovery for John, and for God’s peace that passes all understanding to fill John’s heart and that of the whole family. We love and appreciate you all. Thank you so much for standing with us in prayer.
Little did we know that his pelvis was actually broken into three. His femur was broken completely in half about two inches above the knee and also at the hip. His hip was shattered as was his elbow. He had two holes in his left arm about two inches wide and half an inch deep. He had embedded glass so deeply in his finger that he felt it coming out about six months after the initial accident and had to go in for surgery to remove it. His heart rate was 280 because he lost so much blood. He punctured his lungs and had a chest tube. He had nerve damage throughout his body (and still has issues with it today). His right leg and left arm were paralyzed. He couldn't even lift his head. That was the first night of three months of being unable to do anything for himself.
It broke my heart to see my husband in such pain. He begged for water and the doctors would not allow it. They didn't know if he would choke or need to have emergency surgery, or need to be resuscitated that night. They did not know if he would live. My dear friend from junior high drove an hour to come be at my side at the hospital after a long day's work. She had to be back to work in the morning but stayed with me til 2:00 AM. Linda, I love you so, and appreciate your compassion for my husband more than you could ever know.
It was too hard. I didn't know what to do. Should I stay by his side? Should I go call his family? Call prayer partners? Luckily, my mom was with me too and she took care of letting people know what to do and where we were. Our friends from church came. Apparently someone posted about the accident on a news page on Facebook. The hospital refused to tell them where John was, how he was, or where I was. They also refused to take a message for me. If I weren't outside taking an emotional break, I would not have known they came. They were my strength the last couple of hours that night. They walked with me to ICU and stayed until I left. Having others around me, my best friend, my mom, and some of the men John reveres really helped me hold it together that night.
Much of the San Bernardino County knows my husband. He works for the county, teaches at the local college, goes to a four year university as a student, and volunteers about 4 out of six weeks at our church. Everyone loves him and wanted to know how he was doing. For days my phone was ringing off the hook, messages were left in my email and on Facebook, cards came in the mail... I was so busy spending time at the hospital that I didn't even read many of the cards and emails til John was almost home from the hospital.
John had five surgeries while in the hospital. The first one was stopped because John stopped breathing three hours into the surgery. Surgeries included going through his under-eyelid, behind his eye, and placing titanium mesh behind his eye to pull it back out of his head. The muscle came off his eye and his eye fell back into his head so of course that had to be fixed. He had a plate put in his elbow and some bones mended together in his arm. He had a 20 inch nail placed through his femur because when they tried to put his femur back in place with screws, it kept coming out of place and penetrating his skin. He had a screw that acts like a hip put in his hip because the socket was shattered and his hip wouldn't stay in place. He has about six screws in his hip and his femur by his knee. He was cut from hip bone to hip bone (like a c-section). The surgeons went around his bladder and pushed his pelvis back into place (it was broken in three). They reinforced it with titanium, and to balance it put some titanium in the frontal area of his pelvis. These were the major surgeries. Then he also had outpatient surgery on his hand to remove the glass that came out about six months after surgery. My man is literally the Man of Steel.
John got really sick on top of all this in the hospital. His potassium level remained at 2.4 even when he was given six intraveneous bags of potassium in one day. That made it impossible to do the eye surgery he needed for about two weeks. Every time someone touched him he would scream in pain. When he had to be rolled he would be terrified because of the pain. It was heartwrenching to watch. A few times I had to leave the room. Although there was a nurse for every two patients on the floor John was on, he still didn't have enough help so I had to stay there about 15 hours a day. Ironically my husband did not remember me being there for most of it.
When the hospital felt they could no longer do much for my husband they transferred him to a convalescent hospital. He was surrounded by people who were abandoned by family and friends- many of them did not remember their names, or they had strokes and could no longer care for themselves. My husband's left hand did not work. This was a problem because he is left handed. That made sense to me because his elbow was shattered and there were those huge holes in his arm. What didn't make sense to me was that his right leg didn't work and it had no breaks. The doctor explained that is because his nerves were so traumatized by the accident that they had separated and were no longer working. I learned that it takes nerves a month to grow half an inch. That means that in order to see if John's leg was ever going to work we would have to wait two and a half years. The doctor said there would be no promises.
In the meantime we fought his body's desire to cause a drop foot and drop hand. If John's foot dropped it would be a permanent disability. I watched as my husband's foot would curl up on its own and cause him pain that was tantamount to torture. It broke my heart and there was nothing I could do but tell him I loved him. I would try to hold his toes at a flexed position and he would beg me to not touch them. He cried tears. It made me cry. My strong man was at the weakest point of his life because of someone that drove when they should have pulled over to the side of the road to sleep.
John couldn't even get in a car to go to the doctor's visits. We had to pay for an ambulance or a gurney van to pick John up and take him to the doctor. He could not sit up because of his broken back so he had to be transported in a gurney. This was about $340 per doctor visit. Insurance refused to cover it because they said it wasn't an emergency. To top it off, we didn't have the money to pay but the ambulance or gurney van wouldn't come without being paid in advance so we wracked up large credit card bills.
Physical therapists were training me to lift my husband out of the bed with a hoyer lift. It took three people at Reche Canyon where he was staying to move him, and they expected me to be able to do it at home alone. My husband still could not lift his head at this point. He told them he would go home walking. They didn't want to discourage him but at the same time they didn't want him to believe he could do something that was impossible. They didn't know what we know. We serve a mighty God!
Two months after the accident John was able to sit for fifteen minutes in a wheelchair. Then he had to lay down again. The therapists wanted to send him home several times. I kept fighting for him to stay. Partly because I wanted them to help my man, partly because I was terrified for him to come home. I was on the phone with the grievance department almost weekly. Every Tuesday at 8:00 AM the doctors and physical therapists would get together to determine John's fate. Every Tuesday at 9:01am I was on the phone arguing with one of them. The second Tuesday they told me he was going to go home on Thursday. I resigned myself to just not come pick him up that day. What could they do? Instead I begged and pleaded with medical staff. John showed marked improvement. They decided to give him until the following Tuesday. Week after week the medical staff was impressed by John's ambition and determination. Finally sixty six days later on my birthday (December 22nd), John said he wanted to come home. Our journey was far from over, but his days being admitted anywhere were over.
What happened when John came home? I will continue this story in a few days...