What’s up with #3 and all?

9 months ago my (then) 27 year old son was in a horrible car accident that landed him in Neurological and then Trauma ICUs at a major medical school hospital. We were told it was unlikely he’d ever get out of bed or have any significant brain function. A month later he was in the rehab hospital, learning how to walk again and proving every single doctor wrong.

Now, 9 months later, he’s driving, and talking to his former place of employment about returning to work in a much-reduced capacity. Formerly, he was a high-voltage industrial electrician. Now, likely he’ll be greasing machines and sweeping floors and possibly working in the stock room. They’re going to evaluate him and keep him busy and see how he does. He’ll also work 8 hours a day, day shift, instead of the 12-16 hours all times of day and night he was working previously.

But get this…the son I was told would be probably in a “persistent vegetative state” or “minimally functional” is driving and talking and going to work and chopping wood and fixing engines and…

Really the only thing that remains of his accident are a limp, some bodacious scars, and a somewhat reduced ability to talk. I say somewhat, because if you didn’t know him before you wouldln’t recognize it. However, his skull was significantly cracked and there was internal bleeding at Broca’s area in his brain. This is the part that allows you to get the right words out. He comprehends just fine, but has some trouble bringing up the right words. However, that is getting better and I am confident with practice he’ll get it all back. We are instructed to talk to him as if there was no deficit, and correct him when he uses the wrong words. And every day he is a little bit better.

He is absolute proof to me, that God exists and is intimately involved in our lives. He’s proof that doctors don’t know everything and that God is far more powerful than any sort of education or whatever. I know the doctors were basing their opinions on past experience. I am sure they’ve had people with less severe injuries recover with less enthusiasm than #3.  I am certain part of his recovery happened because the doctor said he wouldn’t. The surest way to get him to do something was to tell him he wasn’t capable of it.  He may have seemed unconcious when that neurologist stood by his bed and labeled him a turnip, but I know he heard it.

Not long ago he told me he’d experienced God’s presence when he was out…He said he knew his job isn’t done here and God has something in mind.  None of us know what yet, but #3 is biding his time and waiting to know what he’s meant to do.

Also…my li’l turnip who was supposed to never be able to get out of the bed? He’s going back to work. Like, real work with a paycheck and a schedule and stuff and not as some sort of “favor for the impaired one” but because he has something to offer and can do it. Now, mind you, he’s not going back to work as the high-voltage industrial electrician (thank You, God), but…he’s going to get a paycheck and be doing something useful for the company he’s working for (the same company for whom he worked before his accident), and will feel like he’s contributing to the functioning of his household as a provider.

It has been a burden on him, feeling as if he wasn’t the Provider and Pater Familias but a burden or something. We all know he had healing to do and was no burden at all, but how do you tell someone that when all he can see is a comparison between working and not-working?

All I know is how delighted I am when he shows up here, wanting to chop wood, talk, eat bacon, and…you know…be ALIVE.

Like really LIVING alive. One of the thoughts I had soon after being told he’d never get out of bed was that I knew he’d rather be dead than in the bed permanently. His father was the same way. I remember thinking that when the doctor told me he’d never recover. That he’d rather be dead than in the bed, a burden on the people he loved.

Himself went a different path than #3, going to his Heavenly reward. #3’s business here isn’t done and even though I still get anxious about him, and sometimes when he struggles with his words or the weather is making his leg hurt, I mourn for what he used to be, but I also know that God saved his life for something and The Fella occasionally reminds me that I am being ungrateful.  I suppose I am..,

But…he’s going back to work. He talks almost normally. His skills as a mechanic and electrician are intact. His reflexes are a little slow and he has to think about what he does instead of it coming smoothly and naturally but that will improve with time and practice.

My heart is full.

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Philosophical

#3 and Grandpunkin spent the day here. This happens once or twice a week. They show up around 7:30 or 8am, have breakfast with us, and the day goes on. Having a Grandpunkin in the house is fun…all noise and dirt and matchbox cars and Cheezits. “Greasy Crumb-Crusher” is what The Fella calls anyone under 4 feet tall. Grandpunkin fits that description perfectly. Earlier today (and it was a cool day) he decided shoes and pants were for losers, and took his off. The menfolk were in the garage, putting new brakes on #1’s car, and GP was wandering around, I assumed being relatively supervised by the 3 men. When I saw him trotting across the driveway, shovel in hand and no pants to be seen, I squawked and The Fella informed me that we should all be as comfortable with ourselves to be able to wander around pantsless. Since GP is a chunky little thing, well upholstered and unlikely to suffer, I chose not to worry too much and he and I hunted for the missing clothes until they were located in the backyard, next to the firepit.

I watched #3 a lot today. Not out of any sort of supervisory thing, but just…watching him. Thinking about what could have been but wasn’t. How 8 months ago he was in the ICU, and we didn’t know if he would ever get out of it. How broken his body was, and today he was chopping wood and fixing cars and driving a utility cart around the property. Today he used a chainsaw and ate a hamburger and listened to music and laughed and complained and…LIVED. Sometimes I am sad at the changes in his life, the frustrations he has to endure, his mental changes, and his current inability to work, but I step back and compare that to what might have been and…my heart is full.

Today, my oldest son was promoted, got a raise and spent time with his grandparents. He has found purpose and some contentment.

Today, my second son called from his training program in Birmingham, showed off some serious tech he’s been given for his new job, and talked about his future.  He’s found a reason to get up in the morning and something about which he can be enthusiastic.

Today, my fourth son called and is starting his 3rd semester of school on Monday. He is working, and living with his uncle and aunt, and has goals, and a place to plant his beloved gerber daisies.

Today, I have The Fella, 4 sons who are doing well, parents who live 200 yards away and I can help them out.

I know I’m not special and God does whatever He wants to do and sometimes those things aren’t what I want but right now, at 7:06am on a normal Thursday morning, I’m very blessed and I’m grateful for that.

 

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I remember

#3 was chopping wood in the backyard today.  It’s something he loves to do and it’s helping get his strength back.  Anyway, we had music going on the phone (isn’t technology amazing) and Grandpunkin was picking out songs. (Aren’t kids amazing? 3 years old and he can pick out songs on his daddy’s phone) He played Toto’s “Africa” and we started singing along with it.  Here’s the story behind that…

A while back…several years and before he was married…#3 and #1 shared a house. They worked different shifts and because #3 was an assho…I mean…a jerk…he would play “Africa” on repeat and really loud when he came home from work and #1 was trying to sleep.  It became a joke after a while and #1 would do the same when #3 was trying to sleep.

Skip ahead a few years to May 30 of 2018

When #3 was still unconscious in the hospital after his accident, his brothers came to see him and when they walked in the room, they started singing “Africa”. #3’s heart rate and brain activity (he was on an EEG…wires wires everywhere) jumped and it was the first time we’d seen any real response from him. It was just a couple of days after his accident and we didn’t know at that point if he was even still in there. After that, we knew he was there and it was just a matter of time…even though the neurologists were telling us he wasn’t.

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2019 and all is well

Yes, it’s been a while. So sue me, I’ve been busy.  Doing what, you ask. What could possibly be more important than writing on the Interwebs on a regular basis?  So I’ll catch you up on stuff.

#3 is doing well. Physically he is healing up beautifully, though he has been left with Barometric joints. Yep. Now he feels the weather like old people and he’s only 27. He’s also not been cleared to work, though he has been cleared to drive, which is a relief for The Fine Wife.  The inability to work is very frustrating for him, but he still lacks the stamina to hold a regular job and certainly can’t do something as physically taxing as his previous one.  Hopefully he’ll be cleared to work sometime soon and can find something (anything, really) that will make use of his still-intact mechanical skills. The good news is that he’s alive and his brain is improving every day.

Work continues on The New House. A shop is slowly going in, but the rain rain rain and more rain has prevented the installation of the second shipping container and subsequent shop-construction. It’s Winter. It’s what Winter does. Also mud. The yard looks like a flamin’ pig wallow right now, what with multiple 4×4 trucks and #’s 1 and 2 parking here. Yes, due to #3’s situation they wanted to be close to family so have moved here. They’ve both found gainful work and are living here whilst saving paychecks to be able to rent some place nearby.

And I, after a hair over 30 years and a recent college graduation, am seeking gainful employment. I have discovered that an Associate’s Degree (Magna cum laude, y’all…) in Business Management was a wise decision. As was listing my resume online with Indeed. People are contacting me and that is…kind of…flattering.  Tomorrow (Jan. 8, 2019) is my first interview and while I don’t really intend to work for them because they’re 30 minutes away and I want to work part time so I can help my parents and Grandpunkin, the interview is a great trial run and a chance to test the interview chops.

You know, writing a resume was an interesting exercise. I really had no idea of what-all I’d done in the last 35 years until it was written down. There’s a lot. Mostly unpaid volunteer work but hey, it counts. One of the instructors at the college I attended actually told me to please use him as a referrence which was also sort of encouraging. There are a lot of things I’d done that I didn’t really think amounted to much until written down…like an ability to navigate LexisNexis, and other research stuff. I actually LOVE doing research and I’m darn good at it. Anyone want to hire me? I also make a great pot of coffee.

One of the local places that’s hiring actually has that on their requirements….you have to be able to make coffee. I guess that’s how they get around the politically incorrect request for a secretary, and administrative assistants are too Highly Trained to do something as pedestrian as make coffee. Heck, if it makes the office run more smoothly and the boss is happy and can do his job, I’ll make coffee all day long and maybe even bring cookies once in a while. I ain’t too proud for that. Magna cum laude or not. I’ll make the coffee.

Really and truly, all I want is an office job, and get paid to be organized. I love forms and filing and answering phones and making people’s lives run smoothly. I don’t want to be The Boss or The CEO or The Next Woman To Break The Glass Ceiling. I just don’t care about that. If I can make someone else’s work day run smoother and come home knowing I’d done a good thing for someone else, that’s enough for me.

When I was in school, I took classes with the idea of perhaps working for a non-profit, in some sort of administrative way. Non-profits don’t pay a whole lot, but I don’t need a whole lot. The idea of working in some way that would help others is appealing. Not in a young save-the-world sort of way, but in a what-can-I-do-to-help way. As a young person I was too selfish to be interested in saving the world, but now I’m ready to do my part for someone…I can’t save the world but if I can make one person’s life better then I’m good with that.

The interview I have tomorrow isn’t with a non-profit, but it is a chance to put on my navy blue suit and business-like watch and see if someone would be interested in the likes of me…53, grey hair and glasses, efficient and a stellar maker-of-coffee.  It’s a practice run and a chance to get over the inevitable nerves that come with knowing one is being judged for one’s history and vocabulary. And maybe typing skills which I can modestly say are prodigious.   Back in the day when I took typing as a senior in high school I was accused of cheating on the speed test because there was no way someone of 17 tender years could possibly blow out 90 words per minute and yet I couldn’t figure out how one cheated on a typing test that was dictated. And it was a manual typewriter too, because I wasn’t apparently worthy of an electric one so yes. 90 WPM on a 1950’s era Royal manual typewriter. 8 years of piano lessons didn’t hurt. I knew where my fingers where and what they did so yeah.  I am one of those Old School Secretary Types with the readers on a chain and wearing a twin-set and totally unfazed by anyone.

And I make excellent coffee.

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I used to be organized.

A long time ago, I was very, very organized. I was one of those people who started on Christmas stuff in June. Then, when it became apparent that this was borderline OCD, I waited until right after October 31 (did you know there’s a move to change the date of Halloween to some other time in October? but I digress….) to begin gathering all the stuff needed…like nuts and spices and yards of fabric and consulting the list of ideas that began in February.

Then that date slid from November 1 to December 1 and after Himself passed away it all became something of an afterthought or that 9pm semi-panic on December 20 that resulted in a flurry of Amazon gift certificates.  Thank goodness for cookies, too, because most people like them and fresher is better and you can double those batches with little ill effect.

Now there’s a Grandpunkin involved and I’m back into wanting to make some things more involved than flour, butter, and chocolate chips.  When The Boys were little, I loved making big squishy stuffed animals of the sort that could be used to lean on while watching the ubiquitous Thomas the Tank Engine videos that allowed me the opportunity to take a much needed shower. Grandpunkin isn’t the sort to be charmed by a curly-haired purple hippopotamus the size of a La-Z-Boy recliner (s’true…I made one of those. No idea what happened to that silly thing. Probably it’s still in the attic of a small house in South Alabama) (unless someone found it). He’s more of a dinosaur/shark/other toothy carnivorous animal type. He tends to be very proud of whatever shark/dinosaur/John Deer Monster Truck shirt he’s wearing, so I’m pondering how to incorporate those concepts into one beast. Research at the local fabric store happens whenever possible, and the discontinued pattern for a large child-sized stuffed shark was located on Etsy. How John Deere and velociraptors will meld into a shark is undetermined, but I’ve done it before (albeit 25 years ago), and shall do it again.

Everyone else will get cookies and coffee. Really Good Coffee (Coffee roasting friends of mine with Best Coffee Ever. Buy it. You won’t be sorry).

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Update on #3

I realized it’s been a while since I’ve updated on how he’s doing. In short….he’s doing amazingly well. His healing is nothing short of miraculous, over and over again.  He knows this, and credits God with it, and has told his doctors so.

One of his injuries was a complete break of his left femur at the head. There’s a lot of nerves and blood vessels there, and the surgeon was sceptical about it healing properly, even went to far as to say she expected the head part to die off, and he’d need a hip replacement. We prayed for it to heal so he wouldn’t need that extra surgery, and it did. His hip was completely healed. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

When he visited the doctors in Birmingham 2 weeks ago, he walked (WALKED!) into the hospital and offices, completely unassisted. No cane, no walker, no help. Maybe a bit of a limp, that’s all.

My little turnip, the one who wasn’t expected to be able to do anything more than look at us. Maybe.

Oh, I know…the doctors have to give you the worst case scenario. It’s called Cover Your Ass because no one has ever sued a doctor for malpractice because the recovery exceeded expectations. I know they couldn’t say “He’ll most likely be just fine”, but honestly, they truly didn’t expect it. When they move a person from the Neuro ICU with comments like “We can’t help him anymore and we need the bed.” it’s not because they think he’s fine.

Truly, I am not gloating. I hope it doesn’t sound like I am. There were 2 other young men in that neuro ICU who were hurt in accidents the same day as #3. One of them died, the other was not expected to ever recover in any sort of way. Why #3 and not one of them? I don’t know. I hurt for those families that lost their sons. There were other families with sons and fathers and loved ones in that ICU who were hanging on desperately to hope, some of them got their wishes and some didn’t. Those are questions I can’t answer.

Cognitively he is recovering in fits and starts. His memories are coming back, in bits and pieces, and we are trying to help that along by always talking to him about his past, showing pictures, and the like. I have had a couple of conversations with him recently that felt like I was talking to the old pre-accident #3, and that was incredibly encouraging.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  
Psalm 9:1

Now, all that said, I know he may never recover enough to return to the sort of work he was doing before (industrial electrician and mechanic). But he doesn’t have to. Nor does he want to. He worked too much. Knowing that he doesn’t want to and that we can all help him find his way to something that will be productive and less stressful is giving us all a sense of purpose.

The Fine Wife is the best part of his recovery. She is patient, steadfast, and encouraging for him. Lord love her, since #3’s recovery is taking a developmental track, she gets to have him as a teenager (better her than me!! I already done that once!) and fortunately his developmental track is very compressed so he won’t be a teenager as long the second time as he was the first.

Anyway, #3 is doing well. He is healing on all fronts. I continue every day to ask God to keep His hand on him, keep healing him, and use him in some way wonderful. I praise God every day for the progress he’s made, and for allowing us to all see such a phenomenal miracle.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27

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So much!

I have a variety of reasons for moving here. I like the area. I’m near Mom and Dad, who aren’t Spring Chickens and I feel better about being close enough to help out. #3, The Fine Wife, and Grandpunkin are 10 minutes away (especially now that #3 had that accident and I can help out with him, give The Fine Wife some time to herself), it’s a great place to live, etc.

As I settle in, the reality of all that mentioned above is coming to fruition and I can see exactly how things are playing out. And I like it. Every bit of it. The house is comfortable and small enough to clean in a morning. Grandpunkin can come over and by George I think that’s my favorite part of all of it.

A long time ago, as the #s 1, 2, and 3 then 4 outgrew their toys, Himself and I made decisions about what to keep For The Grandchildren. When I moved here, I took stock of all those toys and smiled, especially as I remembered The Boys playing with them. All those Thomas the Tank Engine toys, the ones that we bought because they so loved the VHS tapes of the show (that allowed me to indulge in the occasional act of personal hygiene in the form of a 5 minute shower), yeah those….Grandpunkin loves them! AND Amazon Prime HAS THOSE SAME ORIGINAL SHOWS!

chris-playing.jpg

The map’s a little worn but still functional

 

When the boys were very young, we lived out in the country and due to a work thing, Himself deposited a very large (like 3 dumptruck loads) pile of dirt in the yard. Initially I thought he was nuts, but the boys were attracted to that pile like flies to molasses, and the immediate acquisition of Tonka trucks meant they were kept happy and occupied for the remaining 3 years we lived there. Better than any expensive fancy playground that pile was. Well, Full Circle just like the Thomas toys. We’ve acquired a big pile of gravel and sand to be spread out for the foundation of the shop building, and Grandpunkin was attracted to it like a fly/molasses situation. Add some Tonka trucks and simple instructions to rearrange the pile, and that 3 year old boy was kept occupied for several hours while the grownups chatted and drank iced tea. The Fella was informed that, once the pile was spread for it’s intended purpose, another one will need to happen because…look at this:

Chris dirt pile

See that groove across the top? That’s where he pushes the dumptruck to move a load to the back side.

So yeah, things are working out around here. The house is still messy and not yet completely settled in, but it’s getting there. But people come over and have iced tea and a bite to eat. Grandpunkin comes running from the car to say hey and immediately settles in to play, and…yes. I love it.

All the animals have settled in. Fears that Mom and Dad’s enormous German Shepherd would think the cats were tasty snacks disappeared right after one of the cats booped her on the nose and she grunted and layed down. The dogs (3 dachshunds) acted just like they always do: locating the nearest food bowl and well padded crate, and being content with that. With one exception…it took them all about 10 minutes to realize mom and Dad’s house was just over there, and since they’ve been here before and know where their pet door is, they occasionally make themselves at home there and take over Coco’s (that’s their dachshund) bed, much to Coco’s irritation and the rest of our’s amusement. Mom knows when I’m on my way over, because Rusty (my dog) runs ahead and lets himself in so he can greet me at the door (from the inside). One of the cats disappeared for 2 weeks, returning just yesterday. I was fairly convinced she’d become supper for the very large red-tailed hawk that is regularly seen doing a fly-over, but yesterday she turned up, skinny and vociferously declaring the sad state of hunting in the acreage behind the house. Some canned food, an egg with cream later, she’s happily esconced on my lap. Hopefully she’ll decide this is The Place to Be, because she’s a sweet thing and an excellent typing companion.

The best part of all this…Mom can come over for an afternoon for a cup of tea and some companionship while Dad is doing something in town. #3 and Family can come over and watch the football game, Grandpunkin can rearrange some dirt,  and it all feels just like I’d hoped it would. Now, once the house is in order, I can get to working on some stuff to sell. When we get the shop built (soon, I hope), The Fella can start making stuff as well. The list is long, and stuff continues to be added to it. Apparently that’s life, and…

Life is Good.

 

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