I have been away from the blogosphere for a while. Fifty-two days to be exact. I always find it hard to get back into the blogging routine after an extended absence. I lose momentum, I guess. Because it certainly isn't a lack of things to talk about. These past fifty-two days have been nothing remotely ordinary.
Fifty-two days. This time span covers Thanksgiving, all of December, and part of January.
After the Thanksgiving holiday was over I was all prepared to write about our oddly different Thanksgiving experience this year. I was going to tell you about how we weren't traveling, nor were we expecting any company, for the first time in...EVER. I would have written about how we decided to make this year different since it would probably be the only year this ever happened. We decided to skip the chaos and all of the hard work (not to mention the expense) of a big Thanksgiving meal. We decided to go out to eat and follow that with a trip to the movies with the kids. We were undaunted in our plan, it was going to be a peaceful, quiet day with just our family. Something to be truly Thankful for. At the last minute, and I do mean the very last minute, I received a phone call that would set off a chain of events that hasn't stopped yet. I would have told you then that my dad and his girlfriend decided to come for Thanksgiving after all. That their other plans fell through, and that they wanted to join us for our un-traditional Thanksgiving dinner and a trip to the movies. I was slightly annoyed at this intrusion, but at the same time I welcomed it since part of me was grieved at the thought of not seeing any of our extended families on this all important American holiday. If I'd written about this after Thanksgiving, I'd have also told you that I would never ever let this happen again. Nothing about our 'buffet' dinner at Golden Coral seemed the least bit traditional. Even though the buffet had turkey and dressing and some of the trimmings we'd always associated with Thanksgiving, it simply wasn't Thanksgiving. There truly is merit to the idea that you enjoy more that which you have worked for.
After I'd written about Thanksgiving I'd probably have given an update on my kids and their progress in school. We were in a crunch to finish our first semester before we stopped for the Christmas holidays. I'd have written about how Luci and I were engaged in a battle where I tried to teach her to read and she tried as hard as she could not to read. How Ben was struggling a little with his anger and frustration and how he might need a little tweaking of his meds. I'd probably have told you about how my Jr. engineer was doing wonderfully with his science experiments, both the 'scheduled' ones and the ones he made up, but that we seriously need to add a room on to the house to store all of these projects and contraptions. And I might have even mentioned that Ben had strep throat, which was throwing a kink in our ability to get his first semester finished. Little did we know that the strep throat was the second link in that chain of events that was set in motion.
If I'd been writing, those are the things you'd have probably read on here in those last days of November and the first couple of days of December.
This is the story that I have to tell now.
My dad was sick about the same time Ben was. We believed he probably had a strep infection since he and Ben had both been together. Which one got it first? Who knows, we suspect my dad, but there is no way to be sure and it really matters not. When Ben's strep test came back positive I encouraged my dad to go see his doctor for antibiotics. He's not a fan of doctors, so his response did not surprise me. He promised if he wasn't better in a few days he would go. Two days later while he was unloading a truck full of wallboard and wood he bruised his leg badly. (Another link in the chain of events) He takes coumadin so over the course of the next 24 hours the bruise spread, eventually rupturing the skin. Again, not being a fan of doctors he attempted to self medicate for another 24 hours. On the morning of December 3 he called me from the hospital. Not wanting to worry me while he sits in the hospital three hours away from me, he said he would be fine. It was just a bad "bobo". As the day progressed the news from the hospital worsened. By the evening hours I was hearing words like kidney failure, atrial fibrilation, very low blood pressure, sepsis, and critical condition.
By the time I got to the hospital the next day he was already in the operating room for the first of a great many surgeries. The initial prognosis was scary. Necrotizing Fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria) caused by the strep infection had begun consuming his flesh. The affected area spread over his upper thigh. His kidneys were failing. And the infection had a strong hold on his body. The surgeon was very straightforward with us as she told us that in his condition the outlook was grim. "People die from this," she told us. I wasn't ready to let my daddy go. I later learned that the morbidity rate with this horrible disease is 30%. Over the next week there was a series of surgeries during which the necrotic tissue continued to be removed in an effort to get ahead of the infection. Five surgeries later they were pretty sure they'd removed all of the infected tissue. He was left with his leg, thankfully, but he lost all of the skin, fat and tissue from his knee to his lower abdomen and backside. All the way to the muscle. After countless trips to the operating room to change the dressing on his wound vac under anesthesia (it is simply too large an area and too painful to manage in the wound center or patient rooms) he began the first of multiple skin grafting surgeries yesterday.
During all of this time there have been some substantial breakdowns among the members of his support group and family. Relationships have been damaged, some beyond repair. These unfortunate instances have added many links (and definitely some kinks) to this chain of events. He will soon be on the road to recovery and will walk (or maybe roll) out of the hospital, but life as he knows it will certainly look different on this side of the trauma than it did at the start.
I started this entry by talking about Thanksgiving. I find it only fitting to end it with Thanksgiving. I am thankful for a myriad of things in my life.
I am grateful for a very strong network of friends who've supported me and my family with prayers and, in some cases, help.
I am thankful for every moment I get to spend with my kids. After spending over half of the month of December away from my children I realize just how precious they are to me.
I am thankful that God has blessed me with the best mother and father in law this side of heaven. I am ever thankful for their open-ended offer to help me, to rearrange their schedules, to care for my children so that I could concentrate my full attention on my dad during his most critical 10 days in the ICU.
I am thankful for my mom. She understood the sadness and pain at seeing my dad the way he was. She could hear in my voice when I needed comfort. Even though they've been divorced for 8 years now I know she still cares for him and what happens to him.
I am thankful for my husband. He is my rock. He knew where I needed to be and he made it happen. There just aren't words to say how much I love that man.
But today, foremost in my mind, I am thankful that my daddy is alive. Thank you, God, for not taking him yet.