Now that the summer has settled down, travel is complete, and the kids are back in school, the house is certainly tamer (until 3:30pm that is), and I have loads of time on my hands while I continue to wait out my
I sit here writing in a wheelchair with an ice pack shoved down the side of my pants and am trying to convince myself that ibuprofen will be enough today. This wasn't how I envisioned the start of school pretty much ever. So, yes, this is a long post because I probably have way more time on my hands than you. This a story of God's goodness and compassion. I'm not expecting many to endure 'till the end; if you happen to be one of the few, I pray that God shows himself. I pretty much just want to brag on my King and tell you what he did for me. (Psalms 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.) Additionally, to some extent, maybe writing and sharing will help me continue to process what took place. I'm most definitely working through a touch of PTSD. Beginning to drive again has put me on edge. O.k. Eric would say it has pushed me (way) over the edge. Perhaps writing this down will be healing for me in a way.
So. We began our furlough in South Florida with Eric's family after leaving Rwanda at the end of May. They live very close to Key West and after all these years we still hadn't been to visit this famous island. We were greatly blessed by being able to borrow a church's van to travel in and avoided steep rental fees while in FL. So off we went. Que song:
Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don't we go, Jamaica
Off the Florida Keys ……………..
Yes, we did actually play this song as we drove through the Florida Keys singing along with the kids with the windows rolled down. We're cool like that.
One day we rented bikes and spent hours on them which was my favorite day taking in the sights and cycling past the gorgeous beaches with the wind in our faces and the sun kissing our noses. The boys not so much. They pretty much just wanted to go to the pool. But, that's my thing-not theirs, and I get it.
Key West is an island of 4 square miles. The whole town is accustomed to tourists renting bikes and scooters and cruising along their roads while soaking in the beach. The max speed is 30mph at any given place on the island. So-there you have all our 'wise' rationale behind why we thought it would be a safe and fun idea to rent a scooter for the day. Well, it could have been had it not been for a split-second poor decision.
We rented one scooter to take turns driving the kids around as they held onto the back of us. Now, as a rule our family never rides motorcycle taxis in Africa which are cheap, convenient, and can be found on nearly every corner. I've seen way too many accidents and fatalities to take the risk. The one exception is when I ride into a local village to work at a clinic. The road is extremely bumpy forcing the moto driver to go super slow and there are rarely cars on that route. I also wear my own awesome Harley helmet as opposed to the ones the driver lends that fly off your head and have no strap. They wouldn't protect me if I fell down while standing. When it comes down to it though we knew renting a scooter was a risk. We honestly felt uneasy about it but really thought everything would be o.k.
I enjoyed a great run that morning to the scooter store; my legs worked fine and dandy moving me along just how I needed in order to get where I was going. Those were good times. For those of you with strong legs, please appreciate your hips and legs right now. They are so useful and strong and wonderful. Our bodies are amazing -- not only how they are made but also how they function so well. When they don't, it's a stark contrast to all those days we're pain free and moving along thoughtlessly. I took a turn riding the scooter with Sheldon, then Eric with Brinson, then Aiden and I, and on and on. We took a break and just as lunch got started Pierce prayed for our meal. I whispered to him, "Ask God to keep us safe on the scooter too". He did and we ate.
Next up was my turn to ride with Pierce. We cruised along the main street, and as we approached a green light going straight, I noticed a car in the opposing traffic's left turn lane. Being the good defensive driver I am, I took note of him and prepared to slow or stop just in case he pulled out in front of me. He didn't and stayed put as he should.
Wait.....no...... he changed his mind at the very last second. I had zero time to slow, stop, or do anything other than attempt a wacky swerve and yell out in terror. My scooter smashed into the passenger side of his vehicle as he crossed in front of me, and I hit the pavement. At this point, I had no idea how Pierce fared.
You remember we were proceeding through a green light? Then you know behind us is a sea of cars also traveling through the green light. Lying in the middle of the road, my first instinct was to turn back to ‘tell’ the cars to watch out for us. I looked back, lifted my arms in a stop motion, and realized it was useless. There was no time. We were sprawled out in the middle of the road, and now we were going to be run over by these vehicles coming right toward us I thought. I didn’t want to watch myself get hit, so I turned back around and waited for the impact. I remember thinking-this is going to hurt so so bad, and we may die.
Time sorta froze briefly. When I looked up and knew I hadn’t been run over afterall, I finally had a chance to check in on Pierce. I was astonished to see him standing right next to me with very wide eyes staring at me in shock. We were both stunned. I couldn’t see any blood on him-he was breathing. How did he possibly not have a scratch? Unbelievable! As it washed over me that God just miraculously saved our lives, I was overcome with thoughts of praise. In a moment we were surrounded my loving, caring witnesses who called 911, reassured me, looked Pierce over thoroughly, asked me lots of questions that I can’t recall, fetched towels & water, and encouraged me above all else to not move. I looked around and saw pieces of my scooter littering the intersection.
I remember my dad, who worked loads of accidents during his years on the fire dept., always told me to secure the scene in an accident. I felt awfully vulnerable lying in the road and finally convinced the bystanders that my head and spine felt fine and to please help me out of the middle of the street. I knew something was very wrong with my hip which took 100% of the force and impact though. They lifted and assisted me to the median where I laid back, stretched my arms to the sky, cried, and prayed aloud. The circle of folks around me stared some, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t let another second go by without worshiping and giving honor and thanks for the wall God just put between us and all those cars. The only eloquent words I could muster over and over were simply, “Thank you, Father. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you so so much!” Now I’m crying as I write this. Again.
Sirens. Officers. Questions. Pain. Pain. Pain. Lots of pain. I remember telling the paramedic standing over me that his fly was open. I remember apologizing to everyone. It’s weird for so many people to interrupt what they’re doing to come help me. I apologized to the police, EMS, witnesses-that’s my weird self-sufficiency thing I suppose, and the need to not depend on others. Then I suddenly became overwhelmed with the expenses ahead of me and refused the ambulance ride for this reason. That was just dumb.
I overheard someone say the phrase ‘hit and run’ and was immediately ticked off that the coward drove off; however, someone was just asking if it was a ‘hit and run’ not saying that it was. Thankfully the guy actually had stopped and someone pointed him out to me-he was standing sheepishly right next to me. I turned to him saying, “Why’d you do that?” He was Spanish speaking only, and we couldn’t communicate. Probably better that way.
In the end he received a couple of tickets. He was driving on a learner's permit and had no one in the vehicle with him---an obvious no-no.
I called Eric about 8 times with no answer (he was in the pool with the kids). So all the paramedics looked down at me like- o.k. lady we can’t leave you here on the side of the road. I said, “I guess I’m gonna have to ride with you nice fellas.” Pierce continued with his wide eyed shocked look not saying a peep. If you know Pierce at all this is a rare event. He can rapid fire 12 questions at you before your ears and brain have even computed the first question asked. I enjoyed his silence but kept reassuring him that I’d be o.k. and not to be scared.
Once in the ER Pierce was treated like a rockstar. He got juice, crackers, and candy while we waited for Daddy to arrive. I’m lying there like, “HELLO-I’m the one suffering here! Where’s my candybar? He’s fine!” The air flight team was there to pick up a patient and one of the guys was so sweet to take Pierce out for a tour of the helicopter and firetruck. As I laid there alone, I clearly imagined what the ER would be like right now if we had both been struck by cars. Would our rooms be near each other? Would either of us be conscious? Would he watch me die? Would I watch him? Would they have enough staff and resources in this tiny hospital to support us? How many ER docs could tend to us if we were both critically injured? (This is totally the nurse in me coming out—thinking of the worse case situations)
After x-rays and an assessment, I was told I’d be discharged, and I’d be o.k. There was one massive problem, I couldn’t walk a single step and then there’s the issue of extreme pain. After a CT scan the truth came out. I had several fractures to my hip socket which is why they were difficult to visualize on xray and a broken pelvis (right ishium-the bone on either side of your rear that you sit on).
Amazingly the breaks line up in such a way that they can fuse together over time and line up correctly. I have a 1 mm gap in the socket wall and a 3 mm gap would have meant major surgery. 80% of folks with my injury require surgery. The other percent are too old, too sick, or too overweight to withstand surgery. Then there’s me—the teeny tiny rare ‘perfect’ hip socket break. Yeah for me!
Lots of folks covered me in prayer those first days, weeks, and beyond for which I’m so thankful. The details after get more boring. Amazingly, we were able to continue on with many of our summer plans it just looked a lot different than it was originally planned. And hurt a lot more. I was even able to travel back to Rwanda on time. During the 14 hr flight I pawned off my kids into nearby empty seats and had 3 seats to myself which was wonderful because sitting is pretty much agony after awhile. The second long flight was rough, but I made it through with narcotics helping me along the way.
My first Walmart cart experience was a tad hilarious to me
Admittedly, I’ve been intermittently angry, frustrated, annoyed, noncompliant, and belligerent. I’ve worked through a range of negative emotions over the last 11 weeks. I most definitely have an overall sense of thankfulness but there’s some ugly stuff in there I’m still sifting through too. The other drivers split-second lapse of judgement cost us in numerous ways, but I'd say I've come to a place of forgiveness. After all I did name my wheelchair after him.
Lately my range of motion and mobility on crutches are really good. I’ve come a long way! I have 9 more days in which I’m not allowed to bear weight on the affected leg. I falsely assumed that at the 3 month mark when I’m allowed to start walking again, I’d feel great and be pain free. It’s not cool that I thought that for so long. I’ve been told it could be up to a year before I feel normal and even then I may need to accept a new normal. I miss running dearly. I miss days of no pain as well. I really hope to run again sooner rather than later.
I’m thankful that I will walk again and I’m alive to tell this story of His helping hand. His favor is so sweet and undeserved.
You’re a good, good Father-it’s who you are.
Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
Psalms 75:1 We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.
Exodus 15:2 “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Deutoronomy 20:1 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.