Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bionic Man???

This is the wrist of my Bionic Man. Well....maybe in his dreams.

Obviously there is a story behind this gruesome, conversation piece of a scar. To set it up let me explain the history that lead up to it. You see back when Mark and I were dating, and the first winter we were married, we often headed up the Poconos to take part in one of Mark's favorite activities, skiing. Mark LOVES to ski and weekend trips to the Poconos were like his Disney World. He would wake up early with spunk and excitement, something reserved only for skiing, as every other day it is a battle to get him out of bed. I on the other hand would normally be less excited since the thought of the frigid temperatures all day long would make me want to stay right where I was in my warm bed. When we would arrive Mark couldn't walk fast enough or get his gear on more efficiently. I, admittedly, was usually finding some way to drag my feet, though I always enjoyed myself once we were actually on the mountain. We met some great people during those weekends and always had a great time. And then came....Austin. The following winter I was very pregnant with Austin and he was born on New Year's Eve. That left Mark without his ski buddy and I wasn't the biggest fan of him going up there and leaving me alone with a newborn. So no skiing for Mark that winter.
Last winter Austin was turning 1 and seeing how I have not been the most excited person about skiing to begin with (at least until I get there), my excuse was that it would be hard to leave him for the day and go up there to ski. So again, Mark went the winter without skiing. Did I mention that Mark LOVES to ski???
That brings us to this winter, when again I was very pregnant, but this time with Mia. So Mark, not wanting to go yet another winter without skiing, came to me in late January with his sob story about NEVER getting to ski. I knew he had "suffered" for two seasons without skiing, so when he said he wanted to go up to the Poconos with his brother I only asked that he check his cell phone often since it was only 16 days until my due date and you just never know. On Friday night he was giddy with anticipation as we started to hunt down all his ski gear which had gradually been moved farther and farther back in the storage areas. The next day was going to be the coldest day of the winter, but that didn't phase him. Being nine months pregnant, I was exhausted so I went to bed before everything he needed was gathered. When I came down in the morning I saw something that gave me an immediate clue to his mentality. There on top of his ski bag was...his helmet. In case it isn't completely obvious to you, he wasn't taking the helmet because he feared running into a tree, being run over by another skier, slipping and being hit in the head by the ski lift, or any such accident or unfortunate event. He was taking the helmet because he planned to let the daredevil, adventurer, "I'm about to be a father again" side of himself have a GREAT day skiing. And that meant jumping!
I had to laugh when he got ready to go and I said, "I noticed you are taking your helmet." His response was that it was for safety. Hahahahaha, yeah right! So, off he went with his brother to Blue Mountain on the coldest day of the winter to have the ski day he had dreamt about for three winters. As he walked out the door I remember thinking, "This day is not going to end without some kind of injury."
About 4 o'clock I was taking a well-deserved nap when I heard my cell phone ringing downstairs. I knew it was Mark because he has his own ring. I glanced at the clock and figured he was just calling to let me know that he was on his way home. As I laid my head back down on the pillow, I pushed the thought that something might be wrong out of my mind. No beep for a voicemail message and then within seconds he was calling again. I began to roll my enormous nine month pregnant belly out of bed hoping that I was wrong about something being wrong. As I made my way downstairs, my phone started to ring yet again and this time it wasn't Mark. This time it was his brother. Before answering I let myself try to guess what the injury was, but I guessed wrong.
"Hey Susan, it's Ian. Mark fell and broke his wrist."
"Of course he did!"
I then started to ask questions about how bad it was and what was being done. Ian explained that First Aid was splinting it and they would be on their way home soon. Mark called a bit later and said that he knew it was broken and would have to go to the hospital when he got home. I asked him to see if Ian could stay with Austin while we went to the ER. I didn't ask what happened because I figured we would have plenty of time to talk about it while we waited at the hospital. I couldn't wait quite that long so I asked in the car on the way there.
Mark explained that he and Ian had spent most of the day just going down runs, and as the day was nearing its end, he decided to do a stunt jump. He said that as he prepared to do it he started thinking it wasn't a good idea, but he did it anyway. Big mistake! What happened? Well, he went off the jump and as he cleared the top and was looking down to make his landing he noticed that the previous jumper who HAD been standing off to the side after his wipe out had for some reason started to walk across the landing area. The guy wasn't wearing a helmet and if Mark stayed on his current course he would "take his head off." So, he bailed as best he could. He ALMOST made the bailed landing, but because of the icy conditions he slipped and instinctively put his hand down to catch himself, resulting in searing pain. The guy who had caused the problem came running over apologizing for being in the way. He had to help Mark get up because he wasn't able to grasp his pole or put on his ski. Mark's brother came over and said he would ski to the bottom to get ski patrol but Mark insisted that he could get to the bottom on his own. Stubborn as always! He did make it to bottom, but as soon as he sat down on the bench outside First Aid, he passed out from the pain. Ian said he would go inside and get someone to come out and help him, but Mark told him to just go get the car because he would be fine. Thank goodness Ian didn't listen!
So fast forward a few hours and we walk into the ER. The hospital staff figured we were there for me and then they saw Mark with a very rustic splint on his right arm. Fortunately, we were seen immediately. A nurse took Mark back to have his x-rays while I waited. He came back in a lot of pain from having to move his wrist for certain angles of the x-ray. It wasn't long before there was confirmation that indeed he had broken his wrist. The doctor came in and said that it was broken in two places and she was just going to re-splint it because he would need to see an orthopaedic surgeon. They splinted it in a cast-like splint and gave him some pain medication. The next day I called to schedule an appointment for him to see the surgeon. He was lucky enough to get in with the hand specialist that afternoon. However, that morning the situation became further complicated when I went to my doctor's appointment and was told that I was 2cm dilated and 70% effaced and could go into labor at anytime. That afternoon at the surgeon's office more x-rays were done. He explained that Mark had a "very serious injury" and he needed more information before making a recommendation. The next day we went for a CT scan. The cool thing about that was we were given the disc and could look at it when we got home, not that we really "knew" what we were looking at. Because the surgeon had to wait for the report, Mark couldn't be seen again until Thursday, his birthday. We went in and yet again the surgeon emphasized that he had a serious injury. He looked at the radiology report and explained to us that Mark actually had three fractures and possibly ligament damage, but that was really hard to determine without going in and looking at it internally. He made the recommendation for surgery the following Tuesday and winced when we told him that I could deliver any day. We all agreed the "sunny side" was that if I went into labor while Mark was in surgery, at least I would already be at the hospital.
We were supposed to go to dinner for Mark's birthday that night, but he just wasn't in mood after the surgery news. Not to mention that this injury was to his right wrist and he was having a very difficult time with everything, most importantly trying to get work done. Earlier in the week he was forced buy voice recognition software so that he could type. Otherwise work would have pretty much been impossible since he spends about 90% of his day on the computer and the other 10% on the phone.
So, we waited out the weekend wondering if I would go into labor and further complicate our "delicate" situation. Monday rolled around with no baby and it was time for me to go see the doctor again. I knew that the news would be that I was even further along and I was right. I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Mark was scheduled for surgery the next day and I was really nervous about him missing her birth. The only comfort was that I knew that God was in control of the whole situation and there was nothing I could do, so I just needed to relax.
Tuesday morning we headed to the hospital so Mark could get all his pre-surgery stuff taken care of. He was scheduled for 12:30 but they were running a little behind and told me I could leave and come back around 2. The surgery was supposed to take about an hour and fifteen minutes plus time to "recover." I went to visit a friend who had just had her baby and then went home and got some lunch. My mom was here helping our sorry household and was watching Austin. I arrived back at the hospital at 2:15 and asked about Mark. The nurse at the reception desk said he was still in surgery. I sat down to read a magazine assuming that he would be in recovery before long and I would be able to see him. An hour passed and I wondered when I would be hearing something, but I tried not to worry. When the second hour rolled around I couldn't contain my fear and went to the desk to ask the nurse for an update. She made a phone call and then informed me that he was STILL in surgery. The tears immediately welled up in my worried eyes and she knew that someone better come talk to me, seeing how I could worry myself right into labor. Within minutes a nurse came out and told me that the surgery was over and though it took quite a bit longer than expected, he was doing great. They hadn't started the surgery until about 1:45 and no one bothered to tell me that when I came in. About 10 minutes later the surgeon came out and showed me what they did. I was shocked when I saw the post surgery films of his wrist. He had inserted a titanium plate and 12 screws. In addition he had discovered damage to a tendon and had gone in to repair that. Those scars you can't actually see in the picture above because they are on the side and top of his wrist. The surgeon went on to explain that he had done A LOT of work and that Mark would need to take pain medication as soon as he started to feel any tingling indicating the nerve block was wearing off. He also said that due to the tendon damage he would need to be in the splint for 4 weeks instead of 10 days and would need quite a bit of physical therapy.
Shortly after talking to the surgeon I was able to go back and see Mark. He did seem to be doing well and was happy to finally be able to eat and drink a little something. The nurses went over his post surgery instructions with us and we headed home. However, Mark was starving from not eating all day long and wanted me to stop at Wawa and get him a hoagie. Little did we know that such a brief detour would be disastrous. Within about 7 minutes of home, Mark started to feel that tingling sensation that the surgeon said would come as the nerve block started to wear off. Mark was in immediate pain and medication was still minutes away and would take some time to take effect. He asked me drive faster as he began to writhe in pain. By the time we got home he was beside himself. He took the Percocet that had been prescribed to him but the minutes seemed like hours. It seemed to get much worse and it was agony watching him in so much pain. At that moment I realized that God's timing was certainly more perfect than mine because if I had already given birth to Mia, as I thought was best, I would have been terribly overwhelmed with taking care of Mark. Mark asked me to come sit with him on the couch and hold his hand which was all that I could do to help him. A few seconds later he started to breathe funny, his face turned very red, his eyes rolled back in his head and then it seemed like he stopped breathing all together. It didn't immediately register that he passed out from the pain because his eyes were open. Needless to say, I was freaked out and scared. When he came to, I realized that it had been long enough for the medicine to take effect and yet it didn't seem to be "managing the pain." We waited a while longer and when things still weren't improved, I paged the surgeon. He called in another medication but it was not a pain killer, only an anti-inflammatory. I am quite sure that was the longest night of Mark's life. The next two or three days were only slightly better. Again, I was so thankful that though I was terribly uncomfortable being nine months pregnant, I didn't have a newborn to care for in addition to Mark.
Exactly one week after his surgery he was only taking an occasional Motrin for pain and Mia decided to make her entrance. Her baby pictures, and of course Mark's scar, will forever cement that day on the slopes in our family history book. As of today, he is two weeks into his physical therapy and has made big improvements. He is finally able to change diapers (Hallelujah!!!!), help give baths (woo-hoo!) and pick up and hold Mia (awwww).
That ski trip will certainly not be his last, but he has vowed never to jump again.
Well... at least not on the east coast...when it is cold...and icy...and I am nine months pregnant.

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