Thursday, August 23, 2012

Love part two

Continuing yesterday's post on Joey's semi-truck accident...

Joey was moved from the Emergency Room to a surgery floor private room about 45 minutes after I got there.  By now, it was around midnight.  I wanted to stay overnight in his tiny room, but my mom suggested we go to a nearby hotel and try to get some real sleep instead.  I hated leaving him again after being so terrified of losing him but he had been under a pain-medication induced sleep for about an hour now and would probably not wake up during the night.  Also, nurses were supposed to come in during the night to take blood tests.

So my mom and I and Joey's parents (Joey's dad got to the hospital about 10 minutes after us-he drove 85-95 miles an hour to get there!) went to a nearby Holiday Inn.  We got settled into the room about 1 am and I set my alarm for 5:45 am.  I wanted to be back at the hospital as soon as I could in the morning.  I didn't sleep much, my mind kept replaying all that could have happened as well as creating frightening new scenarios about what could happen to him overnight without me by his side.  I woke my mom up early and we headed back to the hospital around 6:30 am.  Joey was awake when we got there and starting to feel hungry.  My mom picked up a bunch of food from the hospital cafeteria.  He was having a tough time eating because his jaw was so sore from where he hit his head when the truck flipped and I could barely eat still from being so nervous and shaky.  After a few hours, his parents arrived and the nurses asked if he could try walking around a little.  A few doctors came to check on him and go over his x-rays and CT scans.  He had suffered a concussion and bruising on his bones on his left shoulder and arm from the impact and his CT scans showed a little bleeding on the brain, but besides a lot of pain, a nasty black eye, and scrapes from broken glass, he was otherwise healthy.  Just in a lot of pain, and looked pretty beat up.

My mom and I left to go buy Joey some clothes to go home in since his clothes had been cut off his body.  She made me eat some lunch since I had not eaten since lunch the previous day.  The president of the board at the library called me to let me know that she had called the two other librarians to fill in for me for Monday and Tuesday so I didn't have to worry about being at work.  Friends called and asked what kind of casseroles we liked to eat and what they could do to help.

After a few more hours in the hospital, I helped Joey gingerly put on his new pajama pants and Cardinals t-shirt and we took a little stroll around the halls.  They released him in the afternoon with a prescription for pain medicine and advised to make an appointment with his personal doctor in the next couple days to see how he was healing.  He was wheeled to the car in a wheelchair.  We hugged and said goodbye to his parents at the hospital and my mom drove us home (about an hour and 20 minutes from the hospital.)  I was so happy to be going home with my husband in one piece.

About 20 minutes from our house, we had to drive past the spot where the accident had happened, about 20 hours before.  We were pretty silent when we drove past, each retreating into our heads and hearts and thinking about what could have been.  The only evidence of the accident was a little bit of cattle feed piled by the side of the road.  We learned later that they were able to scoop up almost all the feed and put it into the other semi to deliver.  After we arrived home, a couple of our friends, Brian and Carri came over with a tuna noodle casserole and cupcakes.  We asked if they could hang out with Joey while my mom and I went to the pharmacy to pick up his prescription, get some groceries, and pick up my car from the train station.

Brian and Carri left to eat dinner with his parents, My mom stayed for dinner, and then got ready to drive back 3.5 hours to Naperville.  I hugged my Mom and thanked her for being there for me.  I don't know how I would have survived without her in those terrifying hours.

And then we were alone.  And I was so happy to be the two of us again, with our dogs, in our little house that we've made our home, so happy that this little world still existed.  And I knelt next to the couch he was laying on and sobbed into his chest.  We fell asleep around 9 pm that night and didn't wake up until 9:30 am the next morning. I reheated some casserole and we had a picnic in bed and watched episodes of Friends on my laptop and fell asleep again until 3:30 pm.

The next few days consisted of Jell-o, pajamas, watching three movies a day, and answering phone calls.  Joey had so many phone calls from friends and old fraternity brothers. I heard about the details of the accident over and over again.  And every time a little detail came to light, like learning that the paramedics had to break the windshield to drag him out of the wrecked truck, tears would spring to my eyes.  I could picture it in my head.

After the long weekend, we set up an appointment with a doctor closer to where we live.  He prescribed physical therapy for Joey's left arm and shoulder, which were still very painful and he was reluctant to move them.  Since then, he has seen the physical therapist four times and is doing exercises at home.  He is improving daily.  He still sports a little shiner and the blood vessels in his left eye are broken.  His arm is scabbed over. He went back to work yesterday because he was going stir-crazy sitting in the house (the dogs loved it, though!).  His arm is still painful, so he is taking it easy.

I am so grateful that he was not injured more than he was.  I am grateful for the support and help from our family and friends.  We have lived in our small town for a little over 2 years now and it is so nice to feel that we have made some amazing friends who are there for us in times of need.

So that's what is going on in our little world right now.  A little pain, a lot of kindness, much grace, and a better appreciation for the little things.  Thanks for listening, it was a hard story to tell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Love part one

I know, it's been too long.

I've been busy.  But I've also been avoiding writing on this blog.  Usually I share the funny little ordinary things that happen in my everyday life.  Sometimes I share my emotions; how my dogs can drive me crazy, how disheartening and discouraging a drought can be to anyone whose livelihood depends on farming, the frustrations of home-ownership and living hours away from my family.  But I usually don't bare my heart and soul, reveal the things that make me cry, or share much below the surface of everyday emotions.

But this blog is about my life: as a librarian, a shepherdess, a dog-wrangler, a city-girl in the country, a wife, daughter, and friend.  And something scary happened in my life.  One of those "step back and appreciate what you have" kind of things.  An event that gives you perspective, makes you wonder what life would be like if things had turned out differently, makes you question luck and timing, makes you want to say "I love you" everyday to everyone you love.

Here's what happened: the story that brings tears to my eyes every time I have told it this last week and a half.

On Friday, August 10, I woke up early to catch a train from Macomb (20 minutes away) to Naperville (my hometown and a suburb of Chicago) about 3.5 hours away.  I was going home for the weekend to go to my family's annual steam show and threshing bee (which I wrote about last year here.) I took the day off of work to be there and Joey was going to drive back with the dogs (and give a ride home to my cousin) in the evening after he got home from work.  My mom picked me up at the train station around 10 am and we went to get my bridesmaid's dress fitted for my friend's wedding in a couple weeks.  We went out for lunch and then made our way through the countryside to meet my dad and sister at the threshing bee.  After a few hours at the bee, Joey called me from work.

That day he was driving the semi truck from the town where we work up to Peoria, about an hour and a half away, to pick up a load of cattle feed from a plant up there and then drive back to deliver it to the farm.  Most days, he can only make one trip because the line of trucks waiting to pick up feed is hours long.  He called me around 3:30 in the afternoon because he was bored and frustrated that he had been waiting for hours.  He knew by the time he got his load in the truck and dropped it off that he would not be home and ready to leave for Naperville until later than he wanted.  I was tired from waking up so early to catch the train and wasn't making much conversation.  He was frustrated with me so he said, "well, you're not really talking so I'm gonna go, bye."  I didn't really think much of it, I knew he just wanted to get home.

After leaving the show, my mom and sister and I stopped by my grandma's house to say hi and then made our way back to my parent's house.  As I was driving, I could hear that my phone was ringing but couldn't answer it because I was driving and my mom couldn't figure out how to answer it.  I heard the tone that meant I had a new voicemail.  I waited a few minutes until we had pulled into my parents' driveway to listen to my voicemail since the missed call was from a number I didn't recognize.  After the first few seconds of the message my heart sunk to my stomach and I started to shake.  It was a nurse from a hospital near our house saying that Joey had been in an accident and that I needed to call her back.  Before I could call the hospital, my phone rang.  The caller id said "Joey" and I was hopeful for a second until I answered the call and it was not Joey on the line, but his boss instead trying to describe the accident to me.

He had been driving back from Peoria with a full load of feed when the semi that he was driving flipped over onto the driver's side.  He had been going about 10 miles an hour around a turn, made the complete turn and was beginning to drive up a hill when the whole thing tipped over for some reason.  His boss said that the paramedics thought he was o.k. but that I needed to call the hospital.  I called the hospital back immediately and the nurse told me that the were just about to put him on the life-flight helicopter up to Peoria because they did not have the specialists and equipment there to run the tests that he needed.  That's when I lost it.  Life-flight?  The nurse reassured me that he was stable but they wanted to run some more tests on his neck and back.

My mind went into overload with the possible outcomes.  I was terrified and I was almost 3 hours away from Joey.  I was still sitting in the car.  My mom ran in the house to grab an overnight bag and my sister went in to make some peanut butter sandwiches for the road.  I didn't know what to do.  I just wanted to be there with him as soon as I could.  I went inside and tried to get directions to the hospital on MapQuest.  My hands were shaking, my sister rubbed my back and hugged me while I bawled and tried to type in St. Francis Hospital.

Within minutes, my mom and I were back in the car, my dad had just gotten home and he squeezed me and kissed me through the car window and reassured me that everything was going to be alright.  We picked up Joey's mom on the way to the highway and started to make our way back to central Illinois, to my poor husband.  About 20 minutes into the ride, the helicopter medic called me to let me know that they had arrived safely and that Joey was about to see some more doctors and receive medicine for the pain.  I asked him if he could tell Joey that I was on my way and he promised he would.

Joey's boss' wife, Brenda and our friend's dad, Bob, made it to the hospital before I did and called to let me know that they were there with Joey.  Brenda reassured me that he was doing alright but she wanted me to be prepared for when I saw him because he did not look good.

When we finally got there, he was still in the ER but I was allowed to go in a see him.  He was laying on a bed, hooked up to monitors and IVs.  His left eye was blue and swollen shut and the sheets around his arm and shoulder were bloody from were they picked out shards of glass from the shattered window.  He woke up when I came in but he was on some pretty powerful medication so he was pretty out of it.  I kissed his forehead and told him how scared I had been and how I had tried to get there as fast as I could.  He told me he cried when the emergency room nurse asked him if he had a wife and if I was on my way.

A nurse came in and handed me a bag containing his "personal belongings": a pair of jeans that had been cut off of him and a similarly shredded pair of boxers, and a still intact belt.  No shirt.  No favorite baseball cap.  I cried again when I saw the blood and bits of glass on the back of what used to be his jeans.  I wondered why they even bothered giving these back to me.

 I'll end the story here for now, as it is already getting too long, and I am tearing up in the library. I wanted to tell the whole story, as much as it is painful to keep remembering how scared I was, it is important to remember how lucky he was as well.  And to remember all the important people in my life and the friends who gave us their prayers, phone calls, and tuna noodle casseroles. I'll share the rest of the story soon, but don't worry, Joey is home and recovering.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Farmer's Market

Two Saturdays ago, Joey and I brought some of our garden produce to the local farmer's market.  We borrowed a pop-up sun tent from a friend and set up two folding tables on the town square, in front of the courthouse.  

I picked vegetables before work on Friday morning and then Joey washed them in the kitchen sink on Friday night.  We set our alarm for 5:30 am Saturday morning and Joey had to practically drag me from under the covers... (not a morning person).  I picked some zinnias, he fed the sheep, and we loaded the car up to make it to the market by 7 am.

We had never taken produce to the farmer's market before, so we had no idea how to set prices.  So we told people to pay what they thought it was worth.  This idea kinda freaked some people out.  But others thought it was reasonable.  Some just asked us to name a price and some thought it was an interesting idea.  I read about a restaurant that didn't set any prices.  You get the occasional cheap-skate but most people were more than fair.

We didn't have as much as the bigger farmers who go twice a week, but we made up for it in presentation.

Those carrots were snatched up right away.  They were beauties.  The cherry and lemon drop tomatoes sold out too.

We even brought some of our wool and got into an interesting conversation with a hand-spinner from Scotland.  She and a few other spinners in her Scottish village bring their spinning wheels to the pub.  How quaint does that sound?  She bought the orange wool roving on the left.  And a few people took the new cards I made to advertise our wool!

My cousin and his girlfriend (and their puppy!) met us at the market and we went to celebrate our first market day with Mexican food!  Yes, those enchiladas cut into the profits, but it was so worth it after getting up at 5:30 am and sitting at the market until 1 pm!