Saturday, March 2, 2013

A New Life

Well, it has been a year and three months since I came home from the hospital. Not that I'm counting...

My life now is the same in some ways, but in many ways, it is so different. There are times that I feel like I have a completely new life - an opportunity to be a better mom, a better wife, a better teacher, a better person. When I came home, I couldn't use my right arm or hand at all. Now, because of my incredible therapist, I can do TEN push-ups, and I am slowly regaining movement in my hand and fingers. I still have a ways to go, and there will be some surgeries in my future, but I am getting there!

There is a good possibility I won't ever play with that hand again. Sometimes it makes me so sad I can hardly bear it. And sometimes I forget and want to demonstrate something for a student or play the teacher accompaniment, and it hits me like a boulder that I can't. I'm adapting, though, and playing some with my left hand.  I even have ordered some solo pieces for the left hand. One day I will play them! Hahaha! Oh, I will do it. I will just takes a while for me to get used to the idea.

Change is hard, and if you know me even a little, you know that I am utterly and completely resistant to change. But, I can eventually adapt to change. With the help of my amazing friends and family, I am adjusting to the new normal. I look forward to the day my new life becomes just a plain old regular life.

We all have our struggles to face and get through. I am learning to take them one step at a time and one day at a time. I hope you do the same. You are not alone in this world. Lean on the people who love you, and let them help you. Every moment is an opportunity...use them wisely. These are the lessons I am learning as I live my new life. And it is a good one!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dividing Day

Wow! I can't believe I have been in the hospital 34 days. Sometimes it seems like it hasn't been near that long, and sometimes it is hard for me to remember what life was like before the accident. There is a song called 'Dividing Day' from the musical 'Light in the Piazza' that my sweet friend Caroline recently performed, and I feel like this accident was my dividing day. There is a before - my old life, where I took my friends and talents for granted, and there is an after - my new life, where I will have to work 10 times as hard to do some of the things I enjoy, but my eyes have been opened to the many friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances who care for me more than I ever could have imagined.

Tomorrow morning I go in for my fifth surgery. My doctor feels like this could be my last big surgery, and if all goes well....I might go home next week! Very exciting prospect! But also scary. Here in the hospital, things are very safe. The nurses make sure I get my medications, my friends make sure I have a clean face and tidy hair, the hand therapist comes to me to work on my hand...the list goes on and on. When I go home, things will be much more challenging. I will still have an immobile arm. I will be responsible for getting my meds and water and making it to the bathroom and getting in and out of bed. Now I know my family will help me with some of these things. And, my friends will be available during the day to help me. But I also have to regain some independence and start doing for myself again, one step at a time. This is the 'after'. The new life where I learn to manage with one hand for a while as I go through my therapy. It is going to be a big challenge! But, I have a great support system that is not going to disappear just because I'm out of the hospital! I know I can face this challenge head on because there are people right behind me, ready to do all they can to help me if I need them. So let's get this show on the road! I am ready to spend some quality time with my family in my own home! Sounds like we'll need to have a party soon....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Loved Beyond Expectation!

Well, today marks about a month since the accident. I have now been in the hospital four weeks! And what an adventure it has been! 4 surgeries down, a couple more to go (maybe just one more :-) ) 3 different rooms and two trips to ICU.  I have met the most amazing doctors, nurses, cleaning staff...everyone here at Hendrick has been so kind to me. Nurses from other areas of the hospital that I have stayed in even come to check on me! That kind of treatment is above and beyond my expectations FOR SURE!

But I think what has touched me the most is the devotion to prayer that my friends, family, co-workers,and even people I don't know have shown. I receive calls, messages, visits and cards daily from so many people who are continuously praying for me. It touches me and comforts me in a way I would never have expected. People I haven't seen in years have reached out to me, and I rest assured that every petition is being heard. I am getting stronger every day as I wait patiently for my next round of surgery. I can get out of bed again almost on my own (I still need help not getting tangled in all the wires and drains attached to me.) I am back to walking around and sitting in a chair. I start therapy on my hand! I am excited and a little nervous about that. I know it won't be without its painful moments, but I also know it will be worth it to get my fingers moving again! I still have a long road ahead of me...a few more weeks in the hospital and lots of hard work in rehab once I go home, but I refuse to get caught up in the length of time all this will require. Focusing on each day as it comes is so much better. Don't get me wrong....I am anxious to get home and be with my family, and I don't want to spend one second longer in this plastic bed than required. But when I go home, I want to GO HOME! Not end up right back in bed because of some crazy complication.

So please, please keep the prayers coming! They are instrumental in my progress. Any expectations I ever held regarding people helping me has been blown out of the water. I feel loved, loved, loved, and that is the greatest feeling I have ever known!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Little More Patience? And Some Thanks, Too!

I have avoided the mirror as much as possible lately. In fact, I haven't actually looked in the mirror in over a week. Everyone who has visited has commented on how well my face is healing and what a great job my plastic surgeon did, but it is still a shock to me every time I catch a glimpse of myself. I am trying to patiently wait for the scars and scabs to disappear, but I prefer not to look at them in the meantime.

Now, I have to say that I have been so proud of Alex (10) and Carter (8) during this hospitalization. They haven't complained about me being gone or missing their events or coming to the boring hospital to visit me. Alex has been especially mature - taking it all in stride and moving forward. Carter has had a more difficult time. He just wants me to come home and doesn't understand why he can't take care of me instead of the nurses. And, of course, when my ear was still covered up, he was worried I would be a different person when I did come home because of the alien transmissions I was receiving through my ear covering. That thing really did look like a receiver of some kind, but perhaps we should cut down on  the 'Dr. Who' watching for now. And then there was last night. Carter and Alex were here for a visit, but Carter would hardly even look at me, much less talk to me. I finally got him to come sit with me on the bed and talk it out. Basically, his issue is that my face is scary. It makes him afraid to look at me and he can't sleep at night because  of it. The very last thing I want is for my son to be afraid of me, so we agreed that he will not visit me again until either the scabs are gone or he is ready to try again. It breaks my heart not to see him, but I want him to be comfortable around me. It is certainly hard to be patient, though, and wait for my face to heal when I want kisses from my babies!!! And I mean NOW, not in a few more weeks. Patience...patience...

I have worried a lot about Eric, Alex and Carter as I hang out in my bed. I get a lot of  thinking time, you know! And I MUST say some thank-you's to the many people who are taking care of my family. Eric has shielded me from as much worry as possible, so I know I'm not even aware of all the help we have received. I know that personally, so many  of my friends, acquaintances and co-workers have brought me all kinds of diversions...books, electronic devices, food, drinks, lotions, clothes...anything you can think of that would make me more comfortable. And I have heard so much about last night's benefit at ACU!  I can't wait to see the video! And I know there is another benefit next week at Play Faire Park! AND, I know an account has been set up for my family to assist us financially while I can't work. Plus all the meals being provided to Eric and the kids, and the help in driving them to their various lessons...I am overwhelmed by the loving and giving attitudes of people we know and even people we don't know. We are blessed, blessed, blessed to be a part of so many incredible peoples' lives. Thak you all so much! and please, most importantly, keep praying for all of us. Your prayers are the best gift of all and are keeping us moving forward!

Patience Is Not My Greatest Strength

When the kids were little, (oh...who am I kidding...the other day) when they were impatient, Eric and I would sing them a song from 'The Music Machine.' It goes:
Have patience, have patience. Don't be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient, you only start to worry.
Remember, remember that God is patient, too...
And think of all the times when others had to wait for you!

Naturally, this drives the kids crazy. So we sing it often. Hahaha!

But, as I have laid here in bed after my most recent surgery, I have thought about this little song an awful lot. It is hard to be patient. I have a lot of questions about my upcoming treatment. Tuesday, my surgeon had enough time for the muscle graft (very interesting looking, by the way...kind of like a roast wrapped around my arm,) but he decided to wait on the skin graft fora number of reasons. On the upside, my muscle graft is doing great and has good blood flow. But, I am TRYING to patiently wait and not be anxious about the surgeries still to come. I willl need a skin graft on my arm, two tendon grafts in my hand and some kind of bone reconstruction in my arm. These could happen in as few as one or as many as three more surgeries. We are just waiting for the surgeons to coordinate and make a plan. It is so hard to wait and be at the mercy of someone else's schedule. All I can think about is going home and starting rehab. A week ago, I was wearing clothes, getting in and out of bed pretty much on my own, and walking around.  Now I am stuck back in bed unless I can get a couple of people to help me out, with no end in sight. I tell myself to be patient...that every day the pain is a little less and I become a little more mobile. Hey - I can move my fingers! THAT is exciting! I suppose the big challenge for me is the unknown. What lies ahead, and when will it happen? But, I know that with the help of my friends, family, and all the incredible people praying for me, I can make it through one day (or even one hour) at a time until I go home. All I need is just a little patience!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Few Words about Friendship

I cannot even begin to count the number of people who have lifted me up in one way or another these last few weeks. But before I ride off to surgery in my roll-y bed, I want to say something about my closest friends. My Best Friends.

I have the best friends ever. They have been with me, right by my side, for every step of this journey. These are the women I hang out with, shop with, eat out with, have Thursday night wine or margaritas with...the women I have shared my hopes and dreams and failures and the parts of my life I would like to keep secret even from myself. We have a great relationship and I have always felt I could depend on them.

Well, there is nothing like a few weeks in the hospital to test the limits of your relationships. And if this was some kind of test, they have passed with flying colors! My friends have bought me hospital clothes, brushed dried blood out of my hair, brushed my teeth, washed my face, brought me Sonic, tempted my waning appetite with my favorite foods, dressed me, washed me, helped me use the toilet, talked with me and rehashed the same moments over and over,long into the night, cut my food, fed me, painted my toenails, cleaned my fingernails....things I would NEVER EVER expect to ask from ANYONE. And the best part is, I haven't had to ask. Not once. My friends know me so well, they anticipate my needs. And since the accident, I have had at least one of them in arm's reach, day or night. They worked a schedule so they can be here for me. They have blessed me over and over!

My friends have given up time with their families and other friends to be with me. They have been instrumental in keeping me moving forward. I would not be holding up so well if they weren't here for me - that is certain! I have the best friends anyone could ever ask for. I do not know how I have been lucky enough to be blessed with not just one close friend, but THREE! I cannot imagine my life without Rebecca Ellerbrook, Trish Blazauskas, and Vicki Graham. They have been here for me every moment and every step of the way. I love you girls! Thank you for every laugh, every cry, every quiet moment, every look that spoke volumes more than we could put into words, every second of just being together and enjoying each others' company, every hour that you have watched over me while I slept. You are the very best friends anyone could ever have. It is impossible for me to thank you for all you have done for me and are planning to do for me as I recover, so all I can say is, "Thank you," and, "I love you!" And maybe someday I will be able to give you back some of these awesome blessings you have given me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blessed Beyond Belief

I have always felt that my life has been blessed. I grew up in a family that loved me, and although there were some rough patches in there, my childhood was great! I never truly wanted for anything, and I had and have good relationships with all of my family members. I grew up in a Christian home and I have never had cause to question my faith. I went to a great college. True, I had a baby instead of graduating, but every class I took has enabled me to work independently and do well at a job I love. I married a wonderful man and have two beautiful and talented children. I have had job opportunities by the dozen offered to me at just the time I needed them, and I have loved every job I have ever worked. I own my own piano studio, AND I get to play at my church AND I get to accompany future Broadway Stars. So, yes! My life has been blessed beyond measure.

So, imagine my surprise when I discovered (after waking up from several days' sedation) that I had been in what undoubtedly should have been a fatal car accident. One minute I remember eating lunch with my Mom and the next thing I know someone is removing a breathing tube from my throat. Surprise is probably a mild description of what I felt. And then, the surprises kept coming. Thankfully, my Mom came out of the accident with only a broken wrist and some injured ribs. I am so, so thankful that my body took the greater abuse. I love my Mom so much, and I would never ever want her to be hurt for my sake. Then Eric slowly began revealing the extent of my injuries. Although I was wearing a seat belt, my body was partially pulled out of the car, so the left side of my face was basically scalped off. The surgeon had done an amazing job stitching me back together and reconstructing my ear, but we would have to wait and see the results. Maybe more surgeries later. The worst injury was to my right arm. My arm had been pulled out of the car and my humerus was crushed beyond repair. My brachial artery had been pulled out as well as several tendons in my fingers. There was a good chance the arm would have to go. After hours of surgery and a vein graft from my leg and I don't even know what else, my arm was saved. The surgeon conservatively estimated I would regain about 20% use, but I would have my own arm. As for playing the piano, forget it.

Well, let me tell you that I took all this better than I would ever have expected from myself. The only explanation I can give is that I was ALIVE! Nothing else really seemed to matter. I truly feel that God just filled me with peace about the whole situation. And then, the blessings just kept pouring down on me. My amazing church family was right there in CCU waiting with Eric and taking care of him. My family and best friends did not leave my side until they knew I would be ok. My incredible ACU family of co-workers came to check on me and talk to me even when I was unresponsive and sedated. The love and prayers flooded over me, and THEY are what will restore me to wholeness. Not just the incredible surgeon that I have. Not just the talented EMT's who got me to the hospital so quickly and gave me such good care. Not just the magnificent staff of doctors and nurses who saw me through the ER and 3 surgeries so far and my daily care.... I truly believe it is the faith and prayers of my wonderful family and friends across the globe who have diligently lifted up me and my situation.

I  am overwhelmed by the power of these people and our awesome God who answers these prayers. My face is well on its way to normal. My arm still needs some work, but it works! The doctor thinks I will regain 90% uusage! I can feel my fingers and move them individually. These are just a few of the blessings I have been given that seemed completely out of reach two weeks ago.

I know many of my family and friends are worried that I maybe haven't fully grasped what this could mean for my future in music. But it is crystal clear to me. Yes, there was a time when I would have equated a life not making music with no life at all. But the truth is, I have an incredible and fulfilling life. I am a good Mom. I am a good cook and housekeeper. I'm a great piano teacher. I don't have to perform to be fulfilled. My life is richly blessed without that. Yes, it makes me sad to think I may never play some of my favorite sonatas or nocturnes or 2-part inventions like I could before. But it is truly ok. I can listen! And I can enjoy watching as my children and my students discover the same release I did when I learned those pieces. And who knows? My recovery is going so much better than expected! I know the prayers going out are for full restoration of function. And God can do it! If that is His plan, it will happen!

I have no idea what all these blessings mean for me. Tomorrow I go in for a muscle graft to replace my tricep and a skin graft to cover it up. As I prepare for bed, I can only pray that God continues to guide me so that I properly use these blessings He has bestowed upon me. I don't know if He has a special plan for the rest of my life or if He was just feeling extra-merciful on October 14 and since then. But whatever the reason behind it, I am loving this life and living every day fully.