30 January 2012

2 Broken Legs and a Wedding (or The Best of Years, The Worst of Years)

Four years ago Dan broke his right leg.  On January 29, 2008 he had been in and out of the house all morning because it was a rather nice day for late January in New York.  Around 11:00 he was leaving the house for the last time that morning, unaware that the temperature had dropped and there was a fine mist of rain which caused what we in the Northeast dread all winter season, black ice.  Dan slipped on the front porch steps, fell on his right leg, called me at work, called 911, and I met the ambulance at the hospital. Because of the black ice the emergency room was filling up fast.  The details of that day are forever burned in my memory but I'll try to make a long story as short as possible.  In the first hour he was asked the same questions by at least 11 people from various departments, he is a really big man & he was in severe pain and they moved him from one stretcher to another 8 times, it was 6 hours before they could give him any pain medication, 4 doctors and 9 medical students looked at his xrays  & his leg & asked him more questions, there were countless conversations debating surgery vs a cast, I drove home to feed the poor dogs who were more frenzied than I had ever seen them and then back to the hospital thru more black ice during rush hour, they started putting a cast on the leg at 10:00 that night, it took over an hour during which they manually twisted Dan's leg into position, there was nowhere for me to sit because the emergency room was overflowing, at 11:30 I was sitting on the floor with my head pounding when they told me he could go home.  At the time I was driving Gus' old Chevy Cavalier, a nice little car for commuting to work but where do you put a large angry, 6'4" man in a cast from his foot to his hip in a nice little car?  The poor kid on wheelchair duty that night didn't deserve his fate.  We put the front seat back as far as possible and reclined its back as flat as possible.  Then in went Dan except for the extra large leg in its sparkling white cast.  Somehow we got the leg in and we pushed the car door closed like on an over-stuffed closet. Half asleep and half in terror I drove home.  As instructed by Dan I drove halfway up the driveway and hoping the ground was frozen enough to support the Cavalier I drove across the lawn diagonally to right in front of the house.  As imagined, getting the leg out of the car was infinitely more difficult than getting it in.  And how could I get Dan inside - crutches on ice, not an option. Ultimately Dan crawled with his one good leg over the ice, up the stairs, and into the house.  Once inside I got him to the bathroom, put sheets and blankets on the couch, gave him a major dose of pain medication (sadly there was none for me).  I went to bed at 2:30 in the morning - I had been up since 4 the previous morning.

As it turned out, that was one of my better days.  I'm going to spare you some of the details because honestly, four years later, I can't revisit that time without wanting to cry.   Let me interject that Gus and Meara's wedding was planned for June 7th. When the year began it was my intention to spend the months before that event getting ready to be mother of the groom.  So here are the highlights.  Within the first week, with help from a friend who could get Dan in and out of a truck more suitable to his size, Dan went to the orthopedic doctor who determined that the leg was crooked in the cast, then to the hospital for pre-op, then back to the hospital for surgery to put a titanium rod in the leg, one blissfully quiet night for me when he stayed in the hospital, and then home late in the afternoon on February 8th which happened to be our anniversary.  Once home we waited to have some medical equipment delivered - a walker and a commode - what woman doesn't want a commode for her wedding anniversary.  Backing out of the driveway the truck got hopelessly stuck in the soggy lawn - it took 3 hours before getting another bigger truck to pull it out.  From then on the downstairs of my house was transformed into a hospital zone.  Dan could not really maneuver on his own so I couldn't leave him for a full day of work.  My boss at the time was extremely sympathetic and let me work mornings in the office and afternoons at home.  So I got up at 4 each day, took care of the dogs, took care of Dan, went to work, got home, took care of the dogs, took care of Dan, and then went to work at the computer which at the time was a desk-top in the living room where Dan was - so while he watched every living creature get slaughtered on his hunting shows, I wrote documentation.  In late February Gus and Meara came from Portland to do some wedding planning.  They stayed with us - fortunately the upstairs of the house was a patient-free zone but it was hardly the relaxed, fun visit I had hoped for.  In March I called the restaurant in Saratoga that I had booked the previous October for the rehearsal dinner.  The woman I had dealt with in October informed me that there was another event planned for the same time - a monumental screw-up on her part that meant somehow in the next 2 months I needed to find a new location for 40 people.  Ultimately my Dad saved the day by offering his house for the dinner and miraculously I found a wonderful caterer with that date free.  By April things were settling into a doable routine.  On April 17th Dan came home jubilant because the doctor gave him the go ahead to use a cane rather than the walker.  I said, okay, that means from now on it is all about me and the wedding.  The next day I received a call from someone at the local VFW.  She told me that Dan had fallen and the ambulance was taking him to the hospital.  I screamed into phone, loudly, angrily, that this was a really cruel joke and I almost hung up when the EMT told me that indeed it was not a joke.  Then he told me where to meet them in the hospital.  So I guess I don't really need to tell you that Dan broke his left leg on April 18, 2008.  The only good news - and believe me I am really searching for something - there was no question of cast vs. surgery (a matching titanium rod) this time, and even better it meant that Dan would be in the hospital for at least 2 blessed nights in a row.  There's not much I can add to the story of the left leg - it was pretty much a repeat of the right leg, except it was harder for him to use the walker when he had to hop on the barely healed leg.

So finally it was time for Gus and Meara's wedding.  They came to NY the week before.  That first week of June was cold and wet which caused concern for a potential disaster.  We had planned to use peonies for the wedding.  Dan's family has grown peonies for generations - his cousin lives in their grandfather's house and still maintains the original field of plants.  The first week of June is the earliest for blossoming, and cold, wet weather is not kind to peonies.  Late Friday morning the weather turned - sun and heat allowed the peonies to bud - once cut they were immediately put in water - Dan drove (yes, he could drive with just his 'good' right leg) to my Dad's house for the rehearsal dinner with the back of his truck filled with beautiful peonies.
 The dinner at Dad's was really relaxed - just what we all needed.
And my baby boy was happy - just what I hoped for.
Gus and Meara met in Saratoga so the wedding was at the Saratoga Dance Museum - a beautiful setting.
After a very long, very stressful start to the year, everything was perfect on June 7, 2008.  The weather turned from cold to hot - it was unbelievably 95 degrees just in time for the ceremony.

Then we partied well into the night.
And now when I look at my sweet Gus and Meara, I know that in spite of everything, it was the best of years.

1 comment:

sophanne said...

I am sitting here grateful for the truckload of gravel we got our driveway for our 5th anniversary. What a story!