Helping Hands: Part IV

September 14, 2009 at 10:54 am (Family, Lists, Makes me Smile, Miracles)

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(Hopefully) Last, but not least, and in honor of my dad’s birthday, the final installment of the Helping Hands series. This entry has taken me the longest to put together mostly because my dad was here for a month. If you know my dad, you know that it wasn’t a month spent relaxing!

I have compiled a condensed version of some of my father’s activities while he was here. There is no stopping my father. When he first arrived I was worried about his shoulder injury, but apparently, he would let nothing stop him! It’s almost embarrassing how little I did while he was here. 

I was a little worried about having my dad here for a whole month, but it was great. It really took the stress off of the final weeks of the pregnancy. My dad pretty much ran the house, including teaching the kids how to swat flies! The day after my dad left, Samuel came out looking for his clothes, because for a month my dad laid out the kids’ outfits every morning! he also made sure that the boys were bathed which is something that I don’t take too seriously!

So, here is an idea of what to expect when Bill Frank comes to stay:

2 – vacuum cleaners

1 – mop

1 – ceiling fan

20 – trips to Sonic

100 – Buddy Bucks received

1 – trip across town in 100 degree heat, with two toddlers, to find sheet metal

1 – car detailed in preparation for sale

3 – meals of grilled steak

4 – evenings babysitting so Doug and I could go on dates

1 – citizenship swearing in ceremony attended

1 – shelf installed in master bath

3 – light sabers purchased (plus one for Jason Hunt)

1 – complete day watching three boys so I could deliver my baby in peace!

1 – new iron (plus much, much ironing!)

1 – office chair (apparently doing work while sitting on a kiddie chair isn’t cool!)

1 – alarm clock

5 – people flown in from Seattle

1 – grandma flown in from Halifax

1 – yard tended to for large item trash day, plus a hedge trimmer

– Countless groceries and cans of Fresca

– Hanging of pictures and curtain rods

– Driving Doug to work and therapy almost every day

I am noticing  a trend toward cleaning supplies. I’m wondering if dad is trying to tell me something?! Every time I try o finish the list, I come up with something else, so know that this list is incomplete. He took my boys on errands every day, and he sacrificed a month of time with his wife. Thankfully, grandma also got to come out when Christina was here.

I know at the end we were wearing on my dad, but I hope he knows how much we appreciated everything he did for and with us while he was here.

Happy Birthday Dad!

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Helping Hands: Part II

July 31, 2009 at 12:28 am (Family, Miracles, Mom Stuff)

Mom with her favorite grandkids!

Mom with her favorite grandkids!

So, this is week 2 of our in-home help chronicles. My mom came in to take over for Anita. She was actually here when Doug got home from the rehab center (I’m not saying that’s what made her leave, but…!). The timing was actually very good because my mom was in Florida, vacationing with my brother, so it was just a hop, skip, and a jump for her to come to Texas.

For the first few days she helped with the hospital visits, plus we had fun times with Chuck E. Cheese. There were also homemade meals and some down-time in front of the television. And of course the obligatory trips to my doctors to make sure I wasn’t having the baby before my husband was up and walking around.  I talk to my mom almost every day on the phone. She knows almost everything that’s going on with us, so it was very comforting having her here. There are some things that only your mom can make better.

It was great being able to talk with my mom every night after my visits with Doug. She was also there to help with Doug’s transition back to work. When Doug first came home he couldn’t drive and so his first morning back to work I was able to drive him into the office while my mom stayed home with the kids.

This whole experience has been so surreal to me, but our family has helped us cope. I am so grateful that we have people in our lives who were willing to drop everything to come take care of us. I can’t imagine how difficult this would have been without our families. My mom made everything so much easier for me and the boys.

Thanks mom!

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Before and After: The Back Surgery

July 22, 2009 at 11:41 am (before and after, Miracles)

doug 004

I don’t know how many of you have had to deal with neurosurgeons, but I don’t think they’re the most optimistic people. We have dealt with two, one for Ben’s head, and one for Doug’s back. Both times the doctors were very guarded. In Ben’s case everything turned out very well, but we didn’t know with Doug.

It’s hard to know what to say when the expert in his field tells you if you had waited a couple of days your husband could have been paralyzed. The worst part was the not knowing… how long it would take, how much better it would get…

For his part, Doug was not going to let this thing stop him. He never complained at the rehab center because he was, by far, the healthiest one there. When he came home from rehab I struggled with letting him do things like walking to the pantry because he wasn’t so good on his feet, and I thought the worst thing for his morale would be to fall.

Well, no worries here. He has successfully gone from wheelchair, to walker (oh how I wish I had photos of him with the walker), to cane (very sexy, a la Dr. House!), to brace, to this:

Back injury,what back injury?

Back injury,what back injury?

 

That’s right, there’s my husband swinging off the side of a sail boat in the Halifax Harbour, with a smile on his face! Miracles still happen.

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Overwhelmed …

April 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm (Family, Miracles)

Just one of our many blessings!

Just one of our many blessings!

 

… with gratitude.

So,  I have been struggling with how  or if  I should write about what’s been going on at our home  during the past couple of weeks.  How do I, without going into too much detail, write about all of the miracles that we have experienced?

I have never really been inclined to write about the more spiritual aspects of our lives, but I cannot ignore the role that that has played in this whole situation. I don’t know that we would have recognized all the miracles if we hadn’t had some idea of the bigger picture. There have been lots of things that we haven’t fully understood previously, but that are making more and more sense to us now.

So, although our current situation is far from ideal, I am so grateful that it has been infinitely improved by wonderful family, friends, doctors and employers, to name a few.

I cannot fully describe how comforting it was to have Doug’s brother and his family here. Not only did Mike’s knowlege expedite Doug’s ER experience, he was also there to give blessings and medical advice. I have written about my sister-in-law Ingrid before, but her presence comforted me as much as Mike’s comforted Doug. She stayed with 7 kids all day while we were at the hospital. Then, she stayed an extra two days with her two youngest kids while Mike drove back to Florida with the two oldest. She cleaned bathrooms, bedrooms, the laundry room and kitchen all while watching the kids. She told me not to worry and to just go and be with Doug. When I was having my worst moments, she was the one offering hugs and assuring me it would all be okay. I am just so grateful that I already had a good relationship with her so that having her here seemed like the most normal thing in the world.

I have often told people that they should come to Texas because it is so friendly.  When we needed advice on the medical situation I was so happy that I knew I could call my RS President, and not because she’s the RS president, but because she’s my friend. She took care of so many things, that I’m not sure I’ll ever get the full tally. She got the neurosurgeon on the phone, she screened calls, she brought dinner and made sure my kids had Easter baskets and Easter eggs to dye. She kept on calling both me and Ingrid to make sure that I was doing okay, and she was passing along the updates on Doug to those who needed to know. I used to joke with her about not wanting to make it to the worry list, and my hope now is that I’m not on the list for too long!

Now, the neurosurgeon. Doug and I have made many jokes about the abundance of doctors in our ward. It seems like every specialty is covered, and we are always sort of waiting for something big to happen at church one day. We never really thought that we would be the beneficiaries of the expertise. Suffice it to say that one of the most obvious miracles was the neurosurgeon who just so happens to specialize in the minimally invasive version of the type of surgery that Doug needed. We wanted to talk to him just to make sure that what the hospital recommended was the right course of action for us. He offered to come in and do the less invasive surgery at a much closer, brand new hospital, using state of the art tools that he helped to develop. Because of this doctor, the biggest wait we had was for the ambulance to take us to the new hospital. When Doug arrived, the whole surgical team was ready and waiting, and these people all had to be called in. This was a Saturday afternoon, and we were the only ones there.

One of my biggest worries with this whole situation was how Doug would react. I knew that we would be okay, and that whatever his recovery was we would make it work, but I worried that Doug might not be so optimistic. He’s had some bad moments, but so far, they’ve been followed by some great accomplishments.  I know that this is more his trial than mine, but I’ve been so impressed with his attitude of appreciation for all of our good fortune. And, not to say that Doug isn’t normally appreciative of his family, but I haven’t minded having him call me a “ray of sunshine,” or “the best wife!”

Doug’s mom came and spent the week with us after Ingrid left. I was a little worried about this, because I had never spent any extended period of time alone with her. How would she react to Doug or to the kids or to my reactions to what was going on? I was so pleasantly surprised. We had a lot of great talks, and I think that her relationship with my kids is the best it’s ever been. She spent many hours with the boys which allowed me to spend time alone with Doug every day. She took them grocery shopping and to the playground. They also had trips to Wal-Mart and McDonalds. I’m hoping that we didn’t take too much advantage of her, and that she’ll still want to come back when we have the baby! Here again I am grateful to Doug’s brother Mike, because he was the one who made the call to my mother-in-law. I don’t know if I would have done that on my own.

My mom is here this week to help, and hopefully things will go just as smoothly. She was in Florida with my brother, so she was able to get here a little more easily than she would have had she been in Canada. The boys love having grandparents around, and I think it takes some of the stress away from Doug not being here. It’s also a great de-stresser for me to have my mom here.

Now I just need to take a minute to thank everyone who has called, sent cards, gifts, brought by meals and goody baskets full of geeky magazines, and in the case of one particularly insane friend, hijacked my front porch and filled it with flowers. Doug has had lots of visitors, and people have stopped by to check on me. I really appreciate that my friends here know me well enough to make me laugh with jokes about walkers and handicapped parking stickers! I have a sister who has the most amazing gift for knowing what to say in tough situations. She has also called to check up on me and just make me feel better. I don’t know how people can get through this kind of thing without a huge support system, and I’m very glad that I don’t have to find out.

We are hoping that Doug will be home soon and that we’ll see some more miracles with his recovery. I won’t list all the other things that we’ve enjoyed, because I don’t want you all to think that I’m bragging. Until now I’ve never really understood how people could be grateful for their trials, but ever so slowly and surely, I’m starting to understand.

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