Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Not Exactly on the Bucketlist

"Have you ever hitchhiked before?" I threw the question over my shoulder then fixed my eyes on my bare feet, carefully choosing the path of least pebbles as we walked along Idaho's Highway 55.

Jack responded, "No, but it is on my bucket list."

I jabbed my outstretched thumb toward the road and waited as gorgeous Corvette after gorgeous Corvette sped past us, seemingly with nary a glance.  "They're never going to pick us up," Jack said as we discussed the many and varied reasons why.  We continued to walk, swimsuits dripping and bright yellow life jackets shining like a beacon in the afternoon sun.

Finally, we spotted a man in a Bob Marley t-shirt, coming toward us from an RV pulled into a turnout.  "Do you guys need some help?" he shouted.

"We just need a ride to Banks," I responded.  "My mom got injured on the river, and we need to get a car down here.  Hers is parked at the rafting put in at Banks."  He invited us into the RV, introduced us to his traveling companions and his dog, offered us a beer, and welcomed us to sit anywhere.  On the short drive, we filled him in on the most essential details.

Shortly into our morning's river run, we had stopped at a rope swing that hangs out over the river.  After many of us jumped, my mom decided she wanted to try, too.  She expressed a concern over having enough arm strength, but decided she would like to go for it anyway.  She later told me that standing there, she had wished she could have done things like that when we were younger, but she had always been too anemic.  So in spite of her fear of heights, she climbed the jumping rock, grasped the rope, and swung toward the river.

It almost seemed like slow motion, watching as her grip slipped slightly causing one foot to drag on the ground.  That force pried her hands from the rope and propelled her upper body forward.  She slid down the rocky bank, her body just barely reaching the shallow water.  My dad and Skye rushed to her side just as the water near her foot turned red, much like a scene from Jaws.  Skye turned immediately to Adam and Alex (and friend who was with us) saying, "It's bad.  Don't look."

I asked a nearby family if I could borrow the phone they'd been using to take pictures at the swing.  Kirk hadn't come on the river with us, so I hoped he could bring a car.  When he didn't answer, it was decided that Jack and I would swim across the river and hitchhike to Banks, the procurement of a car being the number one priority behind the t-shirt tourniquet that had already been tied around Mom's foot.

Jack and I returned with the car, amused to find that Suman had been sent to make certain we didn't pass the spot on the river.  Apparently some discussion had ensued after our departure regarding the fact that they had sent the two least observant people on the errand.  Skye and my dad carried Mom up the river bank to the car, then continued to discuss whether it would be better to take her up the road to Garden Valley or down the road to Boise.  After one last gruesome look at the wound (we could see tendons and bones), the decision was unanimous.  Boise.

From there, it is hardly my story to tell, having heard it only second- or third-hand.  Mom went to St. Luke's on Eagle Road where they took her into the operating room to clean out the wound.  The doctors reported taking rocks and leaves out, but praised my dad for choosing to keep her wound in the cold river water as long as possible.  They equipped her with a wound vacuum, which constantly pulls the fluids away from the wound to reduce swelling and infection.  They assessed the damage and determined a transfer to the University of Utah Hospital would be necessary, because reparing the gaping hole in her foot was going to take the skills of a specialist.

She spent Sunday in the hospital bed, wondering whether the hospital would in fact be able to arrange for a portable wound vac.  With one, she could be loaded into her own car, and my dad would drive her to Salt Lake.  Without one, she would have to be flown; the risks of not having the vacuum on were too high.  At 4:53 on Sunday evening, in response to a brief "any news?" text from me, my dad reported, "Just arriving at hospital in 1 min."  The choice had been made, and my parents flew in to Salt Lake together.

At 10:31 on Monday morning, again in response to an inquisitive text, Mom responded, "I am out of surgery for today. I haven't seen the doctor yet, so I don't have any real information."  When I was able to get to the hospital last night to visit, however, she had been given a full projected timeline for her recovery, which she asked that I share here.

  • Thursday, July 30th - Grafting surgery #1 - This one involves moving some muscle and tissue into her foot.
  • FIVE DAYS of in hospital recovery with foot elevated 100% of the time
  • Wednesday, Aug 5th - Best case scenario release date
  • TWO TO THREE WEEKS of at home recovery in wheel chair with foot elevated nearly all the time.  She will be allowed to be in the school if she chooses, but will only be able to point at what needs to be done.  
  • Wednesday, Aug 19th - Best case scenario date for Grafting surgery #2 - This one involves covering the huge exterior hole in her foot.
  • FIVE DAYS of in hospital recovery with foot elevated 100% of the time
  • Tuesday, Aug 25th - Best case scenario release date
  • ONE MONTH of recovery - She will be able to put weight on her foot, but it will take about one month before she will be able to stand on it for an entire day.
  • Monday, September 28th - My birthday.  :)  And also maybe a good projection of about when she will be returning to normal.
Mom said, "Tell people I am okay, and that there is really nothing that anyone can do except maybe visit to keep me company.  It is going to be really boring."  If you want information about her room number, text or Facebook message me.  I can also send you really gross pictures if you're morbidly curious.  

I don't know if Mom will read this or not, but if she does:

I would just like you to know how excited each of us kids was, watching you conquer your fears just to do something fun (and maybe a little stupid) with us.  We're sad you didn't get to enjoy the rest of the river run, and I am really grateful you wanted us to continue on without you because we had a really great ride.  Thank you for being the kind of Grandma who, when Alex visited, expressed your desire that he not be afraid of rope swings in the future.  You have always been and continue to be an example of strength to each of us.  I know you are feeling a little stupid, having a two month recovery from a dumb rope swing.  But we are all just happy that you wanted to be with us.  Thanks for coming on the river.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Show Before the Show

My reasons for vacationing in Garden Valley, Idaho this summer were threefold:

1. See Michelle perform as "Mrs. Meers" in Thoroughly Modern Millie and as "Calamity Jane" in Calamity Jane
2. Get to spend time with my niece and nephew, Scarlett and Ryder
3. Enroll my kids in the Starlight summer camp, because they could do a week of theater before football starts

I easily accomplished these three items and so many more!  Around the campfire on our last night, I asked the kids about their favorite parts of the trip. After listening to their answers, I considered what my answer would have been and ultimately settled on a tie.

First, I loved watching my children enjoy the same things I enjoy.  Whether it was seeing their happy faces return to camp after a long three hour rehearsal, watching Adam "jump" off a 25-foot bridge (he says he fell...) or Alex during his first ever whitewater rafting run, it was so much fun to have them with me, so willing to do things that I find exhilarating.

Second, I got to sing with Michelle.  At Starlight shows, there is almost always a "preshow" - just a number or two the audience can enjoy before the real show starts.  Generally, it is planned.  But sometimes (like Monday night when Michelle came with us to sit in the audience for Seven Brides) Eddie calls Michelle out of the audience, explains there has been an anonymous audience request for her to sing "When I Look At You" from Scarlet Pimpernel, and starts her music.

Other times, he approaches me in the middle of a river run and says, "So what could you and Michelle sing for preshow tonight?" So we hustle back to camp, download music, get cleaned up, make dinner for the kids, practice for 20 minutes, hustle to the theatre to throw on mics and hand the tech table our soundtrack, and enjoy getting to sing together.  (We decided that this school year, we will work on a portfolio of awesome female duets so we will already have something worked up should the opportunity present itself again.)

Sidenote; look how I am noticeably taller than Michelle.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rescue Jake

“No, Jake!  Don’t jump!” I shouted to my dog as he hunched down and prepared to launch himself off the bridge.  Had he jumped closer to the center, over the river, I wouldn’t have worried.  But he had run close to the bank and from there, the drop would be ten feet down to a pile of large boulders.

I guess I should have known it would come to this three months ago on Jake’s first day in our family.  Having spent the weekend in a shelter, Jake was displaying some serious separation anxiety.  He hated to be in a different room than me, so when I prepared to take a bath, I was careful to make certain he was in the bathroom with me.  I went about my typical routine, shaving my legs and shampooing my hair.  I went under the water and began to swish my hair from side to side to remove the suds.  Suddenly, I was covered by one very wet Border Collie who had apparently felt the need to rescue me from the perilous danger of my bathtub.

I wasn’t the first to jump from the bridge.  Actually, I wasn’t even the second.  We brought one of Adam’s friends along for our Idaho adventure, and Trae was the first to make the 25 foot drop into the frigid river.  After Trae’s jump, Jake jumped in from the far bank, crossing the river easily and getting out only after it was clear that Trae was safe.  After significant coaxing, Adam went second.  Technically, according to him, he actually slipped and fell instead of choosing to jump, but I’m applauding even that.  Having promised to jump if he jumped, I went third, leaving a very anxious Jake atop the bridge.

I could hear him whining above the wind and the current, and I could see his nubbed tail shaking furiously at me for having jumped off a bridge.  I shouted up to him.  “I’m okay, Jake!” but he was less than convinced.  For a moment, I thought he would actually make the jump in after me, and I wasn’t too worried about that.  Then I saw him hurry to the bank and assumed he would climb down and swim in after me.  I laughed at his commitment as I swam closer to the bank, knowing I was completely safe and in no need of rescue at all.

I stopped laughing, however, when I saw his focus shift.  He was going to take a shortcut and jump onto the rocks.  I worried for his safe landing; not only was the bank steep and the boulders smooth, but Jake has genetically bad hind knees and limps most of the time.  Although we plan to have doggie knee surgery done this winter, for now he gets by on two pain pills a day and rests when his limp gets too horrible.

And so I shouted up at my dog, but he didn’t listen.  I watched him jump.  And I watched him land.  However, verbs like “crash,” “slide,” “roll,” and “bounce” may have been more accurately descriptive.  He found his footing as quickly as he could and navigated the rocks down to the river’s edge.  He jumped in and swam to me, accompanying me the rest of the way to shore.

It was almost funny to watch how little he cared for the safety of other jumpers at the bridge.  He never once hurried to the side of a stranger.  But each time one of his family (extended to include Trae for the week) jumped, he insisted on chaperoning them to safety.

And it didn’t stop there.  We changed locations from the bridge to a place the locals call Flat Rock.  This area features a small jump into a shallow, sandy pool – perfect for the younger kids we had with us.  For fun, I decided to make the three foot jump.  I was prepared to be startled as my feet abruptly met the sand; I was not prepared to have a dog jump right on top of my head.  Which he did.

In fact, he wouldn’t even let me swim to the middle of the river without him.  If I went into water any deeper than my ribs, Jake insisted on checking on me routinely.  Sure, he kept an eye out for the big boys, but he wouldn’t let me out of his sight.

And then the little boys (Ryder and Dylan) wanted to jump.  I stood in the pool ready to catch them with Jake circling me much like a shark.  He wouldn’t leave the water until the small boy had safely completed the jump.  I didn’t understand the height of his anxiety until he actually nipped at Dylan – not out of aggression, but in an attempt to grab him by the skin and pull him out of the water.

Jake may not be a perfect dog.  He may poop in my house on occasion, bark at my visitors, and eat the cats’ food every single day.  Sure, he needs expensive surgery this winter.  Yes, it is inconvenient to have to make arrangements for him when I go out of town.  But in only 3 months he has become so loyal to my family that he will drag my son out of a river and jump from a bridge to try to save his Mama.

Welcome to the family, Rescue Jake.