Sunday, April 26, 2009

Legend Of The Fall

Another sunny, unnaturally warm spring day here in the northeast. Mac and I were talking about going down to the shore today. Before I headed out to Mass this morning, I checked the forecast and found that the tide would be high right around the time we got there, and cloudiness, along with a potential for thunderstorms were also predicted. It's an hour and a half of driving to get there, so once we commit to going, there's no turning back.

In the end, we decided to wait for a more settled day and low tide so we could really enjoy the beach. Plus, we have so much to do around here. There's a lot of yard work still to be done, and we're doing the living room over. In order for it to look halfway decent, we had to tear out the old paneling and put up new sheetrock before painting. Today we stained the wood work and Mac sanded down the joint compound on the sheetrock seams. Tomorrow I should get to do some painting.

As I type this, Rigby is dropping her favorite ball on my feet every few seconds so I will stop and throw it across the room for her. She gets bored so easily!

So, back to the legend of the fall!

I drove home, late that night with my head spinning. Mac had been admitted to the hospital with a broken pelvis. My daughter was living away at school, and my son was working all kinds of different shifts, so Rigby was crated during the day. I'd called my sister from the hospital and she kindly went over and took her out for a walk. It was late as I drove home, but hopefully my son would have gotten home and was taking care of her.

My second concern after the well-being of my husband was financial. Mac is a self-employed contractor. He either works directly for homeowners, or with other builders, roofers and carpenters as a sub-contractor. If he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid. He can't collect unemployment compensation, as I am now doing. If he stays home, there's no money at the end of the week. Of course, he had no short-term disability insurance either, so this was not a good thing. Our income had just been cut in half. On the up side, it could have been so much worse. He could have injured his spinal cord and lost the use of his limbs. He could have injured his spleen or some other organ. He could have landed on his head and been killed. All things considered, he was very lucky. My daughter would be graduating in a month from the University of Massachusetts. I couldn't imagine that Mac would be able to be there. He'd be so disappointed to miss his only daughter graduate from college. I made up my mind that I would not let everything overwhelm me, and I would take it all one day at a time.

Those first days were grim. He was on a lot of pain medication and so he wasn't himself, to say the least. Sometimes we would talk and he would not remember anything of our conversations. I'd spend a couple of hours with him and he wouldn't remember me being there. The nurses had him up and were making him walk with a walker which seemed very wrong to me, and I told them so, but what the heck did I know? He told me through gritted teeth, that he could feel the pelvic plates grinding against each other, which I thought was a very bad sign. When the Orthopedist finally saw him, he confirmed that my suspicions were correct...he shouldn't have been up and moving for he first three days - it apparently takes that long for the bones to begin to knit together, and he could have made things much worse by shifting them around. I felt a lot better about everything once the Orthopedist took over his care.

Meanwhile, I continued working full-time and taking care of Rigby and the apartment, and I also took over all the household tasks that Mac normally did, like doing the dishes, taking out the trash and recyclables, and mowing the lawn. Although we rent here, taking care of the property, which includes an acre of yard, is part of the deal. My son helped me as much as he could, and my sister and her husband, as well as my brother, all lent a helping hand too. I was so lucky to have them living so close by. I came to really understand how difficult it must be, for people that have no close friends or relatives to help them in times like this. We all really need someone to rely on.

It turned out Mac is a really fast healer. After two weeks, the doctor announced that he was ready to go to a rehab hospital and begin physical therapy. I was concerned that they were rushing it, but they disagreed, and Mac wanted to get home and get back to his life. At fifty two years old, he had excellent blood pressure, was not on any medications (except for the pain meds, at the moment), and weighed one hundred and fifty pounds(soaking wet with all his clothes on). He was really in great health, except for his injury, which was healing nicely. They claimed he was ready, so off to the rehab hospital we went. Once there, he made excellent progress, and after ten days, they released him. He'd be walking only with a walker for a while, then he'd graduate to crutches. He had a home health aide scheduled to visit a few times a week, and a physical therapist would be coming by too. He'd be doing exercises on his own as well. The trickiest part, was that he would need help getting outside for fresh air, or to take Rigby out, since we live entirely on the second floor. I took six vacation days off from work so I could be there with him for the worst of it.

For the next two months, he hopped around in the yard on his crutches, played with Rigby, ate three meals a day(a real novelty for him), and watched "The Deadliest Catch" on cable T.V. so often, he soon knew every fact about Alaskan crab fishing that there is to know. By mid-July, he was back to his old self and was ready to climb up on the staging again, and so he did.

The only good thing about Mac being hospitalized, was that he couldn't smoke. He was a two pack a day guy at that point, but he was forced to quit, cold turkey the night he was admitted. It was wonderful to have him in the house at night, instead of outside or down back in the barn, smoking. But, it was too good to last. After three solid months without a cigarette, as soon as he could drive again, he drove to the convenience store and bought a pack. I was so disappointed, I don't think I spoke two words to him for at least a couple of days. He says he will quit again, but he won't say when. I thought he'd gotten the monkey off his back for good, but alas, it was not to be. He knows how much I hate it, but it's his decision, not mine.

That's the story of the fall. By the Grace of God, he had a full recovery, and we somehow survived it. Mac attended our daughter's graduation at the end of May, on crutches, but he was there, after all.


  1. Wow, amazing what we all survive! Seems every time we had a brief spell of calm and quiet, some damn thing happened to upset just about every little detail of our lives. Reminds me of the recorded speaking voice at the O'Hare terminal where the "automatic" sidewalks are - the voice just keeps on repeating "Keep Walking" (pause) "Keep Walking"............

  2. Glad he's back on his feet again, it must have been a really scary time.

  3. That must have been such a worrying time for all of you. It's so great that the story has a happy ending - it could have been a tragedy.


  4. Hi Suzen - Isn't it the truth? It's always sumthin'. I feel like that voice is in my head too-keeps me moving.

    Hi Nightowl - Thanks, yes it was a strange time.

    Hi Margaret - Yes, we are very fortunate that he was not paralyzed or killed.

  5. I guess we must have strength on a daily basis, 'cause you never know what's coming up. Good luck with the smoking... imagine putting a burning thing between your lips and sucking on it!!

  6. he is one tough nut, the smoking though is not good. is he back to his 2 packs a day? next time i hope he quits and stays that way...jc

  7. Hi Lyn - Yeah, how could the very first person who did it think it was a good idea?

    Hi Jack - He's at about a pack a day now, and I keep reminding him how he said he'd quit again, but to no avail.

  8. Thanks for sharing this. It's easy to take our health & wellbeing for granted. Glad he could make your daughter's graduation, and I'll bet it was a more precious moment for everyone.

    Mrs ER was a smoker, but quit when she became pregnant (21 years ago) and never started again. I don't think that's going to work for your Mac though!

  9. Hi Eco - I used to smoke too. I quit during each pregnancy but started right up again afterwards. I finally quit for good a few years ago and now I can't stand the smell of it.