Thursday, August 19, 2010

Knit Through All Crisis

These words of wisdom come from Elizabeth Zimmermann. What wonderful words they truly are.

Crisis is going on here. But first, a happy thought. Two years ago today was the homebirth of my second son, Lovey. His "name" really fits his personality as he is the most loving, caring, and cuddly baby I have had to date. He still enjoys just cuddle time with me and will gladly go anywhere I go to be alone just to be with me (especially the shower!). Seems my waterbirth baby is really in love with the water and his gentle beginning seems to have made a lasting impression.

I love you! May your 3rd year being in my arms be as wonderful and joy filled as your last two!!

And now, onto crisis......and knitting......

I give you Summer Surprise. It is done. DONE, I tell you. This is a picture of it pre-blocking. It is currently in a nice bath with some Eucalan waiting for me to get off the computer so it can get pinned out and dry.

What a long journey this shawl has been. When I think of how many stitches and hours have been put into this it makes me tired.

Oh, and the crisis? That is what pushed me to knit those last 5 rows when I just couldn't focus on anything else and there was nothing for me to do.

This is my brother. He is 28 years old, just 16 months younger than I am. Last night, he was crossing the street around 10pm and was struck by a car. I got a call from my mom a little while later and then called the ER to talk to one of the nurses.

At that time, he had only been in the ER for about 20 minutes. He didn't have any obvious "life threatening" injuries at that time, but she said he was pretty bloody and they were still doing tests/CAT scans/X-rays to check for fractures/internal bleeding. His teeth were messed up and he had lots of cuts and scrapes everywhere.
Turns out, his jaw is severely fractured and the bones in his face are shattered. His teeth are all, I don't even know what to call them, very much not in the right places. He broke his collar bone (they think) and his ear continues to bleed (from the inside) from an unknown cause.
At 10:30 last night, with kids still awake and me an hour and a half from the hospital, there was really nothing I could do but sit and wait for a phone call. I was seriously torn between wanting to be there for my brother and wanting to take care of my family.
My mother was able to go right away. That is a relief, but also at the same time kind of hard. She has a very dramatic personality. So much so that I though he was dead when I first spoke with her b/c she was freaking out so much. That is just how she is. She stayed with him through the night. I still really wish I could have been there to speak with the doctors/nurses in charge of his care and treatment. Having a medical background (previous nursing, registered EMT, and midwifery training), I am able to ask questions about his care/treatment that I know would not occur to someone else to ask. It makes it very hard to step back.
Today, I was able to go to the hospital for 2 hours. He looks awful. He is unable to speak or eat/drink. I sent my mom off to get some food and maybe a shower.
Seeing him in the bed brought a swell of emotions I was not ready for. Growing up as we did, dealing with abandonment, abuse, and constant changing conditions has lead us both in very different directions in our lives. He never really has been able to get over what happened in our childhoods and has turned to many different addictions to cope. He has never really had a job, a girlfriend, doesn't know God, and usually lacks any real happiness apart from drinking.
My urge to pick him up and comfort him as though he was one of my own children was nearly overwhelming. I am sure he didn't pick up on this, because I am very good at not letting my emotions get the best of me. I simply wanted to tell him that everything would be OK and I would take care of it all and make the pain go away.
Being there with him, I was able to communicate with him fairly well and able to help take care of him for a little while. He asked me to look at his teeth and tell him exactly what I saw. He also asked me to care for some of his wounds, wiping up the secretions oozing from his face and the place on his chin where there were several stitches put in to hold the skin back on. I helped him get comfortable in bed and held an emesis basin while he spit, his secretions thick in his mouth from lack of drinking. Later my mom told me that he had not allowed her to touch him. This made me feel a little better that he knew he could trust me to care for him.
While I was there for 2 hours, 6 different care providers came to see him. Non of these providers where the doctors I really wanted to speak with and ask questions about his future surgeries and treatment plan. In fact, all of them seemed pretty non-essential. Every time my brother would doze off for a minute and have 1 really deep snore/breath, the door would open and someone else would come in to "ask a few questions".
If I may vent: The most annoying was the pharmaceutical guy. He came in to ask about medications. I thought he was there to talk about the medication they were giving him, or to set up a treatment plan to manage his pain (which he was still describing as a 7 on a 0-10 scale....pretty high if you ask me). Nope.
This guy just wanted to talk crap. "Are you allergic to anything?" (Sheesh, I hope they had already asked this, since he'd been admitted for over 12 hours by this point.) "Do you take any over the counter medications, supplements, herbs?" It was painful to watch my brother try and answer these. Just for him to say "Tylenol" and "ibuprofen" was very difficult. That was all the guy wanted to know. Oh, that and, "Do you use tabacco?" Yes, my brother shook his head. "Smoke?" Yes, another head shake. "Oh, well, in that case the CDC recommends that you receive a pneumococcal vaccine." Um, excuse me?? Wtf? Really?
At this point, I piped in. I told my brother I recommend he refuse. The "Pharmacy" guy asked why that was. So, I started asking questions of him. Does this have anything to do with his condition? What are the indications for the vaccine? Are they concerned he will be exposed to pneumonia during his stay?
The guy didn't have anything to tell me except "All smokers should receive this vaccine. The CDC recommends it." All smokers? I realize that smoking decreases your lung health and that it may make it harder for you to fight off an infection in your lungs. But seriously. He just got HIT BY A CAR. His face is smashed. He needs to heal. You want to introduce "35 different genetic codes of pneumococcal bacteria" (his words about what the virus contained) into his system when he is already compromised? Are you insane.
My brother declined the vaccine, even with the weird stares the guy was giving me.
He needs surgery to repair his jaw and plastic surgery to repair the bones in his face. They are concerned about his c-spine (cervical spine, neck bones). There is no fracture there, but lots of swelling and ligament tears. They refuse to remove his support collar to take the x-rays necessary to move forward with his jaw surgery. (Although, while I was there he was upgraded to a more comfortable collar and to put it on they had to remove the old one. I don't get it, even as a former EMT.)
It is possible he will have to wait 2 weeks for surgery. In the meantime, a PT (physical therapist) and OT (occupational therapist) have to determine whether or not he is able to go home and care for himself.
It is really very frustrating and I feel very much torn. I really, really want to be there for him. I am positive I could help at least with the understanding of his care for my mother and he. (Did that even make sense?) I feel torn b/c I want to take care of my family, and I want to be the rock for him too. It was humbling and very hard to leave the hospital today. My husband works the next 3 days and I may not be able to go there again, unless I can get someone who is willing to come into town with me and watch my kids. Also, my mom is scheduled to go on vacation next week and I am not sure that she would cancel to take care of him, if he needs it. I am more than willing to help, but I don't know if he will come to stay at my house.
Everything is kind of unknown right now. I thank God that he is alive, and that a bystander called 911 when the car that hit him drove off, leaving him unconscious in the street.
I also pray, reverently, that God will use this event to touch my brother's heart and bring him close to Him. The only love that is going to save my brother from the loneliness and sadness we've experienced is God's. For my brother to know that love, to just recognize that it *is* there, would be a true miracle.
Please, dear bloggy friends, pray for my brother's recovery. Not just from this accident, but from the emptiness, spiritual and emotional, he endures on a daily basis.
I love you, J.T. I know you're not reading this, but I will always be here for you. My heart aches for you to heal and know God's love and mercy.


Michelle said...

As you know, no one knows what God's plan is, we're just along for the ride. It only becomes clear in hind site ! Do what you can for your mom and brother from home and go to see him whenever you can. Then pray, knit, pray, knit.... You and your family will be in prayers! {hugs} Don't forget that baby inside who is still counting on you! Take care of yourself too!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sweetie! I wish I was closer so you could drop the kids off here to play on your way to the hospital!
When my daughter was in the hospital with 3rd degree burns on her feet, the traffic in her hospital room was angering, so I know exactly what you are talking about. And, as if they didn't have charts or the ability to communicate with the last seven staff members, they all asked the same questions. And, yes, the worst were the vaccine pushers! We don't immunize our kids, so we were hit pretty hard, and I kept thinking, why would we shoot a bunch of diseases into her viens while she is trying to heal from these burns? Stupid hospital staff. I am with you, Girl.
I will pray for your brother, and for you. I am sorry that you are going through this.
(I was three weeks away from having my baby when my daughters burns put her in the hospital and every nurse that came in asked me, "How far along are you? Your not going to go into labor, are you?")

laurazim said...

Heather, this is so beautifully written. I've been praying for you, knowing how the relationships in your family are, and really hoping that you and your brother would be able to be close through this--thanks be to God, it sounds like so far that's the case.

I wish, too, that I was more able to help out with the kiddos. I know that in this also, God will provide.

The shawl is lovely....

MamaMidwife said...

Thank you all for the kind words. It is wonderful to be surrounded by support and friends.

Michelle - I needed to hear that. The baby still needs me. Yes.

W&C - I love that!! I would totally drop the kids off if you were'nt 2000 miles away!! Thanks. ;) And yes, the inability for the staff to READ THE CHART was frustrating. And the vaccines (we dont vaccinate the kids either)....don't get me started.

Laura - ya know I love you. :)