Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A series of unfortunate events and the tender mercies that saved the day.

It has been a busy couple of weeks.  Fun days in Utah with cousins, a weekend with grandparents, reuniting with our NC friends, and 5 days in Moab.  Hopefully I’ll get to some of that later.  But right now I am going to write about the coming home part of our trip, part terrible and part miraculous. 

On Saturday morning last week we got up and hiked in very early to Delicate Arch.  After our hike half of our group was ready to be done for the day and half of our group wanted to go see a few more arches.  We gave Josh the keys to the van and sent with one group back to the condos and we went further into the park.  It was several hours before we were completely exhausted and headed back to our condo in Moab.

Ken needed to stop at the grocery store on our way back and Russ & I stayed in the car to wait for him.  As we were sitting there I noticed that a voicemail had popped up on my cell phone once we were out of the “no cell phone service” area of Arches, but I didn’t recognize the number.  I hit the button and sat and listened to the voicemail, never expecting to hear what I heard.  It went something like this:

Hello, this is _____, a nurse at the hospital here in Moab.  Your son Josh has had a biking accident and is in the emergency room now.  We need you to come to the hospital…

I’m sure she said something else but I honestly have no clue what, because at that point my brain shut down.  Josh has been bmx biking for about a year now, and it had never occurred to me at any point that he could be hurt—but listening to this message opened up a whole world of new possibilities, none of them good.  I called Ken who quickly came back out to the car and took us over to the ER.  This is what we saw.


(just so you know—I didn’t take a picture of Josh until I knew that he was going to be ok.)

This is all we know about what happened.  After Josh got back to the condo he was bored, so he decided to go ride his bmx bike at the course there in Moab.  He’d ridden there every day that we’d been in Moab and had been having a great time.  He left the condo about 9:30.

 IMG_7098 (They went by on their way out of town to take some pictures of the bmx course.)

At some point he had an accident, and around 10:30 some local kids found him there off of his bike.  We’re not sure if he was unconscious when they found him, but they called 911 and by the time the police came he was able to tell them his name and identify his car.  The EMS people came and transported him (on a backboard because he said his neck was really hurting) to the hospital.  (Which ironically was across the street.)  At the hospital they did a CT scan of his head, his face, and his neck.  His head and neck were fine, but he had 3 fractures of the bone around his eye on his left side.  (Also some abrasions on his neck on that side.)  Fortunately the fractures didn’t displace at all so they should heal without a problem.  He also has a severe concussion.  The doctors warned us that he would be confused and forget everything and ask the same questions over and over again, and he did.

Although I felt terrible that it had taken us so long to get the cell phone message, the nurse assured us that it was actually better for us to have arrived after they knew what was going on rather than to have had to wait to find out how he was.  This way they could tell us that his neck was ok, that there was no bleeding in his brain, and that he was going to be ok.  The doctor also emphasized that this really was the best case scenario, and that most of the bike accident victims that they saw weren’t able to walk out of the ER like Josh did later that day.  We are enormously grateful for this blessing, even more so after I got a text from the EMS guy the next day saying that that day they had picked up one biker with a broken jaw and another with a broken neck.

Josh walked out of the ER wearing two hospital gowns because they cut his clothes off of him when they brought him into the ER.  We dropped the gowns off the next morning on our way out of town and asked them for some of the disposable bags used for vomiting, since they had warned us that he had thrown up a number of times after getting to the ER and was likely to become nauseated again.  They handed me a big stack which I was sure was overkill but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have them. 

The doctor said that Josh would need to see a doctor as soon as we got back to Oregon.  Because of the new information on long-term problems with concussions they are now monitored carefully, and the patient is gradually released to do different activities.  As the doctor was explaining this and asking when we would be home again I told him we were driving the next day (Sunday) up to the Salt Lake area and then driving the day after that (Monday) back to Oregon because Josh’s older brother was getting home from his mission on Wednesday.  “I guess Josh isn’t going to be able to help me drive, is he?” I asked the doctor.  He told me it was going to be a while before Josh could drive again.

I wasn’t too worried about the driving part because a couple of months ago Alisyn and I had decided that she along with Elise and Connor would drive home to Oregon with us so that they could see Jason when he got home from his mission and before Elise left on her mission.  I figured that I could drive most of the way home and Alisyn could drive for a while so I could get a nap.


We drove back up to Bountiful on Sunday, dropped Russ off at the airport, returned Abigail and Benjamin to their parents, had dinner with Laila’s family, and went to sleep up at Russ’s parent’s house.  Monday morning we got up at early (not Delicate Arch early, but still very early for me) and we were at the airport to pick up Alisyn, Elise, and Connor by 7:15AM.  We loaded their bags and were on our way Oregon bound within just a few minutes. 

Before we had been driving for an hour my stomach started hurting.  I was really annoyed because I’d had a couple of really great stomach days and had been optimistic that the regimen of prilosec that I’d been on was finally working.  I took some tums and ate some saltines but it didn’t help—the pain kept increasing.  Finally I pulled off at a gas station and told Alisyn that I needed her to drive because my stomach was hurting so much.  She hadn’t been driving too long before I realized that not only was my stomach hurting, but I was also feeling terribly nauseated.  I fished around in all of the stuff around my seat in the van and found the unused bags from the hospital, pulled one off the stack, and found that yes indeed, they worked very well for vomiting. 

I don’t remember much of that drive. Josh slept in the back, I felt sick in the front, and Alisyn and Elise took turns driving and got us to Boise by early afternoon.  By that point I was sure that I couldn’t go any farther so I texted my friend Megan and told her what was going on and asked if we could come to her house while we figured out what to do next.  I laid down at her house for about an hour while Megan and Alisyn found some hotel rooms.  At that point I realized that I was feeling worse instead of better, and I asked Alisyn to take me to urgent care. 

Because this experience felt so similar to my episode of pain/vomiting that landed me in the hospital in the fall I had figured that it would be resolved quickly.  Unfortunately it didn’t work that way.  In the urgent care they couldn’t give as strong of pain medicine as they could in the ER last fall, and because it turned out that I actually had a virus (norovirus) they couldn’t make my body stop throwing up, just slow it down some.  They did give me 2 bags of IV fluids because I was so dehydrated, and when that was done they sent me on my way with Alisyn. 

Alisyn said that she thought about taking a picture of me with the purse cam, but I looked so awful that she didn’t.  All I know is that I was miserable and I had crazy chills the whole time I was there.  I was huddled on the exam room table with Megan’s blanket (which I will disinfect before I send back!!) and two blankets from the clinic and I was still cold a lot of the time. 

While I was getting treated at the clinic Alisyn had gone back to Megan’s for dinner (can’t you just tell what a wonderful person Megan is?!?) and then taken the kids to the hotel so that they could swim.  Then she came back and picked me up and took me to the hotel.  When I got to the hotel they said that Josh has only been in the pool for a little while before deciding he was too tired to swim and that he had gone to bed.  I climbed into the other bed and settled down for a night of restless sleep interrupted regularly by vomiting. 

Around 2 or 3 in the morning I could tell that the shot of anti-nausea medicine had worn off because it wasn’t making me sleep anymore.  I was even more miserable then—my body felt all tense and exhausted at the same time, it hurt every time I breathed, and I still needed to throw up every half hour or so.  I finally decided that I was going to try taking a bath to see if it would help.  I threw up one more time, then climbed into the bathtub.  It was a small-ish bathtub, but just the right size so that I could stretch out in it and lean my head on the side of the tub.  I did that, and much to my surprise I fell asleep.  I woke up a little while later, put in a little more warm water, leaned my head the other way, and fell asleep again.  By the time I woke up the next time the water was not very warm and I felt much better.  I dressed and climbed back in the bed and slept until at least 9 the next morning, with no more nausea.

We weren’t in too much of a hurry to leave the hotel because we didn’t want to hit Portland during rush hour, but we finally got all loaded up and ready to go.  I felt so incredibly better than the day before, which is always such an amazing feeling.  It was only when we loaded the car that I realized that now Elise wasn’t feeling well, which meant that Elise wasn’t going to be doing any driving.  Alisyn drove for a while, then I drove for a while, then she drove while I tried to nap, and I drove the last two hours so that she didn’t have to deal with Portland traffic and crazy roads.    We got home around 6:30 and I’m not sure I have ever been so relieved to have made it home, only about 18 hours before Jason was supposed to return.


I’m not sure at what point I realized the miracle of the whole situation.  Last week when I’d looked forward to driving home I’d assumed that we would have 4 drivers.  Then when Josh was out of commission because of his concussion I thought it would be ok because we had 3 drivers and I’d driven the whole way by myself before.  I never ever expected that I would be completely unable to drive that first day and that Alisyn and Elise would have to do all of the driving themselves.   I remember trying to figure out as we drove north from Ogden where I could go to be sick because I was feeling so terrible.  I think if Alisyn and Elise had not been with us I would have had to go to my dad’s house because I just wasn’t able to go any farther on my own.  Which would have meant that Jason would have gotten to the airport and only Russ would have been there to see him—and that would have been sad.  I’m not sure when I would have felt strong enough to make the drive home, even taking two days to do it.  I’ve felt absolutely hammered today, just from doing a couple of hours of driving yesterday.  And what are the odds that I would have a car full of throw up bags?  (Sorry—I have no clue what they’re actually called.) 

Every now and then when I see something like this in my life, when I absolutely know that the Lord has set something in motion long before my need arises, and I am beyond amazed at His care and concern for me. 


Today when I hugged Jason in the airport and he said “Mom, it’s so good to see you,” all I could think was how close he came to not seeing me today.  And how grateful I was that we were all there…


  1. That is quite a crazy story indeed!!! And it does sound just like what I had last fall except that I didn't throw up as much and by the time I went to urgent care and got medication, it did help me stop throwing up. But it was the same where I woke up one morning feeling a little off, and then had horribly intense stomach pain and then started throwing up and couldn't stop! It was awful. I hope that you are feeling 100% again soon and I am so glad you were all there to see Jason! We can't wait to see him in 2 weeks!!!!!!!!

  2. What an amazing series of unfortunate events to be sure!!!! What an awesome blessing to have that help that turned out to be so desperately needed. Glad you all made it back to your boy safely! Hope it does not take too long to get back to normal! All I kept thinking was "she's never going to want to make that drive EVER AGAIN!"

  3. The entire time I was reading this I was thinking being sick and traveling is the worst! Throwing up so much is the worst! Reminded me of the visit Sam and I took to Laila's while she was living in Pennsylvania. Not to mention going to the hospital out of state is the worst! ugh! Glad that experience is all behind you and that Jason is safely home, and that Josh is healing!

  4. WHAT!?! I can't imagine getting a call like that from a hospital... and then getting the norovirus on top of it all? What a story you'll have to remember for always. :) I'm so glad that things 'worked out'... welcome home, Jason!

  5. I'm glad Megan could help! And that you are safely home. Welcome home, Jason!

  6. So glad we could help! I can tell you've been training yourself to see the Lord's hand in the details because that is certainly a lot of "unfortunate events" one after the other, and it would be so easy to focus on the bad. Glad you made it home to be there for Jason & that most of the rest of you escaped the virus!