We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Summer to Bring You Something Entirely Different

"Do not boast about tomorrow, 
For You do not know what a day may bring forth."

Proverbs 27:1

Summer had been humming merrily along. Take last Wednesday, for example. I worked on lesson planning while Jonathan finished his two-day orientation at IU, registering for his fall freshman classes. (Calculus, computer science, Medieval Heroes, a history course about the mafia, plus a 1 hour jiu-jitsu class for fun.) Peter registered for a dual credit English Comp class from Ivy Tech, and I took Amanda to get her driver's license learner's permit. She and Faith also attended their Intro to Biology class at IU taught by their brother-in-law, Collin. Tim was engaged in a bidding war for a cute little fixer-upper house. (We eventually lost.) Later, Kara, Collin, and daughters came over for dinner and some blueberry picking. Busy, productive, relatively carefree.

Then came Thursday. It started as the quietest day of the summer. In fact, by late afternoon, I did something that I almost never do - I began to watch a movie. While I folded laundry and did some hand sewing I popped The King's Speech into my computer. Dinner was in the crock pot, and we were expecting Jonathan, who had gone mountain biking after finishing his work at WalMart, to bring home the friend he was biking with. And then came the phone call from Jonathan's friend.

"Jonathan's had a bike accident. He's conscious, and I've called 911."

CT scan of a "Chance Fracture" spinemd.com
Tim and I hopped in the truck for the drive to the mountain bike park not knowing what to expect. By the time we arrived there were two ambulances and a fire truck. We found the EMTs loading Jonathan onto a backboard and then making the relatively short hike out to the parking lot, and we followed them to the hospital. Jonathan had movement of his arms and legs, for which we praised God, but we knew little else about his injuries. In the ER Jonathan, fully lucid by this time, was able to tell us what had happened. He had flipped over his handlebars while attempting a jump, possibly bumping his head, but landing hard on his back, almost undoubtedly on a rock. He'd been unconscious for a while, though it seemed to him to be a dream.

First, we learned he had no internal injuries and that his head and neck were just fine. Praise God! The next report wasn't so good: Jonathan had cracked his T-8 vertebra in two places. It looked like there was some bleeding going on in the region. His particular injury is called a Chance Fracture after a Dr. Chance. (T stands for Thoracic, which means his injury is in the middle of his back. Far, far better than a cervical injury in the neck region, a more common mountain bike injury. After reading about mountain bike accidents, I've learned that spine injuries are not infrequent, and that helmets, while great for preventing brain injuries, are useless when it comes to neck and spine injuries, all too common when flipping over handlebars. Very sobering to this avid cyclist and mama to many cyclists.)

Throughout the process, we have seen the tender mercies of the Lord. One of the first beyond the fact that Jon wasn't paralyzed was that the ER doctor turned out to be a man Tim had met with a year ago to talk about homeschooling. (Believe it or not, Tim's plumber had been the one who hooked them up.) Once he knew who Tim was, the ER doctor's care went  from purely professional to also kindly personal. Also, the neurosurgeon on call for the weekend "happened" to be "the very best," as we were told over and over from many sources.

Because of the extent of his injuries and trauma, Jonathan was admitted. The best remedy to stabilize the back would be surgery involving screws and pins placed into the vertebrae directly above and below the broken one, but because of the bleeding, that couldn't take place until Saturday. Surgery went well, though the doctor found the damage more extensive than the MRI and CT scans had shown. Eventually the three vertebrae will fuse together. Because of the location in the mid-back, Jonathan should lose virtually no flexibility. In fact, in 6-12 months, the doctor says Jon shouldn't be able to tell he even had the accident. (He will have a nice long scar down his back, though.)

Now for the funny (unless you are Peter) part. Sunday night Tim was bringing the kids in to see their brother. All were loaded in the van, but Peter remembered he had wanted to bring some board games. In his haste to return to the van, he leaped down the stairs, slamming his head into the bulkhead/ceiling at the bottom of the stairs, splitting his head wide open. I met Tim at the ER door, taking the other children upstairs while he stayed with Peter until he'd been cleaned up and put back together with eight staples. Until this week we'd made just two trips to the ER in 27 years of parenting, and then in just four days we doubled that. (Peter's biggest frustration is that the ER doc told him to lay off running for 4-5 days, which he immediately halved in his anxiety to return to his loved sport.)
 
We were able to come home on Monday. Jonathan is getting around moderately well, wearing a back brace any time he is up for more than 15 minutes. Every time I watch him walk, I am reminded of God's mercy to him and to us. He's still running a fever due to a condition called atelectasis, which means that he's having trouble breathing deeply enough to really fill his lungs. Jon's working hard with a spirometer to try to prevent a more serious problem from this, and we think he may be making progress. It's going to be a long process, and we would certainly appreciate your prayers for his recovery!
8 Responses
  1. JonMelFarm Says:

    Anne,
    I will be praying for your family. So thankful it wasn't worse! It's been a long time....I hope you're otherwise doing well. We've added another little one to our family. Eliana Rose was born in October. She is a sweetheart, but the last year has been quite a challenge.
    Your friend,
    Melissa


  2. Anne Says:

    Melissa,
    Congratulations on Eliana's birth! She's #8, right? I would love to talk - please give me a call if you find a spare moment. (Evenings generally work best for me.)


  3. JonMelFarm Says:

    Yes! Sounds great! I would love to catch up :)


  4. Anne Says:

    Melissa - Wasn't that crazy that we ran into each other today?!!! Hope you have a great time away. I'll look forward to talking to you soon.


  5. SarahD Says:

    Anne, thanks for sharing all these details so we can pray for y'all. I am thanking God with you for protecting your sons from worse damage, and praying that recovery is complete and speedy.


  6. Michal Says:

    Thanks for the detailed update. I hadn't heard about Peter. Oh, dear. When it rains, it pours. I'm bummed that you guys disn't get the house on 7th Street, but we know it wasn't best for your family if God prevented it.

    Love,
    Michal


  7. Anne Says:

    Sarah - Thanks so much for praying!

    Michal - The funny thing is I was doing OK until we got home from the hospital and read the email saying we hadn't gotten the 7th St. house. That put me over the edge. Isn't that stupid? But you are so right - God is in control, and we wouldn't want this house if He didn't want us to have it!

    And Peter's just fine. The kids at youth group said it looks like he has braces on the top of his head. ;)


  8. Grace Halsey Says:

    What an amazing story, Anne! We are so glad everyone is okay and will be praying for Jonathan and Peter as they recover.