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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hit the Brakes

One of the hardest things about nursing school has not been the course work or the hours (though I know I have only just begun), but rather the reversal of my role as a wife and mother.  I still am those things, but the execution of those responsibilities has definitely changed.  For example:

Aaron had a back injury that he was nursing along until Saturday when he went for a walk.  Ben joined him but rode on his bike. He accidentally ran full force into Aaron's right leg going about 5 mph.  It knocked Aaron to the ground and the intermittent back pain and leg tingling became constant and excruciating. We went to the ER and they gave Aaron some happy pills and sent him on his way. 

The pain was supposed to gradually get better, but instead it got worse, the bottom of Aaron's feet became numb and tingly and he lost all reflexes in his Achilles tendon.  Try walking and climbing stairs when your spinal cord is not communicating with your muscles.  Aaron shuffles around like a old man crossed with someone with mild cerebral palsy.

This morning I got up to go to clinical and Aaron was yet again worse.  Old Lauren would have left aside the thing at hand for the most needful thing. The new Lauren can only miss a certain number of clinical hours or she will be kicked out of the nursing program, so even though every fiber of my being (cheesy, I know) was screaming, telling me to stay and help, I steeled my shoulders, kissed Aaron goodbye and left for class.  

I can't help feeling like I abandoned someone I love in their time of need.  I have had ample opportunities to practice a principle my professors have drilled into us over the past three weeks; separate your home and work life.  When something bad happens at home you don't let it spill over onto your patients and colleagues. When the sadness of working with sick people overwhelms you, you can't let it spill over to your family.

So I smiled and laughed as I pretended to be an 89 year old patient with advanced rheumatoid arthritis being spoon fed, and my mouth swabbed.  I nodded at the right moments when we discussed the nursing process.  I chatted with classmates about what kind of nurse we want to be, but the whole time my mind and heart were back in Craftsbury.  Worried about Aaron, worried about Sophie who stayed home from school to help Aaron in my place, worried about Noah who missed preschool because it was one piece of the puzzle that I couldn't fix in the time allotted.  Worried about Ben and Jacob who I had to rush through their morning routine so that I wouldn't be too horribly late for class.  Worried that I wasn't in the right place, but knowing all at the same time that there "is a time and a season" and for whatever reason the Lord said now is the time.

oh, p.s.  I know I am still the same person, with the same goals and desires, I have just added another facet to my gem of a life!

Monday, September 01, 2014

It Is Done

For months I have neglected this blog because there was one thing I wanted to write about, one thing I needed to process, to get out there.  But it was a topic that was too painful, too fresh, too sensitive to put out there.  Maybe I am over thinking it, but as I begin thinking about what to write, I feel those emotions rising.   Still, I think it is time to do this. 

April 13th Noah was attacked by a dog.  It wasn't just a single bite, but multiple bites and scratches all over his body.  It was such a scary experience for everyone. Noah has physical scars but everyone involved has emotional scars that heal much more slowly than the physical scars.  

I keep trying to decide whether I tell the whole story because it is real, it happened to us, and it changed us or to keep to the basics because it was a hellish experience that no one should ever have to experience so why lay it all out there?  I am hoping that this writing process will help bring peace to the whole internal battle.

We were visiting with family when Ben ran inside and said the dog was attacking Noah.  I don't remember the path to get to Noah, I got there on pure instinct.   I saw Noah on the ground and his pant leg was nearly ripped off.  I grabbed him and my brother handled the dog. I brought Noah inside and laid him on the table and saw the first bite on his lower back it was about an inch long, but wide open.  I knew he needed to go to the hospital so Aaron and I got in the car. 

I remember asking if it was ok for me to hold Noah on my lap rather than buckle him in is booster seat.  I couldn't imagine letting him out of my arms.  Noah was crying and as I tried to calm him I started looking Noah over to see what the extent of the damage was.  I thought because I was going to be a nurse I had to learn to deal with trauma, but when I discovered the bite on his chest turned out with fatty tissue exposed I could't look any more.  I couldn't relax to care for Noah because Aaron was driving fast, but I was worried about an accident because Noah wasn't in his booster seat.  

My Dad called the ambulance and they recommended that if you feel like you have to speed, call the ambulance so we did and we met the ambulance half way.  I climbed into the back because that is what I have seen in every single movie involving an ambulance.  They informed me that I couldn't stay in the back.  I told them I was going to nursing school and that I thought I could stay, but I learned it is a liability issue.  Never trust anything you see in a movie!  As I rode in the front of the ambulance I learned that they don't go fast.  If the road is flat and smooth they go faster, but if it is bumpy or curvy they go slowly so that the people can work on the patient safely.

While I went to the hospital in the ambulance Aaron and my Dad went back to the house because Sophie had been bitten as well.  I can't explain the pit in my stomach when I realized that I had just scooped up one child without assessing the situation to see if anyone else was hurt.  Luckily they were in good hands.  When Sophie arrived at the hospital, just to make sure her bites were ok, I learned that she had received them as she jumped in to pull to dog off of Noah multiple times.  I don't know that I will ever be able to match her bravery.  I can't imagine how scary it would have been to go after an attacking dog over and over.

I stayed in the room the whole time they worked on Noah with the exception of when I went to Sophie's room for her examination.  I watched as they discovered more and more bites.  I watched as they pieced back together the skin on his chest, amazed that they know how to match the ragged edges together.  I even watched as a student doctor stitched Noah's chest together, worried that as a student she wouldn't to it as well, but knowing that I couldn't say no because as a future student nurse I would have to learn by doing.

The doctors and nurses kept asking if I was sure I wanted to stay in there, and I kept thinking that as a nurse I was going to have to deal with situations like this.  It wasn't until several days later when I talked to our primary care doctor and she expressed intense emotions and I realized it was ok for nursing professionals to be shocked and scared by things.

Now the months have gone by and it isn't so fresh and raw.  Noah is healing beautifully, the student doctor did an excellent job.  Noah didn't sleep well for awhile but that too has regulated.  He is still nervous around moving dogs, and he is very vocal when kids chase him or touch him without permission, but he is ok.  He is alive, and he has all his parts and pieces.  

I know many people have been curious about all of this.   We are lucky (thanks to Sophie and Ben) that he is alive.   I try really hard not to think about what might have been, or how close we came to losing our sweet boy.  I try not to ask or question the "would of, could of, should of" of it all. It was horrible, but we have come out stronger for it and hope that others may find peace in all of this as well.
Left leg, backside
Left leg, front side
Chest.  Ugly thing isn't it?  Noah wouldn't even look at it for awhile.
Left lower back.  The stitches at the top are from the first wound I saw that was wide enough to fit a grape in.
Right buttock. 
Left hip
Right buttock
Right inner thigh leading right up into the groin.  There was a red mark on his genitals, but thankfully it didn't break the skin.
These were all taken three days after.  I keep meaning to take pictures now so that you can all see how well he has healed, but I think I have given up on that. These are recent photos of Noah.