Family,  Health, Wellness, & Self Care,  Homeschooling,  Travel

Fracture: an update on our unexpectedly-upended family

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Our family has been going through some things. Some hard things.

My dear husband has been struggling for a few weeks with some personal things. I’ve been uncertain how to help him through these things other than to remain calm, quiet, and give him space to process said things.

Last Wednesday morning (March 4th), he felt that he needed some time off of work to “get away” as a family. Our anniversary was coming up and he already had two extra days off scheduled to spend some extra time with me. Our marriage has been a bit tumultuous the last two years especially, and we both needed that time to reconnect.

He made the decision to take a few extra days and drive me and the boys up to my parents’ Chicago-area home for the weekend. While our family was there, he knew that he would be able to have both time alone as well as extra time that we could spend together while my parents took care of our boys. We even made a dinner reservation at the hotel where we had eaten on our wedding night.

Our visit to my parents’ home was productive, healing, and probably the best family trip we had ever taken. The boys got some much-needed time with their grandparents whom they don’t see nearly enough.

Fracture: an update on our unexpectedly-upended family
Grandma Jeannie Stories – but in real life with real cuddles!

Fracture: an update on our unexpectedly-upended family

We took a family trip to the Adler Planetarium to go along with our creation science study. (We are on Day 4 right now, where God created the sun, moon, stars, and planets.)

Adler Planetarium telescope

Russ took a lot of long walks by himself and engaged in dedicated Bible study. I had time alone, one-on-one time with Ezra, and Russ and I took a long walk together as well. The boys and I visited some of the local Little Free Libraries.

Little Free Library Batavia Illinois

We also all got to spend some time with my grandfather who lives in an assisted living facility. My grandfather is only 6-months removed from the loss of his wife of over six decades, so I think he really enjoyed the time with our family.

Heritage Woods Batavia Illinois family
Ezra reading his favorite Bible passage to Grandpa Jack – Colossians 1:14-18

Our dinner date was lovely. We laughed so hard we cried, and it was just what we needed to reconnect in ways we hadn’t in a long time.

Atwater's Geneva Illinois anniversary dinner

Atwater's Geneva Illinois anniversary dinner

Atwater's Geneva Illinois anniversary dinner

I know that we were all dreading the 13-15 hour trip home on Sunday – especially given that we were losing an hour due to Daylight Savings time as well as losing an hour crossing from Central into Eastern Time. We had everything packed up the night before (Saturday) and put the boys to bed a little bit later. Our plan was to get up about 2 AM, get the sleeping kids in the car, and get a very early start home to North Carolina.

All was ready to go – Russ and LB already in our rental vehicle with the engine running. I picked up Ezra to carry him to the vehicle. In moving my way down the steps from the house in the garage, I took a bad fall. I instantly knew something horrible had happened and began screaming in agony at the pain. I honestly am unable to explain exactly how I fell or how Ezra made it to the garage floor unharmed other than a slight bonk on his forehead next to his eye. But I ended up lying on the floor, my head resting on the steps, in both shock and excruciating pain.

My parents were woken up by the commotion and they called an ambulance for me. They took over with our boys while my husband and I took a romantic anniversary ride in the ambulance to the local emergency room.

After a few hours in the ER and multiple x-rays, I was diagnosed with multiple fractures. My tibia was completely broken just below the shin and there are two breaks in the fibula at the bottom (in the ankle area).

anniversary hospital coffee emergency room Delnor Hospital Geneva IL family

As posted to Beautiful Messy Marriage on Facebook:

Today is our 12th anniversary. We marked the occasion with a romantic ambulance ride and a cup of hospital coffee.

I’m out of town and broke my leg in 3 places at 2am.

It’s a long story…how we got here.

Our 12 years have not been perfect. There have been fractures and breaks that have needed x-rayed, splinted, and casted. But time heals. And like a muscle that creates scar tissue to heal around a fractured bone, time has healed many of our wounds. Others are still healing. Still others remain splinted and casted.

But through it all, we are one flesh and I know God is in this.

Because, after 12 years, he’s still the one who drops everything to make sure I get into the ambulance safely. He’s the one who remembers to put some Burt’s Bees on my lips while they are wheeling my stretcher into the hospital. He’s the one whose hand I squeeze with all my might when the pain during x-rays and splinting is too great to bear. He’s the one who takes my phone away so I can rest and tells people not to call or text me. He’s the one who writes love notes on styrofoam cups and gently helps me change out of my “paper scrubs” into regular clothes. He’s the one who brings me a venti vanilla chai with extra shots and a slice of anniversary cake. He’s the one who calls doctors and nurses about my pain management when I’m the one who usually handles these kinds of things.

He’s the one.

“I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go.” Song of Solomon 3:4

emergency room Delnor Hospital Geneva IL family anniversary fractured leg

I was released with a script for narcotic pain medication and instructions to followup with an orthopedic doctor the following day. The doctor concluded that I would need surgery to repair the breaks.

Fracture: an update on our unexpectedly-upended family
Our anniversary night and our last evening together for a long time: we watched Stargate SG-1 and couldn’t even cuddle!


anniversary cake family
Continuing our Anniversary Cake Tradition. Our 12th Anniversary Cake reads, “Broke bone, not heart. 08-20”

We had to make a decision on what to do with our family. My parents live 740 miles from our home in North Carolina. My pain levels were very high. If we had tried to return home, I would have had to have been on blood thinners to avoid blood clots.

The same day that I fell, my husband’s 90-year-old and rapidly-declining grandmother (my mother-in-law’s mother) who lives near us in North Carolina fell and broke her hip and her jaw and was admitted to hospice. As my mother-in-law is her primary caregiver, we knew she would be unable to devote the needed time and attention to my recovery should we return to North Carolina for the surgery. It seemed pretty obvious from the get-go that I and the boys should remain in Illinois with my parents for the time being, and Russ would return to North Carolina for work. What a blessing it is that we are homeschooling! Aside from Ezra’s weekly-counseling appointments – we had no commitments for which to rush home. This is how we proceeded through this past week.

Monday through Thursday (March 9-12) were filled with a lot of ups and downs for all of us, both physically and emotionally. I’ve been on round-the-clock narcotic pain medication which causes a lot of drowsiness, but did provide a good bit of relief as well. My parents arranged a twin bed to be moved into their living room which has french doors that can close, providing my own private bedroom with first-floor access and close access to a half-bathroom. I can close the doors and turn on a fan at any time to get some quiet to sleep. I’ve been binge-watching TV when I can’t sleep.

Fracture: an update on our unexpectedly-upended family

family home bedside

As far as the boys go, they are being real troopers.

My parents raised four children of their own, three of them very active boys. As my dad says, they have “previous rodeo experience” in the parenting department. That said, my children’s needs are beyond typical. My parents (due to their geographical distance from our family) haven’t had extended periods of time around my kids. For the boys, a change in living space is hard; but a change to a new set of authority figures on top of that is even harder. So it’s been an adjustment for everyone. Tuesday brought a lot of meltdowns. I think it really hit Ezra that we were going to be here for a while and Grandma and Grandpa do a lot of things differently. All I could really do was lie in bed helpless and listen to him scream, and that was really hard.

My mom is quickly catching on to Ezra’s triggers as well as the intricacies in timing of his medication around not just dosing time but his moods, eating schedule, and transition between activities. It’s really more of an art than a science.

We are also learning the value of dividing and conquering, using separation of the boys from each other as a quick-fix strategy when they are either getting too wound up or on the verge of fighting or melting down. I was fairly lucid Tuesday through Thursday and was able to participate in some limited activities with the boys.

On Wednesday, my mom had to take MY grandfather (who lives in a local assisted living facility) to urgent care for a possible eye infection. Ezra, LB and I spent several hours snuggling in my bed watching shows on my laptop.


While she was gone, she also picked up some groceries for my picky children and hit Dollar Tree to pick up some toys, puzzles, and low-key homeschool materials for them. Another blessing is her local library, along with any book we could possibly dream of, also has many children’s games and puzzles available for patron loan.

Because we started homeschooling in June and have already logged over 200 days on our attendance sheet, I’m not concerned with them “falling behind” or anything like that. My mom and I partnering to provide homeschool materials for them is more to give them a sense of normalcy as well as to give them things to do with me which will allow them to feel connected to me.

My mother-in-law sent us some things from home. An online friend sent us some puzzles and a church friend sent us a lap tray (and a few other goodies for Mommy). A few other people have told me more care packages are on the way.

family preschool

space colorforms
Space Colorforms were a huge hit with LB and made Mommy happy because they go along with our current homeschooling science unit!

I had spent the week before we left time listening to the audio version of The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah MacKenzie, and the timing could not have been more perfect. This book talks about the value of reading together as a family. Right now, reading to my kids is one of the ONLY things I can do for them, and it has been just as much of a comfort to me as I believe it has been to them.

My surgery was yesterday (Friday, March 13th) around 10 AM. It went as expected, I think, but may have taken longer than initially projected.

The doctor did mention after to my mom that the incisions were longer than planned, and he didn’t want me to be alarmed by that. Scars are the least of my worries.

Recovery was brutal. Even with the nerve block and “happy juice” my pain was at an 8-9 out of 10. They had to give me 2 back-to-back doses of Dilaudid. I also had my standard reaction to anesthesia of shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. Then the Dilaudid knocked me back to sleep, so it took a few hours longer than expected before I was awake enough to eat some crackers, pee, and change to go home. I got back to my parents’ house about 4PM.

Even though I’m in pain I already feel more stability in the breaks. I couldn’t take any Motrin before the surgery. Now that surgery over, I can add that back into the rotation for pain relief. I’m hoping to wean off the narcotic sooner rather than later to avoid any issues of addiction.

Last night my pain was pretty intense. I’m also still having random bouts of shaking as the anesthesia continues to exit my system. I ended up sitting up in bed for about two hours in the middle of the night watching a show just to distract myself from it all.

Back in North Carolina, Russ returned to work on Wednesday. He’s struggling to sleep with me gone and says that the house is “too quiet.” Also, his grandmother passed away yesterday. There isn’t going to be a service locally, but please keep the family in your prayers as they finalize arrangements.

I have a post-surgery follow-up appointment on Monday. Hopefully, at that appointment, I can get more information on what hardware I’m now sporting in my leg and recovery and travel recommendations. At this point, no travel plans have been made for our return home and we are planning on being here in Illinois most likely another week or two. There’s so many unknowns right now and a lot of moving pieces to fall into just the right place: my recovery progress and pain levels, my mother-in-law’s ability to assist with my kids upon my return home, finances, and, of course, COVID-19 precautions to consider.

Right now our family feels fractured, splintered, and stretched further than ever before. I know that prior experiences like our two deployments, my two cesarean sections, and my hospitalization a few years ago have prepared us for this – but it is still unexpected. No matter how you cut it, this is just SO HARD on all of us.

Specifically, we need prayer for rapid and thorough recovery so that I can go back to being wife and mom and caring for my family. Russ and I need wisdom in knowing the best how-and-when for me and the boys to return home. In the mean time, Russ needs peace of mind and the ability to sleep without anxiety while living on his own without me. My mom especially needs strength as her caregiving abilities are once again called upon. My mom has chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, an on-going foot issue of her own, and my dad, grandpa, and older brother who also lives here to care for. Pray for both of my parents to have wisdom in how to be substitute parent figures for our challenging kiddos.

Thank you for listening/reading our saga. I apologize for anything that doesn’t make sense due to my lack of lucidity due to pain medication.


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