When looking at the 10-day forecast this week and seeing several days of rain to come, my family and I wanted to take advantage of dry mountain-bike trails before they became unrideable for a while.
Like any other riding day, we donned our gear, loaded our bikes on the rack, and then set our destination course to Fort Yargo State Park, one of our favorite trails to ride.
Two miles into the ride, I heard a sound out of my husband, Brandon, that I’ve never before heard him utter. I knew in that instant that something was not right. Since our twins were ahead of us, I yelled for them to stop as I dropped my bike to run back to Brandon. Since our son was further ahead, I kept yelling until I heard that there were others who took over trying to stop my son.
(This was a couple, Lucretia and Edna, who was walking their 3 little dogs on the trail and had pulled to the side to let our family by on the downhill section where we encountered each other. They were literally RIGHT there at the accident site.)
You know those football slo-mo replays where you see that the player’s leg is not facing the direction it should face and you instantly divert your eyes from the screen? That was the view of my husband’s foot/ankle that I saw and this was one instant that I could not divert my eyes.
As I dropped to his side, I asked, “What do you want me to do?”
So I did, and as I did, Lucretia was instantly by my side pulling up Google Maps on her phone to see exactly where we were in the woods, so I could tell the 911 operator where to send the ambulance.
This was at 3:51pm, and by 4:08pm the paramedics were by Brandon’s side. I say this, because the following that transpired seemed like an eternity, when in reality, it wasn’t.
Backing up a bit, we could hear the sirens, but they couldn’t find the gravel road to get to us. So, I asked our 14-year-old twins to ride their bikes back on the trail, to the gravel road, and then to the main road to flag down the ambulance.
The 911 operator told me that they still could not find us, so I asked Lucretia if she minded staying with Brandon while I made my way down the trail.
I ran as fast as I could in my cycling shoes and as I made it to the gravel road, I could see the ambulance at the main road where the twins were. It was a long way off, but it was flat, so as I waved my arms they were able to see exactly where to come. They asked details about Brandon and I told them that he was about ¼ mile in on the trail. This was when they knew they’d need an ATV to get him out, and as they were sorting out those details, I made my way back to Brandon. En route, I called his mom (who was also our closest relative), told her what was happening, and asked if she’d make her way there.
Returning to Brandon, the shock had worn off and he was really beginning to feel the pain, as if it was even possible to feel it even more than he already had. We all discussed the plan as to what to do, which also served as a distraction as we awaited help. His face was pale and I gripped his hand as hard as I could, somehow hoping that any pain-free strength I had could be transferred to him.
The couple offered to take the bikes, helmets, and the kids back to their campsite at the campground which was not far off. Lucretia was texting me all her info assuring me that she was not a crazy person and that she could be trusted. I think she knew every mom’s dilemma in a moment like this. Knowing that Brandon’s mom was on her way, and that she could get the kids very soon, I agreed to the plan.
In this moment, I looked up at my daughter who was being so very strong. She was fighting a hard battle with tears that were trying to break loose at any moment. I know, because I was doing the same. I was trying so hard to stay calm for my family. She silently nodded her head, agreeing to the plan, knowing that she didn’t want Daddy to be alone either. My son was in plan mode and was also being so strong. He steeled himself in the details of the plan and what to do.
During the discussion, all the personnel had arrived and we were awaiting the ATV, which was somehow dispatched through the police department, which is why there were also 2 police personnel on the scene. One of them was a woman, who also bikes the trail we were on. She stood by me as they were preparing to load Brandon onto the stretcher and then onto the ATV. As I hugged the kids goodbye, she gave me a silent look of assurance. As I looked from the twins to Brandon, I told her that my heart has literally ripped in two and is now in two different places. Somehow, she seemed to know exactly what I was describing.
Since all was ready, I was directed to the front seat of the ATV, and I reached up behind my head to hold Brandon’s arm as we began the journey out of the woods. The driver told me that this was not going to be a fun ride for Brandon at all, as his lower leg would feel every single joint, lurch, and jerk of the trail.
He was right; it was excruciating for that bone that was was not in the correct place.
It was a loud ride with the ATV motor, so I didn’t know that in the back, they all had devised a plan for when we got to the road, since Brandon declined transport via ambulance. He had decided that a car ride would be nowhere near that amount of pain as the ATV ride, so it just made sense for me to drive him to the hospital.
As we stopped, the lady officer quickly told me the plan and that she would take me to our car, and she loaded me into her police SUV. More accurately, in the back of the SUV. I just have to pause here and give mad props to all the folks on the TV show COPS who stay upright in the back of a police car, and they’re even handcuffed! Since the bench seat was all plastic and there were no seatbelts, I had to work hard to stay in one place while being diligent about watching which way we were going so I could make my way back to that spot in the woods.
I wish I would’ve recorded all the faces of the fellow bikers as we pulled into the parking lot, and I was released from the back seat of a patty wagon. Now, looking back, I can laugh at all the blank stares and dropped jaws. 🙂
She asked if I knew my way back and I assured her I did, as I thanked her for bringing me to the car.
Approaching the paramedics and Brandon, they assisted him into the car, and we parted ways. We saw Brandon’s mom, assured the kids all would be okay, and headed to the hospital. My mom heart was grateful the kids were with family and they would be taken care of.
Calling ahead to the urgent care place, we found out that the doctor working that night specializes in the care Brandon needed, so we headed there. Once the wrap and cycling shoe was removed and the sock was cut off, Brandon saw what I had seen on the trail. This was when the gravity set in for Brandon. It set in further for us both when we saw this X-ray showing the worst of the two broken bones:
Then we heard the protocol: surgery, multiple screws placed, no weight bearing for 6 weeks, and looking at a 3 month recovery. This is tough to hear for a man that is so active. The details of work and daily life start to run through in rapid motion, as the news is digested.
Due to Brandon’s high pain tolerance, he declined the shot in the muscle to take the pain as it was reset, and instead opted for a local-only. I don’t know how the man took all the pain as the doctor proficiently and expertly reset the ankle as he casted Brandon’s lower leg. Following the casting (which is only hard on 2 sides to allow for the swelling), another X-ray confirmed that it was reset properly, and the bone was no longer jutting out.
He was set up with crutches, instructions, and a prescription to help with the pain that would come when the local wore off.
I only thought the hard stuff was behind us.
Trying to find the new norm of not bearing weight on Brandon’s right leg was a learning curve for us both in the first 24-hours, but we got it. We adjusted and regrouped until we found the most pain-free path for bathing, bathroom, sleeping, etc.
Now, we’re in the new norm in a holding pattern awaiting surgery. Now, the quiet moments are filled with the “what-ifs”, the regrets, the “should haves”, etc. When rest/sleep is out-of-reach, I believe it’s only natural to replay tragic events over and over, somehow trying to find reason, or looking for the good in the bad.
We’ve working hard to maintain the mental health as we also care for the physical health. Brandon’s already tiering off the pain meds, he’s only in the bed at night, he desires to eat at the table with us, and tonight, he joined me in the dining room, where I have a jigsaw puzzle going.
While working on the puzzle tonight, he apologized again and thanked me for all the care. I have already told him that he has nothing to apologize for, and then I told him that I’m grateful he broke his leg.
Quiet tears streamed down my cheeks as I told Brandon that it takes a lot of faith to thank God for a storm, but ever since I learned to do so, I see things so differently.
Thank you, Lord, for my husband’s broken leg.
I thought about all the Bible stories I’ve read when at the time, the person thought God had abandoned them, but when they look back, they see where God was really working behind the scenes, and they see where even though they themselves are enduring a great storm, with great pain, that somewhere in all of it (sometimes unseen to us on this side of heaven) that God is glorified, and truly had the best in mind.
What I had run through my mind a thousand times, I now said aloud to Brandon:
-I thank God because you’re here doing a puzzle with me. What if God was protecting you from a worse injury? One that could’ve been life-threatening?
-I thank God for the perfect timing/and place of the crash:
-the couple right there on the trail
-we are both off work this week
-that we were at Fort Yargo which is so close to help and not a remote place
-that we weren’t at the trail with no cell phone signal (I don’t know that I’ll want to ride that trail again)
-that our kids were old enough to ride out of the woods alone to flag down the ambulance
-that this was my greatest fear when riding (that Brandon would sustain an injury and that I wouldn’t know what to do), but that it all worked out.
-the responders who hiked in and hiked out to help us get Brandon to help
-the officer who drove me to our car
-the doctor at the urgent care was the perfect one for this injury
And this is just the list of the SEEN things.
Can you even imagine with me for one moment all the unseen details that God had completely handled?
This is why I thank God for my husband’s broken leg. For, my Lord has proven Himself faithful to me time and time again, I need not doubt Him now.
“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8