Friday, March 1, 2013

1 Year Ago Today...

1 year ago today - March 1, 2012 - I received the phone call that every cop's wife dreads. Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as it could've been - my hubs was actually able to make the call himself. I will tell you this though, you never want to hear the words "don't panic, but" when your spouse has to put on a bullet proof vest to go to work every day. There is always panic. I live in a perpetual state of panic for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week.

"I'm on my way to the hospital" was the line that followed. NOT helping the panic situation any!!! During a routine drug stop, the perpetrator decided to make a run for it, assaulting both my husband and his partner in the process. He told me he was pretty sure his ankle was broken, and he would need me to come to the hospital and pick him up.

So, I called my sister to come and stay with the kids while I went to retrieve my broken spouse. I couldn't believe it when I walked into that ER and saw him. He looked so, scared.  It was really difficult to see him there, half in uniform and half in a hospital gown, in pain and looking so small in that hospital bed. I couldn't wait to gather him up and take him home. I just wanted to hold him.

When the Orthopedic Resident came in to apprise us of the situation,  I was definitely not prepared for what I heard next. I was not going to get to gather my husband up and take him home. He was not going anywhere. All three bones in his ankle were broken, and it was severely dislocated. The ER doc tried unsuccessfully to reset the dislocation for the next 3 hours. Jay was going to need surgery, ASAP.

Surgery? I couldn't believe it. We had so many questions and so many things to work out. Who was going to watch the kids? What was I going to do about work? What happened next was a series of things that would stretch out into the l-o-n-g-e-s-t two weeks of my life. Surgery was scheduled for the next day. During that operation they reset the dislocation and attached a piece of hardware to the outside of his leg to keep the ankle in place. Literally screwed it right through the skin into his shin - it was awful. A second surgery would be scheduled to repair the actual breaks in the bones as soon as the swelling from the dislocation went down. That ended up taking five very long days. In the interim, Jay had to attempt to walk (with a walker) with this giant contraption literally screwed into his leg, and he had a terrible reaction to both the anesthesia and the pain medications. He was vomiting for days, 12 days to be exact.

During his two week stay at the hospital, we received A TON of support from his colleagues and those in charge at his command. There were officers there with him most of the time, which was a great comfort to me since I had to go back and forth with the kids and couldn't be there as much as I wanted to be.  My in-laws were wonderful. Jay's dad sat with him all day, every day. They helped out with baby M a lot. The first week he was there,  the kids didn't see him at all. After the second surgery he was put on an orthopedic floor, so I was able to bring them up. It was so difficult for Jay, because the boys couldn't handle seeing him that way and only came up to visit once. Luckily, I was able to bring M up daily for short visits. I think the hardest part for him was being away from the two things he loves the most. His family and his job.

It was a very hard time for me. This was the longest we had ever been apart since we started living together three years earlier. He had never been away from baby M. I was juggling trying to find sitters, driving back and forth to the hospital twice a day, trying to be there for him and still take care of my kids. It was exhausting. I missed my partner.

I also had to make a plan for our family for the next four months. That's right folks, recovery time was count 'em...1,2,3,4 months! There was no walking at all for the first six weeks, then six weeks in a walking boot, and that was followed by about a month of learning how to walk again in a regular sneaker. He was unable to drive until the walking boot came off, so I had to drive him back and forth to physical therapy three times per week. In the beginning I had to help him shower and get dressed. He wasn't able to carry M, or do any household chores, so all of the things he used to help out with became solely my responsibility. I never realized how much he did for me around the house until he was physically unable to do it - I really took that for granted before. I had to take a leave of absence from work, and I had just gotten back from maternity leave! The worry from how we were going to survive financially was almost enough to kill me!

Fast forward to today - March 1, 2013. Somehow we made it through. We survived being separated for two weeks. We survived being on top of each other for four months. We survived the financial setbacks that came as a result. We learned a lot about the people in our lives, and who we can count on when the going gets tough. We were surprised by a lot of people, some in a good way, some bad. It sucked to be disappointed by some of the people we thought should be there for us, but it was also great to know that there were still so many people who had our backs. Jay has most of the function back in his ankle as of today. He was able to return to work full duty five months after the assault. He is able to use the stairs again, run (I use this term very loosly), and play baseball with the boys just like before.

Life is back to "normal" so to speak. With that being said, I think our state of normalcy has been altered. Before the assault, I hardly ever thought twice about the dangers involved with my husbands work. Now it's all I think about most of the every time he leaves the house, and every time I hear a negative comment about a cop it makes my blood boil. Thankfully, Jay's injury wasn't something permanently disabling - it could have been so much worse. Far too many officers have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We are truly lucky to have such brave men and women who fight to protect and serve our communities, and I am PROUD AS HELL to call one of those brave men my husband.

Top 2 pics are one of M's many visits with daddy during his hospital stay. The bottom is the day he came home. She was so happy, this picture does NOT do her grin justice :)

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