Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Life Story Part 7: Surgeried

At the suggestion of Courtney, I have been writing my life stories. I actually am almost done and let me tell you, things get pretty vulnerable. And it has been really hard to write the hard stuff. To revisit hasn't been pleasant. But once I got through the tough stuff, I have felt awesome. You should try this life story writing business. It's pretty telling. 

Life Story Part 1 HERE

Life Story Part 2 HERE

Life Story Part 3 HERE

Life Story Part 4 HERE

Life Story Part 5 HERE

Life Story Part 6 HERE

Life Story Part 7: Surgeried
It was September 12th, 2008 and we were headed to Santa Monica for Ethan’s surgery. The night before, Ethan’s seven brothers and dad surrounded him to give him a priesthood blessing, in hopes of easing his fears of our very experimental surgery and his worries for going under anesthesia. The morning of the surgery, Ethan was calm as can be and ready.

The surgery was expected to take four hours, but it took six. I waited with Ethan’s parents, reading People magazines and eating peanut butter M&Ms. Adjacent to the waiting room was a little hospital chapel. I would go in there every hour or so and pray. It was a simple, small chapel with stained glass windows and candles. There were a few pews, sometimes with people in them, sometimes not. It was very comforting to be in there.

Finally, when it was dark outside and we were the only people left in the waiting room, Dr. Rhim emerged, still wearing her surgery cape. “He did great. He is now resting. It took much longer than I thought because the bones in his feet are incredibly strong and I couldn’t saw through them.”

We were taken to Ethan and he was not doing well at all. Because of his increased pain medication, nothing that they gave him would take effect. In essence, he didn’t have any pain relief after his foot was sawed in half and repositioned back together with titanium screws and then a wedge of his heel was shaved out and replaced with a cadaver bone. He was shaking, sweating and silently crying. I had never seen my husband that way. I would stroke his forehead and encourage him to breath slowly. But of course that didn’t help. Out of emotional exhaustion, I fell asleep on the bench next to Ethan’s bed while the nurses attempted to help.

The next morning, Dr. Rhim came to check on Ethan and see how she could help with pain management. She unwrapped his foot, loosened the dressing and gave him shots of pain medication into his foot, while it bled profusely and Ethan winced, tears falling out of the corners of his eyes. Watching Ethan like this was so much more than I could take.

I was given a few prescriptions to pick up from the pharmacy down the street, so I got in our truck and headed out. I picked everything up and drove back into the parking garage. I turned the key and the car turned off and then the emotion of all this hit me like a train. I just couldn’t stop the tears and sobbing from coming. For the first time in my adult life, I prayed out loud. Between sobs, I asked my Father in Heaven to give Ethan relief and give me strength to deal with this. I knew I had to be a rock through this and I was having a hard time doing so.

A few hours later, I packed up my patient and took Ethan home to Rancho Cucamonga. He was a trooper, dealing with the pain as he healed over the next few weeks. It was at an excruciating level for a long time, but he rarely complained. Somehow, I had the strength to be a mom to a three year old and a newborn and be a caretaker to my husband. Everyday was a struggle. Every morning, I would get up and have to remember to suck it up and do my job, no complaining.


  1. i'm reading. and loving it. you are an incredible woman.

  2. Oh goodness that sounds so hard. I would have been terrified to take him home.