Let it

Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
Harvey MacKay

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Part 3- Aftermath: The horrid and wonderful journey of endless tears and not a single step

It has been therapeutic to write down the story of the dramatic and the traumatic. It is the stuff of good stories, and I've always loved playing storyteller. Alas, it was a few short days of my life. When the agony and horror makes you think this is it- the biggest day! My life might just be over! But it's not. And when the peril has subsided and all of your loved ones have celebrated that you still live, then the noise dies down. The confetti settles. The pats on the back subside as the visitors wander off. You sit in the quiet with yourself and you face what comes next: The Everything After.

The Everything After is so very raw and needy. It draws out, hungry for an unending supply of patience, pain, and true love. (No, not Twoo Wuv,  Princess Bride style. Though that is a great movie to watch when you are stuck under an icepack on the couch.) True love. The quiet simplicity. Kindness. Thoughtfulness. Service. Sacrifice.

At first, true love was abundant. My husband catered to my every need. I had near-constant attendants at hand. Friends bringing gifts and meals. Offers to clean my bathrooms and do my dishes. It was wonderful and I felt so very blessed. Dire thoughts only broke through in rare moments, or in conversations about the uncertainty of my future.... or when I missed the mountains. Between gratitude and sorrow, my face was rarely dry.
A week after my unfortunate adventure, Aaron woke me at 4:45 am. At that point I was still waking every few hours to take different meds, nibbling uncomfortably on food in the middle of the night. My sleep quality was unfulfilling, and any unconscious moment was precious. I awoke to his face leaning over me, looking expectant. (It's not the first time it has happened in the middle of the night, but that seemed an odd early morning request considering the circumstances.)
"Can I do something for you?" I muttered with raised eyebrows and sticky eyelids.
"Can you get up and get dressed?" He inquired.
"Am I going somewhere?" I parried.
"May I pee first?"
"That's probably a good idea."
I crutched perilously to the bathroom, my sense of balance not quite awake in the dark. Then Aaron helped me dress and carried my crutches downstairs as I scooted down on my bum. He helped me to the couch and told me to wait there.
"Is someone coming?"
I had my suspicions, but I was half asleep and happy to just let things play out. Aaron disappeared upstairs again and reappeared with a bag stuffed with a sweatshirt that also rattled with pain meds. And as the glare of headlight cast across the living room wall, he helped me to the door and out to the driveway. Renee and Jennilyn greeted me on the front walk with slightly awkward crutch hugs and flung the van door open to reveal my morning chariot. All the middle seats had been removed and the back seat was piled with various soft things. I laughed, exclaimed, and climbed right in.
Jennilyn looked sleepy. "I don't get up early on a Saturday for just anyone, Kristyan."
I grinned at her silhouette up front. "I'm honored."
A short time later they were asking me directions to the canyon, and we bumped up the long, winding, treacherous canyon road to a perfect lookout spot. Farmington Canyon is one of my nearby escapes. My trail home, if you will. I've traversed most of it on foot more times than I can count now. As I exited the car on my crutches, the mountain air washed over me and I gasped. It was if I'd been suffocating and I hadn't known it until that moment. My eyes scanned from the impending sunrise at the top of the canyon, to the lush evergreen mountainsides and out to far off Antelope Island. I could almost feel the trees welcoming me back, and the canyon breeze was the sweetest nectar. The dust in the air, the coolness of pre-dawn, the slow fade of color back into the world. It was overwhelming. Unbidden tears cascaded off of my eyelashes and a sob escaped my throat. Friends who knew held me close as I let it all go, and then drew myself back together again, whispering thanks that could never do justice to my all-consuming gratitude. They set up camp chairs, one piled high with pillows to keep my foot elevated. Renee flipped her fancy van seats backward as Jennilyn set up the camp stove.

I sipped hot tea and sunrise, lost in the gentle splendor of it all. The smell of sizzling peppered bacon mingled deliciously with dusty evergreen, and for a moment I could forget the pain and stress. Renee handed me a cup of orange juice and Jennilyn passed me a steaming plate of eggs and bacon. She apologized for it's untidiness, but to me in that moment,  it was the most perfect thing in the entire world.

I thanked them, unable to express my gratitude and elation. I felt naked relief. Oh, my heart. We chatted and joked and laughed. It felt so good to laugh! They set up cameras and took pictures of the three of us as the sky turned pastel and gold on it's morning journey to daylight.

It will remain one of the most thoughtful and amazing acts that anyone has ever done for me. They were my angels. And they would spend more time and energy on me in the coming weeks than I ever expected. Renee helped me clean and cook. She brought awesome meals catered to our food sensitivities, and kids to keep mine entertained. She brought magazines and sparkly nail polish, conversation and much-needed laughter. She even brought Jennilyn for girl time and yoga play in the park.
I don't know what I did to deserve either of them. Renee and Jennilyn, I love you girls so much!!

Times like these make the rest of them bearable. I wish I could highlight every moment with every caring friend. Katie was ever attentive and hilarious, bringing movies, magazines and girly things like toenail polish in shades of grey to match my bruising. I can always count on a text or comment from her to make me burst out laughing at inappropriate moments.
Kenzie brought a card addressed to my ankle- telling it to get it's act together. It totally made my day! It was accompanied by more glitter polish. (Apparently I needed some shiny bling for my nails, because everyone seems to know the secret- glitter makes you heal faster. )
Cindy- my selfless Cindy from the planet Wonderful, came to change my bandages when I didn't know how. She has checked in regularly, been my listening ear, and even cleaned out my chicken coop and picked up feed and bedding for me! (Aaron doesn't do animal poop.)
My sweet crazy Sara has spent countless hours, cleaning out and organizing my laundry room, cleaning my kitchen and bathrooms, and best of all, having the most real, honest and understanding conversations.
Steve and Nan brought dinner, company and adjustments. And continue to check in and encourage with calls and texts.
Adam and Nikki cleaned house and entertained my littles.
MaKayle brought my fave ice cream and took up a collection amongst my Yoga Buddies.
Lane hand-delivered spring-loaded racing crutches and pain relieving spray. I know!! Racing crutches!

8 days after surgery, I met my surgeon for the second time.
Dr. Chardack walked in to the room and exclaimed, "The toughest woman on earth?! I was pretty shocked when you left the hospital right after surgery! With an injury like yours, I thought you'd stay a day or two at least!" I hadn't even known it was an option.
He pulled up my x-rays on screen and my jaw dropped. I'm sure some sound like, "Huuummmnnedegewhaaaa?" came out of my mouth before I shouted, "I thought you said a coupla pins?"
"I told you it was a mess in there."
How many screws are in there??"
"No, really. I have been underbragging! How many??"
He turned to the screen and poked at it with his finger, "One, two, three, four... five, six..., seven.  This is a metal plate, and this section over here was mush, there's like a whole buncha little bone grafts in there. "
It looked like he'd just cut it open and spanked the Home Depot over the top of it.

He was still not very forthcoming with information.
"I'm a trail runner and a yoga teacher, doc. Give it to me straight. How long do I have til I'm back?"
I didn't like the answers.
8-12 weeks non weight bearing. 50% chance of osteonecrosis. Pretty much guaranteed early arthritis. Anything on uneven surfaces may be iffy. He made it sound like trail running was out. I refused to accept that. Don't you dare tell me I can't.
"If I was another doc, I'd put you in a hard cast. But if someone did that to me, I'd throttle them on the spot. So you get a boot, but do NOT put weight on it. Keep it on most of the time and don't move around without it. You can bathe without it, but that's about it. Do NOT mess this up. It's your one chance. I can't fix it again."
A nurse snipped and removed the two long rows of stitches... clumsily and very painfully. I had to use my childbirth breathing and meditation methods to get through it. I picked out more fragments of them later that day. She stretched my achilles until my foot was in the right position for the boot. I had to stop to breathe and surrender. I didn't cry. Not there.
I quit taking narcotics on the way home from the appointment. I hadn't taken enough with me for the appointment plus the hourlong wait to see the doc. When it wore off, I decided the pain was more manageable than the heartburn, anger, nausea, horrible constipation (seriously), and other myriad of side effects. When I stopped taking the meds, there was no more hiding. It got real, really fast.

I am a shameless optimist. I strive to highlight the good and live in gratitude everyday. I don't like to talk about the hard stuff. The stuff that is there between the visits and laughter. The stuff that lurks in the recesses of my mind only to face me boldly the moment we're alone. The struggle. But I do it so that others don't have to struggle alone. So that I don't have to struggle alone. I have struggled with depression and anxiety on and off for years. I battle it by tying up my trail shoes, and losing myself to nature. But I can't do that anymore. Not for months and maybe more. I can't run. Escape is not an option. It all came crashing down. Denial, depression, anger, despair.  All of the 'what ifs' and the 'how comes'. Sleeping in that boot was nigh to impossible. With sleep deprivation and PMS on the pile, I was buried. So many tears. So much snot. Poor Aaron.

Then one day, misery became so boring. I was tired of it. I woke up miserable, in pain, wondering what the point was. The pressure in my head mounted and tears started their familiar trickle down my cheek and onto my pillow. My eyes came to rest on my yoga mat. Aside from the mountains, my mat was home. I missed my mat. The morning sun was streaming, golden through my bedroom window. I swung my feet over the side of the bed and lowered my aching body carefully and awkwardly to the floor. I crawled over to my mat and unrolled it in a patch of light, sending dust fairies dancing in the warmth. I crawled onto it and began to breathe. For the first time in weeks, I closed my eyes and went inward. Feeling every movement, exploring what was there. Tears continued to fall, but now out of gratitude. As I flowed through simple movements I began to realize what I could still do. I sent love and acceptance and healing to the broken bits- of body and soul. I acknowledged the trauma and sent love and honor for having met the challenge. I traveled inward even more and found.... me. I was there all along. In finding myself for even a moment, I had found an inner light. My connection to the Divine. My hope. My reality check. I still get to choose. I always get to choose.

It has not been all golden light and zen since then. There is so much more to process and accept. So much more the stand up to and fight. But most of all, there is waiting. With time comes the demons. The doubts, the worries. The dull and persistent pain wears away at me like sand paper. My efforts have untold consequences. One day I am my own hero, taking the kids out for a "crutch", cleaning the house on my hands and knees, tackling a project, going shopping. That night I find blood on my shirt from crutch chafing, my knee callous is cracked and bleeding from crawling too much, my hands are too weak and painful to grasp my toothbrush, and my back and hips ache mercilessly. Every good day has its price.
But I continue to roll out of bed and crawl onto my mat. I find myself and say 'Hello' and 'Namaste'.
I remember that I am not my body, though it is a part of my journey. I find God and check in.

I would be remiss if I neglected to thank one other person. My husband, my Aaron, my everything. I would have blown away bit by bit in this storm without him. To wipe my tears, to attend to my needs, to hold me together when I'm flying apart. To remind me who and what I am. He is incredible.
Thank you, my love.

I have come a long way in two months. I have a long journey yet ahead of me. I am tired. I will keep on. I have so much to aspire to. There is so much more awesome to become.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Part 2: Surgery

I was scheduled for Monday morning surgery at the IHC in Murray. The time between my ER visit and surgery is a blur of stress and drugs. Three of my kids had pneumonia. I was on a steady rotation of oxycodone and ibuprofen. I knew I needed the surgery, but still had no clue at how long this would take me out. I could only guess.... 4 weeks, 6 maybe? I held out the naive hope of denial that the October 50k that I had been training so hard for was still within reach. I think the drugs had something to do with my optimism as well.
Monday morning came, with the empty stomach and raw nerves that come with surgery. Aaron helped me to the car and the entire drive there I was a nervous wreck. I was facing one of my few big fears: Anesthesia. The only other time I had gone under was when I was 14 and had my wisdom teeth removed. I only have brief flashes of severe shaking and delusion. I effectively lost two days of conscious memory. My body had not reacted well. I had no desire to ever repeat it, and yet, here I was.  We entered the almost empty waiting room 2 minutes late, filled out paper work, and waited. Waiting is the worst. Aaron took a pre-op a picture of me with a nervous, fake smile on my face. I just sat waiting with this black electronic pager in my hand- like they have at the Olive Garden. As if I was waiting for soup, salad, and breadsticks. The pager came with instructions. "When you are paged, follow the blue line through the double doors." I hate hospitals. I was waiting for them to stamp a number on my forehead before they  knocked me out. I hadn't even met my surgeon.
The pager buzzed with flashing lights, and I suddenly craved greens in vinaigrette. Aaron paced along side me as I crutched along the blue line into a tiny room where my vitals were taken and I answered a few more questions. I followed the nurse to another room with a hospital bed, where I was given instructions and left with Aaron help me. Strip down to your undies, put on the gown (why do they call them gowns? Seriously. They are the furthest thing ever from glamorous!), put on the funny hat, put your belongings in this bag....
I was briefed... very briefly. This should only take two hours. It should be pretty simple.
I was asked if I had any concerns.
Yes... yes I did.
They wheeled me into a little room, where after more waiting, an IV was placed in my hand. Then I finally met my trauma surgeon, Dr. Chardack, as he bustled in to talk over my concerns, seeming flustered by my silly need to chat. I had so many questions about the procedure, but I got the feeling that he didn't have time for that.
"It's fine. We'll need a couple of pins and maybe a plate, if that. Oh, and by the way, do we have permission to use cadaver bone chips to graft if needed? That way we don't have to take bone from your hip."
Um, yes.... yes you do.
He began to bustle away again, but then turned back to me and said, "Oh yeah. I need to mark your leg for surgery. I envisioned the bandages being removed and him drawing out dotted lines where he would cut and marking spots to avoid. Maybe making a note or two. Instead he uncapped a marker, pulled back the very top of my bandage, and wrote "YES" below my knee. "Gotta make sure we do the right one!" He quipped, and hurried out of the room.
A short while later the nurse informed me that we couldn't start yet. There was a Life Flight helicopter on its way in and they needed to keep the OR clean and ready just in case it was needed to save the patient's life. It was hard to be annoyed by that. I sent up a sincere prayer for the poor soul in that chopper.
After learning that the OR was not needed, my anesthesiologist came to talk over my concerns and soothe my nerves. He was kind and understanding. He reassured me, and promised to monitor me very carefully as well as add Zofran for nausea to my IV before he brought me out of anesthesia.
Just a little more waiting for me, and then as we wheeled to the OR, Aaron was left to keep vigil while I slept. More waiting. Poor guy.

I came to in fuzzy bits of color. When I finally became aware of my surroundings, I was in yet another room. Aaron was beside me and the nurses were busy moving me to the new bed and settling me in. My gown came open and Aaron heroically snatched at it to protect my modesty. I had my first solid thought and voiced it loudly, "Where is my underwear?!"
Aaron held up a tied-off clear plastic bag containing my panties. "They just handed it to me," he said with a shrug.
I felt like barfing. I told the nurse so and she upped my Zofran. Sometime later the doc came in.
"Hey so that took longer than anticipated. It was kind of a mess in there."
I was too out of it to ask direct questions, but I remember him saying something about call for an appointment in a week, take meds, ice it, elevate as much as possible, keep it clean, keep it dry, and don't even think about putting weight on it for 8-12 weeks.
I don't remember much else except for the horrible feeling of my heart sinking into my queasy stomach.
When he left, I turned to Aaron. "How long was I out?"
"Around four hours."
Holy what??
The nurse, Brenda said I could go home as soon as I felt like it. Use the bathroom and get dressed. I crutched down the hall to the bathroom after Aaron helped me re-tie my glamorous gown so my naked bum wouldn't traumatize the other patients. As I moved, I noticed that I felt all squishy and lubey... down there. Yes, there.
I closed the bathroom door with wide eyes. What on earth had happened in that two extra hours of unconsciousness. The moment I began to pee, an answer I never thought I'd be grateful to know dawned on me. A catheter. They had had to place a catheter. Suddenly IHC was a little less creepy and suspicious.
When I returned, I asked the nurse."Did they have to cath me, Brenda?"
"Oh yeah, they did! Because of how long the surgery took. Did they not tell you that? Were you kind of freaked out?!"
Yes... yes I was.
Aaron helped me dress very carefully, and he and Brenda got me into a wheelchair and out to the car.
My stomach was a ravenous mess. We picked up In-n-Out protein-style for the whole fam and took it home to our poor, sick children.
Home. Food. Meds. Sleep. Gifts?
Katie had left me a girly spa care package.
Mark had posted to all of the Trail and Ultra Running community about my surgery and I had scads of well-wishing messages and encouragement from friends and strangers alike. Neighbors and friends showed up with dinners, cards, and gifts. My heart was overflowing, and my eyes acted in kind.
Friends came to clean my house. Cindy came at a minutes notice to change my bandages. Katie came to keep me company. I think for an entire week, I was a duplicitous sobbing mess of drug-induced euphoria over the kindness and love that I was inundated with, and the pain, despair, anger and denial that came in the time between the meds wearing off and kicking in again.
The healing had begun in theory. But I had no idea what lay in store for me in the next few months. Physically, emotionally, mentally.
It's one of those things you can't understand until you go through it. If someone had tried to tell me. I would never have believed them.

To be continued...
Next up: Aftermath: The horrid and wonderful journey of endless tears and not a single step

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Injury (Part 1)

I suppose it's time to write this down. I've missed a lot.
First, the catch-up:

On July 14th, it was the 3rd annual Butler Bolt- an unofficial race/ fun run put on by Mark Robbins. Aaron and I rode to the trail head up Big Cottonwood Canyon with Katie and Chris and their friend. It's a steep and beautiful course and I was quickly left behind on the uphill. I cruised down the downhill like I was made for it and had an amazing time. It was so good to be up in the scenery of the mountains.

On July 16th, it was Katie's birthday. Most girls might want a shopping and spa day with their girlfriends, but she wanted a birthday run... with me. I was honored. We ran up The Dude in the heat of day, we chased horny toads, got lost (as is our usual m.o.), ran out of water, I got a cactus stuck in my leg (which Katie removed for me after she had laughed properly), and we generally had an amazing time.

On July 18th, I snuck out for a solo 5k on the BST in the wee morning hours. I'll admit I didn't have the best attitude about it, but it was just enough to lift my spirits. The sun coming up through Steed Creek canyon as I ran through meager stream was a moment that in hindsight, I'm glad I noticed. It was a moment that would have to sustain me for the coming months.

The day was full of plans. Aaron was going to go summit Lone Peak with friends Chris and Steve. He'd be gone until early morning, at which time he would shower and leave with his brother Matt to volunteer at the Larry's Hole aid station of the legendary SpeedGoat 50k. I didn't plan on seeing him until later the next afternoon. I had received word on Monday that the Heber Valley Half was cancelled, so my weekend was all freed up. Our friend Jennilyn (whom I can't keep up with, so we've never really run together), had invited me to go bouldering and camping in Little Cottonwood Canyon with our kids. Yes, this Jennilyn. Her husband was supposed to go on a climbing trip, and we both thought we'd rather play than be lonely. I was stoked and very nervous to finally get to go climbing with Jennilyn. I had never really bouldered. Jennilyn has been climbing for years and the opportunity to learn basics from her was exciting. This beside the fact that I love the girl, and we rarely get to just hang out. I planned on heading down to meet Jennilyn at Tanner's Flat campground as soon as I had everything packed and ready. I had a cooler bag full of food and a van packed with camping equipment and kids. Jennilyn got off work later than anticipated and took longer to pack than expected (just like I had), so by the time I got to the canyon, she was still working on it and I was on my own to go grab us a campsite. But I couldn't. Because there weren't any. We were too late. Both legal campsites in the canyon were full. I called Jennilyn and headed back down the canyon. She said to meet her at the Park n Ride and we'd figure out a course of action. We discussed our options- from setting up tents illegally, to camping in her back yard. Until we threw up our hands and said, "Let's just go climbing. We'll figure it out later." We drove just a few miles back up the canyon, parked roadside, changed into our climbing things and packed the crash pads, equipment and food down a trail to The Riverside Boulders. We got set up and let the kids get their climbs in. I went to strap into Aaron's climbing shoes, but Jennilyn recommended I use Ben's because they were a size smaller.  They were uncomfortably tight, but that's how climbing shoes are supposed to be. Then Jennilyn began to teach me basics. This is when I learned that I suck at bouldering. How was I going to get any better at it unless I kept trying though? The longer we were at it, the more hot and swollen my feet got despite taking the shoes off between sets. The canyon air got cooler and we began to be eaten alive by the rampant mosquito population. I was uncomfortable and frustrated with my slow progress. The kids were ready for a change of scenery. So we packed everything back on our bodies and headed further from the river- across the road and up a bit of a trail to what are known as the 5 Mile Boulders. We set up and played around. We set the kids to gathering firewood for a back yard s'mores fire while we picked our "problems" and took turns spotting each other. Jennilyn sent some sweet ones that I couldn't dream of completing, and did a great job of encouraging me through "warm up" routes. These are the routes that most climbers use as warm ups. They were my problems.... that's how awesome I wasn't. But I never gave up. Even though I'd felt off all day. Even though I knew something was looming and just not right. I kept trying. And I succeeded sometimes. Jennilyn and I were having a really good time, but I was also really glad when we were running out of light. The shoes were so tight. My feet were killing me. I, the barefooter, with my strong arches and proud toe splay, was supremely uncomfortable. But I strapped them back on and I went for one last send.

Jennilyn was so encouraging and I made it further up than I had before. She urged me to aim for the top, but I had an unexplained moment of being absolutely done and declared it aloud. She stood there above the crash pad with her arms in the air, the perfect spotter. I came down a little- to about 5 feet above the ground, eyed my landing spot, and hopped to the pad just as I had done plenty of times in the day. Jennilyn caught my hips and I made a perfect two-footed landing except for the explosion in my right ankle. It was blinding, mind-numbing, excruciating pain and I began to yell desperately. She couldn't understand why I was yelling or what had happened. I know for a fact that I let some profanities fly as I sank to the crash pad, sobbing. I couldn't gulp enough air to make it go away. I couldn't relay much information at all. I didn't understand anything but the pain as Jennilyn mothered me in the kind of voice you would use on frightened animal or enraged child, petting my hair and attempting to calm me. When I could form consonants again, we discussed my injury and inability to even attempt weighting it. It was swelling and oddly dislocated. I fought the instinct to hyperventilate my way into shock or unconsciousness. Jennilyn offered me some Aleve, which I eagerly and gratefully accepted as we pulled out cell phones and called out for escape options and information. She kept reassuring me that it might just be a bad sprain, but deep down I think I knew it was worse. The last light of the evening was fading. The mosquitos were feasting even more ravenously, but the irritation was lost amid the pain and my children's tearful attempts to cuddle and comfort me. My husband was many miles and thousands of vertical feet away, on foot. I felt completely incompetent to make decisions. The next emergency person I usually call is my Dad, but he and my Mom are far away in Hawaii. So I reached out to the two next most fatherly, knowledgeable men in my life, and through dropped calls and delayed texts began communicating with my two big brothers, Steve and Mike. Jennilyn had better cell reception in the canyon and took over some of that communication. She had already called her husband Ben, who by some blessed miracle had not followed through with his Idaho climbing trip and was at the top of the same canyon we were in, climbing with a friend. They came to get us and oh, so carefully fireman carried me down the trail to the cars. I remember cracking stupid jokes to try to break the mood and distract myself. I'm sure I acted like an idiot. Ben and Jason were gracious and forgiving (and strong!) angels. The three uninjured adults got the kids and gear to the cars as a plan came into order. We would take everyone to Jennilyn and Ben's house where Ben would put the kids to bed. Jennilyn would drive me to my brother Mike's chiropractic office in West Valley, where Mike would meet us for an examination and x-rays. Every jiggle or bump of the car ride was excruciating. Knowing we would beat Mike there, Jennilyn stopped to get us Slurpees. I think that Sprite Slurpee was the most refreshing thing I have ever consumed. We didn't have to wait long for Mike at his office. I opened the car door and sat helplessly, covered in dirt and chalk, trying to adjust to the fact that I couldn't move on my own, when Mike and his muscles strode over and lifted me princess style, carrying me steadily back to the x-ray room. The pictures were clear. It was definitely a talus fracture.

Mike had no experience with this. I did not want to go to the ER. I HATE the ER. He tractioned my foot as other things were obviously out of place, and Jennilyn held me as I sobbed like a baby. Then he fashioned a tape cast to get me through the night, gifted me a bottle of herbal anti-inflammatories, and sent us off with the recommendation to get in with a doc as soon as I could in the morning.
Thank you my brother!! You are the very best. I know it wasn't easy to leave your wife and kids and new baby late at night to take loving care of your dirty, broken baby sister. I love you. Thank you so much!

Jennilyn drove me back to her house. Ben met us at the car and carried me inside. The kids were sprawled all over the futon and couch in the living room. Ben dragged a mattress into the middle of the room and they settled me in for the night with an ice pack. It was 1 am and Jennilyn had been up since 3 am, summiting mountains! She retired to her bedroom, after assuring me she would sleep with her phone just in case I needed her, because the swamp cooler was so loud, she'd never hear me otherwise.
Finally stationary and able to think a bit, I got on my phone and started texting Aaron and my parents. I had let Aaron know that I was hurt, but nothing more than that. So I gave him details as he came down Lone Peak. He was still hours from finishing, and asked if he should come get us on his way home. I told him there was no point. The kids were asleep as I was as comfy as I could get for the night. So he should just continue with the original plan until further notice. Then my in-laws called me from Russia. Yep. From Russia. They had heard I was hurt and wanted to check in. Then I texted my parents in Hawaii. Then my phone died.... just as the original Aleve wore off.  It was past 1:30 am. I tried to sleep as the minutes ticked by, but the pain was too much. I tried to get up and crawl to where pain meds might be, but even shifting the pull of gravity on my ankle made my calf charlie horse and I had to bite my thumb to keep from screaming. No adult could hear me- and I felt awful that Jennilyn had been so tired. I didn't want to wake the kids. They were dead asleep and calling out in their dreams. I had traumatized them. So I sobbed as quietly as possible, rocking and praying for strength and relief. I have given birth 4 times without pain medication (once medically induced with PIT). I'm no stranger to pain. But that pain has purpose and structure. This agony was the worst I have ever experienced. Sometime in the night, my stomach realized it hadn't eaten more than a snack since breakfast the morning before, and the aching need of ravenous hunger broke through the pain. Blessing of blessings, I looked around to find myself lying next to the cooler I had so meticulously packed the day before. I didn't have the will to dig for more than what was on top. And so I pathetically stuffed my face with cold grapes and chocolate dusted almonds as I sobbed.  When the hunger was dulled, I took to gazing out the window as I rocked, guessing at the time, willing the sun to rise and bring my relief. Around 5 am Ben's alarm went off. He had planned to go climbing again. He snoozed it, and my heart ached for 20 minutes until he got up to use the bathroom. I waited for the sounds of him emerging from his room after dressing, and when he made his appearance on his way to the kitchen, I called out to him. My voice was raw and tired from the stifled cries. He didn't hear me. I called again and again, and he carefully went about packing his food for the day. I incredulous that he could not hear me. I was both impressed and dismayed at how courteously and quietly he moved about, so as not to disturb anyone. The swamp cooler roared on as I tried desperately and unsuccessfully to get his attention. Until he walked out the back door, never knowing that I needed his help. I cried out in anguish as the door closed. It was finally enough to wake Talon and Saia. They gathered around to comfort me and I immediately sent them to the car to get my running pack where I knew I had some ibuprofen stashed. I took it gratefully and counted the seconds until it kicked in and I could drift off to sweet oblivion. I slept for about 45 minutes before the kids woke again. Jennilyn emerged from her bedroom inquiring how I felt and was horrified that I had needed her and not been able to communicate it. She went about making breakfast for the kids and we discussed whether we would still go up to the SpeedGoat finish line as we had planned. I finally requested a phone charger cord and plugged my phone in to find messages from Mike. They were disturbing messages. "I've been researching your injury and you need surgery, right now." What?? How could this be? Talk of permanent damage and immobility to the joint got my heart racing. What to do next? Where to go? I didn't even know what and who my insurance covered! I needed my husband, and at this point I had sent him a car ride, tram ride, and hike away to the top of yet another mountain, with a commitment to aid racers and no way to get back to me for many hours. The gravity of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks, and the tears that I'd thought I was all out of returned with a vengeance. As I ugly-cried, Jennilyn put her arm around me and started talking sense. We'd call an orthopedic surgery clinic. They would know what insurance they accepted. We started calling only to find that none of them were open on a Saturday. The ugly cry took over again and Alicia, my bestie, by get-things-done girl, called me. I sobbed on the phone to her. She responded with, "Stay there, I'm coming." And hung up.

While I waited for Alicia, Jennilyn moved me into her bedroom where the rowdy kids would not accidentally land on me. This was no small feat, because Jennilyn is not a large body. I feel like a giant in comparison, really. My big brother Steve and his wife Natalie showed up from Heber City with crutches for me. Craig- a good friend and one of the founders of our incredible trail running community, showed up with an all too generous care package from my favorite boys at TAUR. A gift that made my jaw drop. These early acts of care and kindness will live in my heart forever. I have the best of the best in my life and I am so so grateful! They laughed and talked with me for a while- a welcome distraction. Then Alicia came, packed the kids and our stuff up and took me off Jennilyn's hands.

I can never thank you enough for being there for me. For having the patience to teach me in the first place. For holding me in my time of need. For keeping it together when I couldn't. For understanding what my broken heart needed to survive and heal in the weeks to come. You are a true friend, and a hero to me for far more than your copious running and mountaineering talents. I will love you forever. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, sweet friend.

Alicia shuttled the kids to her mom's house in Murray, where their cousin was waiting to play with them in the big yard. Normal kid things that they needed to distract them from the trauma of the previous day. Then she took me to the local Instacare. "Stay here." She said as she got out of the car. I exhaustedly obliged. When she got inside, she pulled out her phone and showed the man at the desk a picture of my x-ray, then stated, "My sister in law broke her talus. Is this where we need to be?" Another blessing: The orthopedic specialist was just about to leave and agreed to take a look at the picture. "She destroyed that bone!" He exclaimed. "She needs surgery, you need take her to the ER."
And without having even left the van, I was off to the IHC Emergency Room.

I'll spare you the detailed account of 6 hours of waiting with Alicia and her baby, being shuffled from room to room, forgotten in the hallway outside the CAT scan room, and eventually casted, scheduled for a Monday surgery, and given a prescription for narcotics. Going to pick up the prescription and having to crutch into the local Walgreens only to find the pharmacy had closed, and after a moment of panic, finding they had left my prescription at the front counter.

As we drove back to "Grandma Darcy's" house, we got a call that Saia was not feeling well. We returned to the house, and were settled into a dark, cool basement bedroom haven. It was late afternoon by then. My kids crawled into bed with me and I realized that all but one of them was fevered, covered in mosquito bites, and unwell. We gave them medicine and essential oils and put them to sleep. We got word that Matt and Aaron were finally on their way home, and would get our van from Jennilyn's and come get us. Aaron had not slept for days. He joined us in the bedroom, kissed me, curled up on the floor and we all slept. 30 minutes later, we packed up the van, and with Matt and Alicia's help, headed home. Home. It felt like we'd been gone for a week. Nothing sounded like more of a relief than my own bed. My own space. My own family.

 Thank you doesn't cut it.  You are my soul sister. You are my rock in times of need. My rescuer, my best friend. I love you more than if you were a part of me.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 Thank you so much for providing a haven for my children. No questions asked, no hesitation. You were there for us and I am so grateful. I am honored to call you family. Thank you.

To be continued.....
(Coming up: Surgery)