When you fall, sometimes it takes a village to pick you back up.

The past few months in the Morales house have been a testament to community, faith and the strength that only comes from Jesus.

We didn’t post much of what had been going on, but now that things are finally looking up, I thought I’d share.

May 13th: Leo took a brave and valiant move (after much prayer) and quit his job at Guitar Center in order to focus more on ministry and his business. (shameless plug: http://www.leonardo-morales.com)

May 16th: Leo was working on our basement remodel, fell off of a step-ladder and fractured his right elbow.

May 18th: Our dog, Canela, gave birth to 5 puppies

May 19th: Leo had extensive surgery on his elbow to repair the damage

The rest of May: an absolute blur.

Most of June and July: a blur

August 10th: Leo’s US citizenship ceremony

Now, here we are at the end of August!

We have now called the summer of 2016 “The summer of recovery, citizenship and puppies”.

Here’s the deal:

There is absolutely no way that we would’ve made it through the first 2 weeks, let alone the months afterwards without friends and family.

We’ve had people bring us meals (it didn’t hurt that Canela had such cute puppies to visit/hold), bring us urgent medicine or food, help finish the recording studio, do yard work, organize our basement, and just be emotional/spiritual support all throughout this process.

As Leo walked in for his 3-month appointment, the doctors were astonished.  They have NEVER seen anyone heal so quickly after such an intense fracture.

Leo jokes around that he plays guitar even better now than he did before, and proudly shows his “ironman” picture of the screws that were put in his elbow.  We know we are blessed and fortunate that it turned out this way!

We didn’t post anything about it on Facebook because we didn’t want his family in Colombia to worry.  They were dealing with their own hard situations, and didn’t need to know that Leo was having such a hard time.

But, right before his mom came for his citizenship ceremony, he told her over the phone.  She said she felt that there was something going on, and just prayed for us.

What is amazing to me is that we would’ve probably never had this many conversations with people in our lives without this accident.  Life here in the US is so rushed, so compartmentalized, and so shallow at times.  When people would come over, it seemed that conversations lingered.  Testimonies about hard times were shared, and our faith was strengthened.

When we let people into our mess (and there was a whole lot of it!), we realized that we really weren’t alone.  This world, as much as it feels like it’s “every man for himself”, is much better lived in community… when one falls, we all rally around to pick him/her up off the ground.

We are so grateful!

 

 

Puppies!!!

The day before Leo’s surgery was a Wednesday.  It is the only day I teach outside the home, with 7 neighbor-kids all in a cute suburb.  I asked Leo before I left

“Are you sure you want me to leave you here alone?”

His response: “One of us has to keep working!”.

So, with that, I got in the car and headed towards my first student’s house.  On the way, I called a dear friend from our small group and let her know that Leo would be having surgery the next day, and to just pass the word along to pray.  She suggested that maybe instead of the group meeting at her house, they would all come over to ours to pray, worship and bring us food.  I was so grateful!

I got through my first 2 lessons with no problem, but all of a sudden, during my 3rd lesson, I got a panicked call from Leo.

“Nena!  Canela is having her puppies!”.

What?!?!  Of course… the only day I’m not either at home, or 5 minutes from home.

“Do you want me to come home??” (I had whelped pups before, but Leo’s only experience was watching the YouTube videos in preparation.).

“No, I think I can do it.”

It turns out that Leo also decided not to cancel a guitar lesson, so he put Canela outside while he taught (I would’ve paid money to watch him teach while high on the drugs they gave him… lol!).

When he went to let her in, he couldn’t find her.  She didn’t come running to him like she normally does.  He found her in her favorite spot under our hammock, in a pile of leaves that hadn’t been cleaned up from the winter.  One puppy was already out.

We had a box for her all ready to go in the kitchen, so Leo had to drag it- with his good arm- out to the back patio, reach for the puppy that had already been born, and get Canela in the box.

About every 20 minutes or so, he’d send me another pic or video.  She was such a pro!  He even had time to set up the ipad to record the birth out on the back patio.

I called another friend who loves Canela and really wanted to be there for the birth, and she headed right over to be with them.

Again, I kept asking “Do you need me to come home?”  Leo always answered the same way: “One of us needs to keep working!” So, I kept plugging away at my lessons, finished and got home with just 15 minutes to spare before people started coming over.  Canela birthed the last puppy just as I was walking in the door. It was beautiful.  She did an amazing job!

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I had just a few minutes to clean the kitchen and living room, try to organize space for 12 people, and make sure that Canela was doing well before people started arriving.

It was crazy! (But when, in our lives have things like this never been crazy?).

Worship that night was so beautiful.  We will remember that evening for possibly the rest of our lives.  We were overwhelmed with so many things, and to have our dearest friends over to pray for and encourage us, lifting up the name of Jesus in the middle of our situation… that was priceless!

The puppies were born into a house of worship, and the peace that we all felt was tangible.

 

The accident

 

A good friend had been over all day helping Leo move a wall in our basement; and although our friend had to leave for the night, Leo was driven and wanted to get the ceiling torn out.

I was up in the living room trying to finish up a project for the day when I heard a loud crash, and “NENA!!!” Canela and I immediately ran downstairs, turned the corner into the room he had been working in and saw him laying on the ground, holding his right elbow.  Canela immediately jumps on him, causing him to scream out.

“I think I dislocated my elbow”.

I carefully stepped around the broken bits of drywall that he was laying on and saw a dislocated elbow for the first time in my life.

I froze.

My sister is an over-night nurse at a local ER, so as soon as I could get my thoughts together, I ran back upstairs to get my phone to call her.

She didn’t answer, but I quickly fired out a text and found out that she wasn’t on that night.

My mind was racing…

Should I move him?

Should we call an ambulance?

Can we afford an ambulance?

I asked “Do you think I can get you up?”

“Carefully, please.  I am in a lot of pain.”

I ran back upstairs to get my shoes so I wouldn’t step on any nails in the drywall rubble.

I’m grateful that I am strong and that Leo is light, as I got him on his feet ok, and then helped him get upstairs.

I quickly ran back down because we had taken out the windows of our split-level basement so the guys could easily put the new drywall in through that space instead of winding down all the stairs and tight corners to get into the basement.

We don’t live in the ghetto, but leaving a hole in our house with recording equipment and a myriad of expensive instruments didn’t sit well with me.

I tried to put the windows in myself, but I was shaking and couldn’t concentrate.

“NENA!  What are you doing? We need to go!!!”

“I need to put these windows in!”

“NO! I am in so much pain, we need to get to the ER.”

Crap.

I carefully get Leo into the car, start on our way to the ER and then call my neighbor.  No answer.  Call again. No answer.

I call my boss, who lives just 5 minutes away.

He says he can come.

The neighbor calls back to see if everything is ok.

While I’m on the phone with her, I miss the turn for the ER, and have to make a u-turn up the road a bit.  Leo is getting more and more frustrated with me.

I swear he felt every single bump on the road in the 3 miles from our house to the hospital.  I tried to drive carefully, yet quickly.  It wasn’t easy… he would wince each time there was even the slightest variance in the road.

We arrived, and immediately the staff recognized me as Leslie’s sister.  We look a lot alike, and I’d been there the year before for a few nights with a friend.

They got us into a room, and immediately gave Leo some drugs to ease his pain.  The results of the x-ray showed that it, indeed, was dislocated… and that they’d need to “reduce” it.  I guess “relocation” wasn’t the correct word.  Imagine that. Lol!

They explained that the best way to do this is to give him a drug that would knock him out for 7 minutes.  They started telling me all the risks… his heart could stop, he could stop breathing, etc.  I quickly texted my sister:  how often did people die in the process of getting their arm relocated?

“Don’t worry about that.  If anything happens, we know what to do.” her text said. “But I would recommend you not be in there when they do the procedure.  It’s not an easily-forgettable sound”.

We signed the papers, and the guys all came in to do the procedure.  I told Leo that Leslie recommended I step out of the room.

“You’re not going to be in here?!?” He asked with a panicked look in his eyes.

“Ok.  I guess I’ll be here.”  I put my hand on his left arm, and stood by his side. As they pumped the milky white liquid into his arm, he looked into my eyes.

“No importa lo que pasa.  Te amo.  Tu eres mi mejor aventura.  Te amo con todo mi corazon.”

And he slumped down. The doctors checked to make sure he was out, got into place and quickly slid his elbow back into place… without a sound.

As he started waking up, he was speaking… at first I wasn’t sure if he was speaking in tongues, as I couldn’t understand a word.

And then, he started making sense, in English.

“Our bodies are so fragile, our lives are so fragile.  We are so fragile. We have to let Jesus take the wheel.  JESUS, take the wheel!  Jesus take the wheel!”

The entire staff in the room started cracking up.  This Colombian man was quoting a Carrie Underwood song as he was coming out of anesthesia.  I wish I would’ve recorded it!

My dad showed up shortly afterwards and was with us while they put Leo back together.  The nurse recommended that we get in touch with an orthopedic surgeon a.s.a.p. They gave Leo good drugs, and we were on our way home.

The next morning, we called around and were able to get in to OrthoNeuro the very next day, 8am.  We took it easy all day, and then I had to go to work later (ie. run a rehearsal for the International Festival) that evening.  The band all took time to pray for Leo’s healing and strength; and our rehearsal was the best yet.

We arrived at the Orthopedic surgeon’s office, hopeful that he would say there were just torn ligaments/muscles, and that surgery wouldn’t be necessary.  However, that’s not what ended up happening.

Shortly after the surgeon entered and introduced himself, he said something like “Well, this is one of the worst cases I’ve seen.  You did the tri-fecta of bone breakage in your elbow.  You need surgery.  Tomorrow.”

Leo almost passed out on the table he was sitting on.  He laid down right away and the surgeon explained that his radial head was broken, amongst other things.  The surgery would try to put whatever bone pieces back together using screws, and we would see how that would work.

We expressed the importance of Leo’s elbow as a guitar player.  The surgeon confirmed that even with the surgery, it could take a year to fully recover.  We drove home in silence, praying in our hearts that it wouldn’t take that long.