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.
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.”
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.
The blessing of receiving part 1
When Leo and I were dreaming about our wedding in Colombia, we deeply desired for as many people to attend as possible – including the kids from Ciudad Bolivar. Every 2 weeks we would make the 2-hour bus trek across the city, through traffic, up the steep mountainside and windy roads to the top of the mountain to share life and Jesus with a group of 15 pre-teens. Many of them came from broken families… and almost none of them had ever attended a wedding before.
We asked the director of the foundation where the group met how we could make this possible… what would we need to provide so that they didn’t feel like “less” in the sea of wealthier Colombians and foreigners. He advised us to find dresses and suits, dress shoes, and a van for transportation. He and the other volunteers would be able to pick the kids up, get them all fancy (make-up and nail polish was a MUST for the girls). I was able to find enough pearl-beaded headbands for all of the girls coming from different worlds so that they all matched.
Leo and I spent weeks scouring the city for the best deals on dresses and suits. People from the school willingly donated clothing and shoes for the cause, and the week before our wedding we were able to take everything up the mountain to the kids.
I had never seen girls light up and twirl so much in my life!
Before we gave them these gifts, however, we wanted to make it clear:
“We are giving you these things now because we deeply want you to be involved in our wedding, but it doesn’t mean that you will always just be recipients of good things. There will come a day when you will be able to give as well. That is what the body of Christ is… a group of people committed to giving and receiving from each other.”
We looked into each of their eyes as we gave them their new outfits, and we knew that they understood.
Fast-forward to our wedding day…
Leo had just arrived to the venue in a taxi, dressed to the 9’s, and with his suitcase for the honeymoon. Just as he got out and turned back to pay the fee, the driver sped off, stealing Leo’s suitcase.
Now, living with 3 brothers has its advantages… one being that you can all share clothes. When I realized that Leo moving out would mean taking some of the family wardrobe, I decided that he might need his own, new clothes. Also, he didn’t have much of a “warm weather” wardrobe… so all of the clothes in the suitcase were brand-new. Praise the LORD the only items in the suitcase were clothes and shoes, and not money or our tickets for the honeymoon!
When word of this got around (and word spread very quickly amongst our 200 guests!), they decided to take up an offering for us so that we could buy Leo some new clothes.
I will never forget when Jhan walked up to Leo during the reception:
Jhan: Profe, I want you to have this (pulls out a bill that is now the equivalent of $.30)
Leo: What is this for?
Jhan: Profe, I want to help you buy new clothes. You gave me this suit, it is my turn to give back
Leo and I both hugged him, looked into each other’s eyes and teared up.
We have had many people give us things over the years, but that gift is one of the most treasured!
Ending a season of silence
Those of you who have come along with me on journeys over the years know that I love to tell stories. I love to share everything from the depths to shallow hilarities.
However, I’ve been silent for a while now.
We’ve been in the States for a little over 2 years, and I haven’t written much. There has been a deep sadness that words on black and white can’t really explain, or shouldn’t be written and put “out there”. Those words are only for a select few in my life, and they have had their ears full. However, outside of the brokenness, the silence has been caused by my world shrinking; and the large majority of those with whom I spend my time aren’t people who like to be written about. Then, there are my jobs with autistic kids and at the church where I can’t really write much because of confidentiality.
At the root of it, though…
It is a lot easier to communicate with my friends being back in the States. I talk with dear people almost every morning on my drive to one job or another, and I spend time with people in the evenings. So, there isn’t this deep need to be heard, to speak out, to share about differences… because my life isn’t really different from the “normal US life” anymore.
I go shopping at Old Navy.
I buy my groceries at Costco and at the International grocery store down the street.
I drive myself to work on a busy highway everyday.
We have a puppy.
We have a washer, dryer, dishwasher, lawnmower, clothes for every season, and a window air-conditioner (let alone an endless supply of dill pickles and cheddar cheese!).
Leo and I both have “real jobs” with health insurance.
We have great neighbors that we’ve come to love and share meals together.
We have a garden (that our puppy ate most of the veggies out of this year… lol!).
But, in the middle of it all, there has been a slow process of handing over this season to the Lord… for however long it takes. It means handing over each day, each conversation, each moment. I’ve gone from being angry that we’re here, to realizing that TODAY is the only “today” I’ll get. I might never have another opportunity for a conversation, or to give (or receive) an encouraging word. Life goes by so quickly, especially here in the US. People move so much and are involved in so many different things, that I’ve learned to just take advantage of opportunities to share with people while I have them close.
I’ve learned how easy it is to just send a text to someone when you’re thinking about them.
That not a lot of people really mean “great” when you ask how they’re doing… and it’s not until you ask “how are you REALLY doing” and take time to listen that you learn the truth.
It is a really special thing to just invite someone over to your house for dinner, no matter what the house looks like, and no matter what you cook. I’ve been blessed to have some great conversations over lentils and rice.
All that to say…
I think there are some moments that are worth writing about now.