Here’s How We’re Doing

Hello friends! What a month, right? I know I’m not the only one who has been through the ringer, because y’all have been messaging me on instagram with encouragement since Nate’s accident. Lots of y’all have been through similar situations (some of them very recently!) and I know that even if you’re not experiencing any sort of medical emergency, life is just HARD right now. 

I’m going to share a quick update about life lately and what’s going on with Nate’s recovery. Thank you, really, from the bottom of my heart, for being so kind and checking in on me, sending me encouragement in the form of DMs and emails, and overall just being so patient while I take a break from food blogging and air all of my dirty laundry all over social media instead. 😉 Life is getting better and lighter every day, and I’m starting to feel excited about getting back to some sort of normal content over here and share more about all the delish Austin food we’ve been eating (because there’s been a LOT of it). We’re still a long way out from recovery and getting back to normal…but every day our current reality feels a bit more “normal” and we’re making the best of it. 

About Nate’s recovery…. If you haven’t read about it, I shared all about Nate’s car crash right here. It happened on April 16, and he was immediately whisked away to the hospital where he spent 14 days, followed by 9 days in rehab. Since he was trapped in the wrecked car for 30 minutes before fire fighters could pull him out, he developed compartment syndrome (a dangerous condition caused by pressure buildup, which decreases blood flow and deprives the muscles of nourishment.) Nate’s was a severe case, so he would have lost his leg if the surgeon hadn’t performed an emergency fasciotomy (cutting the fascia to relieve the pressure) on his leg. If you’d like to see it, Google “fasciotomy” for photos, but the pics of Nate’s leg are too gnarly to share here. His leg was basically sliced open from the knee down to the ankle on both sides of his leg, exposing his bone and muscle. Since the swelling was so bad, they couldn’t operate on the broken bones, so every few days he would go back down to surgery where they installed external fixators to stabilize the bones, changed the wound vac changed, started closing up the skin, and gradually operated on the bones and installed internal hardware. (For those of you who are medically minded or have been through similar experiences and want to know, he had two compound fractures: a pilon tib/fib fracture, fractured tibial plateau. He also had a fractured patella and 5 fractures in the foot (3 metatarsal and 2 phalanges). All of that is in his right leg, so from the knee down to the toes was one big mess of shattered bones, and he now has several internal rods and plates holding it all together. He also has a fractured distal radius (left wrist) and has some internal hardware holding that together, too.)

About rehab… In-patient rehab was FOR SURE the right choice. It was hard for him to have an additional week in the hospital without his family, but the therapists helped him make so much progress. They had the right equipment and knowledge and expertise to help in ways that I never would have been able to at home, and the transition back home was as smooth as we could expect.

While he was in rehab, he had a 4th floor window facing the street, so I would drop off a pint of Jeni’s ice cream (they just opened on SOCO right before the pandemic hit!) in a cooler at the front door, set up a folding chair in the parking lot across the street, and have “ice cream dates” with him via FaceTime….I might have also enjoyed a beer, because MAMA NEEDS AN IPA.) By the way, we went with St David’s 32nd St for rehab. Thank you so much to all of you who provided insights into the rehab hospitals in the Austin area! I couldn’t tour any of them due to COVID-19 restrictions, but y’all helped with so much info, and I made the decision to send him to St David’s and he had a great experience there. The therapists were phenomenal. 

^ On his final day of therapy, I was admitted in for family training, so my mom brought Milo up at lunchtime so I could run out and nurse him in the car. Nate and his therapist were “accidentally” outside at the same time to practice car transfers….oops!

About the next steps…. One side of the fasciotomy has been closed, but the other side is still open. The skin won’t be able to grow back on its own, so he’ll have a skin graft in a few weeks where a plastic surgeon will take skin from his thigh to help the wound close up. He still has a couple more weeks with a wound vac inside the fasciotomy opening until the wound is ready for the graft, so he has to get the vac changed 3X/week. It’s basically a big sponge that’s resting on top of the wound, so it’s really painful each time to have it pulled out and replaced, but he’s a champ, each and every time. No surprise there. 

^ Here’s the pretty side of his leg. The other side still has a big open wound, so I’ll spare you for now! 

He also started HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) 5X a week. It’s the craziest thing! He goes into a chamber where the pressure is increased so that it’s like he’s going 40 feet underwater (they call it “going on a dive”, haha) and then he has a helmet over his head where 100% oxygen is pumped for 2 hours. He’ll keep this up for the next 6 weeks to help the wound and the bones heal more quickly. We’ve heard really good things about HBOT, so we’re hopeful it helps his leg! It’s supposed to be great for crush injuries like Nate’s. 

About life now… My in-laws have moved in with us for the month to help out. Nate’s dad has been in charge of doing the daily transfers to/from HBOT, which is incredibly helpful. They have a whole system worked out to get Nate in/out of the car, fold up the wheelchair, etc. I’m amazed at how many steps there are to go anywhere. It actually reminds me of the first few weeks of having a newborn, and trying to do something really simple like get out the door to go to church and wondering, “gosh, why does it take me a full hour to get everyone dressed and packed and loaded up in the car??” haha. Nate, for the record, is incredibly self-sufficient and does a lot fo stuff on his own, but he’s still stuck in a wheelchair and has a wound vac attached to him 24/7, so there are a lot of things he needs help with right now. Nate’s mom has been invaluable to us with all of her help with caring for Milo, making meals, caring for Nate, taking care of the house, etc. 

I missed Nate while he was gone for those 23 days, and having him back home is wonderful. But I was so eager to get through those weeks apart and get him back to me so I could care for him that I didn’t really think through how life would work once he got home. Now, bit by bit, I’m realizing how long and difficult this recovery process will be. I want to reiterate: Nate is amazing. He is doing SO much by himself and is really so self-reliant and strong. But he can’t put weight on his leg until August, and he can’t put weight on his left wrist for at least a few more weeks, and he’s attached to a wound vac, so he needs help with basic, everyday things right now. 

Our house is definitely not ADA compliant, ha! We’re kind of re-arranging everything so that Nate can do as much as possible on his own. Just little things, like putting his toothbrush in a place where he doesn’t have to ask me to get it for him, make a big difference in the long-run. I’m thankful that we have cement floors downstairs and that our master bed/bath are on the ground level! As I’m typing this, Nate and his dad are putting together a motorized sit/stand desk so can fit his leg underneath it and get back to work. 

About motherhood these days…  It has changed a lot in the last month. Nate and I are co-parents, and I’d say that neither one of us carries a bigger load than the other. Things are different now so that Nate can’t physically carry Milo, change his diapers or bathe him, or get upstairs to the nursery to put him to bed. He’ll always be just as emotionally present and loves spoon-feeding Milo while he’s in the highchair or playing with him while he’s standing up in his exersaucer, but I know that Nate is eager for the day when he’ll be able to play on the floor with Milo or carry him upstairs for bedtime again. We’re counting down the days! My in-laws are amazing grandparents to Milo, and I’m so thankful for all the help. I also had tons of help from my side of the family while Nate was in the hospital/rehab. Family is everything

^ Mother’s Day brunch that Nate ordered from Mattie’s. The sweetest! 

So, at this point, we’re trying to figure out how to get the leg to heal so Nate can enjoy the rest of his life with two fully-functioning legs. There’s a chance Nate might always have a bit of pain or a limp, but we want to do everything we can to avoid those. So he’s doing PT, stretches, HBOT, eating a well-rounded diet with lots of protein and calcium and whole foods, scar massages, and looking into seeing a professional to help with the emotional healing. There are so many facets to the healing process, and it seems that in order to heal one thing, something else gets hurt in the process. There are so many pieces to this puzzle! 

Nicole, Shveta, Ashley, and Monique teamed up to make us a week’s worth of homemade food for the first week Nate was home. I have amazing friends. 

As for me…I’m weary, y’all. I miss the way things used to be. Back in early April, the hardest thing about life was that Nate and I were both quarantined at home and trying to do our jobs while also watching a baby, and now that sounds like the easiest thing and I’d take it back in a heart beat! I’m consuming lots of coffee and green juice, going to bed super early (last night was 8:50 pm), learning to say “YES” to anyone who offers help (I have the best friends who have dropped off lots of meals for my family, and that food has been so helpful!), keeping my body strong with barre classes (both of my boys are dependent on my physical stamina right now and I need to keep my body in shape), and going to the spiritual gym every morning with some quiet time. 

And that is a little life update for ya! Blogging has always been such a fun and healing outlet for me, so I’m eager to get back to it. I’m only going to post things when it sounds fun, because life is kind of heavy and hard right now, so lots of my energy is going into my family life and I don’t have quite as much to put into my blog and social media. But I’ll be around! Posting more and more as it feels right and light and fun, and always sharing on instagram, too. 

Lots of love to you! XO. 

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3 years ago

You’re doing an amazing job! Keep taking care of yourself and your family. ???? And keep saying YES to all the food and help your people are sending your way. ✨

Lisa Engel
Lisa Engel
3 years ago

Thanks for sharing. It’s going to be a long road to recovery but you have an excellent support group. So glad Rick and Annette are there to support both you and Nate. I’m sure they are fully enjoying little Milo and watching him grow as well. Please take care, know we’re all thinking of you and keep us updated when you can. Positive thoughts and vibes for all!

1 year ago

[…] are incorrect, because things continued to evolve after I wrote that blog post!) and another update here. He ended up needing 8 surgeries, mostly on his leg. His leg and wrist are full of hardware, and he […]

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