Tuesday, May 31, 2016

my most frightening mom moment in my career history as a mom

 I tried repeatedly to talk her out of it, but Gentry would not relent.  Four days after Sadie and Andy’s wedding, we travelled to Utah to celebrate their marriage at an open house given by Andy’s family in their honor.   Gentry was absolutely adamant about bringing her long board with us to “try out some hills in Utah”.  Not loving the idea, but tired of arguing, I finally consented with the condition, “Okay, but you have to wear your helmet!”  She agreed,  and Thursday afternoon we got on the plane, long board and helmet in tow.  Gregg and Drew would drive to Utah and meet us a day later after taking time to mountain bike in one of the national parks along the way. 

My in-laws have a home right at the base of the mountain in Provo, Utah.  The whole development is built on one large incline with a few of the streets being somewhat level.  Friday morning Gentry came into my room and asked if she could go riding on her long board.  I continue to relive this conversation in my mind.

Gentry the hills here are really steep.  You’re going to have to finds something that’s not crazy. 
Yes, mom, I know, I’ll be fine.
{sigh} Okay, but make sure and take your phone and your helmet.
I will.
Have fun, love you too.
Love you too.

And with that, she ran up the stairs and out the back door.
I breathed out another sigh, put my phone on airplane mode,  and decided to take advantage of a few quiet moments to say my morning prayers.  A few minutes later I turned my phone back on and noticed I had a message from Gentry.  She was crying and breathing hard and through jumbled speech I thought I heard her say, “Help!”
Instant panic and a sledge hammer to my chest as I frantically called her back.

Gentry, what happened? Are you okay!?
Mom, MOM, where am I? Is this a dream? I don’t know where I am!!
Honey, I’m coming! Where are you???
I don’t know, where am I???
We’re in Utah, remember, Sadie got married on Saturday
Sadie got married? Why are we in Utah. Mom I don’t know where I am!!
Don’t move honey, don’t move, don’t move, I’m coming.

I put the call on speaker, talking to her the whole time as I  scramble into my clothes praying, “Please help me find her, please let her be okay.”
I run into Sierra’s room to wake her up, “Gentry’s hurt and we have to find her!” Sierra and I run to the car in complete panic.  At this point someone finds Gentry and starts taking to me on her phone. I ask him to please call 911.  He hands the phone to another woman who tries to tell us where they are.  Time slows as I try to understand what she’s saying.  When it clicks I make a u turn and rush to get to Gentry.  Everything seems surreal. As we turn down the street I see her there, lying on the sidewalk, her head in a kind strangers hands.  Sierra and I run to her.  She is not wearing her helmet. She is bleeding and cut, but her legs are bent and moving.  Sierra kneels down to her face and says, “Gentry, I’m going to say a prayer, okay?” She says a tender, beautiful prayer asking for Gentry to be okay and the stranger and I both say, “amen”. I hear the sirens as the ambulance approaches.  The paramedics ask me if she was wearing a helmet.  I keep looking around frantically and repeating, “She said she would wear it! She promised! I can’t find it!” I am fixated on the helmet. I want to know she was wearing it, but I can’t see it.   I wonder out loud if maybe she came out of it on impact and walked to where she is now lying down.  The fireman puts a neck brace on as she cries out in pain.  They strap her to a board.  More strangers gather and a women asks my name.  She says she knows my in-laws and asks what she can do to help.  My brain doesn’t want to work, but I close my eyes tight for a moment and tell myself, “Think Terra!”  I ask the lady to take Sierra home so she can call Sadie and Andy and they can bring her to the hospital. I feel like I am going to pass out and remember I haven’t eaten anything.  There is a young teenage girl standing on the lawn near us.  I ask if this is her house and she says yes.  I ask if she maybe has a granola bar that I could take with me in the ambulance as I feel my blood sugar drop.  She runs to the house and quickly comes back with a handful of granola bars.  I thank her and climb in the front part of the ambulance.  They won’t let me ride in the back.  I kept looking over the seat saying, “I’m here Gentry, it’s okay honey, I’m here!”  I ask what they’re doing for her pain.  The paramedic tells me they’re giving her something that will help.  Sierra sends me a text at this moment.  It’s a picture of Gentry’s helmet, still sitting in the garage. My heart sinks. The driver paramedic tells me the hospital where we’re going has an excellent trama unit.  I feel grateful for his kindness.

We pull into the ER and they wheel Gentry into a large room with lots of machines.  At least six people start working on her as I watch them cut off her favorite t-shirt and jeans. She is wearing her brand new skate shoes that she bought herself, and they take those off too and throw them into a basket with her clothes.  The doctor is asking me what happened, and again the question, “Was she wearing a helmet?”  I have to acknowledge at this point that she wasn’t, and I feel like the most negligent mother ever. Gentry is crying and saying she hurts.  I ask about pain medication again and the ER doctor says they’re  going to give her morphine.  His voice is calm and reassuring and I feel grateful for all of the people working to help Gentry be okay.

A few moments later Sierra comes into the room.  Not content to wait for Sadie and Andy to make the 30 minute drive, she asked my in-laws friend (her name is Robin) to drive her to the ER. Robin gives me her cell number and I ask her to contact my in-laws to tell them what’s happended.  She gives me a hug and leaves. The doctor tells us that soon they will take Gentry to have a CT scan.  She becomes quiet as the morphine takes effect.  Sierra and I are allowed to sit by here and talk quietly to her. Gentry seems to drift in and out of an uncomfortable sleep. I take a moment to slip into the hall and try and contact Gregg.  Thankfully he has service.  He tells me they can be there in three hours.   Sadie and Andy and my sister-in-law, Soni arrive. Andy’s brother Joel arrives a few minutes later.  Andy and Joel then (at my request) give Gentry what we call in the Mormon church, a priesthood blessing.  It is a beautiful, comforting blessing and Gentry immediately seems more peaceful. 

More people with scrubs come to wheel Gentry to the imaging area. We wait.  They wheel Gentry back into the room, and we wait some more. And my heart hurts thinking about what the CT scans might show. Finally, the trama doctor comes in to give us results.  Gentry’s lungs show a small pneumothorax, a pocket of air in the outside lining of her lungs caused by the impact of her crash.  The doctor tells me she will not be able to fly on an airplane for two weeks.  Another scan shows that Gentry’s pelvis is fractured in two places.  They will be admitting her to the hospital.  She also has a slight concussion. 

Once all the adrenaline leaves my body, I start to feel light headed again as I think about Gentry’s injuries.  But I also begin to feel immense relief now, knowing that she doesn’t have any spiral trama.  As the clock ticks on, Gentry becomes more coherent. She starts to remember what happened right before the crash, but not the crash itself.  She is able to speak clearly and seems, for the most part, to be herself.  More relief as she seems to have no major brain trama.

Fast Forward
It is now sixteen days since Gentry’s crash as I sit here in Flagstaff and type about the events that, believe it or not, happened on Friday the 13th.   After two days in the hospital, Gregg and I were able to drive her back home to Arizona.  Follow-up x-rays at our orthopedic also showed a small fracture in her sacrum. Overall, I am amazed at how well Gentry is doing.  She uses a walker in the house, and if we go anywhere, we take her wheel chair.  Her doctor estimates about 3 to 4 months for her recovery.  Despite what happened, I’m not sure if Gentry really grasps all the “what ifs” that could have occurred that day.  She is already asking about long boarding again, and I guess, that is one of the wonderful things about being a thirteen year old teenager, that bliss of youthful thinking. 
When Drew and Sierra saw the actual hill that Gentry rode, they both commented, “There’s no way she could have ridden from the top of this hill to the bottom. Speed wobbles would have thrown her off”  To which I replied, “Well, she didn’t ride to the bottom, not by herself anyway.  There is no doubt in my mind that there were unseen angels that kept her on that board and blunted the force of her fall. No doubt in my mind at all.”

And as for why Gentry didn’t wear her helmet that day, she’s not really sure.  She can’t remember exactly how everything happened or why she didn’t put it on.  Again, no explanation, because she’s usually my kid that follows the rules.  One thing Gentry does remember is realizing that she was out of control, “I knew I was going to crash, so I just bent my knees and prayed that I could stay on the board to the bottom of the hill.”

I believe in angels. 

I believe in the power of prayer.

I also believe that I might be hiding Gentry’s long board for at least a year. 

Pre-crash Phoenix airport

Arrival in Utah

Gentry right before hospital discharge

 And after the wedding and the accident…..we had a graduation. More tomorrow.

Monday, May 30, 2016

where to start

As I stare at this blank screen, it’s hard to know where to begin.  I so wish I could have been actively writing during the past three weeks. Perhaps it would have helped me to process everything, but I literally have not had one spare second to sit down and type. I have never, ever had so many emotional ups and down in such a condensed period of time. It feels good to sit down now, and breath, and try and find a healthy place in my heart and mind for all of this emotion.

Sadie and Andy’s Wedding
May 7th Sadie and Andy became Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen.  The Monday before the wedding, the weather forecast suddenly showed rain.  It rarely, if ever rains in Gilbert Arizona on May 7th.  We do live in a desert after all, and although April occasionally will bring a spring storm, May is supposed to be SAFE.  “I’m sure the forecast will change,” I told myself.  Tuesday morning’s forecast continued to show rain for the weekend.  At this point, I started to panic.  The reception was an outside venue at my in-laws with a beautiful canopy of patio lights, and an enchanted forest theme complete with a canoe and even a s’mores bar… weeks of planning the perfect outdoor reception with no back up plan in place (because it’s Arizona, and it doesn’t rain on May 7th in Arizona!!). Tuesday I started making calls to local event planners trying to secure a white tent.  After finding an extremely large one that could house our venue, I had to decide, that very day, tent or hope it didn’t rain.  Sooo stressful.  In the end, we went with the tent, and guess what…no rain ( I know, right?!). 

After getting through the rain scenario, the rest of the week leading up to the wedding was kind of a blur.  Again, enough emotion to go around as we prepared to welcome family and friends traveling from out of state, finish last minute prep, and run through the days events on paper one more time. 

The night before the wedding we had the opportunity to have a very casual dinner with just family at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  We invited both our family and Andy’s family that had traveled to Arizona.  This night was my very favorite.  Everyone that wanted to was invited to share thoughts, advice, or memories of the bride and groom.  There was lots of laughter, and a good amount of tears that night.  I loved getting to hear from Andy’s siblings and mom and dad as they shared funny stories and stories of Andy’s amazingly kind heart.  It was equally great to hear my own kids and family share their stories about Sadie.  As we left that night I felt a perfect peace and so much gratitude knowing that Andy would always love and take care of our daughter.

Now the next part of this post is “to be continued…”

Our photographer has up to three months to finish the editing process before we will see all of the wedding pics.  And I have more to write about May 7th.  But until then, here’s a little sneak peak …
Kristina Curtis Photography

Tomorrow …….More processing as I share my very most horrific “mom moment” to date and what happened five days after the wedding.