Hey loves:) I'm starting this as I wait for Richard while he's in surgery (3/14), though I hope we'll be back home and comfy when I hit the publish button. It's been a really different and interesting week and a half, to say the least! This post has felt like a long time coming, but it was really important to step back and take a well-deserved rest/recoup as a family, to ignore all the background noise, and try to figure out how our daily schedules were going to work now that he and I are on the mend. I'm happy to say though that my knee is really doing well, and after the Macy's charity event last weekend (I'll share about that neat experience in a later post as well:)), it kinda forced me to buck up a bit, so it feels good to have my laptop back in hand and to be able to answer some questions and such. I do, however, look forward to writing freely again once this is published, instead of feeling like I have to clean up and clear up so much. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, please be patient reading through the post as I promise to cover all the bases:)
By way of a brief intro, this is the story of an accident that happened at our house involving a gun, where Richard and I were both injured. The day after it happened I posted a quick update before my surgery to my Instagram and shared that to me Facebook page to simply let on that I'd injured my knee and wouldn't be able to make the A Reason To Stand conference that day (you might be smiling at the irony if you know the story already), as I'd said that I'd be speaking there and didn't want to surprise or disappoint anyone. I didn't share more details at that point because I didn't want to cause alarm before I had time to go in depth, and my medicated brain was not about to try that yet. haha After my surgery to remove the bullet and to screw some dislodged cartilage back in place, I was wheeled back into my room where Richard was waiting, only to be greeted by a whole slew of creative speculations and strong opinions on Facebook from people. It seemed they were trying to fill in the gaps (there was a 17-second blip about it on the local news released while I was in surgery) to make things as dramatic, and exciting, and as scandalous as possible. Don't get me wrong, I'm flattered at all the time and effort spent on the various fan fiction versions of what had happened , but I realized that unfortunately, I had to start writing out more details even from my hospital bed the same hour I got back to my room after surgery, because there was really no truth out there to help all my fox family understand what was happening with us.
I went ahead and deleted the most abusive and aggressive comments (as is my and every other bloggers' privilege and prerogative) and further cleaned up my blog Facebook page by blocking a few people who weren't helping themselves or others with the garbage they were spewing everywhere. I then wrote out a more detailed post of what really happened (really not as exciting as it had been hypothesized to be) along with addressing some of the speculations that had been most popular. And now I'm going to share even more details because some people just can't get enough of this story:) I may even get crazy and include what clothing we were wearing, and what the house smelled like, etc. for those that are waiting with bated breath to furiously type their interpretation of my words.haha In all seriousness, though, I understand very clearly that you guys care about me, and I'm so grateful for you, and I'm writing this to you so as to share a scary and important day in my life that affected my family greatly, and that we've all learned a lot from.
Friday the 3rd of March:
Richard was anticipating a visit from his friend Trevor (nicknamed 'Chief') who lived a few hours away and who he'd worked with in nursing school. After talking for a while and catching him up on our life, they loaded up the truck with a few of our guns and some of Trevor's and headed out for an afternoon of target practice. The older two girls were in school, and after doing some chores and laundry, etc, I took the younger three and headed out for a few errands and to drop John and Lydia off at preschool. Richard texted a little later that they'd picked up some pizza on their way home, and that Ellie and Sophie were home from school and outside on the swings. On the way home I picked up John and Lydia from preschool and pulled into the driveway. Going inside I saw the two guys across from each other at the end of the dining room table(Richard on the right and Trevor on the left) surrounded by a few beat up targets, boxes of ammo, a couple different guns, pieces of handguns in front of them, dirty rags, q-tips, and various other cleaning supplies. Richard said that the older girls were still outside playing and that there was pizza warming in the oven. He said they were wrapping up and that we could eat soon. I called the girls in and the kids started climbing up onto the barstools in the kitchen for pizza.
Here's where it gets busy, so try to keep up:)
I started dishing out the pizza, and walked into the dining room to give Richard a kiss on the cheek and ask more about how their afternoon had gone. I put my right foot on the bench to Richard's left maybe two feet from him, and they were both sharing bits of what they'd done. I was looking across the table at Trevor when a shot rang out (quieter than I'd thought it would be) and I felt something hit the right side of my right knee which was closest to Richard. I remember looking down and seeing a small frayed piece of my jeans by my knee and thinking 'did he shoot me with a BB gun?' because there was no immediate pain. Both men (both nurses remember) jumped up as I stepped down and leaned against the wall. I don't remember much of the dialogue between them, but I said "I can't move my leg." as Richard was telling me to take a deep breath and stay calm, etc, and Trevor cut a couple slices in my jeans to look at the bullet hole which wasn't bleeding much at all. I started feeling light-headed from shock I suppose after seeing the bullet entry point, because I still didn't feel pain in my knee at all. Richard talked with 911 while Trevor helped me sit on the bench and tied a piece of kids clothing from a laundry basket around my leg as a tourniquet to stop any potential blood flow.
Ellie said "Mommy what happened?!" from the doorway and I snapped to attention as I realized all the kids shouldn't see what was happening. "Ellie please take all the kids upstairs and read to them." I said with a smile and as calmly as I could. "Everything's going to be fine Ellie just please go upstairs right now as fast as you can okay? You're in charge, honey." I said. Richard repeated the same thing to her as she turned back towards the kitchen, and then I remember almost immediately seeing a slew of little legs running up the stairs across the living room. Looking at the floor around me I could see big drops of blood around us and was confused because I thought I wasn't bleeding much at all, then I looked up to see Richard's left sleeve was soaked in blood and streaming onto the floor. I said "Richard you're bleeding!" and Trevor turned his attention to Richard to see what I was seeing. Trevor grabbed my red sweatshirt off the table to quickly wrap around Richard's arm and apply pressure, and I remember trying to think about what was happening and put together how we'd both been shot with the same bullet.
I pulled out my phone to call for help. I called a close family friend and our conversation went something like "Hi can you come right now? I got shot and I need you to help the kids now." She said "oh my goodness!! I'm out of town but I'll call others, are you okay?!" I felt pretty fuzzy and just told her it was an accident, that it was both of us, that we'd already called 911, and she needed to send help for the kids. And she did.
Sitting on the bench and feeling mostly dizzy, I opened my phone and snapped a few quick pictures as I knew we'd want to fully take in the scene later. I also texted Ashlee from the Reason to Stand conference as Trevor wiped up some of the blood and helped Richard elevate his arm above his head. Looking back, my text says: 'Ashlee I don't think I'll be there tomorrow:( I'm fine I swear but Richard and a friend were cleaning their guns and his went off and it went through his arm and into my knee.' Her reply says: 'No way. Oh my gosh. Are you okay?' The next message I sent her was a few hours later. It was a photo I'd had a nurse take of me in my hospital gown with a bloody bandage wrapped around my knee and a weak smile. Poor girl.haha. I told the nurse that I wanted to document it because I didn't plan on doing it ever again, and she laughed.
Almost all at once there were police officers on the scene asking what had happened, firemen and EMT's were wrapping our wounds and there was a stretcher brought in through the front door. I kept hearing Richard asking them to help me first as my knee was wrapped and I was lifted onto the stretcher. Trevor was explaining what had happened to the officers. Several family friends came through the door too and jumped into action. Someone waved as Richard pointed them upstairs to the kids, someone else touched my shoulder and said: "We've got the kids- they're going to be fine, and so are you guys." I started to feel shooting pains in my knee as I was jostled on the stretcher and I as suppose the adrenaline was started to wear off. As I was being taken out the front door I remember being surprised and annoyed that there were camera crews in the driveway and around 15 cars and official vehicles along the road and on the lawn.
In the ambulance, I really needed to hold Richard's hand and know that he was close. He was behind me to the right and kept reassuring me that we were going to be fine. He put his hand on my shoulder while I was given an IV and a warm blanket as I'd started to shake with the shock. We were addressed as 'the gunshot couple' at the ED entrance and put in different rooms to be treated by different teams. Several friends came to visit us within just a short time, and Martin's sweet parents came to my room after visiting Richard and stayed for a while, then went back to see him later. It was very comforting to have them there holding my hand and hearing their reassurances that it was all going to be fine and that Richard was doing good as well. I was able to facetime him once things calmed down to talk about what had happened. It was good to see him smiling and to hear the details of his injuries and see his scans, etc, as things had moved fast enough that I wasn't even sure how much damage had been done to his arm till then. We tried to see the positives in the situation and acknowledge how blessed we felt that the children were perfectly fine, and he even cracked a few jokes which really helped lessen my fear and anxiety.
Moving along, the on-call doctor decided that I should be admitted so he could perform surgery in the morning to remove the bullet, and Richard's surgery was put off for a couple days as they needed more time to plan the extensive work needed to repair his arm. When he accidentally fired the gun with his right hand, pointing left, the bullet had entered near his left wrist and exited nearest his left elbow, shooting diagonally through his arm and shattering his Ulna to pieces as well as leaving several fragments in his arm before sliding under my knee-cap in my right leg.
After a few more friendly visits and treat deliveries, Rich and I had a very rough night of trying to get our pain under control, but oddly it was also a very big night of deep discussion in that little room, and connecting on a new strong level as a couple. It immediately had brought us so much closer, just as a dangerous car accident that you see could have been so much worse. It was also pretty crazy to think we were sharing pieces of the same bullet:) Richard was so upset and apologetic, but I honestly was not going to be upset about something that I couldn't change. I've never been someone to dwell on the 'what ifs' and cry over spilled milk. It happened. It was an accident. We couldn't change it. All we could do was to learn what we could from it, make the best of it, and then move forward. Overall that night and the whole situation has really strengthened our perspective on life, and helped us to really focus on our blessings even more. We saw very clearly how much worse the whole situation could have been, and priorities became very clear.
The next morning I had my surgery. They put a large black brace (knee immobilizer) on my leg to protect the would and keep me from bending my leg, I was given crutches, and we pick up pretty much where I started in the second paragraph of this post:)
Catching up to today:
Richard had his first surgery a few days later, which was to check for nerve damage and to attach an external fixation device to his bones to ensure that they would be stable and positioned correctly. On the 14th they removed the ex-fix and inserted a metal plate the length of his forearm, piecing his Ulna back together and attaching the pieces to the plate with 15 screws and some wire. Pretty intense. There are a few pictures on his Instagram page if you're curious. These days we sit a lot and talk a lot:) We have methods down for helping me get into our high bed and into cars, etc. Richard's handling the pain much better than I am, even though his wounds are much worse. My row of stitches and the bullet hole are healing up very well, and I should be able to take the brace off after another month or so. Richard's healing process is much more extensive, but his doctor is very optimistic and proud of how well the procedures went.
Now that the whole story is told in immense detail, there are a few more thoughts that I feel strongly need to be said, and then as I said earlier I can't wait to move onto other posts and thoughts from my heart that I've been waiting to share lately.
Firstly, I want to say that I do have a bit of a hard time talking about what happened, because owning and using guns is a very personal and private choice, and it's the type of strong topic that I've tried to never talk about on my blog. I've chosen to refrain from subjects like religion and politics, and in this case, the use and ownership of guns, because I feel like they make many people experience strong feelings and can cause debate and often conflict (as we've seen). The goal of my blog is and always has been to try to uplift and to inspire, and conflict and arguments are not in line with that goal. To some, this post may help you feel much more steadfast in your choice to not own or use firearms of any kind, and that's your choice, and I think that's wonderful. This accident is certainly not going to encourage anyone to go out and buy guns.haha However I live in a farming town in the country where just about everyone I know has and uses guns for hunting and protection and clearing fields, etc, and we are adults, and that is our choice. All in all, I wish I could have kept this topic from causing anyone distress, and I hope that we can all continue to respect each others choices as their own and not ours.
Secondly, I feel that what I want to say here is mainly directed at people that do not fully understand me, or my past experiences, or the deep respect that I have for pain and loss and risk and recovery. The biggest misunderstanding from the few things I shared online previously was that I don't appear to be taking this accident seriously.
I'm not sure the percentage of my readers that have lost a very close relative(in my case I lost my first husband 15 months after a terminal cancer diagnosis), but I speak for all of us when I say that going through that gives you a greater respect for life and safety than most. Excuse my french, but there is no way in hell that I didn't take the bullet in my leg seriously, or the blood all over the floor, or the glaring possibility that I could be picking out another casket, or the immense pain Richard and I have dealt with every day since the accident. I don't have the use of my right leg and won't for awhile. I can't bend it, I have to walk everywhere with crutches. For the first time in my life I can't hold my children. I can't play on the floor with them or jump on the trampoline. I can't drive, I can't play the piano, or stand long enough to cook or do much housework, etc, etc.
As hard as this is for me, Richard has it worse with his left arm wrapped up and useless, and still he's managing to take care of chores and the children because he's more mobile than I am. In addition, while we're very hopeful and optimistic about his recovery, there's the very distinct possibility that the damage to his nerves may keep him from having full use of his hand again. Bottom line, yes, we take this incredibly scary and painful accident very seriously. We fully understand the weight of what happened and the potential outcome, and always will, but we choose to take a positive attitude and to see a scary situation as a learning experience
Third and finally, I want to reiterate that this blog and my social media platforms are very special and valuable to me, and that as the owner/writer/creator I'll continue to keep these places as uplifting and clear of contention and conflict as I can. Over the years we've built relationships here, and it's been a place of safety and empathy and relatability for many. Of learning and sharing and growing. Many of you have seen me through pregnancies and changing seasons and love and heartbreak. I've always been able to come here when I want to share something special to me, and when I feel that I need support and love, and you guys have been wonderful all along the way. Unfortunately, this situation seems to have sparked some of you into saying things that were misguided or misled by rumors that circulated about what happened and why, and I hope that always moving forward, that my words about my life will always be taken above those of people who have no interest in my well being or the well being of my family.
I love my husband and my children, and their happiness is the most important thing in the world to me. We all need each other during the hardest time in our lives, and Richard and I are making big adjustments and sacrifices for each other. This space here was just an outlet for a couple years before it started supporting our family, but it has continued to grow as a community of support and mutual encouragement, and I've loved seeing conversations start and friendships made. Anything that takes away from the positive and uplifting atmosphere does not have a place here. That's all:)
Thank you again and again for those that have taken the time to leave kind messages and comments of fast healing and encouragement. They are so appreciated and the prayers are so felt.
If you've read this far, thank you for sticking around:) and I hope you have a great weekend ahead.