One foot forward – update on Nate and then some

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img_20111025_111305Originally published Oct. 25, 2011 –

There’s nothing more annoying than someone stealing your spotlight.

Not to be outdone, my tibia decided it was sick and tired of Nate’s ACL getting all the attention. So yesterday my left leg became encapsulated in an orthopedic boot for the next three weeks and I’m only to walk a total of one-two hours A DAY. That’ll teach Nate and his so-called ACL repair…OY!

Seriously though, my oldest OS is doing so well.

The Hubs went to visit him during a business trip and they bravely went to New York City.

It’s scary enough walking around the Big Apple as an able-bodied person but as you will soon see in this video clip, my OS took on NYC like a BOSS.

I love how the lady by the curb doesn’t even step aside as Nate comes barreling through. Nice. Thank you Mobilegs for making such a great product, your crutches have made such a difference in my son’s recovery.

img_20111009_1132461That awkward Cinderella moment between brothers – the shoe fits!

When Aaron and I were at West Point, I observed brotherly love in a fresh way.

Five years ago, almost to the day, Nate had his first ACL surgery.

Aaron and Ike attended to Nate in the manner fitting of a then 12 and 10-year-old.

One of the post-surgery highlights was when the two guys competed each day to see which brother could collect the most wee-wee from the urinal. Such a proud mommy moment.

Thankfully everyone has matured. My orange haired, freckle face almost 15-year-old stayed behind for driver’s ed but loaded up a box of treats for Nate replete with a funny card. He spoke to him regularly and showed sincere concern.

It was my middle OS that displayed such a servant’s heart, I found myself nearly thankful for Nate’s injury.

When Nate’s surgery was scheduled first thing in the morning, Aaron cheerfully awakened to join me at the hospital.

Anything Nate needed, Aaron offered to help.

Anything I needed, Aaron was equally joyful to do.

Fill Nate’s ice machine, get him fresh water, fluff his pillows, Aaron literally poured himself out to his brother and he was remarkably patient with me.

My boy sacrificed his own Fall break to help Nate and then only three days after getting home from New York, Aaron was the patient. He had wisdom teeth surgery!

It was my middle OS that displayed such a servant’s heart, I found myself nearly thankful for Nate’s injury.

When Nate’s surgery was scheduled first thing in the morning, Aaron cheerfully awakened to join me at the hospital.

Anything Nate needed, Aaron offered to help.

Anything I needed, Aaron was equally joyful to do.

Fill Nate’s ice machine, get him fresh water, fluff his pillows, Aaron literally poured himself out to his brother and he was remarkably patient with me.

My boy sacrificed his own Fall break to help Nate and then only three days after getting home from New York, Aaron was the patient. He had wisdom teeth surgery!

img_20111010_1011532It’s not the best quality picture but I captured a tender moment when it was time to say goodbye.

Of course, the lacrimal glands were activated as I hugged my boy’s neck.

We had such a treasured time together.

There was another WP mom picking up her son by Grant turn-around and she wiped tears from her eyes at the sight. Aaron carried his big brother’s laundry and stuff as Nate crutched back to life at West Point. Yes, I was crying.

But then I really lost it as Aaron accompanied Nate to the barracks.
Nate was limping along on his Mobilegs as Aaron carried Nate’s stuff back to his room.

Two beautiful, godly young men and brothers displaying love and gratitude.

They are there for each other.

They share joy and sorrow, struggles and success.

Neither distance, nor disability of any kind or length, nor differences will separate my three OS from each other. Ever.

Let it be so.

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Thanksgiving days pondering blessings after ACL surgery

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It’s been a few days since my last post but Nate has returned to class per doctor’s orders.

IMG_20111007_172711The rigors of a grueling academic schedule, a long-distance love affair, and an active social life are a heavy load to carry by themselves when you’re a firstie at West Point.

But Nate must now add frequent physical therapy visits to his busy life.

I do not envy him but of this I’m certain, my OS can do it.

Now at home, I am reflecting on the blessings because they abounded during our journey to New York. At times, I find myself just SMH (a term I noticed so often on facebook, I had to google it).

IMG_20111006_094816SMH – shaking my head and that’s what I’m doing at the cornucopia of sublime treasures we experienced. If I didn’t share them and attempt in some measure to take stock in the blessings, it wouldn’t seem right.

Weather – gentle autumn days teased us with a sense that colder temps soon awaited. During our entire stay, we enjoyed bright sun, blue skies and trees just starting to change colors. During the trip to New York, Aaron and I even spotted a rainbow in the sky. Me likey rainbows in the sky!

IMG_20111004_134657Traffic – what traffic? This was a big concern of mine because I’m not a great traveler and I’m even worse when my given mode of trans- portation isn’t moving. Pretty sure this will never happen again but we cruised along the highways!

Destination – And get this, we hardly ever got lost! I can’t make my way out of a paper bag but going from our home in North Carolina to New York and back again was practically effortless. I was convinced Aaron and I would be hopelessly directionally challenged even using the GPS but we all worked so well together!

Whether it was the curry chicken salad my friend Gigi made for us, the calzones at Schades, the lunch platters at Foodies, our tummies were full of deliciousness.

Laundry – since we stayed at a friend’s house for several days, I got to wash clothes. It does a mama good to do the laundry for her Soldier. Gigi’s hospitality gave Aaron and I a relaxing place to chill.

Crutches – A West Point mom told me about Mobilegs and you should have seen Nate zipping along on these after surgery! We went to WalMart just two days after surgery and I had to start walking in front of him just to help the shoppers realize a guy with crutches was barreling toward them! He didn’t give them time to react. Someone was going to get hurt and I didn’t think it was going to be my Soldier!IMG_20111004_204206

Healing – ACL surgery is painful but my oldest OS was a model patient. Helping my family is a special joy to me and Nate appreciated anything we did for him which only made me want to do more.

Friends – the prayers and loving support of many people are good medicine for the body and soul. One West Point mom made a bunch of delicious homemade caramels for her daughter’s Army sports team and guess what she did? She dropped off THREE bags of it for my crew! Dark chocolate, rich caramel with a hint of sea salt…oh.my.word. Please don’t ask how many I ate versus how many the patient and his brother enjoyed. All’s I’m gonna say is I deserved it. Final answer. 

Another mom and her family back in NC made Nate homemade cards and caramel corn. Nate now has two homemade bookmarks from little kids who encouraged him. They are Marine kids which makes it even more fantastic! The dad drove the treats over to my house the night before we left, such thoughtfulness.

Throughout Nate’s days of recuperation, I would bring him small gifts from others. It was remarkable how each gift was perfect timing for him. Whether it was the Batman undies from his dad, the PopTarts from his grandparents, the Amazon gift card from his aunt and uncle, the cash from his grandpa or the weird plastic caterpillar from the orange hair, freckle faced youngest brother, there was a sense of love and community from all around.

And I’m not done. There are more blessings but on this perfect autumn day, I’m going to bask in these gifts. May I suggest you do the same. Not in my blessings which I pray bring you a measure of joy but on yours, they are there even if you have to look a little harder. I hope you find them today, my friends.

More soon,

“Um, thanks Dad for the Batman briefs…”IMG_20111008_163311

Army strong – day one post surgery

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img_20111007_125642We’re sitting in a darkened room at Keller Army Hospital on a crisp autumn day at West Point.

Though my family often chides me for asking a lot of questions, today I think Nate at least would agree, that trait does have its merits.

I had myriad questions of the surgeon but didn’t barrage him. A mama wants to effectively advocate for her son.

If you’ve ever been to the doctor or had surgery, you understand how important it can be to have another voice speaking on your behalf.

In the short time he has been a patient at the hospital, I have run interference for my OS. When Nate was thirsty, I requested water, when he drank Sprite, I asked if he could have more.

Watching Rick Springfield in the waiting room. Pretty sure he's had a little surgery himself!
Watching Rick Springfield in the waiting room. Pretty sure he’s had a little surgery himself!

The medical staff have many patients, Aaron and I have one. It’s not being a diva or a prima donna, I’m not a Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton, just a mama, if I can do something quicker or easier, than I want to assist.

img_20111007_172711When Nate’s IV monitor was sounding “occlusion,” I fetched someone to investigate. When he thought he might throw up, I inquired of a barfing receptacle. I’m sure Nate would have managed but not very comfortably because he’s too weak to do much.

Aaron has faithfully stayed by Nate’s side even though there’s really nothing for him to do here. I am proud of my boy for his sacrifice and love.

Here’s an example of how Aaron and I have been a good team.

A short while ago, a male nurse came to help Nate with a basic biological function. Nate did not want my intervention (totally understood that!) so Aaron and I waited in the hallway.

Apple picking with my boy

Apple picking with my boy

The nurse gave Nate his privacy once he had transferred him to the toilet. He left the room and told Nate he would get him back to the bed. Nate used the restroom and Aaron and I stepped back in the room. Nate began to wobble and he looked white as a ghost. I yelled for Aaron’s help in case Nate fainted as I retrieved the nurse. Aaron stood by his brother’s side until the staff got him safely back to bed.

Now Nate is fast asleep, problem avoided, thank the Lord.

Seriously!

Thanks for your prayers, concern and support, it means so much to us. Army Strong!

Surgery – when the time is right, whenever that is!

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Unfortunately, the adage “expect the unexpected” and the expression “hurry up and wait” are true this morning as Nate’s surgery has been delayed.

He walked into the surgery room, mentally prepared to get his ACL fixed and walked right back out minutes later because of an equipment malfunction.

The night before, the three of us enjoyed dinner at Sushi King followed by ice cream just a few doors down the street. Nate was as ready as he could be for the surgery bright and early in the morning.

But at this point, my OS has been told that the equipment might not even be fixed today. The sterilizer is broken. I think that’s a good reason to postpone things however, my firstie is hungry, thirsty and frustrated, who can blame him?

Yesterday I found myself counting our blessings, taking stock of the goodness which has resulted through this trial. So instead of complaining which is unproductive, I’m going to concentrate on the positive. This is just a partial list and I hope to later include other blessings which have lifted our spirits.

Don”t be jealous, get your own ACL surgery 😉

My van is loaded with treats for Nathan. Cards and gifts from family as well as from people who don’t even know my boy! When Nate said he wanted me to bring him dehydrated apples, I obliged but a mother who doesn’t even know him also wanted to support a member of the military. She dehydrated a bunch of apples for Nate. They look delicious!

Bible Study friends holding a bag of dehydrated apples.
They donated 40 pounds of apples for my OS!
The women in my weekly Bible Study pitched in and bought a box of apples for me to dehydrate for my OS. We’re talking 40 POUNDS of apples! In addition, my Bible Study leader and another WP mom donated bags of apples for my healthy food project. Such bounty! When I popped open the back of the van to give Nate some of the things, his mouth was agape at the amount of apples he now has to enjoy! I felt so proud of my friends and the community of support.

The West Point networks for parents and mothers are extraordinary. Through a parent list-serve and a closed West Point Moms facebook group, I have been encouraged beyond measure. I learned about Mobilegs which is a lightweight crutch alternative. When I contacted the company and told them about Nate’s upcoming surgery, they eagerly offered me a military discount.

Nate trying on his Mobilegs before surgery.

The Mobilegs arrived at his barracks yesterday afternoon.

When we met Nate, he was grinning and carrying them. “I’m actually kinda excited to use them,” Nate remarked to me last night.

During dinner, when the owner of the restaurant learned that Nate was a West Point cadet having surgery the next day, he made him a free special mango sushi roll. Our spirits were high. Truly I’m learning that the little things we can all do for each other are very significant. THANK YOU SUSHI KING!!

Mango, cream cheese, crab sushi roll made
just for Nate – delicious kindness



Another great blessing was Aaron and I drove to West Point and enjoyed a scenic, pleasant trip. We got along 96% of the time and although the last 4% was pretty ugly (we were less than ten miles away from West Point!), our relationship quickly returned to its formerly happy state. 


And as if we hadn’t be given above and beyond what we even imagined, we had a surprise awaiting us. I opened the small closet in Nate’s hospital room and there, tucked in the far corner, I spotted the thing we never expected. A pair of bright red boxer briefs!!! Carefully I pinched the undies with my fingers and wiggled them at Nate! He was, um, speechless! I’m pretty sure an angel had left them there for my boy. It doesn’t get better than that, my friends!

A complimentary pair of undies left for Nate! What great fortune!

And there have been other blessings which I must acknowledge. Right now though I’m completely exhausted and trusting in the Lord’s perfect timing. Please know that your words and thoughtfulness are so meaningful. We’ll keep you posted…