Monday, November 3, 2008

Andrew accident

This is a going to be a long post. I believe the majority of the people that read this blog already know this story, but I wanted to make sure I wrote it down for my sake. I have a much longer version written down, but this is something that I always think about at this time of year, so I thought I would put it on my blog.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the day that threw our lives upside-down for 2 months. Three years ago today (Thursday, Nov. 3), I was 8 weeks pregnant with Keagan and very much looking forward to our FIRST prenatal appointment in the afternoon. I had just gotten to work that morning and was starting what was looking like a busy morning since I had to leave right after lunch for my OB appointment, when I got a phone call from Andrew's cell phone. A guy that Andrew worked with at the time proceeded to tell me that Andrew was involved in a lacquer explosion and was being loaded up in an ambulance to be taken to the hospital. I was completely stunned and immediately scared because Andrew is not the type of person to go to a hospital for much, especially in an ambulance. A co-worker could tell that I was not doing well and insisted on driving me to the hospital. Because my office was really close to the hospital they were taking him to, I got there before Andrew did, so it took a little while before I could see Andrew, but when I did, he looked like he was in a lot of pain. His face, hands and legs were badly burned. The doctor explained to me that he was badly burned (which I could see) and that they were going to be taking by life flight (the small airplane) to the Burn Center at the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake and that I would be able to fly with him.

I only had time to call Andrew's parents and my doctor's office. Andrew's parents got there just in time to give Andrew a blessing and then they loaded us up in an ambulance to take us to the airplane by the airport. Because they didn't know how much smoke he inhaled, they put him to sleep and put a tube down his throat, so they wouldn't have any problems with that during the flight. They also paralysed him so that he wouldn't have to feel the pain. The moment we arrived at the burn unit, a several doctors and nurses started descending on Andrew, it was surreal. A very nice social worker took me to a room and talked to me and got all the information she needed to call Andrew's boss and to start the Worker's Comp stuff. She then took me to the waiting room to wait while they did what they needed to do to Andrew. I called my brother and his wife who live in Salt Lake (Alma & Matti) and left a message for them. Thank goodness Matti got home shortly after I left my message and called back. She immediately dropped everything and came to the hospital to be with me. She was such a life savor that day. She was with me when I finally got to see Andrew for the first time, which was a very good thing. She is a nurse (in the same hospital in the Labor and Delivery) and was able to explain things and to just be there with me.

The doctor told me that Andrew had 21% of his body burned and that they were 2nd and 3rd degree burns and that he would definitely need skin grafts, but they wouldn't know for a few days how much would need to be skin grafted and that he would probably be in the hospital for about 3 weeks. On Nov. 8 (Tuesday) Andrew had his skin graft surgery. Between those days, Andrew had to endure bandage changed twice a day. They would take off all the bandages and scrub down his legs which was extremely painful for him because of all the exposed nerve endings. After his skin graft surgery, he had to stay in bed for 5 days. The most he could move was to roll to his side once a day so they could change his sheets. Finally after 5 days, he was able to get up and start talking and going to physical therapy again.

Andrew was healing very well but before we could go home, I had to learn how to do all his dressing changes. For those that don't know, I am a VERY squeamish person. But I was able to learn to do it. On Nov. 18 (Friday), which was 2 weeks after the accident, Andrew was released from the hospital, but they wanted us to stay in Salt Lake for the weekend to make sure everything was still going good. On Monday morning, Andrew had a follow-up appointment. He was then cleared to go home. We were very grateful to be going home because that was the week of Thanksgiving.

The following Monday (1 week after we got home), I was at work when I got another very sad phone call. My dad called me to tell me that my grandma had passed away early that morning. So, we began making plans to leave in a few days to go to my home (Caliente, Nevada) to my grandma's funeral which was that weekend. The day we were leaving to drive down to my grandma's funeral, we woke up to a couple of feet of snow on the ground. Because of all the snow, we had to take the long way which is through Salt Lake, down to Cedar City and then over to Caliente, and with the snow, it took us even longer. It took us 8 hours just to get to Salt Lake, then we had another 6 hour drive to get to Caliente, Nevada.

The Wednesday after the funeral, Andrew had a follow-up appointment at the burn unit in Salt Lake, so we stayed an extra few days with family, then drove up to Salt Lake. Andrew had his appointment then we proceeded to drive home to Boise. We were about 1 mile from the Burley exit when our car broke down. Thank goodness we had a cell phone, we called a tow-truck and they took us to a hotel and towed our car to their shop. We ended up staying the night in Burley and then had some good friends come down with a car dolley to tow us home. At the time our car broke down, I had my breaking point as well. I was so frustrated that all these crazy things were happening. But Andrew was able to laugh it off and helped calm me down as well.

I am so grateful that Andrew's accident happened at work because Worker's comp paid for everything, even the hotel I stayed in that was right by the hospital. I am also so grateful for my brother, Alma, and is wife, Matti. They did so much for me and Andrew while we were there. I don't know how I would have made it through without their love and support.

For those that would like, here are some pictures of Andrew while he was in the hospital.

Day after accident
Face 3 Days after accident
Legs 3 days after accident
1 week after accident #1
1 week after accident #2


cappyt said...

You should show a before and after too, to show the good job they did with his treatment.
I remember going to lunch with you and the Cutlers while you were in town during that time, and yes, knowing how squeamish you are even about paper cuts, I thought you were holding together amazingly. You ought to give yourself a little more credit my friend!

RaNell said...

WOW! I didn't realize he had burned his face so badly. You can't even tell now. You really should post the pictures of him now. Thanks for sharing the pictures, I like that sort of thing.

RaNell said...

Oh, and today Ella is 8 months old.

Leis Family said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I am so glad that he recovered so well and so quickly.You really can't even tell that he has gone threw all that. You guys are such amazing people.