Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oh what a night

Yesterday, my dear sister-in-law got married. The Brack wedding machine was in full swing. There were pretty dresses, good food, lovely centerpieces. There was laughing and crying. There was the post-wedding hang-out.

After an exhausting but joyful day, my husband and I and our 2 guests, Clare and Liz, headed back to our home. Robert stopped on the way, so we arrived first. I was putting sheets on a bed for a 3rd guest on their way when I hear these immortal words... "Chrissy! I need you... and the first aid kit."

I hurried downstairs to find my husband, still only about a week post-op from having gallbladder removed, hobbling around our foyer. To make a long story short, he slipped on the ice and cut himself.

Luckily, friends, I am CPR certified and used to be first aid certified. They aim this training to be something that "kicks-in" as a first response to a crisis.

I did the very first thing they tell you to do -- assess the situation. Well, we need a chair as there is NO WAY I am letting my husband bleed out on my white carpet. Done.

Next, you check the ABC's -- that is, airway, breathing and circulation. Oh, his airway was open. In fact, he's asking for a beer. Check. Breathing -- yup, he's wincing in pain. Check. Circulation -- there is a wound on his leg gushing blood. That's what I'm talking about!

Next, apply firm pressure to the wound, putting a barrier between you and the blood. They tell you in first aid to call for help, so I sent our concerned guests to dig around in our bathroom closet for the first kit, and I grabbed an old rag and applied direct pressure. You will know if you have taken First Aid that they tell you to ask the person bleeding to hold the rag themselves if possible -- seeing as how Robert was unable to bend in his waist due to surgery, he wasn't reaching his legs.

Liz came back with the first aid kit, and Clare came back with his beer. By the way, this is the first aid kit Nathan, our best man, gave me at our wedding. Nathan, that was the best wedding present ever. Anyway, I did what I could to clean blood off his leg and check out the wound. I was ready to go with ointment, butterfly bandages and gauze. I lifted the rag to see... muscle. This is the part in first aid where they tell you, don't go in over your head. Begrudgingly  I looked up at my husband to announce this news, "You are going to need stitches. We need to go to the ED."

I wish I could explain the look on his face. He looked so... defeated. "Are you kidding me?" He asked. "No." I replied. "You know I'd butterfly this in a second, but there's no way it's going to hold. I can't clean it out properly without some Lidocaine, either. We need to go." This morning, Robert left at 5am to help a friend drive to Memphis. I was NOT letting him go into public restrooms with an open wound on an already compromised immune system.

I gave Liz and Clare instructions for preparing the final guest room and to watch the dog. Like champs, they make the bed, did dishes, and baby-sat Otis.

We drove the familiar drive to the Saxony ED, where the same lady who checked us in for Robert's gall bladder attack sent us back to the same nurse that assisted us the last time. We did have a different doctor this time. The nurse cleaned out the laceration. The doctor administered a painful but much needed dose of Lidocaine. As tears of pain came from his eyes, Robert joked, "I promised myself I wouldn't cry today." The doctor laughed when we explained it was funny because his sister got married earlier. I held his hand, thinking about another copay after the other visit and surgery, and I noticed it was quite warm in the room. "Look," I said, "it's almost tropical in here. It's like we are on vacation. And it cost as much, too. If I close my eyes, I can pretend we are some place nice."

After 6 stitches and discharge instructions, we were released. Liz and Clare gratefully welcomed us home, glad to see we were in one piece. Robert went straight to bed. At 5:00am I helped push him out of bed to go do 18 hours of driving today. I woke up a few hours later, dehydrated, my head pounding, not sure of when my last "real" meal was. I took Otis for a brief walk and ate some breakfast with Clare until Liz woke-up. Clare cracked up, having known us for a while. Liz, having met us only the day before, understands now what it is like to be us, to have no dull moments. Looks like more than one person got added to the family yesterday.

Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's not over yet

As Christmas quickly approaches, I think both of what the next 2 weeks bring us. It's our own 12 days of Christmas around here, and trust me, I'd take geese a layin'. 

As you probably know, I had PRK done to my eyes back in October. I am pleased to announce that I have fully recovered and see wonderfully. I once was blind, but now I see... very literally in this case. Every night, I get ready for bed and I am struck by the miracle that is my new eye-sight. It's wonderful! All of the complications -- dryness, soreness, blurry vision, distance trouble, and night vision trouble -- are gone. Good thing, too, because it's my turn to be the healthy one.

As you may know, we are not finished with major medical procedures here in the Brack house. I may be up and running, but my sweet husband will have his gallbladder taken out on Thursday... Merry Christmas, right? I'm a little nervous about the rest of this week. 

I am worried about preparation, recovery, and a Christmas with no working digestive system for him. I had wisdom teeth coming in with infections one Thanksgiving, and I remember nothing but wanting to throw up from Vicodin (a note: I have not taken a narcotic since) -- it was no fun. I am also worried about complications. Every last bit of PTO I have is being used to cover the holidays. I really, really don't want to have unpaid emergencies, you know? Additionally, Robert's sister is getting married the Saturday after Christmas, so we have little room for error. We both need to be available, ready, and looking like "normal" human beings the week after his surgery.

I write this not to say that our life is particularly difficult (honestly, at this point, it's just another week here at the Brack house). I write it so say "this is what's happening right now... and why I am not returning your phone calls/texts/emails/etc. I write it to confess how absent I've been, how slightly overwhelmed, and slightly less-than-gracious about many things recently. Because, still my friends, this isn't even the hardest thing we are dealing with around here. There are things I'm not allowed to write about, and that's taking it's toll, too.

I write this to say - I cannot do this on my own, though I am trying really, really hard. It's not easy realizing how small you are, how dependent you are on grace. It's not easy watching people you love suffer, or seeing things move so fast you can barely catch your breath.

If you don't mind, I ask for your prayers. Prayers for a good procedure and recovery for Robert. Prayers for a Christmas week centered on Christ. For a wedding week where we can fully love on Miriam and Ryan. Prayers that I stop wanting fall asleep at church, work, and anytime I sit down I have rest and energy for this upcoming stretch. Prayers for lots of Cherry 7-Up and ginger ale. 

Happy week before Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blueberry Bars

Have you been baking, friends? 'Tis the season!

This creation comes from a place of being a health coach. And you can't bring fatty dishes to health coach parties, friends. Especially not for breakfast. 

These are hearty and fulfilling, and we love blueberries around here, so I keep them in our freezer year round. 

1/16 of the recipe is less than 200 calories (I'm guessing around 150). I use Land O Lakes light butter, because that's the only light butter in the grocery store around here. 

As a note, served warm as a dessert, they would benefit from just a little teeny-tiny bit of ice cream. And this health coach won't tell on you...


Blueberry Breakfast Bars

  • 1 cup whole wheat white flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup Splenda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted light butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups quick-cook oats
  • 2 tablespoons apple or orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat white flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (18 ounces) fresh blueberries (you could use raspberries or blackberries, too)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

How to make it
1.        Heat the oven to 375ยบ. Grease a 9- by 13-inch pan with cooking spray.
2.        Add the flour, light brown sugar, Splenda and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine, then add the butter and pulse five or six more times until coarse crumbs form. Add the oats and pulse two or three more times.
3.        Remove 1 1/2 cups of the mixture and set it aside. Add the juice to the remaining mixture and pulse three or four times until it's just moistened. Press this mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan using your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup.
4.        For the filling, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Add the fruit and lemon juice and gently toss the mixture using a rubber spatula until the fruit is coated. Distribute the filling over the crust.
5.        Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the filling. Bake the dish until the top is golden, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let the pan cool on a wire rack for about 2 hours, then cut the sheet into 16 bars. Store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Maybe this Christmas

Christmas is my very favorite holiday. I love Christmas. I love Christmas for the right reason -- the hope we have found is so very, very precious. The other things I do with Christmas all remind me of the importance of this season. AND I GET INTO IT. Come to my house -- it's a Christmas explosion. Anyway,  I love this season, okay?

The past month or two, we haven't exactly been receiving a lot of good news. Don't get me wrong; we are so blessed and I am not complaining. It's a simple fact. And it isn't slowing up in time for Christmas.

This morning, when I came downstairs in my house, I saw my "ever-green" (and very artificial) Christmas tree. I thought, Oh Lord, your love is ever lasting.

I saw our St. Nick's Day filled stockings on the mantle. All I hath needed, thy hand hath provided.

The boughs on my windowsills outlined our sun room, and I am surrounded and carried by grace.

My pom-pom garland entry announces joy. Joy that in our darkness, Christ broke through.

So the bad news is going to keep coming, and this morning I am more than ever aware of our true meaning of Christmas. This is exactly the meaning of this season: the bad keeps coming, and we keep waiting. They waited, after thousands of years of silence for a Savior. In this waiting, we come to find our savior. We are not abandoned to our own darkness, though it is what we deserved.

This morning, in the midst of bad news, I find new meaning in the words of the Angel to the shepherds.

And the angel said to them,
 “Fear not, for behold, 
I bring you good news 
of great joy 
that will be for all the people. 
For unto you 
is born this day in the city of David 
a Savior, 
who is Christ the Lord." 
Luke 2:10-11 (emphasis mine)

Merry Christmas.