Stay away from the wiggly branches

I’ve thought several times over the past six weeks of writing about Josie’s accident. Maybe this is redundant as most people may have already heard it, but if nothing else, one day Josie can go back and read my thoughts and feelings of that day. After having three boys who climb trees and create all […]

I’ve thought several times over the past six weeks of writing about Josie’s accident. Maybe this is redundant as most people may have already heard it, but if nothing else, one day Josie can go back and read my thoughts and feelings of that day.

After having three boys who climb trees and create all sorts of dangerous games and obstacles in the backyard, I never would have guessed that it would be our little girl who would be the first with broken bones out of the bunch. Although Josie has always loved wrestling with her brothers, watching superhero movies, and cried when I wouldn’t let her run around with her shirt off in the summer, just like “her boys”, tomboy isn’t the right description of her. She can run around and be rough and tumble with the best of them; she’s just going to do it decked out in lep-print (leopard print), lipstick, and several accessories. I have always loved that about her.
One sunny Sunday afternoon, after playing at the park all day, she still wanted to be outside in our backyard. Her friend, Lily, was up in the tree house with her and Josie decided to climb the tree, just like she always does. Lily watched, safely from the tree house, while Josie climbed “too high” in Lily’s opinion. 
Andy and I were just getting ready to leave to pick up some dinner when Charlie came running to the door with a terrified look on his face. “Come quick. Josie fell out of the tree.” I didn’t have to ask him any questions. His look said it all. She was badly hurt.
I climbed up the little ladder to the platform in the trees to find my baby broken and bleeding. “She was climbing and she fell! She just fell down. I told her it was too high! Is she okay?” poor Lily asked, worried. I yelled for Charlie to get paper towels so I could stop the bleeding coming from her nose. I held her, silently throwing up a quick prayer. Dear God, please let her be okay. Josie cried as I tried to ask her what hurt and comfort her the best I could. Andy had quickly followed behind me.
By the looks of her face, I figured that was her most concerning injury. Her nose looked broken and continued to bleed and she had a huge, red knot that had formed on her forehead. “Let’s get her down from here,” I told Andy as I tried to hand her over to him. I knew it would be difficult for him to carry her as he had to climb down the ladder. As soon as I picked her up to move her she screamed, “Ow! My wrist and my ankle hurt. Don’t touch them!” I’m still not quite sure how Andy did it, but daddys are always strong, as Josie says, and he carefully climbed down while cradling Josie. 
After bringing her inside and asking more questions, it was clear we needed to get her to the hospital right away. Her concerned brothers ran out to the car to open her door, lay her seat back, and get it ready for her. Andy sat in the back with Josie, calmly talking to her and trying to keep her from falling asleep. I nervously drove and contacted our parents asking them to pray. 
When we arrived at Children’s hospital, Andy carried Josie in while she quietly winced in pain every time her arm or ankle were bumped. We’ve had several ER trips to Children’s, mostly for minor cuts needing stitches or croup, but this trip caused the nurses and doctors to rush to attend to Josie. Both Charlie and Andy had figured out that she fell from about 15 feet. Once the ER staff heard this, things moved quickly. They brought out a neck collar and put it on her, instructing us to follow them back to a room right away. 
Andy laid her down on the bed and the doctors and nurses went to work immediately, assessing her injuries. Orders for tests were called out, an IV was started, and we were asked repeatedly what happened. Josie was still and quiet for the most part, but every once in awhile the tears would come and she’d look at us with a scared face. As everything was happening, it hit me. This is serious. This could change our lives. Head injury? Spinal injury? Internal bleeding? These were all possibilities, the doctor informed us. I was overcome with emotion for my baby girl. I looked away so she wouldn’t see the worry and tears on my face. Andy and I took turns stroking her hair and trying our best to comfort her, while the pain meds began to do their job. 
Josie slipped in and out of sleep while they poked and prodded her. Over the next several hours we went back and forth from the ER to X-ray to CT scan; each time waiting and hoping for good news. Her lab work came back normal followed by a normal head CT. That was great news. The X-rays showed a fracture in her left wrist, which wasn’t too bad, but her left ankle was another story. Her heel bone had a significant fracture. The force of landing on her foot caused the heel bone to push up into her two leg bones causing them to separate. She also tore all the ligaments in her ankle. Because of this type of injury to her ankle, they were now concerned about her spine and internal organs. This meant heading back for more X-rays and another scan. 
I felt the fear return as the doctor voiced his concerns and brought in the general surgery team. Please God, let her be okay. That was all I could think to pray. By now we had notified our family and a few friends and I knew that Andy and I weren’t the only ones praying. It didn’t take very long for the results of the X-rays and scan to come back with good news. There were no injuries to her spine and internal organs. Praise God. The worst of her injuries were a concussion, fractured wrist and fractured ankle. It was a miracle. 
They kept us overnight so they could manage Josie’s pain and keep an eye on her. We settled into our room at 3:00am, trying to get a little sleep. Josie woke up hurting several times, but the nurses did their best to keep her comfortable. Later that morning we met with doctors and physical therapists, and a social worker. Each one was kind and incredibly gentle with Josie, including every tech that ran all the tests. It was a long day with a few visitors, which made Josie happy, but all she really wanted was to go home. Finally, around 7:00pm, they discharged us, but not without thorough instructions on caring for her at home, how to transfer her to and from her wheelchair, and keeping on top of her pain meds.

We arrived home to a wonderful dinner cooked by my in-laws and a clean house compliments of my mom. Josie was excited to be back to the comforts of home. She rested up that first week home, in between the many visitors who came by, each one with a gift or treat for Josie. Meals were brought, help was offered, and many pitched in to get the boys to their activities. The first week was tough. Josie was still in pain and required help to move at all. Her leg and wrist had to be kept elevated and she had to be woken up at night for medication.

After spending a full week at home, Josie went back to school in her wheelchair. She was pushed around by her best friend and given alternatives to PE and recess. She didn’t complain and kept up on all of her schoolwork. I’m sure the extra attention when she returned to school didn’t hurt either. Her class gladly welcomed her back, some of them telling me that they were wishing that they could break their leg so they’d be just like Josie.

And now, here we are, six weeks later and two days away from Josie getting her cast off. She doesn’t remember the fall, which is a blessing. The day we came home from the hospital she told me that she would never, ever climb a tree again. Then the weeks went by and she sat outside watching her brothers play and climb and do the things she couldn’t. It didn’t take long for her tune to change. One day she looked at me and said, “I love being outside and I love climbing trees. I’m just going to make sure that I stay away from the wiggly branches.” That’s my brave little girl.

A couple of hours after falling

Feeling pretty good while coming out of anesthesia.

Her first morning home, with all of her stuffed animals from the hospital.

Making jewelry with her cousins, Violet and Evangeline

Judah couldn’t wait to be the first to sign her cast.

By Jen

Jen Hirschman starting writing on this blog that her husband, Andy, started to post pictures of their remodel on their house. That turned into Jen taking the blog over, only to post silly family stories and photos, update family and friends on some happenings, and then abandon it from time to time. Enjoy!