Archive for the ‘Jones Family News’ Category

Gabriel Update, one last time

Three months ago, my little son Gabriel broke his leg, an event exhaustively chronicled in these pages here, here, here, here, etc.

Now that we’ve come out of the day-to-day difficulties relating to that injury, I thought I’d recap some of the lessons and give an update on what has happened in the aftermath.

First, the medical bills are not as catastrophic as we thought they would be.  They never reached the $20,000 mark, stopping just short of $15,000, although there is still one bill we think we’re supposed to get, but since no one is contacting us about it, forgive us if we don’t volunteer to go get it.  We have some negotiating room left as well, and all our sources have indicated that the bargaining will go better if we have cash to pay off whatever the final figure is.  More on that in a sec.

Second, Gabriel is fine.  By “fine”, I mean that he shows no detectable physical effects from the injury.  His skin healed very quickly and he is in no pain.  He does have a hitch in his giddy-up, but you can’t tell that unless you are intently watching him and knew what he could do before.  He jumps on the trampoline, runs about all over, generally behaves like you’d expect a 2-year-old to do.  There will obviously be no lasting physical damage from the experience, and of course he can’t remember it.  For this we are extremely grateful and conscious of the fact that we are blessed.

That said, there are a couple of non-physical remnants of the cast.  Gabriel does not sleep through the night any more.  One day we’re confident he will, but at this point, he still wakes up at least once every night.  We disassembled his crib during the six weeks of the cast, because we couldn’t lift him into it without hurting him, so he sleeps in a bed now, which means he can get out of it at will.  We find him standing next to our bed at many a 2am.  Generally, he goes back down pretty easily, especially for Dad, but we dream of the day he won’t get up at all.

He drank a lot from a bottle when he was in the cast, because of the no spilling and ease of operation, and now he wants a bottle practically every minute of the day.  We can deal, though it’s annoying.  But the worst of it is that he was once potty-trained, and now he isn’t.  At all.  As in, he has no desire, at all, to use the toilet.  No curiosity, no interest.  Nothing.  When he originally did the potty-training, he was very quick to get it, as he has a volume of examples in front of him to imitate and he is a social child.  But now, nothing.  We’re not forcing it – he’s not even three yet – but it does make us occasionally look wistfully back to early February when we didn’t use up five diapers a day.

In all, we gained significantly more than we lost from this, as I tried to indicate in this post.  Our huge number of new and intensified friendships, all by itself, would have made the experience worthwhile, but we learned tremendously ourselves, and we’re still learning and growing and improving.  It has made us more patient as parents, more unified as a family, more aware of others that have and will have similar and greater challenges to overcome.

And there’s one more thing I’d like to bring to your attention, though I feel a little funny doing it.  As I mentioned many times along this journey, we don’t have medical insurance, and paying out $10-15,000 for doctor bills is a bit beyond our resources.  Some good friends have stepped in and put together a fundraiser to see if we can eliminate the debt overhang from this.  It’s on June 4 in Lehi at the Legacy Center (Main and Center), and goes all day.  There will be a garage sale (for which we desperately need more items to sell, those of you that are spring cleaning and getting ready to de-clutter), a bake sale, a silent auction, whole rafts of things (tickets here).  There’s a family dance, a pool party, and I’m not sure what all, but Jill Peterson can tell you if you email her at jillyn_oc_ca@yahoo.com.  We will be absurdly grateful for anything you could do to assist.  All proceeds go to defray medical expenses (and give us negotiating leverage), and if we raise more than we need, all of those additional proceeds will go into a permanent fund for assisting other families in similar difficulties.  We’d like to make lasting good from what was a freaky bit of bad luck, and we hope very much that you’ll be willing to help us.

He’s ALIIIIIVE!!!

Gabriel actually took five steps this morning.  He didn’t like it.  But he wasn’t crying about it.  I held his hand and we walked to Mommy, and then he collapsed.  People, that right there made this one of the best days EVER.

I’m constantly amazed by the wonder of the little things through this process.  I’ve never had so much fun playing hide-and-seek as I did when Gabriel was stationary and we had to figure out how to do it with pillows.  Watching him eat, watching him learn to roll over with those heavy fiberglass pants on, watching him learn to SLEEP, even, everything was new and great.

And then I think, you know, I have eighth children, and everything they do is new and different and amazing, and I’m missing it.  I’m missing the best parts of my life, because they’re free and they occasionally rub their snot on my shirts.  How ridiculous.

I’d say, “no more!” and “I’ll never do that again!” but I know that’s false, and I will do it again, and those beautiful, incredible little people that inhabit my house will go back to being background noise, but I do hope and pray that again and again I’ll be brought back out of it a little more, to see the miracles that happen to me every single day.

Today is good.  I see it today.  Today I’m alive, and Gabriel’s walking, and the rest of it, really, doesn’t matter one bit.

Phase One: it’s OVER!

Well, the Gabriel part is over, anyway, and though many of the challenges persist and will persist – I’m not done talking about this stuff – the major difficulty is surmounted, the cast is off, and Gabriel is whole again.  He’s still not walking.  We’ll have more updates, so you can breathe out again.  But now it’s all about him, not about him and doctors and hospitals.

The night this injury happened six weeks ago, I have a scene in my head from outside the hospital.  I can see myself as if I were watching a  movie, walking across the parking lot of American Fork’s Emergency Room, still dressed in the remnants of my tuxedo from the Twelfth Night Charity Ball, watching the taillights of the ambulance as it carried my wife and little son away from me.  I remember feeling terribly alone, shaken and scared and hopeless.   For the first time in a long, somewhat disappointing night, I was by myself, and I began to weep.

I raised my eyes to Heaven, where dwells a Father I believe in, and I told him, “I don’t understand.  I don’t understand what you’re doing to me.”  We’ve been together, my Father and I, long enough for me not to insult Him by asking “why”, for no such answer is ever going to be forthcoming.  I know better.  Despite my sadness and frustration over this event, I wasn’t so lost as to forget that I was still the most blessed of men.  I wasn’t so far gone that I thought that God somehow owed me an explanation, as if a God omnipotent and all-loving might be making a mistake.  Of course He did not, and does not, and I will trust in Him, though he slay me.  But I wanted to tell Him, although of course He knew, that I didn’t understand.

He has spent the last six weeks helping me get over that.  And though I am not so simple as to believe that I can ever search all the ways of God, find out all His counsels, or ever know all the reasons why He does the things He does, still I can see so many places where His hand has been evident.  This post is my thank-you letter, to a merciful God that loves me better than I love myself.

Because this happened:

  • How many friends have I connected and reconnected with?  Nothing brings friends closer than misfortune, and this misfortune was no different.  I can hardly count all the well-wishes we’ve received, all the old and new friends we’ve spoken to and been able to thank for their kindness and consideration of us.  If from this life I can take anything, it is surely not my home or my business, but the friendships and the relationships I made while I was here.  I’ve said before that I know that you CAN “take it with you”.  You just have to convert it to the currency they use where you’re going.  Thank you, all of you, for making me the richest man in town.
  • How much more have I been compelled to be humble?  It’s a little tough to have unwarranted confidence when you’re faced with concrete evidence that often, there’s nothing you can do to make things better, or even different.  Sometimes, no matter your business acumen or physical strength or even your money, you just can’t do anything except keep on keepin’ on.  No money could make Gabriel’s leg heal any faster.  Nothing but playing with him and sleeping with him and holding him while he sobbed and screamed could do anything to make things better.  I saw often and clearly that I was powerless before the conditions that I found myself in.
  • How much more of my real power have I discovered?  I have never fancied myself a great businessman.  I’m a Bailey – and not Harry Bailey, either.  Peter, more like, or George.  But what I have loved so much about the story of that film is the invisible power George has, a power that improves the lives and the fortunes of hundreds of people in ways that are obscure and even hidden from him.  Despite my feeling of powerlessness in the face of Gabriel’s discomfort, my wife’s weariness, my family’s displacement, the damaging or outright destruction of dreams and plans we had, I discovered to my surprise a different power, far stronger than I supposed, that could still improve things, even if making the problem go away was impossible.  I COULD hold my little son.  I could let my wife sleep in here and there.  I could focus our family on the things I could do.  And I could tell the story of what we were doing, in the hope that someone out there could benefit if he were caught in similar circumstances.
  • How much fun have I had being a daddy blogger?  There are a huge number of Mommy blogs out there, and I love to read them, but I occasionally feel that perhaps there ought to be a few more Daddy blogs, because as important as it is for us men to hear how our wives think – I can’t tell you how useful I find that – it’s still nice to sometimes hear the truth about what’s going on in Dad’s head, too.  We tend to sit there like Lincoln on Rushmore and just take it.  At least, we look like we do.  But we hurt, too, and we feel powerless and hopeless and achy and all the same stuff everyone else does.  We just don’t talk much about it.  It’s been educational to use this space to be perfectly candid about our situation from the Dad’s perspective, and I’ve been grateful for those of you Dads out there that have let me know that you appreciate it, too.
  • How much have I learned?  Before this, I knew nothing about the medical establishment.  I knew nothing of medical billing, hospital procedures, emergency rooms, medical staff, treatment options and possibilities for rehab.  I had done some vague thinking about insurance and government assistance, but nothing of concreteness.  That’s changed.  I’ve learned about thinking outside the box on daily challenges, being patient in extreme provocation with my youngest child, and how compassionate and creative my other children are because they love their brother.  I’ve been able to re-imagine my life, partly out of necessity, and discovered how incredible things can really be.  I was blind.  In so many ways, now I see.
  • How would I have found Jill Peterson?  More than any of these other things, from a business standpoint, the greatest blessing of this ordeal has been the discovery (or re-discovery) of Jill Peterson, who became my executive assistant one week after the accident.  I’ll have more on this later.  She’s far too important a person to get just a paragraph here.  But suffice it to say that had she been the only blessing we received through this, it would have all been worth it. No fooling.
  • How ignorant would I have remained about my wife’s incredibility?  We’ve long suspected that Jeanette was really Elastigirl in disguise, but this last six weeks has proved it.  She can go days with only the briefest of rests.  She can maintain her calm at 4am when the screaming child vomits, not because he is sick, but because he’s frustrated.  She can retain her appetite while sitting with a child that smells like the inside of a port-a-potty on a hot summer day.  She can re-arrange her entire life in a day, giving up or postponing huge numbers of things she’d really like to do.  There is nothing she cannot sacrifice.  There is no life she cannot affect for good.  She has been able to use this to grow closer to each of her children, and to me.  She’s the cement that makes the foundation of our family.  No husband could love his wife more than I love her, but then, no husband is as fortunate as I am.  We’re stronger and we’re better, because of this.
  • I wouldn’t have remembered.  I blogged about this a long while ago, but it bears repeating here.  It seems that only in the face of disaster do we dare to re-imagine our lives, to let go of what we thought would be, what we are terrified of losing, and like a seed bursting from its pod fling ourselves into the unconstructed future, making of it what we can as the chance comes.  I remember now.

And today, another blessing, as we are reminded of the incredible miracle of just being whole.  To run, to jump, to dance…to touch the smiling face of a loving Father in Heaven, who had a whole treasure chest to give us, if only we would stay with Him as He pushed us into a place we would never have gone ourselves.

I still don’t understand.  But I’ve learned, even more, to trust Him anyway.

Cast Off Day. Hold the Celebration.

So the cast is off, and it was ugly.  You could clearly see where we could reach inside the cast and apply creams, etc., but there was a huge area we just couldn’t get to.  Unfortunately, the pee could.  It was horrific.

There’s no help for it, but aside from the very first week of the injury, when we were getting used to the cast and trying to figure out how to keep it as clean as possible, and dry it, and protect it, this is by far the worst.  Sitting in the bathtub with a little boy screaming “my leg! My leg!” while you try to wash it off and his skin comes off in your hands is pretty much the worst thing I’ve had to do in a while.  Since I had to hold his broken leg in my hands six weeks ago, I think.

Yay for us.

For now, Gabriel seems okay, and this rash on the unexposed parts of him isn’t as bad as it could be.  He’s spasming and seriously unhappy when he moves, but if he sits and watches TV he’s doing okay.  A little at a time, he’ll get back in the swing of things.  Really, it’s not as terrible as I’m making it sound.  I’m just a bit shaken by the gap between my ridiculous expectations and the reality.

Bills are in, and do we have to close the office?

The bills are in (except for one, which isn’t done until we get the cast off).  The total is something north of $13,000.  They come from seven different providers, ranging in amounts from $79 to $5200.  We paid two of them off (one was the $79, as you might imagine), and got sizeable discounts in doing so, but we’re now completely out of money so that can’t happen again.

We now get to negotiate amounts and payments, which, as you might imagine, we’re not really all that excited about doing.  I have to thank Kevin Probasco and Theron Harmon for their generous offers to do some negotiation on our behalf, and we’ll take them up on that.  We need the help.  Mark Lofgren has also offered to put on a family dance fundraiser to help us get out from under this, and we may couple that with a pool party, so be looking for announcements about that going forward.  We’re very grateful.

As I posted a bit ago on Facebook, we got a check in the mail for $1000.  Cashier’s check, of course, with absolutely no identifying information.  That saved us.  It came on a day when we absolutely had to have a little more money to pay a bill that we could not pay, whatever we skimped on and tried to save.  Whoever you are, if you read this, know that your gift came as a blessing from Heaven, and we implore our Good Father to bless you a thousandfold more than you have blessed us.

The monthly payments the creditors are asking for come to about $550/mo.  At that payment, it would take a bit over two years to pay everything off, even at the exceptionally reasonable interest rates we’ve been offered so far.  It’s a payment we can probably make, but not if I keep the office on Main Street.  That would have to go.  That, or I will have to come up with some hard proof that that office makes me more than the $10k/yr it costs to maintain it.  We don’t get a lot of walk-ins that want to do loans.  Perhaps people drive by and call; I don’t know, but I doubt it.  Perhaps you reading could comment, and help me decide how important that location is.

In considering, some of the things happening at corporate HQ in Bountiful may be of use.  I’ve been hired to be the PR Director up there, which has made a large change in how much time I have to do my job as a loan officer and branch manager.  There is now some serious discussion of my running the corporate branch as well, which would require me to fold my Lehi branch into that from a reporting standpoint.  I have an office there, although it is 40 miles away from home (and commuting every day is NASTY, let me tell you).  So I could continue to be a loan officer without my Main Street office.

Jason is the only one that uses the office every day, though it truly is convenient for many things.  Not having an office down here, to be able to meet clients in, would be a hardship.  Would it be $10,000 a year of hardship?  I don’t know.  But I don’t see any way to cut anything else out of the budget, especially with Alexander putting his mission papers in shortly, with the almost immediate beginning of $400/mo payments for his support (which will continue for six years, as his brothers follow him).  We can’t handle both things without radical changes.

********

We’ve given up trying to keep the cast clean now.  We did all we could for weeks, and it was a slow losing battle all the time.  It’s so bad that Gabriel’s socks get pee on them by conduction wherever they come in contact with the cast for any length of time.  But there are only 50 hours to go.

He’s become very mobile.  He crawls around all over the place, scoots himself, even stands up for short periods, though balancing is very complicated, as you might imagine.  He’s happy, he’s not in pain, or even evident discomfort, in spite of it all.  Truly, humans can get used to pretty much anything.

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