Posts Tagged ‘Gabriel’

And the Beat Goes On, with a New Drummer

So a couple weeks ago my son Nicholas (the 17-year-old) started feeling a pain in his lower abdomen.  He ate a little, then felt woozy and went to lie down.  This was the same day City First decided to relieve me of my duties as the PR Director, in a move that surprised me and practically everyone at the company, and thereby left me without steady income and with nothing in the mortgage pipeline, having used up my last four months doing things for City First corporate instead of my clients.  So that night we had a few things going on, and just like when we had that last medical disaster, we were a bit distracted.

This time, though, we were smart enough that we left our charity meeting early, so we could get home and check on Nicholas, whom I was mortally certain was having an appendicitis, because sometimes you get in a groove (or in this case, a rut) and you know what’s coming, no matter how unlikely that particular event is.

Note: The other time in my life I felt like that was when I was a senior in high school in the lower deck of the Rome airport.  I heard a crash and a bang from the deck above me, and I turned to my father and said “that’s a terrorist attack”.  And it was.

When we got home, Nick was in a good deal more pain, and Jeanette called the InstaCare to ask a couple of questions.  The answers made her think I was probably right, and took him over.  They spent about ninety seconds with him and said “get over to the emergency room”.  Having had a fairly mixed experience with American Fork, we went instead to Timpanogos, the next hospital south.

And it was appendicitis.  It hadn’t burst yet, but it was in the neighborhood, so they doped him up on morphine and scheduled the surgery.  Another surgery.  We went 20 years without a single one of any kind for any thing, and then we have two of them in three months.

So they did the laparoscopic procedure, and Nick has a couple of cute scars.  It took a week for him to get even part of the way back, but he rallied thereafter and is doing fine now.  I can’t thank his friends enough.  There were a steady stream of them for days, and that meant a great deal to Nick, to know that they cared about him.

Not life-threatening, then.  But expensive.  Oh, this one is REALLY expensive.  We thought the Gabriel thing was bad.  This one makes that one look like a couple of bucks at the local lemonade stand.  We do not have the entire bill yet, and it’s already twice what Gabriel’s was.

Couple that with the loss of about $4000 a month of steady income, and things could be fairly dire.  But ‘cept, as my sisters used to say, Jeanette and I felt strongly last month that even though we had not paid off all the debt from Gabriel’s broken femur, we needed to get some defense in place in case something else happened.  We really couldn’t afford any sort of insurance, and believe me, we looked.  We still adamantly refuse to accept any federal or state assistance.  But there was one other option, brought to our attention by our good friends the Harmons, called Christian Healthcare Ministries.

Tomorrow, or possibly Wednesday, I’ll  discourse a bit on what insurance is and is not, but this group provides what I would call actual insurance, at a reasonable cost.  There are quite a few of these kinds of groups out there, but most of them will not take Mormons.  Really.  They’re born-again, evangelical groups that think Mormons are essentially worshipping a different God, and therefore exclude us from their cost-sharing program.  CHM thinks differently, Heaven bless them.

The way it works, we negotiate as hard as we can – and at this point, we are getting pretty good at it – and that discount becomes part of our “initial contribution” (for most people, that’s a “deductible”, but this isn’t “insurance”, so it’s called something else).  Then CHM pays the rest, up to a maximum per event per person of $250,000.  Nick is expensive, but not that expensive.  We’ve so far negotiated about $20k of cost reductions (it’s a BIG bill, people), which is way over our $5000 “contribution”, so if this works the way it’s supposed to, we’ll pay…nothing.  Really.

Our monthly cost for the program is $185.

Potentially, then, catastrophe averted.  It will still be hard, because that lost income isn’t coming back any time soon, but we lived pretty well on commissions from mortgages before, and we can do it again, I think, no matter what the market is like.  Thank goodness we didn’t close the Lehi office.

So many of you have written or called or posted to Facebook or what have you, and I’m grateful beyond words.  Thank you.  You make it a lot easier to keep my head up.

Further updates as events warrant.


And because we get asked this about three times a day, let me say that Gabriel is doing really well.  He still refuses to use the potty, but in all other respects he’s just as he was before the accident.  He clearly – based on some of his acrobatics recently – has no memory of the event whatsoever.  That’s a great blessing and we are thankful.

A Cruel Irony

I’ve mentioned before that Gabriel hasn’t been sleeping through the night.  What this means is that two or three times every night he wakes up crying and has to be put back to bed.  He still sleeps with a pacifier, and he has a “manket”, threadbare and torn, without which he does not settle down and rest well.  If he loses either one of these items, he will still sleep, but he will eventually wake up and miss them, and being in a sleepy fog, not be able to find them himself.  So one of us – it’s about 50/50 these days, though during his convalescence it was my job exclusively – has to go in and fix it and settle him back down.

Over the last couple days he’s actually done pretty well, sleeping.  Thursday night he did not, in fact, wake up that we know of (once in a very great while one of the other children gets to him and takes care of it), and we were hopeful.  Of course, today is the great fundraiser meant to erase as much of his medical bills as possible, and it’s an all-day affair that has consumed much of our energy and attention leading up to it for some days.  Yesterday evening we were up pretty late putting things together for the event, and went to bed late, knowing that today would be a very long day for all of us, and hoping to get at least five or six hours’ uninterrupted sleep.


Gabriel was up five times.  I got him three, Jeanette twice, and here at 5:15 he started a crying jag, walking up and down the hall waking everyone up, that has now lasted for over half an hour.  So we’re likely to be extremely tired from caring for him on a day when we especially needed to be rested so that we can pay for caring for him.  THIS is ironic, Ms. Morissette.

But I dearly hope you come out and see us anyway, eat our food and play our games and buy some of our exceptionally awesome garage sale items.  Jill and Randy Peterson, Mark and Anjanette Lofgren, and Rich and Jana Wiltbank, among so many others, have worked their guts out for this event to make it a success, all to do something wonderful for us.  Won’t you do something wonderful for them, and come by?

We’re at the Lehi Legacy Center in the center of Lehi from 7am to 11pm.  Garage sale in the morning, carnival fun through the afternoon (highlighted by the Shane Lee Band – you gotta see these guys – at 4pm), with a family dance in the evening capped off by a pool party to end the festivities.  Please come!

The Second-best Day of School

That would be today.  Today, the day before the last day of school, the penultimate day of the school year, is also the second-best day of the school year.  Seems logical, doesn’t it?  Obviously it can’t be the BEST day of the school year, because that’s tomorrow, right?


The BEST day of the school year is the FIRST day of the school year.  Think about it.  There’s nothing bad about that day.  Nobody really gets any work to do, you see all your friends again after months apart, and the year ahead doesn’t seem so incredibly soul-crushing because you honestly can’t remember how bad it gets in February.  New clothes, new school supplies, new friends, new stuff to learn and to look forward to.  Don’t talk to me about the sadness at the death of summer.  The weather’s still good, and the real fun of the summer came to an end in mid-August when you started buying clothes for school, so there hasn’t been any juice left in that orange for a couple of weeks.  It’s clean, trackless sand and football games for months ahead.

But today is a pretty good day, too.  The work is all done.  Nobody gets homework, or takes tests, or has anything of substance to do.  It’s Field Day, or dance day, or whatever your school’s tradition is.  Nobody’s even in the classroom much, let alone doing schoolwork.  There’s the glow of a job done, if not done particularly well, and the view, over the rise in the hill, of a bright sunny country just waiting for people to play in it for a few months.  But it still isn’t the LAST day of school, when the goodbyes begin and you know, even very young, that some of these people aren’t ever going to be part of your life again.  The day-before day has no overhang of that wistful sadness.  It’s just a party – but a well-earned party, the very best kind.  It’s the last couple of free throws, with 20 seconds left, that give you that 7-point lead that you can’t now lose.  It’s the last chapter of the terrific novel where you get to find out what happily-ever-after means for the hero and the heroine, now that evil has been vanquished.

And here, it’s sunny and 65, about the best weather it’s possible to have.  At last.

Do you miss the next-to-last day of school as much as I do?  Do you still feel some of its power echoing through your cubicle, as I do?  Not that I have a cubicle, but still.


Many of you know that I’ve been in political PR for most of my life.  That makes stories like Rep. Anthony Wiener’s wiener all the more interesting to me, because out there for all to see is the spectacular Charlie-Browning of a political career because the PR has been so impossibly botched.  It’s stories like this that give guys like me a job.  You mess this up – and don’t think your favorite politician can’t have this happen to him - and it’s over.  You’re a laughingstock and a byword forever.  Even if he doesn’t resign, which I think he won’t, or get unelected next go-round, which I think he also won’t, he’ll never do another substantive thing politically.  He’s toxic.

But as I got to thinking about it, I started having more sympathy for what he’s done stumbling about in public and making a shame of himself.  Seriously, PR pals, what do you do here?  How DO you go about saying “I take pictures of my crotch all the time, so I don’t know if that is a picture of me or not, but one thing I know for sure, it wasn’t ME that sent the picture to Seattle”?  There isn’t enough lipstick in all the world for that pig.


Reminding everyone that Saturday, all day, is the Fundraiser for Gabriel.  It’s at the Legacy Center in Lehi, right in the center of town.  Jill Peterson, my impossible Exec, has been working her guts out to make this thing a success.  There will be a huge yard/garage sale, then activities, food, dancing, and a pool party.  So come, check it out, go away and come back for more.  So many good people have put so much time and attention into this…Rich Wiltbank, Mark and Anjanette Lofgren, too many people to mention.  Please help them make it a success.

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  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.

And now for something completely different…

We keep chickens.

They lay a little; we get three to four eggs a day, and have been as high as eight.  We have rebuilt the coop three or four times, and have a good sturdy one now that has the added benefit of being portable, so we can move the coop off its base and scoop out the nitrogen-rich (but very smelly) compost there.  Good for the garden.  And the birds are almost family.  We love animals here.  Except dogs.

But there are problems in the flock. One of our chickens has been picked on so much she huddles in a corner of the coop and will not move. We got her out of the coop and she’s outside now, getting water and food, but not moving about much. Perhaps she can be rehabilitated, perhaps not.

This isn’t too uncommon. There’s a specific pecking order – that’s where the term comes from – and it’s not healthy. Two of our chickens are fairly free-range, as in they know how to get out of the coop and run about the neighborhood. When we get them back in, they don’t get on with the others at all. They aren’t part of the flock. But it’s spring planting season and they can’t be out in the wild eating people’s peppers.

We’re going to try a small side coop, and rotate the chickens through that in the hope that we can identify our four or five layers. We need to know who is laying, and who is dinner.  We’re all about laying chickens, not freeloaders.


Gabriel still limps a bit, when he’s tired, and he doesn’t run fast, but he is running about and gaining confidence with the leg.  It buckles on him occasionally, but not very much any more.  So all in all, if he’d stay in his bed at night, we’d be almost back to normal.