Our story begins at 5:30 pm on April 25, 2009. Jed had made plans to install a whole house fan in the shop to keep us cooler last summer. He had purchased the fan and was ready to go. He just needed a few additional measurements. He came down to the shop at noon and wanted to put up the ladder and go up for measurements and I wouldn't let him because we had lots of customers and I thought it would be unsafe. I told him to come back at 5:30 and he was Jed on the spot. Ladder up, Jed up, ladder slipped, Jed down. All in a matter of a few minutes. Eighteen feet down with large furniture in the way. Head bleeding, sirens screaming, he's on a gurney and gone before 5:45. Many fortunate things will and continue to happen in this story, the first of which is that the hospital was literally across the street. He was in ER within minutes. All that I have read and now know about spinal cord injuries indicate that the close proximity to help was indeed a blessing.
That night and many nights to follow were dramatic, horrible, spirit filled and gut wrenching stirred together like bad brownies. The plastic surgeon stitched up the skull cracking gash as the family connected in disbelief. The midnight MRI led us to the next day surgery where his C2 and C3 vertebrae were cored out to relieve pressure on the pinched spinal cord. There was no movement in Jed's limbs.
Twenty days in ICU. Night watches. All night long soaking towels in ice water to bring down the temperature, tracheotomy, intubation. No limbs, no lungs, no voice. Feeding tube. We heard people dying. A young mother in the room next door. And the children wept so. But hope never left. Hope hung out there like fresh sheets on the line. Hope smelled good and the time we could bear.
Jed silently dreamed of suitcases full of arms and legs being brought into his room and being told he was to pick out the ones he wanted. He would mouth,"please take me home," and try to convince the grandkids to sneak him out. Night dreams found him climbing mountains and running races.
He couldn't speak. Reg helped us talk together with alphabet groups. Pat brought the tools. And so we communicated. Drug induced hallucinations and frustrated misunderstandings created havoc in knowing. "Get me a wheel chair and get me out of here." But when the time came to try to sit him up he was a jelly fish and could hold no posture. No limbs, no lungs, no voice, no core. Hope was all we had. Hope and prayer and people.
People. People came from everywhere. Food, prayer, food, prayer. Hope. And then it was time to go to rehab. Late night gurney ride to Loma Linda. Forty days of rehab.