Day 2 of the Trauma 10 Years Ago

It was a Friday night, around eight o’clock, when Dave flipped his 4-wheeler. We had not even been at the camp site more than a couple of hours when it happened. We were meeting friends from the close west coast, but they were not coming until the next day. Their young adult sons, however, had arrived that same evening as us, and I thank God for the one who pulled the ATV off of Dave.

“Oh my God, get it off him,” I screamed. And like a super-hero, the young man leaped into action. I was horrified. I could not believe what I was seeing. Next I was screaming that I had no cell phone service and a stranger hollered that an ambulance was on the way.

Some of this and what happened next, I wrote about in the previous post, The Trauma 10 Years Ago. And then I had to tell the kids. Both our son and daughter offered to do whatever they could to help. “Actually,” I said, “find a friend who will drive you out here so that one of you can drive my truck and one of the ATV’s back home.” I towed the RV with Dave’s truck and our other ATV on the back with my flashers on the whole way, afraid to go over 40 mph. What would normally take a little more than two hours to get home, took me four.

0222180001I arrived home totally exhausted an hour before dark and decided to wait until the following day to drive the 4+ hours to Tampa General. Our friends from the close west coast had been keeping Dave company in the meantime. Still, it would be another seven days after I got there before he could come home. Pneumonia caught him and did it’s best to keep him down, but if you know Dave, you know that he refused to stay down for long.

Finally, Dave was discharged on March 1, 2008. Still, it would be another six weeks before Dave was cleared by his doctor to go back to work. In that time, we went to many doctor’s appointments to see about getting his eye fixed. He even had an appointment with a world renowned eye surgeon in Miami, but upon further investigation, the doctor determined that it could not be done. It impressed me that we got back every penny of our deposit, which was a good thing because the economy was headed for a meltdown. Thank God we hadn’t a clue.

By the time Dave was cleared to return to work, we were wondering what in the heck happened to the construction industry. At first, I thought perhaps people were afraid to hire a one-eyed contractor. “I don’t know,” a friend suggested, “don’t you ever close one eye to get a better look at something? So it’s not necessarily a bad thing,” and we laughed. Not at him, of course, but with him, because if we can’t laugh, then we are taking life way too seriously.

The Trauma 10 Years Ago

On this very day ten years ago – February 22, 2008, at this same time – 8 p.m., I took this picture.

 

I was following Dave, who had flipped his ATV. The ambulance took him to the nearest hospital – Lake Placid, I think, and they said they simply could not handle such a case. So they set forth to find the best place for him while I whined, “Why not West Palm Beach?” When they said, “No,” I said, “Okay, then Ft. Myers.” I could not imagine not having the support of friends and family, and I hadn’t even a clue yet of what he was in store for.

Tampa General Hospital was where he would go and when I asked, “Why,” they said, “Because there, they have the best brain trauma unit.” I tried to keep it together for Dave’s sake, and it was hard. Our friend Patti, a nurse, stayed on the phone with me and was a huge help.

According to the hospital records, it was 10:07 p.m. when Dave arrived at Tampa General. At 2:47 a.m., it was decided that he would go to OR and at 3:11 a.m., the hospital tried to contact me to let me know. Awakened by the call a little too late, I tried calling back almost immediately. I was transferred to a nurse who transferred me to the coroner.

The coroner then put a priest on the phone who generically started a comforting spiel. “No, wait,” I cried, “for crying out loud, what happened,” I demanded. “Well, we are checking on that,” the priest said, and then explained how they did not exactly know where my  husband was at the moment. He was soft-spoken and gentle. The more gentle he was, the more I wanted to reach through the phone and scream in his face. I was the most terrified and shocked I have ever been in my whole life.

I did not want to hear this person, or any person, say one more word unless it was to say that Dave was okay. They tried to assure me that they had every reason to believe he was because there was no evidence suggesting he was not, and that they would get to the bottom of it and call me right back. I hung up the phone and called my friend Debbie in the middle of the night.

“What’s wrong,” she said, answering her phone at three-thirty in the morning, and I proceeded to tell her all that had happened. My call-waiting beeped and it was the hospital. They had found Dave. He was in the operating room and was expected to be there for some time. They must have been on their way to the OR, and were in “limbo,” they told me, when I had called. Mistakenly, I was put through to the coroner and the priest just happened to be there.

The next day it dawned on me that I had two trucks, two 4-wheeler’s and a 30-foot RV to get back home, over two hours away. I thought, “I’ll call our son,” and then, “oh my God, I have to tell the kids.”

 

Reel Big Fish at the Fair

I think it is funny, how I had never heard of Reel Big Fish before exactly one month ago. On that day, December 26, 2016, we – me, Amanda and David – were driving the three hours from Ft. Myers to West Palm  when David asked if we wanted to listen to a CD he had. We said, “Sure,” and when it was over, agreed that we all liked it.

Three weeks ago when I was packing up stuff to send to Amanda, I saw the CD in the stack of stuff she had asked me to mail. I grabbed it and played it for Dave later that night. Although the genre is not his first choice (or even second or third), he enjoyed it well enough. They have some funny lyrics, and while reading them on the jacket cover, I noticed that the CD was from 1998. We were surprised we hadn’t heard of them since this was the type of music most of us mostly listened to back then.

Last week, we went to the fair, and not because I wanted to see the fair, but because I wanted to buy baby chickens there, as we had done a dozen years ago. We found out that baby chicks are no longer sold at the fair, which was sad to hear, and that the following week, Reel Big Fish would be playing. For some reason, this excited me. And since Dave’s been saying I need to get out more, I made the decision that we would be going back to see the band. We told David of the date and asked if he wanted to meet us there, which he did, and we all concurred that it was a good time.

The guys in the band are super funny. One of them was like, “Okay, we are going to sing the song that made us famous in the 90’s,” and upon hearing Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, go play… the crowd went wild, singing along and jumping up and down and I was like, “Oh, I didn’t know they sang this!” They would go on playing for a few minutes before whining to a halt and then say, “No, no, no… just kidding, that’s not our song,” then say whoever it was and then, “Now, this is the song that made us famous in the 90’s.” They went on like this with four or five songs. It was really funny. Every time, I looked at David for confirmation – is this really their song? And only on the last one did he nod his head yes, which they played all the way through, proving it was indeed their song. I knew it from back in the day and concluded they must have been a one hit wonder band I didn’t remember. I also found this odd, since they were so freaking funny.

 

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Amanda’s Visit at Christmas – Part 2

wp-1483320410643.jpegIn Part 1 of Amanda’s Visit at Christmas 2016, I left-off on Christmas day in Ft. Myers, and in case you missed it, this has become my favorite part of Christmas – when we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus at Dave’s cousin’s house. She goes all-out, birthday cake and all. I love it, even though I believe that this time of year was when Jesus was conceived, not born. Still, it is one of the best things I have ever seen.

Afterwards, we stopped by to see some friends of ours and by the time we got back to the condo, everyone was beyond ready for bed. The next morning, I drove Dave to the boat docked at the beach and the kids and I packed up my truck and headed home. Dave enjoyed a day by himself on the boat fishing. The three of us made plans for the following day to go out to dinner and then head downtown to see Sandi the Christmas tree, sculpted entirely out of sand.

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Choreographed to music, the lights danced around, blinked, and changed color quickly. It was pretty neat. Not missing a chance to capitalize, West Palm Beach made Sandi a star – she had trailer just like the movie stars and “Sandi Swag” was offered for sale.

Here, Amanda and I sit in Sandi’s dressing area – a good spot for a photo-opp.

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The following day, Amanda said goodbye to her dad, and she and I headed north. Because we needed to be at the Orlando airport at 6:00 in the morning, we decided to drive up and spend the night. We had planned on taking the long way and stopping in Sebring to see Jonathon, which we did, although we wound up taking the long, long… long, long way.

wp-1483402366629.jpegIn hindsight, I somewhat enjoyed it. I am glad to know where River Ranch is, and am happy I can say that I have driven through it. Even more so, I am glad to know that right down the road from it are fishing and boating communities. The best part though, and yes, I know this is just weird, but to be a little scared, driving in the pitch dark between Reedy Lake and Lake Arbuckle on a two-lane tiny road with no shoulder, well, I would have rather been with no one but Amanda, and since it was indeed her sitting next to me, well, in hindsight I can say it was a bit thrilling. My “drama-fix” for the year, perhaps.

I thought I knew where I was going and it was not until I saw signs for Ft. Drum that I realized something was wrong. “Ft. Drum!” I exclaimed, “we are going to pass Debbie’s house,” I told Amanda, “that’s not right!” After chatting for a few about our friend while I tried to decide what to do or where to pull over, Amanda pulled up the map on her phone. She showed me what it said. We determined that turning around was not the answer. So we took five hours to get to Sebring. They were also some of the best hours of conversation.

After having dinner with Jonathon, we continued north to Monroe’s on the Lake in Sanford, Florida. Unfortunately, I could not avoid I-4, although I would not have known that I wanted to until it was too late anyway. I-4 was under construction, bumpy with uneven pavement like I have never seen. The six lanes of highway twisted and turned and were as narrow as could be, and with semi’s barreling through the 60 mph zone going 80 while tourists slowed down to 40, trying to figure out where to go, it made for the worst experience on the road I have ever had. Amanda even groaned when she looked at the map and saw we had 20 more miles of it to go. Finally, we made it to our hotel a little before 11, and the first thing Amanda said was, “I see why dad choose this hotel!”

wp-1483449712211.jpegSituated on Lake Monroe in Sanford, Florida, this affordable hotel had a friendly staff and nice rooms. The room we were in on the second floor overlooking the pool was nice anyway, with a mini-fridge and wood (laminate) floor. The bed was comfy and had the type of pillow-top comforter that I love. Perhaps Dave figured, with a bass fish for an emblem, how can you go wrong? I am glad he wasn’t wrong.

In the morning I took Amanda to the airport and waited around, hoping to get a picture of her plane departing. Realizing it would be another 20 minutes or so, I decided to go back to the hotel, only 10 minutes away, and take them from there. Before leaving, I took a picture of the airport, where it appears that Allegiance Air has the place all to itself. The place that reminds me so much of middle-school pickup.wp-1483449362046.jpegBack at the hotel, I saw a plane take off at 7:20. I took a video and pretended that I knew it was Amanda’s plane. Then I set out to take photos of the scenery that surrounded me. wp-1483403287918.jpegThis would be a nice place to meet up with others, whatever the occasion. I believe they also have a banquet room, and this beautiful gazebo is in a nice yard area in between the hotel and lake. I also spotted a huge grill/smoker but do not know if this is available for guests or what the story is on that. Worth checking out though if you are looking for something like this and enjoy doing that sort of thing (like us).wp-1483403287927.jpeg

 

Amanda’s Visit at Christmas 2016

Three hours north and then a half hour west in the middle of nowhere, was about all I knew of the road trip I was taking to go get Amanda from the Sanford Airport. Although not in the middle of nowhere, much of the two-lane road ran right through the St. John’s River.

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And right through a fish camp.

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Arriving at the small airport just north of the Orlando International reminded me of middle-school pickup back in the day. Almost immediately, traffic came to a complete stop, where, for about ten minutes, I waited.

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Traffic started moving slowly and I inched my way closer and closer to the terminal. Then Amanda called, she had retrieved her luggage and was on the curb waiting. It was just like middle-school pickup.

The next day, back in our neck of the woods, I spotted a new sign I thought might interest someone:

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One day, Amanda and I went downtown to take Dave to lunch. We went in to see the tree he had been telling us about, and of course, get a picture.

wp-1483302734740.jpegOur tree at home is a bit less traditional. Dave did all the decorating and I love it. “Dreaming of a black-light Christmas” is our song this year!

 

Presenting the Raffey Family Christmas Tree of 2016:
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The “pilot” Blacklight Christmas

For Christmas, we went to Ft. Myers, where, Dave and John carried on Gus’ tradition of hosting a Prime Rib dinner on Christmas Eve, followed by opening presents. Fourteen people got their fill and there were leftovers. Costco came through once again.

Dave said Gus’ traditional grace, to which Jeff and I traditionally tacked-on, “Rub-a-dub dub, let’s eat this grub!”

wp-1483303257394.jpegThen we opened presents. Here, Dave is reading the tag – To David From Santa. At some point, he looked at me, confused. “You sure this is for me?” “Yes, finish reading the tag,” I told him. Because you will always be David first here, he read. And our gift tags confirmed this.

wp-1483317210859.jpegSanta got him cookies – Butter Pecan Meltaways – to be exact. In a round tin with the cookie maker’s name written across the top it and, “a bite above the rest,” I had to try one. The name of “David’s” was a plus.

wp-1483303310748.jpegMan, am I glad that Dave does not enjoy them nearly as much as I do. We would have to fight over them. But as luck would have it, or his big, kind heart, he allowed me to eat almost the entire tin of cookies.

On Christmas Day, we did the traditional get-together at Dave’s cousin’s house. After lunch we played games and then sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.

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Visit my site on Shutterfly to see more pictures.

The following day we came home and planned out Amanda’s last few days here.

To be continued…