Sorry that it seems like a college essay.

The last seven months for me have been as close to hell as I can assume is humanly possible. The amounts of suffering and emotional trauma have been very devastating; and the experience that we all have had to withhold has been a life changing experience, for the better and for the worst. Although we spent many days and nights wondering of the outcome of this seemingly endless nightmare, it made my family realize what he had and did not appreciate as much we should’ve.

The initial incident that led to the end of our family’s life as we knew it was the horrible accident that potentially could have been much worse. It was a cold day; February 18th. It was a Friday, and my siblings and I had the day off of school for a faculty meeting. Everything seemed as it should’ve on a calm winter day, until we received the imprisoning phone call to inform us that my father had been injured at work, and that we should go to the hospital immediately. He worked at a sheet metal fabrication company on the Mississippi River. The only information that the receptionist gave my mother was that my dad said “Tell Tracy I love her very much.” Naturally, we thought that he had been injured far worse than he had been (Not that what happened was a minor injury). We were prepared for the worst. We frantically ran up the road to meet my grandmother at the intersection, and we were crying and screaming, just in awe. When we got to the hospital, we were immediately taken to the operating room, and when I saw my dad, my heart sank. He was pale and he was wincing in what I believe to be the most excruciating pain I had ever seen relayed in person. We only saw him for about fifteen seconds until the surgeon barged into the room and pulled the sheet that was covering his body from the waist down. The sight that I witnessed at that point will be engraved into my head for the rest of my life. His left leg from the knee down was completely mangled and crushed. I could see the internals of his leg, and both of the bones, the Tibia and Fibula, were protruding from the skin. We were instructed to leave so that emergency surgery could begin at 4:00pm. We were then given the story of what happened, by the hospital chaplain. My father had been collecting lot numbers from stacks of stainless steel, which was a job that had been neglected the night before. One of the bundles had been stacked upside down, and as he was turned away from it, the stack decided to shift and pinned his legs under five thousand or so pounds. My mom and I were hysterical, and we had nothing in our heads but what the future held for our family.

The day of the accident may have been an extreme emotional burden, but it was the months to follow that really caused a huge amount of stress in our family. The week after the accident, I ended up in the Robert Young Institution for suicidal tendancy. I was on suicide watch and stayed in the hospital for seven days. After I got out, I came to find out my dad was in Iowa City and had an Ilizarov fixator put on his leg to align the bones for healing. Daily for the following three months, my mother and I had to do “Pin Care” on the fixator and clean the pins with professional care; just like a nurse (Considering the fixator was held on by steel pins that were drilled into the bone), and we had to adjust the dials on the fixator to pull the bones together. When we went back to Iowa City on April 30th, the doctor proceeded to tell us that from what he saw on the X-Ray, the bones were not healing at all; The last three months had been all for nothing. This news was absolutely horrifying. The doctor told us that the fixator was to be removed, and he would be having surgery on June 30th, which would be an open reduction internal fixation. They were going to go into his leg, and shave the bone on both sides to provide a good union for the bones. They would use a piece of bone from his back to form a bone compound solution to provide the actual healing. When the surgery was over, he would be put in a cast; but his leg was going to be four inches shorter than the other. Surgery was still a month away, and in the meantime, my dad was put in a regular black Cam-boot. The Velcro straps and everything; the whole nine yards. It was quite apparent that someone with two separated bones shouldn’t be in a stereotypical boot, but he had to do what the doctor said. We had to take this boot off daily, and clean the pin sights just as before. The only difference was that his leg was not stabilized or aligned. That was the most traumatic month of the whole experience. My dad was in the worst pain of the whole journey; nevertheless my mother and I having to clean his broken leg that would bend in the middle of the shin if we didn’t pick it up perfectly level. It was unexplainably sickening. Finally he had the surgery on June 30th, and he was put in a boot and came home the next week. His leg looked remarkably shorter than I had expected; his left foot cleared the top of his right shoe, and they happened to be Michael Jordan’s, so they were relatively tall shoes. For about three weeks, we once again had to clean the incision and anything else that was healing. It seemed as so by the last week that his leg was growing in size and he had an odd looking sore on the outside of his leg. In Iowa City at a checkup appointment, the doctor told us that his bone and tissue were very highly infected, and that action had to be taken. I remember his exact words. I saw a shine in his eye, and a tear formed. He said, trying to keep his lip from quivering, “Sir, I don’t think I’m going to be able to save your leg.”

Pause for comprehension.

In essence, that moment was the worst ending to the worst nightmare that I had ever had; but the road to follow was nothing but positive. We had already hit rock bottom. There was nowhere else to go but up. The moment in the clinic room seemed like a lifetime, with nothing but crying and astonishing looks on our faces. We had to do what we had been trying to avoid, amputation; but it seemed like it would be the better choice for him anyway, considering the circumstance. He would have had to wear a four to six inch bottom on his shoe, and he would have had pain for the rest of his life. With a prosthesis, he will be able to walk, pivot, run, play golf, work out, or anything else that he could possibly want to do. He’ll get his everyday life back. We’ve broken down, and we’ve cried to each other about how we can’t believe that this had to happen to our family; to such a good man, such a great father. But it had to have happened for a reason; perhaps to pull us all closer as a family.

The end has not yet come to this terrible tragedy; however the final chapters are starting to unfold. In February, my life was jumbled and frantic that I can’t even begin to say what was going through my mind. I was suicidal and my thoughts were constantly racing. The months went on and I only realized more and more how much I needed my father and that I appreciate everything that he does for our family. I cannot wait to simply get out and play a round of golf with him, or just go to the canal and go fishing. As he gets better, I’m going to make sure to keep this feeling of appreciation, because I know very well that he could be gone in an instant; and I want to make sure that I’ve treated him with love and respect just as any son should treat their father. The last seven months have been a gruesome nightmare. But in the end, the only thing that matters is that he’s still here; and that my whole family has gained a value; Appreciation.