Archive for July, 2008

I Don’t Know What to Think…

I was minding my own business, surfing YouTube last night, when I stumbled upon this most interesting clip from a most unlikely source. It originated on al-Jazeera and is translated by their puppet Babel fish, MemriTV. It is a clip of a speech make by Muammar Gaddafi, emasculated dictator of Libya. Buried within the turds of anti-American and -Israeli rhetoric is a most interesting diatribe on Barack Obama. See for yourself.  Then ask yourself why this isn’t raising questions in the American media.  Their silence is deafening.

Which leads me to a bit of a conundrum–what happens when what you’ve suspected all along is confirmed–by someone you know to be the most vile, depraved lunatic on the planet who has never before spoken a single credible word ?

For those of you not politically aware in the time period of roughly the mid-1970’s to the mid-1980’s, at that time, Muammar Gaddafi was Public Enemy #2 (#1 being, of course, the USSR) and was considered to be at times even more dangerous than the Soviets because he was such a loose cannon. In May 1986, President Ronald Reagan had had enough with Gaddafi’s threats and sabre-rattling and ordered Gaddafi’s home bombed in an effort to hold a 2000-lb. laser-guided recall election. Sadly, we didn’t get Gaddafi, only his daughter. Still, he seemed to get the message–he has behaved comparatively much better in the years since, although I will never trust him half as far as I can throw him.

We had so little accurate intel on the dude that we didn’t even know how to spell his last name using our alphabet until he decided to write a Minnesota girl a letter in 1986. Saturday Night Live made a hilarious sketch on the speculation re: the correct spelling of Gaddafi’s last name–my favorite, too, was “Kadaffy Duck.” It’s too bad no one’s posted that on YouTube!

Anyway, back to the Obama connection. This isn’t a Black thing (or African-American, or Person of Color thing–I have friends who separately insist that each one of those is the correct way to say it, to the exclusion of the other two. They are in the minority–most of my friends and acquaintances of Sub-Saharan African origin don’t really seem to care which you use). If Condi Rice had run, I’d have been first in line to volunteer to do grunt work on her campaign. Ditto for JC Watts, whom I have had the distinct privilege to hear speak. A few years ago, an African-American student of mine told me he wanted to be President one day. More power to him, and if he follows through, I’ll be there for him, just because he has always been strong enough to be smart when being smart wasn’t “cool,” and smart enough to be strong when his little brother only cared about being “cool.”

Bottom line about Obama is that his history has more holes than Swiss cheese. He refuses to release his birth certificate, or even allow it to be seen. His citizenship is not in question; as the biological child of one American citizen, he is a native-born American regardless of where he was born. Still, what have you to hide, Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.?

I find it most interesting that there is no refutation of Gaddafi’s claim that you studied in an Islamic school in Indonesia. 200 million other Americans would give their right arm to be able to say “In your face!” to Gaddafi–why aren’t you doing it when the opportunity is handed to you as an engraved invitation on a silver platter?

How could you attend a church for 20 years, listening to the same pastor preach the same message of racist hate week after week (MLK must be spinning in his grave over the way his message has been adulterated) by the very man you claim led you to Christ, and then say you didn’t know he felt that way??? Looking at men from the inside was good enough for MLK. It is good enough for Almighty God Himself. Why isn’t it good enough for Jeremiah Wright, and why don’t you care that it isn’t?

When you say you want “change,” have you given any in-depth thought as to what that change should be and how you are going to accomplish it, while keeping our country strong? To me, your statements seem to say you want “change for change’s sake.” Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of stuff in this country that badly needs fixing. What scares me more though, is throwing the baby out with the bath water, all in the name of “change.” You seem to have forgotten the tub is still occupied, and you are swinging at the open window and at the count of two.

Above all, why, Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., can’t I shake the intense impression that you are a “sleeper.” Again, for the benefit of my esteemed readers who weren’t politically aware during the Cold War, sleepers are undercover spies who are sent to an area and ordered to blend in. That’s all. No contacts, no intel gathering, nothing. That is, until he is activated.

That’s what makes a sleeper so dangerous–he lives a bland, ordinary life until he acts, usually inflicting great, unforseen damage. Kim Philby was a sleeper for the Soviets, having risen to the upper levels of MI6 and acting as liasion to the new CIA–therefore having access to the secrets of TWO countries–before the heat got too great and he defected. The Scientologists used both overt and sleeper tactics over a 20-year period to infiltrate the Internal Revenue Service in order to obtain the 501(c)3 status that they had long coveted.

Obama’s squirreliness and evasiveness regarding everything in his life from his birth certificate, to his education, to his relationship with his father, to his racist attitude toward his maternal grandmother who helped raise him, to his religion(s), to his experience (or lack thereof) give me pause. When a person works so hard to hide the little things that don’t matter, what am I supposed to think about this person when it comes to the big things that DO matter? When food in the fridge stinks, you throw it out. When the words coming from a candidate’s mouth stink, you either find someone else you can support or at least find a “lesser evil.” In this case, there are at least two “lesser evils” out there. Pick one.

There are more things about Obama that give me pause, but he’s not the only one. A lot about McCain makes me less than confident about the 2008 elections as well. Those details; my thoughts on Ron Paul; and why, much as I have liked and respected Bob Barr throughout his political career, I will not vote for him in November are Tales for Another Day. I promise that sometime between now and November, I will address them. Today, though, it’s Obama’s turn.

I leave you with this video clip for a fantastic miniseries the BBC produced in the early 90’s and exported later to PBS. It is a humorous chronicle of two forgotten Soviet sleepers in Britain who are suddenly remembered, to the consternation of all. Be sure to read the sidebar on the YouTube page for additional info.

I firmly believe that Barack Obama is a sleeper, but not at all a funny one, nor a forgotten one. I pray that I am wrong, but I don’t think I am. Time will tell.

Let’s Get Political!

This actually came to my attention a couple of weeks ago, but CNN’s website gave me a friendly reminder today that the fine folks at JibJab have done it again!  They’ve outdone themselves this time, with an election warm-up video that takes no prisoners!

What I like about this is that it has something with the potential of ticking off anyone’s support:  they show Bush, Cheney, McCain, BOTH Clintons, and Obama, and ignore Barr and Nader, potentially ticking off their support as well!  Now THAT’s my idea of “Fair and Balanced!”

Seeing this video reminds me of the wealth of political humor out there–for my 18th birthday, all I wanted was to see Mark Russell perform at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta’s beautiful E. Ponce area.  Too much fun!  I’ll have to upload some of his stuff from YouTube some other time!

Anyway, I thought I would add a couple of Tales (Political) from the Cranial Archives.  Enjoy!

Daddy remembers well the Election of 1936, even though he was only 11 at the time.  Democrat incumbent Franklin Delano Roosevelt was running against Republican Governor Alf Landon of Kansas.  The scene was the Colquitt County Courthouse, and everyone who could turned out to witness the vote count (or to find out how much longer before the bars could re-open).  The results were a given, for after all, this was the yellow-dog-Democrat deep south, and FDR’s frequent visits to Warm Springs, northwest of Moultrie, gave him a support boost he really didn’t need to get elected.

With great ceremony, the Supervisor of Elections opened the ballot box.  A clerk sat by his side to record the vote.  The Supervisor painstakingly held up each ballot individually and called out its endorsement with a booming voice:  “Roosevelt!”  “Roosevelt!”  “Roosevelt!”  and so on for quite some time, until, all of a sudden, the word rang out:  “Landon!”

The room fell silent.  No one had ever voted Republican before–at least, not to anyone’s memory.  The clerk looked up at the Supervisor quizzingly.  “Whadda we do?  How do I mark this?”

The Supervisor looked down at the clerk kindly.  Resting the Republican ballot next to the box, he said “I’ll just lay it down here until we’ve counted the rest.”  He then picked up the next ballot and continued “Roosevelt!”  “Roosevelt!”  “Roosevelt!”  “Roosevelt!”

After some time, he picked out a ballot from the box and called out “Landon!”  Again, the room fell silent.  The clerk, clearly consternated, said to the Supervisor, “Whadda we do now?!?”

Without missing a beat, the Supervisor picked up the other Republican ballot, held the two together, and tore them to bits saying,  “We disqualify them; the damned fool voted twice!”

Another Tale involves Pierre Howard, who was Lt. Governor of Georgia in the 1990’s.  He made an unsuccessful bid for Governor in 1999, losing in the primaries to State Sen. Roy Barnes, who would eventually win the general election.  While campaigning in SW Georgia, Howard (who famously told voters that “‘Pierre’ is French for ‘Bubba'”) lost track of his location while going door-to-door asking for support.  He knocked on one door, then told the lady who opened it “My name’s Pierre Howard and I’m running for Governor.  I sure would appreciate your support on [election day].”

The lady recieved him kindly, but told him that, much as she would like to, she could not give Howard her support.

“May I ask why not?” inquired Howard.  After all, he needed to be seen as someone who was willing to listen to the people, and if it was a problem he could fix, he most certainly would.

“You crossed the state line a quarter-mile back.   You’re in Florida now.”

The AP had a field day with this one.  I know because I read about it in the St. Pete Times–I was living in Florida, too, at the time!

An Open Letter

To the guy in the white Toyota Tundra pick-up behind me on FM 109 yesterday evening:

I saw what you did, you sorry scuzbag.  I watched the whole thing in my rear-view mirror.  I, my son and daughter, and my daughter’s friend were in my beloved RaggTopp heading home just after 7:30 yesterday evening.  The sun hadn’t set yet and visibility was perfect, so don’t try some lame excuse about not seeing things clearly–pilots can’t ask for better conditions than I had for viewing.  Not only that, but I had the top down, so there were no blind spots.  The error, you butchering bulldozer, was yours.

Just before that last big turn on the outskirts of New Ulm, I saw a hump on my side of the two lane highway.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but my instincts said “turtle,” and I made a correction to the right side of my lane–giving you plenty of time to see my maneuver and act accordingly.  Sure enough, as I passed by, I saw the turtle’s distinctive head arched up curiously.  “Whew,” I thought,  “at least I’ve given the guy behind me enough time to see this coming, too.”  I looked in the mirror to watch you also safely by-pass the crossing turtle.

Except that didn’t happen, did it, you malicious bastard.  No, I could do nothing but watch in horror as you steered all right–AT THE TURTLE.  You know your truck well, I’ll give you that.  You knew just where to put that left front tire so that not only would you crush that curious turtle head, you would shoot the shell up several feet in the air and skip it across the opposite lane in a sick version of tiddly-winks.  Forgive me, you are probably too Neanderthal to understand what “tiddly-winks” are.  You know it as a drinking game:  “quarters.”  You knew just how to give that poor creature, who doubtfully has ever caused you any harm in your miserable existence, the most horrifying, excrutiating, ingratiating death possible.  Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls, you hippopotamic land mass (thanks, Westley, for that apropos appellation).

And then, as I look on in horror and focus on your front license plate (thanks, Texas, for requiring plates on front and back), what do I see mounted above it–“VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER”!  Don’t get me started, you pectorally-hirsute hypocrite!  A firefighter is someone who defends life, not wantonly deprives it.  A volunteer is someone who gives, not someone who takes for no reason than his own perverse pleasure.  I so want to call you a sorry SOB, but I’ve never met a dog that deserves having you for a son, and I am not a dog person.

Don’t think I’m one of those PETA psychos, either.  I have no use for their militancy or their misguided convictions.  I hunt, I fish, I’ve even ranched–the difference is I eat or wear what I kill (as appropriate).  I have no qualms with killing the varmints that tear up my pastureland and lawn or hunt my pets–and I’m a very good shot.  I own not one, but two furs and wear them proudly on the few occasions when I can.  The poor creature who had to die so that I can wear them?  My grandmother.

What you did, though, wasn’t feeding your family or protecting your property.  You did it “for kicks.”  Maybe the other slug in your cab double-dog-dared you or bet you couldn’t.  Who knows?  Who cares?  This much I know, one day, you will face the One who created not only your sorry behind, but the creature you wantonly destroyed as well.  He’s the One you’ll to whom you’ll have to answer.  I just pray that He will allow me to be there as a witness.  In the meantime, if my house should ever (God forbid!) catch fire, don’t bother coming.  Your kind of “help,” I won’t need.  I just hope you can get the help you obviously DO need.  Try the yellow pages under “Physicians–psychiatry.”

Most Sincerely,

The lady in the blue convertible.

Don’t Tell Me Miracles Don’t Happen Today! (Postscript)

Well, it’s been over two years now since we brought our Ladybug home.  We have cherished every single day as if it were borrowed time.  Our young lady is 16 and almost grown now.  She drives on her own (although Mom has to get a job before we can even THINK of getting Ladybug a car of her own, much as we all would like to).

Physically, she’s great.  The overbite mentioned in Part I turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  She was just able to push mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, food bits from Campbell’s soups, etc. into her mouth while her jaw was wired.  We all believe that the overbite kept her from going totally insane.  She continued to prefer Frappuccinos to smoothies, but after all the struggles to get her to “eat,” by the time the wires were removed she had only lost one pound!  We were so concerned about her weight–we knew that if she lost any more than that, she would become two-dimensional!

Eating was not the only concern; so was physical activity.  It was hard at first–we just let Ladybug stay in the recliner for the first few days.  Then we knew we had to get her out and about.  It took 5 hours to get her to dress, put on makeup, and walk out the door the first time–she was so intimidated by the thought of getting into a car again!  After that, though, it was visit after visit–to her friends’ houses, to cheer for the swim team (Ladybug’s season was over, as she could not get into the water until the trach incision was completely healed), to go shopping, to get ready for school.

She had 8 weeks after the accident to recover before Fish Camp, the orientation session held for incoming Freshmen at her high school.  The week before that, though, was the beginning of training for the Cross Country team–five days a week, at 6:30 a.m.  Local legendary Coach Archie Seals had been anticipating getting Ladybug on his team after watching her run in Junior High competition, but had figured her to be lost for the season after the accident.  He was, I believe, the most astonished person of all when she showed up for the first practice!  Coach told her that she only needed to attend practice every other day the first two weeks, but she insisted on attending daily and keeping up with the other athletes.  She wasn’t the fastest girl on the team, but placed on a few occasions and was definitely a help in continuing what was to become a 24-year streak in taking the Divisional Cross-Country title for Coach Seals.

She also earned the undying admiration of her high school’s women’s coach.   Coach Brewer has a well-earned reputation for being tough as nails and not easily impressed–and she has the state championships in volleyball to prove it!  Still, word gets around of someone determined enough to go from near-death to competition conditioning in 8 weeks, and Coach loved Ladybug’s athleticism, determination and spunk.  Coach even invited Ladybug to be scorekeeper for volleyball and girl’s basketball that year–jobs Ladybug enjoyed doing immensely.

Ladybug had signed up for three Pre-AP classes freshman year:  History, English, and Science.  Over that summer, we noticed that Ladybug was having short-term memory issues and trouble with organization (never her strong suit to begin with) and focus.  The pre-AP science class also required a demanding insect-collection summer project.  After much thought, we decided it might be best for her to drop PAP science.  Then a series of mishaps occurred that clearly bore the fingerprints of God’s involvement.  Instead of being put in a regular freshman physical science class, she was mistakenly put into a sophomore biology class.  It took several weeks for that mistake to be found.  Within days of being transferred to the freshman science class, Ladybug just happened to run into the PAP Science teacher, who begged Ladybug to give her class a try.  Her dad and I agreed, the teacher waived the insect requirement, and Ladybug thoroughly enjoyed PAP science–it was one of her favorite classes!  God clearly meant for her to be there.

One of the longest-lasting effects of the accident was Ladybug’s left eye.   She could not move it past the center vertical axis, if you can imagine her eye divided into a grid.  It caused her to suffer double vision for several months.  She had a special prism put on her glasses to help, but it was only in synch with her range of motion for a short time.  Mainly, she learned to deal, and by the time Christmas break came around, she had regained 90% of the range of motion in that eye.

As stated before, her swim season was over that year, but the next summer, she came back with a vengeance, being the team’s top point-earner in 2007.   Joint issues stemming from running kept her out of the post-season, but this year dropped cross-country and track and she is going all the way with swimming.  The state’s regional meet is tomorrow, and after that is Texas’ amateur finals in San Antonio.  Ladybug is going!  She also will be attending a school with a swim program in the fall, so she will be able to swim year-round–something she hasn’t done since we lived in Florida.

The fall and winter after the accident, Ladybug was invited to be on THREE Courts of Honor for the quinceaneras of her friends.  This is a high honor indeed–like being selected to be a maid of honor.  You get to wear a formal gown (matching the other girls on the Court), learn intricate dances, and have an escort in a tux.  WOW, did she look good!

I would love very much to post photos from that time, but Ladybug has asked me not to.  Her suffering during that period is a sensitive subject, and I am very cautious about broaching it.  She’s suffered more than enough, and I respect her wishes.  A little over a year after the wreck, she came downstairs just after midnight and woke me up to tell me that she suddenly remembered everything–the events leading up to the accident, during the accident, everything.  We talked about it as much as she wanted to, and I let her cry it out.  She says that the experience has made her a cautious driver, careful about taking turns and is VERY picky about who she allows to drive her when it comes to her friends.  She talks about owning a fast car, but really just wants a good, reliable coupe.  I think she is much more responsible than most 16-year-olds with a car.  I let her drive my RaggTopp–what more can I say?

The one thing that seems to be irreparably damaged in the accident was our relationship with our oldest son.  He walked away from the crash without a scratch (although it took a couple of days to find his glasses), but hated himself for what had happened to his sister.  He admitted that he was taking that corner too fast and being reckless.  Still, Hubby and I knew that we could either let bad feelings tear our family apart or we could forgive him in an effort to keep the family together.  Choosing was a no-brainer, and we told God while en route to the hospital that we had forgiven him.  We told him as soon as we saw him, but I don’t think he has ever forgiven himself or allowed himself to believe that what happened is forgivable.  He had drifted in and out of our lives ever since.  He tried to go into the service, but his attempts to join two different branches both failed.  He lives in an apartment in a dangerous area of a nearby town and works in two fast food joints, not making enough to make ends meet.  Ladybug wants nothing to do with him because she feels he “abandoned” the family when we needed him most.  Hubby and I have reached out to him on many occasions and helped him out of some tough scrapes, but he still does not want to be part of our family.   All we can do is let him live his life at this point and hope that someday he will put aside the hate that eats him like a cancer.  When he does, we’ll be there.

Still, Ladybug shows a compassion toward her brother of which I’m not sure she’s aware.  When Christian recording artist Stephen Curtis Chapman‘s teenage son accidentally struck his 5 year-old-sister while backing a car out of the driveway this past May, killing her, the first thing out of Ladybug’s mouth was “Oh, I feel so awful for that boy–will he ever forgive himself?”  In a similar situation, her first thought was for the person in her brother’s place–not hers’, not her parents’.  You know, I’m glad it was her first thought.  It shows me just how mature beyond her years she is.  I love you, Ladybug.

Don’t Tell Me Miracles Don’t Happen Today! (Part III)

I’m back, after a brief hiatus to celebrate our nation’s 232nd birthday, observed just as the founding fathers intended:  with “fireworks, feasting, and gaiety.”   Now, while I’ve got some ribs, brisket, beer-can chicken and beans being infused with mesquite smoke outside, I’ll finish my Ladybug’s tale.

When we left off, it was right at sunset on Sunday, June 11, 2006.  The place, the pediatric wing at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston.  We were exuberant, for our precious Ladybug was being moved out of Shock/Trauma ICU after a four-day stay, but we had been happy that she was there for it meant she was alive.  She had made it through her first surgery (in 2-4 hours less time than had been anticipated by her surgeon, Dr. Arun Gadre.  In two days, Dr. Gadre and Dr. Richard Urso, an ophthalmic surgeon, would complete the reconstruction of Ladybug’s face.

Since her jaw (broken in two places) had been wired shut and would remain so for the next six weeks, Ladybug was on a liquid diet.  The nurses showed us to the small refreshment area for our section of the ward, which was stocked with a wide assortment of fruit juices, milkshakes, and other healthy beverages at our disposal.  Since Ladybug only weighed 97 lbs. at the time of the accident, keeping her nourished and at a healthy weight for her 5′ 1″ frame was a priority.  After a meal or two, Ladybug was already tiring of the liquid meals available, and we were having to get creative.  Thank God there was a Starbucks in the main lobby; had it not been for Frapuccinos, she would have wasted away to nothing.  As it turned out, it was this spring, nearly two years later, that Ladybug sipped a smoothie since having the wires removed.  Before that, merely saying the word “smoothie” would turn her green with nausea.

As stated in my last post, as soon as Ladybug got settled, she started texting all her friends to let them know that she was finally in a place where she could routinely visit and had access to communication.  The next day, Monday, was a constant inpouring of friends from church, school, track team, swim team, and even friends of friends.  We lost count somewhere around 50.  The nurses commented that, even when they had had celebrity or VIP children in the ward, they had never seen so many visitors in one day.  Everyone was great; they were conscientious, caring, respectful of others, and treated my Ladybug like a queen.

There was one visit during those hectic days that most sticks out in my mind as a selfless, sacrificial act that meant so much to all of us, especially to Ladybug.  Jeff Appel was at that time president of the Brenham Dolphins Swim Team, to which all three of my kids belonged at that time (my oldest has since become too old for the program, which ends at 18).  He is also the owner of Appel Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep in Brenham.  Right at 5:00 in the afternoon (which means he was negotiating downtown traffic in our nation’s 4th largest city, and leaving himself open to battle even worse traffic going home), he walked in the door, carrying a foam book that had to be a good 12 inches thick!  The team had created not a get-well card, but a get-well BOOK,  with each swimmer making his or her own page of love and support!

Jeff Appel so easily could have relegated bringing the team’s well-wishes to another member of the team’s board or to a parent, but he took time out of what surely must have been a busy workday to come personally and extend the teams’ well-wishes.  He stayed for a while, talking to us and to Ladybug, making sure that our immediate needs were being taken care of.  It made quite an impression on all of us.  Since that day, all of our automobile business has been with Appel Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep–we replaced the totaled Jeep Cherokee with a Dodge Durango Hemi, which was traded in earlier this year as gas prices began to soar for a Chrysler PT Cruiser.  It is also where I got my beloved RaggTopp, my Chrysler Sebring convertible.   I take advantage of any opportunity that comes up to recommend Jeff’s dealership to whomever I can–I just wish I could do more to show my gratitude to someone who went way above and beyond the call of duty.  Jeff could easily have called as a representative of the team, and I would have been happy.  Rather, he came as a friend, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Here is one shameless and unsolicited bit of promotion: Thanks, Jeff!

There were others who meant so much in those days:  Von and Stacey, who hovered over me as I hovered over Ladybug; Scott, who not only brought over fantastic Vietnamese food, but also his youngest son to play with my youngest son; and Peggy, with whom Hubby and I had had a disagreement (over something that seemed so important just a week earlier and was totally insignificant now)–when she came to visit, Hubby hugged her and said “You know, this means we can never get mad at you again!”

Then there were Chris and Beth, even though they never made it to the hospital to visit.  Believe me, I understood; they were much too concerned with the recovery of their own daughter,  Ladybug’s friend, who had so badly broken her arm in the effort to save Ladybug’s life.  Beth was one of the first people to contact me after we’d gotten word;  Chris is a member of the Volunteer Fire Department, and heard the call on his service walkie-talkie.  They knew as soon as the call came in that it was our girls.  Beth tried like mad to get on the helicopter with Ladybug, even as the ambulance was arriving for her own daughter.  Each of us regards both girls as our own, and never more than at this time.  I was so scared to speak to Beth at first; I just knew she must hate me for what had happened.  How foolish I was–if anything, we became closer than ever.  Still, her daughter was taken to another hospital on the farthest outreaches of the opposite side of the Houston medical area.  Her daughter got to go home on the same day that mine moved out of ICU.  Hubby got to pay one visit over there, but I did not get to see my “other daughter” until well after Ladybug was released from the hospital.  Still, within a couple of weeks of Ladybug’s release, they were “doing the sleepover thing” again, just like old times.

But I get ahead of myself.  On Tuesday, June 13, Ladybug went in for her second facial-reconstruction surgery in four days.  The first one had gone well, remarkably well.  The second, though, was scheduled to go much longer, and would be much more intricate.  Among the throng of visitors that Monday before was Dr. Gadre, accompanied by Dr. Urso to discuss what would happen in the second surgery.  Dr. Urso would go first; he would make the only visible incision other than the one for the tracheostomy in the whole battery of procedures–just below her right eyebrow.  Using that incision and one about 1 1/2 inches behind Ladybug’s hairline, Dr. Urso would insert a steel mesh that would be her new eye socket.  After that, the surgeons would go inside Ladybug’s lower eyelids to reset her fractured cheekbones and sinus bones with metal plates.  The surgery was expected to take 8-12 hours, and the first one had gone so well, Hubby and I were on edge, not daring to speculate if the ease of the first surgery would mean difficulty in the second.

It turned out that the fears we dared not contemplate were unfounded.  The second surgery was over in only 6 hours, and went so well that the surgeons, so schooled in objectivity, could not contain their excitement.  What I saw were Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris after the Immaculate Reception, Buck Belue and Lindsay Scott after the 92-yard pass play that beat Florida and put Georgia in the #1 spot in 1981, Jake Taylor and Willie Mays Hayes at the plate after the “called-shot bunt” at the end of Major League.  They were two guys who had scored the game-winner, and they knew it!

Again, though, our joy was tinged with a bit of sorrow.  During the surgery, I made some phone calls to see how things were going at home.  It turned out that the owner of our local pharmacy has passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  “Mr. Walter,” although he had retired and handed the responsibility of keeping Bellville’s prescriptions to his pharmacist son long before we had moved to the area, was still a fixture in the pharmacy that bears his name, helping out when things were really busy or just chatting with the townsfolk when it wasn’t.  We knew he would be sorely missed, and the staff at the pharmacy, along with “Mr. Walter’s” son Mike and his wife Kim, our local nurse-practitioner, were amazed that I would even think to call to express my condolences while my daughter was undergoing delicate surgery!  It’s just what you do.  My experience with Ladybug made me oh so much more aware of the importance of “Little Things.”

Again, we knew we would have to deal with post-operative swelling, but even so, we were amazed at how good Ladybug looked–far beyond what we were told to expect!  The doctors would want to see her every few weeks (Dr. Urso would see her for the next year), but they were excited.  Dr. Gadre had told us most pointedly that he “could not put her back the way God made her.”  Well, in that case, God took over the hands of Dr. Gadre and Dr. Urso and worked yet another miracle, for once the swelling went down, our beautiful Ladybug was back!

Twenty-four hours after the second surgery, Ladybug’s surgical trach tube was replaced with one that would allow her to cover it to speak.  Her voice was music to everyone’s ears!  Another gift received that day came from one of her two best friends in Florida.  The hospital volunteer brought in a large box which turned out to contain a teddy bear outfitted with a small straw shopping basket.  Inside the basket was one item–a deep purple eye shadow!  We howled at the joke that continued from that first horrible night.  When Hubby went into the ER treatment room that first time, his heart broke upon seeing the injured, semi-conscious Ladybug.  He felt he had to do something to break the obvious tension, so he said the first ridiculous thing he could think of.  Upon seeing the “raccoon eyes” described in Part I, he said to Ladybug “Didn’t I tell you to do something about that eye shadow?  For a year and a half, the only two things Ladybug remembered first-hand about the day of the accident  were the sound of the helicopter rotors, and her Daddy’s silly remark.

On Friday, June 16 (my father’s 81st birthday), the hospital spoke of releasing Ladybug.  As much as we wanted to take her home, we were concerned.  Home was a 90-minute drive away in the best of circumstances; if it were rush hour or there was a major snafu on the freeway, who knew how long it would take to get home?  They had only removed her trach tube and butterflied her incision that day–what if something were to go wrong?  We asked for and received another 24 hours to observe her and have help nearby if needed.

Hubby got the RV ready, while I began to organize the florist shop that my daughter’s room had become.  The balloon bouquet went to the little girl next door who had been a “regular customer” in the ward since she was a toddler due to a faulty liver.  This visit was due to dehydration, which caused problems for the transplant liver she had.  She and Ladybug had become fast friends on the ward.  It took three trips with a cart to put all the flowers into our minivan–the last trip with Ladybug holding onto two bouquets as she was being wheeled out.  Then came the slow trip home–the RV had transmission problems that prevented going above 45 miles per hour.  Still, it was a celebration for Ladybug to be coming home at all!

Of course, Ladybug was apprehensive–this was her first car ride since the accident.  The sudden heavy downpour just as we got to the traffic jam caused by the closure for construction of the ramp we wanted to head home didn’t help.  Still, we knew an alternative route that was some 40 miles longer, but not obstructed with detours to God-knows-where overpopulated with other, less responsible drivers who had no more clue where to go than we did.   Two-and-a-half hours later, we were home!  Ladybug was home.  The worst was over.

NEXT TIME:  Postscript

Don’t Tell Me Miracles Don’t Happen Today! (Part II)

Yesterday, I began the Tale of the accident that almost took the life of my beloved daughter, Ladybug, two years ago when she was 14.  I brought us to the point where she had successfully undergone the first of two surgeries to rebuild her shattered face, and was a day away from transfer from the Shock/Trauma ICU to a regular room in the Pediatric ward of Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

How, you may wonder,  could Ladybug have been thrown from the car and have it roll on top of her, with no injuries other than broken facial bones?  Yes, her injuries were serious, and she was admitted to the hospital in “guarded” condition, still, there was no brain damage or injury to her body below her collarbone, save for one nickel-sized bruise on her knee.  How?  The answer is simple:  the Hand of God.  He went to a lot of trouble to keep her with us and with her fantastic intellect intact, and for that I am forever grateful.  In the interest of brevity, I will simply list all the trouble God went through to spare my Ladybug.

  1. He made sure her best friend was there.  Remember yesterday, when I said that her arm was broken?  It turned out that she broke her arm in an effort to save Ladybug.  When Ladybug went flying, her best friend grabbed her and tried to bear-hug her.  She wasn’t able to hold on, but the effort contributed to saving my daughter’s life.  See below.
  2. While bear-hugging Ladybug, her best friend’s elbow went out the open window as the car rolled.  Her elbow jammed into the ground, and the car landed on top of the BF’s shoulder, causing the humerus to break and jamming the broken bone into her shoulder blade.  It was a nasty break, causing intricate surgery and about a 6-inch scar down the front of her left upper arm to repair.  Sadly, the plastic surgeons say they cannot minimize the scarring from the incision or the pins that protruded through her skin for the subsequent 8 weeks.  Still, the BF wears it as a badge of honor, andcontinues to wear the spaghetti strap tops she loves so.  She has found it to be a great conversation-starter!  Also fortunate was that it was her left arm–all she needed was some weight-training to play her bass trombone again.  The right arm operates the slide.
  3. Said resting of the car on the BF’s shoulder gave an inch or two of leeway off of Ladybug’s head–enough to keep her skull from being crushed.
  4. When the car flipped and Ladybug flew out, she did not land on the gravel road, or in the sun-baked culvert.  She landed in a hayfield.  Not just any hayfield, one that had been mown just that day.  If you don’t live in the country, new-mown hay is left in the sun for several days to dry before baling, lest you invite mold into your fodder.  Someone who went out to the crash scene the next day to look for my son’s glasses and anything else that was lost in the chaos said that walking in that field “was like walking on a pillow.”
  5. The Jeep had a luggage rack.  God went to the trouble to have Ladybug’s head just so that it was neatly and protectively inside a triangle formed by the forward edge of the luggage rack, the forward edge of the Jeep’s roof, and the ground.  An inch in any other direction would have likely killed her.
  6. God gave amazing strength to another friend.  This guy was a 3rd string linebacker on the football team anda friend of both my daughter and my oldest son.  He had always had a soft spot for my daughter, but we all knew she was too young for him, and, besides, she was not interested in anything more than friendship.  Still, when he came across the crash scene a few minutes after it happened, he didn’t hesitate.  There were already 4 or 5 fellas from the youth group trying to get the car off the girls, without success.  This pal went up single-handedly and power-lifted the car off of them.  He’s been like a son to me ever since, and has since graduated and is now serving in the Army when he could have easily gone home to his native Belize, as he had always planned.  Thanks, pal–on so many levels!
  7. There is normally not an ambulance stationed in that remote area, but at the time the call came in, a unit had gone to a nearby watering-hole for some (presumably non-alcoholic) refreshment on their way back from a call that did not require transport.  They were only 5 minutes away.

See what I mean?   God went to a lot of trouble to spare my ladybug!

Now we return to S/TICU.  Ladybug had been there for four days and had come through her first surgery with flying colors.  We had been told by Dr. Gadre to expect some swelling after surgery, for he had had to do a lot of work inside the keyhole cuts he had made under her gumline along her upper and lower lips.  This turned out to be an understatement, as Ladybug’s lips were reminiscent of Goldie Hawn’s in “The First Wives Club” after one plumping injection too many.  In fact, (as an illustration of Ladybug’s resiliency), she wrote on her whiteboard about her “AJ lips.”

“AJ lips?”  I responded?  “What do you mean by that”?

“Angelina Jolie.”

Wonder where Ladybug got her low-flying humor.  Really, I don’t know! (yeah, right!)  In truth, the nurses had initially made that joke, on one of those rare occasions when I wasn’t around.

Late that afternoon (a Sunday), we got word:  a room in the Pediatric ward was being prepared for Ladybug.  As soon as it was ready, she would be transferred!  We celebrated, but kept it extremely low-key, for in the adjacent bed was a young man in his late 20’s who had come in that afternoon after falling off a ladder.  The young man was brain dead, and they were keeping him on the machines just long enough for his family to come and say goodbye.  As joyous as we were at this first large step in Ladybug’s recovery, we just couldn’t be exuberant while the man in the bed next to her was dying much too soon and suddenly–like Ladybug almost did.  Even she kept her excitement levels down until she had been wheeled past the just-arrived family and the young man about to die.  When Charles Dickens wrote that “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he had no idea.

While Ladybug had been in S/TICU, Hubby had been taking care of things outside the hospital.  He spent time with both boys, contacted the family and friends, and fielded offers of assistance from all over.  When it was discovered that there was an RV park a couple of miles away with a free shuttle, a family from church offered their RV to us, stocked with food, at no charge.  We paid just a few dollars a day for parking and hook-ups.  Others drove my parents from Cat Spring to downtown Houston so that they wouldn’t have to negotiate the anarchy that is Houston inside the Loop.  Still others took young Bear to the pool, the movies, or just to play.  My parents took my oldest to face the Justice of the Peace to address the charges against him.  Hubby was at the center of all that coordination.

In the midst of it, we reversed a long-held notion about text-messaging.  We had been dead-set against it until after the accident, when we were told that Ladybug would be unable to speak until 24 hours after her second surgery (if all went well) due to the trach tube that surgery required.  Her jaw would be wired shut for at least 6 weeks after that, causing another impediment to clear speaking.  Text-messaging was the logical solution, for it would at least allow direct communication between Ladybug andher friends–something crucial to conveying to all that yes, she is getting better.  As soon as Ladybug was settled in her new room, we gave her back her cell phone (the first thing found, for it was lighting up immediately after the wreck with an incoming call) and told her that her Daddy had enabled text messaging.

We knew there would be a flurry of texting to communicate with everyone, but we had no idea until after we got the phone bill, long after Ladybug had returned home–1,700 messages on her account that month, with 400 the first day alone (and she didn’t get her phone until early evening)!  Of course, we ragged her about the bill, but it was all good-natured ribbing.  We cheerfully paid that bill, but reminded her that the next month, those specal circumstances would no longer be existent.  Yeah, right–by August we were shelling out the little bit more for unlimited texting–cheaper than the overage charges by far!

Next time:  the 2nd surgery, 50 First Visits, and The Book (and you thought I’d forgotten!)

July 2008

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