family portrait //

thoughts on that day & an update //

DenaFebruary 10, 2015

family portrait //

It was October 14th. I was sixteen weeks pregnant. I was just coming out of the nightmares that were hyperemesis gravidarum and a subchorionic hemorrhage. He texted me from the hospital, said that he had broken his foot and needed me to come pick him up. Later he would tell me that he downplayed it because he didn’t want me to worry and that he texted instead of calling because he didn’t want to cry.

The hospital was in Tarrytown, New York — the Tarrytown from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It’s a little more than an hour drive from our house. I’d been wanting to visit that place all of my life. And there I was at the best time of year for it, a couple weeks out from Halloween, the trees along the banks of the Hudson River littered with autumn-coloured leaves.

I drove through Tarrytown and into Sleepy Hollow, passed the Old Dutch Church and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It wasn’t what I’d planned for my first trip to that magical place whose legend haunted my childhood.

I had just put Roman down for his nap when I received Matthew’s text. I had to wake him up though he’d been asleep less than five minutes. I was hoping that he would sleep on the car ride there. He didn’t. When we got to the hospital, I put him in his stroller and we made our way to the emergency room where M. was.

I didn’t know what to expect. I quickly learned the truth, that a 5,000 pound steel beam had fallen on, and crushed, his left foot. He would need to have emergency surgery. A lot of the memory is blurry now, but I remember clearly the surgeon coming in. M. met him at the same time that I did. I was going to leave the room so that they could talk. The surgeon told me to stay and that I should hear it too. He talked about the injuries, about what happened, medically speaking. And then he said — this is the part that I will never forget — “There is a chance that you will lose part or all of your foot.”

There are things in life that you can’t prepare yourself for. Moments that I call “still points” when the world just stops and everything starts to spin around that moment. You can divide your life into segments — everything that came before that point and everything that came after it. That was one of those moments.

My knees felt weak and I got this feeling that I only get when terrible things happen, where my blood runs cold and it feels like my very guts are trembling. But I only let that feeling wash over me for a few moments and then I stood up straight, pushed out all of the fear, and vowed that I would be entirely strong for him — as strong as he needed me to be.

The surgeon performed some tests to determine the immediate extent of the damage. Immediate surgery was critical. Then he excused himself to make calls and get the surgery team together.

Then we were there alone. I pushed Roman back and forth in the stroller. After a few seconds I broke the silence, saying, “Just know that whatever happens it’s going to be okay. Whatever happens, we’re going to get through it, and it’s going to be okay.” There was a peace in my heart and a complete truth to my words. I knew that they were true as I said them. I knew that those words were exactly what he needed to hear.

That’s the last thing that I remember about that day with complete clarity. Fifteen days in the hospital, countless visits from me, four surgeries later, and three skin grafts — and then he was home again. Once home we had an entirely new war to wage. His recovery was (and is) long & arduous. In the beginning, he was entirely helpless. Now, four months later, he slowly gains back independence. There are, however, things that will never be the same. Parts of his skin and muscle had already died before he even got to the hospital. Those pieces are forever lost. Nerve damage resulted in permanent loss of sensation through entire parts of his foot. He has chronic pain syndrome that may last a lifetime.

There is no end to the explanation of what happened, no end to the wondering about what will happen going forward. We do the only things that we can do. We take it one day at a time. We thank God for the progress that he has made so far. And we pray that each day continues to be a little bit better than the one before it.

For personal reasons, this will be the last post that I make regarding Matthew’s injury, at least for a very long time. I cannot express enough gratitude toward everyone that has been here for our family through this time. Every prayer, every donation, every message, every thought meant more to us than I will ever be able to explain. Thank you.

Comments (3)

  • Momista Beginnings

    February 10, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Wow. I’m so sorry that you two young and beautiful and good people have to go through such a struggle. I obviously don’t know the details of how this beam fell on his foot, like whether or not it was from a high distance or not and if so, THANK GOD IT ONLY LANDED ON HIS FOOT. I worry, more often than I should, about what kinds of illnesses, injuries, diseases and so on lay in my family’s future. It’s so scary to think about. I know that if my husband had an injury like this, we’d be screwed financially! He owns his own business (and is the sole provider for our family) and I don’t know that we’d qualify for any kind of workers comp/disability. I wish and pray all of the time that he never gets seriously injured. I have no clue how hard all of this must have immediately been for you two, to swallow such news and wrap your minds around what was to come. I can only imagine how much of a toll it’s taken on you physically and emotionally. I do believe that we’re only faced with circumstances and situations that we CAN truly handle. Just like you said, it will all be okay. You CAN get through it. Just don’t forget to pay attention to your needs, Mama. Don’t lose yourself among caring for everyone else in your family. Take time for you 🙂 I wish you guys nothing but healing vibes for a fast and smooth (as smooth as something like this can be) recovery. This, too, shall pass. XOXO -Misty

  • Tina

    February 10, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    I cannot even imagine going through this. I can’t imagine how hard it has been for you being pregnant, raising your son, and taking care of your husband and home. I can’t imagine how sad your husband must feel that you have to take on all this responsibility while he’s been at least partially helpless. You’re so so strong and this experience has undoubtedly made you EVEN STRONGER. You’re such a great role model for your children. I wish you guys the best of luck and I hope he recovers the best and quickest possible 🙂

  • Alli Ammiano

    February 18, 2015 at 9:33 am


    Prayers & positive vibes being sent your way for you, your husband & your babies. Remember, it’s ok to break down once in awhile; you’re only human. But just know how much strength & courage you’ve already showed thus far. So glad to hear that your husband is getting better. Hope his progress only grows from here! xoxo

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