an instant

Life can change in an instant.

The last 6 months have been full of changes, new baby, move across the country, new house, new job, new lives. But some changes happen without warning.

On February 2nd, during a heavy snowstorm and “snow day,” my husband was out in the garage cutting wood to build quail cages when he had a terrible accident with the miter saw. He made it to the garage door, and an ambulance took him to the hospital while I took the big kids to a friend’s house to meet him in the ER. The next couple of days were incredibly long for all of us.

Here’s the email I sent to family that night after the immediate surgery.

“First off, I have attached some xrays from before the surgery and after. 

Basically, Jace was bringing the miter saw back up after cutting a piece of wood and he put his hand under to grab the wood out and brought his hand right up into the blade right before the guard came down.

He had a 6-7 inch gash on his left hand. It went from the bottom edge of his lower thumb to the joint of his index finger. 

According to the hand surgeon (and what I remember from information overload) he cut through the lowest thumb bone and cut a piece off the bottom of the join if the index finger. He also caused damage to both the metacarsels on his thumb and index finger right at the joint (this means he will have arthritis and joint pain for the rest of his life).

He severed two of the three muscles on the palm side of his thumb, and both muscles in between his thumb and index finger. He severed two tendons on his thumb and two on his index finger. He also severed *another type of tendon* on the thumb joint and both sides of the index joint (I can’t remember the word he used- sorry). 

The bones were shattered and missing pieces. He was able to reattach a chunk of the index finger bone using wires to wrap around the bone to hold it in place. There was too much of the thumb bone missing to fix it, so he used bone grafts, a certain protein and some letter combo- CMB?CMD? to promote bone growth on his thumb. 

It will take 6-8 weeks for the bones to stabilize and regrow. He will be in a splint for a week or two to allow swelling to go down and then will be casted for 6-8 weeks. 

The big concern are the tendons. Since they were reattached, they need to be used to prevent scarring, but he will not be able to move them. This will apparently be a long process to get movement back, and will likely be stiffer than normal for the rest of his life. He is concerned about the range of motion in opposition with his thumb. 

He had originally said before the surgery that a year for full rehab was the “worst case” scenario. Post surgery, he felt a year was a likely length of time for full recovery. 

It will be a long, painful road for him physically, and emotionally, as he is very angry with himself for this accident. He is worried about what it will mean for the kids and I and for his career. He is also worried about flying again. I’ve been in touch with his commander, and we will have to see how the AF handles this. 

Overall, I am very thankful he didn’t lose both fingers- nor that they felt they had to fuse the joints- which was a possibility on the table. Both of those would have been an automatic no for flying again. He still has a chance to fly- although it may require a fight physically to get there.”

He was released from the hospital the next afternoon, and my mom flew in for a few days to help out. His big battle the first week was managing pain as his shoulder block wore off. But he was able to get that under control pretty well.

We followed up with the hand surgeon at 1 week post surgery, had the drain removed and it rebandaged, but still in the splint. This was the first chance we had to actually look at the wound post surgery and we were both very happy with the healing. He initially had more pain the evening after this appointment, but it eventually went down. Jace’s mom flew in for a week to help us during this transition, which was very helpful overall.

At his 2 week follow up, he had the stitches removed, had follow up xrays, and then saw the physical therapist. The PT decided to just use a long term splint, which allows Jace to apply topical healing cremes and oils and will allow him to start light physical therapy earlier. His pain levels stayed low after this appointment. Jace’s dad flew in to help out and be “me” while Jocelyn and I attended a conference for my Essential Oils business. They did very well without me!

He saw the flight doc this week and will of course be on restricted working duty. We aren’t sure what his schedule will look like or where he will be working. His pain level is basically nonexistent, which is a blessing.

According to the physical therapist, he will remain motionless for at least 3-4 more weeks to allow full bone and tendon healing. Then they will begin passive therapies and more active therapies. They said to expect 3 months to be able to use it, and a full year to have full function back.

We appreciate all the prayers and help (the squadron and my MOPS group provided meals for two weeks!) We will keep you updated!

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