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Posts tagged ‘recovery’

six months

a family recovers

I suppose I should begin with a statement along the lines of, “the views and opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of , well …  anybody else – organization, agency or otherwise”.

Today marks six months since our community was devastated by the April 27th tornados.  I was invited to attend a community gathering to celebrate one family’s perseverance and hard work on their journey to recovery, as they moved into their new home – built on the very site where they had lost everything six months ago.  The rebuilding was a collaborative effort – from the weeks and months of sweat and toil by the homeowners, coupled with help from several local agencies, the long term recovery committee, and the generosity of numerous local contractors and suppliers who provided manpower and materials.  I applaud them all, and I am so happy that this family has been able to rebuild and remain in the place they know as home.    It exemplifies the good that can be accomplished by a community pulling together, and the strength of a family who never gave up hope.

But as the minutes passed, and the state and local political dignitaries arrived, along with their carloads of security detail, the media, etc.,  I couldn’t help feeling a little uncomfortable.  I know it is “the way of things”, but I personally dislike the whole ribbon-cutting-for-political-photo-ops routine, the talking-head political speech-izing for exposure…  the pat-myself-on-the-back “yes, I knew I had to get on the waiting jet to fly home from my duties in the legislature to see what I could do, blah, blah, blah.”  (Yes, one of them really said that.)

political photo-op field day, all cameras on the politicians as one of the homeowners (red-haired woman in background) stands aside and watches

And as wonderful as it was to see so much rebuilding in this hard-hit neighborhood, there are still many families who are still struggling to recover – houses right across the street that have no roof, people fighting with insurance providers, homes that have been left damaged and even abandoned.  Several neighbors (in less fortunate states of rebuilding) were watching all of the hoopla of politicians and the media from across the street – and I couldn’t help wonder how they were feeling?

still struggling... across the street

a neighborhood coming back - gradually

across the street

I was happy that the homeowner was given the chance to say a few words, but at the end of the day it felt a like political showcase.  And, in my opinion, Mr. Legislator, the press-worthy heros – or at least the ones I would rather celebrate and hear speak on this day – are the first responders, firefighters and emergency response workers (standing quietly in the background today) who were pulling people from the wreckage of their homes in the dark;  the families who ran to help their neighbors and offered them shelter;  the local businessmen who donated tens of thousands of dollars in relief supplies;  the local community agencies and the long term recovery team who continue to work with struggling families.  While I know that politics played a part somewhere in the disaster response equation, it is the reaction, action and perseverance of the local citizens and community that has accomplished the most good.

heros ... in the background

the politics of ribbon cutting

I confess I left with mixed feelings.  Happiness for the family returning home, grateful to the countless community heros who are still hard at work, troubled by the sight of neighbors who continue struggling to recover and rebuild – and sadly, some disdain for the politicians who grabbed this opportunity for press coverage.  Just my opinion.

There were some drawings from neighborhood school children that were clipped to a clothesline in the background of all of the ceremonial stuff … and they spoke to me.  I’m not even sure if any of the politicians noticed them?  When the words “hope” and “joy” are clouds above a piece of heavy equipment moving debris, when the sky is streaked with ink black and crimson, when the sun is bright yellow above a family cat that survived the storm – these are the voices of recovery I hear, and the ones I will never forget.

Hope and Joy

 

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dear universe: you win

packed up and ready to go ... almost

Just when you think you have gotten “over the hump” –  the wrecked car, the tornados, all of the crappy stuff of recent weeks … When vacation time has arrived, and you are ready for a much-needed break and a week of bicycle adventuring – and then the unpredictable forces of the universe strike again, and you can only feel like you are on the losing team in the current competition.

At the end of May, our oldest son Mason left for a summer physics research internship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  We were thrilled that he was chosen for such a great opportunity, and he was excited to have the chance to spend his summer doing research with Dr. David Ernst (theoretical/computational physics, neutrino oscillation) and earning money at the same time.  It was a win-win.

With his books and bicycle in tow, he was off to a great start at Vanderbilt – absorbed in his work, enjoying new friendships with his professor and the team of researchers he was working with, exploring the city by bicycle during his hours off.

Mason at Vanderbilt

At home, Mark and I were packed up, excited and ready for our cycling vacation.  We were heading to Missouri to spend a week riding across the state on the Katy Trail – a trip I have wanted to take for several years, but we had never managed to get planned and scheduled until this summer.  It was not to be.

Got a jumbled phone call from the ER of Vanderbilt Hospital on Thursday night, the 16th.  One of Mason’s friends told us that they had been playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee on campus, and Mason had been “clocked” in a collision during play.  He had been knocked out, but was now conscious; had suffered a concussion and they were going to perform the routine head CT.  Later we learned he also had a shattered nose along with some chipped teeth – all of the information being very difficult to come by, given HIPA regulations, the fact that he was over 18, and complicated by his current lack of mental clarity – he wasn’t initially lucid enough to give permission to release information to us.  As a parent, it was agonizing.

We finally were able to speak with the attending doctor who assured us that there was no brain bleeding, and that felt it would be safe to release him with his room-mates looking after him through the remainder of the night and until we could get there.

(post-surgery ... he gave me permission to post)

at home, on the road to recovery

So, to condense the story … we’ve spent the better part of the last 4-5 days in Nashville.  Mason had surgery at Vanderbilt on Monday to “repair” his nose, and he continues to improve each day from the concussion – which has, truthfully, been the most disconcerting part of the whole ordeal.  We know that there are expected side-effects – loss of memory, difficulty in concentration, mood swings – all of which should improve over time.  It’s just difficult to see him struggling with “the foggy feeling” he’s experiencing, along with some short-term memory problems.

We brought him home yesterday for the remainder of the week.  Hoping that he will be feeling significantly better and recovered enough to return to Nashville and to begin to resume/continue his work at Vanderbilt next week.

We also brought his bicycle home to stay for a while.  I know he’s really disappointed that he won’t be able to be riding, but he also understands that it’s just too risky, given his head injury.  For now, all we can do is look forward to getting back on the bike when it’s safe to do so.

Finally … Dear Universe:  Please give us a break for a while, ok?

Mason on his bike ... a few weeks ago

#330daysofbiking nearly derailed

don't worry - I was very careful...

 

I am an impatient person.  I don’t like waiting, and I am – admittedly – pretty headstrong and don’t always take direction well, especially when it conflicts with my own “agenda”.

So, of course, I end up paying a little extra for my recent adventure in stupidity.

Despite the fact I have virtually no pain, a re-check and re-xray at the orthopedist last week revealed (through a small bright white spot on the film) that I may have actually made a small “chip” in the kneecap, and that the remaining swelling is from some fluid in the prepatellar bursa (on the kneecap).  Normally they could drain/aspirate the fluid, but because the abrasion is not healed, they didn’t want to risk possible infection.  The verdict:  “you need to lay off the cycling, the repetitive motion in the joint, for a bit.”

What?!

So, I am now taking some anti-inflammatories, trying to scale back a bit on activity.  The compromise is keeping the riding to a minimum for about 2 weeks … basically no more than about 5-10 minutes a day.  Which barely gets me out of my driveway.  Sigh.  But hopefully this will take care of things, and get rid of the pesky swelling/inflammation.

#330daysofbiking has not been completely de-railed … but will be taking a knock in mileage and biking pictures for another week or so.

To date: have ridden 229 of the past 251 days; 117 days remaining.  And so it goes. {-P

riding up the drive to the mailbox (sigh)

#330daysofbiking Day 228 ~ barely up the road ... via Xtracycle



small victories

Managed to get on the bike late today.  Not long, not fast … stiff-knee’d and not exactly pretty,  but chalk one up for #330daysofbiking (day 213).

Me: 1
Squirrels and Stupid: 0

Small victories. 🙂