From Leila in Florida
It’s Saturday evening and Chuck and Carter are in the kitchen cooking Carter’s favorite Mediterranean meal that includes baked marinated chicken, jasmine rice, greens and homemade hummus whipped up in his Ninja blender.
I arrived here on Tuesday evening thanks to Southwest Airlines. Every passenger wore a mask, I strategically sat in an aisle seat so no one asked to sit in the window seat in the same row and no one was allowed to sit in the middle seat. I purchased a water bottle in the airport and snacked on a granola bar during the four-hour flight.
For part of the trip, Chuck drove at 30 miles-an-hour through a major thunderstorm to pick me up from Fort Lauderdale.
After waiting for three-and-a half months, it was quite something to reunite with Chuck and Carter. It was something to treasure and somewhat of a painful throwback to what life was before I left Florida. I’m not sure if there are words to describe the visit and my emotions. The best I can do: good, glad and sad.
Chuck brought me back to the first-floor, two-bedroom first-condo that we scrambled to find back in January. It’s well kept thanks to Chuck’s outstanding cleaning regime. It seems to accommodate Carter’s lifestyle of recovery. That’s good.
Three weeks after his right-knee surgery at the Paley Center, Carter seems more energetic than when first released and the knee continues to bend just a little more at every physical therapy appointment. Chuck is on his third of six weeks of administering antibiotics at 4pm every afternoon through a PICC line in Carter’s right arm. Carter usually dozes off for a while after the procedure. The last time I saw Carter he was in a hospital bed and confined to a wheel chair. Now I watch him stand and walk tall on his left foot while hobbling on his right foot. Things have improved dramatically. That’s good.
On Friday, we went to the Hanger Clinic so that Carter could be fitted with his new prosthetic. We learned that connecting an arm to a prosthetic requires suction and tight straps around his upper torso. If both are not just right, the prosthetic won’t stay on or work. After two hours, Carter left wearing the prosthetic and we headed to the fish store. Carter selected some new sea life for his fish tank. He adds certain fish and coral with intention to his pristine tank. That’s good.
The same evening, Andy and Christine came over for a dinner of make-your-own tacos. Andy works with Carter at Loggerhead Marinelife Center and kept Carter above water after the accident and brought him to the boat which eventually brought Carter to shore. Christine saw Carter get hit by the boat and swam over to Andy and Carter and wrapped a tourniquet around Carter’s arm with a bungee cord that she had on her paddle board. Andy and Carter were friends before the accident and were snorkeling together. Christine did not know Carter but witnessed the entire event as she was just 25-feet from the boat herself. She didn’t think twice about coming to help. That’s good and we are glad that both Andy and Christine were there and took swift, selfless action to bring Carter to shore. We are also glad that we know Andy and Christine. Andy volunteered for LMC before he became a full-time employee along with Carter. He and Carter both enjoy fishing and fish tanks. His powerful story about how he landed in Florida is one I look forward to sharing in my book—yep, it’s coming along. Christine brought homemade Angel Food cake and fresh strawberries for dessert even though we didn’t ask her to bring anything. She strapped a Rubbermaid cake holder on the back of her motorcycle. As she washed her hands when she arrived, she apologized for her dirty fingernails. She’s been fixing the axle on her Subaru.
In the morning, Carter requires help with getting his compression socks, shoes and his AFO (ankle foot orthotic) on before he gets out of bed. He sits for a good part of the day listening to podcasts, texting, watching fish videos, reading fish-related books, playing piano, drawing at his desk and caring for his fish tank. At night he needs help with taking shoes off, getting in the shower, wrapping the ice pack around his knee...
As Carter recovers, he’s becoming more independent but there are crucial tasks that he cannot do alone....yet. It’s assumed that the prosthetic will help with some of these. It will take some time to adapt to the robotic body part. And so, we wait for healing. When I let reality sink in a little further and realize the road ahead, that’s what makes me sad. For now, we settle in and wait to see Carter return to life the way it was before and Chuck to return to Colorado for good.
At this point, the good must and will outweigh the sad.
Hugs and blessings to you all as we wait for Covid-19 to be flattened for good. It’s been a long road for all of us with more waiting ahead.
Take care and take courage,