On Monday, Earl had knee surgery. They hoped to just do one of the three chambers of the knee, but when they began surgery they realized the entire knee needed to be replaced.
It kind of gives me the shivers to imagine a metal part in the knee. I don't know why.
We had to be at the hospital at 5 a.m. But at the last minute, we had two house showings, one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 12:30 p.m., so before we left early that morning, we had to prep the house, everything pristine, lights on, essential oils of peppermint and rosemary dripped onto light bulbs.
I stayed at the hospital until 7:30 a.m. Grace showed up to sit in the waiting room while I ran over to teach an hour and a half class. Then I rushed back in time to meet with the surgeon who explained that Earl had an entire new knee and that all had gone well.
Pshew! What a relief.
I hurried back to teach three more classes.
Grace and her boyfriend, Jack, headed home to make themselves presentable but then Grace got a call that Earl was awake. She returned to the hospital and spent time with him in post-op before he was moved to his room.
When I finished teaching, I arrived at the hospital to see Grace knitting in the corner of Earl's room.
Meanwhile, the entire time of waking up in the dark, preparing the house for the showing, I was worrying about Mom and Dad.
I knew that Hurricane Irma had passed over them during the night, might still be over their Florida home. They live in Central Florida, so aren't in danger of storm surges. They also are hesitant to get on the road with long streams of traffic sitting on the highway headed north, unsure of where they might be able to find gas again. Dad is 80 and Mom is 79 -- luckily, they are both healthy and active.
We had spent the past few days trying to determine the safest room in their house where they should shelter. In Florida, there aren't basements because of the high water table. And the houses are made with big expanses of windows to let the sunshine in.
Mom had taped the sliding glass doors that stretch the length of one wall.
As the sun set on Sunday evening, Mom had texted to my two brothers and me, "More wind and rain. Still have power. Don't know how much worse it will get. The next 10-13 hours will be stressful. Love."
And then, after I had crawled into bed Sunday night, ready for my early awakening on Monday, I received one more text from her: "No power now. Wind is really bad. Prayers."
It just had an ominous tone, like something you would read in a journal founds years later when an explorer didn't make it home.
So, even as I showered and prepped the house Monday morning at 4 a.m., I texted Mom that I didn't want to wake her, but I wanted to know that she was okay.
I don't guess they got very much sleep anyway. "We are still alive. Storm is horrible. Can't see damage yet. I'm in the laundry room. Dad in the recliner. More later."
I texted back, relieved and asked if the interior of the house was intact.
"I guess. Still blowing about 100 miles an hour and dark," she replied.
When the sun rose and the winds finally subsided, she could confirm that the house had held. Some gutters had blown off, including one into the top of a massive tree. The screens enclosing their swimming pool had blown out. Their yard was strewn with broken limbs. But they had made it.
When I talked with them later, they both voiced their concern during the night. They had ridden out other hurricanes in Florida, but this one was different.
"Did it sound like the roof was coming off?" I asked.
"It sounded like the whole second story was coming off," Dad said.
I urged them not to overdo it trying to clean up, but they did. They sent photos of the branches stacked in the front of their yard as they dragged them toward the street. They had no electricity from Sunday night through Friday. The thing they missed most was the air conditioning. That first day after the storm, there was a nice breeze, but then Florida's heat and humidity returned soaring into the 90s.
When I heard about the nursing home where eight people died of heat exhaustion, I called my parents again. Of course, they weren't hearing the news because they had no electricity.
Someone who had power back had loaned them a generator. They were able to hook up a fan to help keep them cool, plus they had the refrigerator plugged in to preserve some food.
When they got too hot, they climbed in the pool and spent time pulling leaves and twigs from the water.
Friday they got power back. Saturday, they were able to play a few holes of golf as the course across the street continued to clean up.
I'm thankful they weathered the storm without too much damage, but with a lot of stress.
Meanwhile, Earl spent two nights in the hospital. On Tuesday I didn't teach until the evening, so I stayed with him from 9-3, talking to doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers. He hoped to get out on Tuesday but his knee wound had too much drainage.
On Wednesday, I had to teach from 8-2, and Earl's cell phone had died. I got hold of him in between my classes. He told me he was in a lot of pain and the nurses were not being responsive. He waited over an hour and half for pain medicine. He needed to get up to use the bathroom but the nurse didn't show up for 30 minutes after his request.
I felt so bad, knowing I wasn't there to advocate for him.
Grace had planned to go, but she woke up with a sore throat and I didn't want her to spread her germs, or get any other germs, at the hospital. Both of my sons were working.
I sent out a message looking for a sub to take my classes so I could go to the hospital but didn't get a response.
I debated a list of people close enough and with a schedule to help out. Finally, I decided to ask Earl's sister. She's an occupational therapist, but she works a varied schedule. She had just finished a home visit and was on her way home to babysit her granddaughter, but her husband could do that. She went to the hospital and helped make sure Earl's needs were met.
The nurses and therapists told Earl he would have to stay another night because of the continued drainage. I ran home and got some things he needed before getting to the hospital at 2:30. As I walked through the parking lot, he called.
"They're letting me go home!" he said.
I turned around and returned the things I was carrying to the car.
So Earl came home Wednesday evening and he's doing really well. He has moved from the walker to using a cane. He's had visits from a home-health nurse and a physical therapist. The physical therapist says he's a couple of weeks ahead of where he should be.
When I went to teach on Friday, he ran the dishwasher and unloaded it. He's not supposed to be up and about that much, but he never has been good at sitting around.
We spent Saturday watching football and vacated the house for an hour for another showing, even though the house is technically off the market while Earl heals.
The pain was worse Saturday night, but I have to remember that it is not a straight line to healing but an ebb and flow with setbacks and great waves forward.
I'm grateful that he's getting better and just dream about the mountains we'll be climbing in France a few months down the road.