This is a difficult story for me to tell but in the true spirit of my KevinNeal.com blog I have personally committed to sharing the good, bad and ugly about my life events. This experience has brought a lot of each emotion for certain.
On the early afternoon of Saturday September 23rd, 2017, four of my good friends and I were enjoying the last full night of cabin-camping at a beautiful spot called Camp Layman. We had already been there a few nights, made friends with many of our fellow cabin-camper neighbors and all of us had just started to gather for the communal nightly campfire. It was a delightful night with crisp, yet comfortable, weather and there was just a really relaxed atmosphere.
This was a camp area of roughly 10 or so cabins within the immediate location of the cabin in which we were staying. As the sun was setting and people began to gather around the campfire, the guys and I started to casually toss a football around as we have done many, many times before on these camping trips. It wasn’t anything unusual.
After about 10 or so minutes, one of the guys threw me a pass that was a little bit high so, naturally, I jumped up to catch the pass. It’s amazing how one little action can forever change the direction of your life; just amazing. Anyhow, as you can likely figure out I landed on my right ankle which went one-direction while the rest of my body twisted 180 degrees in just the opposite direction. I immediately hit the ground and was in instant shock. I clearly heard bones breaking in my leg and while I recall every moment because I never lost conscience it was a weird experience, almost like in slow motion.
I knew immediately my leg was in bad shape because my ankle was dangling loose at a 90-degree angle. I don’t recall any major pain, rather what I do recall was that there was no possible way I could move my foot nor put any weight on it whatsoever. It was a strange feeling not to have any control over a certain part of your body which I had never experienced previously.
Honestly, what I was disappointed with most, is that I was going to ruin my friends last night of camping. They rushed me to a little local urgent care facility which took x-rays and confirmed a fracture but were too small, because we were in the wilderness, to do anything such as reset the dislocation or surgery. The doctors and the nurses were extremely nice and comforting to me and my friends in our time of distress nonetheless so I very much appreciate their help. This urgent care facility splinted and wrapped my ankle and we headed back to the cabin for the last, Saturday, night of our trip. Obviously, the rest of the night was spent inside and the guys had a lot of fun making wise-cracks and joking at my expense. Early the next day, on Sunday morning, we made the 4 ½ hours’ drive home. I’m very grateful and appreciative to have such good friends to take care of me when I needed them most. Thanks guys!
I’m going to start this story, and summary, with ‘The Good’ in what has happened. I will summarize ‘The Bad’ and ‘The Ugly’ below because there is enough of that content for a million lifetimes 😊.
Yes, I sustained a major ankle injury on that afternoon of September 23rd that I will surely remember for the rest of my life but this little inconvenience paled in comparison to so many other much more significant world events. For example, the wildfires in Northern California sweeping through the Napa and Sonoma areas has taken 40+ lives and destroyed 5,000+ structures. Or the awful Hurricanes that have ravaged Houston/Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have an ever-lasting impact on those affected. Or even the terrible shooting incident in Las Vegas that took 58 innocent lives. I cannot even imagine the pain of these people so I have no right to complain in the least. Lastly, one of my good friends passed away during the first few days of my injury and I was unable to attend his service. These are all life-events that could be perceived as Bad, but I choose to look at the Good as I feel a renewed spirit of choosing to do right for others.
The Good is that, although I generally see myself as a compassionate person anyhow, I feel an extra sense of motivation to do whatever I can to assist those in need whether it’s volunteering in some capacity, encouraging people to be kinder to each other paying-it-forward to others based on my personal life experience.
Right now, since I’m fairly immobile and home bound for the next few weeks at least, I’m spending my time doing creative writing that I’m sharing on Facebook, blog or e-mail where I try and share positive thoughts and stories in the hopes of doing something simple to brighten someone’s day. It’s therapeutic for me personally and I sincerely hope that if helps someone, anyone, in the least little bit then it’s well worth the time of my investment.
I have so much confidence in the expert skills, as well as compassionate concern of all the care givers we’ve met over this past week.
Also, I would like to thank all of you, my friends and family on Facebook, for all the well wishes. It truly helps healing.
Tomorrow starts a long road to full recovery that I am seriously looking forward to. My ankle, as is now, would never heal and I knew the second I hit the ground (while still catching the football, of course) that surgery would be required.
I’m so grateful to my friends and fellow campers that jumped into immediate action last Saturday after this happened.
Especially, I cannot imagine how I could have ever imagined getting through this first week without my talented home nurse. Who happens to also be my lovely wife . I have many upcoming days, weeks and months where I have to rely on her and it cannot be easy for her.
UPDATE 10/3/17: Surgery went well according to the doctors. It took much longer than the 2 hours they had planned. After 6+ hours they were done and I am now the proud recipient if 13 screws and 3 plates. The doctor said my ankle just fell apart after the initial incision. I am so grateful for their expert skill and compassion. My pain now is a different kind of pain, which is healing and good. Until this surgery it was just about getting ready for surgery by reducing swelling and that was no good.
UPDATE 10/16/2017 from Brandee: Kevin went for his first post-op appointment today. Everything looks great! His swelling is approximately 75% less than it was. His bruising is nothing less than miraculous, the way it has dissipated. His surgeon was very pleased. He has a new full fiberglass ‘short-cast’ with his foot reset at a 90° angle. It’s MUCH lighter and more comfortable for him, than the previous plaster surgical cast. Dan, Kevin’s ‘casting specialist’ , even installed a ‘custom bumper’ so Kevin can use his knee walker more efficiently. These people are amazing!
Kevin has 3 incisions- 38 staples combined, on both the outer and inner ankle. Those will be removed on the 25th. The skin wound he acquired from the dislocation, looks great and is healing. Inside, he has 3 titanium plates, and 14 screws. All of which, are permanent fixtures.
The next 3 months will be focused on healing. He cannot walk on the leg (zero weight bearing), but he has a snazzy knee walker, so everyone, please steer clear. 😀 Month 4-6 will be focused on physical therapy, stretching the tendons, and ligaments to get them back in shape, with the goal of getting his foot back into a regular shoe by month 6.
Kevin and I joke around, because that is just how we choose to meet life’s wrecking balls. However, this is a very serious injury. It’s going to take a lot of patience, commitment and time to get Kevin back to pre-injury condition. We appreciate all the love and support so many of you have bestowed upon us over the past 3 weeks. It’s been invaluable.
We have always lived our life together, and run our business by the same mantra, “Do the next right thing.” This bump in the road will be no different.
Photo Note: The semi-circular shapes you see on the outside of the x-ray, are the incision staples.
My next major milestone is 10/25/2017 when we return to the hospital and hopefully the surgeon will remove the staples in my ankle.
Thanks to everyone for your compassion and kind words.
Brandee and Kevin