Lucy in matching her stripes to those of Bodie lighthouse not far from Nag's Head
I feel an urgency to get this down and out of my head. Once again hoping to find repose to replace the reel that replays each time I close my eyes. This is my third attempt.
[This is how it happened through my eyes]
On the ferry with my four, you can tell they've done this before.
. Craig had a week of shifts in the ER there. Tuesday, July 19, he had the day off. The perfect day to take the ferry over to Ocracoke Island here in North Carolina on the barrier islands we have grown to love as the Outer Banks. This is the third year we have spent time there each month in the summer.
Lucy, worried to leave us behind, going from the ambulance to the helicopter
Our family of six and some dear friends with their two young kids found the most bucolic beach on this remote island, home to a small fishing village.
We were trying our hand at boogie boarding. Crystal clear water, the perfect temp, sunny skies, and waves carrying us in and out of the splendor and depositing us on the shell-scattered sand.
Lucy and Hazel were taking a turn on the boards, staying close to the shore. I was standing maybe 10 feet away watching between them, Craig (further out in the waves), and Avery and Seth playing up near our things in the sand.
waving goodbye, a 4 1/2 hour drive (plus ferry ride) to Greenville, NC ahead of us
When I heard Lucy scream, I turned my head and ran towards her seeing the tail fin, white and grey, of what I immediately recognized as a shark, maybe 4 or 5 feet long. She was in about a foot and a half of water.
[At this point it hadn't crossed my mind that she was bit. I only thought she was afraid and I only wanted to get her and Hazel out of the water]
Those beautiful beautiful toes in the PICU
When I reached her (this is all a matter of seconds) I immediately saw that her leg was completely torn up exposing everything that should never be seen inside her leg. I began yelling at the top of my lungs to Craig for help. He came over having only seen the smaller gashes on her foot, not dreaming it had been a shark or that the injury was as extensive as it was.
[My brain was busy trying to convince my eyes that this wasn't really happening and failing from every end in every way]
It did happen. I knew this because I felt her leg, which I was trying to hold together with both hands, pulsing under my fingertips. I knew it because I saw the horror on nearby faces that matched the horror in my arms.
Some passersby witnessed the scene and began to help gather our things while our friend, Matt, called the police who dispatched an ambulance. He handed the phone to Craig who somehow knew the beach exit we had taken. Exit 72. Craig then took Lucy in his arms as I continued to hold her leg. Lucy then sasked her Dad, "Could we say a prayer?"
My friend Sarah took care of the kids while the three of us stood in prayer, still in our suits. Then, together in the truck and the ambulance but apart in the helicopter, Lucy made her brave way 35 mins by air to the nearest hospital with a level one trauma center in Greenville. We rushed back to where we were staying, gathered a few belongings and left forgiving friends to clean up after us.
The quick work of the police, paramedics, and the life flight crew got Lucy from the far end of the earth to a facility that could handle her grave injury.
Lucy, sleeping off the surgery
I sat in the back of the van between Hazel and Seth, Avery just in front of me to my left. Dr. Gooch fielded phone calls from the front and I, questions from the rear. So many questions from the rascals. They asked until sleep overtook them. Hazel was literally sick to her stomach with fatigue. Heads began to bob and I cried and cried and cried while they slept. Not sure what was actually happening.
We pulled in at midnight, met my parents in the waiting room. They had seen Lucy before she went into the OR. And she had seen them. She had her own questions. Like, how long had it taken for them to drive there (for she flew, you see) and where would they sleep that night...
Seth, Hazel and Avery then went with my parents with bribes of Dollar Tree treats "tomorrow". Two hours later, we met Lucy's surgeon for the first time and were able to see her. We felt...so many things, but mostly relief.
Relief that she was there, blinking her tired eyes. Relief also that she had a leg left to repair.
her first swollen faced smile since being gnawed on by a shark 24-hours before
Each trip, after we load the car or climb aboard the plane, we have a prayer with the children. We pray for our own safety, for the car we are in, and we thank our Heavenly Father for the life we have been given to live.
We are filled with hope as this new story unfolds. From horror to hope in only a few hours. Not bad. I think our prayers have been answered.
There is so much more to tell. But I am tired and hungry. And this took me three days.