"My husband is a Deputy Sheriff"...
(NOTE: Please don't mistake what I am saying here. I am well aware that the general public has "mixed" views about Law Enforcement. I have met my share of "cops" that aren't caring people, but I have also met my share of Doctors, Nurses, and Retail Clerks and Mechanics who aren't caring people, so I don't like to categorize. I am writing about THIS particular group of Officers.)
Before I ever mentioned this bit of information out loud, this team of Deputies were kind and helpful. I knew they would have helped me to get things in order and get me to my husband. I knew they would do their job professionally and with kindness, I could tell. However, I really felt God was leading me to open my mouth and say those words, because He knew. He knew that Cops have a feeling of brotherhood when one of their own has been hurt. He knew that my safety and the road to getting us home would be paved more smoothly if I opened my mouth. It proved to be true.
Instantly the one that seemed to be in charge turned and looked at me. "What?" he said. Still in a bit of shock myself, I said "My husband is a Deputy Sheriff in another county north of here". I could see him stand a bit straighter, and I instantly knew that I was not alone. His voice got louder and took on an air of authority as he called out, "Guys! He's one of us. He's an officer! We aren't going to have this RV towed. Come on, let's team up and push it into that parking lot."
Not everyone on scene heard him, so he went around and explained to the Firefighters what was going on. Every single one of those men banded together, they blocked the traffic, they pushed and steered our RV to a road cut-off next to the Burger King. The Deputy who had taken control, "Beach", turned to me and assured me that I would be ok, they were going to take care of us. He instructed me to stick with him.
It seemed we had broken down in the "Worst" place, and the "Best" place. The "Worst", because (as I learned) 80% of the crime in that particular county happens RIGHT there in the area where I found myself stranded; let's just say shootings are common occurances. The "Best", because these guys were truly a family. They instantly became like protective big brothers, practically holding my hand through each little step.
Now don't get me wrong. It's not that I am an incapable woman. However, I will admit, I do rely on my husband. I like that he takes such wonderful care of me, he is my protector, my hero. However, as he was being taken away with sirens blaring, I found myself feeling a bit afraid. I knew that God would protect me and guide me, and I now knew that He was going to use these men to do just that.
My head was still spinning, almost like this was not a reality, I was so dumbfounded. I was glad they were in control. They made sure that the RV was secured. They removed our bikes from the bike rack and put them inside (noting that they would be stolen in 5 minutes if we didn't), they checked any outside bins for valuable items, put them inside, and locked all the doors. I then followed (in the blazer, pulling the boat), Deputy Beach to the hospital. He showed me where to park, gave me a moment to secure anything of value, and then drove me to the E.R. entrance.
Did he drop me off? No. He escorted me inside, bypassing the high security at this hospital (due to the high crime rate). He came with me into the Trauma room where Mike was being treated, and inquired about his condition. How severe was it? Would he be kept overnight? They were unsure of those answers at this time. He then gave me his number and told me that when I found out what would be happening to call him. He would arrange for a place for us (or me) to stay, as the nearby hotels were not safe. He said call, no matter what, he would be there. I was so thankful.
Deputy Beach left, and I stood there against the wall in the Trauma room, watching as they drizzled some sort of creamy solution over wet cloths that were draped across his legs and arm. He was alert, answering all their questions, as they poked and pierced, inserting IV's and taking blood.
(If you can click to enlarge this photo, you can see that despite the fact that there were NO burns to his face at all (praise God!), his eyelash tips and eyebrow tips were singed!)
During the course of the next several hours, Deputy Beach and another Deputy "Pete" continued to check on Mike and I. The county where they work is a busy one, and they were continually getting called out, however this didn't stop them from calling to check on us. In addition, while they were enroute to their calls, they were busy trying to figure out ways they could help us out of our situation, discussing it with other officers on their shift.
As it turned out, the hospital wanted to keep him overnight for observation. They noted that had his burns been only a few inches more (making a complete circle around his lower legs), he would have been flown to a burn center in Miami. I asked the nurse (Annie) if there was any way I could stay with him in the room. She said that they don't really allow that for overnight, but that she would make some calls and see what she could do since we were from out of town. She was so kind and caring.
(The Trauma nurse, Annie was super-sweet and friendly. Mike was pretty "high" at this moment, just so you know she wasn't posing with him during a critical time)
She was pretty funny too, this is her "caring nurse" look... :) I needed that touch of comic relief right then. :)
After some time, it was determined that he would stay in the Trauma room until a bed opened in ICU, then he would be moved. I was not going to be allowed to stay overnight. So, I called Deputy Beach. He was on it. Soon, he called me back with a plan. Another Deputy's little girl would give up her room for the night, as they didn't want us to incur any unneccessary expenses. They had called around to some of the area's better hotels and tried to get us a free room to no avail, so someone had decided to open their home.
I kissed my Mikey, and told him I hoped to come back that night, but wasn't sure if I'd be back until morning. I really had no idea where I was going. I followed Beach to the Sherrif's Office, he unhooked our boat and locked it safely in their compound. This allowed me to do all my driving without that extra burden.
We then went by the RV where I retrieved some clothes and a toothbrush. He assured me that the night shift officers had been notified to keep an eye on the RV during the night. Afterward, we met up with the officer who was sheltering me for the night. They were having some extra family for dinner, so he was picking up last minute groceries. I was introduced to him inside the grocery store, then said I'd wait in my car in the parking lot (we were in a bit safer area now).
I sat in my car and for the first time since "it" happened, I was alone. Finally the floodgates broke open. At first just a little tear of frustration and exhaustion, then I burst. I sat in my car in the parking lot bawling, and I heard myself saying out loud "I just want my husband". I felt like a baby, I was sobbing. I didn't want to spend the night away from his side. Maybe if I was in my own home, maybe if he was in the hospital in OUR town, maybe then, not likely, but MAYBE. But CERTAINLY not in a strange place. I wanted to be with him, and the events of the day began to fall from my eyes in big fat tears.
I got myself together, and following in my car, we drove out of that area into a safe gated neighborhood. The family was very friendly, and the little girl was so sweet about giving up her room. I felt dazed and a bit out of place. I shut the bedroom door and made some phone calls, finally able to plug in my phone which had died some time ago. I sat there for a long time, not wanting to have conversation, not wanting to talk, not wanting to do anything. I decided to shower and then made my way downstairs where dinner was waiting. It was a huge spread, but I only nibbled on a tiny bit of salad despite my hunger, I just couldn't eat.
After dinner was cleaned up and I had been thoroughly entertained by the little girl's cheerleading moves, the family decided to go out for icees. I went back to "my" room and stared at the wall. I was tired, but I wanted to talk to my husband. I wanted to know if they moved him, how he was doing, I wanted to know anything. After going through some red tape, I was able to find out they had moved him to a room in ICU, and they had even put a phone in there. I was able to talk to him. That settled my heart.
I layed down in the bed, and as I prayed I heard myself say "Thank you God, for saving my husband". I didn't ask why this had happened, I just knew that God had been gracious in keeping him alive...it could have been so much worse. I sang a few praise songs silently to myself and drifted off to sleep.
"Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You,
O God, my God."