Joel's Surgery & Heartfelt Thanks

Posted Jan 16, 2023 by Tele Aadsen

Hi, dear ones. Joel had surgery on Tuesday, January 10. He lucked out getting in just eight days after his accident. Dr. Udawatta wanted to get him in as soon as possible, concerned that his Achilles tendons would start trying to re-attach & go further awry. He’d address the more complicated right foot this time, putting screws in the fractured heel bone & stitching the Achilles back together. Joel would come back the following week for the left foot. This was Cap’n J’s first time having surgery. He was VERY anxious. The hours leading up to his midday check-in were the worst. His mom borrowed a wheelchair-accessible van from a family member. Loaded up & strapped in, we were mostly silent on the half-hour drive to Bellingham. Joel wrung his hands the whole way. After checking in, a nurse approached. There’d been a cancellation in the afternoon schedule. Dr. Udawatta had time to take care of both feet. It’d be a longer procedure than expected, but he’d be done, no repeating the morning’s anticipatory dread. Wheeled off to pre-op, he gave his first hopeful smile of the morning. With Joel in pre-op, Mary Jean & I burned off anxiety with a walk through the harbor. We passed a stuffed toy duck propped on a picnic table. Lucky duck… A good omen for J. I took a picture to share with him later. Five hours after going into pre-op, Joel entered the recovery room. His left Achilles was too damaged to stitch – “shredded,” his doctor declared – so he’d anchored it instead. Fractured heel screwed; right Achilles re-attached. Cap’n J & his medical team did great. He got through & now starts the clock on the next stage, both feet totally non-weight-bearing for three months. He’ll see his surgeon for follow-up in three weeks. Many of you know this has already been a challenging winter for Team Nerka. Three weeks prior to Joel’s accident, we had a house fire. (Processing the series of unfortunate events, our friend Chelsea exclaimed, “What ladder did you two walk under?!”) As fisherfolks with a high threshold for discomfort & the damaged area double-tarped off to isolate smoke & painful visuals, we could continue living in our home. It’d be a few months of managing clean-up & repairs, but we could do it. We talked about how lucky we were to have this time before the fishing season to handle that work. Now that Joel’s injury forces us to sit out the fishing season entirely, we have that much more time. Post-surgery, we’re both having a lot of Big Feelings. Joel’s in pretty intense physical pain. We’re also overwhelmed with the love you’ve shared. Love appears in so many forms: encouraging texts & calls, nourishing food, the friend building a wheelchair ramp for the house, another helping with fire clean-up. And yes – difficult as it was to ask for this help – we’re receiving your gifts of financial support as love, too. Every one of you, dear Meal Train friends, has been such a bright spot for Joel, when delicious, love-infused food is one of the few pleasures in his days. As for me, I can’t even tell you what a lifeline you've given me. There are so many tasks in every day & none of the days are long enough to accomplish them all. The thought of adding meal planning & prep to every day’s mayhem makes me want to cry. Receiving the gifts of your labor, thoughtfulness, & nourishment actually DOES make me cry. Yep… Lot of tears here at Worline Slough, feeling held in your love, by all its forms. After 45-years of being as self-sufficient as possible, this experience is a serious level-up of receiving that I don’t actually know how to do. I definitely don’t know how to adequately thank you. So I’m going to take the easy way out & give Cap’n J the last words here. “It is hard to ask for help... This is going to be a hard year to get through, emotionally, physically and financially too. There are a lot of ways we can hold each other in our times of need and I have already felt that from you. I appreciate everything that everyone has contributed to us in every form. Thank you all so much from the bottom of my heart. The next year is going to be a journey and a struggle and I feel so much stronger and better prepared thanks to the support of all of you behind me.” Every kindness you’ve shown us, beloveds, we promise we’ll pay them forward. With hearts-in-our-throats gratitude, Tele & Joel

Joel & Tele