***UPDATE added at the end of the post.***
My plans for uninterrupted stitching came to a roaring halt on Sunday when I heard that Vicky, my lovely assistant, had been in an accident. Frantic phoning around ensued, and awful news of what had happened. Vicky, kind and generous soul that she is, had been caretaking for a neighbour. She lit the wood stove as usual - but she did not know that there was a water jacket on the stove, and that the pipes had frozen overnight. The safety mechanism, a release valve had also frozen. The ice in the pipes rapidly turned into steam and became the equivalent of dynamite. The stove exploded. Vicky was thrown three meters across the room.
Oh so fortunately, her brother-in-law Dave was just outside the house. He rushed in and pulled an unconscious Vicky out from under some burning debris. She was bleeding seriously from her leg so he used his sweater for a tourniquet. He yelled for a neighbour to call 911 and ran back in to the house to grab all the coats hanging by the door and tucked them around Vicky. The first responders arrived in 20 minutes -remember, this is a rural island.
We are lucky to have a emergency centre at the small clinic here on Gabriola. The doctor on-call made a quick decision and soon Vicky was being helicoptered to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. She underwent an 8 hour surgery to remove shrapnel (pieces of steel and cast iron from the stove) from her legs. Her husband Mike, brother-in-law Dave and Australian shepherd Tazi drove down to Victoria in the car - a two hour trip.
James, I, and the girls made that same trip the next morning to visit the hospital. Vicky was in bandages from the waist down, and her hands were also heavily bandaged. Miraculously, her face, neck and upper body were okay. No bones were broken except a couple of fingers. Her spine was okay. She was conscious and amazingly herself. "I got blown up", she said and laughed her gentle little laugh. Dave and Mike were pale and visibly shaken, rare for a couple of cool British lads. (The kids - I think of them as kids, even though they are in their early thirties) - are recent immigrants from England.)
We hugged and chatted and listened, and then Mike and Dave went to take Tazi for a walk. James did some reiki for Vicky, and I washed her face and cleaned the soot from her ears and hairline - she said she had been told she looked like a coal miner just come up from the deeps when the ambulance arrived. The nurses in emergency had wiped most of it off but a more thorough job needed to be done. It felt good for me to be able to offer a little care for this sweet girl.
The nurses at Royal Jubilee seemed to be the best - and as James, the eternal flirt, said to one, "Do they only hire beautiful nurses here?" Vicky had a private room, with sunshine pouring through the window. Thank the heavens for universal health care and that Vicky was covered.
She is possibly facing another surgery to remove more of the shrapnel and repair tissue damage. Follow up care and rehab, transportation and accommodation costs will add up, as well as lost time from work for Vicky and Mike. Our fabulous community has already started filling their freezer with home cooked meals and baked goodies. We have set up a trust account so people can donate money. Help is being offered to dogsit and walk Tazi, and to manage Mike and Vicky's table at this Saturday's craft fair. In less than a year, this kind, generous, talented young couple has made many friends on Gabriola - they may be far from their families home in England, but us islanders are doing our best to surround them with love and care.
You can find out more about Mike and Vicky at their websites: Little Blue Dog Designs, Vicky Bowes Illustration, and their organization Ocean Roots.
James has seen Vicky again at the hospital and she is steadily improving. No estimate yet on when she will be home.