Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our dear friend Braydon Nielsen

This week has been tough.  Here it is in order: 
On Sunday (Sept 1st) I noticed a spot on Joel's arm that looked like a bug bite the size of a quarter.  I was going to ask him about it but forgot.  On Monday (Sept 2nd) we went hiking because it was Labor Day and we didn't have to work and the kids had the day off of school.  On the way home I looked back over and noticed that the spot was smaller but still there so I asked him about it.  He said that it was from his TB test from work.  Well, I instantly freaked out because after 24 hours you shouldn't be able to even see where they stuck in the needle.  So I asked him how long ago they had done it and he said that they did it last Tuesday.  A week ago!  In my mind it was already positive but for it to be that big for a week scared me.  I told him that he had to come see Dr. LaRowe the next morning. (Tuesday Sept. 3rd)  He did and Dr. LaRowe had me measure it.  It was 19mm wide and that was after I had seen it much bigger the day before.  So, Dr. LaRowe said that he had to get a chest X-ray and blood work to make sure he didn't have Tuberculosis.  Dr. LaRowe also wanted to check his PSA since Grandpa Beckstrand just got over Prostate cancer and he also wanted to check Joel's cholesteral since he is never in to see the dr.  So since he wasn't fasting he'd have to come back the next morning to do blood.  Then he asked Joel if there was anything else going on and he told him that his leg had been swelling.   His right leg every once in awhile will swell up.  I told Joel a couple months ago that I thought it was a blood clot and that he should take an aspirin everyday.  Well, Dr. LaRowe wanted him to go get an Ultrasound done just to make sure that it wasn't a blood clot.  X-rays you can just go get done that day but ultrasounds you have to schedue.  So, he went over and got the chest x-ay done and I scheduled his ultrasound for the next day at 11am.  About an hour later we found out that his chest x-ray was negative.  No TB.  But we still had to wait for the blood work.  Then Joel called in sick and went home and crashed for the day.    Wednesday morning, Sept 4th, Joel came in early with me and I drew his blood and then he left before Dr. LaRowe or Amy came in and went to work.  Amy got there about 20 minutes later and immediately called me into her office.  She asked me if I had heard about Braydon Nielsen.  I said, "no, what happened to Braydon?"  Amy worked for years over at the hospital with Braydon and knew that we were friends with him and Melissa from the Coral Canyon Ward and from Joel training with him in the Tri Club.  She said, "Last night Braydon was hit by a car while riding his bike and was killed."
I couldn't believe it.   But it was true. 
He went out like he does every Tuesday night with the Tri Club for a ride.  There where about 20 of them.  Helen and Ryan Duckworth and Heath were there.  They were out on the highway road that goes to the airport.  It has very litte traffic and has wide shoulders for them to ride on so it is a popular spot for bikers to go.  They all go their own speed so Ryan was up in the front, Braydon was in the middle and Helen was in the back.  They were all pretty spread out but usually Ryan can see Braydon coming and after Ryan had stopped and waited for whathe felt was to long he and Health turned around to go find Braydon.  I guess a van had come up behind him and couldn't see him because the sun was setting and was in the drivers eyes.  I think the Lord just needed Braydon back and this was the easiest and fastest way to do it.  By the time Ryan and Heath had gotten there the driver had already called 911 and  the ambulance and firetruck was on it's way.  When Ryan and Heath got to Braydon, Heath started first aide and is a firefighter and therefore a First Responder and started CPR.  I guess the firetruck got there first and knew Braydon and knew that he was part of the Life Flight crew and so he called Life Flight.  They flew over to try to save him and couldn't.  He was already gone.  They say he was gone immediately.   It was horrible.  Here is an article from the Deseret News about it:
ST. GEORGE — Braydon Nielsen was not a quitter.
In May, he attempted his first Ironman 70.3 triathlon but was stopped a few miles short of the finish because he failed to make the time cut.
“He was extremely heartbroken. But instead of letting it destroy him, he signed up for the Boise 70.3 four weeks later,” friend and fellow triathlete Lyle Anderson said.
Nielsen finished the triathlon within minutes of the cutoff time and set off to train for additional races, including the Ironman Oceanside 70.3 in March.
Nielsen, 36, of Washington, Washington County, was killed Tuesday while riding with his triathlon club in St. George.
He was with a group of cyclists near milepost 5 on state Route 7 (Southern Parkway) just before 8 p.m. when a minivan heading in the same direction hit him from behind, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. The sun was setting at the time, making it difficult for those heading west to see.
Nielsen, who was wearing a helmet, was killed on impact, police said.
Police did not suspect driver Mark L. Mendenhall, 58, to have been impaired. Mendenhall is cooperating with investigators, police said.
Investigators are still determining whether Nielsen was in the traffic lane or if the minivan crossed over the white line.
Anderson was riding with Nielsen when he was killed Tuesday night in an area with a wide shoulder for cyclists that does not usually have much traffic, according to Ultraspire's blog. The two men were on a tempo training ride, which means every cyclist rode at his or her own pace, and Nielsen was at the back of the pack.
Anderson said Nielsen simply had to smile or yell his trademark “Booyah!” to inspire others.
“To us, it was more inspiring to see him come in last place and finish then it was to see the person who came in first place with a smoking fast time,” he said. “It inspired all of us not to complain. When we were miserable, when we struggle, there he was with a smile and a ‘Booyah!’”
Friend Ryan Duckworth said the group had finished its ride and realized Nielson had not yet come in. Duckworth, president of the Southern Utah Triathlon Club, and others rode back to find Nielsen and discovered that he had been hit.
"It's devastating," Duckworth said. "A very special and inspirational person is no longer with us."
Nielsen did not fit the typical physique of a triathlete, Duckworth said, but he was a hard worker who put a lot of work into his training.
"Braydon was the type of person … who would light up the room with his infectious love for life. He lived every day to the fullest," he said. "He was an individual who viewed life as a gift and acted that way and just took advantage of every moment when he was here."
Nielsen leaves behind a wife and four children.
"Braydon was a true winner. What I mean by that is he embodied the 'never quit, never give up' spirit. He valued friendships over personal records and medals," Duckworth said.
The triathlon club plans to make T-shirts to sell to runners participating in the upcoming St. George Marathon.
“We want to get as many people wearing something to support Braydon,” Anderson said.
The group has also set up a fund at Wells Fargo, “The Braydon Nielsen Booyah Memorial Fund,” to help his widow and four young children. Anderson said he thought donations could be made at any Wells Fargo branch by mentioning the name of the fund. 
I wish I could tell you that that was where the bad news ended. 
That was right at 9am when Amy told me this news.  I called Joel and he was besides himself.  We talked for awhile about how much the Lord must have needed Braydon to take him so suddenly but how glad we are to know where he is thanks to the Gospel.
 Then we hung up and started working.  A couple hours later Dr. LaRowe came up to me and pulled me aside and said that Joel's Ultrasound had come back positive.  I had forgotten that he was even supposed to have it done because my thoughts where consumed with Braydon and Melissa and her 4 kids.  So, I was a little taken back when he told me.  I asked him if he was joking around and he said no.  Joel has 2 blood clots in his upper thigh.  We don't know how or when they got there.  According to the ultrasound one is a couple months old and one is pretty new.  Usually old people get them who just sit around all the time or people who fly 16 hours straight.   Or people get them after they've had surgery.  Dale Ipson had 1 after his knee surgery.  But for 2 to show up out of the blue is weird.  So Dr. LaRowe had me draw more blood.  A lot more blood, to see if it is a DNA mutation.  He asked if there has been others in the family with blood clots.  Joel said no but the more we think about it the more it very well could be.  Anyway, Dr. LaRowe put Joel on a heavy duty blood thinner and told him to go lay down flat for 2 day and to do absolutely nothing so that the medicine can start to work and the blood clot won't break off and go to his lung, brain or heart and be fatal.  So we started up the free month of Netflicks so he'd have something to watch and he laid there for the rest of Wednesday, all of Thursday and most of Friday. We got the first part of Joel's blood work back Friday morning and it looked great.  No signs of TB.  However, with all of the new things that had developed Dr. LaRowe decided that he wanted to treat Joel for TB just to be on the safe side.  So he will now be on the very strong antibiotic for 9 months!  He will be on the blood thinner will be at least 6.  He is still not sure if he will be able to run in the marathon and he is depressed.
This whole thing reminded me of when Joel was put in as bishop and Cathy Gardner came up to me and told me how blessed our family was going to be and how when Allen was bishop they had gotten in a huge car accident and how horrible it was.  But, that he (Allan) didn't die.  My first thought where, "Where in the heck are the blessings in that?  The blessing should have been that you didn't get in an accident at all."  But Friday on my way home from work I stopped at Costco to get batteries and Allan was in there and I talked to him for a second and I remembered what Cathy had said and it finally made sense.  HE DIDN'T DIE.  Joel could have easily died on any of the training runs that he has done in the last couple months, or while he was out doing things with the kids at school or on his motorcycle coming or going somewhere.  ANYTHING!  But, HE DIDN'T DIE. But,  Braydon did.
We are a truly blessed family.  I hope we ALWAYS remember that.  The Lord is watching over us here.  Whatever trails come our way are for a reason and we need to look at them more as blessing than as trials.  I was sitting next to Katie Soli today telling her this story and I told her that the only reason the TB test came out positive was so we would get those blood clots taken care of properly and she told be of a time on her mission when her companion couldn't find her glasses so they had to go into the city for  her to get her eyes checked and to get new glasses.  While she was at the eye Dr. he discovered a brain tumor.  She was sent home, had it operated on, and 6 months later went back out to finish her mission.  They found her glasses in her closet later that day.  The Lord knows us and knows what we need. 
Friday night we went to Braydon's viewing.  It was really neat.  His kids were completely being supported by angels.  They were happy and were smiling and making others smile.  Melissa was so strong and it was a testimony builder to see how strong her faith was.  This was the first time Joel had been up and around.    Saturday Sept 8 we started out with David's flag football game at 9am then Joel and I left early to go to Braydon's funeral at 10.  It was scheduled for the Coral Canyon church but after they heard how many people where coming they moved it to the Washington Fields Stake Center.  It was a good thing.  It was a full house.  They had 200 tri club members there and a lot of them are not members of the church so the entire funeral was centered around our beliefs and Eternal Families.  It was the greatest missionary experience.  Brother Dye from the Coral Canyon Ward was in charge.  He is  in the bishopric.  After it was all over the processional went out of the parking lot with the Life Flight crew walking along side the nurse and then all of the Tri club members on their bikes followed them and the Life Flight Helicopter followed the casket overhead.  It was so sad to watch.  That helicopter stood for so many things.  For the people he saved, for his team that tried to save him, for the people that he'll leave behind.  It was so emotional.  It was a beautiful way to remember him.

After that we ran back and changed so Joel could coach Ben's flag football game at noon and it was against Brother Dye's team.  We all figured that Braydon would have been there with us because his kid would have been on the team so he would have wanted us to be there with our kids enjoying every second we can get with them.  
After that we went up to Pine Valley with the Wells'.  It was rainy and wonderful.  We also learned some good news while we were there:
Mason was called to be the 1st Counselor in his bishopric!  The Lord knew what he needed and that was a chance to lead.  Mason was just hiding out trying not to be seen but the Lord knows all.  Mason will be great and the youth will LOVE him!


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