Today is October 20. This means that one month ago today, September 20, was when this story first began.
The moment I remember most about that day isn't initially hearing the news, or seeing her for the first time on the ventilator in the ER. It was when my parents, George, and I were sitting in the ICU waiting room waiting to be called back to see her. None of us spoke. We just sat there. I remember George stared at the ceiling, and my dad stared at the floor. My mom and I just sat side by side without saying a word. The only real noise amongst the 4 of us was quiet crying.
That day, I didn't think she'd be on the ventilator more than 24 hours. I remember it being such a shock when we finally got called back to see her in the ICU room, still on the vent, and having seizures every 1-3 seconds. We desperately wanted to touch her and talk to her, and we were told to stand back. We wanted to be close and we were told to not even touch the bed. Everything was triggering seizures. We just stood around her bed watching her tremble. We left that night knowing nothing more than what our eyes were seeing. I remember walking out of the hospital that night, sobbing, and saying to my mom "I need her."
At times, I throw myself a phenomenal pity party. I pity myself because I have to find time out of my already busy schedule to drive all the way to Detroit. I pity myself because every time I go, I have to pay to park. I pity myself because I have to sacrifice a night of sleep. I get frustrated because she just doesn't remember everything. She still doesn't know she is in a hospital. I get frustrated because as I am trying to divert her hands away from pulling out her foley catheter, she is already starting to tug at the PICC line in her arm. Or just as I get her all settled in bed, she sits up straight and says "get the gun, Laura! Someone is breaking in, don't you hear them?" and I tell her for what seems like the billionth time that she is in the hospital and she is safe. I pity myself for this roller coaster of emotions we have all been on this past month. From desperation, to agony, to joy, to excitement. It's exhausting and I just want some normalcy.
But then I stop myself. My God, I have my sister. Mentally she might not be all there (yet!), but I can touch her, see her, and hear her laugh. I can watch her make progress every single day. I can brush her hair and scratch her back. I hear her tell me she loves me, or refer to me as "sister". I can watch her eyes light up when she sees my kids. I am SO. LUCKY. I am lucky because although my family went through the worst tragedy of our lives, we have learned a lesson. At least I know I have. I love deeper. I take the time for small things. I have STRONG faith and a heart full of hope. I have learned to be a better nurse to my patients, and when the opportunity is appropriate, I share with them my sisters story to maybe help them see that I do understand their stress of being in the hospital.
But the bottom line is...she is still here and she is going to be okay. What her future holds, I don't know. And frankly, I don't even care. We made it through the worst...the best is yet to come. And I can't wait!