Monday, November 22, 2010

I am going through some really strange emotions lately. I can't even really pinpoint it. Not really depressed, not anxious, maybe just sad? I'm not sure.

Don't get me wrong. I feel so overwhelmingly blessed that Leslie is doing as well as she is. I am so proud of her and it is great that I can call her or see her whenever I want.

I guess reality is just starting to set in, and I am having a hard time accepting it. When this all happened, we had a lot of people contact us who have had loved ones experience brain injuries, and their stories were (are!) so, so encouraging. We are very thankful for those people, because a lot of the time, that was the only real hope we clung to...that other people have had similar things happen, and they were okay. However, the main theme we got out of these personal experiences were that even though their loved ones recovered, there was always a part that never really returned. There was always a reminder, even if it was small, that their brain was injured. This is where I think I am struggling.

I literally look back on September 20 and shudder. I think, in a sense, as ridiculous as it may sound, that I am traumatized by it. I have been having "flashbacks", if you will, of certain moments. How cold the ICU room was. All the times I would be asked to step out of her room and wandering around the empty hospital at night with nowhere to go. The way my heart would start to race as I'd get close to the hospital. The beeping machines. Getting so excited when we'd notice her swallow, because it was a sign that she was responding to SOMETHING.

People have asked if we have gone back to Main to give them a flyer, or even just visit her old nurses, and I don't think I can do that at this time.

She is doing all of the things we wanted her to do, but there are constant, daily reminders of what happened. She sleeps a lot and is always saying how tired she is. She has no motivation. We can make her go places and do things, but she never asks to do anything. She has no interests. Her husband decorated their house for Christmas, and Leslie just sat and watched. Normally, she would have helped.

Why? Why can't she just be BACK. Why did this happen to her? Will she ever go back to work and live a normal life? Will she ever call ME and ask if I want to go shopping or out to dinner or will I forever have to ask her? Will she ever show the initiative to get up, showered, and dressed or will we constantly have to tell HER when it's time to get moving?

I just. don't. accept it. I want to. I feel selfish that this isn't "good enough" for me. I try to feel thankful, and I am thankful, just not thankful enough, I guess.

A sister is a lifelong friend. Someone who will always be there, regardless. I think that all of my life, I have taken the fact that she is there for granted. I am regretting that I will likely never have those times back, and it's too late. I blew it.

If you have siblings, cherish them. I never thought anything like this would happen to Leslie, and we had no reason to believe it would. She was healthy. Twenty-four hours before she collapsed, we were getting ready to walk down the aisle as bridesmaids in our best friends wedding. Tell them you love them and spend time with them. Appreciate them and don't let silly things get in the way.

You only get one chance.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Last Friday, my mom, sister, and I went back to "the scene." Well, not the EXACT scene, but close enough. As we drove down the long driveway in, my mind kept saying "this is the road that the ambulance drove in on, and out on, with my sister in there. As we passed by her room, I remember thinking "that's probably the chair she went unconscious in.

My God. It was real. It's so hard to imagine until you really see it. The day it happened, September 20, is like a haze. It was my absolute worst nightmare. I know I've said it before, but I wouldn't wish moments like that on ANYONE. When I start to think of that day, I will physically shake my head as if to shake those thoughts right out. I can't go there. I never want to go there again.

As my sister, Allison, and I got a little mini-tour with Rachel (who is just so sweet!) my mom stayed behind to talk to the principal. About things like the nice weather, the holidays, and oh, maybe how he played a HUGE ROLE in saving her daughter's life! How do you thank someone for doing something so amazing? For doing one small thing, he helped get Leslie where she is right now, which is home with her family.

To hear the details just literally rips my heart out. It is too disturbing for me to hear, and I just can't imagine what her coworkers and friends were thinking. To you people that played a roll, whether it be call for help, get her students out of the classroom and try to keep the calm, to try to keep YOURSELVES are hero's.

I still don't understand why this happened and I don't think I ever will. I don't plan on dwelling on it, either. I plan on dwelling on what I do know. That Leslie was in the very "best" place for this to happen. That the fast response of EMT got her heart beating again. The defibrillator picked up where the EMT workers left off, and it will continue to keep her heart in line, so to speak,and so far, so good.

My heart is so full to gratitude to all of you who have so eagerly given already. We love you!

Monday, November 15, 2010

This is why we are having a benefit for her.

Leslie Bishop's life was forever changed on September 20, 2010. She was in front of her 7th grade Spanish class, reviewing an assignment when she suddenly and unexpectedly slumped over and started breathing really heavy. The students reacted very fast and brought staff members back to the room. Someone called 911 while another assisted Leslie to the floor where it was discovered that she had no pulse and was not breathing. CPR was started, and when EMS arrived, she was intubated and her heart had to be shocked twice before it would start beating on it's own in a regular rhythm. She was immediately rushed to the emergency room, and from there, to Henry Ford Main in Detroit. While there, she spent 3 days on the ventilator. When the ventilator came out, she was battling pneumonia. As the pneumonia cleared, she was able to have a cardiac catheterization, along with a defibrillator placed to protect her from any future arrhythmias. She finally started to wake up about 5 days later, but she was very confused. She had trouble remembering who her immediate family was.

As time has gone on, she has steadily improved. After a month and a half at Henry Ford Main, she was sent to the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan due to the anoxic brain injury she suffered when her heart stopped. She was in extensive rehab for physical, speech, and occupational therapy. She completed this for 2 weeks before she finally came home.

Physically, she is doing great! She has a lot of issues with memory, though, especially her short term memory. She has a long road ahead of her, with doctors appointments and therapy sessions.

Unfortunately for Leslie, the district she works for does not have a contract. Leslie will not be able to return to work for a while, but her paychecks have run out. She only received paychecks for as many sick days she had. Those ran out a long time ago. Her insurance? That ends 12 weeks from the initial incident on September 20. We may be running out of time from the insurance company's standpoint, but we certainly aren't running out of the desire to make sure Leslie gets the treatment she needs to she can get back into that classroom that she loved so much.

Please come help celebrate Leslie's health. December 11, 2010 at 5 PM at the Knights of Columbus in Wyandotte. There will be food, drinks, and music, along with some AWESOME raffles.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Benefit updates!!

It is absolutely going to be December 11 at the Knights of Columbus. I believe the start time will be 4PM and it will be a spaghetti dinner. We have AWESOME items to raffle off, too!

If you would like to donate to the raffle, please contact me ASAP and let me know when I can come pick the item(s) up. Any time is good! My cell is (734) 301-1757 and you can call or text me. Or e-mail me at and we will make this work! The sooner, the better, so we can be really organized.

More details to follow!! Thank you to all those who have so graciously offered to donate!

Leslie up-date to come later after I sister-sit on Tuesday. She's doing great, though!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Circle talk. All day long. That's all we did. Circle talk.

Circle talk is what my family calls the repeating of questions Leslie does. Today was my first day "sister-sitting" with her. She got to my house around 7:30 and I dropped her off at her house at 3 for a doctors appointment. The whole day, she kept asking the same 5 questions. Think of a CD that keeps skipping and repeating the same thing over and over...this was Leslie.

Most of the time, I would just answer the question for her. A few times I would respond with "I don't know, you tell me" ...and this really made her nervous. I would make her think about it and she always answered her own question correctly, but she still wanted me to say it.

Around 1, she said she was really hungry and wanted to go out to lunch. When we got to the restaurant, she hardly ate a thing. When we left, as soon as we got out the door, she realized she left her purse at the table, so she went back in to get it. I let her go ahead, then I followed behind her. When I got inside, I saw that she was very far away from where our table actually was. I called her over to our table, and she didn't remember sitting there. The waitress happened to be at our table, and handed her her purse. Leslie apologized to the waitress for being confused, and said "I have a brain injury." This made me so sad for her.

Yesterday she had a good day, I thought. Granted, I wasn't with her nearly as long, but we met a friend of mine for lunch, and she did great. She ate good, carried on with conversation, and just seemed to be doing well. Today was totally different.

She doesn't sleep well. She goes to bed good, but then wakes up in the middle of the night and is restless. I do think that when she is tired, she is more confused, so I'm wondering if she was just really tired today. She has an appointment with her primary doctor today, so we'll see what she says.

Some family members have decided that they want to give a benefit dinner for Leslie! We decided on December 11, since my work schedule is pretty chaotic right now. More information will come. We are in the process of finding businesses that would be interested in donating. We are looking for items and gift cards that could be raffled off. If anyone can help with this, please let me know! We will have flyers out very soon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I remember the day, just over a month ago, when I drove up to my parents house and thought to myself, "What I would give to see my sister's car here, too." ....and today, my sister's car was there (she didn't drive, though, don't worry!)

I also remember all the times I thought, "I wish I could call my sister up and ask if she wants to meet for lunch/dinner." ...and tomorrow, we are going to lunch to celebrate her 30th birthday.

I remember the nights spent in the ICU, staring at her, thinking, "Please, just open your eyes. I miss your voice." ...and tonight, I not only heard her voice, but I heard her laugh, tell jokes, and reminisce.

I remember the night of September 20th, driving home without her, and thinking, "I can't go through the rest of my life without her. This was never supposed to happen." ...and tonight, I couldn't help but think, "We're getting a second chance."

My sister came home today. She is HOME. She will wear her pajamas instead of a hospital gown and no one will wake her up at midnight to check her blood pressure. She will wake up to see her husbands face and not someone she doesn't recognize. If she cries, it'll be US consoling her, face-to-face instead of on the phone. There was a time when we thought this day might never happen, and happened.

Make sure you tell your friends and family you love them. Be patient and notice the small things. Love your kids extra and remember that time goes by so fast, and you NEVER KNOW what might happen tomorrow. Nothing is guaranteed, and Leslie's story is proof of that.

Thank you, God, for Leslie.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This was taken Halloween night. In case you can't tell from looking at the picture, we were having a GREAT time. I love her so much!
Ugh, I hate when she calls me crying. It just breaks my heart.

I asked her why she was crying, and if she was lonely. She said it was because she can't remember anything, and everything is so confusing. She has really vivid dreams right now, and it confuses her. She doesn't know what was a dream, and what is reality.

We talked on the phone for about a half hour. By the time we hung up, she seemed okay. Something good that I noticed was that instead of her asking questions like "Am I married? Where do I live? Where did I work?" she was saying things like "So I am married to George, right? And I live on Oak street? I'm a middle school teacher, right?" She was still asking, but she pretty much already knew.

We are going on a month and a half since this all happened. It's amazing how it all can be on my mind almost constantly, but then every now and then, my mind slips up and I will do something silly like start to dial her cell phone number to see if she wants to meet for dinner. Times like those, I get very sad, but then I remind myself that those times will come back. I am so, so fortunate. I often remember the doctor saying that the chances of her surviving were less than 10%. How amazing is it that she is doing SO well with odds like that?

She will be home at some point tomorrow. I am off next week Monday-Wednesday and she will be here with me. If anyone wants to meet up or do anything, please don't hesitate to contact me. And as always, thank you so much for the continued prayers and positive thoughts. You are all SO appreciated.