Sunday, December 26, 2010

One step forward, two steps back. Two steps forward, one step back. Every day is the same, and every day is different.

I talked to Leslie on the phone today, around late afternoon time, and one of the first things she said to me was "I'm hungry!". I told her she probably had lots of leftovers from her Christmas dinner, and she should warm something up, all the while, knowing that every suggestion I was making, she was forgetting them probably almost immediately. When I hung up with her, this just wasn't sitting well with me. I called her back about an hour later, and much to my relief, they were getting ready to order some pizza, but I told her I would bring them by a Frosty later in the evening.

When I got to her house tonight around 9, she was wearing the same clothes she had worn all day yesterday. She also slept in them. When I asked her about that, she just kind of shrugged. I took her back into her bedroom and she put her pajamas on. We also laid out fresh, clean clothes for tomorrow. While I was doing this, I noticed she was crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she said "I just never have fun anymore." I asked her what she would like to do that was fun, and she suggested a "girls dinner" with my mom and I, but then she quickly added "but we do that all the time and I'm still not any better."

This part literally breaks my heart. It was torture leaving her house tonight with her crying. She is so desperate to get better. She does not accept that it will take time, and that it will be a slow process. How do you accept that, though, when everything changed to this with the blink of an eye. Why can't the reverse be the same? It's not fair. It's not fair to me, it's not fair to my parents, it's not fair to her husband, but most of all, it's not fair to her. We can all throw pity parties for ourselves because our lives are being changed against our consent (and trust me, there are parties galore!) but the bigger picture is OUR lives haven't changed at all. It's HER life that is upside down and backwards, and her life was going so amazingly well before this. She did absolutely nothing to trigger such an event.

It's not fair. And I don't know how to make things easier for her.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

This blog has gone in many different directions. From those first, frantic posts where I thought I was posting only for my own personal records, to when my list of readers grew and grew, because it was such a quick, easy way to get updates on sweet Leslie.

So now what? She's home and has a very long road ahead of her. I frequently get people saying to me "Don't stop writing!" or "You haven't posted anything in soooo long!" Well, it's not necessarily that there is nothing to post about. It's just now Leslie is a lot more aware of what is going on, so I want to respect her privacy on some level. I can tell you that she is really struggling with depression and a TOTAL lack of motivation, and this has been really hard on all of us. Leslie is usually the go-getter. She was always in the kitchen, making new dishes and hosting little parties. None of this happens anymore. Give her pajamas, a couch, and a warm blanket and she is golden.

Therapy still happens twice a week, but it's getting a little frustrating. She is officially done with physical and occupational therapy now. She just has speech, but we really don't see how it's benefiting her anymore. She is also going to start seeing a neuro counselor for her depression and lack of motivation. I think this will help her a lot.

So. Where do we go from here? I can't update Leslie's life day to day, because there isn't really much of a chance day to day. What direction should this blog go so that we can all stay connected without everyone getting bored?

My thought was, aside from Leslie's updates (and I promise they won't stop...they'll just be less frequent), to fill in the gaps, we can discuss wellness topics. I have had a slight heart scare myself just recently, so now I have to go in for a stress echo and I have to wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours. Deep down I know NOTHING is wrong. I have heart palpitations, but that is nothing serious. If it might give us a glimmer of an idea of what was going on with Leslie's heart, then, I will continue to go through with the testing.

Let's post about things we all are doing to promote wellness. Yearly physicals? Check-ups? Losing those last pesky pounds? Walking a mile? Getting educated on AED's and CPR training? Let's all set some goals. And as we chit-chat and talk about the changes we are making, it will lead us right up to the American Heart Walk which will be this Spring and we can all walk in honor of our Leslie... the one who brought us all together.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tomorrow is the big day! Tomorrow is the day that we celebrate Leslie's life. That we let her know how much she means to all of us.

She is really struggling with depression right now. She desperately wants her life back to normal. She misses the classroom. She misses normalcy. Her biggest worry right now are finances.

My sister has worked her entire life. She started as a dishwasher at the 1897 Smokehouse when she was 14 years old. She did that for like, FOREVER. She loved that job and the people she worked with. They equally loved her. She got me a job there, too, when I was roughly the same age and I lasted, oh, maybe about 30 seconds?

She stayed there for quite a while. All through high school, if I remember correctly. When she graduated from high school in 1998, she attended Wayne State as a full time student. She then got a job at City Hall. In true Leslie style, she loved that job, too, and was very committed to it. She was a great employee. She eventually got her bachelor degree from Wayne state in education. Her major was in English, her minor in Spanish. Right before she graduated, she took a semester off to travel to Spain to study Spanish over there. She loved that trip and she has always vowed to go back.

As most people know nowadays, she didn't get her first real teaching job right off the bat. There weren't any positions available. She ended up working at an elementary school in Wyandotte, McKinley, as their media specialist (fancy name for librarian/computer teacher) and this, I believe, is where she found her passion. She loved working there, and she loved being in the library, which is why she didn't waste one second going back to school for her Master's in library science. She eventually got a job on the weekends at Henry Ford Community College working in their library. During the week, she worked at McKinley. When McKinley closed a few years ago, she got a position in Brownstown doing essentially the same thing, she just traveled to all of their elementary schools.

She LOVED her job. She loved the children, and she loved her coworkers. She was good at it. She never wanted children of her own, but she had such a way with them, I would frequently go to her for advice when it came to my kids.

The last position she had was teaching 7th grade Spanish. She was very nervous about it. I was very nervous for her. She was used to really little ones. I was afraid this age group would be difficult for her. When she started, she INSTANTLY fell in love with it. She had just posted on her own facebook page just before September 20 how much she was enjoying it.

She was so good at her job. She was such a loyal, faithful employee, no matter what position she had. She was always thankful to just have a job.

Every single day she talks about how much she misses it and how much she wants to go back. Every. single. day.

Someday, Les. For now, let's just focus on YOU.
Leslie had an appointment with her primary doctor. My mom, my 1 year old daughter, and 1 all went with her. We were quite the spectacle!

I had some concerns with Leslie's INR (a lab that measures how thin her blood is). Her blood needs to be thin due to the blood clots she had in her legs and lungs when she was in the hospital. Despite being on 10-15 mg of Coumadin per day, her blood remained thick. This made me SO nervous and didn't make sense. That is A LOT of should be working! After talking with her doctor, we realized that the multivitamin she is taking daily had enough vitamin K in it (antidote for Coumadin) that it was likely causing her blood to stay thick. We now have to go to a health food store to find a multivitamin without vitamin K in it. If we can't find that, she has to stop taking the vitamin altogether. Right now her INR is right around 1.9. Ideally her INR should be around 2.8-3, but the doctor said she would be totally fine if it got as high as 4. Blood that is too thin is better than blood that is too thick.

We also have to start challenging her more. She wants her to work on her Spanish for 30 minutes per day, and also start doing activities that challenge her. Some of you might read this and think, "Well no kidding!" because it seems so obvious to do that, but the thing is... Leslie has zero motivation. She doesn't want to do anything and is perfectly content just laying on a couch without any stimulation. If you ask her to do something or go somewhere, she will agree, but you know she is just doing it to be polite. It's hard to push her because you just want her to be comfortable. The doctor also wants her to get in about 30 minutes of exercise per day. I just wish the weather was nicer so she could take walks. The Coumadin makes her SO cold all the time, that to make her go for a walk outside, even if she was completely bundled up would be torture for her. I am going to call the high school on Monday because I know they allow Wyandotte residents to use their indoor track when school is not in session. That would be so good for her, and it's free!

Other than that, she is doing well! She is anxious to see everyone tomorrow at her benefit. See you there!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All of my life, I have considered myself a Christian. As a child, I was involved in Sunday school and youth group. I have extremely fond memories of those days. As I got older, I continued to be an active member of my church, and I even taught Sunday school for preschoolers and served as a trustee. I thoroughly enjoyed going to church, and could not imagine my life without it.

When Ethan was born, I had him baptized. I took him to Sunday school. However, as he got older and our lives became busier, I slowly stopped attending. After all, I had to work every other weekend, so having a weekend "off" was a treat. Who wanted to get up early if they didn't have to? Slowly, I started realizing that I was no longer praying. I even started to question the whole idea of God, Jesus, and Heaven. It was a nice idea..but it was just that. An idea. And the sad part was... I was totally fine with my new way of thinking.

Several months ago, I was driving alone in my car, when I thought to myself "For me to become a believer in God again, something big is going to have to happen. Something life-changing. And then a miracle is going to have to happen. THEN maybe I will start believing that there is a power out there that is bigger than myself."

And then September 20 happened. My sister collapsed. I won't lie and say that I immediately turned to God. I didn't. I didn't even pray initially. It took me several weeks before I remembered what I had thought months before. And it literally took my breath away when I remembered.

Now I am certainly NOT saying that God saw my faith whithering away and used my sister as some sort of example. I don't believe that for one second. I am also not going to say that now that my faith has started to grow again, that my life is all rainbows and sunshine and everything all of a sudden makes sense. NONE of it makes sense and the unknown is haunting. I am a mess. Every morning I wake up thinking that today will be the day that I will start making better choices, and every night I go to bed trying to think of new ways to escape this reality. Often I wish that I could take Leslie's place. I deserve it. I'm not as good of a person as she is. She is a GOOD person. She has a heart of gold. I have always been more...what's the right word... mean? Judgmental? Both?

One of my biggest issues with Christianity are the people who act as though once you believe in God and start following His ways and reading the Bible, everything in life is so much easier. What the heck am I doing wrong, if this is the case? I struggle with how God can supposedly heal some people of such simple, insignificant ailments, yet my sister has to struggle every single day. I know how much MY heart hurts when I listen to her cry and ask, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" can this supposed "almighty, loving, and powerful" God sit back and not fix her?

I don't know. But I do know that the odds were VERY much against her. One horrifying incident has had such a ripple effect. People who hardly know her tear up when they hear her story. People are giving in such extremely generous ways, and I am absolutely CERTAIN that Heaven is literally bombarded with prayers for her on a daily basis.

I believe in God and I believe He was with her on September 20. I believe that God knows how much my heart is hurting, and I believe he knows how much her heart is hurting, too. I believe that her time on Earth will NOT be done any time soon, and that someday we will have a better understanding of why this happened. I do NOT believe this is the new Leslie, and I do believe that while it seems as though she has hit a plateau, she will continue to improve, a little at a time. And I also believe that I will have my days where I hit rock bottom, but I will also have my days where I will be full of hope.

She is a true miracle.