September 20, 2010:
Getting a phone call from my dad at about 2:30 PM, telling me my sister collapsed at school, CPR had to be done, and she was now on life support
Stopping my car in the middle of the street to repeat the words, "What? What happened? WHO did this happen to? Wait, WHAT?" over and over again, followed by the worst sobbing I have ever done in my life
Panicking, rushing to get my kids to my mother-in-law, then enduring the longest ride ever to Brownstown Emergency Room
Waiting, for what felt like hours but was only minutes, to be allowed to see her
Seeing her for the first time, ventilator down her throat, NG tube and thermometer probe down her nose, several IVs, and restraints on her wrists. I kept telling them, "Please keep her sedated right now so she doesn't wake up and get scared." I should have known by their lack of assurance that her "waking up and being scared" was something that wasn't going to happen right now, whether she was sedated or not
Driving to Henry Ford Main to sit in a "special" waiting room for the doctor to come talk to us and prepare us for what we were about to see
Seeing her in bed, still on the ventilator, totally nonresponsive, and having seizures practically back to back that were so strong, her entire bed would shake
Being told not to touch her, which I obeyed for about 20 minutes, then the urge to rush to her and touch her overtook me
Having to leave her that night, not knowing if it would be the last time
Sobbing to my mom, saying, "I can't lose her! I need her!"
The cold, cold ICU room
Listening to the whooshing of the ventilator as it pushed air into my sisters lungs
Being told to step out while they cleaned her up in the wee hours of the night, and realizing I had absolutely nowhere to go
Wiping her chin and braiding her hair...the only areas that I could touch without disrupting anything
Having her slowly wake up, but being unable to talk due to the severe confusion and swelling of her brain
Having the ventilator removed, but those very scary moments soon after where they thought her airway was closing up and having doctors and respiratory therapists rush in to check
Driving home from the hospital after being there the entire night and thinking "Now I can understand how people fall asleep at the wheel" because I was experiencing pure exhaustion, both physically and emotionally
Hearing the doctors say to us "You should just be happy she is alive...her chances of survival were less than 10%" when we'd ask questions about what the next step was
The constant desire to just dial her number to talk. To drive to her house to visit. Anything. Something to know that she was okay
September 20, 2011:
Texting my sister to say "Wanna do lunch?" and having her write me back!
Meeting for dinner at Portofino's to honor those that stayed the night with her, night after night, so she would never be alone. We never had to ask...they just did it. And it was NOT easy. Being tired was the least of our issues when we'd stay the night...it was more making sure she stayed in bed, reassuring her constant paranoia, keeping her from removing the heart monitors, catheters, IV lines, etc.
Watching her laugh and socialize with the people she loves
Seeing her update her status on facebook
Having full conversations with her through texts and e-mails, just like we used to do prior to this past year
Her smile. Her smile is so genuine and so Leslie. That was gone for so long, because for months, she literally was blank. Void of all emotion. It's coming back, slowly but surely
She never did lose her sense of love and kindness towards other people. Even when she was so confused in the hospital, when someone came in and said "How are you?" She'd respond with "I'm fine, how are you?" That is apparently a part of her that will never go away. She has a heart of pure gold
Thank you. Thank you to every single one of you. Whether you stayed the night, visited, brought food, prayed, thought about her, read the blog to stay informed on her progress, sent cards, texts, or emails, WE APPRECIATE AND LOVE YOU and I promise, we will never, ever forget any of that. There is absolutely no way we could have gotten through this without all of the love and support.
This past year was the worst year of our entire lives. My motto here on out is, "It only gets better from here!"
Keep it up, sister. You have SO many people rooting for you.