Tuesday, September 20, 2011

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

 This is the infamous pack of gum Leslie bought that I mentioned in my previous post.  It's hard to see, but note there are only two pieces missing.  One for her, one for me.  That was it.  I know it's stupid, and I know it probably seems very insignificant, but for me, it is proof that that amazing day happened.  Proof that we were together.  I will never get rid of it.

This is the slip of paper the ICU nurse gave me that first night.  The top is the phone number to her unit.  The middle number is her room.  And the code is the code I would have to give in order to get information.  Only George and I had the code, and it was our job to relay any information.

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.

 The beautiful cake, made by Persnickety Sweets.  Purple is Leslie's favorite color and the cake was chocolate, which is also her favorite

 One of the tables.  On the left, from furthest to closest, Allison (my 2 year old daughter), Shawn, and Jim.  On the other side, my husband Jason, my son, Ethan, my cousin Beth, and my cousin Michelle (both of them stayed many nights with my sister at the hospital.

 My dad's very heartfelt, touching speech that he put together all by himself.  It was very, very beautiful.

 The other table.  On the left side, Georges's sister, George's mom, George, and my dad.  On the other side, George's sisters husband (sorry about the lack of names!), my Uncle Terry, my Aunt Bev, Leslie, and my mom

                                                                Leslie and her cake :)

 That is her battlewound.  Okay, more like the scar left behind from her defibrillator being placed.  Nonetheless, I can't help but look at it and know that it just may save my sisters life someday.

                      This was the quote on the cake.  Very fitting, and Leslie loves Maya Angelou.

 This picture speaks volumes for me.  That night I left saying "I can't go on without her!" and here I am, WITH her.  Forever with her.

             The Tuttle Family, EXACTLY how it should be.  Thank you, God, for keeping us together.


Molly T. said...

Very sweet Laura. super jealous of your sister bond...however I don't think I could do the amazing job of being a sister like you. :)

Erin said...

What a wonderful update Laura! Thanks for keeping this blog and using it to update us on your sister. Leslie was always one of my favorite parts of the job and I'm so greatful to you for letting me read this and keep track of her progress.