911. CPR. Ventilator. Sister. ER. Come quick.
Those are the key words that stick in my memory when I think back to September 20, 2010. The panic. The fear. The tears. Oh my God, the tears. I never knew I could cry that way. I never knew I could beg and plead with God to PLEASE let this just be a bad dream.
Seeing my sister in the ER was devastating. I remember focusing on her hands. They were so flaccid. Her wrists had restraints on them to keep her from pulling out the tubes that were coming from every which way. But her hands were not fighting the restraints. Her hands were just laying there, completely immobile. How much I wanted her hands to fight. SOMETHING to show she was there. But no. The only movement we would see for days would be the awful seizures that shook her entire bed.
I remember the day I was approached at work and asked if I wanted to be a part of the American Heart Walk and help raise money for heart research. Is the sky blue? Do I need oxygen to breath? YES, I will do that!
I jumped right on it. I got permission to use a small bulletin board in the break room. I summarized Leslie's story and posted pictures of her both in the hospital and when she came home. I believe there were 4 pictures total. Space was limited and I wanted to utilize all of it. I posted directions on how to join my team and how to make a donation.
Then I got the word that there were people talking. The pictures were "disturbing" and people didn't want to "look at that" while eating lunch. THAT being my sister. "Heart research is over-rated" and "I'm not giving any more money to these fundraisers."
To say I was hurt would be a complete understatement. I was CRUSHED. Really? REALLY? As much as those comments devastated me, I would never, in a million years, wish the pain my family felt on that dreadful day on anyone.
That day, when I got home, I was done. Until I got the mail. In the mail, I found a check from some very dear friends of my parents. It was a very generous donation to the American Heart Association. I cried again, but this time, they were tears of happiness. Tears of hope. And from that moment on, I chose the high road and gave fundraising my all.
Last year, thanks to the AMAZING generosity of my friends and family, and even strangers, I raised about $1600 for the American Heart Walk. That is $1600 that will go towards hopefully preventing what happened to my sister from happening to someone else. Those lifesaving measures that literally saved my sisters life? That $1600 will help provide AED's to public places in case someone needs it. I remember seeing the burn marks on my sisters chest and side from the AED firing to restart her heart. It worked. That $1600 will help train people in the correct technique in giving CPR. The teachers that did CPR on my sister? It worked. She started to breath again.
To say I am passionate about the American Heart Association would be an understatement. Until the day I die, I will forever be an advocate. My sister is a miracle. A living miracle. If you don't believe in miracles, then you don't know my sister.
The way I think of it is this: Imagine you are walking down a road. The path is crystal clear and you can see for miles. Then, out of nowhere, you are blindfolded, turned around, and set on a completely different path. You can't see, so you have no idea what lies ahead. The path isn't anything like what you started out on, so you have to figure it out as you go. This is how my sister's life was, and how it changed. Every day is different now, and every day is nothing like what it was before the incident. Why did this happen? We will never know. But by supporting the American Heart Association, hopefully things like this will happen less and less, and eventually, not at all.
Please join me. Join my team and walk with me. The walk path is very nice and the enthusiasm is overwhelming among the supporters. Better yet, donate. There is no such thing as a donation too small. Every penny counts.
Thank you, from the very bottom of my very thankful heart.