Thursday, September 20, 2012

Today is the 2 year anniversary of my sister's incident.  I'm not going to go through a play by play of that day.   My mind just doesn't feel like going there.  It doesn't mean my mind DIDN'T go there, I just don't feel like typing it all out.  Last night I spent a lot of time going through a grocery bag I keep stashed up in my closet.  Little things I have kept over the past 2 years.  Like for instance:
This is a collection of the cards and notes I have collected.  No, it's not all of them, but it's a good portion.  Notes of support and love, notes that accompanied American Heart Association donations for the heart walk, etc.  I doubt I personally thanked every person that sent a note, but this is proof that regardless of it I did or not, the appreciation was undeniable.

Or this:
...which is a collection of items from when my mom, sister, and I were nominated to be Women of Wyandotte, representing love and family.  That was one of my very favorite post-incident memories.

I even saved this:

...which is the receipt from Kristen's wedding which was the day before.  I remember one night when Leslie was in the ICU.  I stopped at her house to let her dog out.  While I was at her house, I looked in her work bag and saw all these reminders of what we had prior to her collapsing.  Her receipt was there.  Notes she had jotted down for her classroom, a portion of uneaten food from her lunch that day.  That night, right there in my sister's dining room, I had one of the biggest breakdowns of my life.     

I have this saved:

Hi Laura,
Your phone was in my purse this morning!! I don't know if you have a key so I'm going to put it in between the screen door and big door in the backyard... Not front doors.

Amazingly enough, I feel slightly hungover and very bloated today. George said he feels a bit queasy too! How about you??


...which was her facebook message to me the morning of September 20, 2010, as well as my response, which was this:

I was wondering where it was this morning. I will probably just pick it up when I go out to get Ethan from school. If I don't, though, I will come by sometime tonight. I'm in no rush.

I feel totally fine this morning, just tired. I got home, and immediately took a shower. Then I was just sitting around watching TV and playing on the computer when I got super tired, so I was sound asleep by midnight! Slept like a rock all night.

But yeah, definitely no hangover. I hope you guys feel better soon, maybe after some pop?

Talk to you later.

...I didn't read that message for a LONG time.  It was too painful.

I remember I'd drive by her house and it was like I would have to physically refrain myself from turning into her driveway because my mind and heart wanted to so desperately.

I remember running my fingers over the numbers that would dial her phone, but I never actually called it, because I knew she wouldn't answer.

I remember leaving the hospital that first night.  My body was painfully exhausted and desperately wanted some rest, but at the same time, I had no idea if leaving that night would mean I wouldn't see her alive anymore.  She was up to 10 mg of Ativan at that point, and the seizures were relentless.  Shaking her entire bed.  I remember being told, "she responds to pain, but only sometimes."  The logical part of me knew that "only sometimes" was not good, but my heart clung to "she responds to pain."  I remember feeling like I won the lottery the night I spent with her and her eyes would flutter when I would speak to her.

I still have this:

And this:
...which allowed me to call and get details on her, and granted me permission to be there after visiting hours.

I have this:
...which is a sign Ethan made to support the American Heart Association.   He did this all on his own.   He handed these out freely to people.

Leslie's incident changed me in many ways.  Some ways are not so good.  I don't trust as easily.  I constantly wait for the "other shoe to drop", so to speak.  I am always on guard.  It taught me that tomorrow is NOT guaranteed, so never get too comfortable.

On the contrary, because I don't trust tomorrow is guaranteed, I am more proactive.  If something isn't working out, I don't just hope for change...I MAKE it change.  While I still have this burning desire to have other people's approval, I don't dwell on it quite so much.  I know true love from my family.  I know what it means to sacrifice.  I don't waste energy and emotions on people that don't have the same love and respect for me that I have for them.  Life is too short!

I've learned what it means to have faith in a power way higher than myself.  Leslie had angels on earth working for her that day and for many days after.  But there is TOO much that just went so unbelievably RIGHT despite all the things that were going wrong to say that someone out there wasn't watching over her.  I envision my Grandma Price watching over her and saying, "No, it is NOT her time" just as her heart started beating again.  I just know she was there!

Today at work, I had my eyes on the clock when it was about 9 AM, as that is about when those messages were exchanged between Leslie and I.  I had my eyes on the clock at just after 2, when she collapsed, and again around 2:40 when I got the phone call from my dad saying, "Come quick, something terrible happened." I had my eyes on the clock around 3:30 when they allowed us back to see her.  Despite the ventilator and tubes coming from everywhere, I remember how beautiful and peaceful she looked.  I remember around 5, when we all regrouped at home, then headed to Henry Ford Hospital to see her in her ICU bed.

Not a day goes by that I don't think about it.  Maybe not in quite so much detail, but it is always on my mind in one way or another.

Happy 2nd RE-birthday, Leslie.  I love you so, so much!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two years ago today, I was celebrating my best friends wedding.   It was a gorgeous fall day, bright and crisp.  The dresses were cherry red.  My sister and I were bridesmaids and spent morning until night together, looking like queens.  Laughing, dancing, eating, drinking, and enjoying each other's company. 

Two years ago today is the last memory I have of my sister pre-brain injury.  Do you have any idea how thankful I am that out of all the memories I have in my life, THIS was the memory that is the "last"?  We were surrounded by our favorite people:  Kristen, Colin, Renee, Heather, Linsey, Mr. and Mrs. Mosczynski, as well as our parents and our spouses.  Do memories get much better than that?

I remember when I got the call.  One of the first people I called was Kristen.  I told her what I knew, and then said, "thank you."  Why would saying thank you be appropriate?  Because at that moment, I didn't know what was going on.  I didn't know if my sister would be alive by the time I got to the ER.  If there was any "last memory" I wanted, it was exactly the one I had:  laughing, dancing, eating drinking, and enjoying each other's company on a gorgeous fall day, bright and crisp.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So it's no surprise that I got a new job.  Totally unexpected, but it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

Normally, I am a person that HATES change.  Working in health care, that doesn't exactly mesh real well together.  Things CONSTANTLY change.  And I constantly hate it.  When I got my first nursing position, I went into it with a very dear friend (hi, Julie!) so it wasn't quite as scary.  When I took on my second position, I went into it with another friend and previous coworker.  This time?  It was all me, all alone.  It's funny, because normally this would cause insane amounts of anxiety and guilt. I think I feel more guilt about not feeling guilty than I do about the changes!  I even TRY to feel unhappy...and I can't!  It literally is like there is sign after sign after sign that this was a really good decision.

Let me tell you the big sign today:

The spiritual director was giving a speech.  It was basically about patient's perception,  nonverbal body language, etc.  She personally knew someone who was in an ICU two separate occasions, but in the same health care system.  The first time, she had just gone through a very long night.  She had a cup of coffee in her hand and the nurse came in and said, "Coffee is NOT allowed in the ICU!  Please get rid of it immediately." Second time, same circumstance, just sans the cup of coffee, as it was "not allowed".  She was standing by her loved ones bed, feeling exhausted.  A nurse came up, but her hand on her shoulder and said, "You must be exhausted.  Can I get you a cup of coffee?"

Oh, yes.  THIS situation is right up my alley.  If you have paid attention to posts from a year or so ago,  I had a similar situation.  This time my sister was the critically ill patient.  Signs posted everywhere about the ICU rules, including family members cannot sleep in patients room.  Okay, understandable.  It was maybe day 2 or 3 of her stay.  She was still intubated and VERY touch and go.  Exhaustion was an understatement.  I held Leslie's hand, and rested my forehead on our clasped hands.  The nurse came in and said, "There is NO sleeping in the ICU."  Another day, I was in with Leslie, in the same  position, but with my head up, and the nurse said, "I need to position your sister..."  This was normally the cue for me to get out of the way and take a long walk.  Instead, the nurse finished her sentence with, " do you mind helping me?  We can wash her hair and braid it, too."

Perception.  Words.  Being observant of what is going on.  Empathy.

The only way I can describe how I feel about this huge change is: complete happiness and peace.