The last 30 days of my life have proven to be the most difficult. When it rains, it pours and the second week of November brought about a monsoon! I totally bombed the wedding I officiated, my Mother in Law was in a terrible car accident, I was wrestling with the surgery that was fast approaching and then, on November 13, something more horrific than anything I could ever have imagined happened. A blood clot had made its way to the brain of my Mother. By the time Nick and I got to the hospital she had been intubated. My Mom, whom I had talked to just a few hours prior, was on life support. No one could tell us what was going on. The week leading up to this night had been a total train wreck. I was on the verge of a complete meltdown and now, here I was, standing in the ER trying to wrap my head around what was going on. I was convinced that this was it. I would never see, hear, speak to my Mom again. This was the end and there was nothing I could do.
At no point had I ever put any serious thought into what it would be like when I lost my parents. I cant say that I know anyone who has. The initial thought of it is nauseating and the pain that comes from really thinking about it is indescribable. I have felt physical pain in a way that would break most people but this, this was something was on a whole new level. The CARE flight staff took her to a Neuro ICU in downtown Ft Worth where my family took up residency for the next several days. My Mother in Law came to watch the boys so that I could be with my family as we stood vigil at my Mothers bedside.
Several weeks prior to this I had scheduled my spinal fusion surgery. My calls to the Surgeons office proved unsuccessful as I begged them to cancel or postpone my surgery. How could I go through with this? Not only would I be in the hospital for several days unable to go see her but she would not be with me. Every hour that we got closer to my check in time, the elephant sitting on my chest grew. It felt as if I was trying to breathe underwater. Monday morning everything went as planned. I checked in at 530 am and the next thing I knew I was waking up out of a brilliant dream. The surgery was complete and although the Surgeon was unable to install all of the hardware he had planned, my vertebrae were stable and the pressure on my nerves was relieved. I was on my way to recovery, a recovery 2.5 years in the making
I was in the hospital 5 days and unable to leave the house for another 10. As the days passed, my body was healing but my heart was growing heavier and heavier. Knowing that my Mom was laying in a hospital bed, hooked to all sort of machines, fighting for her life and I could not be with her brought a guilt unlike any I have ever felt before. I wasnt sure how I would make it through my recovery without her encouragement, without her support. I flourished during the first few weeks of my recovery, so many people told me how unusual it was to see someone be so independent so soon after a fusion. I HAD to get better. I HAD to be able to see my Mom. During this period she was stabilized and taken off the Michael Jackson milkshake. The respirator was turned off and she was breathing on her own. She was now doing well enough to be transferred to a skilled nursing hospital.
As I headed to the hospital Tuesday afternoon my hands were shaking and my mouth was dry. I was so scared to see her. Even though I never lost faith that she would overcome this , seeing her with a tracheostomy and feeding tube was hard. My family had been telling me how well she had been doing. It was very much needed good news. I came out of the elevator, pushed the ICU door open and there she was. Being the nosey woman she is, she was watching the door like a hawk. As soon as she saw it was me coming in the biggest smile stretched across her face, reaching from ear to ear. I cant think of any other time in my life I have seen my Mother smile at me like that. My heart stopped. I was overcome with a sense of joy that I cant even begin to explain. There was my Mom, the same person who had been in a medical coma, on life support just days prior to this, sitting up in a chair completely awake and trying her damndest to talk! The trach has temporarily taken her voice away but that hasnt stopped her from chit chatting one bit! This is proof positive that NOTHING can silence PAM! You can telegraph, telephone and tell Pam. Even more than reading her lips, the dirty looks she gives the staff communicates very clearly what she is thinking.
The Neurologist Doctor treating her had set us up to believe that she would never be the Pam we know and love again. The area of her brain affected, the size of the bleed, the swelling and shifting of her brain, were all too much and there were some things she would never be able to regain. There may be some truth to that, she might have some permanent damage. we just dont know yet. What we do know is that a person with this type of injury should not have made it this far in recovery this soon. The Director of ICU says that this is a “miracle recovery”.
30 days ago I was certain I was falling apart. My life was on a path of destruction and there was no stopping it. I could no longer handle the constant debilitating pain I was in. The surgery I was facing came with a terrifying, long, hard recovery. The bitterness I had was affecting all of my relationships. I was losing my Mom. It was far more than I could handle.
I took one day at a time. I did not look ahead nor did I look behind. I lived in the NOW and tried to make the most out of a bad situation. I made it. Things have come together better than I could have dreamed. I am recovering very well and the pain that ruled my life for so long is no where to be found. Everytime I see Mom, I see a little more of HER and less of the medications. I have gained a better appreciation for family, I have started to love more and I have learned to forgive. There are no tangible items in the world more valuable than the life lesson I have learned in the last month. I can say, honestly and truly, that this has been nothing short of A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!