I’ve been waiting to blog about why I disappeared for a few months until I could write about it without sounding bitter or like a whiny, pathetic child. No guarantee, but I did try. It’s been a rocky five months, coupled with a rocky relationship, and non-stop anxiety.
Have you ever been in one of those relationships with someone where you are dating, but at the same time you aren’t dating? This strange chameleon-type relationship typically starts out as friends and then moves beyond just friends, and then hovers in an ambiguous state of in-between and suddenly seven months (or in a previous case, two years) go by before you even realize what’s happened.
But let’s rewind, and I will begin what will most likely be the longest blog ever written.
The first week of January started the year off with what was clearly meant to be a premonition of what 2011 was sending my way, as I slid off the side of the freeway in a snow/ice storm. Two hours later I was towed off the freeway by my fabulous uncles and dad. The next day I left the mechanic’s $900 poorer, with 4 new tires and new front brakes and rotors.
The next week, I had a colossal fight and breakup with my enigmatic friend, who will be referred to as “The Bastard” (a.k.a. The B) from this point forward.
The third week of January wasn’t terrible, but just to keep things consistent, a mis-fired instant message to a coworker caused some drama at the office. I mean, I was JOKING. I know that you aren’t actually a drug dealer, OK?!
Week four just felt like salt in the wound when someone sawed through my bike lock and stole the adorable two-wheeler from behind my condo. I remember pulling into my parking spot, seeing the broken lock dangling from the fence, and just shaking my head as I walked inside. I ordered Chinese delivery, put on my pj’s, and spent the rest of the day in bed.
And then there was February.
February 1st I got a call from my dad just after midnight. My mom had a headache all day, and after it escalated beyond the point of nausea to unbearable pain, he took her to the hospital where they discovered a large brain hemorrhage. It was serious enough that they were going to life-flight her from their hospital to one with the necessary neuro specialists in Salt Lake City. After pulling together a flight crew and chartering in a secured-wing plane from Vegas due to a snow storm, she reached Salt Lake around 6:00AM where an ambulance was waiting on the tarmac to rush her to the hospital.
The next day was a blur of doctors and nurses and tests. At one point a nurse mistakenly said she was stable, thinking she was a respiratory patient instead of neuro; the ICUs for these departments are on the same floor and due to room availability she spent the first two days in the Respiratory wing. We were just starting to breathe easier when her neurologist explained the severity of the situation. Not only was she not stable, but was in extremely critical condition with an injury so serious that the mortality rate hovered above 80%. (excuse me while I throw up.)
As recommended by her doctors, we gathered our family, prepared for the worst and prayed for the best. My sister, who was 36 weeks pregnant at the time, flew down from Portland to be with my mom and say the things she needed to, heaven forbid the worst happened.
The day Michelle was supposed to fly home, the kidney stones her doctors in Portland had been watching started to cause intense pain. That, coupled with the stress of the current situation, put her into premature labor. So, at this point, my dad is on the 4th floor with my mom who is fighting for her life, my brother Mark is trying to keep my dad from having a nervous breakdown, and I’m on the first floor trying to keep my hysterical sister calm while we try to get in touch with her husband. I burst into hysterical laughter at one point because I couldn’t believe this was really happening. Also? Stress makes me laugh, which can be super inconvenient. Like in a hospital, or during a final exam in college.
We talked to Dave, who then farmed their kids off to neighbors and got on the next flight out of Portland. As he ran through the door she was no longer being admitted into labor and delivery, but was being whisked away for emergency surgery to save her kidney.
Tired of the drama yet? Me too.
The next morning I was so proud of myself for showering and getting ready for the day that I took a web-cam photo (we know I love myself the web cam) and sent a picture proving said clean hair to my friend Chareese. Her response was that I should probably crawl into a hospital bed for a nap and to go eat a cheeseburger. Sadly, this was the best I’d looked in days. On the upside, I had lost five pounds. Unfortunately, I think all five came from under my eyes and cheekbones.
After Michelle’s surgery her contractions subsided and they were able to release her, but not before the entire maternity wing was evacuated due to a fire alarm. That was fun. The nurses in the Neuro-ICU knew that my mom was unaware of my sister’s situation; she was under the impression that she landed safely in Portland days ago. The nurses came in to update me about the evacuation in semi-code so I knew my sister was OK, and my mom thought they were talking about the Women’s center because it was interesting. She never caught on; it turns out that pain killers are good for lots of things!
We took turns sleeping at the hospital, and I got very good at folding my body like a piece of origami onto a make-shift bed crafted of pillows and uncomfortable chairs.
Thanks to an incredible medical team, my mom pulled through in remarkable time. What we thought would be months in the hospital ended with just 14 days in the ICU and only a day or two for observation on the rehab floor. Words cannot express how grateful I am, and how blessed we feel as a family. Not only did she survive, but she has no noticeable mental deficits or brain damage. A miracle, to be sure.
The phone calls, e-mails, prayers, love, and messages sent our way kept us afloat during one of the worst months of my life. I have amazing aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. Thank you for being my rock.
The week my mom was released from the hospital, my sister went into labor and ended up having an emergency c-section. My mom had planned on going to Portland to help care for her other kids as she brought home this new baby, but that was no longer an option. Having a new baby is one thing, but having a new baby and a surgical incision that doesn’t allow you to pick up your 2-year-old is a whole different ball game. My fabulous Aunt Julie jumped on a plane to help with the kids while my sister was recovering in the hospital, and I flew out for 10 days to send my sister back to bed when she wandered out, entertain my favorite tiny humans, and make sure everyone ate. Showers and baths were for bonus points only.
One day the two-year-old burned his hand on their gas fireplace. I won’t tell you the story, but I will state for the record that he was not under my supervision at the time and it was not my fault, which is the only reason I didn’t die. I did, however, cry for the second time the entire month. I was a numb zombie in the hospital and only had one meltdown, but for some reason this moment broke me. I just sat down on the floor, held Noah tightly, and rocked him back and forth while we both sobbed. Then I pulled my crap together, cleaned and applied burn ointment to his palm, covered the burn with gauze, then with that stretchy neon sticky bandaging, and then I covered that with a sock which I changed a couple times a day because the kid couldn’t keep it out of his mouth.
I took a picture and sent it to my aunt who had to talk me off the ledge after it happened. Here he is looking at himself on my phone, realizing his hand hurts, and then screaming and flapping what we called his “broken wing” or his “little flipper.”
Taking care of 3 kids, a newborn, and a post-op patient was a lot of work. I was happy to do it, and would do it again in a heartbeat, but in light of the previous weeks I’m not sure how I made it through. I flew home to Salt Lake the last day of February (yes, we’re still in February) exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. I was grateful to say goodbye to February 2011 and start a new month.
March 1st was my hope. Everyone was alive and I was determined to move forward and be positive. Somewhere in February I slipped back into a relationship with The B. It was good to have his support, and life with my best buddie felt better. Ha! I was so stupid and naive. And stupid.
Toward the end of the work day my dad called to tell me that my brother, Mark, was in a car accident on the freeway in Provo and the driver of the other car was life-flighted from the scene. Mark said he was fine, but from his voice he was clearly shaken up and in shock. I hadn’t even unpacked my luggage from Portland, and I was on my way to Provo to be sure my Markie was OK. Luckily, aside from the stress, shock, and a missing bumper he was just fine.
The rest of March is a bit of a blur. I know I had a birthday at some point that month, but I don’t recall much about it or what I did. I think I slept a lot.
April was more of the same blur. I had another fight and breakup with The B, followed by a car accident of my own the next day, and reconciling with The B two weeks after that. (stupid, stupid, stupid)
In May it snowed, and not just once. It snowed and rained so much, that I was frequently surprised when I looked at the calendar and realized it was May. This month was filled with deductibles and other car repairs unrelated to my accident. Paying for new rear brakes and rotors, on top of the costly car accident, and the constant precipitation made it a great month to stay in and eat cup-of-noodles. It was also great timing for the third and final breakup with The B.
So now it’s June. Following a post-breakup discussion with The B on Monday, I took off to Cedar City for a few days to be fed by my mama, spend time with my brothers, sleep in, and gain some perspective.
Life is hard. Sometimes it’s really hard. But I have a million things to be grateful for. I recently started carrying a small notebook with me, and on particularly hard days I force myself to stop and write down at least one thing I’m grateful for. Some days it’s more challenging than others. I mean, you can only say “my family,” or “that I have a job,” or “my health,” so many times before you want to jump yourself off a building. Yesterday the only thing I could come up with was takeout from Ekamai Thai, and the day before that it was Diet Sunkist. But I figure every day that I have at least one thing to be grateful for is a good day. As long as I recognize the blessings in my life, even the hardest days are bearable.
If all else fails and I’m not able to think of something to be grateful for, I have the following written on the inside cover to remind myself:
“When we encounter challenges and problems in our lives, it is often difficult for us to focus on our blessings. However, if we reach deep enough and look hard enough, we will be able to feel and recognize just how much we have been given.”
- President Thomas S. Monson
So I am grateful. I am lucky in more ways than I can count. I’m glad to have finally written this out so I can move on to more fun topics. Like my adorable baby nephew, how I installed a ceiling fan last week, the adult ballet class I’m taking, and the other bright spots in my life. Even though it’s been a rough five months, I feel like a better person because of it and I don’t want to forget or discount that.
Have a great weekend everyone, and be sure to hug your moms!