“When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.”
So, we are in the process of selling our house and finding a new place to live, primarily for financial reasons. Monday evening, after my husband got home from work, we drove roughly an hour away to look at places with a realtor we are working with. After looking at three places and driving to the fourth, my husband started mentioning he wasn’t feeling well… I was not feeling 100% myself, but attributed it to several nights running of little sleep. Well, we arrived at the fourth location and he started saying he thinks he needs to throw up. Now, mind you, in 22 years of being together, I think he has thrown up all of three times. This is not something he does. So, he stopped in the bathroom and I stepped out back with our agent. My husband finally joined us and said he only dry-heaved, and he sat down on the concrete porch. The three of us were chatting away, and all of a sudden my husband projectile vomited then fell backwards. As I walked closer to him to make sure he was ok, I noticed his eyes were wide open, but rolled back, and he was choking on vomit. I squatted and while still holding our baby tried rolling him, and watched as he became completely unresponsive. I was yelling at this point – yelling at my husband, and yelling at the agent to help me roll him and call 911. His body was very stiff and he kept wretching and was struggling to breathe. I literally thought I was watching him die right in front of me. I have never been so scared. When he finally came to, he had absolutely no recollection of what had just happened and asked what was wrong, why was I yelling. The EMT’s finally showed up and after they worked on him for a bit, we were off to the local ER where they ended up running tons of tests and could not figure out what was wrong. His blood pressure was low and kept plummeting when they tried to sit him up or have him stand. There was also something wrong on the multitude of EKG’s they kept repeating. They ended up admitting him to the hospital, and around 1:30am, I had no choice but to head home since the baby was still up with us and we have an elderly dog I had to tend to. Finally getting to bed around 3:00am, I was up again a few hours later to get ready to head back to the hospital. By this point, I was starting to really feel like crap myself and was getting dizzy. Again, I figured lack of sleep plus the extreme stress was the culprit. Long story short, I actually ended up sick myself, and my husband was discharged early yesterday evening with the doctors still not 100% sure what was the cause of the previous night’s events. He was still tachycardic upon discharge which was concerning to them since he is a runner, so there will be follow up appointments with the cardiologist who saw him in the hospital. This now makes two major health scares with him in less than six months… I am thankful for now that he is at least back home and starting to feel better.
After what feels like a lifetime of waiting, my husband underwent follow-up tests and procedures and his doctor feels like he was able to remove all of the cancer. So, no chemo or radiation at this time, just careful monitoring and future testing. We are so thankful!
Original post: Heartache
I quietly sit on the floor watching my baby play while my best bud, my sweet old pup, lies a few feet away, keeping watch; it’s a beautiful afternoon, and the sun is starting its descent for the night. I have an overwhelming feeling of contentment and love for a brief few moments.
No matter what you’ve seen before or what you are told by the nurses walking you out of the hospital, nothing really prepares you for seeing your baby for the first time in the NICU. After what felt like two days that would never end, I was finally discharged from the hospital; we quickly took care of a few things, then immediately embarked on the two-hour drive to Children’s. Upon arrival, we had to fill out tons of forms with admissions, get armbands, then fill out more forms with the NICU itself. Then we were shown the scrubbing station which everyone is required to utilize before entering the NICU which stood behind huge glass doors. Once inside, the nurses showed us the way to our baby. At only 4 lbs., 14 oz., she was so tiny. She had IVs, a feeding tube, EKG and blood pressure leads, and although she had been extubated, she was still hooked up to a breathing machine. Looking at her felt strange and foreign…for the longest time I did not want children, but I had a change of heart the previous fall. Still, I struggled with feeling a connection; my first question to the nurse was can we hold her. Of course! They pulled up a couple of large recliner/rocking chairs for my husband and I, and helped place her in my arms. Although I instantly loved her and thought she was absolutely beautiful, I still had a difficult time connecting. The nurses said that was totally normal, and to remember my hormones were going to be all over the place for quite some time affecting how I feel, so not to worry. Still, I couldn’t help it. I felt like I was already a horrible mom. I felt guilty that her first two days in this world were spent enduring painful procedures, not knowing either of her parents, and being kept in a loud, strange, sterile place. I wrestled with the fact that I had no control over the situation, that I could not protect her from all of this. Unfortunately, we could not stay at the hospital with her, for we have an elderly dog that we could not leave alone for too long and we had no one to watch. I got on the wait list for the Ronald McDonald house that was located next to the hospital – that was the only option since I was not going to be released to drive for at least two weeks due to having a cesarean. Although we had family willing to come out to help, we asked for space at that time while we tried to wrap our heads around everything. As time went on, I never did get into the Ronald McDonald house. We ended up driving back and forth to the hospital almost every day until she was finally discharged. And about that – when we spoke with the attending physician we asked when she thought approximate discharge would be; we were informed that with preemies, they usually don’t discharge them until they are within a week of their original due date as long as everything else is ok. My heart sunk. Our baby was seven weeks early…I thought there is no way I can handle her being in the NICU for six weeks.
It’s the diagnosis no one wants to hear – cancer.
I now feel heartache when watching my husband of almost 17 years play and laugh with our baby. Wondering how much of her life he’ll be able to see. All he ever wanted was children and after a long wait, finally having one of his own that he could cradle, love, and share joy with. I feel a crippling physical pain in my heart thinking about great memories we have, wondering where has all the time gone? Memories keep flooding my mind – fun nights out, time spent with our fur baby, feeling free and as though the future was endless…I think back to the early years – the first 5 years we were together before marriage. We were in college, and the most stressful things in our lives mainly revolved around getting good grades and finishing assignments on time. We constantly laughed, acted goofy, and went out of our way to do something special and unexpected for the other. I look at old photos from that time and think to myself ‘wow, we look so young, so vibrant and happy.’ Nowadays, it sometimes feels as though stress hits from every direction. Long gone are the days of naiveté and silliness. Now we face a cancer diagnosis and further testing, hoping and praying that everything will be ok; that the doctor was able to remove it all and that it hasn’t spread. Even while facing this, I sit here with my beautiful family and feel blessed for what we have and try to remind myself that all we have is this one moment – no one is guaranteed a tomorrow, so we must make the most of the time we have that is right in front of us.
Though she is just an infant, like most parents, I have hopes and dreams for my daughter. I am trying my best to start saving for her education; we are even planning on relocating to be closer to better schools and healthcare, and to have more access to culture, diversity, the arts, and family friendly activities. I want the best for her and for her life to be full and happy. I want her to feel free to express herself and most importantly, to be herself. I want her to not feel afraid letting the world know who she is in love with. I want her to feel as though she has choices when it comes to her well-being and health. I want her to know it is ok if she is unsure about her gender. I want her to grow up respecting the planet and the plants, animals, and people living on it. I want her to know we are all one in the same and to not let hate fester in her heart. I want her to have the freedom to follow her personal spiritual journey. I want her to be strong and independent, and to stand up for what she believes in.
As a side note – I know where I personally stand on political, social, and religious issues, and my intent is not to shove my feelings down someone else’s throat. This is a free country, and with that, we have the freedom to have our own thoughts and feelings, ideas and choices. However, I do find it deeply disturbing what is going on all over the world today. I can’t sit back and pretend I am not bothered by reports of animal abuse, hate crimes and hate speech, different groups of people living in fear, and people passing judgement because someone goes against what they deem as ‘normal.’ At the end of the day, we all share this planet. At the beginning of every day, we have an opportunity – an opportunity to do good, to care about others and not just ourselves, to actually learn and become educated about topics that make us uncomfortable, to realize we don’t know the struggles someone else is facing, and to simply be nice to one another.