Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy 2nd ARDSiversary

This week marks the two year anniversary of Marty's near-death ARDS experience.  In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, and in others it feels like it was just yesterday. I've been both dreading and anticipating it this year because I have the TimeHop app on my phone, and I knew it would bring up my Facebook updates from that time in our history. I'm sure it sounds a little bit crazy, but it's something I never want to forget. The raw emotions of the whole experience are an important fingerprint on my life. It changed me forever, helped me not to take things for granted, so as painful as it is, I need to remember it.

TimeHop is not disappointing me:
That particular day was the absolute worst of my whole life. It's a blur of sitting in the ICU waiting room, doctors and nurses updating me periodically with numbers I didn't understand.  The part of the day I remember most vividly is actually that night. Marty was too unstable for me to comfortably go home.  I slept at the hospital that night, my mother-in-law and sister with me in the waiting room with the lights that wouldn't turn off, much less dim. Everyone finally fell into restless sleep around midnight--everyone except me. I lay there in that uncomfortable chair covered in hospital linens that have that bleached-out, sterile smell that you only find in hospitals. I laid there and I cried. I cried more than I've ever cried in my entire life. Every single time I closed my eyes, all I could picture was my children without their father. Me telling them that he was gone.  Their reactions. It absolutely shattered me. It was the kind of grief that you only experience a few times in your life. The kind that changes you.

These days, things are pretty good.  During Marty's last hospitalization, we discovered that he has significant sleep apnea, most likely caused by the brain tumor he had in his 20s. Since then, he has used a C-PAP machine, which has both helped his apnea issues and his drainage/aspiration issues. Having the constant blast of air has really kept his lungs drier, for lack of a better word.  He had a cold this past week, and for the first time in YEARS--and I mean YEARS--he didn't wake up one morning with lung crackles and rattling. His chest stayed completely clear. Between sleeping in a recliner that keeps him at an upright angle and using the C-PAP, we are figuring out how to keep him healthier.

So, in a time when things are completely hectic--both kids are getting used to school and the boy is still struggling with PE, work is busy for both of us and some days are just plain hard--those are the things that make me grateful.  Grateful that things worked out, despite how grim they seemed on the date of the picture posted above. Even on the craziest days, I'll never take our insane lives for granted.

(If you're interested in reading more about ARDS, including stories of people just like Marty, visit the ARDS Foundation here. )

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