Ohhh, You Make me Smile

I heard this song on a blog one day. I wish I could link back to it, but I don’t remember whose or when, but I humbly thank you. It was the song’s video by Uncle Kracker. As soon as I heard it, I knew two things.

Without a doubt, this song was the one I wanted to play for my first dance at the wedding. For two, it was so perfect, it brought tears to my eyes.

What I didn’t know is the two weeks leading up to the wedding…with my friend, my wedding planner, and my new future mom….getting terribly ill; unable to breathe or eat on her own. Recovering from not just a brain aneurysm, but a stroke, pneumonia, and surgery.

I didn’t know that love fights, love stands up, and it rallies side-by-side in this family. It does not abandon that loved one, until they go home. Pride, honor, loyalty – fierce and strong. She is the mom (and dad most of their lives) of three sons. She is the wife and step-mom to her husband, step-son, and step-daughter. She loves, and gives to everyone, and in turn everyone loves and gives back to her.

She made a request to her step-son before her aneurysm to take photographs at the wedding. She especially wanted all her grandchildren in a photo. She is so proud of her family and she has every right to be. I always tell her, I am so lucky to be part of this family, and even from her hospital bed, she answered the same, “We are lucky to have you”.

That is the kind of person she is. Full of heart and pride, it overflows.

So, for one day, we gathered in her support. To don our wedding clothes and shine our love for family, as we grew larger joining two-together in joy, love, and laughter. Although she wasn’t there, it wouldn’t have been possible without her. I think her step-son did a great job with her request. I think when she sees this, she will smile.

I hope you smile with us too, as you view our special 10-10-10 day.

Delicately we move forward

During rush hour in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday night, a critical care ambulance moved Sue to a new hospital near downtown Dallas, and a new ICU bed. A place filled with experts on neurological aneurysms. Experts on cases like hers.
Even before we got to see her, we felt immense relief. We felt it was the right place. We felt the vast difference in everything medical related.

More assuring was the first doctor that came to consult. Letting us know that she was settled and they had a team of surgeons look at what she came in with. They were confident of the procedure they wanted to do, which was NOT open head surgery to clamp the aneurysm, but a coil procedure to fill it and support it. The coil required no opening of the head since they went through the groin area. The presentation of their recommendation was VASTLY different from XYZ hospital. Suddenly the coil, which the experts suggested (not offering a choice), made perfect sense. Why open her brain if it wasn’t the best option? We wouldn’t, of course. It was a win, win all around.

Again, great comfort, and blessing to be moved to this hospital and KNOW they were looking out for HER, and not for what procedure that hadn’t done in a while. Either procedure had been done at that hospital yesterday. It was common practice. If something were to go wrong, they would proceed to the second surgery option immediately and come get her husband’s authorization. Our prayers were answered, we were in good hands.

She was alert and could speak when woken up. In fact, she has been alert, talking, and moving from day one, which is very encouraging to us. She gave the doctors her medical history herself. She held our hand and said she loved us as many times as we held hers and told her the same thing. She passed all the tests from the neuro exam except her left side was weak and only moved when pushing on the pressure points. We considered that being part of the brain pressure from the aneurysm.

The proper medical term for her condition is subarachnoid hemorrhage.

    sub·arach·noid definition
    Function: adj
    1 : situated or occurring under the arachnoid membrane
    2 : of, relating to, or involving the subarachnoid space and the fluid within it

It’s referring to where her bleeding occurred. Basically, it’s something that was already there. A bubble if you will. What happened is this bubble, she has had all her life, suddenly split and started bleeding into her brain. I say all that, because she has been confused by others as having a stroke. She DID not have a stroke. She had an aneurysm and 40% don’t live through it, because normally they burst, not split. When it ruptures vs leaks, it is instant death.

Yesterday morning, they did the coil surgery. We are assured her recovery in ICU is approximately fourteen days. As you know, fourteen days is nothing. A walk in the park and knowing her, she will somehow, someway swing a day pass to the wedding. Either way, I am just happy she WILL recover. I have no doubt, something awful would have happened at XYZ hospital. I could feel it. I don’t feel that way at this hospital. The surgery procedure has a 92-95% success rate. Not to mention, it’s all being handled before the 72 hour window of time.

However, when the surgeon comes back, it’s not as simple as we hoped. They weren’t able to insert enough coils. They did get quite a few in. It will stop any re-bleed from happening – all good. The bad….another coil surgery in two weeks, plus a shunt to put in underneath the coils to help support that area; in other words two more weeks of delicate care, not recovery care like we hoped. The news that knocked me in the stomach was the fact that during the scans they discovered a clot in her brain about 24 hours old, occurring at XYZ hospital, it was too old to fix it. THIS was in fact a stroke, and THAT was the reason for her left side weakness.

I know I should be positive and blessed and praising all involved and I am. She is still with us. She is still able to move her right side (and at time of post her left leg). She will, with time and therapy, regain full function (after the second coil surgery and recovery). But it will be a long, hard road. I hate that for her.

She is missing those little grandbaby hugs, that she needs and they need. Missing those tight little embraces that only Grandma Sue can give. An embrace to find love, and reassurance. Can I just for one second grieve the loss of that, for them and for her, and for us, just for this little while? I know she is going to miss giving them and they will miss receiving them. Not for fourteen days, but for at least six weeks, and quite possible months.

The heartbeat of the wedding lays in a critical care bed. Her magic wedding fingertips restrained to keep from pulling tubes. The excitement and plans she made locked under a bandage, all hope of her recovery in time for her son’s big day – shattered. All I can do is pray the magic revives coming back to honor her. To spark new life for the hard work she has already done.

I hope I will find the strength to finish what we started and make her proud. But just for a minute, can I be sad? Can I miss that she won’t be there? Can I say this is one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with? The family has ever dealt with?

It’s not like either of us have many parents or grandparents. In fact between us, we have three. My mom, his mom, and step dad. That’s it.

No living grandparents and no fathers.

It’s hard for me to focus on anything wedding without thinking of her and hurting. I’m not sad for me. I’m sad for HER. I’m sad for Jason, but mostly I miss my friend. I miss our planning. I miss our shopping and designing. I would give anything to have her health back. In fact, we have all made up our Christmas wish lists for the next dozen seasons – her health – the only thing listed.

It is a long road ahead, but we will continue by her side supporting her until her full recovery. I will drive to Dallas EVERY day. I know the way and the garage well. Jason is staying some nights there. We have been fighting our own physical illness – fever and chills (stress?), it only lasts a few hours at night, but I guess the swallowed fear has to come out some way.

In a little more than a week we will adorn handsome men, and fairytale princesses with the flowers made by her loving hands. I am still blown away by the beauty and delicacy they behold. It reminds me of her. Beautiful. Soft. Strong.

Made by Sue for the wedding, two days before hemorrhage.

Wedding flower table vases sitting out in her dining room.

Thank-you for your continued prayers. Please know how much we appreciate them in this difficult time, we take day by day.