Sunday, June 30, 2013

Monday Morning Heartbreak and Mostly Good News

I had slept very little on Saturday night and I knew I needed as much rest as I could if this grueling experience would drag on as long as predicted. 

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

I finally wised up and turned both my 4G and wi fi off so if the hospital needed to contact me they could but my facebook app could not interrupt my sleep.  I woke sometime in the wee hours, (my fault, not Elliot's, even, since he was having his very first sleepover with Grandpa and Grandma) and my mind went over and over the last 48 hours.  A verse kept floating through and I finally looked it up.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 2  Corinthians 4:16

It was exactly what I needed, I went back to sleep, at peace, waking exactly 7 hours from when I had first laid down.  

I went down stairs, finding Lana asleep on the couch. She sat up groggily as I put my tennis shoes on and told her I was going out for some fresh air and exercise. 

The sky was brilliant blue and the shining sun felt wonderfully hot on my shoulders. I ran to the end of the road, my tennis shoes slapping the ground, my lungs burning until I could go no further. I slowed and continued walking, there I ran into my great-great-Uncle Don, who is in his 80s and runs 7-10 miles a day. He stopped when he recognized me and we had a sweet little visit there on 151st street. He encouraged me and told me how they were praying: Don himself had a skull fracture in the 1980s and had to learn to do everything all over. It felt a little like talking to his big brother, my great Grandfather, and it was so sweet to meet up with him there, thank you, Jesus.  After I left him I started running again.  

If Uncle Don can run and he's over 80, I can run my measly 1.75 miles! 

As I ran, I envisioned my worries lifting off my back, praying that God would truly take them away.   I thought about all the good things God had done and was doing in our lives.  I counted the day as pure joy, I counted my lungs taking in air, our sweet sweet baby boy, being so good and patient, I thought about how God could have taken Brian but didn't, how it was so wonderful that I had worked at the hospital Brian was in for three years- it was almost like home to me, I felt so comfortable there-How God is truly sovereign and that the strange nesting cleaning binge I went on the night before the accident was to put my mind at rest when we spent all our time at the hospital (Not because I was about to leave on vacation, as I had supposed it was.) I thought about how glorious it was that I was not pregnant as we had hoped I would be. I felt so joyful taking in the familiar horses in their pastures and hearing the birds chirping, anticipating waking Brian up that day. I so looked forward to seeing his beautiful blue eyes. Would he know me? Would I see his sweet smile? I didn't know, but I couldn't wait to see what God would do that day.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I got  home to find Lana puttering around and for the first time in days I ate a full meal, thoroughly enjoying a bowl of oatmeal.  We chatted casually, she making plans to run some errands and deciding on dropping me off for some "alone" time with Brian. I put some clothes in the laundry and was sitting quietly at the table, taking a proverbial breath before leap when the phone rang.

This is Jason, I'm one of the PAs working with Dr. Nemecek. They did a STAT CT this morning and the hematoma on the opposite side has started bleeding. We want to take him to the OR as soon as possible, and need you to come in to sign consent. 

Oh Wow. Okay. I was just finishing things up here, I can leave right now. 

We threw ourselves together, the black journal we used as guestbook, the mini laptop and charger, cell phone charger and snacks, Elliot's clothes all got dumped into a handbag and as Lana drove as fast as we dared, I called and texted. Brian's parents, my parents, our siblings, a few close friends and Facebook. I needed those prayers.   Matt Redman's 10000 Reasons came on the radio and I turned it up. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul/ O my soul/Worship His holy name/Sing like never before/O my soul/I'll worship Your holy name /The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning/It's time to sing Your song again/Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me/Let me be singing when the evening comes

The news of the surgery jolted me more than the first time. 

 We were supposed to work on waking him up! He already had a surgery! Please God, be with Brian. Please God, be with the surgeons, Give me strength. Though our bodies are dying every day You are making us new. Please God do that it Brian today.

Lana left me at the front of the hospital and I carried my gear upstairs and left the majority of it in the waiting room.

Hello, I'm the wife of the patient of 5114. I'd like to go see him. And I need to sign some surgery consent.

The volunteer gatekeeper of the ICU gave me a sticker labeling me and ICU family member  and went to see if  it was okay with Brian's nurse for me to go back.  It was such a strange feeling to ask a stranger to go see my husband, the decision entirely up to them.  When the "warden" returned, I went back, walking the long distance with quick steps. 

I found Brian's nurse, Marisyl, a pretty dark woman sorting out his "spaghetti" IV lines in preparation to send him down to surgery. She explained how he had a decreased response to his neuro checks especially on one side, so she sent him for a STAT CT scan which had showed the bleeding.  She got him as ready as she could without the PA coming and also said she wanted to switch out the bed before or after he got back from surgery.  She left for a bit to check on her other patient.

I put the Hans Zimmer Pandora station playing on Brian's baby laptop and pulled the chair up as close as I could to the bed, wanting to be as close as possible. I missed him, and that was only the third morning. I laced his stiff and puffy fingers through mine, and lay my head on the bed next to him. I willed him to lift his hand, to touch my head with all my might, but there was nothing. I poured out my heart to him, telling me how empty our bed was, how quiet our house was in the evenings, how Elliot missed him, how I just wanted to see his beautiful eyes, how I missed his gentle voice, how scared I was of losing him, how much I loved him and how I prayed for him with every breath. I told him how wonderful people were being to us and that my mom was coming on Wednesday. My tears fell on our hands and I wanted him to comfort me with all my heart, but he wasn't there. I told him about the Bible verse coming in the night and so I read that aloud to him and I promise he squeezed my hand at the words.    

 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
7We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
11Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
13But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4.

The PA came in then and I signed the consent, and left them to switch Brian to his different bed.  People had come to the waiting room while I was back and we visited and said hello.  I still hadn't seen my brother, Troy, since the accident, and I had texted him to let him know Brian was going for another surgery.  Shortly after he appeared off the elevator all work boots and construction worker clothes holding two Iris. 

Where did you get these?
I dunno, some house off Hawthorne.
It was so sweet that he had thought of the flowers (poor lady's garden on Hawthorne Boulevard!) and walked off the job to be there. I later learned our sister had called and told him to get there! I rushed to get him back in time to see Brian before he left, and we were just in the nick of time.  He was just rounding the corner to the elevators, so we were able to stop him and Troy say a quick hello.  It was a strange moment when I recognized one of the OR Techs, whose name was also Brian, incidentally.  I could see in his eyes that he wished it wasn't our family, and it wasn't my Brian he was wheeling down. He promised to take good care of Brian, and they were gone. 
We kept our vigil in the waiting room, and made more small talk.  Several church ladies stopped by and they were a welcome encouragement and distraction.  Brian's parents came around then with Elliot.  He had woken them up very early and they were really tired.

An hour later or so the same Neurosurgeon reappeared looking grave.  He smiled when he saw me. 
Brian is still very injured. But I think we got the cause of the bleed. There was a tear in the sagittal sinus, which is a vein along the back of the brain on the dura.  It bled a lot, which is common, I had my colleague's thumb on it holding pressure, we added a local coagulant and got a lot of the other blood out.  I also placed a few sutures which seem to be holding. He's getting a couple of units of blood, and we'll keep a close eye on things.  In fact, he's going straight to CT before he comes here.  His haircut just got worse. But things went as well as can be expected. 
I shook  his hand, took his card and he was gone. 
One person I loved seeing through everything was my sister in law, Liv. She was 8 months pregnant and I had anticipated helping her with her two boys through the last few months of her pregnancy. As it turned out, she took Elliot a few days and I was more of a hindrance than help.  I loved seeing all of our family (don't be hurt, family) but I loved Liv's belly.  I was so excited to meet our nephew or niece (at that time they didn't know) and feeling her round firm belly reminded me of good things and sweet babies.  It gave me hope for our family and I would especially look forward to going to the hospital to meet the newest Wilson and imagine how happy our family would be.  
All three of our nephews and of course Elliot kept everyone entertained and distracted. Lana got to spend a lot of time with them. We really felt what we were missing out on with her in Pasco, we don't get to have her a part of our daily life.  It was such a treat to have her around during everything! I also knew Brian would love to see her if he were at all cognizant. She's one of his favorite people. 
As we sat around and took turns walking around with the boys, we saw Brian being wheeled down the side hall toward the patient elevators to CT.  He had a small patch of bangs that had not been butchered by the OR barbers and it turned up in a perfect rooster tail and bounced as he went. I couldn't help but laugh. It was funny. I hadn't yet seen the forewarned terrible haircut in person, but I could tell from yards away that it was indeed bad. 
The trauma PA from the day before came and found us as we crowded the anteroom and lobby. 
This is the first time since Brian's been here that I have only good news.  The CTs have shown the bleeding to have stabilized, and we found the source! I haven't detected any permanent damage to the brain, though of course it's too early to tell, but that's a good sign. His vitals and labs are good. We are finally on the upward slope. 
A kind smile and she was off, and I was smiling too. 
We went back to be with Brian after shift change and I met his night nurse, tall, blond and viking like. She was straight and to the point which is exactly what I needed. We had a concise visit about my expectations and theirs. AKA, I needed to tell them when I was there as they are waaaaayyyy too busy to check if any family is out in the waiting room, and  I was welcome to be back with Brian as much as I liked. In fact, as he woke up and started squirming they hoped I would be there more. 
It was hard to articulate my desire to not be in the way or be an obnoxious family member (I'd worked in health care too long; I knew they existed) but also be involved. 

We packed everything back up to carry it home, knowing we would only do it all over again tomorrow. 

But that was tomorrow.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Night Watch and Another Day's Vigil

Breathing sighs of relief, we brushed our teeth and I dragged myself to bed, laying Elliot down next to me in the bed that was too big; Brian's empty pillow glaring at me and making me once again accept our new reality. Normally we've been making Elliot sleep in his crib, our bed had been feeling cramped with him thrashing around between us, but I needed someone- especially him close. I hugged him close, hearing his sweet breath and in my mind I could hear the steady woosh woosh of the ventilator as it breathed for the other man I loved.
I was exhausted beyond belief, and still a little shocked. I should have slept for hours, but I couldn't. After updating facebook:

Last CT was stable, Praise the Lord!

It was after midnight that I read some scripture and finally drifted off to sleep fitfully.

It wasn't nightmares, exactly, nor worry, just an uneasy awareness that something was wrong, that my life really had been flipped upside down, that my bed really was empty.

I woke up around 3, head pounding, hungry, thirsty, bile in my throat. I went downstairs to make some toast, chew some tums and take an advil or two. Julie sleeping on the couch heard me rustling and she woke to see if I was okay. I reassured her I was fine, just awake.

I called Annie, Brian's nurse to hear for myself that the ventilator still wooshed and my husband still breathed. She assured me he was fine and urged me to rest. I thanked her and went upstairs to resume my tossing and turning.

My phone buzzed almost nonstop that night. It was wonderful and frustrating to hear the vibrations. Smart phones are marvelous inventions, but the instant updates were too intrusive. Though I was awake, I would check. At 3 it was our Scandinavian friends, “We're praying for you!” At six I could hear our friends and family on the east coast waking up and checking in. A true around the clock prayer vigil.

I finally dragged myself out of bed around 8, happy it was daylight and I could stop pretending to sleep . I fed Elliot and got him dressed and ready to go to church with Julie. I dressed myself with some care, thinking, If Brian wakes up today, I want to look nice. He didn't. But it made me feel better I didn't look as haggard and weary as I felt, though I didn't wear any makeup, not wanting to look like Frankenstein's bride with mascara down my cheeks. I felt fragile and the tears were already at the surface.

Dad and Mom Wilson came and fetched me and we went straight to the hospital instead of for breakfast like planned. The thought of bacon and eggs made me feel like throwing up, so we got a smoothie on the way. I really wanted to be there early to set up church for Brian, but the hospital's internet provider blocks youtube which our church had just switched to.

We said hello, and I squeezed his hand, telling him how happy I was to see him that day. The three of us alternated turns with him and then I lay down to rest in the private waiting room while they took a turn and Phil read some scripture to Brian. I lay there sleeping in fits and this time it was Gwen's phone that kept ringing: I should have told her to take it.

I heard quiet voices talking and it was my friends Patricia and Carissa who had brought lunch from church. It was so wonderful to see friendly faces and I muscled something down, since they had brought it. We had been texting the day before and I had told Patricia, a little tongue in cheek, that I was mad about not being able to lay out in the sunshine. She asked if I wanted her to bottle it and I said YES. She brought a yellow smiley face balloon tied to a water bottle of.... sunshine! It was so cute and cheery and made me smile. I'm assuming the sunshine was lemonade.

Friends and family filtered in all day and I soon had a smoothie, two coffee drinks, a passion tea lemonade and a blended coffee drink lined up on the window sill. Once I realized I was barely a third through my first one and that was making my stomach turn I started passing them out. Elliot was in his glory, drinking smoothies and lemonades, eating all manner of treats.
It was so good to hold his little body close, and he would climb down and creep along the chairs to the next person or treat or fascinating thing. One of the biggest blessings through everything was how well Elliot coped. Better than me, I think! From the very first day till now he would so easily go to the next person and the next place, a little tired but okay. I'm sure it was a combination of his natural good nature, people's prayers and another of God's graces.

The ICU nurses really recommended limiting visitors and midway through the day we kind of stopped going back. For one thing, Brian was really boring. I say that as a joke, but it's true. He just lay there, and after awhile I would run out of things to tell him without his participation. And for another thing, he really just needed to rest.

It was so good to have so much company at the hospital. Honestly, if you came and I didn't get to see you or say so, I appreciate to the bottom of my toes. It helped pass the time, distract me and it was so good to visit and feel a little normal. To this day, if you haven't searched us out, we haven't seen you, so the little socialization I've had have been the people who have made effort. Before the accident I wouldn't have or didn't go visit people at the hospital, thinking they need some time and space, but I think I will stop in on people, even if it's not my immediate family.

The waiting room was mounded with food, snacks and goodies and it was so thoughtful of people to bring it. I've been continually amazed at how thoughtful and creative people are with their giving. WE have been blessed by you.

Towards the afternoon, I felt myself getting more and more tired, and my reserves running very thin. I tried to lay down and rest but the bile I felt the night before came back and I didn't have any tums. The outer waiting room exploded with people as the last service of church was finished. I kind of hid out and let Phil and Gwen play host and thank people for coming.

My friend Carmelle came and talked to me, asking me to be honest and tell her to butt out if she was being too involved. It was too much, the thought of doing so when she had been nothing but help, and thinking of navigating the medical side without her help too scary. I cried and she felt terrible since that had been the first time I had broken down. I buried my face in her shirt and blubbered while frantically trying to get it together because if I didn't stop, maybe I wouldn't or couldn't.

Sweet Becca, a friend who works in the other building of the hospital had procured some tums for me and I chewed a handful while trying to mop my face up.
People cleared out of the waiting room and I went back to see Brian again. He was the same, just resting. I peered into his face, hoping to see some glimmer of himself there, willing him to open his eyes, to talk to me and maybe smile. I picked up his normally thin hand, it was puffy and swollen from IV fluids- I counted 6 IV pumps of different things going in- and I thought to myself how even his hands were different. I was glad we had taken his wedding band off in the ED at Carmelle's thoughtful suggestion and I turned it around and around my thumb. The hospital ID band even seemed tight, but when I mentioned it to the nurse she thought it looked fine.She also mentioned maybe tomorrow they would turn the sedation down and work on helping Brian to wake up. woohoo!

Realizing there was little I could do there, I leaned up on tiptoe, straining to reach around the puffy air mattress and bed rail to kiss the one inch square of uninjured, uncovered skin on his face, right next to his nose.

Goodnight, dear, I'll see you first thing in the morning. I love you so much.

And I left my husband in the hands of another strange woman for the second night.

Lana decided to stay down for the week and not return to the Tricities with Marcus, so she agreed to stay with me for the night until my mom could possibly come. Elliot went home to sleep with Grandma and Grandpa, and Lana needed to get her clothes. I asked our sweet friend Becca if she could drop me off home on her way from work so Lana could go get her things. She agreed, but needed to go get her lunch bag and stuff from her floor, so I sat on a bench out front.

As I waited for her, I thought about how I missed talking to Brian. I missed his easy gentle voice and how he always knows the right thing to say, how he would know what all the technical terms mean, have opinions on medications he was getting and when our mortgage was due, what our best options in general were, and encourage me from the very soul. And he was silent that day. The worry, the emotion, the aching in my heart spilled out.

I became that person.

The stranger that no one makes eye contact with because they're crying their heart out on a bench in public place, all the most important affects in a backpack beside them.

Please, God, make this better. Please, God, fix our life. Please God, Please God, Please God.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day One, Take Two.

He has a pretty bad skull fracture, and we're checking for bleeding on his brain.
The sentence echoed and I think to myself how Dr. Steele has kind eyes. It occured to me that we may not actually be going home that evening. Besides having Elliot, neither of us had ever stayed overnight in the hospital. And of course, that was an excruciatingly painful but a just as excruciatingly joyful experience and I was the patient. 
Brian had a seizure on his way in so he's been intubated to help him rest. 
 Skull Fracture. Intubated. Skull Fracture. Intubated. Skull Fracture. Intubated. 
Sandwiched between Brian's parents with Elliot on my lap, the words seemed to be turned on repeat in my mind. Dr. Steele kept making eye contact with them and I wondered if I look painfully young and they as if they can handle the news better. He rushed off saying he will let us know when he hears the results of the CT and if Brian will need to be rushed to the OR for a thoracic injury.
Liz Crawford, who is one of the trauma PAs we know on the floor came in. It was lovely to see a familiar face, but the surreal feeling wouldn't leave. Are we really in the ED that I've floated to countless times as family members? As Brian's family members?? Liz was the sweetest, offering to call Brian's boss for us and let her know he wouldn't be at work on Tuesday as scheduled. She casually mentioned a fracture in one of his lower neck vertebrae, C7. She explained further about the intubation, that a seizure, being one of the brain's only defense mechanisms after trauma, is quite normal and keeping him sedated would help his brain from repeating as well as help it to begin to heal. 
A woman from admitting came and I thought how macabre it was that they would come and ask billing information in the middle of a trauma, but I also knew it was better now than later. I didn't have his card but since Brian works at Southwest it was fine, she could look it up, she said.
I foolishly asked what floor he would go to from the ED and was told the Intensive Care Unit. I think at that moment the gravity of the situation sunk it a little, though I still felt this steely sort of peace.
Someone came in and asked us to move back a little since they were going to bring Brian back from the CT.  They wheeled the gurney in and though I had been prepared for the intubation, nothing could have prepared me for the swollen, bruised and bloody appearance of his face or actually seeing the tube in his mouth. The left side of his face was unrecognizable. The eye was purple with bruising and the size of a tennis ball.  A cut on his cheekbone oozed blood down the side of his face, as well as an open sore above his ear. The face was swollen as well, and his ear, which was black and blue as well, pressed into the puffiness strangely.  A trauma collar was on and I felt a little sick to my stomach but not emotional.  I felt very much the voyeur when I took pictures of Brian, but I knew he as a nurse would want to see them, when he wakes up.
 Dad and Mom Wilson had a hard time seeing their little boy that way.  I felt distant and far away, yet very present.
We're going to be okay. We're going to be okay. Please, God, keep Brian safe. Please bless Brian with peace and healing and comfort.  Please God, let us be okay.
I tried and tried getting a hold of my mom, who was in the middle of a mother daughter tea at church. Come on, Mom, you know I wouldn't call and interrupt unless it was really important. Mom, pick up! I ended up texting her and my sister Sam and that got their attention, it felt good for them to know what was going on, knowing that they would be praying like crazy.  I also posted on facebook, though the information I had was spotty at best, I know the power of prayer and I wanted as many people to be praying as possible.   Trenton and Rachel got there shortly after and Trenton cried a little when he hugged me, saying
 I'm so sorry, Rosa
I just hugged him back and said it was an accident, though I still didn't know exactly what had happened, or what in the world Brian was doing up int he tree anyway!   He gave me Brian's phone and wallet which I put in the diaper bag, thinking.  
He'll want these when he wakes up.
Dr. Steele came back and we were told that Brian had some facial fractures in addition to the skull fractures.  He also had some bleeding around his brain but they were just going to keep him sedated and do another CT at noon and another at 4pm to make sure it wasn't spreading.
We called our good nurse friend, Carmelle down to the ED from wherever she was working, CVICU, I think, to let her know what was going on.  Brian's her cousin and it really rattled her to see him and hear about his accident. Ignorance really is bliss, I suppose.   They had been joking the night before that "everyone" should go to the beach that day unless we wanted to go visit Carmelle at work.
Don't come see me in the ER, whatever you do! She had said, and there we were.
It was almost exactly 10:00 in the morning, and I remember thinking that Brian was right, when he had said, see you at ten, we just didn't know where. Also, Brian wasn't seeing me, but I was certainly seeing him.
People went in and out around noon they did the CT and then were going to transfer Brian to the ICU, so  I left him to go see Elliot, who was in the waiting room with Grandpa Phil and Uncle Trenton and his wee cousin, Henry.  He was standing up on the back of  a chair playing with wall toys set there for that purpose, unaware of the calamity that had befallen his little family or how very much his sweet little world was going to be turned upside down.  I nursed him and the gang went out to lunch, taking Elliot along.
I went up to the ICU and the waiting room there was half full of other people displaced from their ordinary lives for the waiting twilight zone of the hospital. I ate my sandwich and plugged my cell phone in, thinking it might be a long day and as it's wont to die on a regular day, one full of texts, face book messages and calls I knew it would need every ounce of power. 
I found myself totally alone for the first time that day and couldn't do much more than pray, and pray and pray. As word got out and spread, my phone buzzed almost constantly with encouragement and prayers, kind words and scripture. The love and kindness in people's prayers was tangible to me, and I felt HIS peace surround me with a lovely strength. Seriously, prayer works.
The details blur, but later in the day, Liz came and found me, saying that the bleeding on Brian's brain had spread, which was definitely not what she wanted to say, but thought they would be able to manage it medically and hopefully avoid surgery. 
As I sat with Brian in his quiet room, I tried talking to him and telling him I was there, but my attempts fell flat: he wasn't there, and it felt awkward.
Towards the afternoon, Brian wasn't responding as well to the Neuro checks the Nurse was doing hourly. (Maybe it was every 4? I don't remember for sure.) In any case, one side was diminished and they alerted the doctor.
I then met one of the Neurosurgeons working that day, Dr. Nemecek, and he asked when the accident happened and ordered a stat CT, something with the timeline not adding up and wanting a more recent scan. As it turned out, he was in the OR to do a case when the results came back.
The bleeding had spread again.
The Trauma PA came then and her usually unflappable demeanor was a little spooked.  She said Brian was one of her favorite nurses on the floor, and she wasn't going to lose him if she could help it. Dr. Nemecek was in surgery, but she had pages out to any other local Neurosurgeons if anyone else could come in and do it before Nemecek finished his case. The OR was prepped, anesthesia ready, just missing a doctor. She even said if she thought it would make anything happen any faster that she'd transfer him.
I knew it wasn't good then, and I could only nod and offer to do whatever I could, which was very little besides hold things together.  
Brian's a really good nurse. I'm treating him like he's my brother. I want him in that OR now.

I trust you, and your judgement. Do whatever you need to. And thank you. Thank you for your wonderful care, I remember saying. 

The waiting room had filled and emptied of people stopping in to see us and offer what they could.  I went down with Brian to sign the consent as the doctor was free to do the surgery. He met me at the desk, as cool as a cucumber- though would a Neurosurgeon ever get too hyper, probably not, I hypothesized. He explained what he was doing and a possible list of side affects and adverse reactions and what ifs and maybes including and not limited to death.  I signed it, knowing it was our best option, knowing that Brian's life was (and is) solely in God's hand and somehow, we were going to be okay, no matter what.

No Matter What. 

Of course, that's easy to say now, six weeks later, when everything has gone as good as humanly possible. But the peace I felt in the middle of one of my worst nightmares cannot be denied. That day was one of the "worst" scenarios I could have concocted but I never felt out of "control" (though I wasn't in control in the first place) nor did I feel as afraid or worried as I thought I would be in that situation. I felt tucked gently and closely to the Father's side and upheld by  prayer through it all.  It sounds strange, but believe me: Prayer works.

I waited with a dear sister friend. I can't remember what we talked about, just that her eyes reflected love and caring to me and she was there with me, I think I tried to eat something. The doctor came back, before we even had a chance to head down to the surgical waiting area and I felt so dumb making him track me down.

I was able to evacuate the hematoma off the dura of Brian's brain. I never saw his actual brain, so that's good.  We'll keep a close eye on the blood clots, sometimes they can shift after surgery and we may have to go in and remove it again if that's the case, but again, things are stable for now. He's resting now and  sporting a half shave. His hair will grow back: mine won't. He says, with a large hand on his bald head, and easy smile.  With a whisk of white lab coat, he's gone.

I looked over at Katie and said, I just shook the hand that was in my husbands head minutes ago.

It was a very strange moment and as much as I tried not envisioning Brian's scalp being lifted and his dura exposed to the world, the marvelous brain, swollen and jostled, but synapses still firing and ideas, memories, plans, dreams, life itself beaming underneath, I couldn't not do it. Obviously I was unsuccessful since I've typed it here.

We spent the rest of the day taking turns visiting Brian, updating family and friends and hanging out in the waiting room.

My sweet sweet friend Julie came over to sleep the night in case the 11 o'clock CT showed more bleeding- I wanted to be there when he went to surgery if he needed to, but didn't want to leave baby Elliot home with just Uncle Troy (who can sleep through everything.) 

When I got home I felt emotionally drained, sick to my stomach and bone weary. I could hardly believe I had really left my husband at the hospital under the competent, kind and skilled care of a perfect stranger.  It seemed I had been gone a month not just 12 hours, as if my comforting house should have changed as much as my life and I myself had.

After I had showered off the days grime and stress, we sat chatting in the living room when I got the call. 

Rosa?  This is Annie, from the Hospital?  We got the results back from the last CT. Everything remained stable! You get some rest, and we'll take care of Brian for you, sweetie. 

sweet relief. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day One.

   I've started this blog mainly to help me process the last few weeks messy juxtaposition of love, fear, hope and agony.  It may or may not be interesting to anyone else, but mostly I'm writing for me, and maybe for Brian, himself, so he can see everything that we've gone through while he was asleep. I guess the place to begin is the beginning.

   I almost want to start at before the beginning, but I'll go to the week Before.

I'm a pretty thankful person, and happy.  There's too many wonderful things happening in life, on this green green earth under the bluest of skies to be unhappy. Just thinking about a bright spring day brightens my spirits.  And who would one be thankful to, anyway?  God, of course.

 Looking back to the first week in May I'd say our life was downright idyllic. We have this 1920s house, with vintage glass doorknobs and heavy on the textured wall paper. We've been here a year last Valentine's day and we love every odd nook and cranny.  At least I do, I can't say for my Husband, Brian. It's such a cozy little house with a great big wide porch and we painted most of the rooms cheery, happy colors. The kitchen is my favorite yellow- not mustard, not school bus or sunflower- and the living room Brian's favorite bright blue- we argued the year of our engagement about it being aqua or turquoise or "bright blue."

We have a little boy, who just turned one March 31. He's sweet and chubby, learning everything, everything, everything and I love him to bits. He's one of the best things about life, and he has these big brown eyes that just study you and figure everything out.  He's quite mild mannered, and that makes him sweeter.  He can do baby sign and when his fat hands say "more" or "eat" of course he gets his way! He loves teasing you as much as a one year old can and thinks it's terribly funny to do naughty things.

And then, there's Brian. He's a total sweetheart too. We met 7 years ago at church, started dating 6, and we were married 2 years ago in March. It was the loveliest wedding I've been to. (Of course I'm allowed to say that!) He's tall- to me, though the "short Wilson"- and has a great sense of humor, he's always cracking me up. He can sing and make your heart stop and goosebumps rise and he's really handy, always working out in the yard or on our shop, which burnt down in February. He made me a gorgeous pallet coffee table, which was before we were married and upcycled pallet furniture was all the rage. He's very creative and passionate about whatever hobby he has. Most of his hobbies are dangerous. He loves surfing, snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing and anything that pushes his limits.  Brian has the gentlest of hearts and is one of the kindest men I know.

I had just gotten back from a two week trip to visit my family in North Carolina one last time before my sister's wedding.  It was the longest time we had been apart since we were married and we had been pretty lonesome by the time I got home. There he stood, iced coffee from Dutch Brothers in one hand and a shy sweet smile playing on his mouth.

We had a magical week together, we went on dates in the middle of the week, spending every spare minute together and I loved just being home, cleaning and making things tidy before I was off again, to my friend Bethany's wedding.

The night before Brian's accident, we were just palling around with his sister Lana and her husband Marcus at home, debating if we should go anywhere.  Elliot entertained us all with his clumsy walking attempts and general goof ball ways. He was all wound up between Papa and Uncle Marcus, and I particularly remember him just sitting on Brian's head, giggling to beat the band.  Elliot is a total ham! We went to bed with plans to meet up for brunch at the farmers market.

On Saturday, May 4, 2013, Brian and his brother Trenton left early to go finish some work they had done at a friends house 6 weeks or so earlier. The plan was to clean up the yard of the limbs they had trimmed from the trees.

Brian got up at 8, kissed me softly, saying, "Bye, Dear, see you at ten."

"At Ten," I managed in my sleep, not knowing how precious that sentence would be in the days following.

Around 9 I got up and got ready when my phone rang. Seeing it was Trenton, I answered, thinking, It's just like Brian to forget his phone at home! They're probably going to be late to breakfast.   Instead of Trenton's easy voice, a stranger asked me if I was Rosa Wilson.  Thinking it must be Trenton pranking me somehow I replied that it was she.

The stranger went on to explain that he was the local Fire Chief (Captain? the details have blurred since.)

Your husband has been in an accident. He fell 15 feet from a tree and hit his head pretty hard. 

"Yes, okay,"  I say my voice strangely calm as I notice, as from a distance, that my hand is shaking.

They're rushing him by ambulance to Peace Health South West. That's pretty standard for a fall from that height. You should go there as soon as you can, go to the emergency room and tell them you're Brian's wife. 

"Okay, thank you for calling, I'll go as soon as I can." I hung up and finished dressing Baby Boy, who is all tanned fat and morning grins. As I was getting ready and packing a lunch- it might be a long day- my sweet sweet mother in law, Gwen called and said she and Phil would be over to pick me up and go with me to the ED if I wanted. Which of course sounded okay.

As I waited for them, I heard the sirens wail on their way down 503 and deep down I knew the man I love flew by.

It can't be that bad, I reasoned It sounded pretty routine to bring them by ambulance, I told myself.  But they don't use sirens on just anyone. Trenton wouldn't call 911 for no reason. An annoying voice kept needling.  We'll probably go to the CDU (Clinical Decision Unit) for the day and be discharged this afternoon on pain killers, Brian grumpy and annoyed that he's missed out on one of the most beautiful days of the year and his plans for roofing the shop and rock climbing were interrupted. He was rushed by ambulance. Please, dear God, please let everything be okay. Please, please, please, let everything be okay. Please be with Brian. Please be with Brian. 

When Phil and Gwen came they hugged me and we set off. I know I rattled on about how he was probably going to be fine, vacillating between the two voices in my head, how it's probably just the EMS standard to bring head injuries in, and he's probably got a concussion, and maybe he's not that badly hurt, and the fire chief probably couldn't say either way.

As we drove down the freeway, I was struck with how beautiful of a day it was and how we were going to be standing up Marcus and Lana at the farmers market and how disappointed Brian would be to be BACK at the hospital after he had just worked there two days in a row and there he was, back again on his first day off.

We waited about a minute in the ED after we told the triage nurse who we were. They kindly rushed us right back which also worried me a bit. The room they brought us to was the familiar curtained off room and a Doctor met us on the way, introducing himself to us as the trauma doc on duty. He explained that Brian was in CT scan. Oh, lovely, Brian's going to be so annoyed at paying for all these useless tests, I thought.

  He has a pretty bad skull fracture, but we want to check everything else out too.