I am thankful to my friend Kelly for sharing her words today. She and I met in graduate school at UNL. More recently I’ve loved seeing her as a new a grandma as she shares pictures on Facebook. Not only is she smart and kind, she’s one of the bravest and truest women I’ve met. Thank you Kelly.
November 28, 2010 is a day that will forever be ingrained in my mind. I was ironing my clothes for the week, something I always did on a Sunday night. I heard my husband, Jim, making some rather strange noises, almost like he was having a nightmare, in the family room. I went to check on him and he kept reassuring me that he was ok. Within minutes, he was unconscious. I called 911 and screamed for my daughter Molly. As I was talking to the 911 operator, my husband stopped breathing, so my CPR training kicked in, and I was breathing for him until the EMT’s arrived. As they were wheeling my husband out to the ambulance, they told me where they were taking him and that it didn’t look good.
Driving to the hospital with my heart in my throat, I was praying every step of the way, “Please God, let him be ok.” Sitting in the Emergency waiting room, I was surrounded by family and friends, all praying and waiting. A neurologist came to speak to me and told me my husband was as sick as any human could be. My brother, an Emergency doctor, told me to prepare myself and my daughters for three possible outcomes: he makes it out of this ok, he would be permanently brain damaged, or he would die. I would later learn that Jim had about a 7% chance of survival. Talk about bringing me to my knees!
I was told that Jim had suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm and he had bleeding on the brain. When a body experiences that trauma, it usually sends confusing messages to other parts of the body and they begin to shut down. The most common outcome is death. Jim was a runner and was in amazing physical condition. That saved his life. His body was strong enough to overcome those messages and keep him breathing and his heart beating. Thank you, God!
Jim spent six weeks in the ICU at the Nebraska Medical Center. He was surrounded by amazing nurses and outstanding doctors. My daughters and I were surrounded by family, friends, church family, co-workers, and even my third grade students. We never wanted for anything and felt support and love from all of them. Thank you, God!
After his six-week stint in the ICU, Jim was finally moved to the neurology floor for a week before being transferred to Madonna in Lincoln for two weeks. We truly thought we had dodged a bullet, as Jim could walk, talk, eat, and function as a normal adult. He came home, and we thought we had put all of this behind us.
We later found out that the blood from Jim’s brain had traveled down his spine and was causing scar tissue to form. The blood also pooled in his left eye socket, scar tissue was forming there, too. He had a surgery to remove the scar tissue in his eye, but it was too severe, so he lost vision in his eye. As the scar tissue continued to pull on his spinal cord, his walking began to worsen. Jim endured three different back surgeries trying to remove the scar tissue in his spine, but to no avail. He now walks with the use of an AFO, a cane, and sometimes a walker. The spine has also affected other areas of Jim’s body and has made it difficult for him to travel and do some of the day-to-day things we all take for granted.
This November will mark the 8-year anniversary of almost losing my amazing husband. So first and foremost, I am so grateful that I have had the past 8 years with him, and for the 33 ½ years being married to him. I am grateful he got to see Molly graduate from High School and college. I am grateful he was around to see Maggie graduate from college. I am grateful that my husband encouraged me to pursue my doctorate and supported me at the age of 49 to switch careers and move to teaching higher education. I am so very grateful Jim was able to walk Maggie and Molly down the aisle on their wedding days. I am grateful he was around to see both of his daughters become gainfully employed educators. I am grateful he was here to celebrate the birth of our first grandchild this past May. I am grateful that I still have my very best friend to spend my time with. He is a living, breathing example of God’s miracles on Earth. Thank you, God!