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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Happy Survivalversary

One year ago I got a call that Todd was very sick, and had been taken by ambulance to Jordan Valley Hospital. Oh, you mean VERY sick. I had no idea how sick until I arrived, and learned that he was unable to communicate, open his eyes, etc. Todd's dad met me there, and someone came eventually and took Oliver, the first of many times that I can't remember where he was or who he was with. Thankfully I knew he was safe and loved and cared for, and at that time, that was all the thought I could spare.

One year ago I truly didn't know if Todd was going to live or die. And the hospital staff wasn't super helpful either. I remember asking one Dr. "He is going to wake up eventually, isn't he?" And her response was "I hope so." They didn't even know what was wrong with him, and we heard everything from pneumonia to meningitis to epilepsy. But not stroke, because "he didn't meet the typical picture of a stroke" in that he was young, couldn't communicate, but could squeeze with both hands.

One year ago I was faced with the definite possibility of my life changing very drastically and very tragically. One year ago I didn't have the faintest clue how I was going to get through the terrifyingly unknown future.

If you could have told me one year ago where our family would be today, I'm not sure I would have believed you. I don't think I would have dared hope. From the darkest time in our lives, we have come through to an increasingly bright future.

Todd lives. He is here for me to hold and love, and to raise Oliver and teach him. He can eat. He can swallow. He can talk and communicate. He can understand. He can bathe and dress and shave and brush his teeth. He can stand, he can walk, he can drive. He can take out the trash, mow the lawn, vacuum, make the bed, clean up after Oliver. He can get himself out of bed, and get himself up and moving. He can WORK!

He still struggles with fatigue, and with his vision, and therefore, sometimes, with his balance. He still has difficulty in communication, both expressive and receptive. There are still glitches in his brain. He still has trouble integrating his senses, and thus they can overwhelm him. It has been a long road back, with big leaps at first, then smaller and smaller steps. There have been many dark times, with regressions and plateaus, but he has continued to improve.

Things happen for a reason, and some changes have been for the better. Even he realizes that some of the changes in him could not have come about any other way. He has been tempered in every respect. He is slower, more careful, thoughtful, and deliberate. More considerate and kind. More prayerful. The important things remain intact, like his loyalty, his work ethic, his love of others. He was always a good husband, but now has become a great one.

Today my heart is filled with gratitude. For the many prayers and fasts and works that were performed in our behalf, which carried me when I couldn't cope on my own. For good neighbors, good friends, and great family. For the doctors, nurses, therapists and aids who work tirelessly in their professions. For my faith and testimony which got me through the hardest moments. For the many, many blessings which were in place long before we knew we'd need them. And most of all, for Todd. For not giving up when that would have been the easiest thing. For his hard work and endurance. For his love, his strength, his companionship, his courage. I'm so grateful that, for what ever reason, Heavenly Father didn't see fit to take him Home last year. I, too, have grown over the last year, and we have grown together.

I love you babe. Truly, madly, deeply, and forever.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Family vacation, attempt #dos

We took a little trip, the three of us.

After making it through a week of hell, in losing one of our dear friends (my best friend) to a pulmonary embolism, and the ensuing funeral, we hurriedly packed up our crap and headed out as one car in a five-car caravan to a family reunion in Yellowstone.

Attempt #1 at a family trip was back in Jan, when we went with Todd's family to southern Utah for his niece Kamry's baptism, which was successful only in that we all made it back alive. It was not fun, relaxing, or enjoyable. Todd had melt downs, didn't get enough rest or quiet, I was single-parenting a kid who still needed naps and wasn't getting them, (and refused to sleep in the car) and we were packed into a condo (albeit a nice one!) with 9 other people.

It's amazing what a difference 6 months can make. Oliver has grown up a little, and can get by for a few days with no nap (because he still stalwartly refuses to sleep in the car) and Todd has by now had several important improvements which made it far more possible for all of us to enjoy ourselves, including:
  • his medications being stablized
  • getting quality sleep using his CPAP consistantly
  • reduction in needed sleep down to a manageable amount (around 12 hrs)
  • increased attention span
  • ability to see his limits before he reaches them, and give himself breaks/time outs (usually)
We stayed in a cabin with one of my little sisters and her family. We had a bed. We had electricity (which was vital for running the CPAP so Todd could sleep, so I could sleep, and a loud fan so Oliver could sleep.) We had a bathroom. We had a refridgerator. Yes I know, not technically camping, but it was the closest I think this family will get for the time being. And maybe ever.

We drove through Yellowstone, saw some buffalo (and did not approach them or get gored), watched Old Faithful errupt, oogled some construction vehicles (Oliver's favorite part) and broke some federal laws (in our defence, though apparently it should be obvious, there were no signs posted about not walking on white sand.) We rode our bikes, and toasted marshmallows, and threw rocks in the lake (I skipped one 5 times, a personal record) took Oliver on a motor boat (LOVED it) ate a lot, talkied while we walkied, and celebrated Todd's birthday with a heart attack on the cabin and surprise brownies and ice cream.

I took very few pictures, and even less video. I wish I could have, but life is what it is, and at this moment in mine there isn't much room for documentation. So hopefully we made some good solid memories.

We planned on staying until Saturday and rolling out after breakfast, but an unforseen storm threatened to blow some of our group's tents into the lake. So they packed it up Friday night, and as we were planning on caravaning with them the next day, and were already mostly packed thanks to a mix up in reservations, and as we had by that time had all the fun we could stand, we headed out as well.

We got to Pocatello, which was about the half way mark, by about 1:00 am. Todd had driven the entire time, and was doing well, but I didn't trust either of our abilities to stay awake for an additional 3 hours, so we wound up in a Best Western room with another sister and her family, and can I just say....

Best $50 we've ever spent.

We had a lovely comfy bed with a poufy comforter and feather pillows, soft water, AC, Bath and Body Works toiletries, and best of all, a decent night's sleep. For most of us. Oliver woke up at 5:00 coughing, wheezing crying, screaming, and threatening to perfom his own special version of Old Faithful, so I was up with him for an hour or so sitting in the bathroom and doing breathing treatments. Everyone else was so dead to the world they didn't even hear him.

The next morning we woke up late, had an amazing (free) breakfast of waffles, doughnuts, cereal, juice, hot cocoa, buiscits and gravy, eggs and bacon. Best continental breakfast ever! Then we went swimming in the pool, which was great, since I hadn't had a chance to use my brand new bathing suit. Oliver loved it like a fat kid loves cake. He wasn't scared of the water at all, and it was nice and warm. He held on pretty well while Todd and I swam him around, he didn't cry when I dunked him under the water, and even put his own face in the water several times, without crying. He drank more than his share of pool water (just don't think about it) and got some great exercise and balancing practice standing on the steps up to his shoulders in the water. And even loving it as much as he did, he didn't cry when we told him it was time to go.

After we checked out we went to find a shady place to eat our picnic lunch (pita sandwiches and all kinds of camping type goodies) and ended up on the lawn of an LDS meeting house. We felt right at home. Especially when Oliver threw up all over the picnic blanket. Just like at home.

We made it home just in time to drop off some stuff, unload bikes and head out to Herriman for briskett and smoked beans and the most delicious ultimate strawberry tall cake at Todd's brother's house, when Oliver started wheezing again, and we had to pack it up early. We picked up the pups, who were having a sleep over at Papa Al's, and got home in time for bed. Thanks to a dose of steroids and the inhaler, Oliver seems right as rain, though behind on sleep, today. Todd is putting him down for a nap, and if I'm not mistaken, is probably taking one himself. Which is precicely what my plans are next.

And that, my friends, is that.