Thursday, December 1, 2016

One Year Heartiversary

Today was the day, exactly one year ago, that Kyle underwent heart surgery to fix his Mitral Valve Regurgitation. It was the scariest day of my life...at that point...and one that will forever and ever and ever be etched into my memory. I honestly haven't shared much about that day, or how he has been doing since this post over a year ago, mainly because it's just too painful and emotional to bring up and write about...still. But today is a very monumental day and one I don't want to forget, so I'm sharing a little trip down memory lane with you all.

Last November was the scariest time of my life. I can remember the day perfectly. Kyle left for an appointment, I had this gut feeling that I should be there with him, and when minutes, and then hours went by before I heard from him...I knew something was wrong. The second he walked into the door, the look on his face sent me into paranoia. I knew something was bad, really really bad. He came out and told me he had to have heart surgery, and I stood there in shock. Still, a year later, I get that same sick feeling just thinking about hearing those words. 

November sent us through doctors appointments, hospital procedures, long days of worrying, long days of waiting for results, planning, planning on how we're going to go through with this surgery with two little kids at home (one who was still breastfeeding and wanted momma all the time). It was scary. It was emotional. It was stressful. I had to spend that month holding it together for Kyle, when really every day I struggled to not break down and tell him how scared I was of losing him. Because in the end, that was a possibility that this may not work and he could die. I barely slept most nights, as I would just lie in bed looking at him and wondering "could this be the last time I get to see him laying here?". It was awful. 

The night before his surgery, his parents and brother had come down to be there with us. We had a big family dinner, and although I know Kyle's head was nowhere even close to being with us, he put on a happy front. We both slept awful that night. Again, I just wanted to look at him. Watch him breath. Watch his presence just being there next to me, because I prayed so hard that this wouldn't be it. This couldn't be it. That everything would be ok, his heart would be fixed and our lives would keep on going. His alarm went off first, and I wanted to throw up. The time had come to go to the hospital. 
Everything about that day is so clear to me. What he was wearing. What I was wearing. The decorations in the hospital lobby. Taking a last picture together in front of the Christmas tree. Holding onto his ring. The elevator ride to pre-op. Watching him walk down the hallway to pre-op, before we were able to go see him before they took him for surgery. I counted his footsteps. It's this weird thing I do in times of stress...I find things to count or to divert my attention quickly. Tears were welling up inside me, but thank goodness his brother came along with us that early before his parents followed later in the morning. We were able to see Kyle...very briefly...before his surgery. He was laying in this cold, sterile room, with a few IV's already hooked up to him. He looked scared beyond belief, and that was truly the first time I really saw it on him. We said our good-byes, and I just wanted to crawl into that bed with him and say "take me with you!". I had never felt so terrified in my life as I did that moment of walking away. Touching his hand one last time, telling him I loved him one last time...

Walking back to the lobby was comparable to someone sitting on top of me and strangling me. I thought I was going to throw up, I couldn't breath, I felt like the world was spinning around me and I was so dizzy. We grabbed a bit to eat, or else I really would have passed out, and then waited. And waited. And waited some more. Hours went by, and with each hour that passed I was so worried and anxious and scared. 

FINALLY...the doctor came out, and let us know everything went great! It was music to my ears and all I wanted was to go see Kyle. Hours went by before we could do that. The volunteer came and escorted us to ICU. Walking down this dark tunnel, making it to the ICU doors, waiting to be buzzed in...I kept telling myself "Don't be scared when you see him. This is all going to be temporary.". But truthfully, nothing in the world can ever, ever, EVER prepare you to see your husband lying on a hospital bed with more tubes and IV's coming out of him that you can count, machines everywhere making sure he's still alive, a breathing tube down his throat, giant temperature controlled blankets padding him, a PIC line coming out of his neck the size of a tree trunk, and him being completely out of it. I though I was "prepared" to keep it together, but I felt like a 3 year old girl just wanting someone to wake her up from an awful dream. I almost passed out, and had to sit on a chair outside his room. It was too much for me. And I cried. I lost it. Right there in the ICU, sitting outside his room, I lost it.
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We had to leave for a bit so they could attempt to take his breathing tube out, and would let us know when we could see him again one last time that night. I had to lay out in the waiting room with a washcloth on my head because I still felt like I was going to pass out. It had been such a long day. And while I was beyond thankful Kyle was alive, I just wanted him to be "normal". I wanted him to smile at me, and joke around with him, to hug him without worrying over how much pain I was probably causing him. We got to see him one last time, with the tube out, but he was still so groggy from the anesthesia that we barely got to interact with him. I can remember holding his hand, he opened his eyes and looked at me, and mouthed "I love you". It was the most incredible feeling that I just can't even explain. I felt like "Thank you God, for providing me with this moment. This reassurance I needed that Kyle will be back....one day...he'll be my same man I love". 
That week in the hospital was rough. Filled with lots of highs and lows. The first night in his recovery room was hard to see. He was in so much pain, the medication they were given him was making him hallucinate, almost, and nothing was helping with the pain. I wanted so badly to make him better, to at least let him get some rest, but that was probably the hardest night we had. Slowly he began taking small steps out of his bed. Then he would take small steps out of his room and back. Then he worked his way up to down the hallway, to walking through the hospital atrium! He still had most of his drainage tubes in, the giant PIC line in his neck, but I have never seen someone so motivated, so hard working and determined to recover. He amazed me every single day...through the pain and everything. I fell in love with him, all over again and in ways I never knew existed that week. He truly is my superhero.

I couldn't wait to get him home and to see the girls. The girls missed daddy and I'm sure wanted their life to go back to normal, too. The day finally came to bust him out of the hospital. I brought Kinsley with me, with balloons, to surprise him. She was so excited to go see her daddy, and I knew it would make him smile so big to finally get to see her. Taking him home felt like bringing home a new, shiny baby. Except this one I didn't give birth too, and was 6 feet taller than most babies. Life at home for the next few weeks was hard for him. He barely took any pain medication, which I was so surprised by, and was a true warrior through it all. The couch was his new best friend and bed, and Christmas movies were on repeat at our house. All I know is I was beyond thrilled to see him laying there. He could have laid there for the next 6 months and I would have been ok...because it meant that he was alive and he was home! 

He went through cardiac rehab (with 99% of the other patients being over the age of 80), until April of this year. He spent months trying to gain his energy back, work out safely with nurses watching him, and learn how to keep his heart healthy. At his follow up appointments, everyone reassured him that his heart sounded great, they didn't hear any leakage coming out and that the repair was a giant success!!! We went through a big move to his hometown of Titusville, he accepted a head coaching position, and life feels somewhat normal again. Our newest baby on the way holds a very, very special place in my heart. Maybe that's why I'm so attached to this baby and so excited over it? Because this time a year ago, I never knew what the status of my life would be at today. I didn't know if Kyle would make it out ok. I didn't know if everything would be fine. I certainly didn't know if more kids would ever be in our future. We were blessed with this surprise baby. And finding out it was a boy was the cherry on top. A boy...for Kyle. God works in mysterious ways, and I truly feel like this baby was sent to us, all wrapped up in a boy form because of everything we had gone through this past year. When I feel this baby kick every day, I am reminded of how lucky we are. How I once feared we could never had another baby, and here he is letting me know that life is pretty good right now. And he is going to grow up with the most amazing, incredible and loving father any kid could ever ask for. 

Kyle, I just can't tell you enough how lucky I am to be your wife. I thought I loved you the day we got married, but I love you more now than I ever did then. You make me so proud, and seeing how far you have come from this day a year ago just blows my mind. Watching a machine help you breathe, to watching you take two steps (that were incredibly difficult to do at first), to walking the hospital atrium late at night because you felt like you could do it....every day in that hospital I was so proud to be by your side. You are the strongest warrior I know, and I thank God every single day he blessed me with you. You have filled my life with nothing but happiness. You have given me a life I never knew I could have, or deserved. You gave me the greatest blessings of my life...our kids. Today, you're even more incredible than you have ever been and watching you with our girls, and soon to be son...watching you coach your team...watching how much work and dedication you have put into building this incredible basketball program here in your hometown, amazes me. I just love you so much. Words can never explain how much you mean to me. But all I can say is...I'm happy you're alive. I'm happy we still get to build our love story together. I'm happy we have the most beautiful family, and I can't wait to see the father/son relationship you'll have with Baby W. Happy One Year!

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