Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy Third Survival Anniversary!!!!

Three years ago today our lives changed forever.  Three years ago today my husband left to go to work and had a mini stroke in the driveway.  I took him to the local hospital to make sure that his shunt was still working and right in front of my eyes he had a massive stroke.  The artery on the right side of his brain burst and I watched him flatline in front of me.  I watched them start his heart and load him onto life flight and there they went with the glue that holds my life together.  I couldn't let this day pass without writing about it here on this blog.  I couldn't let this day pass without thanking my Heavenly Father and those doctors and nurses who took care of us during his month long stay at the University of Utah hospital.  It became our home away from home.  I barely saw my children during the entire month but I was where I was needed most.
These last 3 years have been the hardest we have ever had to endure during our thirteen year journey together.  We lost everything.  We were our own little ground zero.  A mess of trauma and tears, separation and fear.  Fear that we would lose our Daddy and my amazing husband.  These last three years have tested us in ways that we never could have imagined.  We have started rebuilding and although it has been a slow process we are starting to see our lives rise from the wreckage of that damned stroke.  My husband is a fighter.  I am so proud of what he has overcome in the last 3 years.  Somewhere whether he knows it or not during those first few hours of that stroke he made the decision to stay with us and fight.  I saw him fight everyday in that hospital.  Some days were good and some days were horrible but we were together and he stayed with me.
I didn't even realize that today was his survival anniversary until half way through the morning.  I am shocked that it didn't dawn on me a few days ago that it was close.  This means that I am healing.  This stroke has lost so much of it's power over us and I am so thankful.  I know the Lord has so much in store for us.  I can feel the changes coming.  I don't know what they will be or when they will happen but we are going to be on our feet again.  We can do hard things!!!







Matt's first day home from outpatient therapy

The staples where they took out the old shunt that failed during the stroke

our little family visiting together in the stroke rehab unit

our first family dinner after the stroke in the hospital cafeteria 

just after surgery number 3 following the stroke, he was doing rather well


cuddling with kids in stroke rehab.  we visited daddy everyday

more staples.  we couldn't even count at this point

day 2 after stroke, he was hanging in there but not breathing well

in stroke rehab and happy to be there

I think I will hate the sight of these for the rest of my life

Hanging out in daddy's room

the day before he got to come home the rehab team took us to the museum to test matts walking abilities

the morning after matt got out of surgery.  Breathing tube is out but he's not looking too hot

more staples

first dinner as a family.  Ivan missed his daddy


just wishing he would wake up
notice the facial swelling on the left, that's where they removed his skull

For those of you that have not heard or experienced the last three years with us, here is the blog post I wrote the day after Matt's stroke:

Today was probably one of the hardest days of my life and I know it was the hardest day of Matt's life. I will say however that reflecting on the events of today it is easy to see how the Lord guided us through every step and every decision we made and left my husband here on earth with me. We are not out of the woods, he has not woken up completely but there is neurological function where before the was none. It has been a long hard day but I will start at the beginning and try to tell you everything that happened.
Matt woke up to go to work this morning and was having a hard time. He was pretty grumpy which is rare for him. He woke me up to say goodbye and I asked him to stay home. We have not had a lot of time together lately and I missed him. Being the faithful employee that he is, he said he could not stay home and headed out the door to work. Being the lazy bed head that I am, I was not out of bed yet. About 10 seconds after Matt left his father Paul had a prompting from the holy ghost to look out the window and when he did he found Matt lying on the ground. He ran out and Matt was just coming around, he had lost consciousness. Paul helped him inside and the kids alerted me that he had fallen. I rushed downstairs and he was on the couch with an ice pack on his forehead where he had hit.
We decided that we better have the shunt evaluated so we got kids off to school and the neighbors and headed for Tooele hospital. On the way he became very nauseated and began vomiting. When we got there he could not walk into the hospital so I grabbed a wheel chair and rushed him inside. I checked him in and we headed to a room in the ER. When we tried to help him out of the chair and into the bed I noticed he could not open his left eye. Honestly I thought he was faking at first just to freak me out, he loves to do that. He tried to talk to the nurse and I but his speech was very slurred and the left side of his face was drooping. It was then that he lost control of his bladder and we knew something was seriously wrong. He was having a stroke right in front of me. They wheeled him to the trauma room and things went from bad to worse. He could no longer breath on his own and so they began cutting off his clothes and intubating him. I was watching from the corner in the room. He was foaming from his mouth and began posturing (worse than a seizure, nurse said you don't usually come back from that) on his right side. They then took him to CT where they found a very large 3 inch hematoma. From there they got him ready and loaded into the air-med helicopter.
My inlaws had come to the hospital and drove me up to the U of U. When I got here he was already in surgery. The trauma surgeon came out to talk to me. He said that there was no neuro function but they did not know if that was from the medication or if he would regain neuro function. We were taken to the surgery waiting room where we stayed for five and a half hours while they worked on him. At one point they came out to tell us they were trying to decide whether to keep the part of the skull they had removed or use a plate. After it was all over the surgeon came to speak with us. He said that Matt's trauma was very severe. He said that when he came in he was on step above brain dead. He explained that they were able to save the bone and that it was an artery that had burst. Matt was a very lucky man according to the surgeon but I prefer blessed :)
From there it was another 3 hours until I could see him. When I did see him he was still intubated and could not open his eyes but he squeezed my hand with his good hand. He was restrained so as not to pull out the breathing tube. They were also using a tube to empty his stomach and he did not like that at all. He didn't know where he was and I can imagine that was very frustrating to him. The night went well and at 6 am his stats were well enough to remove the ventilator. When they took it out they asked him if he knew who I was and he said " that's my wife, I want her...I always want her." I have never been more happy to hear his voice. My heart took a picture.

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