Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Life Changing Event

If you told me that May 10, 2013 would be a life changing day for the rest of my life I would have thought you were joking. You see, for the past few months on a Friday night I loved to be home. Why? Because on Friday nights I would go home, relax, eat dinner, and wait for the TV show Fashion Star, to come on and live tweet during the shows to my fellow watchers Christine, Jen, Kim, and that night Lena, & Brandi. Normally we would tweet back and forth about the runway models, the judges attire, or the outfits tweeting  "oh, that outfit is so you!", but this night was different. We all started to watch it but tonight I was not in the game. I had eaten too many weird foods the past few days and that night the show took a backseat to my stomach. At one point I tweeted the girls "I will be watching in bed. I am having an ulcer attack-I am dying in pain!"
 For the next few hrs I began to get even more sick then thinking I may have food poisoning for the amount of vomiting I was doing. It was like clockwork every 10- 15 min. with each time being worse and worse I considered pulling up a pillow and just sleeping next to the toilet. I climbed back into bed. It was getting late and my husband whispered "Jen, I think you need to go to the hospital." If you know me at all...I DO NOT go to hospitals unless I am dying, but tonight I did not argue. I mumbled "Give me 10 min to get sick again..then we can leave". Even with my sickness I was trying to be rational. We were only 15-20 min from the hospital, that should give me time.
He called the ER and told them that we were coming. I became weaker and asked for a gurney, but no they brought a hard wheelchair for me to die in. They brought me into the ER and started to ask me questions. Why do they ask lethargic sick people questions? The next thing I remembered was going for more observation and then someone taking me for a CAT scan. I could barely move onto the table.They asked me to raise my arms for the picture - that was torture from the stomach pain. From there I believe they sent me to a regular room. I was so sick and so incoherent. A doctor came in and told me that I had a twisted small intestine and that they hoped it would straighten out. I remember thinking "How can that happen?"
The next day is a blur. I don't know if it was meds or pain that kept me out of it but all I can remember is my kids and husband coming to see me later in the day. I felt so bad for my daughter, she stayed in the hallway crying. Nurses and Dave, my husband, tried to tell them that I would be OK and that all of the IV's were antibiotics and medicine to help me. Later that night they left me and that's when everything took a turn for the worst.
Every time I would get comfortable and finally sleep someone else would come in to take my blood pressure, give me meds, take my temperature, or take my blood. I was starting to feel like a vampire with all the pins and prick marks all over my body, and they didn't take vials....they took bottles of blood. No kidding! My nurse for the night was Robert. Now when I tell you that I swear that God was watching over me...I mean it, and the nurses he sent to me over the next days had to be hand picked and were my angels. 
It was weird, Robert was about 5'10", older gentleman build, and of all things smelled like my dad, who's name is also Robert, but normally goes by the name of Bob. Robert was my first angel. He was soft spoken, very kind, and kept asking if I needed anything, and meant it. He checked on my a few times that night but it wasn't until he came over to me and touched my arm and called me Darlin' that I knew I had to tell him the resemblance to my dad. he walked into the room and I said to him "I know this is going to sound odd but I swear you were meant to be with me tonight. You remind me of my dad in so many ways. Your cologne, your looks, and he even calls me Darlin'." We laughed and he said to get some rest. 
Later that night I had to call Robert into my room at about 1:00 am. My body started to shake uncontrollable and go into what he called was the "rigors". My temp. spiked to 102.5F and it took 5 blankets to keep my from what I thought was freezing. The next few hours again were a blur until 7 am. At 7 am there is a shift change. At that time the old shift and new shift nurses exchange notes and my history. The new nurse's name was June. June didn't know that the next few hours were going to be crazy for her. I wasn't going to stay with her all day even though she thought so.
Today was Mother's Day. 
"Today I was supposed to be going to Walt Disney World with my kids for the day, I wasn't supposed to be here!"
I said it over and over in my head and when the nurses asked me if I was a mother I said it again. This was not how you are supposed to spend Mother's Day! Why was I here? I eat healthy. I don't smoke. I give back in my community.I am a good person.  I was just fine a few days ago...All of this kept playing over and over in my head. Until, the worst things that could happen happened. My blood pressure started to crash and I was fainting. Nurses started to call nurses and nurses called doctors as I yelled out "I'm fainting please help me!" A nurse put the bp wrap around my arm and I struggled to open my eyes to see it. All I saw was a 45 over 54 and then went out. The next thing I remember was opening my eyes to what must have been a dozen or more white coats and blue uniforms in my room. Some were working on me trying to get more IV's in my arms but they were failing to do so. One even tried my foot. There were IV's in my left and right arms, but nothing was giving. Then the worst experience of the whole week...Potassium drips. If you have not had potssium thru IV let me tell you what it feels like, rubbing alcohol in your veins.The burning was unbearable and I was screaming, crying, and my body was jumping from pain. I begged for them to get it out and finally it stopped. OMG! the worst pain in my life! Then the unthinkable happened. a doctor came in and told me that they needed to operate on me because I had gone septic, a bacterial infection in my small intestine. they needed to take out the diseased portion or it would kill me and they needed to do it fast before it spread. They wanted me to go right then but I couldn't. I needed my husband and kids!! I asked them to call my husband and to wait until he came but I also told them to tell my husband to NOT bring the kids. I could not let them see me like this. I didn't want them to be in a hospital waiting room. At this point I was still their mom and trying to shelter them from this horrible event happening.
My husband arrived at the hospital. Once he got there he was briefed on what had gone on, but I assure you at this point he had missed the show. It was time to go so they wheeled me out of my room on my bed and through the hospital we proceeded to the ER. I was a little foggy, but honestly that was a good thing. There was no time to think, to panic, to even have a thought.The elevator doors opened, it was time to go to get prepped. As we got to the doors they stopped my bed. My husband came to my left and put his head next to mine and cried "I love you Jennie, I need you, please don't leave me." I should have been scared but I wasn't. I held his hand and told him that I would be ok and that I loved him back. He asked me "Do you want me to call anyone or do anything?" I replied "Yes, please call Kimmie!" he looked at me as if to say why. I must have repeated myself 3 times "Just call Kimmie..She will pray with you. Please call her and tell her!"
Kimmie is Kim Requa and I have known each other since our kids have been 3. However, for the last 4 yrs. she has become my running partner and "sol sister". At that moment I felt a strong sense from God who told me to tell Dave to call her. You see, Kim and I started to pray before each race. We do not run a race until a prayer has been said. We have prayed in hotel rooms before heading out, on buses waiting to get off, and yes even the last minute corral prayer.I believe that God has brought us together to strengthen our faith and be supportive of one another and I could not think of a more perfect person to support Dave at that moment. I knew she and he would come together and pray for me and I just had a feeling that I was going to be ok at that moment.
 As I said my goodbyes, I thought of the date one last time and then realized I had never talked to my kids on Mother's Day. Again, if you knew me I would have been crying and freaking out...but something calming was over me that said I would be fine and come out ok.  A part of me whispered "Crap, please don't let me die on Mother's Day God for my kids sake!"

To the ER for prepping.No one was there in that big room except for me. I had 2 new nurses that couldn't of been nicer, more kind, and supportive. I was there a while waiting for the surgeon to come in. I had heard Dave call into the ER and see if I was ok and yes I was still ok. Well, it was time for me to go in... it was my time. The doors opened and it reminded me a video game, The nurse joked "ok pick a door ~ 3 or 4?" I would have picked 3 but nope she took me to 4. It was time for me to go nite nite and that I did.

The next 2 days I was in ICU. I don't remember anything from those 2 days and maybe that was good because I was incubated and had so many IV's, catheters, tubes, EKG wires, and more all over me. Dave said I was funny because I would wake up and ask for a clipboard and try to write things, I don't what I was writing - I really and honestly remember nothing until Monday night when I awoke. They had taken inches out out my intestine because of the blockage and infection. The diagnoses could be Chrohn's Disease. The surgeon had given me not the coolest design on my belly. It was huge going right down the middle of my stomach kind of like a questions mark and with staples.(24 of them I later counted)
I was in so much pain. I was bruised all over my arms from all of the IVs, at one point I heard someone say 17 IVs  because my veins kept failing. I had the worst back pain and I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. When I awoke and they were able to take my breathing tube out I was so happy. It wasn't a thrilling experience but happy to have it out. I looked down and my belly was so swollen. my legs were 3x the size I normally was and I had clubbed feet. Omg! I almost started to cry. It hurt so much. Was I ever going to be 115 lbs again?
I wasn't able to eat food or drink water. I was as dry as the Sahara. I would try to talk but my lips would stick to my teeth in a minute. I was able to have water on a little sponge to put on my lips. Later I asked for ice water and sneaked in some cubes when no one was around. My nurse for the first 2 days was Carrie. My husband said she was the best and watched over me like a hawk. He was supposed to leave at 8pm but Carrie let him stay until about 2 am with me. The next nurse was Mike. Mike I remember. He was from NY and thinking back now I swear he reminded me of the movie Michael with the angel? But he looked and acted like my husband. We cracked a few NY/NJ jokes while I was there and he said I had a strong personality even sedated. lol!
Tues morning I really don't want to talk about. the changing of the nurses was horrible. My new nurse was going to be Kerry, but I had other plans of getting out of there. She was horrible. I had not sat up yet and she threw me in a chair and left me there for 40min legs were falling asleep. I had to use the toilet for the first time and when I was done she told me to sit back down and that she'd come back for me when she could because she had to go do something. I was getting upset. She's going to kill me! But then the ultimate happened. As I got back into bed she took my pain meds trigger thing and clicked it. Yup thats right. This is how people die I swear. I called in the head nurse and cried to her and told her what was going on. She tols me she would try to get me to another room and fast. She did, but not before Kerry came in to put me in a wheel chair and yes! pushed my meds button again!
The next few days weren't too bad, except for the usual... every time I would fall asleep another nurse, doctor, lab person, or someone would come in to shoot me up with numerous antibiotics, steroids,potassium, magnesium, pain meds, blood thinners, IV food, you name it.Then there was breathing treatments, Xrays, and a whole lot of other things.
 The nurses I had were even more fabulous here. Each one of them were special in their own way. Again, gifts from God. Natale, a male nurse, was a little younger than me, about 34.He was with me for 2 nights. His wife was pregnant with their 2nd child and we talked about how all they've been seeing lately is chick flick movies ~ I laughed and we exchanged movies he should see. I told him that I was a runner and at night when it was quiet and I couldn't sleep we would talk about me going to Disneyland in August to run. I told him that I was 3x the size I normally was and wondered when I would be able to run again. he told me not to rush it and that when I was able to I would be fine, but with baby steps. He was one of my favorites.
 My other favorite nurse I had for the next 2 nights was Clarissa. She reminded me of a southern strong belle. She must have been in her 50's. She had red-brown hair and had a Sally Fields way about her. She was another night time nurse. At first I thought she was going to be a tough one, and mentally she was a smart strong minded lady. But, on the inside she had a heart of gold. One of my problems being in the hospital was that my days and nights were all messed up. I would go to sleep but then I would be awake from 2-4 am. Those were actually my most peaceful times though. 2 nights in a row I couldn't sleep so I asked one of my CNA's if I could get up and walk the halls for some PT. They said sure and off I went in my hospital gown, my tubes, and my IV stand as my crutch. I'm not quite sure how fast I was going but if I had to pick a mile per minute I'd probably of said 30min per mile, maybe even a 45mm. -lol. It wasn't fast but each day after I did PR :-)
From Kim
Tracy Burwell
One night Clarissa came into my room and noticed all of the flowers and things that flooded my room. She sat for a few minutes because she was all caught up with her rounds.She asked about who gave them to me. I told her of the most awesome friends that I had. I told her that I was a runner and that some of the flowers came from across the country from team mates that I had met online in my Facebook Group Team runDisney wishing me well. I also told her how awesome everyone was with relaying info about me and that I was shocked to know of the outpouring of concern that was for me. It made me cry just thinking about it. She was amazed and said "Honey, with friends like that you will recover and come back stronger than ever. You just need to rest and you will doing what you love to do someday again". I agreed. I told her of my local girl friends that came to see me during the days. I described them as "My Steel Magnolia Friends". I told her "If you put us all in one room and looked at us, you would never think we were all friends. Each one of us looks so different, is a different age, has different careers, and kids of all ages. But we are moms that God has put together and for some reason we all work."  I thought she was going to pull out the line from Forrest Gump about the box of chocolates, but she just smiled and touched my hand saying "Honey, that's what life is about and sometimes those friends are better than family because there is no judgement" and boy was she right.

As the days grew on I was getting antsy to get out of there, but I have to admit I was scared to go home too. What if I had a relapse? Would I know? What if I jumped the gun and said I wanted to go home and no one could help me at home like they did here? What about meds? I didn't have the answer, but I wanted to go home now. 
My patience was wearing thin with my room mate. She was an old lady that looked like something out of a horror movie. She laid there all day and asked for drugs allllllll day long. I was getting upset because I think she was jipping the system to stay there for meds. I kid you not when I tell you about her... son? or whoever some black guy that came to see her. everyday (Ps she was white) My friends and family witnessed this! Every day like clock work as soon as breakfast would come...he would come in. He talked like JJ Walker so we all nicknamed him JJ. He walked in like Bill Cosby and was a big dude. EVERY DAY he would say "hey women, you better eat all your meal 'cuz you gotta get yo strength up to get your ass home and start cookin. mmm, mmm, that looks good. Watcha got today? well, you better eat it, but if you don't -don't worry it won't go to waste and I'll eat it." I am not joking! The stupidity that came out of that man's mouth was of a 3rd grade education. He stayed for lunch and until dinner came and at every meal he would say the same thing. Then, after dinner was served at 4:30, he would leave for the night until 8 am the next morning and do the same thing. But that wasn't even the worst part about the days. They would keep the TV on all day as loud as they could and both take naps. Then when he left he kept the TV on and would leave as she slept...until she asked for more meds...and then sleep some more....and on and on. I was going mad! I couldn't take it anymore. On Friday morning when the breakfast came I sat up in my bed and sobbed. The nurse came in and asked why I was crying. I told her of what went on for the last few days and I think I lost it! I told her "I want to go home and  I don't need meds I just needed the crazy people to leave.- stupidity I tell ya- stupidity! and If she asks for one more round of pain meds I might scream. She's milking the system!" YUP! I lost it!
The poor nurse looked at me and gave me a hug. She felt bad for me and then proceeded to get me the best gift anyone has ever got me...earphones. Earphones to plug in my ipod or to watch tv. Why couldn't I have had these a few days ago?
That day was the hardest for me. I was done. I wanted to go home. My family came like they always did every night and we talked. I didn't want them to go that night but they had to. As soon as they left it was time for me to get ready to get some sleep. I shut my lights off, I plugged in my earphones, and I logged on to Twitter and Facebook for a while. My cell battery got eaten up fast so I could get on for maybe an hr or two. I read all the well wishes and responded to as many as I could but it took me a long time to text for my brain and fingers didn't cooperate together yet. 
That night the BEST thing made me cry happy tears. First was I noticed that our Team runDisney page pic had been changed and my eye went smack dead to the middle where my pic with Kim stared at me from The Tower of Terror race in September. I loved this pic and I got all teary eyed looking at it. Then, as I texted Kim to ask her if she had seen it she replied "Have you seen the video yet?" I texted back "No" and she sent it over to me.
Marc Acosta from our TeamrunDisney group had made a video
Click here to watch video  from all of our pictures that we had all posted over the years on our group page. The pictures were filled of triumphs, friendships, first time runs, meet ups, and memories that were life changing. As I watched under my covers, with my headphones plugged in I started to cry. The moment was overwhelming. As I laid there all swollen up and barely being able to walk 10 ft to the bathroom, I wondered if and when I would be able to run again. Would I have to cancel my dream trip to California to run Dumbo in August? I wanted to meet these wonderful new friends of mine & share in these memories that were going to e made. As I watched the video a few pictures of Kim & I came up and then a picture of some of the Team runDisney girls and I with our medals from the Sarasota First Watch Half Marathon/Relay. Those pictures were from my favorite races. The song was "Go the distance"... I decided at that moment that would be my theme song until I could run again. It would be a long recovery ahead but as strong willed as I am ~ I know I could do it! I may not PR, I may even get sweeped, but my goal and eye was California. Kim and I had started 2013 with big dreams of getting our Coast 2 Coast medal and living the dream of "going to Disneyland" for a once in a lifetime trip... And I that I had to do. 
I watched the video every night before I went to sleep from the hospital. It became a nighttime ritual- it kept me sane & calmed my nerves.  As I went to sleep I prayed that each night would be my last there. Would Friday be my last day? I would have to see in the morning. 
Friday. "Is today my day to go home?" I asked my new nurse at 7am. "No, I don't think today. You still can't go home. You have one more bag of potassium. It's still too low to go home" UG!That wasn't what I wanted to hear!I called my husband and told him of the news. As everyone texted me asking if today was the day..I texted back "Nope not today". I wanted to bust out of hear bad. I sat in my bed that day and did not get up. I called my daughter and asked her to come and see me after high school because I needed some moral support and she came :-) I was so bummed out. Later that day, my husband and son came. They stayed late and they knew I didn't want them to go, but they had too. Visting hours were well over and Dave had to go to work in the morning. Dave was great in this whole ordeal. He had been taking care of the house, replying  phone calls to family & friends, taking care of the kids at home, and working for the two of us doing my clients and his at work. The man was so tired between work, coming to the hospital, and doing the things at home he barely was getting sleep. the last thing I needed him to do was get sick now. Again that night I watched the video thinking it was going to make me rest but that night was the hell breaker!
I don't know if it was a full moon or what happened that night but all hell broke loose that night. It was not be any means a quiet, normal night. There was a lady across the hall starring at me from her bed. She looked like she was from Zimbabwe (I'm sorry-she did) and she yelled "Nurse...Nurse!" all night long. They even yelled at her to stop. It freaked me out! Then into the same room they wheeled a man in. I'm thinking heart attack. They turned all the lights on in the hall (usually they were turned off like a daycare to basically say goodnight..go to sleep people) and they shined in my room. I was the bed nearest to the hall and bathroom, my weird room mate had the window (which she never opened the blinds). Not only did he have all the lights on but the TV blared from his room all night long. OMG! Mad havoc going on all night. Nurses ran up and down the halls, bells and beepers were going off from the IV drips needing to be replaced. People were yelling all kinds of things. At one point I wasn't sure if I should pick closing the door and dealing with the lady's stench or listening to the craziness in the hall. I chose to ask them to close my door half way. Later that night I awoke to see nurses in my room and talking. I kind of laughed in my sleep and shook my head... They were in my room with the door closed to escape the madness too. I kept my eyes closed but uttered out loud to the nurses "What the hell is going on out there? Is it a full moon? This shit is crazy!" Yes, that's right, I said it!
As Saturday morning rolled around I wondered  if I should even ask if this was my day to go home. My nurse that day walked in and it was a familiar face. She was one of my kids moms I had volunteered with. We exchanged stories and a bit about my stay. She was shocked to see what i had gone through in my chart but said to me "Good news, I think today's the day. I will see if you can go home." I got dressed as I usually do and the new nurse fixed my bed and fluffed my pillows. Today was also the first day for lunch that I could eat something other than liquids. The thought of a cooked carrot and some rice made me thrilled.
Remember Natale, one of my favorite nurses?He was walking the hall and as he walked by he caught a glimpse of me and stopped in my room to say hi. He said "You're still here? Are you going home - is today your day?" I told him I was wishing, hoping, and praying. He asked what I had been doing all day and I told him that I was having a movie marathon and if he wanted to come watch with me. He laughed and said he would keep checking on me and see if he could find things out for me. I told you he was awesome!
I had 5 Doctors that all had to sign off before I could go home. The GI Dr, the surgeon, the Infectious diseases Dr, the Pulmonary Dr, and the Admitting Dr. I thought it would be fast...It took the whole day! One by one they came in and signed off except the GI guy.Where was he? It was now 4pm. Natale popped in to see what was going on and gave me bad news. He noticed that I still had a stent IV line in my neck and said to me "Um, so they haven't taken that out yet?" I said "No, obvoiusly..why?" He replied "Well, you are still going to be here a while because that line directly to your heart. Once they take that out, you have to lie flat and not move for about 45-60 min so you don't bleed out." "Natale! Why did you have to tell me that? Now you have me all freaked out-UG!" He told me to calm down and that I would be fine but now every min that passed I thought...Great, another hour from now!It was close to 6pm I finally had the last Dr signed off and now to take this IV out. Yup, you had to stay there an hour like he said. So I watched the last of my movie and called Dave to bust me out of there.
The minute had finally come for me to go home it was 7pm now. I grabbed my flowers and balloons. Dave brought me clothes and I went to change. Ya know when you get a race shirt that is a little too big? Well, let me be the first to tell you to keep it because you never know when you might need something bigger than you usually wear. That's right... I went home as a runner that day wearing my Tower of Terror 10 miler finisher shirt.
As I hopped into the wheel chair I didn't look back. I stopped and said goodbye to the wonderful nurses that took care of me as night shift was starting and the day shift was going home. Even Clarissa was there that night. I waved as I went by her and she smiled and gave a wave back. They all wished me well, but wait! There was one person not there. Natale.I asked them to page him for I could not go home without saying goodbye. He had been my buddy at night and he was there all day checking in on me. I couldn't go home without a proper good bye. My husband stood there and said he was racing down the hall. I gave him a big hug and told him thank you for everything and off I left. Dave told me that when he hugged me he looked a little flushed and maybe teary eyed. I just said awww.
The doors opened up to the outside world and into the car I went. It was very bright out considering I hadn't sen the out side world for over a week. The air smelled fabulous yet my eyes could not adjust to everything I was seeing. I held my husband's hand in the car and cried "I am so happy to be going home. I am so happy to be alive. I just can't believe this happened." He assured me that I would be Ok and that it would take time to recover. I knew in my heart that that was true, I just had to believe and stay strong.

Every day is a new journey and a day God has given us...
and runners... run for someone who can't and wishes they could.

Thank you to each and every Team runDisney member that has sent me get well wishes,flowers, cards, checked up on me, and has given me so much moral support through direct messages, email, or written on my Fb wall or Twitter.. I can't thank you enough and I hope to celebrate with medals around my neck at Dumbo in August.

To my Fit2Run Ambassador Coconut Point Family: You guys have been a life line to me with your support. I thought you people killed me with all the champagne we drank the night before and no food until after the opening. That was the best night and you all have been awesome towards me. I can't wait for the day that I can come down and walk/run with you and see you're smiling faces, but no more "beer hound" for me :-).  Still waiting on my shirt -lol.
Thank you to my local "Steel Magnolia's" girls that came and saw me and have been keeping me in your know who you are.