#brokenpromesistothunderthighs is really what I texted a good friend last night after inviting her dinner. Sounds like I fell off a dieting wagon but no, that’s not it. We have a different set of friends in town that my husband has known for over 20 years. He texted them earlier in the day asking if they would like to go to dinner that night. We didn’t receive a response, which is pretty common when it comes to these friends. During an earlier visit a few years back, we had been texting about a goodbye dinner and didn’t receive a response until they had already sat down, ordered, and then texted us and got a little bit annoyed with us that we weren’t going to come join them. Communication is not their strong point. 

So back to last night, no response, so it being the end of the work week, I decided a date with a bubble bath, a cold Dr. Pepper and my phone with the live feed of the Giraffe that just won’t pop already, was going to be how I would spend my evening. Jeans off and sweat pants on! Sounds like heaven. 

My simple plan became complicated when I turned on the water to the tub and it was a tan color. Looks like the water district had done some repairs down the road.  So having to run the water through the pipes for about 20 minutes delayed my much desired bath and once I got in, bubbles and and all, I realized my mistake. I had run the water on hot instead of cold when flushing out the pipes so now my water is barely warm. I’m not a quitter though. I had the giraffe feed ready to go so I figured I could hold out until the water heater warms back up. As I’m soaking in water much too cold for my liking, our dog starts to go nuts. Our friends had come over. They were expecting to go to dinner. My husband appears in the bathroom to give me the news. Now I have to rush to dry my hair that had partly gotten wet, get dressed and head back out. I would’ve said sorry guys but no communication, pants are off, dinner is a no go. I can’t really do that though. My husband really wanted to go and he’s not to a point where he is allowed to drive yet. He wouldn’t go if I didn’t take him. 

Since we’re all friends from high school, over 20 years, I quickly text my good friend in our group to see if her family wanted to join us. Me being me, I just can’t say hey late notice dinner, join if your free. That just wouldn’t be me at all. So I invite her and ask her to please cry for my thunder thighs. The jeans just went back on after I promised them sweats. I ended the thext with #brokenpromisestothunderthighs.

When your husband is recovering from two traumatic brain injuries that had him thumb wrestling with the Grim Reaper, you tend to break those promises to your sweat pants and thighs. You put him first just to see that smile come out when he is out with your group of friends laughing about God knows what. 

You also end up creating hash tags that make your friend laugh but also question their judgment in choosing you as their friend. 

The road of recovery is a long one where you have no clue as to the direction in which your going. It also a blessing and the best gift ever received. I could be alone and having to visit my husband through memories and dreams. Instead we get to create new memories with friends that make you put your jeans back on.


Missing him

I miss him. Although he is beside me each night, I still miss him. I miss that safety that came along with him. Knowing that no matter how big the issue was, he would either solve it or stay by my side through it. The safety is gone and at times the tears just fall. I just miss him. The walks at night when we used to talk about anything and everything are no longer there. Excitement over our future is now replaced with a fear that I can’t seem to conquer. Am I going to be enough for this whole family to survive? Everyone is hurting in such different ways and I can’t make anything better. The feeling of failure is always right beneath the surface and I don’t know if I am strong enough to make it through this. 

I am lucky though. I still have him. He sleeps next to me each night and wakes up to tell me he loves me each morning. I push down my fears and love him with all my heart, determined to make it through the day. 

But oh how I miss him. I miss us. I just want to be okay again. 

You’re not sorry you did it. You’re sorry I found out.

“As always, thank you for sharing. I appreciate you.” 

Being on the receiving end of those words should make me happy or feel loved, at the very least appreciated. I don’t feel any of these things. Instead I feel instantly hurt, annoyed and definitely wary. Those words are dangerous and are meant to disarm me. They are an attempt to bring down my walls and let her back in. As much as I wish I could, I’ve learned that to do that would be setting myself up for the next round hurt. 

When I met my husband, I instantly liked his mother. She was funny and seemed kind. She used to call me DIL (daughter in law) and begged me to marry one of her sons. Life took me in a different direction and although Kev and I stayed close and were best friends, I went on to marry someone else and start a family. Kev lived his life as well and had a few girlfriends over the years before life brought back together again. We finally acknowledged those feelings we had felt many years before. 

We kept our relationship a secret while we figured out what we meant to each other and if we really wanted to risk losing such a good friendship by bringing it to the next level. When his mother suspected what was going on she sent me an email calling me a bitch, that I am not good enough for him and I would never compare to his most recent ex girlfriend. She wanted him back with his ex. 

Time goes on and it’s pretty obvious that him and I are together. We are together at every turn except one, wherever his mother is concerned. Kev and I had talked about and it was agreed that I wouldn’t have to be around her etc. It worked out great for us. I’m not sure why we detoured off that path but we did. Slowly, over time she and I would be around each other and it would actually be pleasant. What I didn’t know and didn’t find out until after the accident, was all the stuff that was being said behind my back about the kids and myself. Kev’s accident brought his family over from England and as the hours ticked by, conversations were had and that’s when I found out had been said and sadly, what was being said at that very time. 

When I arrived at the hospital the doctor asked me who I wanted to share information with. I asked him to be open with his family and that I wanted them to have access to Kevin at all times. I asked his family to please be with me for all of the medical conferences so that I had more than one set of ears hearing all of the medical lingo and so that if I have to make decisions, it would be all of us that love Kev working together as a team. Little did I know that would lead to his mom talking to our close friends, telling them that they needed to convince me to end life support. That she couldnt handle the hospital letting me make the decisions when she is the mother and it was her son laying there. We weren’t even a few days into this horrible tragedy. 

Many months later after Kevin had woke up, made it through inpatient rehab and was now doing outpatient rehab, his father (divorced from his mom for many years) came to visit us for a few weeks and let it out that she had approached him in the hospital asking him to meet with the doctor without me there, get an update and to sit me down and convince me to end Kevin’s life support. At this point I have put up with friends of hers, looking out for her, asking me why I am not including her in anything to do with Kevin. That she had expressed that I was cruel to Kev and he shouldn’t have married me. That I had tortured him by keeping him alive instead of sending him to hospice. 

After my father in laws visit, I received a call from him explaining that my mother in law was now accusing me of neglect. That was the final straw for me. I cut off contact for a little while and then called her over for a chat. While we were sitting there, I told her that I knew what she had been up to. That I knew about going behind my back in the hospital, the horrible things she’s been saying about me before the accident and since then and also about her claiming I neglected my husband. At first she tried to laugh and look at her husband and try to play it off as someone making up a lie until I started quoting some of the things that were said. At that point she couldn’t deny it any longer and just sat there stunned, the simply said that all of those things were said in confidence, not to be shared and she felt like her trust had been violated. 

I explained that she will always be Kevin’s mother and that they’re relationship was between them, but she and I would no longer have any relationship.

I would keep open communication between us about Kevin’s recovery and exercises until he is able to do that on his own but anything that involves him and I as a couple or my kids, she was no longer going to be a part of. 

That started the, “I appreciate you” messages when I send along a video or picture of his recovery exercises. (She comes over once or twice a week during the day to do these exercises with him so it’s important she knows what to do etc.)

If she is over and we’re having to explain a new exercise to her, she will throw in a comment about me being so good with him or that he married the right woman. 

I just can’t believe her anymore. I don’t want the false compliments. To accept them would start down the path where she thinks we have a relationship again. Unfortunately that means that any thing to do with her son, she feels she has a right to know or be involved in. Including financial information. 

It’s sad to say, but I just can’t trust her and I can’t have her in my life anymore. At a time where we should all be coming together, we further apart than ever. 

Destroying our children

I destroyed all three of my kids in one go. I knew what I was doing and yet I didn’t stop it. I knew that they would never be the same again. They would look at the world in a different way and would probably never recover fully from what I was about to do. As a mother you want to protect your kids and try to make sure they are always okay. Sometimes though,  you have to decide which hurt they will receive when the only options are horrific. So that’s what I did. I chose to destroy them in the least possible way.

We were on day two of being at the hospital and Kevin had made it through the night. Barely. He gave us a scare when his brain pressure skyrocketed but luckely it turned out to be a faulty monitor and he needed to go back into surgery. At this time we were learning that Kevin had had two strokes on his left side of his brain, in addition to the horrible head injury on the right side where the car decided to get a little close and personal with him.

The child life advocate and also the social workers met with me and said it was time for the kids to come in before Kevin’s surgery to be able to see him, accept what had happened and to be able to have some closure if it didn’t work out in our favor. To bring them in would kill them. To see their step dad’s head bandaged and swollen beyond recognition would leave images they would never be able to forget. To leave it meant they might never see him alive again. The team of specialties decided that giving them the option to decide for themselves would be best. We would sit them down and explain briefly what happened and what they could expect to see. Not to overwhelm them with too much information and to answer the questions as they asked.  

The kids arrived and being 15, 13, and 11, they handled it very differently from each other. Our youngest was extremely close to Kev and we thought she would run, scream or cry. We had our very good friend Mike, ready to take any of the kids away from the hospital if needed. 

Our two oldest decided they couldn’t see Kev at that moment. They had already looked up the picture of the accident from the internet and knew it would be bad. Taylor, our youngest braved the dreaded ICU room. There she met one of our favorite nurses who had also flown in on the helicopter with Kev. He had covered some of the many tubes that decorated Kevin’s body. He gently answered each of Taylor’s questions and guided her through this new world. 

After about 5 minutes she started to get hot and a little pale so she was escorted back to the waiting room where our friend was ready to take the kids down for ice cream.  I lagged behind and thanked the nurse for his help. I took a deep breath and said,” they’ll never be the same again.”

Shortly after Taylor went to the waiting room, various nurses rushed in and started to prepare Kevin for the trip to the OR. Our nurse went to the waiting room to tell our family and friends that Kevin was going back to surgery but there wouldn’t be time to individually see him but they could wait in the hall as Kevin is wheeled by. Since Kevin was on life support, once they are ready to move, they move very quickly. They rushed him down the hall, past our loved ones, and through the double doors of the OR. As he was going by, our son walked out of the waiting room and caught a glimpse of his step dad, covered in machines, surrounded by nurses and doctors being ran down the hall as fast as possible. That was the worst way for him to see the man he had looked up to for so long.

The hospital moved our family into a private waiting room to wait out the surgery. I realized this is the room they use when outcomes are not good and they need privacy to help the family. I didn’t want to be in this room. I wanted to go back to Kevin loving on the dog and joking about my keys. I wanted to go back where our biggest challenge was getting the kids out the door on time. To go back to a time where homework struggles are real and struggling to stay alive was unheard of. 

Let the nightmare begin.

Some people have the dreaded phone call from a police officer, informing them that their loved one has been involved in an accident. Others might have the cops show up on their doorstep. I’ve never done anything according to plan so why would think this would be any different?!?! Instead, I just happened to drive through the accident on my way to work. No one should find out that way. Our family members have speculated on where the accident officially took place or what it must have looked like, but I’m the only one that went through it. One moment thinking everything is great and the next feeling like my body has been attacked and it quickly numbing to protect itself. 

Our morning was an ordinary morning, even if it didn’t go as planned. I was supposed to get up and ride in to work with Kevin, since we had plans for after work. Christmas was right upon us and us being us, we hadn’t completed (or really even started) our shopping.  

When Kevin tried waking me up, I begged for just some more sleep, even though that would inconvenience us later. For the past year I had been battling a reactivation of mono after I had developed pneumonia. On top of that, I’m a severe asthmatic so recovering from illnesses isn’t always easy. We had spent that past Christmas in the hospital and little did we know, we were about to spend another. 

Kevin being Kevin, told me to rest and it would all work out in the end. He kissed me goodbye then proceeded to tell our very lazy pup goodbye as well. I can remember him saying, ” I love you Gypsy. Not as much as I love your mom because she gets jealous, but I still love you.” I had been giving him a “hard time” that he loves the dog more than me because her goodbyes were always longer. That morning I pointed out it was still longer  even if he changed all the words. He laughed and when I asked him to make sure my keys were on the table, he told me he would put them where I could find them. Where the sun doesn’t shine. And then he was gone. For some, that kind of banter back and forth would seem unusual. For us, it is completely normal. This is how it goes when you marry your best friend of 20yrs. Seriousness is rare and almost every situation is met with a laugh. 

As I was driving to work, my phone started buzzing with an incoming call from Facebook messenger. It was Kevin’s coworker. I tried to dismiss it, thinking it was one of their many pranks but it wouldn’t let me. Instead I let it time out and right after the word ACCIDENT flashed through my mind. I texted Kev asking what they wanted. No response. I called his phone but it went unanswered. Moments later I came upon the accident site. It wasn’t even on my side of the highway. There were officers standing in the grassy median and the 4runner was being flipped over to put on a tow truck. There was debris everywhere. That car was crushed. I flipped around, parked behind the emergency vehicles and ran up to the first man I saw. He told me the highway was closed and I shouldn’t be on it. I told him that that was my husband’s vehicle. His body looked like I had slapped him. He then turned to an officer and called him over. “Ma’am you shouldn’t be on the highway,” was cut off by the other gentleman saying, “this is her husband’s vehicle.” The officer had the same shocked response as the gentleman before and said, ” ma’am your husband has been involved in a very serious accident. He has been airlifted to Cottage Hospital. You need to get there now.” 

I felt like world came down on me. I asked the only thing I could think of, “Is he still alive?” The officer replied, “he is very critical. You need to hurry.”

The nightmare had begun and I couldn’t scream myself awake from it. 

To have and to hold

“I shouldn’t have to pick up his death certificate at the same time I pick up our marriage certificate.”  It sounds like a drama filled Hollywood line and I wish it was. Instead it was what came out of my mouth as I sat there, in a bleak conference room that I have come to hate, as the doctor was listing all of my husband’s injuries. The list seemed endless and I had just asked him to stop talking. To please stop saying all those horrible words, as if stopping them would somehow make the injuries go away.  My head was on the cold conference room table and when I looked up into the doctor’s eyes, I realized the horror of what I had just uttered.  I asked him if there was any hope. He told me that it was my job to hope and his job to help save my husband’s life. I played those words over and over in my head. My job was to hope, and I took those words to heart. This wasn’t just my husband, this was my best friend. We had been friends for over 20 years and had only been married for a little over a month.

During our wedding ceremony the month before, Kevin had written his vows to me on the back of my vows. We’ve always been connected, and it looks like having separate pieces of paper for our vows would be too far apart and just wouldn’t be us. His vows spoke of his love for me, had an occasional joke, and also spoke of a strength he was convinced I possessed. I had never considered myself to be strong, but now I had to believe in those words. I was going to have to be stronger than I ever thought I could be. I had Kevin and  three kids depending on this strength. I had vowed to him to always be by his side and support his dreams. Since he is lying there in a hospital bed, in an induced coma after undergoing emergency brain surgery, I stuck by those vows. I would stay by his side, even if that meant walking through hell with him. It was him and I, against the world and I just had to wait and see where he took us. I just needed him to wake up first.

We are now a little over a year out, and Kevin is definitely awake now. I am sharing our journey as we figure out this unpredictable world together.