Josh. Cali. McKallister. Oakland. Quincy. Camden. Murphy.

We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

“We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude.” Thomas S. Monson

In one day I was able to cross off more than a dozen items that no one adds to their bucket list (Ok maybe riding in a helicopter is on some, but not under those circumstances) and very few can say they experience by age 24. Still unconscious, still waiting for a surgery that no one wanted to hear the doctors say...

That morning they took some members of my family back to explain just what an Amniotic Fluid Embolism is. In short terms? The amniotic fluid somehow gets in to the blood stream. Once it reaches the heart, you go in to cardiac arrest. Most of us go into a coma immediately and some research shows that up to 90% don't make it through this first phase. Most that do survive will have neurological damage but also start to hemorrhage, or excessively bleed due to a condition called DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation). DIC causes blood to leak from the body because it can no longer clot. This was the stage I was in and the solution would be to take Quincy, this baby that I loved so much. There was no way he could survive this pregnancy but I still had a chance.

The morning of the 11th. Day two in the hospital before any surgeries.

My Mom talks about how hard it was for Josh to struggle through this decision. How he knew what he had to do but the pain was evident in his eyes. This boy... He has played a very significant role in my life since the day I met him. Many people ask if I have ever felt angry at him or resentful, but there is so much love towards him that there isn't any room for anything else. He made the hardest decision a parent could on his own because they were afraid to wake me up- afraid of how I would respond and what it would do to my health. But he made them, he couldn't do this without at least telling me.

My Mom said, "I'll never forget how Cali looked at Josh;  with such love and devotion, and you could tell he was her strength.  I was just off to the side holding her hand being the third wheel until she signed, "Baby."  Then Josh looked at me with absolute terror in his eyes which made Cali look my direction.  I don't know which one of us told her the doctors would have to take the baby to save her life, but I'll NEVER forget the pain, the anguish that we all felt in that room while Cali screamed "NO!!!"  in sign language, without a sound coming from her because of the breathing tube, but with that word reverberating through the room.  Then silence.  They had put her back under."
They took me back then. Most of both of my families were there while I was in surgery. I have many questions about this time that I'm afraid to hear the answers to so have never spoken them aloud. Even to Josh. They sometimes haunt me, but I have to trust that the doctors that took care of me took more care of Quincy. Please.

When I returned to the MICU, I was brought out of the coma but still was intubated. My brother Colby was in my room for a bit, but came running into the waiting room saying, "Cali is signing something and we can't understand her."  My Mom came running in to see what I was trying to communicate.  I was asking about Quincy and about Oakland. The interesting part of this is at that time there were multiple specialists in my room to discuss how much neurological damage I could have / should have suffered.  After watching my Mom and I talk back and forth for a minute, they left shaking their heads saying, "If she can sign and communicate with someone, she will be just fine!"  Add another miracle to the list.

I still have no memory of any of this. I could tell the story forwards and backwards because of how many times I have asked my family and friends to repeat it. It's like watching a movie 300 times. You can tell the story, you feel happy or lonely, pain or sadness along with the actors but that's all it is- a movie you can quote.

I made a second trip to the OR when the bleeding didn't stop, but they confirmed that they had successfully cleaned out my uterus. They then added a "balloon" to my uterus to help keep it's shape and to hopefully minimize, if not stop the bleeding I was experiencing.

I stabilized for 3 hours. During that time everyone left. My parents and Josh stayed. Our friend Tyler came to visit and Josh was convinced to go out with him and eat some dinner. During the 7:00-8:00 hours, the ICU is closed to visitors. This way the staff can swap out, update each other on the patience and we decided to also force the family to go eat. My parents just went to the cafeteria to eat and then came back up to the room set up for my family. At 8:00 sharp they started back to the ICU to be with me since Josh was gone. But there wasn't the silence in my room that they expected, rather it was alive.

My blood pressure had plummeted and my heart rate sky rocketed. An ultrasound at my bedside determined that there was a large amount of free fluid in my abdomen. I had to return to the OR for a third time, but they needed Josh's permission.

My Dad had to leave the room, it was just too much for him. Between him, my Mom and Josh they each had their moments where one was strong and the other two... weren't. I'm lucky that I had one of them by my side during every moment of this time. But I didn't understand this until later.

When Josh got there - and remember he's 6'5" and 250+ lbs talking to a doc who is no taller than 5'8" and quite thin - he stood face to face with the doctor as the doc explained that I was bleeding internally and they wanted to go in and stop the bleeding, but they may have to do a hysterectomy if they couldn't control the bleeding.  Josh had had it by that point.  He stood as tall as he could, got as close to the doctor as he could and said, "Just take the damn thing out!"  The doctor stayed strong, but noticeably cowered a bit while explaining they would only do a hysterectomy if there was no alternative. While Josh signed the paperwork, my Mom came in and took a picture. She couldn't get very close but she was convinced this would be the last picture she had of me.

As they wheeled me away, Mom grabbed Josh's arm and they went to get Dad and Colby (my Brother, who had shown up at the perfect time to be with my Dad) then went to a surgical waiting room to await the outcome. Slowly the rest of my family arrived and waited but more than that, supported Josh. My OBGYN who had delivered Oakland, was going to deliver Quincy and kept my sanity during the last two pregnancies was there among my family. I have had the most amazing professionals take care of me in my life and he is one of them. 

They were in the waiting room way too long without any news so called the crisis phone line, who guaranteed a call back. Minutes passed; the family was talking, crying, laughing, the TV on in the background. Just trying to pass the time without worrying themselves sick.

The phone rang and my Mom answered to someone from the operating room who told her that I had gone through a lot of blood, that they had had to revive me a few times (she believes he said 4 times) but I was still alive and someone would be out to talk to us soon.  As they hung up the surgeon came in.

He explained to the crowd that I had just barely survived the surgery. Only after an estimated blood loss of 4,200 ml and receiving 14 units of packed red cells, 13 units of fresh frozen plasma, 4 units of platelets, and one unit of cryoprecipitate (combined for more than 2 times the volume of blood a body holds) and reviving me multiple times. They discovered a large 5 cm defect in my uterine wall, necessitating the hysterectomy. Post- surgery and I was finally not bleeding and stable once again so they transferred me to the surgical ICU.

Obviously everyone knew how this outcome would effect me (and them) emotionally when I woke up but the consensus in the room was that of relief. After losing Mac, having blood clots after Oakland, and now this- future pregnancies would have been a major source of stress, fear, anxiety...!

Slowly, everyone left for the night and Josh and my parents were allowed to see me in the ICU. Knowing I was stable and going to be kept in a medically induced coma, they encouraged them all to go home and rest.

First thing that next morning they called my family to urge them to come quickly, they had taken me off the vent and things didn't look good. Josh was the first there and whatever the issue had been had cleared up by then. I was awake but in and out. A lot of medical personnel came in and out checking blood levels, temperature, heart rate, etc. At one point I even smiled, but then my family noticed that the left side of my face wasn't moving accordingly. The Doctors had been watching this and as they did over the next few days they realized that it was just a crooked smile I did/ do when not feeling well but trying to be positive.

Still not having any memory at this point, I am glad that I was still myself. Trying to smile when I could. Being polite to the Dr's and nurses who came in. And having my family around me every time I was awake (and asleep) to tell me these moments and recount what took place. These past few days completely changed my life, how I thought it was going to go, and what I had planned for myself. I would never have imagined this would happen but I also wouldn't change it. I grew insanely close to my family. I have memories of this time with my daughter that are cherished. I made new friends. My outlook on life is something I hold very close to my heart. And my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was solidified.

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. I cried as I read this. I feel a connection to you because of what we have both been through. You are amazing and a definite bright light in my blog-reading life!! ;) It's nice to know I'm not alone. I remember yelling at the doctor the same thing, "Just take the damn thing out!" ;)


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