On this day in history…

don't keep looking back
sometimes it's all I can do
I'm trying to stop

2/13/09 was a very bad day last year. A very, very bad day, even though
technically the worst part came at 3 am so it was the 14th. Even so,
2/13 = bad.

Though if you think of it in a glass half full way, hearing a PICU intensivist say, "Don't worry, we only had to do chest compressions for under a minute. He shouldn't have any brain damage" is probably the best thing you can hear, because it means that that miraculous woman just saved your baby's life AND his brain.

Oh, boy.

Suddenly, I understand why I've been so emotional today.

The onslaught of anniversaries is upon us. Did I warn you February would be full of woe-is-me posts? I should have warned you.

2/13/09 – all hell breaks loose, finally someone discovers Ike does not have croup. They discover this when he turns blue and stops breathing. Best friend is at the hospital with me, gets to witness not only the very, very sick baby being rushed away from me, but me, doing a full-on impersonation of every extra on ER when they flip the fuck out and you think, "dude, people don't do that in real life."

We had spent the entire day of Friday the 13th in the ER, and then late that evening Ike-a-saurus was admitted to the hospital. By midnight, he was obviously struggling hard to breathe, and I guess it was around 3 am on the 14th when he was intubated in the PICU and we heard "something is wrong with his airway," for the first time.

My husband and I were allowed in to see him after he stabilized. Nightmare, and yet… not. He was alive. But he was sedated, paralyzed with medication, he had a central line stitched into his leg. A foley catheter, no clothes, a tube down his throat, taped to his face. A machine was breathing for him. Wires wires wires. So many machines – there were two trees of automatically timed syringes pouring drugs into his little body. There was a crash cart in the room. I couldn't reach him over the crib rails – was not allowed to hold him for another 9 days.

I'm not sure how, at the same time, things can be so detailed and so blurry when I remember them. I didn't sleep for weeks, really. I still don't sleep, to be honest. But now is nothing like then. I really fucking didn't sleep. Today, in fact, I had a meeting here at the house to update Ike's medicaid waiver and the two women who came were telling me how much better I look now than when they first met me in the PICU a year ago. (Ha.) I didn't recognize them at all. I know I must have met them. Their names sounded familiar. I think I might have even sat in a conference room with them to sign papers last year. But when they came to the door this morning, I didn't recognize them at all. Useless information an emotionally and physically exhausted brain chose not to register.

It was a bad time. A Bad Time. Those first few days in the PICU were incredibly perilous. On the 17th he went in for his bronchoscopy and we told two things: 1) he would probably need a tracheostomy 2) he might not make it.

At the time, our wonderful community of friends were in full swing, planning bake sales and auctions and all kinds of events to raise money and pour love on Ike and the family. But I had to ask them to please stop for that day. I couldn't have them planning a bake sale if he wasn't going to make it out of surgery. So (I heard this later) many of them came secretly to the hospital to pray for him. There were prayers and vibes and good wishes and lit candles shooting into the universe for our family and our baby from seemingly the entire town – the entire country.

So when I think back on these days last year – the days that started on the 13th and just went on and on, I think of them as the worst days of my life. But there is some conflict, because it is a time in my life when even though I felt broken and lost, I felt most loved.

My life skidded to a complete halt on this day last year. I was going to say it hasn't gotten on track yet, but that's not true. It's just on a different track now.

Obviously, I'm still in kind of a precarious emotional state about things. I'm not sure if anyone ever gets over something like this. Or maybe you do and it just takes time.

Regardless, I may be weepy and shaky to think of this day last year, but it is because of this day last year that my life is so full right now.

February is a fucking brutal month around here.

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5 thoughts on “On this day in history…

  1. So, so heartwrenchingly recounted, mama. You constantly amaze me with your patience, love and emotional fortitude. Strength and love to ya’ll this month….xoxo

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  2. I hope you have long periods of pink and orange days. You and yours have endured enough suffering to build the character of a small city. Don’t you wish you could save it in a bank account, and later on when trouble knocks, you could decline politely and say, “I gave in 2009, thank you.

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  3. I’m reteaching the freshman chemistry class I taught last year. Every set of lecture slides at the moment have a photo of Ike and an update for my students so they would know why I was feeling distracted. I should compile the slides and send them to you…

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  4. Oh Kari…I have been thinking of you muchly these past few days. Your post brings so vividly to mind all the not-knowing and the prayer vigils and the candles. I am so thankful that the super-scary times are behind you, but still praying that one day, soon, the scariness will all be gone.

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