Sandy Petrie Recovery/Update Page
This is where colleagues, friends, and family can find updates on the recovery of Sandy after her heart failure on August 5, 2016. Please bookmark this page as it is not availble publicly. I have also opened up a section at the bottom of this page where you can leave messages for me, Sandy, Drew, or Mitch - I promise they will get to the appropriate person.
Sunday, August 7, 2016 - 11:00 AM
On Friday night, August 5, 2016, Sandy went into ventricular fibrillation in our home. I found her slumped in a chair, unresponsive, with shallow, labored breathing and barely a hint of a pulse. I began administering CPR (thank you lifeguard training) and called 911. After the paramedics arrived, they had to use a defibrillator to start her heart after which she was taken to a hospital in Nashville where I’m now writing this. As part of their protocol when someone’s heart has stopped, they had her under complete sedation, paralyzed, and dropped her body temperature to around 33 degrees Celsius in an effort to preserve/protect neurological functions. She is in the cardiovascular intensive care unit and in very capable hands.
The boys stayed at a friend’s house that night (Drew was home when it happened but that’s a story for another time) and Sandy’s parents flew in to Nashville Saturday morning to help.
As for the cause, the leading theory is that at some point in the past (not identified), Sandy had a virus that caused cardiomyopathy – a weakening of the heart tissue. A normal person is able to expunge approximately 55% of the blood moving through their heart at any given time. Sandy’s heart is at 20%. Once they assess the mental status, they will focus on the heart itself so that this doesn’t happen again. No one is willing to really commit to a course of treatment for her heart but it seems they are leaning towards placing a defibrillator in her to ensure this doesn’t happen again. All other bodily functions: liver, kidney, lungs, etc. are normal so that’s a good thing.
The rewarm started at 10:00 PM CST last night and it’s a very slow process. They anticipate her being at “normal” body temperature at around 2:00 PM CST this afternoon. At that point, they will begin to remove the paralytics and slowly try to revive her to assess her neurological functions. As the doctor explained to me this morning, there is a huge range from “miraculous” to, well, you get the point. It likely goes without saying that it will be a very important and stressful afternoon so please send prayers, thoughts, hugs, and positive vibes – I feel them all and it’s critical to my well-being.
The kids are doing okay although I don’t think they understand the gravity of the situation – and I’m good with that. They do know that the doctors will be waking up mommy today and that we will know more in terms of what recovery looks like. I’ve made the decision to not have the boys come up and see Sandy as no kids need to be subjected to seeing their mom wired up like some sort of cyborg – that’s just an image I don’t think they would ever shake. No matter what the outcome of today, I will have the boys come see her tomorrow as we need to face whatever the reality is honestly and as a family.
I’m reluctant to talk about me because I don’t matter at the moment, but I know you will ask so I’ll share. I did eat yesterday after much prodding and I slept about 3 hours last night which is good. As far as my mental state, I’m petrified for the outcome of today and every time I think about it I get very emotional. I’m stunned that my body can still produce tears at this point, but it can and in buckets. I spend most of my day alternating between standing at Sandy’s bed, rubbing her arm, and speaking with her and sitting in a chair trying to focus on other things. I’m still struggling to process what happened and what would have happened had I not been home Friday night (I was about to walk out the door to pick up Mitch when I found Sandy). My mind just races right now and I can’t control it so I apologize for the ramblings.
I know many will ask, “what can I do to help?” The simple answer is prayers, love, and virtual hugs – all of which Sandy, Drew, Mitch, and I need in spades. Anyone is free to call, email, or text, but please understand that I’m overwhelmed at the moment and may not be able to respond. I know there’s nothing to say that makes this even remotely better, but the love I feel from this group is important to me. In that spirit, don’t overthink it. If you feel like calling me, call; if you feel like texting me, text; if you feel like emailing me, send an email. If you see me, I'd love a hug because I certainly need them.
Thank you for you love, support, prayers, and kind thoughts.
Sunday, August 7, 2016 - 9:00 PM
Around 2:00 PM her body finally got to “normal” temperature and they began to wean her off of the paralytics and sedatives. As she started to wake up, she was asked simple commands: squeeze this hand, wiggle those toes, stick out your tongue. I’m beyond thrilled to report she was able to comply with every command. The next step was to remove her breathing tube but they needed her to show she could breathe on her own which she was able to do around 5:30 PM.
They removed the breathing tube and the doctors immediately began to ask her questions, beginning with, “can you say ‘A. B. C. 1. 2. 3?’” Her voice was hoarse from the breathing tube but she was able to squeak it out. She’s been asked other questions and generally seems to be able to understand, comprehend, process, and answer. I say generally for a few reasons:
There is still quite a bit of drugs in her system so her responses can seem slow at times. Obviously, this could be from the incident itself as well, but we won’t know until the drugs fully wear off.
She knows me, her parents (who are here), kid’s names, and the dog’s name but is struggling with dates/numbers. For example, she couldn’t tell us what year it was. On the flip side, she could tell us who is president. She couldn’t recall her birthday, but knew mine. Again, time will tell on this one.
She knows she’s in the hospital but can’t remember that it’s Vanderbilt. Again, time will tell if this is due to the drugs or some sort of memory loss.
At this point, motor functions such as walking, clapping, etc. have not been tested. My guess is that will come overnight and/or tomorrow. According to the doctors, this is about the best they could hope for which is fantastic news. While I know we will have a long road to recovery, this was a very important – and wonderful – first step. Obviously, they still need to address the heart issue and I assume that will begin in very short order. But, for the moment, I’ve had tears of joy as opposed to tears of despair.
Monday, August 8, 2016 - 9:30 AM
Sandy is more awake and alert than she was last night and her voice is gaining strength after removal of the breathing tube. Her and I have spoken most of the morning about what happened, how she got to Vanderbilt, and various other topics. While she is more lucid, she clearly is having some short term memory issues. For example, her and I keep having the same conversations – with the same emotions attached – over and over. The doctor says it’s to be expected but it is unsettling.
She has been asking to see the boys so they will come up today and I’m hoping that provide another healing jolt for her. She hasn’t had anything to eat or drink (even ice chips) so this will be a slow process.
As far as treatment, they are going to perform a formal swallowing evaluation today – something Sandy has given countless times as a speech language pathologist. They are also starting her on medication today to strengthen her heart. It also looks like some time in the very near future they will be implanting a defibrillator in her so that if something similar happens again, the defibrillator will correct it instantly.
It’s clear to me that this will be a very long journey, but we are off to a fantastic start. I am worried about the short-term memory issues and hope those are resolved soon. I’m also a little worried about how the boys will react because mom is still a bit out of sorts. I am planning to meet them when they get here and give them some idea of what to expect so they aren’t shocked. I just hope I’m doing the right thing.
I want to – again – thank everyone for the love, support, prayers, and hugs because that has seen my family to where we are at today. I’m overwhelmed by the kindness shown in our time of need – desperate need at times. While saying thank you and I love you all still seems horribly inadequate, it’s the best I can do right now.
Please keep the positive vibes coming as we still need them.
Monday, August 8, 2016 - 9:45 PM
Overall, today was a good day. It started by speaking with Sandy as she was waking up. Understandably, she was trying to make sense of what happened and where she was. She is displaying some short term memory issues which is a little concerning but more unsettling. Concerning because we aren’t sure if it’s due to some neurological damage due to the events of Friday night. The doctors feel, however, that it’s a temporary condition due to the events of Friday as well as the recovery efforts over the weekend. It’s unsettling because we have the same conversations – with the same emotions – over and over again. She desperately wants to understand what happened on Friday but it’s quite gutting to tell her and see her reactions/tears each time. I really do hope that the short term memory loss is temporary and goes away soon.
As I shared this morning, Drew and Mitch did come to the hospital today to see Sandy. When they arrived, I met them at the elevators and explained that their mom was still a little fuzzy and not to expect her to be too expressive or vocal. When the boys walked in her room, her face lit up and she gave them big hugs and kisses – it was thrilling to see that. The boys tried to talk with her a little but Sandy was having difficulty speaking loud enough for them to hear (a side effect of the cooling protocol and breathing tube). After that, I left the hospital with the boys and took them to lunch at Five Guys and we destroyed several big-ass burgers and copious amounts of cajun fries. I think we indulged in about 15,000 calories between us but it was needed after many skipped meals over the past few days. Then I took them home so I could change out clothes and I took the most glorious shower in the history of Tennessee.
I went back to the hospital and we met with the cardiologist that will be taking care of Sandy moving forward – including after care. He is troubled a bit as they don’t understand the cause which makes treatment a little more of a moving target. She has no history of heart disease, displayed no symptoms, and has no heart blockage. In an attempt to understand what happened, she will have a cardio MRI tomorrow which everyone hopes will shed a little bit of light on the situation. Then either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday, she will have surgery to implant a defibrillator and a pacemaker. After that, I’m not really sure what they will be looking for in terms of discharge, but it sounds like they are targeting Thursday or Friday. Given all we’ve been through, that seems miraculous.
That’s the latest update. Again, I can’t thank everyone enough for the sheer outpouring of love, support, prayers, and virtual hugs. It’s simply been astounding to me and I know we will never be able to truly express our heartfelt gratitude. So, while thank you will continue to seem horribly inadequate, thank you.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 8:30 AM
It was a bit of a rough night in the cardio vascular ICU as very little sleep was to be had by anyone. Sandy is still a bit confused as to what happened and why she’s here. She also seems to be slightly mumbling/slurring her words a bit which is a tad concerning given her profession. However, the doctors have been reassuring that this is likely very temporary and that has been validated by the fact that once she was fully awake, the situation improved dramatically.
There’s really no change in plans this morning as they are preparing to give her a cardiac MRI to try and figure out the cause. While you let that sink in, there is some very good news: Sandy has been able to get out of bed with assistance, shuffle a little, and is now sitting upright in a recliner. Overall, there has been incredible progress and we are most thankful for that. It also looks like Sandy will be moved to regular room as soon as today – also very good news.
Many of you have asked about visiting and here’s the deal: If you would like to come visit her at Vanderbilt Medical in Nashville, please do. I would ask that for the immediate future, visits be limited from the hours of 10:00 AM – Noon, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM, and 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM. Please also remember her short term memory isn’t all there yet so she may ask you the same question over and over again so bring your patience along with your love, smiles, and hugs.
I’ll update more later.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 7:45 PM
Today was one of those awesome hospital days (please note sarcasm) where precious little seemed to be accomplished except for ensuring the overall bill will be exquisitely painful as opposed to simply painful. Well, that’s not entirely true as we did have some good news as Sandy was moved out of the Cardiovascular ICU and into a regular room. She was also able to take a shower which she had been craving for some time. Last, she did have her cardiac MRI but as of this writing, we have not been told the results. So, it was pretty much a spa day at a really low-rent spa.
We are hopeful that Sandy will have the procedure tomorrow to insert a defibrillator/pacemaker to ensure that in the event her heart does the same thing it did on Friday, it’s fixed on the spot. Again, we hope because we haven’t really been told anything. On an interesting note, a cardiologist (one we haven’t seen until today) mentioned that they have generally good results with Sandy’s condition and the treatment protocol. However, we should also be aware that Sandy would be an excellent candidate for a heart transplant – I don’t think anyone was prepared to hear the words “heart transplant.” Time will tell about the efficacy of this route, but I would be less than honest if I said it wasn’t unsettling.
Sandy had the tables turned on her today as today as she was evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. Overall, she did very well but there are some slight cognitive issues that will either resolve themselves in the coming days or need to be addressed. More than anything, she is struggling creating new memories such as remembering a specific word. As I said, overall she did very well and I can already see the progress from yesterday which gives me a tremendous amount of hope.
As far as how I’m doing, that’s probably up for debate. I’m struggling a bit as I think I’m finally allowing the gravity of the situation to hit me. I’m no longer the emotional mess I was a few days ago, but I can’t stop thinking about Friday night.
I suppose the genesis of this thought is that I’ve been told far too many times by paramedics, nurses, doctors, cardiologists, and electro cardiologists that I saved Sandy’s life on Friday night. Honestly, every time I hear it said it feels like a burden has been placed on me. All I keep thinking about is that if I would’ve found her earlier and if I would’ve begun chest compressions sooner, she might not be having the memory issues and other complications. I’m really struggling with that right now as I don’t feel like I did anything out of the ordinary and I really don’t want to wear any sort of hero crown.
I am eating, but not as much as I probably should. I’m not sleeping well at all – sometimes it’s my overactive Bill brain thinking about everything, but most of the time it’s the draconian chair/bed things they have for me to sleep on in the hospital. I’ve stayed with Sandy every night since the incident and I will continue to stay until I feel she has a rock solid grasp on where she is and what happened. I don’t like the thought of her waking up at night and scared half to death wondering what the hell is going on.
Hopefully tomorrow will bring more in the way of action as we try to figure out how to prevent this from happening again. As always, thank you for the calls, texts, emails, and messages on Facebook and on this site. They are more comforting than anyone could imagine.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 10:00 AM
Quick update and it will likely be the only one today. Sandy had a slight fever last night which means all hope for surgery today was dashed. They are pumping her with antibiotics to ensure that when they place the defibrillator there won’t be any possibility of infection. All of this means that Sandy won’t have surgery until Monday with a hope for dismissal on Tuesday. It’s going to be a long, boring weekend for everyone as we sit and wait.
On the cognitive/memory front, she seems to be doing much better. The repeated questions are fewer and farther between, she’s far more alert than in the past few days, and her personality – and laughter – have returned.
Sandy asked me to give everyone a message: “Thanks so much for all of your support and prayers. Please keep sending hugs and love!”
As for me, I’m taking a break today for the first time since all of this happened. Sandy’s mom will be holding down the fort at the hospital today while I head home for a shower, a nap, and dinner with the boys. Sandy’s mom has assured me that she will keep me up to date on any developments, but there will likely be none.
So, for now, we wait. As always, thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers, and virtual hugs – we still need them.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 8:10 PM
I know I said that there wouldn’t be much of an update earlier today, but I like to write so an update you get. Since Sandy is resting comfortably at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (also known as, “the spa at Vanderbilt”), I took a much needed break and left Sandy in the very capable hands of her mother. I’d love to tell you I went home, crawled into bed, and slept, but that’s not exactly how my day went. I had to get printer ink for a first week of school project, stop by my mailbox to pick up a package, and catch up on some client work. By the time I was done, a few neighbors stopped by to check in and then the boys arrived home from school. It was an almost normal day which was just as refreshing as sleep.
We had dinner at home thanks to fantastic friends (thanks Tim and Leah) and it was really nice to just speak with Drew and Mitch. As you can likely imagine, they are really pleased to hear about their mom’s progress and are looking forward to seeing her again on Friday – especially Drew. If you recall, I mentioned in passing on an earlier post that Drew was in the house when "the event" occurred, and he was, but there’s more to it than that. Drew is actually the one that saw Sandy unresponsive on the chair and called for me to help because he knew something wasn’t quite right. He watched me as I gave her CPR which was fairly traumatic and, up until today, he’s been very quiet about what happened. We ended up talking for about 90 minutes and I think he’s starting to understand that while what occurred Friday wasn’t great, he was part of a huge group of people that turned a potential tragedy into a celebration of life. If you asked me (and I realize you didn’t, but it’s my blog, my rules), his alertness, bravery, and actions saved Sandy’s life.
Sandy had a few visitors today including one of the paramedics who helped me on the scene and he shared that even they are beyond surprise at her rate of recovery – a theme that is recurring so often I’m starting to believe it. She walked around the floor four times today which represents significant progress and much better than the “Sandy Shuffle” of the past two days. Every so often, a doctor poked his or her head in to float yet another theory of why this happened. To date the following has been hypothesized:
A virus of some sort from anywhere from 6 months to 3 years ago
An autoimmune disease like lupus
We will never really know
At this point, we frankly don’t care very much, but doctors are going to doctor so Sandy will continue to bleed until they are satisfied. That’s just how they do it at the spa at Vanderbilt.
Tomorrow, I’ll be back at the hospital on my shift so Sandy’s mom can take a break and hope to be able to share some more updates. Thank you all again for the love, support, prayers, and hugs – they are more uplifting than you could ever imagine.
Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 8:45 AM
We have a diagnosis! By process of elimination the winner is: Left Bundle Branch Block and Cardiomyopathy. While it sounds like the opening band for Captain and Tennille during their famous “Muskrat Love” tour of 1976, it’s actually a very serious heart condition. Essentially, the left side of Sandy’s heart is working and the right side isn’t. This abnormality results in the left side trying to compensate for the right side and causes the heart to skip a beat and, in Sandy's case, fail. They don’t know if she was born with this or if some sort of virus damaged the right side, but they are leaning towards the virus.
They are also trying to schedule her surgery for tomorrow as opposed to Monday which would be nothing short of fabulous.
Sandy is alert but she’s also ready to leave the spa at Vanderbilt. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a week since all of this happened and the wonderful strides she has made. We still have a long way to go, but we are most assuredly headed in the right direction.
Thanks to all of you for the continued support!!
Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 7:00 PM
This is really a non-update type of update as nothing really happened today in terms of medical progress. Sandy continues to improve and it’s simply quite amazing the progress she’s made in six days. She really is becoming her “old” self – laughing, smiling, and welcoming visitors. I think the highlight of her day was taking a shower and washing her hair. She is still on a fairly strict diet of what appears to be low-grade dog food and thickened liquids to help sooth her still very sore throat. To get an idea of what dinner looks like during a stay at the Spa at Vanderbilt, there is a picture of tonight’s feast. Next time your kids squawk about what they have for dinner, please feel free to share this menu.
The only real downer today is that the surgery has been officially scheduled for Monday which means a weekend in the hospital. The cardiologist wants to ensure that the risk of infection is minimal when the procedure is done and he would like her lungs to clear up a bit more so Monday it is. We are hopeful for a Tuesday discharge.
I spent the day at the hospital today and tried to catch up on work. As I’ve mentioned before, I – along with my entire extended family – have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support during this past week. However, today that support went full throttle as a group of promotional products industry friends took it upon themselves to set up a GoFundMe page to help defray grocery and medical costs. While I am VERY reluctant to discuss the fundraising effort, let alone share the link, my close friend Danny Rosin told me I would be doing everyone who wants to support us through this trying time a disservice by not giving out the link. In that spirit, click here if you want to go there (please do not feel obligated in any way, shape, or form to participate). I can’t remember (nor can anyone else) the last time I was speechless, but today I was. If you ever find yourself losing faith in humanity – and I hope you don’t – simply read the lovely messages below or look at the outpouring of support from friends, friends of friends, and even long-ago employers. When I stop and think about it, which I did for a bit today, it moves me to tears.
At the risk of being redundant, thank you all for the love, support, prayers, and hugs. It’s something that will be cherished forever.
Friday, August 12, 2016 - 8:25 AM
Last night Sandy was quite the hostess as many friends and colleagues from Williamson County Schools visited. It was a joy to see her laugh, think, interact, and simply enjoy being with others. Today we are going to try and have her rest as much as possible until the boys come up to see her after school today. We are planning on getting her out of her room, wheeling her down to the cafeteria, and trying to eat as a family. While the quality of the food will likely be suspect, I know the boys are really looking forward to this.
As for me, I’m struggling today as the lack of sleep combined with the stress and worry over the past week has made for a cocktail of exhaustion, frustration, and confusion – and that’s not the kind of cocktail I’d like at the moment. It’s almost as if my senses are dull and things just seem to be moving faster than I can comprehend. While I’m beyond encouraged by Sandy’s truly amazing – maybe even miraculous – progress, she’s still in the hospital, facing heart surgery on Monday, and an unknown/different future filled with bi-weekly cardiologist visits and around the clock monitoring. It’s a lot to wrap my very simple male brain around and, today, I’m really grappling with what the future looks like. While I know I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s just how my brain works.
As always, my heart is bursting with gratitude to every single person who has taken time to call, text, message, pray, hope, cry, and think of our family during the past week. There is no way we could get through this alone.
Friday, August 12, 2016 - 9:55 PM
Not a huge update since this morning, but there is a bit to share. First (and most exciting for Sandy), she passed her swallowing test which means she is now allowed to have non-thickened beverages. Yes, you read that right, no more water, iced tea, or fruit juices that are of the consistency of honey. Think about THAT the next time you have to take pills.
The cardiologist came in and talked about what they are implanting in Sandy on Monday: a cardiac repair resynchronization device which is essentially a defibrillator/pacemaker combo pack which will do the following two things:
Help regulate her heartbeat
Zap (my word) her heart back should a recurrence of last Friday
They will implant the device Monday (likely afternoon) and then Sandy will hopefully be discharged on Tuesday where she will need to rest while scar tissue builds around the device. Apparently it has a 10-year battery and, when that needs to be replaced, it’s an outpatient surgery. It’s hard to believe that it was just a week ago when all of this started and how far she has come. As I mentioned earlier, now that things have settled a bit, I’m having a challenging time wrapping my brain around it but more on that below.
I took the boys up to see Sandy in the late afternoon and they were thrilled to see her. Both Drew and Mitch were so pleased to see how different – dare I say, normal – Sandy was compared to when they saw her on Monday. We were able to take Sandy out of her room and have an early dinner down in the Vanderbilt Medical Center Cafeteria. While the food wasn’t exactly great, the fact that we could dine away from her room was. It was a truly joyful experience for everyone.
A lot of you have been asking about me so I will share with the same honesty I’ve used during this entire process. Today was a difficult day for me. For the most part, I worked at home doing client work, recording a podcast for PromoKitchen, and answering emails. However, I found it difficult to focus which I suppose isn’t a big surprise, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s frustrating. It’s also been quiet today which I usually enjoy but today was unsettling. Now that I’m at home most nights, one would think that sleep comes easy but it doesn’t. I know it will get better in time, but I don’t like feeling so out of sorts.
Thank you all for the prayers, love, support, and virtual (and real) hugs. It’s made an unbearable situation as bearable as could be. Thank you.
Saturday, August 13, 2016 - 1:00 PM
Just a quick update today. Sandy’s blood pressure which has been marginally high over the past six years, dropped to a fairly dangerous low this morning. As a result, they have backed off some of her heart meds as the dip in blood pressure is a side effect. She’s doing well, but they are monitoring her. Sandy is trying to rest as she gears up for surgery on Monday. As such – and it pains us to say this – visiting hours are closed until further notice. While Sandy would love to see all of you who have asked, her rest really has to take precedence right now so we can ensure she has the surgery on Monday. Thank you for understanding.
I was able to take the morning off and take Drew to soccer practice which was a welcome respite from the chaos of the past eight days. This afternoon and evening, I’ll be at the hospital keeping Sandy company and wrinkling my nose at and making pithy comments about the food she is served.
Please keep the positive thoughts, prayers, and virtual hugs coming! And, as always, thank you for all the support.
Sunday, August 14, 2016 - 12:20 PM
Not too much of an update today as we wait for Sandy’s surgery tomorrow. Kathy (Sandy’s mom) is at the hospital today while I run the boys around, do some errands, and get them ready for the school week ahead. The doctors came in this morning and let her know that surgery is a definite tomorrow, even if it doesn’t begin until late in the afternoon. The shocking thing that I’m struggling to wrap my head around is the time the surgery will take: 45 minutes to an hour. Hell, it took my orthopedic surgeon about two hours to repair my Achilles tendon last year! I mean, it’s HEART SURGERY. Shouldn’t that take at least six hours? Apparently not.
I’ll post an update tomorrow when we have a better idea as to the timing of the surgery. As always, thank you for your love, prayers, thoughts, support, and virtual hugs.
Monday, August 15, 2016 - 8:00 AM
At Tom Petty once sang, “the waiting is the hardest part.” This morning, we are doing little more than waiting. Already a torrent of medical personnel has dropped by and given the following information:
Surgery will definitely be today……unless it’s first thing tomorrow. It all depends on critical cases and scheduling.
Once the ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) is implanted, it will take approximately 10 days to return to normal activities and six weeks for full healing. You can read all about it here.
Sandy has consented to be part of a study through Vanderbilt about the efficacy of different ICD’s. Regardless of which ICD is implanted, she will be getting one that has proven to work and work well.
The target for her discharge from the spa at Vanderbilt is tomorrow….unless the surgery is tomorrow then we are looking at Wednesday
So, for now, we wait. I will keep everyone updated on the blog so feel free to check back as often as you’d like. You’re also free to text but I’ll likely be slower to respond. Thanks again for all the love, prayers, positive thoughts, support, and hugs (virtual and otherwise).
Monday, August 15, 2016 - 11:30 AM
Sandy’s number for surgery came up much earlier than we thought, which is a very good thing. It looks like the surgery will take a bit longer than we were told yesterday and should last about 2 to 2 ½ hours. She is understandibly nervous but feels all the support from everyone. As soon as I know anything, I will update this site. Thanks again for all the love, hugs, prayers, thoughts, and support.
Monday, August 15, 2016 - 1:30 PM
So we are two hours into surgery and, as promised, I received an update from the operating room that it’s taking longer to connect the third lead from the ICD to the right side of her heart. She is “snoring away” and comfortable which is more than I can say for those of us waiting. It looks like it will be about another hour before surgery is complete.
I have to say (or, in this instance, write) that the waiting is the worst. From the antiseptic furniture to unwatchable shows like, “The Chew” on a loop on the ULD (ultra-low def) television, the waiting room appears to be designed to send the inhabitants straight to therapy. I feel my mental state slipping into some sort of hypnosis where what little filter I normally have has evaporated like a light rain in the middle of a summer heat wave. All I know is that the longest year of my life was the 10 days Sandy spent at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
More updates to follow as events/news warrants.
Monday, August 15, 2016 - 2:20 PM
Sandy is, for the most part, out of surgery as they are just putting in the final sutures to close her up. According to the cardiologist, the “procedure” (I loathe that word) went well but, as I shared earlier, the last lead just took a bit longer than expected. They tested the ICD by essentially putting her into ventricular fibrillation and having the device zap her heart back to the correct rhythm. It’s not lost on me that this is essentially what happened to her the night of August 5th.
I have not seen her so I’ll share a quick update later after I inspect the patient. Thank you all for your prayers, thoughts, and positive vibes!
Monday, August 15, 2016 - 4:20 PM
Quick (and likely last) update for the day. Sandy is back in her private suite at the Spa at Vanderbilt and is resting comfortably. We spoke with the doctor and he couldn’t be more pleased with how the procedure went. For the next 12 hours or so, Sandy is on bedrest as the leads begin to fuse to her heart tissue. It seems we are on track to bring her home tomorrow to begin the healing process. Many of you have reached out today to ask when you can visit and the simple – and accurate – answer, is “I don’t know.” Once we get home and decide what works best to ensure she heals quickly, we will communicate out visiting preferences. Trust me, she wants to see you too.
I’m going to spend the night at the hospital one more time to accomplish two things:
Be here for Sandy if she needs something
Get my money’s worth as the specter of the bill is looming
Sandy wanted me to expressly thank everyone for their love, prayers, and support – and I echo that. I will update again tomorrow once I have an idea when I might be able to take her home.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 6:15 AM
Overnight Sandy had an issue and, perhaps, a setback. Around 2:00 AM she woke up with what I can best describe “heart hiccups.” Essentially her whole torso is jumping in sync with her heartbeat which is unsettling and exhausting. If you look at Sandy’s stomach you can clearly see her heartbeat – not great. It went away by 3:00 AM but came back at 4:00 AM and it’s still happening as of this writing.
The doctor has come in and the good news is all her vitals (heartrate, blood pressure, respiratory rate) look great. They are taking her down as I write this for a chest x-ray to validate their belief that one of the leads (essentially a wire) is not only stimulating her heart, but her diaphragm as well. Apparently this happened during surgery and they moved the lead so it wouldn’t happen, but it appears to have slipped. This all means that surgery is likely again today to replace the lead and give this another shot. It’s a shorter surgery but, it’s still surgery.
This is speculation until the electrophysiologist sees her chest x-ray and makes a determination, but this is the likely result today. Therefore, Sandy will not be going home today but we are confident that she will tomorrow.
Keep the prayers, thoughts, good vibes, and hugs coming – we are not out of the woods (or hospital) yet.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 8:10 AM
Well, it looks like we dodged a bullet. They were able to reprogram Sandy’s device to stop the electric charge to the diaphragm. This means that there is still hope she gets to go home today – time will tell on that front.
I don’t want to speak for Sandy, but I’m done. Whatever patience I’ve been able to display has disappeared and I’m just one middle-aged, balding, doughy ball of frustration. I’m tired of the constant parade of doctors, nurses, care partners, technicians, clinicians, dieticians, and orderlies. Sandy has been in here 11 days and we have seen so many people it’s damn near impossible to keep them straight.
It’s time to go.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 6:30 PM
After what had to be one of the longest days in the history of healthcare, Sandy is home. It was one of those days that while you realize everyone cares about the patient, simple communication and customer service falls by the wayside. Without getting into too much detail, a doctor “forgot” to turn in Sandy’s discharge papers which led to a Watergate-like cover up of lies, damn lies, and statistics. By the time it was all sorted out, we walked out of the hospital at 4:45 PM. While it was frustrating, she is just glad to be home.
As you can imagine, there is quite a bit of medicine and rest prescribed over the next few weeks – especially over the next few days. Due to this, Sandy has requested a “no visitors” policy until at least Monday. Sorry folks, it’s just the way it needs to be right now. Depending on how Sandy is feeling, we will reevaluate on Friday.
I will continue to update this site daily as Sandy begins to heal from the ordeal of the past 11 days. It’s amazing how far she has come but she also has quite a way to go. With your continued support, love, prayers, and good thoughts, I know she will get there.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 7:30 AM
As you can imagine, Sandy was thrilled to sleep in her own bed last night. She is still experiencing a bit of pain in her chest and shoulders but that’s to be expected given the surgery she had on Monday. She was up and down a bit last night as she worked on managing her pain. Today, she will rest and begin to get used to her new medicine regimen and how that will impact her body. Overall, her spirits are high but she is understandably ready to settle into some normalcy.
Drew and Mitch were thrilled to have her home and you could almost see the weight of her being in the hospital lift off their shoulders. They even made a very sweet “welcome home” sign and couldn’t give her enough hugs – soft ones for now.
I’m getting back to work today as I have a podcast to record, some client meetings, and a few articles to write. I’m also hoping to sneak in a nap at a time of my choosing, but I’m not confident that will happen.
I’ll update more later but, for now, a little bit of normalcy is delightful.
Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 7:25 AM
Yesterday was an ordinary, mundane day which is about the most delightful thing I could have dreamed of 13 days ago. Sandy spent the day resting, watching a little TV, and healing. As you can imagine, things are a little different. For starters, Sandy isn’t allowed to raise her left arm (the side where the ICD was implanted) above her shoulder. Think using your arm like a chicken wing and you’ll get the idea. Her incision which is a 4-inch line just below her left shoulder needs to stay dry until at least Tuesday of next week. Those two restrictions make showering a bit of an obstacle starting with the taped-on Ziploc bag to cover the incision. It also means she can’t wash her hair due to the “chicken wing effect” descried above. We were able to get through it just fine, though.
The onslaught of paperwork has begun as we filled out her FMLA sheets that I will take to the school today. Her target for going back to work is September 1 which is truly amazing when I stop and think about where we were just 13 days ago. I wrote the below to a very good friend this morning that sums this up:
“This journey – and I’m fully aware that we have just embarked – has been life-altering. Oh, a lot of people will say that certain events “change their life,” but that’s usually lip service. In our case, it’s not. Over the last week the gravity of the situation has presented itself time and again. To a person, cardiologists, electrophysiologists, emergency room doctors, the paramedics who were on the scene, and nurses have shared that 95% of the time a person in Sandy’s situation on 8/5 do not make it. And, of the 5% that do make it, the vast majority of them will be either mentally or physically handicapped. Given that it appears Sandy will make a full recovery, she truly is a miracle.”
As always, thank you for your continued support – it’s humbling.
Friday, August 19, 2016 - 6:40 AM
In any recovery process, you’re going to have both ups and downs. Unfortunately, last night was a big down due to the difficultly Sandy is having managing her pain. The issue seems to be centered around her shoulders, back, and stomach area – and this is all despite the regular usage of Tylenol and Oxycodone. Because of this, she currently can’t find any way to sit or lay that’s comfortable which led to a completely sleepless night for both of us. We are going to reach out to the doctor today to make sure everything is okay and the discomfort is temporary.
The worst part about this is the aforementioned lack of sleep. My best guess is that we each had about an hour last night as we tried to find a way to get Sandy comfortable. This is the part of recovery few talk about as most people assume that once you get home from the hospital, the healing trajectory is always pointed in a positive direction. It would be terrific if that were the case, but it’s not. The sleepless nights are, quite literally, exhausting and becomes a vicious cycle of grumpiness, frustration, and irritation – and that’s not even mentioning how critically important rest is for Sandy to heal.
I said that we would take a look at potentially opening Wise Acres (the name for our house) to visitors beginning today. As you smart cookies likely figured out, we are going to continue to ask the people hold off for the time being so Sandy can try to rest. As soon as things improve and Sandy feels up to seeing people, I will update it here.
After two weeks of being here and being a tremendous help, Sandy’s mom will depart for Dallas today. We can’t thank her enough for all the help she’s provided the past two weeks and it would have been damn near impossible to get through this without her support.
We did have a nice surprise last night as the greatness of Portillo’s was delivered by an unknown Chicagoland benefactor. I think we are all looking forward to dining on some high quality Italian beef tonight! We would love to thank the family who sent it, but the accompanying message did not disclose who did this wonderful deed.
That’s really the update for today. We are hoping that today Sandy will be able to manage her pain a little better and that we will be able to get some sleep tonight. As always, thank you for all the support – it lifts and sustains us.
Saturday, August 20, 2016 - 8:40 AM
It’s amazing what a good night of sleep can do – and I’m glad Sandy finally had one. She was able to better manage her pain and sleep from 9:00 PM last night to about 6:30 AM this morning. The pain seems to be abating a bit and is now more localized on her left shoulder just above the incision.
Today should be another day of rest for Sandy while I get to channel my inner Michael Keaton and play Batman. No, that’s not right…it’s Beetlejuice. Wait, that’s STILL not right. No, today I will be playing Mr. Mom as my activities will include:
Shopping for goalie gloves
Honestly, I embrace the mundane right now after the past two weeks of insane emotion.
Thank you again for all your support.
Sunday, August 21, 2016 - 11:00 AM
Sandy’s pain level seems to have dropped quite a bit yesterday and overnight – a very good thing. While her pain level is lower, she is still very tired and takes many naps throughout the day. I know many of you have asked about visiting and we are going to ask that everyone hold off for one more day until she (hopefully) gets a little more of her strength back. I will update the potential for visiting hours tomorrow.
The boys had a sleepover at a friend’s house last night which is one of those parenting things that cuts both ways. It’s great that they were able to spend time with a friend, but there’s usually a pound of flesh exacted by the tired behavior the next day. I’m really hoping that it doesn’t manifest itself when I pick them up today because, frankly, I don’t know how I’ll do with it as I am not sleeping well at all. I have picked up the very unpleasant habit of waking up for the day at 3:00 AM. I’m very hopeful that this is temporary.
Many of you have commented to me how “raw” and “honest” I’ve been in sharing my feelings during this situation, telling me that my candor has been refreshing. When I started this little blog, I really did it for me. During the darkest hours of this journey, I needed somewhere to not only document what was going on with Sandy, but also attempt to process my own emotions. In reading back through the entries, I’m somewhat stunned with what I shared and liken it to standing emotionally naked in front of everyone. However, even after reading, I don’t regret it at all. I also think that for my own mental well-being, I will continue to be as raw and honest as I have been.
As always, thank you for your continued support, prayers, and virtual hugs.
Monday, August 22, 2016 - 7:45 AM
Sandy continues to gain strength every day, even if it is in small increments. This morning, Sandy has an appointment with a speech-language pathologist to do a (hopefully) final check on her cognitive abilities. I would ask that each of you keep a good thought for her as it’s a little nerve wracking to be assessed by someone in the same profession. I’ll post an update here after we return from the appointment.
Monday, August 22, 2016 - 12:05 PM
Sandy had her evaluation this morning to gauge her cognitive abilities and, for lack of a better term, she passed with flying colors. As you can imagine, this was a tremendous relief to everyone and paves the way for her to return to work doing what she loves to do.
Now, the answer to the question many of you have been asking: when can I/we visit? Sandy still needs to rest and get her strength back, but if you would like to visit simply call or text either of us first. That way we can let you know if the timing works out. Also, please understand that there will be times it won't work out as the first priority for all of us is to get Sandy fully healthy. Thanks in advance for respecting this.
As always, thanks for the continued support as we move through this journey.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 - 2:00 PM
As I’ve said before, the trajectory of healing from this “event” was never going to be in a straight line upwards. Since the last update, Sandy has had some ups and some downs. Let’s start with the ups:
She’s fully off her pain medication
She’s able to take a shower by herself
She’s able to do some simple, everyday tasks: getting a drink, putting her plate in the sink, etc.
I drove her to the school she works to pay a brief visit. She really enjoyed seeing her friends and coworkers which definitely lifted her spirits.
Now the downs (and they’re not THAT bad but they do serve as a reminder of how serious this whole situation continues to be):
She tires very easily. For example, after her morning shower she usually takes a quick 30-minute nap.
She is experiencing dizziness. For years, Sandy has suffered from slightly high blood pressure and has taken meds to control it. A side effect of the heart medicine that she is now on is that it lowers blood pressure so now Sandy is in the lower range of normal. Her primary care physician said that it will take her body a while to get used to her new “normal” blood pressure.
She is still not allowed to drive which limits her freedom
Her primary care physician pushed back her anticipated return to work date from September 1st to the mid to latter part of September. Candidly, with September 1st a week away, I’m relieved as I can’t see her being able to do her job to her normally excellent ability – the strength just isn’t there yet.
The primary care physician laid it out very clearly: her heart has been through a severe trauma, she laid in bed for over a week, and it will take time for her to regain her strength. To rush her now would be a very bad idea – and I agree.
Onward we march on this journey, but it’s clear that we are a long way from the finish line. Thanks again for all the support as it’s most appreciated.
Sunday, August 28, 2016 - 1:00 PM
Sorry for the lack of updates but it’s been insanely busy in our house with the boys not only back in school, but also fully engaged with three different sports (both do cross country, Mitch plays baseball, and drew plays soccer), working as soccer referees, and Sandy really unable to do much of anything as she continues to heal. Essentially, all of this is meant to say that things are still progressing, albeit very slowly.
Sandy is still wiped out for a good hour after taking a shower and continues to display a fair amount of dizziness every time she stands up. We try to get her out of the house every day for either a walk around the neighborhood or going with me on a quick errand, but those tend to tire her out as well. She is hopeful that she can gain more strength by Wednesday so she can go to the cross-country meet which she missed last week.
As for me, I’m still not sleeping very well at all. I tend to fall asleep around 10:30 every night only to wake up around 2:00 AM. While I end up dozing off a little until it’s time to get up, the sleep I’m getting isn’t restful which leads to a vicious cycle of exhaustion. I’m not sure if I’m worried about things or if it’s just my mind racing, but the fact is I desperately need more sleep becuase I end up looking like this picture of Tom from "Tom and Jerry" all day, every day. If it doesn’t get better soon, I’m going to force myself to go to the doctor to see if there is something he can do, although I’m not wild about the prospect of taking sleeping pills or anti-anxiety meds.
As always, thank you for the love, thoughts, support, and prayers – we continue to need them.
Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:20 AM
I figured it was time for another update and, since this is my website, an update you get!
Sandy is slowly regaining her strength and stamina which is very encouraging. She has been spending her days writing thank you notes (they haven’t been sent as we still need stamps – my fault, not hers), trying to do some small personal tasks, and watching the dreck that is daytime television. Candidly, I can’t tell the difference between The View, The Talk, or The Chew, but that’s an opinion for another time. We do, however, know which lawyer to call if anyone in our family has an accident, worker’s compensation claim, or develops mesothelioma. In every cloud there is a silver lining.
She’s still not up to attending sporting events in the heat which means she will miss the cross country meet today. Additionally, she continues to experience some dizziness due to the medication she is on. It does seem to be getting better, but I know she would like that to go away.
We did have a visitor yesterday in Andy King, the Franklin Fire Marshall. While he was off duty on August 5th, he stopped by as he lives in our neighborhood and saw the commotion at our house. He was very helpful in making sure Drew was okay (or as ok as a 13-year-old boy can be after witnessing the events of that night) and keeping me focused on getting Sandy to the hospital. He shared that the entire Franklin Fire Department is thrilled at the progress and recovery Sandy is making as many times that’s simply not the case. We are very fortunate to live in a town with so many caring and real people.
As for me, I set an August 2016 record by clocking 7 hours of sleep last night! While I don’t feel even close to rested, it was nice to not wake up at 2:00 in the morning trying to figure out the appeal of The View, The Talk, and The Chew. I’m hopeful for another good night tonight.
As always, thank you for the phone calls, texts, hugs, prayers, and support. We still have a long way to go on this journey, and we can’t get there alone. Thank you!
Saturday, September 3, 2016 - 11:20 AM
Yesterday was “interesting” to say the least. While Sandy has been feeling better and growing stronger every day, she did feel some pain yesterday in her sternum – pain to the point where she called the doctor. As you can imagine, this set a little bit of panic in the house. Thankfully, her monitoring station happened to arrive yesterday as well – more on this later. To make a long (and slightly dramatic story) short, suffice to say that the doctors were able to read the information from Sandy’s device and determine that everything was functioning normally and there was no need to go to the emergency room and the pain finally went away. It was a reminder to all of us how quickly things can go from good to bad to good again.
Now, the monitoring station (pictured). This is truly an amazing machine that will wirelessly download information from her device directly to the doctor every night. As you can see, there is also a little “paddle” which can be held over her device if directed by doctors as it was last night. This gives them all the information they need to monitor her which will dramatically cut down on doctor visits. If they see something they don’t like from the report, they will contact Sandy to make an appointment. Again, simply amazing.
As I said above, Sandy is gaining strength every day and you might even catch her at the grocery store or walking in the neighborhood from time to time.
Thank you, as always, for your continued support.
Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 7:20 AM
It’s been a few days since I’ve posted an update because, frankly, it’s not exactly exciting to write things like “she’s slowly getting better” and “her energy seemed a bit higher today.” So, despite the lack of daily updates, please know that things are progressing in a positive direction.
Yesterday, however, was a significant day as Sandy had her first follow up appointments since the pacemaker/defibrillator (going forward to be simply called “the ICD”) and leaving the hospital. It was a little odd driving back down to Vanderbilt University Medical Center as I’m not used to driving to that facility with her in the seat next to me – a welcome change.
After parking and checking in on the 5th floor, we were quickly ushered back to see the cardiologist. I’m sure at some point I’ll get used to medical personnel saying things like “you were dead for 5-7 minutes” in the same dismissive, humdrum manner I would say “I dropped a few Junior Mints on the floor,” but it’s going to be a while. In any event, Sandy’s heart is getting stronger. If you recall, when she was in the hospital, her heart was operating at 20% in terms of blood pumping capability (normal is 55%). Due to the medicine and a bit of an assist from the pacemaker part of the ICD, she was at 28% yesterday – a welcome improvement in just a few weeks. The cardiologist increased her medicine a bit as studies show that the faster they can get a patient on a higher dosage, the more positive the overall results.
From there, we were taken to the electrophysiologist where they first inspected her incision. They cleaned off the remnants of the “skin glue” used to close her wound and, I have to admit, it looks good – damn good. Honestly, you have to really look to even see the incision site. From there, they placed a paddle over her ICD to test the leads to ensure they are still placed in the heart correctly. How do they test this? I’m glad you asked. Essentially they use an attached computer to manipulate the heart rate. For example, Sandy’s resting heart rate was around 70 beats per minute (bpm) yesterday. The electrophysiologist would explain that he would be moving it to 90 bpm and then do exactly that. Sandy, understandably, said it was quite bizarre to have someone control her heartbeat from a computer.
Everything completely checked out with the ICD and Sandy has had no reoccurrence of the situation that happened on August 5th. As you can imagine, we had a lot of questions about activity and lifestyle going forward. Here is a brief list with the answers in case you are interested:
Exercise – yes, but work slowly back into it: walks, climbing stairs, etc. The cardiologist is hoping to get Sandy into cardiac therapy where she can exercise in a safe environment as she works back to normal, daily activities.
Incision care – no lotion or anything like that for at least another two months. She also can’t wash it by rotating her hand, only up and down movements. The rotating movements might pull the leads from the heart
Heat – she needs continue to be careful in the heat as it may lower her blood pressure and cause her to faint until she’s fully acclimated to the meds. This caused her to miss another riveting cross country meet yesterday but we are optimistic she will be able to attend baseball and soccer games this weeked.
Arm movements – next week she will be allowed to lift her elbow above her head
Household – she is able to do more around the house: emptying the dishwasher, helping prepare meals, etc. This still makes her quite tired so she is working up to it
Driving – getting closer but, for the most part no.
All in all, it’s about the best news we could have had. She has a follow up appointment with the cardiologist in a month and a follow up with the electrophysiologist in three months. She is most definitely on target to return to work full-time on October 1st and that excites her.
As events warrant, I’ll update the blog as I don’t think anyone wants to read the mundane happenings of recovery. Just know she is getting better every day, but she still has good and bad days. We still need – and appreciate – your continued thoughts, prayers, and hug (virtual and real). Thank you for your continued support.
Thursday, September 14, 2016 - 4:40 PM
As I’ve mentioned before, we knew there would be good days and bad days – or in this case, nights. Last night was easily the worst night we’ve had since Sandy got out of the hospital. Sandy was having a difficult time sleeping and was up and down several times between 1:00 AM and 3:00 AM. At about 3:30 AM, she ended up vomiting violently and had painful stomach cramping. After washing her hands/mouth, she got excessively dizzy and fainted as I tried to catch her. I say “tried” because I was a bit slow to react and her entire weight – which was solidly focused on her right knee – landed squarely on the top of my right foot. Again, I was so thankful I was home to help.
I laid her down and, after about 90 seconds, she came out of it. Understandably, she has been achy and lethargic most of the day. We called both her cardiologist and her primary care physician and they were in agreement that Sandy likely has a stomach bug. They have asked her to skip her medicine tonight in an effort to keep her blood pressure a little higher than her “new normal” and to see how she feels in the morning. The events of the past 18 hours have been scary, exhausting, and a little mystifying as I have hard time believing Sandy has a “stomach bug” since she never leaves the house and none of us are sick. More than anything, however, it was a sober reminder how long we have to go in this process – one we didn’t expect.
We continue to push forward and hope Sandy continues on the mend. Thank you, as always, for your love, prayers, support, and hugs – we still need them.
Friday, September 23, 2016 - 5:20PM
It’s been a little over a week since I’ve written an update so I thought I would write one. To say Sandy is doing much better would be an understatement. Since her fainting episode last week, she’s regained much of her vivaciousness and, for lack of a better term, is more “her” than she has been since everything happened. Her energy level is at the very least back to what it was before the incident, and in some cases higher. For example, she can go two days without a nap. While that sounds like a joke, it’s really not as in the past, Sandy was good for about a nap a day when she was home. In fact, she walked a mile with me on Tuesday night and did not nap on Wednesday. Trust me when I tell you that’s a BIG improvement.
She’s both eager and nervous to get back to work on October 3rd but she also knows that there is so much support for her at Winstead Elementary. Candidly, the recovery she has made is nothing short of miraculous. While there are still some dark spots in her memory immediately prior to the “event,” she truly is back to her old self – laughing, smiling, and engaging.
That’s really all for now. Sandy goes back to her primary care physician next week to get the final sign-off on returning to work as we still figure out what our new “normal” is. We know there will continue to be challenges ahead, but we are confident that the road continues to trend upward. Thanks to everyone for the love, support, prayers, and hugs – they have been invaluable.
Sunday, October 2, 2016 - 7:50 PM - The Final Update
I apologize for the lack of updates, but there’s really only so many ways to say Sandy is getting stronger every day, her recovery is miraculous, and that her stamina is increasing. That’s not to say that the previous isn’t true – it very much is – but it is challenging to continually come up with different ways to express those sentiments.
Tomorrow is a big day as Sandy will be heading back to work with an understandable mix of excitement and anxiety. As it’s the first Monday of the month, it’s an extended day as there is a mandatory faculty meeting after school day ends. This means that her first day back will be a full day. I will be driving her to school in the morning and a coworker will bring her back home at the end of the day as we anticipate Sandy will be exhausted as she adjusts to a new schedule. She will most likely be driving herself to work by the end of this week.
Candidly, there’s really not much more we anticipate that will need to be updated on this blog so this will likely be the last official entry. Many of you have shared with either Sandy or me how much you appreciated the blog and have used is for its intended purpose: a conduit for information. As many of you know, to me this blog has been much more than just a way to share updates on Sandy’s condition.
I’ve always enjoyed writing as I find the medium where I feel I can be the most expressive. At the outset of Sandy’s “event” and subsequent diagnosis, I needed a place to put my admittedly raw and honest feelings so that I could focus on Drew, Mitch, and even Sandy. I really never intended to share it until the overwhelming influx of concern, support, and love from each of you. Knowing I would never be able to keep up with the text messages (which numbered about 300 a day and I have sausage fingers – you can do the math), I decided this was the best vehicle to keep everyone informed. Just as important, it became cathartic as it was the one place I felt I could really just let my honest emotions out.
I’ve reread the blog a few times and have resisted the urge to correct typos, punctuation, and other small errors my 4th grade English teacher would mark with her red pen. To me, changing anything besides formatting errors would be a disservice to me and all of you who cared enough to be with us virtually on this journey. Therefore, it will stand – mistakes and all – as it does today.
In the previous paragraph, I mentioned the journey. Rest assured, Sandy’s journey – our journey – isn’t over simply because I’m going to stop updating the blog. Our lives have been forever changed in ways we still cannot fathom, but that’s okay.
It’s okay because Drew and Mitch still have their mom
It’s okay because I still have my bride.
It’s okay because Gene and Kathy still have their daughter
It’s okay because tomorrow she will be greeted with love, hugs, and tears of joy by countless coworkers
It’s okay because there IS a tomorrow for Sandy – and that’s not something I thought was possible in the early hours of August 6th
Last, and so vitally important, I want to express my sincere gratitude to each one of you – many of whom I know and many of you I don’t – for, well, everything: the calls, the emails, the texts, the generosity, the concern, the silent hugs, the meals, the tears, the laughs, the drop ins, and the unexpected notes. Thank you for the love. One lesson I would ask that each of you take away from this is to not be so cynical about the world as it doesn’t serve a purpose other than to divide. The world, this country, and your community are filled with people who love and care about you:
The guy voting for the candidate you despise? Every night in his prayers, he asks for God to give you strength
The lady who likes to ignore her dog barking at 5:30 AM on Saturday? She would drop everything for you in an emergency.
The snarky teen who cut you off to get the better spot at the grocery store? He would mow your lawn for weeks without asking because he knew you had other things to worry about.
People are good – just about all of them – if you give them a chance. I intend to be better about giving people a chance and I hope each of you do the same.
Love - Bill
Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 7:20 AM
Okay, so the update on October 2nd wasn’t the final update but as I wrote earlier, it’s my blog so my rules. Quite a bit has happened over the past four months with the vast majority of it really good:
Sandy’s heart is now pumping at around 45% and the doctors are thrilled
We were able to make dinner and take it to the fire station to thank the first responders, 911 operators, and other staff – so good for the soul
In conjunction with the Franklin Fire Department, we are hosting a CPR training class on Saturday, February 4th and, as of this writing, over 80 people are signed up
Sandy was selected as a “Survivor Story” for 2017 by the American Heart Association and we attended the Heart Ball in Nashville on January 28th
In short, it’s been a whirlwind since the last “final” update and to say that Sandy has come a long way would be a tremendous understatement. Sandy’s stamina has continued to increase and her memory lapses (we lovingly call them “black holes”) have diminished. It’s truly amazing to see the miracle her life has become.
We are committed to telling Sandy’s story in hopes that it will help others. To that end, we agreed to film a promotion for the CPR training class which you can see in the first video below. This one, in particular, is very difficult for me as it has my 911 call sprinkled in to the video. While real and raw, it’s hard for me to hear my voice that way.
The second video was produced by the American Heart Association to tell Sandy’s story and they did so in the most loving and graceful manner. When it debuted at the Heart Ball on Saturday, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. After the program, so many people stopped us to thank us for being “brave” in telling our story, which is interesting as we don’t look at it as brave at all. Rather, we feel it’s our responsibility to pay it forward by being as vocal as we can about the importance of CPR, the value of great doctors, and the continual work of the American Heart Association because without that, Sandy wouldn’t be here today.
As always, thank you for the continued support – we truly appreciate it.
Franklin Fire Department CPR Training Promo Video
American Heart Association Survivor Story Video
Happiness at the Middle Tennessee Heart Gala, January 28, 2017