January 22, 2012

This series of posts, reliving every memory, is probably the hardest ones to write.  I’m forcing myself to go back, relive something that was at the time moving too fast and with too much intensity to really register what was going on.   Thinking back on it hurts.   There will come a point where I will stop – probably within a post or two, because the rest of it requires me going into my journal from that time  – and I’m not ready to go back to that point. 

January 22 started the same as any other day he had been in the hospital.  I got up, got the boys up, spent a couple hours with them, put dinner in the crock pot and then prepared to go back to the city to see him.

We’d been through this before – Mom spends a lot of time in the city and eventually brings Dad home.

That morning, I made sure the house was clean, dinner was in the slow cooker and I told the boys I’d be back around dinner time.   I then headed down to St. Paul’s.

I spent the day… I don’t know how I spent the day.  I do know that at some point his sister arrived.  I think it was mid-afternoon – around 2.  I don’t really remember who else was there at that point.   I’d have to go back and look.

What I remember is that they took him for a CT scan.   The way the ICU works is that between certain times of the day, you don’t get to be in there.   If they’re doing a procedure, if they’re cleaning him up, redressing wounds, or during shift change.

So when they took him for the CT around 5.30 it was a given that I would not get to see him again until 8.30pm.   The CT was going to take a while, then they’d have to get him hooked up to machines again, and then there’d be shift change.

Lisa & Norm took me for dinner.  We talked… I’m sure we talked… I don’t know about what but we talked.

We got back to the hospital around 8.20 … and I waited.   At 8.30 I called… and was asked to give them another 30 mins or so.   I called again, and was asked again, please wait.

Then Kevin, the charge nurse came out to talk to me.  Kevin was enormously kind, caring and compassionate.   He told me how Mark was sick.  Very sick.  Possibly the sickest person on the ward.   And they were concerned for him.   That it looked like there may have to be surgery done.

A couple hours later Kevin came back with the surgeon to get consent for the surgery.

I spent the time between signing the consent and him being taken away at his side, kissing him, holding him, loving him, talking to him. Begging him to please come back to us.  That we weren’t ready to be without him. Please please come back to me.

The surgeon came into his room at one point and told me that without the surgery he had about 5% chance of survival.  With the surgery, he had about 7% chance.   (My family doctor told me much later that most likely she was trying to give me hope – that in reality he probably had no chance of survival without the surgery)

By this point friends had joined me.  They had come to support me, Katie, Adam, the boys, Kyle came down, everyone was there… waiting.  Kyle arrived around 3 or 4am.   The boys were here with us, not understanding exactly why they were there, just knowing that Daddy needed our love and support.   They were given the option to come in and see him if they wanted.

Kathy and I went for a walk.  We went in search of the hospital chapel.  I’m not religious, but the idea of being somewhere spiritual gave me great comfort.   It took us a while to find it.  We had talked about going to the store and getting some juice or something, but decided to just go sit in the chapel for a while.

The surgeon and Kevin came and found us.   Mark survived the surgery.  He was extremely medically fragile, but stable.  They were cautiously optimistic and said that Mark was on an hour by hour watch.   But he survived.

That started my month of living in the hospital, in hotels and finally in a bed and breakfast near VGH.    I couldn’t leave him.  I abandoned my kids to whomever was available to take care of them and my life and I just… stayed there.   At his side as much as I could be, barely breathing or taking care of myself.

My derby name was something Mark and I came up with together.  I liked Jezebelle – he added the “Blue Bayou” to it.
My derby number – 5-7% is the chance of survival he was given.   He beat those odds.  He came back to me.  He was with me and our kids for another 5 months before his body couldn’t handle it any further.

5-7% is fantastic odds.  I’ll take them anytime.

January 22 is the day my life truly changed – the day that I really understood how much I loved Mark and how I could actually lose him. I still held the unwavering hope and belief that he would get better and come home to me, but I saw what COULD happen.

I’d like to find Kevin the charge nurse – let him know how it all turned out and thank him again for how wonderful he was.   The 159 days in the hospital showed me how amazingly awesome some nurses are – and Kevin was one of them.

If you read this -and know Kevin the charge nurse at St. Paul’s hospital, could you ask him to get in touch with me?  My contact info is in the about me section – I’d like to buy him a coffee.

Thank you to everyone who was there for me, in person, in spirit, online and in my heart that night.  Your love got me and Mark through that night.



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