Right?… That saying…that quote… we hear it a thousand times in a week, and what does it actually mean? Is it negative? is it a positive affirmation? It depends…that choice is left with the beholder of the decision. The image below us is of myself and my boyfriend during our 8 year anniversary…May 15h 2016… I woke up that morning and thought to myself “wow…8 years with this incredible guy!!” and it was a true thought. We were happy after a confusing and heart breaking year in 2015. You know, you’ve been with someone for so long, since the age of 15, it’s bound to happen where you both change and sometimes you don’t change together. We had a big talk about where we wanted to be in a year from now, and if it was best for us to be doing it together. We started new plans and new goals. Jordan was about to start school to finish his diploma and apply for a trades course, and I had a new job with a great future in a new career. We were saving for a house, a place to call our own…Life was great, we were great…Key word here is “was”….
JUNE 01st, 2016..
I was at work, it was around 2:30PM, I was about to head into a meeting when my cell phone rang. I glanced over and saw “Jordan’s Cell” calling and I thought to myself “ugh…i’m in the middle of something, i’ll call him back” until it rang again for a second time… For the record, Jordan typically NEVER calls me unless he knows I’m driving and can’t answer his texts…so my second thought to myself was “shit… I wonder what’s wrong?” So i answered and I heard heavy breathing and i said “Jordan?… are you there? I’m at work, stop screwing around” and he started to cry and i’ll never forget what he said after that … “Babe… something is wrong I need you”… Jordan also doesn’t cry… he’s an emotional man and he wears his heart on his sleeve, but he does not cry unless something is really wrong. He says after, “I was outside cleaning up the garden for mom and I came inside to get a drink and all of a sudden I got a sharp pain in my head…I can’t stop throwing up, everything is blurry and my head really hurts”… I immediately felt my heart flutter and a giant knot in my stomach and I knew something was wrong…Maybe it was heat stroke? It was really hot that day and it wasn’t alarming to think of it being that.
I rushed out of work and booked it down to his house and walked through the front door, and let me tell you when I say that the image of him shaking in his own sweat, his skin the colour of a corpse, scared me so much that I actually thought that he was for sure dying…He spent that afternoon, evening and night on the couch eating nothing but Advil and trying to keep down the water he used to take the Advil. The next day came and he hadn’t slept a wink. We texted back and forth through out the day as I of course wanted to make sure he was ok. However, he wasn’t and as he explains, he felt as if his head was about to explode. That was when he finally texted me around 3:00PM he told me he had his mom take him to the hospital because things hadn’t changed in 24 hours and something didn’t felt right. The doctors at Cambridge Memorial Hospital said they’d do a head CT to rule out anything and that they’d give him some fancy migraine drugs to take the pain away if it in fact was just the worst migraine he’s ever had. I rushed to the hospital after work to let his mom go home and get some sleep since she spent most of the night awake by his side, but when I got there and asked what was going on and if they had any CT results, his mom avoided my questions and wouldn’t answer me. Now, my mother-in-law and I are very close. I mean we go shopping together and have dinner dates without my boyfriend, and I can 10000% say that I know her very well …and I knew she was hiding something in that hospital room. My mother in law is a nurse and has been for 15 years so she has seen a lot and she knows a lot so I am overjoyed knowing that I had her by my side to explain all of what was happening…I sat down in the chair beside the emergency room bed that He was lying in and he opened his eyes and said “hey babe”. He looked like he was in so much pain and it killed me to know that I couldn’t help him. I looked at him, gave him a kiss, and said “hey.. hows it going?”…he looked at me and said “babe… I have a brain bleed…” … what?… I looked at him and my heart stopped. I felt actual pain in the left of my chest and i clutched his hand and said “okay lets not jump to conclusions baby” and then he said it again “Liv… I have a brain bleed, we just got the CT results. This is real”… As the ER nurse came in she said “Jordan we have a room on hold for you at the Hamilton General hospital where they specialize in neuro bleeds” … the panic set right in. My entire world crashed right under neath me, and I just felt the realization kick in.. Holy fu*k… he’s dying?…I couldn’t breathe. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. I had the fear of fainting setting into my head and I got sweaty in an instant. Brain bleed? What does that even mean!!!???
I called his mom in a panic and told her to rush back and meet us back at the hospital. Everything was happening so fast. I didn’t have time to process this. I headed home to change and pack a bag before heading out to Hamilton. I walked in the door while my eyes flooded with tears. This was that moment that you want to be strong and not let your parents see their 24 year old daughter in tears. I headed into the kitchen while my mother came in from the backyard and said “hey kiddo. What’s going on? Any info?” And I just collapsed in her arms gasping for air as my poor mother was overcome with worry. “Olivia. What. Is. Wrong!?” She ran to the back door and called for my dad. I remember her exact words “Ernie she isn’t breathing and I can’t get her to calm down”. I was hyperventilating, I couldn’t feel my hands. My dad took his hands and placed them on my shoulders. “Olivia! You need to breathe and tell us what’s wrong, Bella!” ….”brain bleed” I said….”he has a brain bleed”….In a matter of 4 hours, I was sitting in Hamilton, ON in the middle of the Neurological ICU with my mother-in-law, at her son, my boyfriends, bedside for a parietal lobe AVM bleed.
What is a brain AVM? “Normally, arteries carry blood containing oxygen from the heart to the brain, and veins carry blood with less oxygen away from the brain and back to the heart. When an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) occurs, a tangle of blood vessels in the brain or on its surface bypasses normal brain tissue and directly diverts blood from the arteries to the veins.”
(taken from the heart and stroke association)
The next 6 days were hell on my mother-in-law, my heart and my own brain. You don’t realize all of the things you could miss out on in life with someone, until the reality and the fear is facing you right in the eye. It was Saturday June 3rd, I was supposed to be second shooting for a wedding that my best friend was first shooter for. I told her everything and that I insisted on still working the wedding because I couldn’t let her down… but because she’s amazing and knows me too well, she insisted I stay right where I was…bedside holding my mans hand… This guy had been my rock for 8 years through so many losses of my own, and now it was my turn to be his rock… I had NO idea where to start. I spent 8 hours by his bed that Saturday and he didn’t even know it. He’d wake up each time and say “babe… you’re here… how was the wedding?”… he had no idea, between the drugs and the pain, that I was there that entire time. After numerous tests, MRI’s and angiograms, we found out that he needed to have brain surgery to go in and clot this bleed and to make sure it would completely clot and as well as to clip the aneurysm that they magically found while they were doing all of these tests. Let me tell you what it’s like to send someone home with a ticking time bomb in their brain…it’s torture. Every sneeze, every cough, every time he rubbed his head and said “ah..weird head pain…” and making sure that the bomb in his brain wasn’t about to blow and kill him…I spent the next 5 days, before his surgery, wondering what life could be like without him. I mean, this was brain surgery, for a B R A I N B L E E D, after all, anything could happen…What if he dies? What would life actually be like without the love of my life? It was all hitting me… I didn’t have time to think all of this through while I sat bedside by his side making sure he had enough blankets, making sure the pain meds were working, asking the nurses when the neurosurgeon would be in… I was acting like a helicopter mom making sure that her kid had the right kind of Jell-O…
JUNE 14th, 2016
Surgery day… 5:00AM wake up…Hamilton, ON. If you’ve ever been on the opposite side of the surgery fence, you’ll understand exactly what I’m about to describe to you… I know it wasn’t me going under but I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted it to be. I would have rather it been me than him feeling this pain and fear. We checked in and spent our 2 hours in pre-op prep talking about life and fears until they were ready to take him in… All I can remember, to this day, is the way he looked at me and said “I’m not done yet…I’m not going to die, Liv” and my response to him was “…the only way you will die before you’re ready, are at the hands of me…” he chuckled and kissed me…He pulled me in, hugged me the tightest he ever has and said “I love you Livvy”…
2 hours later the surgeon came out and said “everything went great, they’re waking him up now, but there wasn’t much to do”…My mother-in-law and I looked at each other confused and asked the surgeon to explain. He said that this was something that has happened, but didn’t happen often. That it was a rare outcome but an amazing one. It turns out that the aneurysm was attached to the AVM (the cluster of veins that burst) and that the rare thing was that the AVM clotted itself and stopped bleeding…that because it clotted itself, the aneurysm didn’t have any blood or oxygen flow to it, so it “dried out and died off”… They spent 2 hours taking photos of his entire brain and all the lobes in it to make sure there was no mistake and that everything had, for lack of better wording, “healed itself”… We couldn’t believe it… he was ok… he was “healed”…If you didn’t believe that miracles could happen before reading this, I should hope that now, you might…they let me into the recovery room and he was awake and smiling… He looked at me and said “they told me what happened…” He squeezed my hand and started to cry, and he said “I’ve got someone looking out for me”…I don’t do well in serious situations, I never have and I never will. I don’t know why that is, but it is… So naturally my response to most situations like this, are something funny… I looked at him, kissed him and said “…can I start to plan our wedding now!!!”. He laughed and said “plan away babe”…
The trials and tribulations of living with what he went through are for another blog post one day. It’s not been an easy recovery, and it probably won’t be for a while… But trauma isn’t meant to be something that you get over and move on from, so quickly. It can really mess you up and change you… But maybe… it’s for the best? I mean things happen for a reason…right?
“It doesn’t matter how tough we are. Trauma always leaves a scar. It follows us home, changes our lives. Trauma messes everybody up. But, maybe, that’s the point. All the pain and the fear and the crap. Maybe going through that is what keeps us moving forward. It’s what pushes us. Maybe we have to get a little messed up before we can step up.” -Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) Grey’s Anatomy
Photos in this blog were taken by, Kelsey Kubels of Cloud Nine Photography