Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I thought I'd give you all a little update on my friend from McDonalds.  She doesn't want her name out there, so let's call her Jill.

OMG you guys, you would be so proud of her fierceness.  She is a warrior.  She is doing so much better.  She is braver than most everyone I know, and she continues to get up every morning, take care of those kids, and LIVE.

She is moving up to Michigan soon and in with her parents.  Her parents are going to love on her and love on those kids and let her BREATHE again so she can learn how to love herself again.  That husband of hers (soon to be ex) took her BREATHING away.  Now it's not so easy anymore.  Now she has to remember to close her eyes....breathe...and then keep going.  Now she has to try to get through a minute.  And then another... And then another.... and once she's gotten through that a bunch of times, she realizes another day has gone by and she's gotten through it and she's still alive.  She's praying now, too.  I told her that it's okay if she doesn't feel like going to church right now, but the one thing she should do is keep talking to God.  Just keep the communication lines open, I told her.  Then you'll never really be alone.

The fact that God put me in her way to stop her from taking her own life is a gift to me.  It's a day and moment that I'll never ever forget.  I didn't buy her McDonalds knowing it would change both of us forever.  I just wanted to see how it feels to do that for someone.  It was really for myself.  I've always been the type of person who likes to GIVE better than GET.  I love watching someone open something that I picked out especially for him or her.  My entire family is like that, in fact.  My parents get SO EXCITED every Christmas.  Not just because they get to see us for two weeks straight either.  They love going shopping together and picking out things for the the people they love, so they can watch their laughs and squeals and happiness when they open those gifts.

Paying it forward is way of life I've chosen since I survived my illness.  When I was in the hospital and cards and prayers and Amy bracelets and money that was so desperately needed were coming in, my parents sat with and told me.... "When this is all over....when you've beat this.... you have to pay it forward.  God allowed you to live because He's not done with you yet.  You were put here for something more.  You have to pay it forward for all these prayer warriors who saved you."  So, that's what I decided to do.  McDonalds was the first step.  My blog is another.  I've decided to write this story down, not for me, but for YOU.  Because without your thoughts and prayers and cards and love, I'd be dead, you guys.  This blog is a gift to you.  You deserve to know what happened.  You deserve to know who you prayed for...what she went through...what kind of person she is....what kind of miracles God performed because of YOU.  This is one way I'm paying it forward.

Monday, May 6, 2013

BIG. part 10.

Rehab day.  As we packed up my room (full of cards, stuffed animals, balloons, signs, angels (they were everywhere...grandma brought a new one each time she came, and my mom bought 4 willow tree angels while I was fighting for my life), gifts, computers, movies, and stashes of that Ensure drink, I sat on the bed with my dad who was trying to force feed me a sandwich and cried.  I was terrified to leave my home on the burn unit with my nurses who knew everything about me and my doctors who had become part of our family.  They had warned us that rehab would basically be intense physical therapy--4 hours a day.  I would still be assessed and given meds by the nurses, and my burn unit doctors would   still come to see me every morning, but I was going to be becoming much more independent.  Part of me wanted that, and part of me dreaded that.  When they finally wheeled me down to rehab, the staff at the nurses station stood up and applauded for me.  It still makes me tear up thinking about those amazing caretakers who genuinely were so relieved and proud that I was alive and still fighting and ready for rehab.  Most of them knew me much longer than I knew them.  They had cared for me night and day as a machine breathed for me and I battled between earth and Heaven.  They had seen so many others go to Heaven, and they were thrilled that I had somehow won my battle.  They weren't sure how, those nurses.  Their doctors and their medical knowledge had taught them that a girl like me with an illness like that shouldn't have lived.

Even today when I went for a routine dr. visit, Dr. G. told me, "Well, hell, Amy.  You aren't supposed to be alive.  You were so close to death its no wonder you're having nightmares."

It was hard saying goodbye to my angel nurses.  I think the whole family was in tears as we said our last goodbyes and headed down to the 5th floor rehab.

When I got into my room, I started to feel a little better.  It was a huge room, private, with a comfy bed and big windows.  My bathroom had a big huge shower with a shower chair....  wait.. I was going to be showering now?  No more bed bath?  That scared me.  The nurse came in and was a doll.  She talked about the unit and explained the way things worked.  She explained that the 4 hours of therapy per day would be split up into 30 min-1.5 hour increments throughout the day at different times, with lots of breaks.  Breaks during which I could sleep.  I liked that.  It was kinda like when I went to soccer camp at University of North Carolina and everyday was a different schedule with different drills and workshops and games at different times.

So on the rehab floor, a typical day for me would be.... wake up around 6.  Choke down a little breakfast at 7.  PT from 8-9, then break until 12.  Occupational therapy from 12-1:30.  PT again from 2-3.  Then group PT from 4-4:30.  Then dinner at 4:30 and then I was done for the day.  My parents came in the mornings and hung out with me all day long.  Sometimes they'd go off with me to therapies, other times they'd let me go myself.  After dinner, I'd hang out with my parents and watch funny TV or movies until my brother came after work and Jon came after work.  On the weekends, my sister came and her visits were the most fun.

Jess would bring new movies, new magazines, diet coke, candy....anything to brighten up my day.  My favorite day in the hospital was the day she brought Mean Girls.  She came really early in the morning and we put the movie in.  Shortly after, a nurse I'd never had before brought in my meds.  I had never seen her but figured maybe it was an agency nurse or something.  The nurse had a fistful of pills in her hand.  She mumbled what sounded like "Your nurse is running late so I have your meds for you. I have your uh...oxy..wait....pause....lost my train of thought.  Um... here you go."  She handed me the pills and left.  Jess and I looked at each other and DIED laughing.  Jess said, "Who the HELL was that??  Was that your nurse??  Was she drunk?"  I was crying I was laughing so hard.  "Jeez.." Jess said.  "I'm not letting that drunk nurse come in here with a fistful of pills for my sister who already almost died."  We laughed and laughed.  (Honestly, the nurse probably wasn't drunk....she was probably just having a bad morning but it sure seemed that way).  Anyways, it was one of the few moments in the hospital that I was able to really let go and laugh.  After we watched Mean Girls, Jessica and my mom washed my hair in the bed and painted my fingernails and toenails.  It was a great day.

Rehab was extremely intense and painful.  I was off the IV by that point and just getting oral pain medications.  Although the medication was less strong, the pain certainly wasn't.  I'd get about a good 2 hours of relief after getting my meds and then for the other two hours, I'd be crying or praying or breathing like I was in labor.  But I'm a damn fighter.  I went to every PT session and worked my butt off.  I wanted to walk.  Heck, I wanted to be able to stand up without help.  When asked what my goals were for PT, my number one goal was "To walk down the aisle at my wedding in May."

In 3 weeks, I get to do just that.  :)