So much to be thankful for this year, it's not even possible to really put it into words. I've felt it for a week, and its torn at my heart every day in every way. Everytime I think about where I was last year, where my husband was, where my family was....it brings tears to my eyes.
Thanksgiving last year was horrible. I was in septic shock, had already had four surgeries in less than a week, and was getting worse, not better. On thanksgiving day, I went in for my fifth surgery on my leg and abdomen. Jon and my parents, brother, sisters, and cousin Bryan didn't leave my side during the entire week of thanksgiving. Although I was on the vent by the time thanksgiving rolled around, I was still so incredibly unstable, that all my family could be thankful for was that I lived another day. My lungs and heart were working on overtime-- I was literally panting for air and my heart beat was racing- it was as if I was running a marathon 24/7. And thank God I'm a marathon runner, or I wouldn't have survived one day of that. At one point, they tried to reduce the sedation, and I just about coded before they re-vented me. I had a constant fever- usually around 101.5-102 during the day, but at night, it would always creep up....103, 104, 105. Just thinking about it makes me shutter. My family was told that I was so unstable that it was quite possibly that I'd be alive one day and dead the next. There was very little hope. Almost nothing to hold onto. Except each other.
There was talk that it was time to do a tracheostomy. Somehow they were able to avoid that, THANK GOD. I have enough scars, thank you.
Needless to say, a year later, we have so much to be thankful for.
I'm alive. I'm improving and recovering. I'm God's chosen miracle.
Coincidentally, I've had some huge breakthroughs in PT this week. It's like my minuscule quad muscle is finally deciding that it wants to work again. I leave PT and the gym in tears most days. But tears or not, I don't give a damn. I will not stop. I'm thankful for my natural competitive nature and inherited strength. With an illness like necrotizing fasciitis or cancer for example, you have to fight for each day, each step. The fight never stops and most times it gets harder, not easier. We have no choice but to become stronger fighters if we want to live and get better... And this makes us so, so strong.
Sometimes you have to be pounded down to really grow. And it sucks, to be honest. It's not fun. No one looks back and says, I had necrotizing fasciitis, almost died, had 7++ surgeries, lost my hair, lost most of my leg which is necessary for me to run, which happens to be the love of my life, and am covered in scars..... dang I'm so glad I went through that.
No. We get mad. We get sad. We grieve. We accept. We learn. We grow. We become strong. And in the end, although we hate what happened, we learn that we are forever changed, in a good way. We are so very strong. We work hard for every damn step we take, every accomplishment in physical therapy, every new obstacle. We cry in pain, but we keep freaking working hard because WE HAVE TO. Because WE'RE STRONG NOW. A new kind of strong. And we're newly brave, too. Did you ever stop to think just how freaking strong and brave and fearless that cancer patients are? Yes. We fought and we keep fighting, and it gets harder, not easier, but we're damn blessed because we're new stronger braver souls.
All these things, all these changes, makes me thankful this year. I'm thankful that I get to spend this week with my family, celebrating life, instead of fearing my death. We're gently walking through this week together. We have to be gentle with each other, because the pain of what happened is still so present and fierce.
And I'm thankful that God allowed me to live and marry the man who sat by my side for 2 months in the hospital. The man who never stopped loving me, never gave up on me. Who cheers me on when I have a good day in PT. Who holds me when I cry in pain or frustration. And who told me yesterday that every time he sees my scars, it makes him love me even more. Because it reminds him that I am a brave, strong, badass, fighter. It reminds him of how far I've come. Of how blessed we are that God saved me and gave us to each other.
Thank you God, for this Thanksgiving.