I stared at the ceiling the entire ride back to my room.. I didn’t even realize that the transporters were asking me if I was ok.. I’m not sure if it was my expression or the fact that my smile, that I had been wearing all day, was completely wiped off of my face.. I finally realized it and said “OH!..Yeah I’m just.. really tired.” I think they noticed that I needed some time to myself because by the time I got situated in my ICU room, the nurse began to try convince me to get some sleep, but.. I’m not that easy.
I spent the next 6 hours laying still and in limbo wondering what everything on that flat screen meant. I tried to spend time texting friends or surfing through Instagram to get my mind off, but.. it just wasn’t working. My dad started to ask the nurses when I would be able to eat again because I had been NPO.. “nothing by mouth” which means no eating or drinking.. for two days and I was starving. They would reply that the surgeon hadn’t given the orders for a regular diet, and they didn’t know if I was going into surgery that night or not.. having to listen to all this lack of information and communication was killing me.
I laid there with thoughts of the images being life-threatening, and it set waves of emotions throughout my body which, in turn, set off all the monitors. I turned to Ricardo and asked if he could warm and move my freezing, paralyzed toes with his hands and the fact that he happily jumped out of the chair to my side almost made me cry. It broke my heart to know that he was having to relive his late fathers stroke.. but it was me on the bed this time. Ricardo lost his father years ago after a stroke severely debilitated him, but all those years haven’t made it easier for him to heal from it. It hurts me to type how I can see the pain in his eyes when he brings up memories he has with his late father.. one sentence alone can be enough to leave him in a quiet, glazed-eye daze for minutes at a time.. I felt so guilty for everything that he was having to go through with me in those past 2 days, so I did my best to keep myself upbeat, just for him. While he rubbed my foot, I smiled and thought about how I am so blessed to have this incredibly strong, more than willing man in my life, he has been one of the best gifts that God has ever given me. When I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer, more than a handful of people disappointed me during my countless hospitalizations. I was constantly alone and my empty room always filled with drama on the web.. I had gotten so used to people not being there when my cancer happened, and it made me feel so lucky to be the girl with her husband constantly in the room.
For 4 days Ricardo never left my side. In those first two nights, he would walk behind my bed while I was wheeled to different scans on the different floors… He would stay awake and talk to me when I couldn’t sleep from pain, and he would kiss away every single tear that fell from my cheeks in the middle of the night when I would finally talk about how scared I felt, not knowing what the verdict was. I love him and all those moments he gave us, they may not have been made under the best circumstances, but they are memories that I will hold close to my heart forever.
Morning rolled around and so did the doctor with the orders for a regular diet.. I wasn’t very hungry due to all the anti-nausea I needed for all the narcotics, but I was still really happy about finally getting some food in my stomach.. A little while later the doctor came in to explain exactly what was going on. I would be his second surgery, scheduled for Monday January 27th, 2014. He calmly went on to explain that what I had suffered was a brain hemorrhage that caused me to have a stroke, and that what we saw on the x-rays, was indeed a large amount of blood. I was being diagnosed with Cerebral Arteriovenous Malformation. This is a rare vascular disease where the arteries in the brain dangerously pump high-flow blood directly into abnormally tangled veins because I lack the capillaries that are normally there to slow the blood down during this process. Several of these veins in my brain had ruptured, and the bleed was only getting larger. He said it was rare that an AVM bursts during life and that more people live their lives not knowing they have one, with the AVM being found at the time of an autopsy. He then said his PA’s would be checking on me daily and asked if I had any questions.. which i didn’t.. I didn’t even know what to say other than Ok. I thanked him for coming to my room with all the information and as the staff exited the room I wondered exactly what it all meant.
I felt like a time bomb.