Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thankful and Grateful

As I sit here passing the night away with my sister, Annette, who is in ICU, I can't help but count my blessings.

I am so thankful that my oldest sister, Maresa, called me Saturday and suggested that I get my booty to St. Louis to see Annette before it was too late.
It was October 29 (just ten days prior) when Annette was admitted to Missouri Baptist (MOBap) in St. Louis for a lung biopsy. It was suppose to be "routine" to check out a breathing issue but her condition worsened dramatically.

A little history: Annette is a healthy, fun-loving genius of a 47 year old. She recently moved from Colorado to St. Louis for her dream job. She had been having issues with breathing at her job in Colorado starting this past spring (reason for the breathing issues in her work environment is for another post.) Suffice it to say, she got more and more sick with respiratory issues, was tired of that and had a fantastic opportunity with a pharma research firm in St. Louise back in August.

Her breathing got progressively worse from September to October. She was diagnosed with Sceloderma lung disease this past Friday. It attacked her lungs because they had been compromised. Her lung capacity went from 77% on 10/28 to 30% on 11/8 - 10 days...this disease is horrifying.

I am so thankful that I flew to St. Louis this Monday to see her. I flew to get here quickly (instead of driving from KC) and I was blessed to have my cousin's husband, Chris, on the same flight. He and his colleague, Tim, drove me to MOBap. Because I took the early flight and got a ride from Chris and Tim, I was able to spend a few hours with Annette before her health took a nose dive from this life-sucking disease.

If I had driven, I would have pulled in to MoBap when the ICU doctors were hooking her up to a ventilator and telling my oldest sister, Maresa, that Annette had no chance of getting off the vent. The man upstairs was looking out for my family - thank you, God!

Anyway, because I got to the hospital around 9a on Monday, we got to pay bills - this was extremely important to Annette - she needed that finished, she was too weak to write the checks, she was adament about me getting her bills caught up (if you know Annette, you know she gives assignments and loves to conduct and you're smiling right now.) I was helpful to her as we got those bills out of the way and I'm very thankful she found peace in that.

I watched her skin go from light blue to dark blue and purple very quickly with my sister, Maresa. Annette was struggling to breath when I got there and gasping for air in a matter of a few hours - even with 2 oxygen masks.

I experienced an amazing MOBap staff take incredible, loving care of Annette before they had to transfer her to ICU. Thank you Beth, Jackie, Tara and everyone on the Cardiovascular Recovery & Progressive Care floor at MOBap. I'm very thankful for all you do in such a passionate, loving way for not only Annette, but each of your patients every day. You are all angels!

Once in ICU, Annette made the decision to be on a ventilator and told the doctor not to put her on a trac (if it comes to that.) I am very thankful that I was here with her before the vent went in and that I know the vent was her decision.

I am amazed that the priest came so very quickly to give Annette the Anointing of the Sick Sacrament before she was vented. He was there in moments, not minutes, from the time of the request. His blessing has brought my family so much peace.

I am thankful that I was with my sister Maresa to take in the news from the ICU doctor that Annette had no chance of coming off the vent. We needed each other to get through that whopper of a newsflash.

It's as if Annette waited to go south until I walked in her hospital room. Annette wanted me to be with my sister, Maresa. Annette is that way, always thinking of others.

The ICU staff brought Annette up from sedation this morning so that her husband who flew in from Colorado could communicate with her this morning. Annette mouthed "I love you!" to Bob and they got to spend a few moments together and she stayed awake long enough to see my husband, John, and my brother, Pete, before the staff had to sedate her again to unconsciousness to keep her stable. I am grateful that this fantastic staff balanced that complicated act of keeping Annette as awake as possible without her being in any pain AND stable for the rest of her family to have some time with her.

There are so many friends and co-workers from all the pharma research firms that have reached out over the last few days with prayers, flowers, love and support and I'm thankful to see how many peoples' lives she touched and how many wonderful friends she has. How very comforting.

And all of my friends and family, those I know in person and my social web friends - I'm grateful for your love and support. You lift me up!

I am overflowing FULL of thankfulness and gratitude...your support, prayers and love are keeping me strong for my family and I am typically a wimp so I know this is all y'all. I can't express how appreciative I am.