Sunday, August 1, 2010
For my husband...
I have been wanting to find a way to thank my husband, Mike, and to let people know just what he has done for this family and for me over the past two years. However, it's been a challenge since the focus has been on me for so long. When people go through times like we have, it's not unusual for family and friends to think of the "patient" first. And although I truly appreciate the thoughts, prayers, and kind words of love and support, I want you all to know how incredible he really is!
I still have not been able to figure out exactly how he kept our family functioning during the 3 months I was in the hospital. I know he had a calendar and scheduled days for people to come and stay with me at the hospital so that I wasn't alone. I know that he was there himself for several days out of the week and drove back and forth from home to Milwaukee. He stayed with numerous friends overnight each week so that he could be at the hospital as much as possible, and he kept everyone in the loop through a beautiful Caringbridge site that he updated nearly every day.
Mike would go to work a few days during the week and would take care of our two boys' every need. He's told me that night time, after the kids were asleep, was the hardest and loneliest time for him. I can't imagine lying in our bed alone wondering if my spouse was going to make it through another night, if the phone was going to ring and the call be from the hospital with devastating news. How does someone survive that?
Well, he did. And he did so with true grace and determination. If ever there were a man that walked this earth with more strength, courage, generosity and love I have never known one. And that has continued through this entire journey we have traveled together.
After he brought me home, he took care of every little detail. Setting up doctors appointments, physical therapy sessions, eye appointments, picking up prescription after prescription, cooking, cleaning, bathing the kids and putting them to bed, helping to get me showered and dressed for the day, going to work, paying the bills and constantly worrying if it was all going to work out! Once I was strong enough to start doing some things on my own, we had to learn how to be husband and wife again instead of caregiver and patient. There's a big difference and it was a difficult transition for awhile. Yet his patience and love was unending and he pushed me forward to do things on my own. He supported me in my decision to run the Fox Cities 5k last fall and was there at the finish line to catch me in case I needed him to. I am proud to say that although it took me 40 minutes and 57 seconds to run those 3.1 miles, I was standing on my own two feet at the end.
And he is supporting me and encouraging me through yet another goal. This half marathon is not about me. It is, of course, about raising awareness of this illness. At least, that is what it is about for all of those people who have signed up to run or walk it, have ordered shirts and who have encouraged me through Face Book posts and spreading the newspaper article link all over the internet. But honestly, on the day of the race, I will be running next to the man who has been there for me when I knew something was terrribly wrong that first terrifying night, who was there when the doctors said I had to be transferred to another hospital with a burn unit, when I couldn't breathe on my own and and my body was giving up, when I couldn't dress myself and he had to do it, when the panic attacks were so bad I thought I was having a heart attack, when I had no hair and he still thought I was beautiful, and when I told him the crazy idea I had to run 13.1 miles. I will be running it for him. So that he knows that I am who I am and as strong as I am because of him! He has carried me through more than any person should have to carry anyone, and he saves my life every single day.
Michael, I can't know how much you have really given up for me and our family. I can't imagine what this process has done to you, but I do know that I am eternally grateful to you for your love, support, encouragement and strength. You have been my rock, my training partner, my cheering section, my coach, my best friend and the love of my life. Thank you for helping me, thank you for taking care of me, thank you for supporting me, thank you for loving me and thank you for beating this illness with me! We did it, Baby! We did it!!!