September 21, 2011

The Worst Night of My Life

The title of this post is not an exaggeration.

One year ago yesterday, September 20, 2010, my husband Mark went to the ER having his second heart attack.  The next day, a year ago today, he had double bypass surgery.  While in surgery it was discovered that he had pericarditis, a staph infection surrounding his heart, and he was septic.  This can easily kill a person.

That night, after Mark had made it through surgery and seemed stable, his heart stopped 3 times.

After a year I still gasp a little when I talk about this.  I still want to cry.

I didn't start writing about this experience until November 2010, when I and my closest friends realized I needed to do something, to get it out somehow.  The first step was to admit I was having a hard time.

I realized I probably had post-traumatic stress and that helped me understand what I was feeling a lot more.  I went through fully feeling my love for Mark to being deeply touched by movies I watched.  I easily felt like the sky was falling any time any little thing was off in my world, and there was a lot of crying.

By the end of November I felt like things were shifting back to the positive and maybe my head was too.  Yet I still also felt heavy, like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  I had this one really good moment when I didn't think about the night from hell, instead thinking about the day they pulled Mark's breathing tube out and he was finally awake.  I was so on an emotional roller coaster, but I spent the rest of the Holiday season focusing on the good things.

I had hoped by the new year I would somehow just snap out of my funk.  Unfortunately you can't simply order these things up.  2010 had been split pretty much in half, the beginning an exciting time when we bought our house, and the end dealing with the aftermath of the night from hell.  I wished so much I could wrap it up and tie it with a pretty bow and be done.

Life doesn't work that way, does it?  I was apparently on a slow path to learning some pretty effing huge life lessons and it was kind of pissing me off!  But I kept plugging along, writing about whatever revelations came to me.  I had this one really awesome day that I just had to share....

Then 6 months post-surgery came and I realized I was still traumatized.  But I also realized I didn't care anymore about whether or not that was OK or normal.  I was where I was with it all and I would get wherever I needed to be whenever I got there.

That bit of wisdom allowed me to start blogging about more of the other things in my life.  I actually just realized this going through my posts.  Wow, it is so interesting to look back at things after some time has passed!

So where am I at today and what does coming to the 1 year anniversary of the worst night of my life mean for me?

It means a lot has changed.  I've changed.  Mark has changed.  We've both learned so much and gained so much wisdom.  Do I wish it didn't take traumatic events to teach us thick-headed humans important things?  Yes.  Do I wish we had never had to experience that?  Absolutely.  Do I wish Mark's doctors hadn't felt the need to repeat over and over again that he should have died?  Ya think?  Pretty sure that didn't help me a bit.

But as I sit here now, I think coming so close to losing my husband is now just another notch on my belt, so to speak.  It's just one more thing we've gone through.  It's one more experience woven into the proverbial tapestry of our lives.  I know now that what I felt that night will always be with me, sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear.

But maybe that's OK because then I can't take anything for granted.  It's not allowed.  I have come away from nearly realizing my biggest fear with a fuller heart and with so much gratitude, I can't even fully express it.

I will always be traumatized, damaged, scarred.  But that's OK too.  It's all part of who I am and I think, who I'm meant to be.  I'm not saying it doesn't suck, because it totally does.  But it's not all bad.  In fact, there's plenty of good.

I've shared this quote before:

"We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, `Why did this happen to me?' unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way."
~ Author Unknown

Let's BEE Friends


  1. Wow, I simply can't imagine how scary that must have been. Thanks for sharing and reminding me that each day with those I love are precious.

  2. Oh, I love that quote at the bottom too. I was just reading something last night about how we are meant to learn from our sorrows. It never seems like the thing you want to hear when you are going through it, but then, looking back, you learn, and think ah ha. That must have been so scary to go through. I am so glad, as I'm sure you are too, that you now feel like you are on the other side of it, looking back.

  3. I had mine in Sept 1999, a touch over 12 years ago. I was 29. It was due to lifestyle not sickness.

    My heart goes out to your husband. I hope he continues to recover and live a long, healthy life.

    Thanks for showing your heart.

  4. Hard to believe it has been three years for us. My husband's appendicitis was misdiagnosed for at least 2 weeks. He was finally admitted to the hospital, a drain in his tummy to get the infection out. Thought they were getting ready to send him home...then things changed. He had a DVT go to his lungs. Right in front of me, I was loosing my husband. He could not breathe, nothing they did was helping.

    They decided to rush him to ICU. On my way there(they didn't let me come with them), I here them call a code red.

    I still tear up telling our story.

    Later I find out he coded in the elevator. The tiniest of doctors brought him back with CPR. 4 hours later they let me in his room. He is on a respirator, but struggling so bad a respiratory therapist had to sit by the machine and adjust it every few minutes.

    Things were very bad, so bad, my husband was cause enough to bring every department together to brain storm ideas for helping him. His ICU doctor came back with nothing.

    Thanks to an answer from God, a radiologist willing to try an experimental procedure saved his life.

    The next six months were nerve racking. Three years later, I would have to agree with you, I am still traumatized. It's a part of me now.

  5. oh WOW. that's just incredible and i honestly cannot imagine. i'm so incredibly sorry you both have had to go through so much, but i do think i understand about how it can be so traumatic, so scarring, but that it all adds to who we are...

  6. How scary that must have been!

    I love that quote at the end. I never thought about it like that.

  7. The whole post traumatic stress thing is the worst! Because you think you should be feeling better ("Everything is FINE now! Everyone is HAPPY and HEALTHY and SAFE!") and yet you're still dealing with the fear and the anger and the panic and the... everything. I'm so sorry you had to go through this.

    But I'm so glad you're made it to the other side. Well, I'm not sure it's right to call it "the other side." It's a whole new side, but I'm glad you're finding peace and growth and strength through it all. Much love!

  8. Love your closing quote. And sorry for the trials you've endured. It does seem that sometimes we don't learn something until we're forced to learn it.

  9. This brought tears to my eyes. About two years ago we thought hubs was having a heart attack. It was the scariest day of my life. The thought of loosing my 35 year old husband and telling my children daddy was sick was so difficult! To top matters off they couldn't figure out why he was having chest pains and other heart attack symptoms for almost 48 hours. That was a very long weekend for us.

    Hope all is well and I love the closing line!

  10. Wow. I can totally see how this would be difficult to write about. I haven't been in your shoes with my husband but I've had to deal with hospitalizations with our son. There is little more difficult than handing over your loved one to the doctors, to God, to faith in whatever you lean on. Thank you for sharing this.

    I always think of this times as being "purified by fire." I can't remember when/where I heard it before, but I think it's fitting.

  11. I can't EVEN imagine having to go through something like that. But I have lost people who were very close and important to me and it definitely changed my perspective on life. I can appreciate what you said about being grateful. If only we could all be grateful for what we have every day without having to come so close to losing it.

  12. That closing quote was Awesome! I can't imagine how hard that must have been on you and your family. You are right does take traumatic events to teach us about what's really important in life. I credit my son for teaching me that.