The Thankful Project: Day 4 – An Experience

It sounds awful to say this, but I’m thankful for my sister’s AVM and stroke.  I know it sounds awful to say that, but it’s true.

I’m not thankful that she had to have such a traumatic experience for an otherwise routine procedure.  I am not thankful or happy that she had to endure so much pain and had to work so hard to regain her strength.  I am thankful though however for what that experience did to our relationship.

Growing up, my sister and I were not close.  We fought more often than not!  When you would ask my mom what she wanted for her Birthday, Christmas or Mother’s Day, she would reply – “For you two to get along!”.   We were polar opposites.  If I said the sky was blue, Jessica would say it was pink – just to be different.  I was neat and always organized…and she…was a hot mess!

We tolerated each other more the older that we got, but the experience that changed it all was her hospitalization. It was during this time that we realized we’re more alike than we could ever imagine and that we truly are the best of friends.

Early on in her hospital stay, she was intubated and couldn’t speak.  For parts of the day, she would be alert.  It was during those times, that she tried to communicate with us.  She would motion that she wanted something to write and then she would scribble away.  She’s a lefty, so her handwriting is often hard to read on a good day, but due to her hands being restrained (so she wouldn’t pull the breathing tube out) and the high-powered medications she was on, her writing was often illegible.  She would scribble and adamantly point at what she had written.   At first, no one could figure out what she was saying.  Her frustration grew.  We never got full thoughts, but rather words and short phrases.  I was in the room one day as she motioned to write.  Here is what I saw:

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Feel like I’m choking…Cough

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When can tube come out. I bit my tongue…something to put on it. The anesthesiologist said that when…

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Can I roll over. I’m thirsty. I feel like I have something stuck in my throat.

I began guessing what she was trying to say.  She was so excited and kept giving thumbs up that someone finally understood.  That was the start of it all. She continued to communicate – that she had bills that were due and was worried about them not being paid.  Through chicken-scratch and a game that was similar to charades, I was able to obtain her log-on’s to all of her websites and to pay her bills.  I wanted her to have one less thing to worry about and she was so worried that it would affect her credit.

Eventually, the breathing tube came out, she was able to talk, and she was able to voice her concerns.  I don’t know if she felt a sense of security in me because I worked at the hospital she was treated at, but our relationship blossomed.  I was her advocate and she trusted me.  She asked me things she didn’t understand and what the next steps would be.

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Kenzie visiting to make her feel better

As she transitioned to rehab, I would stop by her room each morning to find out her rehab schedule.  I would pop down and be there for each of her PT sessions and saw the progression – from learning to stand, to walking a few steps, to walking and running on a treadmill.  I was there with her each step of the way and each day, our relationship grew stronger.

I don’t know what we wasted all of these years fighting, because we’re more alike than we’ve ever realized.  Since the stroke and AVM, our relationship has continued to grow.  She is truly an inspiration to me and I am so lucky to have her as my sister.

She asked me a few weeks ago to be her maid of honor.  The wedding date isn’t set and I know I still have time, but I can’t help but think about the type of toast I will give.  I know one thing…I won’t be able to get through it without tears.

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I’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!

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5 thoughts on “The Thankful Project: Day 4 – An Experience

  1. So happy that some good came out of that and you and your sister are now close! It give me hope that one day my sister and I will figure out a way to connect as adults… 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness, girl! What a very touching story. It’s so personal, yet you shared it with us. Thank you! I am so glad that you and your sister are closer than ever now. I am so happy that she is all better now, and getting married 🙂 I’m sure your toast will be awesome, and it will make people cry, the way I did when I was reading this story.

  3. Thank you all for such sweet posts! I am beyond thankful that such a positive has come from all of this. She is stronger than ever and so is our relationship! It makes you stop and think…It shouldn’t take almost losing someone to realize their importance. It’s been a great life lesson for me!

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