*Photo-Ricardo in February 2014
You know you have a story to tell when a Doctor walks up to Ricardo a few hours ago and asks to shake his hand because, he says, “I’ve seen the video of your surgery and I’ve heard about your case. I wanted to shake your hand so I can tell my children I met you.” A couple months ago Ricardo’s neurosurgeon asked Ricardo if he would mind walking just a little bit because he could hardly believe what he was seeing. Then there was my neurosurgeon family member who, I am told, said something to the effect of: the only other thing I have seen that is that level of miraculous was a man who was shot point blank and the bullet entered the scull, curved around the scull, and left the other side of his head without damaging his brain. So yeah, Ricardo’s kind of a celebrity in certain circles now 😉
For me, I have a hard time knowing whether to feel grateful he is such a celebrity for his miraculous recovery or just terrified that he was seconds from dying, seconds from having his brain cut right open to relieve the pressure, moments away from never being any semblance of himself. It’s kind of an odd concoction of emotions really. But yeah, it was kind of cool that a doctor came and said that to Ricardo today, I’m not going to lie 🙂 I tend to think it was good for Ricardo to hear that too 🙂
Another interesting thing today was that Ricardo remembered something about December 17th, the day he suffered his brain hemorrhage. I was so excited about it and Ricardo just kept looking at me like I was crazy because I was jumping out of my skin over something silly like him remembering the waiting room at Interventional Radiology.
For Ricardo, today was a dash of celebrity moment mixed with a dose of lying in bed peeing in a urinal after his procedure. All in all he didn’t seem too traumatized, just relieved when he could finally come home and lie on the couch and pee in a toilet.
For me, going back to the hospital where my worst nightmares became reality is always kind of an out of body experience. The blood starts draining from my face. I start having flashbacks of things that feel like they happened years ago until I set foot in that hospital and then it all feels like yesterday. Looking around the waiting room where the nightmare started I remember how I almost missed my chance to kiss Ricardo before his procedure because I was so anxious my stomach was upset and I wasted precious moments glued to the toilet instead of by his side. I close my eyes for a second and I see the panic on his mom’s face when she couldn’t find me when Ricardo was asking for me. I glance around the pre-surgery room and I think back on sitting in that very room, joking with Ricardo about him getting to take a nice long nap, then having him spend the better part of the next month in a coma. Smelling the hand sanitizer I start seeing the thousand times I smothered my hands in it and braced myself to go see the remnants of my husband. Today I had to ask Ricardo to please straighten his right arm for me because the way he was holding it–tight to his body with his hand clenched and pressed against his chest–reminded me too much of the way he looked as a patient. I saw his yellow sticky socks and I instantaneously thought, “I should probably move Ricardo’s feet so his muscles don’t atrophy.” Seeing Ricardo in a hospital bed, attached to beeping monitors, decked out in hospital attire and smelling of povidone iodine was enough to send me back deep in my turtle shell where nothing I could lose could possibly hurt me. Shut it off, block it out. By the time we left the hospital, I was so anxious to get out of there, that when we left the parking and they told me the nurse forgot to give us our page that gave us free parking, I just paid the 10 bucks and drove away as fast as I could.
I took a couple deep breaths as we drove away. Then it hit me. That may possibly be the last time I have to go to that hospital ever again!
Today Ricardo had, hopefully, his last angiogram. The result was the best possible news–there’s no longer any AVM, the veins surrounding the AVM have become normal in size, and the only visible abnormality is a large clump of onyx, which will be a permanent fixture as that is what is blocking off the AVM. I feel extremely grateful! For all the trauma and possible PTSD symptoms that creep up now and then, I can’t deny that life really truly is getting better, and I am grateful, to God, to the doctors and nurses and therapists, and to Ricardo, who has to live every day knowing he almost lost it all, and wondering if he will ever be the same again, and yet keeps up the hard work anyway. You’re a shining example to us all my love!