Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An Update from Mom...

This is Shar's mom, Collette; grateful to add to the record of this incredible journey.  In the early hours of the morning on Saturday, February 18th, I gave in to my insomnia and wrote the following update:

Dearest Friends and Family -

It is early Saturday morning, February 18th.  I just realized as I typed that sentence that 39 years ago today I was in labor.  My oldest son, Dax was born in the early hours of the morning on February 19th and it took me over 24 hours to bring him into the world.  How is it possible that was 39 years ago?

Truly, I feel a bit like I've been in labor over the past couple of days...at least from what I remember, the pain the anguish, the doubt, fears and then the faith and hope and the ultimate unspeakable JOY!  Yes, from what I remember all those years ago, the past couple of days has been quite a bit like labor.  Sharlie is re-born!  She lives; she breathes; she smiles; she cries; she squeezes our hands and she whispers over and over again with tears rolling down her cheeks, "I'm so grateful!"

I can't begin to describe or express all we've witness over the past couple of days.  There have been sacred miracles too profound to speak about along with laughter than doubled us over.  The range of emotions has been staggering.

I know many of you have been following on Facebook so you've seen pictures and read updates.  Thousands of friends from around the world are following Sharlie's story.  There is something about this exceptional woman...she inspires everyone, especially me.

I was awakened early yesterday morning with a call from Ryan telling me the surgeons had determined Shar needed a second surgery - that blood clots were filling the cavity of her lungs and compressing her new heart.  As my daughter Chelsea and I raced to the hospital we pleaded with our Father in Heaven.  Please!  Not again...this can't be.

During the night Sharlie had needed blood transfusions and there was a "bleed out."  I don't understand all the terminology, but two litres of blood had seeped from the closed incisions, pooled and clotted.  These clots were removed and her new organs were bathed in an antibiotic solution and recauterized in several areas.  The second surgery was a resounding success.

We waited.  All day we waited as she was weaned off the ventilator.  We took turns going into the ICU to stand with her, to send her our love, to hope she would borrow from our strength and to simply feel the Spirit in her room.  We spoke with the surgeons who came to check on her - and we learned amazing, miraculous details; some of which I will share later.

And we bonded with each other.  There is something very special to be said for having your children with you as you pray and wait and reminisce and laugh and cry.  How grateful I am that Dax and Chelsea could be by my side.  Even Zak - who is in Logan for the funeral of his father-in-law - was there with us in his own special way.  We called or sent messages to him every hour.  Zak was very reflective when I spoke with him late last night.  He had just come from the viewing...seeing his beloved father-in-law in the casket...and knowing that at the other end of the spectrum his little sister had just been given a second chance at life.  The circle of life.

So much I want to say.  How I wish I could express the feelings of my heart to the donor's family.  Someday, I hope they'll meet precious Shar.  That they'll know that through their grief, so much light and life came into the world.

Can I just try to take you to Shar's little cubicle as she woke up?  It was, without a doubt, the most spiritual experience of my life.  We were warned by the ICU nurse that they would know she was coming to because she would display signs of frustration and aggression.  She will begin to feel the pain of the tube down her throat, we were told.  She will be confused about where she is...but we need to discontinue the pain medication for awhile so she'll feel all that - and fight to breathe.  It was all explained to us so we'd be aware of what was happening.  By the way, Sharlie's ICU nurses are exceptional...as they've all been.  And her surgeon!  I love him!  But...more on that later.

None of what we'd been warned about occurred.  After Shar was weaned off the ventilator, when it was clear she was regaining consciousness; she was as peaceful, calm, beautiful and angelic as I've ever seen her.  There were angels.  We'd ask, "can you hear me?"  And she'd try to flutter her eyelids.  We'd hold her hand, and she'd squeeze it three times, which is our code for, I love you.  Her first words to each of us - "I love you!"  As the nurses and doctors would attend to her...she would try to focus on them and then she'd whisper, "Thank you."  When Ryan held up his iPhone with a recording of Harrison giggling, tears flowed down her face..."I love him so very much!"  Then, for nearly two hours...before they finally told her she needed to get some rest and we were all sent home to do the same, she simply said, over and over and over again..."I'm so grateful.  Heavenly Father is taking such good care of me."

My tears are flowing as well.  Where do all these tears come from?  I should be dry by now!  I am so grateful.  I want each of you to know I love you.  Ryan has been amazing and I know he and Harrison are the primary reason Sharlie fights for her life.  Ryan's parents - Terry and Linda - oh, how incredible they've been.  And of course, my precious husband Ric - an absolute rock for me!  And Lexi, my precious angel Lexi...ever near.  Miracles!  So many friends and family lifting, sharing, reaching out in so many ways.  You should see our refrigerator!  Paige - our sweet friend who has become family explained it well.  Mormons share their love through calories!  This is a journey we've traveled together and there is still a long road ahead.  But bring it on!  My daughter is alive - and breathing.  One Hundred Percent oxygen saturation.  Can you imagine what I feel when I see that "100" flashing on the screen next to her bed?  How can I express the emotions of my heart.  It is so full...it feels as if at any moment, it will burst.

I'm off to the hospital; but simply wanted to thank you all again and express my love to you.  Please forgive my scattered thoughts.  Someday, I'll get it all out.  For now...my daughter awaits; alive; and I'm so very, very grateful.




Jessica Bruno said...

I met Sharlie a few months ago via her blog but originally from a friend of hers who started a fundraiser via the blogosphere :) So happy she is doing ok and pray she continues to be ok. It is beyond amazing her journey and a true inspiration :)

Sunnybec said...

Thank you for sharing with us your experience. Sharlie is an inspiration to all CF sufferers. I feel I know her just from reading her blog. My great niece has CF, she is 6 now so we are hoping and praying that a cure will be found soon. Hugs Linda (in France)

Patty said...

I've never been here b4 & didn't know shar's story, but my tears flow, too. Life is so good, so very, very good. Much love to you and your family. xo