December 26, 2012.
It started as a normal day for us. Our schedule was packed as always and I was trying to squeeze in a walk with Viviane. Mind you I was still tired from hosting Christmas dinner but the dishes were all done so on to the next thing! On the schedule that day was my mammogram, post-Christmas shopping with Lizzie and Bill, and Bridge with Gilles and his mom in the afternoon.
Viviane and I had been texting about walking. But, our world turned upside down when Lizzie went to the emergency room. I texted Viviane that I wasn’t going to be able to walk today, Lizzie had an AVM. She thought that AVM was an autocorrect and finally I know she figured out these were not good initials to have. In the interim I called my mom and told her to call the rest of the family. My family is close and there are probably no secrets even if you say “don’t tell anyone”. As a rule we love to talk on the phone and spread our own news but in this case I knew I wouldn’t have the heart. Richard was going to cancel Gilles. Already we were getting life in motion when what lie before us seemed so dark.
I don’t remember many details from this time. But, looking through old texts and emails, I see I talked to KK and somehow behind the scenes KK and Viviane were talking as there was a plan in place for Joe and KK to fly up to be with us. I still wonder how they got each others phone numbers.
The Stanford transit team finally arrived and then it took forever to figure out how to transport Lizzie with the EVD (external ventricular drain) as the drain needed to be lower by a very specific amount so that the excess blood drained from Lizzie’s head. After more than an hour we were on our way and the EMT said, I’m going to turn on the siren but don’t let that scare you. I was already a fright and thought yes, please turn on the siren so that everyone can get the **** out of the way. After Christmas shopping traffic had built and cars were everywhere as we took the strangest route to get to Stanford Hospital.
Arriving at Stanford was a blur. I remember being asked to wait in the ICU waiting room. It was around 5:00 pm and by this time Richard and Bill had arrived. We were waiting when Dr. S, a mere child of a man, appeared and ushered us into a room. He started right off and said he wasn’t going to sugar coat anything. We called him Dr. Gloom right off the bat. Rigid and young, he didn’t much seem to care about the “personal” suffering or pain. Although he did suggest we call family.
The Dr. told us we needed to decide whether to keep Lizzie alive. That there was a high likelihood that should would have to be cared for her whole life and that she was in a vegetative state. We asked since she was so young was there anything they could do and they said yes they could do a craniotomy. So we asked them to do that. We needed to give her a chance.
Afterwards, around 6 I remember being in the hallway and Joe calling. I remember saying “no, it’s ok you don’t have to come up” and Joe saying, “WE’RE COMING UP”. Thank goodness they did as KK and Joe our saviors were coming to provide comfort to all of us. Joe so generously provided airline tickets to everyone who visited and KK took a leave of absence from her job and stayed a month. It was then that the family coined the phrase, “The gift of KK” and “gifts from Joe”. .