Updated: May 29, 2019
These words left my lips more times than I can count. I had caused irreparable damage to my loved ones and nothing I did could take that back. As someone who has dedicated their life to trying to heal others, this is a devastating fact to come to terms with. I saw the look daily. The look of terror, concern, and anxiety. Every time I stumbled, or dropped something from my left hand. Every time I grabbed the right side of my head complaining of a headache. I was not the only one who had survived Hell and was now trying to cope with the aftermath.
I was unable to drive, meaning I would need to rely on Matt and my mom to take me to my numerous appointments. I didn't have the physical stamina I once had. Standing in the kitchen cooking for long periods of time exhausted me to the point where I felt like I would pass out. One day I tried cleaning the apartment, pushing myself beyond my new limits. By the end I was gasping for air and watching the room spin around me. I couldn't take care of myself completely. I was a burden on everyone around me. Their lives had to pause for mine. I was an emotional mess, struggling to get through a day without crying. I was sorry that I seemed ungrateful for being alive.
I tried to reassure Matt that I was ok. He and I both knew I wasn't. We existed in the same space, but our dynamic was different. He was terrified of unintentionally hurting me and knocking into my vulnerable brain. He felt responsible for looking out for me continuously. This was not what I envisioned my role as Fiancee to be like. We both had to confront the fact that neither of us were ok on the evening of 2/16/19.
As we sat on the couch watching TV I started to panic. I had a headache most of the day, but now Tylenol wasn't helping. I looked at Matt and said that I thought I needed to go to the hospital. The pain was excruciating and all that I thought about was "here it is, I'm dying." How many times can one person dodge death? I had cheated it twice in a span of 2 years. And now I was terrified that things would suddenly go black, and that would be the end. While this swirled around my head, I tried to remain calm on the outside for Matt's sake. I will never forget the look of fear that flooded his face when I begged him to take me to the hospital. We were suddenly reliving the worst time of our lives.
We pulled into UMASS Memorial Hospital and I walked into registration as Matt went to park the car. All eyes landed on me as I strolled in wearing my helmet. It was a busy Saturday night, so I hoped that I could get seen in a relatively timely manner. I think that this was the only instance where my helmet gave me an advantage. I explained my medical history and I was brought in quickly and given a private room despite patients lining the hallway. As time passed, the pain got worse. I dry heaved as the nausea took over. The medical team contacted Beth Israel to get as many reports sent over for comparison and I was sent for a new CT. The conclusion was that there was no obvious difference in the CT from the one I had a month prior. But UMASS was not going to take the chance. So again I was loaded into an ambulance and transferred back to Boston.
Matt left before I started my journey so that he could be at the hospital when I arrived. We were both pretending to be fine for the sake of one another, but we were both poor actors. The ambulance ride was the first time that night where I had some relief. I had discovered that sitting up instead of laying down improved my pain. So that accompanied with darkness in the ambulance, I found myself drifting off to sleep. I had some hope that maybe I wasn't dying in this moment. I was wheeled into the ED in Boston where Matt was already waiting. We were moved to another room, where we both fought the overwhelming exhaustion that was overtaking us. Teams of doctors came in assessing me, seeing that neurologically everything was stable. I already knew that because I was giving myself my own neuro checks throughout this process. Gimpy was still functioning. I was kept until the pain was relatively under control and a CTA done to make sure there were no new clots causing a blockage. Everything was clear. Neurology concluded that it must have been one of my more standard migraines I had been getting for a few years, but just amplified because of how exposed and vulnerable my brain was to the free flowing cerebrospinal fluid that constantly changed the pressure on my brain without the skull there to maintain equilibrium.
That long night, I watched Matt do his best to stay calm and present for me. But he kept repeating how this felt just like Christmas. Again, I apologized for stressing him out and making him miss work. He brushed it off, saying that there was nothing to be sorry for. After being awake for 30 hours straight, we managed to make our way back home to Worcester. My headache had gone from a 10/10 pain to now a more manageable 4/10. We took a well needed nap and ate dinner quietly. We both knew that our dynamic had forever changed. This is a guilt that eats away at you, when you have caused so much pain to people that you love. But as Matt has told me countless times, "you didn't do this on purpose." Forgiving yourself seems like a simple process, but is often the most difficult.
To Matt and my family:
I'm sorry, for saying sorry so much. I'll try and stop. Thank you for being by my side every step of the way.