The Story of Us

Dear Chris,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much our lives are going to change in the very near future.  And, I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of us.  After 15 years of friendship, something happened, and suddenly, we were in love.  I love our story, and I can’t wait for the new chapter, with our new addition, little Gracie.  So, here’s our story, so far… I love you forever and ever.

We started dating in late 2009:

Image

And we had a pretty great first year:

Image

Halfway through our second year, your proposed at my favorite place:

Image

And then a few months later, we got married:

Image

We went on our honeymoon, and on a catamaran in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, you shocked me, saying you were ready for a baby.  We captured the moment a few seconds later:

Image

And then, 13 long months later, this happened:

Image

After containing our excitement for a few months, we were finally ready to share with the world:

Image

And now, here we are.  Just a few months away from meeting our daughter.  Our lives will forever be changed, but there’s nobody else in the world I’d rather experience all of this with.  I am lucky.  Grace is lucky.  And I hope she makes our story that much more amazing.

XOXO.

A Celebration

Chris had to work this weekend, so we split our anniversary celebration over the past two evenings.

Saturday night, we made filet mignon, crab cakes, scalloped potatoes and caesar salad.  I paired it with a 2004 Robert Mondavi Cabernet, while Chris stuck to his Miller Lite.

After dinner, we exchanged gifts of paper per tradition.  From me to him, the lyrics of “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters (one of our favorite bands and a song we played the acoustic version of during the seating of guests at our wedding), and one of our favorite lyrics from Mumford and Sons song, “Awake my Soul,” (also played at our wedding).  From him to me, a beautiful print of our dating anniversary, the date he proposed and our wedding date.  Loved it all.

 

I even wrapped Chris’ card in paper, which happened to be a copy of our ceremony, including our vows.

 

Tonight, when Chris got home, he one more paper surprise for me:  A newspaper with today’s date.  :)  We had our photographer take a picture of our rings on our wedding day, and Chris decided he wants to do that every year, so, we did.   Love it when he thinks like that!

And thennnnnnnnnnnn…..what we’ve been waiting for all year!!  Our anniversary cake!!

My mom actually surprised us by driving up near Baltimore to pick up the cake a few weeks ago.  The bakery we used was really small and they don’t ship cakes, so we were expecting not to have our anniversary cake (the baker doesn’t believe in freezing cakes, so she makes a complimentary cake at the one-year mark).  But, when we were in VA a few weeks ago, she had planned a trip to pick up the cake and surprise us, so we were ecstatic.  We froze it when we got back to NC, but when I thawed it yesterday, it held up great and was super tasty.

We’ve had a low key weekend, but it was awesome, and I’m thankful for this year, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings us.

Anniversary Planning

Shortly after Chris and I got married last year, we started talking about plans to celebrate our  first anniversary.  We started planning early because we wanted to go somewhere fun to commemorate the occasion because really, you only get one first anniversary.

We brainstormed a lot over the first few months.

Chris suggested San Francisco:

…but I vetoed it because flying that far for just a weekend is too far.  

I suggested Vegas:

…but Chris vetoed it because I have no control over myself when I walk into a casino it’s just too expensive.  

We mutually agreed that Chicago would be fantastic.  Non stop flights and beautiful weather?  Yes, please!  But then we both decided that when we go to Chicago, we want to go to Wrigley field (I’ve been, he hasn’t), so we scratched it.

Then, we started talking about possibly going to the panhandle of Florida.  It’s a quick and easy flight from Raleigh, the beaches are stunning, the weather is warm, and it’s a good spot to relax.

We shelved our idea until our anniversary date got closer, but then, life got in the way.

When Chris had to have his original surgery at the beginning of August, we talked about scaling our plans back.  We knew the expense of the surgery would have an impact on our plans, so we thought of other ideas.

Chris suggested Charleston:

But, I vetoed it because I’ve been.

I suggested Asheville:

But, Chris vetoed it because it’s too fancy schmancy he’s not interested in the mountains.

Just when we started to get serious about our plans, the middle of August arrived, and Chris had to have his emergency knee surgery, and everything went out the window.  On the day of his release, the hospital handed us a big, fat bill that was the equivalent of this pretty thing:

Oh, you think I’m kidding!  Hahahahahahahaha.  I’m not.  After battling it out with the insurance company, we were told they would only pay a whopping $600 of the balance.  You read that right.  It’s not a typo.   Hilarious, right?  I laugh because I don’t know what else to do.    I might start calling Chris, Rover, though.  Since he’s basically a Range Rover sitting on the couch.  I’m not going to lie, I’ve always wanted to have a Range Rover, so really, it’s win-win.  :)

So, anyway, you can see where this is going.  With the Range Rover in the room, we had to reevaluate our plans yet again.

We talked about taking the train to Charlotte (the train!  FUN!), but that added up quickly.  Then, we talked about staying a night at the Umstead here in town, but luxury is expensive.

Our anniversary is just over a month from now.  We’re undecided about what we’re doing, but I know it will be low-key.  We really wanted to do something exciting for this first one, but we just need to get over it and accept that it is what it is.  There will be more (we won’t get the first one back, but that’s okay) anniversaries to celebrate, and truthfully, as long as we’re together, that’s really all that matters.

What would you do if you were us?  Any suggestions for a celebration on a mega budget?

How We Got Here

Over the past few days, people have asked me what happened with Chris, and why we ended up in the hospital.  I realized that I never told the entire story, I just jumped in the day after he had been admitted.

Chris had surgery on August 1st to remove a screw from his knee that had been placed during ACL surgery in 2007.  It was supposed to dissolve, but never did, so it was floating around and irritating him, making it necessary to come out.  It was an out-patient procedure and everything went smoothly.

A week passed and he was recovering nicely.  He had some pain, but it was relatively normal.  All of the post-op appointments went well with the doc and he was happy with how the recovery was progressing.  We scheduled a physical therapy for the following Monday to begin working on his movement, and we were on our way.

The next day, things changed.

Friday night, August 10th, just nine days after his surgery and well into recovery, his pain skyrocketed to a 10 out of 10.  It was unbearable.  He writhed in the bed, yelling and cursing.  I gave him the prescribed pain medication, we elevated it, we put ice on it…nothing helped.  Nothing.

We tried to get through the night, but the pain never subsided.  Finally, on Saturday afternoon, I convinced him to let me take him to the ER.

I knew he had reached his limit when he gave in and agreed to go to the hospital, and I was so relieved when they took him back to a room as soon as I wheeled him into the building.  They took his vitals, asked some questions, and gave him a shot for the pain.  Nothing worked.

The ER called the surgeon who did the original surgery and he was at the hospital within the hour.  When he walked into the room, he immediately looked concerned.  We had seen him less than 24 hours before for a routine follow-up, and here we were in the ER with intolerable pain.

Doc took one look at Chris and pretty much prepared us for the idea that emergency surgery might be necessary.  Blood tests were ordered and fluid was drained from his knee.  Actually, a lot of fluid was drained from the knee.  105 cc’s to be exact, which coming from the body, is a lot of freaking fluid.

Two hours and a number of tests later, the doc gave us the inevitable news:  Infection had been identified by his white blood count, as well as the fluid they took from the knee, and surgery was necessary that very moment.

When the decision was made, the activity really picked up.  We made phone calls to family, got him changed into a gown, packed up his belongings, and doctors filed in and out of the room following protocol and prepping him for the surgery.

It was surreal.  I felt like we were watching someone elses life.  We went through the motions and did as directed.  We went to the hospital seeking pain medication and a follow-up with the doctor, not surgery.

Less than an hour later, the surgery was underway, while I waited in the silent lobby for two hours.  Finally, Doc came out and said that everything went well.  They removed some more tissue and cleaned the infection with 15 liters of fluid.  Doc was happy and confident this would be the turning point towards getting well.

He escorted me to recovery where all of the beds were empty except for Chris’.  On a Saturday night, there were no other surgical patients, so Chris had all of the nurses to himself.  He did much better with the anesthesia this go around and within an hour, was awake and talking and blissfully saying that his pain was a zero.  Thank you lord.

They immobilized his knee, had him on IV fluids and a drip of Dilaudid which would keep the pain at bay.  Once the nurses were satisfied with his pain level, oxygen sats, temp and blood pressure, we were taken up a few floors to his room.  The staff greeted us nicely and got him settled in and as comfortable as he could be considering the circumstances.

I stayed with him until about 1:30am when I had to go home to deal with the dog and get a few things to bring back in the morning.  It was hard, having to leave, but I knew that the nurses would take great care of him, and I would be worthless with no rest.

What followed over the next six days can be seen here, here, and here.

We got into a routine during our time at the hospital.  I would leave late and arrive early, we’d meet with the orthopedic surgeon each morning as he evaluated his progress, and there would be tests.  Lots and lots of tests.  Blood would be drawn upwards of four times a day, medication would be administered as pain came and went, fevers would be fought, and physical therapy would be had.

I think hands down, this experience was one of the most difficult and challenging times in our lives.  We’re young.  We’re newlyweds.  We’re just a couple who are trying to make a better life for ourselves.  This kind of stuff shouldn’t be happening to us.  It was dumb and bad luck and something that really changed the course of our lives temporarily.

So what was the ultimate diagnosis?  Staph infection deep in the joint.  It didn’t start from the outside and go in, it started inside and stayed inside.  The strain is MSSA to be exact.  It’s in the same family as MRSA, just slightly easier to treat.  And by easier, I mean not easy at all.

We both sat with our mouths wide open when the infectious disease doctor told us that he may have to go home with an IV, and that he would need IV antibiotics for up to six weeks.  The IV is called a PICC line and is placed in a vein in his arm (near his bicep), and travels up into his chest info a large vein near the heart.  Why a PICC line as opposed to a normal IV in his hand?  PICC lines can last months as opposed to normal IV’s which have to be changed every three days.  I had never heard of such a thing.  I doubted my ability to care for him, and I was afraid to administer the medication.  I tried my best not to be scared in front of Chris, but there were tears, and the feeling of being overwhelmed swallowed me up, but ultimately,  I got through it.

They did the procedure on Thursday which meant two things:

1.  Freedom

2.  Home IV antibiotics

I quickly got over my fear of doing everything at home because I was so happy that he would be able to come home.

So now, this is our life:  IV tubing, saline syringes, heparin, alcohol swabs and antibiotics:

Yesterday was our first full day home, which meant little sleep and doing the IV at home for the first time.  It’s nearly impossible for Chris to get comfortable, and we’re up every few hours to ease the pain with medication and ice, but each day is better than the last, which I think we both consider to be an improvement.

As far as administering the medicine through the IV, it’s not so bad.  They make it pretty easy, and there are no needles involved (just hooking up syringes), so it’s just a matter of me following things step by step to ensure everything is done correctly.

We’re settling into this new way of life.  We know it’s temporary, but we also know that it’s important that we take our new roles very seriously in order for him to recover 100%.  We realize that our lives will eventually go back to normal, but for now, this is our reality:

The good thing about the antibiotics only need to be given once a day, and from start to finish it only takes about 30 minutes.  It takes me about 15 minutes to get setup and go through the steps, and then it takes about 15 minutes for the meds to actually do their thing through the IV.  Crazy, right?

So that’s our story.  The rest of the journey will consist of weekly trips to infectious disease so they can run his blood work and make sure the infection is subsiding.  We’ll also follow-up with the surgeon to make sure that he’s healing okay, and lastly, he’ll be doing physical therapy to ensure that his knee heals properly as a result of everything he’s been through.

Let me just brag about Chris real quick.  He has been so ridiculously tough through all of this.  While I have been the one to feel overwhelmed and cry at the drop of a hat, he has been amazing, strong and calm.  He worries about me when I worry about him and he tells me loves me over and over.  This entire experience has been scary and tough, but it’s also brought us even closer than I thought possible.  Like I say, every time I don’t think we can get any closer, we do.  In these moments, I truly love and respect marriage even more.

So we push forward in this adventure, and progress.  We have a little countdown going, and we plan on celebrating with a nice romantic dinner date once this is all done.  We have 38 days left on the antibiotics/PICC line, and then you better believe that we’ll be gussying up and toasting the end of this chapter.