Tag Archives: hospital

One Year Later, Part 2: The Drive

The morning I got the call started off fairly uneventful. The sky was overcast, with just enough of a chill in the air to require a jacket. I had started my new job on October 6th, and just a week later I could already tell that both the position and the company were going to be a good fit for me and for our family. I can’t tell you how reassuring that was. Things felt like they were falling into place, even though we knew there would still be difficulties ahead.

Michelle had an appointment that morning, and she had a bad feeling about it. I tried to reassure her on the phone the night before. I told her not to be afraid, that this was just a standard visit, and that there was nothing to worry about. I truly believed what I was saying, despite how wrong I turned out to be.

Around 10:30, Michelle called me, sounding more irritated than panicked. She explained that the doctor was sending her to the hospital; her blood pressure was elevated, and she needed to be admitted. They wouldn’t let her drive, so an ambulance was going to transport her and the boys to Vanderbilt. I told her I was on my way, and we hung up.

I put my phone down on the desk and took a breath. At the time, I was sharing an office with the COO of the company. He looked over at me and asked, “Everything all right?”

“They’re taking Michelle to the hospital,” I mumbled.

“Dude, go,” he replied. “You can call us later and fill us in.”

I didn’t hesitate. A minute later, I was in the car and heading up the highway. I actually think I left a half-finished cup of coffee sitting on the desk, though I can’t remember for certain.

Until that day, solo drives from Chattanooga to Nashville had always been quiet, calm stretches of time when I could think about things—usually whatever story I was working on at the time. In the early days of working for the Kirkland’s home office, I stayed in Chattanooga on weekends and drove up every Monday morning. It was nice to have that quiet time to myself. I didn’t always think about stories; sometimes, I just cleared my mind and enjoyed the scenery. The drive through the mountains just a couple hours after sunrise gave me plenty to take in. It was two hours of peace.

This drive was nothing like that.

Instead, my mind was racing. Is everything going to be all right? What are we going to do? What if he comes early? Who can take the boys for a few days so I can focus on Michelle and the baby? Dear God, what if he’s born today? No, that’s not going to happen. But it could happen, so we need a plan. Damn it, I don’t want to be thinking about this. This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen. This isn’t what we planned.

Normally, those kinds of thoughts would be limited to some kind of inner monologue. That day, it was out there in the open. I spent half the drive talking to myself. It was one of those moments where, looking back, I probably looked somewhat crazy to anyone who happened to be driving by. But, at that time, I didn’t care what other people thought. I cared that the plans we had made for baby number three were in cinders, and that we needed to come up with a new one.

Sprinkled throughout my ramblings were prayers. Some of them were in the form of questions, asking God why this was happening. Some were one part of a dialogue, with me imagining the other side of it and trying to make sense of the discussion. Most of them, however, were pleas—pleas for Michelle to be safe, for the baby to be safe, for all of this to be over soon (but not too soon), and, maybe most of all, for me to make it to the hospital in time to be there when my wife needed me the most.


Then He Held My Hand.

My son is becoming quite the independent little two-year-old.

This past Sunday, Liam and I went on a father-son outing to the Kid’s Corner playground, a little park about fifteen minutes away from our apartment. It’s a great place for us, as it has a lot of things that are just his size, and it doesn’t have the hordes of children that other nearby parks generally do. That day, Liam and I shared the park with only a couple of other kids and parents; I like it when it can just be about us.

As we played, I was overtaken by a single memory. It is one of the scariest — and one of the proudest — memories I’ve stored away in my vault. And it was brought to the surface by a simple gesture — one that comes as effortlessly to my son as breathing.

As he began to climb the steps to go down the slide (something which he would repeat at least a dozen more times), he stopped at the bottom step, looked up at me and held out his hand. He was waiting for me. He wanted to me to help him get up those stairs until he could take the final few on his own. It was this gesture that swept me back, because I couldn’t help but be reminded of something similar that he did almost two years ago.

Liam’s premature entrance into this world has been well-documented, both in this blog and in The Reader’s. For those new to the game, click here to read my entries about my amazing little boy. He is truly an inspiration.

However, this is a part of the story I haven’t written about — until now.

I sat on a stool next to the operating table, dressed in my hospital-provided scrubs, looking over my wife and holding her hand while our doctor cut into her. I had my reassuring face on, promising her that everything was going to be all right while hoping and praying to God that I was telling the truth. Liam had to be taken from the womb because his vital signs were dropping — his heartbeat had begun to dip. Had he stayed in much longer, there was a chance that neither he nor my wife would have survived. That they are both here today is, in my eyes, a miracle.

Just seconds after the doctor took Liam from Michelle’s womb, I heard his first cries — my boy was alive. The attendants carried him over to a cart where they began to prep him to go to the NICU. Before he was rushed out of the room, I was invited to come over to the cart, where I looked down at my beautiful son. He was frail, yet he was absolutely perfect in my eyes. I reached down to touch him, and he brought his hand up to mine, wrapping his tiny fingers around the edge of my index finger, his hand barely wide enough to cover my fingernail.

But he held my hand. He assured me that he would be all right. And I believed him.

Just as I had held his hand to reassure him on the playground steps, he had reached up and grabbed my hand to reassure me in that operating room. Every doubt I had about his survival washed away in that moment — the first time he held my hand.

It was a powerful moment — a moment I will carry with me forever.


One week ago, I felt completely and totally fine. I was eating normally, and I was the picture of health … to an extent, anyway. What a difference a week makes.

[Disclaimer: From this point on, it could get mildly gross. Just a warning.]

Last Monday night, I began experiencing some stomach discomfort, seemingly out of nowhere. I began vomiting up everything that had touched my stomach in the last 24 hours. Once that was all gone, I began dry-heaving. My mild discomfort turned into severe abdominal pain, like muscle soreness turned up to 11, and the bouts of dry-heaving kept both me and my wife from getting any semblance of sleep. Because of the severe pain involved, Michelle began to worry that it might be appendicitis. After hours of back and forth between bed and the bathroom, she finally convinced me to go to the emergency room. By that point, it was around 2 in the morning.

After waking Liam up and getting him ready for the ride, we made it to Erlanger’s emergency room by around 2:30. I stumbled in, gave the clerk my information and took a seat. Michelle parked the car and came in with Liam a few minutes later. I apologized to both of them endlessly — something I tend to do when I feel helpless and someone has to take care of me. And, believe me, I was completely helpless. The abdominal pain was becoming unbearable, and all I could do was writhe in pain across a four-seat bench in the ER. After about 45 minutes, they called me back to the triage area to take down more information. I got my hopes up that I would be in a room shortly. I was wrong.

Around 4:15am (nearly two hours after we arrived), I was finally placed in a room, where I waited by myself for another 20 minutes or so before anyone came in to check on me. In that time, Michelle had called my mother to ask if she could stay with Liam at our house while Michelle and I were at the hospital, just in case I was going to need to be there for a considerable amount of time. At this point, we both believed that it was appendicitis and that I might be having surgery in the very near future. We were wrong on both counts.

I was given IV fluids to take care of the severe dehydration that had also overtaken my body, along with nausea medication and morphine for my abdominal pain. Within minutes, I was feeling better … and drifting in and out of sleep. I woke up long enough for the doctor’s examination, where he explained that, given my description of the pain, he was more worried about gallstones than appendicitis. He brought in an ultrasound machine, and I was gallstone-free. I slept for a little while longer, and then I was discharged without ceremony or diagnosis. I was home shortly after 7:30am with a prescription for some nausea and pain meds.

I spent the rest of Tuesday in and out of consciousness. I’m not sure what I experienced could truly be called sleep, as I don’t recall any dreaming or even any real feeling of rest. I was awake for perhaps two to three hours all day. That’s a cumulative total. Michelle, bless her heart, slept on the couch and made the living room her primary base of operations for the next two days.

I lived off of Sprite and chicken broth until Thursday, when I was adventurous enough to try applesauce and toast. That’s pretty much where I still am, nearly one week later. I have had moments of rebellion where I have tried to stomach a cheeseburger, but all it does is let me know that I am not quite done with this yet, whatever it is. Then again, I’ve been wanting to slim down a little, and I suppose this is one way to do it. Not the way I would have preferred, but that tends to be how things go with me.

The moral of this story? Hospitals don’t know everything, appendicitis isn’t always appendicitis, sleep isn’t always sleep, my wife is amazing, and I am an absolute baby when it comes to pain.

Here’s to hoping I don’t have to go through that again any time soon.

Pull Me Out Of The Air Crash

I don’t tend to get too personal on here. I mostly talk about my written work and things that directly relate to it. The way I figure it, why would anyone come to a writing blog and not expect to read about writing?

But sometimes, I have to write about something else. And today, it happens to be personal.

A little over six months ago, I was faced with the most trying time of my life thus far. On October 27, 2009, I took my wife to the hospital because she had been diagnosed with a condition known as pre-eclampsia, along with HELLP Syndrome. As we would find out in the hours that followed, we were going to become parents much sooner than we had anticipated. But, as unbelievable and chaotic as this was, that is not what I am referring to.

I had a moment of realization as the situation was unfolding. It was suddenly a very real possibility that my wife, the girl I had loved for three years . . . could die that very day, along with the unborn baby boy that we had been anticipating.

She didn’t see my moment happen. I saved it for a brief moment that afternoon when I was alone. But I cried. I cried, and I prayed. I prayed for God to keep her safe. I prayed that she would come out of this situation alive. After those few minutes, I wiped away the tears and went back to her room, trying to be the strong husband and father that everyone needed me to be.

I think I did okay.

But I still have flashbacks to that moment. I had never been so desperate for anything in my life. I had never prayed so hard. As the numbers on the machine went back and forth between dangerous and still-dangerous-but-not-as-dangerous-as-before, I kept up the reassurance. “Everything is going to be okay,” I said repeatedly. I’m not entirely sure who I was talking to — her or me.

That moment inspired a song I have written and am still currently recording. I can say with certainty that it is the best song I have ever written — so much so that I would be content to never write another.

It still scares me how close I came to being a widower (*thank you for the correction, love). I will never forget that. Sometimes, it rushes over me and takes my breath away, forcing me to pause for a moment, close my eyes and be thankful that all of us were pulled out of that horrible situation.

Maybe it was luck. Maybe it was fate. But we’re all still here, and we’re going to make the most of it.

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