Today marks 10 years since I flatlined in the emergency room at Auburn Regional Medical Center after a bladder infection made it up to my kidneys and into my bloodstream. My parents and Kristen watched five minutes of CPR as an incredible team of doctors, nurses, and medics fought to bring me back online. In a letter he wrote to the ER staff a few hours later, Dr. Stephen Anderson described me as the sickest salvageable cardiac arrest he’d had in a decade.
It would be a full week and a half before I came out of my medically induced coma to find Kristen still by my side. She’d joked with my family that if I had brain damage, she would have to teach me math after months of needing my help with her nursing prereqs. I proposed three weeks after I was discharged, and we set out to Do Life with an overwhelming sense of urgency because we weren’t sure how long I could keep those infections at bay. Little did we know, it was her disease that would cut our time short less than a year later.
After she passed, I found a whole string of messages she had posted on my Facebook timeline while I was still in the coma. This one in particular took on a whole new significance as I slowly came to terms with her loss, and I go back to it every now and again to remind myself of how far I have come. In her own little way, I know that she is still right here next to me, watching proudly as I live the life she always knew I was capable of leading.
I didn’t believe it 16 years ago when the spunky rehab nurse in my hospital room told me I could have a rich and meaningful life someday, but I’ll forever be grateful that she came back around to help get me started down the path.