On Sunday night, I got a phone call from my sister that our cousin was at the hospital and he was not breathing. This was the only information I received, I got out of bed and got dressed very quickly and she met me at the door to go to the hospital. I was terrified, in denial, surely, he's okay and someone in the family over exaggerated the circumstances.
When we arrive at the hospital, we are ushered into the ICU. We are told that they suspect my 18 year old cousin has had a heart attack, they were still working on him and we had no answers...only questions. My aunt was still in shock, and all we could do was wait.
What felt like hours passed by, of course it was only about 15 minutes. Every minute was slow and painful. My cousin is healthy, he's a hockey player...he's played hockey his whole life...he couldnt' weight more than 140lbs and he's over 6 feet tall...how is this possible...what is going on...please let this be a cruel joke. Please tell me I'm not really awake.
The Dr came back in, and he told us he had a pulse. They shocked him 13 to 15 times...but they had a pulse. He seemed to be breathing on his own, we'll be able to see him soon, please remain calm and he'll be back as soon as he can. He looked tired, stressed out, and he was wearing a blue shirt under his white Dr's coat. We could tell that he had just put his white coat on, it was still without wrinkles. The rings around his eyes told us how worried he was, and how unsure he was of my cousin's condition. Shock was starting to wear off, and I wish it hadn't.
We kept asking each other what time it was, how long it had been. Sometimes only 3 minutes had gone by, we tried to fill our minds with positive thoughts, and try to reassure each other that things will be okay.
The Dr came back finally with an update, he wasn't breathing on his own, he was ventilated, and there was internal bleeding. It seemed so bleak...it felt like punishment, why would he come tell us that? Why won't he just make it better? His coat was wrinkled now, the rings around his eyes had deepened...how long had it been...two...three hours? Only 45 minutes.
Finally his parents could go see him. My aunt came out crying, I know what she seen in there, I remember it all too well when the twins needed help, and they were hooked up to machines to watch their heart rate, temperature, brain activity...it's a mother's worst nightmare. She was inconsolable...who wouldn't be...I have no words for her, I held her tight, rubbed her back and kept saying "It will be okay, he will fight through this.".
It was my turn, I went in but it didn't look like my cousin. This is just a bad dream. This isn't happening.
There were no bodily responses to touch, sound or temperature, they were putting him in a coma soon...but I had no idea how less responsive he could possibly get. I was watching one of those shows on TV...if I could just snap out of it. I just had to wake up.
I returned to the waiting room just outside. The automatic doors kept opening and closing. Opening and closing. Each time they would, everyone in the room would jump and look up. The tissues they had were like sand paper.
The Dr asked to speak to the parents, my aunt and uncle. They were sending him via helicopter to a bigger city. There were specialists there who could help. Neither of his parents were going to be able to go in the helicopter, there were too many machines and no room.
They made plans to drive down the same night, a 5 hour trip. We watched the clock again as they prepped him to go, hooked him up to the team's equipment and got his stretcher ready to go. I will never forget all of us in a semi circle, waiting and and watching as they wheeled him out of the hospital through those automatic doors. As soon as the door shut behind them, the room was full of electricity.
I don't even remember getting home, it was so fast. Everyone dispersed and had things to do. I returned home to my husband and children, who were all in bed by then, as it was shortly after 2am.
I had a snack, did some tidying up, and then brought the baby upstairs with me at about 4am. Sleep escaped me until nearly 6am.
When I woke up Monday morning, I had to deal with the fact that it isn't a bad dream. I had to deal with the fact that it is out of our hands right now and that we have to leave it in God's hands, for He alone has plans for us all, and we are unaware of those plans. Putting trust in His plans is not easy right now.
My cousin is now in good hands, he is not out of the woods yet, but they are bringing him out of his coma tomorrow, and they will assess how he responds. His heart is so weak, and no one knows why yet. It feels like with every day that passes, we only have more questions.
This entire ordeal brings me back to why I am a surrogate...life is so incredibly precious. My cousin and I aren't close, but he is the closest thing I have to a brother. Life can be taken from us in an instant, and so many of us don't take every day as a gift, I know I don't. Every day is an opportunity, every day is a GIFT, and right now, every moment that passes is crucial for my cousin, who is oblivious to everything that is happening.
Tragedy happens to others...it happens to those who are unlucky...it doesn't happen to the same family more than once.... These are all things that I believed until Monday morning when I woke up, and realized that it was not a nightmare. Every life is precious. Every day is a chance for miracles. Please hug your babies and loved ones today, call the people you care about but don't always make the time to reach out to. Remember that just because they are here today, does not mean they are there tomorrow.
Please say a prayer today if you are comfortable with that, for my cousin Justin, who had an entire life ahead of him only days ago, and is now fighting for one more day. Please say a prayer to all of those fighting cancer and disease, for one more day. Please say a prayer to those who are hungry, for those who are homeless, for those who know tragedy too well.