when we started out on the morning of Friday, July 20th, 2012, we had no idea that our life was about to change drastically, if only temporarily, but when we left the cardiologist’s office shortly after 4pm there was no doubt that it had.
it took three pharmacy stops before we found a compounding pharmacy that could fill Gator’s scripts, which would have been stressful if not for the fact that we were still in a state of shock. we had called no-one yet, as neither of us had phone chargers in the truck.
it was 4:40pm before we got home, and my mind was a jumble of “who to call first?” my parents were the obvious choice, but because of the time, I called work first. my supervisor was on another call, so I left the message that I “needed to speak with her TODAY” and called daycare, but the owner had just left. I called her cell phone and had barely managed to say “hi Holly, it’s Rusti” before my throat started tickling… and a deep breath helped me get out the words “I need to pull the girls from daycare for a couple of weeks” before my throat closed up and my eyes started burning again. I could hear the questions in Holly’s voice when she said “okay…” and I don’t know that she could even understand me as I told her “Alli has to have open heart surgery” which was followed closely with “oh, my work is calling, I need to tell them, can I call you back?”
once I was able to actually speak so she could understand what I was saying, my supervisor was very sympathetic and understanding, told me to take as much time as I needed, said she would call Human Resources and have them send me the FMLA forms needed to extend my leave, and asked me to keep them updated. she asked if there was anyone I would like her to pass the information on to, and said we would be in her prayers.
I was slightly less of a mess when I called Holly back, as I’d already blurted out the hard part. telling her again wasn’t as difficult, but going over the details of how the murmur was discovered, etc. helped me focus and stay calm. Holly reassured me that the whole staff would be praying for us, and would be ready to help with whatever was needed for the girls. I promised to keep her posted as we knew more info. while I was making my calls, Hubs had called his sergeant and his dad. typically (for him, and probably a lot of men) his calls were shorter, less emotional, and more to the point. ;)
I managed to get my mom & sister in one call, as they were still at the mall after finishing at the bounce place – and funny enough, I can hardly remember the call. I know I called my dad next… and that during both calls it was asked of me “why are they waiting so long? can’t you go next week?” as they were concerned about Gator catching a cold or something that would delay surgery… I can’t remember calling anyone else, or if I texted them… but a short time later our friends Collin & Lisa arrived with food, and then my sister showed up with more food, and in a show of support – they helped us eat it ;)
around 7pm my phone rang and although I didn’t recognize the number I answered. it was Dr. Liz – on her cell phone – calling to check on us and see how we were doing. she had discussed Gator’s condition and treatment plan with Dr. Goble and wanted to follow-up on our emotional health. (have I mentioned that we love her?) after a few minutes of talking about what was going on she said “please call if you have any questions, obviously this isn’t my area if expertise, and I mght not know the answer, but I’ll try to get it for you. call to if you just need to talk. this is my cell phone number that I called from, so keep it if you need it.” I thought that was very thoughtful, and I found out later that when she first heard the murmur she was extremely concerned. she did a pretty good job of hiding it ;)
we sent the guys to a movie and hung out while Goose, Bug & CJ played and us gals took turns snuggling Gator. the rest of our weekend was pretty quiet as we quarantined ourselves at home and researched the hospital, surgeon, procedure, anything we could find related to Ventricular Septal Defect, Atrial Septal Defect and Aortic Stenosis, as well as hotels and the Ronald McDonald House in preparation for Monday’s calls to the hospital social worker and surgeon’s office…
I had posted our news on Facebook and The Twitter and had already been connected to some Heart Families who were sharing helpful and encouraging information, as well as tons of support, prayers, offers of help, etc. from fakily, friends, friends of friends, and strangers alike. a friend from high school started a prayer chain page and she & my sister kept it updated. all of those things are what carried us through the darkness of the unknown, and helped us see the light. we will never forget that.