Day 365: One Year Ago Today

It was one year ago today that our entire lives changed. Forever.

After a fairly normal Sunday I was sitting on my couch while Laura was cooking dinner and prepping meals for me for the upcoming week. I only remember a couple seconds of what happened next. 

My arms came up by my side, I looked at Laura and tried to yell out to her yet couldn’t speak. My next memory is sitting up in the back of an ambulance with a paramedic speaking loudly at me. I looked out of the back of the ambulance to see several people standing there, fire engines and police cars.  

I was in a daze. I looked for Laura and asked her what happened. She was shaking and barely able to speak so the paramedic told me that I had a grand mal seizure.  

I would come to find out that when the seizure started Laura screamed so loudly that three of our neighbors, including a nurse, came rushing upstairs while she called 911.  

Once I arrived at the hospital I had another grand mal seizure. I don’t remember much of the rest of that night. 

I know that I went for several X-rays, cat-scans and an MRI that first night. I was told that I had dislocated both of my shoulders and there was an irregularity in my brain. 

It was originally decided that I would have my shoulders reset on that Friday however after a couple of additional tests later that week we would find out that I had actually shattered both of my shoulders. 

The rest of that initial week fades in and out. Laura and her mom have helped to piece parts of it back together for me but due to the heavy pain meds that I was on, I don’t remember as much as I would like. 

I remember feeling my stomach drop when I was told by my orthopedic surgeon that I would never be allowed to lift weights again - something that I am deeply passionate about. 

I remember not understanding what he meant when he told me that all of my muscle would atrophy. 

I remember the outpouring of love and support from my family, friends and colleagues. 

I remember Laura questioning whether I should be responding to everyone that was reaching out and whether or not I should be typing daily updates. I would go back weeks later and not remember several of my replies or updates even though all of them were coherent. 

I remember Laura spending every single night sleeping on a pull-out sofa that they arranged in the room for us. And I remember my mother-in-law spending the afternoons with me while Laura tried going into work and dealing with everything else that still needed to be taken care of. 

I remember the endless cards, flowers and gifts that arrived. In fact, during our second week in the hospital we were told by the nursing staff that they had never seen that many flowers before. 

I also remember not truly understanding the impact of everything that was happening to us. 

I didn’t realize that it would take me 6 weeks to be able to lift my hand an inch off of my knee. It would take me several months of physical therapy to regain basic functionality. We celebrated every small victory that came with the recovery. 

I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be allowed to drive for 6 months due to having the seizures. 

I didn’t realize what a brain tumor fully meant (brain cancer) and how bad it could be - though we have been lucky to not have experienced that worse-case scenario. 

I didn’t realize that what we were going through would help to inspire others to lose weight, take their dream vacation or any of the other stories that people have told me. 

While I would never want to go through this pain again, I am glad that the outcome of all of this has been inspirational to those around us. 

Since those initial couple of months I have continued to push myself mentally and physically to beat my doctors' expectations. 

While I was recovering I obsessed over pushing my recovery whether it was doing the daily exercises that were being prescribed to me; walking with my mother-in-law, at physical therapy; consuming every video, podcast, blog post and book I could about mobility; or talking to everyone possible about their areas of fitness expertise.

When I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night I would brain dump ideas into Evernote that I would then research the next day.

When I first told our neuro-oncologist that I had worked out 4 out of 5 days of my first round of chemo, she was shocked.  

When I told our orthopedic surgeon that I went swimming in January while on vacation, only 5 months after surgery, he was shocked and asked me to forward him the video so that he could share it with a colleague at Harvard Medical School. 

And then in July I proved to everyone, including myself, that anything is possible when I completed my first (yes, my first…not my only) Spartan Race. 

It has been quite a journey and it will never come to an end for us, even if it does taper off into more of a routine with less frequent doctor’s appointments, blood work, MRIs, etc. 

It seems fitting that tonight is the start of my sixth round of chemo. When this week finishes we will be halfway through the year of chemo which is a major milestone and one that we will celebrate while we’re back in Connecticut next week with our family. 

I know that I have said it several times over the last year but thank you from the deepest parts of my heart to everyone who has been there with us. There are far too many people to thank individually but know that I appreciate each and every one of you.

Never, ever forget:  

You can accomplish ANYTHING that you want in life if you attack it with purpose and determination. Never let anyone tell you that something isn’t possible.

Everyone is built unstoppable, whether they know it or not.