This year, our Christmas started out like any other. Lots of presents, wrapping paper, food, family and fun. The day ended, however, with an unexpected turn of events that left us shaken to the core and, eventually, with a renewed sense of faith.
We got up early…(before 7!) and began to unwrap gifts. The kids had lots of fun oohing and ahhing over their loot. I can’t complain either, I got a new battery for my camera, a remote for my camera (both from Doug) and a book from the kids.
Doug and I got the kids dressed and started breakfast. Traditionally, either my brother and sister in law or us host Christmas breakfast for his side of the family. This year, after a 2 year hiatus, it was our turn.
A short while later, family started to arrive, bringing with them another onslaught of gifts. Breakfast was eaten…I had made my very first breakfast casserole…(it was a hit!). Then it was onto our second round of presents.
In a flurry of excitement and cheer, the presents were opened and a bit later people started to filter out…places to go and people to see. Doug and I assessed our trashed house (it was baaad) and we also decided where to go to dinner. (We had been invited to a couple of places, but didn’t want to overdo ourselves by trying to do too much in a short amount of time. As it turned out, where we went played a huge part in later events, so I am very glad we chose this place.)
Doug and I decided to go to his Uncle Tracy’s and Aunt Schelle’s for dinner. They have 2 children, Brandon and Kylee. Brandon is grown and Kylee is 16. Also present were my father in law, another uncle and aunt, a cousin and her children.
We were early for dinner, so we chit chatted while the kids ran around and played. After dinner, more talking and visiting ensued. Then it was time for the kids to open some presents. Aaron got a Nerf dart gun and a board game. The girls got big books and stuffed animals.
Aaron and the other boy both had gotten dart guns, so they went down to the basement to play and most of the other children followed.
I sat on the couch talking with my father in law while Taylor played on his lap. She has been in a mode where she really likes to rip things (cardboard, paper, etc.) so she was quite content to sit with Grandpa and rip up a shoe box top while we gabbed.
A few minutes later, Aaron came upstairs and sat next to me. He said he had a headache, so I asked Doug if he could get some aspirin from his aunt. In the time that it took Doug to walk across the room and get the aspirin and walk back, I knew there was something wrong with Aaron.
His eyes became glassy and unfocused. He was slow in responding to his name. I looked around to the others to see if they were seeing what I was seeing. Aunt Schelle sat down next to Aaron and put a cool washcloth on his face. Then, he tried to speak, and I kid you not, it came out like “hnirgfrgikfergnk dfrgbnjikre” I looked at Aunt Schelle and said “Was that me, or was that slurred?”
Immediately, people sprang into action. (As I mentioned before, I was glad that we had decided to go there, because my uncle is the Fire Chief of our town, and both cousins are EMT’s Kylee’s still in training, but she’s good. Brandon is also a police officer in a neighboring town.). Uncle Tracy came over to Aaron and asked him to squeeze his fingers as hard as he could. I watched in horror as his right hand moved to squeeze his fingers and his left hand made no movement at all.
I looked at Aaron and his face was contorted in a way I’d never seen before. His right side was in kind of a grotesque half smile, while his left side was blank, expressionless.
I yelled out “What’s wrong with him!?” and then was ushered away from him so he could be fully looked at. I sat on the opposite side of the room and cried. It hurt so much to see my baby like that.
The next few minutes are a blur, but the one thing that stands out was when Uncle Tracy tried to get Aaron to stand up. He was limp. My uncle had his arms around Aaron’s chest. He couldn’t even hold his head up. It just rolled back and hung there. He reminded of a giant rag doll. After he was put back on the couch, we made the decision to call an ambulance.
By the time the ambulance had arrived, he was starting to come around. He could talk, but was still weak and shaken. He was able to walk to the stretcher. They put him on oxygen and loaded him into the ambulance. My father in law took the girls so I could ride with Aaron and Doug was able to follow behind in our van.
The ride to the hospital seemed to take forever. All the worst case scenarios I could possibly think of were playing themselves in my head. Cancer, brain tumors, aneurysms…you name it, I thought it.
We arrived at the ER and he was wheeled to a room. Fortunately, he had not had a relapse on the way. Things were starting to look up. I could tell that he was shaken. I did my best to comfort him while the nurses and doctors did their thing.
He ended up needing a CAT scan to check for bleeding, tumors, etc. Even though he was doing better, I would not allow myself to relax until I knew the results of the scan. So, while waiting for the results, Doug, Aaron, my mother in law and myself chatted and discussed the events of the afternoon. Poor Aaron. He told us that he thought he was going to die. What was left of my battered heart broke right there.
Not long after that, the doctor was back with the results. The CAT scan was negative (yay!!!). But, what caused his episode?
A severe migraine headache.
Now, I knew migraines could be debilitating, but paralyses? Is that possible?
Supposedly, it is. His headache was so bad that his body basically started shutting down to block the pain.
That is really unsettling to us. We have no clue what triggered it and no clue if he’ll ever have one again.
Not the kind of definitive answers I was looking for, but at least it’s not cancer or a tumor.
So, we packed him up and brought him home. I have been asking him if he’s ok constantly for the last 2 days.
He’s had no other relapses, he’s been doing fine.
I even let him out of my clutches long enough to go to a friend’s house overnight. (With the explicit instructions to let someone know if the pain starts again.)
Our family has come out of this incident a lot closer and a lot stronger. Sometimes I think people forget how quickly their lives can change, until something like this snaps them back in reality.
Although my story had a happy ending, it could just as easily had a bad outcome. I will always remember Christmas 2008 as the year we received our Christmas Miracle.